The Best Caps Duos Besides Backstrom and Ovi

Posted August 22, 2018

(Caps Outsider)

Earlier this week, Caps fans took to social media to celebrate 8/19 day. The holiday, which syncs up with the jersey numbers of Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom, celebrates one of hockey’s greatest one-two punches.

Monday was an outpouring of appreciation for Ovechkin and Backstrom’s decade-long dynamic that has become the cornerstone of the franchise. It also got us thinking. What are some of the other partnerships that have contributed to the Capitals’ winning culture? Which other individuals within the organization form a sum greater than their parts as Backstrom and Ovi do? In search of an answer, we compiled a list of our favorite Caps duos besides the obvious one.

The Entertainers: Joe B. and Locker

There are no Joe. B and Locker bobbleheads but there should be.

Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin aren’t part of the on-ice product, but they’re as much a part of the Capitals experience as any member of the team. Since 1996, the two have been a match made in hockey heaven.

Joe B. and Locker form two sides of the entertainment coin. Beninati is the more professional play-by-play wordsmith, while Laughlin brings the lighthearted personality of an ex-player. Both are great at their individual roles, but their ability to riff and bounce ideas off one another is what sets them apart as one of the best broadcasting duos in sports.

Despite over two decades of partnership, the two’s chemistry still seems to snowball with each passing year. From throwing lighthearted ribs at one another to capturing the emotion of triumphant moments on the ice, Joe B. and Locker truly accomplish what every broadcasting team sets out to do: Make the telecast more fun than the game on its own.

That being said, Locker may have to step up his game next season. Young Jakub Vrana seems to be making a move to replace him as Beninati’s partner in crime.

The Odd Couple: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Brooks Orpik

From the outside looking in, a 26-year-old Russian phenom and a stoic, veteran, stay-at-home defenseman should have no business together.

Kuznetsov is known for his flashy, creative, and electrifying skill. Orpik rarely has the puck on his stick in the offensive zone. Kuznsetsov is one of the Caps’ primary jokesters. Orpik, a veteran with two Stanley Cups under his belt, is perhaps the most commanding presence in the Washington locker room.

Yet when Kuznetsov came to North America, Orpik quickly became one of his closest friends. Kuznetsov credits Orpik with helping him acclimate to American culture, as well as teaching him many of his favorite English idioms such as, “not my first rodeo.” Meanwhile, Orpik says he was drawn to Kuznetsov’s infectious personality from the moment the two met.

The beauty of Kuznetsov and Orpik’s relationship comes from the juxtaposition of their personalities. It’s fun to imagine Orpik, who rarely even cracks a smile on the job (except when scoring game winning goals in the Stanley Cup Final), chuckling as Kuznetsov excitedly recaps the most recent episode of Family Feud after practice.

Kuznetsov could barely speak English when he played in his first NHL game. Orpik getting him comfortable with life in his new home helped Kuznetsov develop into one of the Caps’ most eccentric characters. At the same time, being able to find friendship in unlikely places probably contributes to why Orpik is still drawn to hockey even after 15 hard years.

The Bromance: Tom Wilson and Michael Latta

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Yes, Latta is no longer on the Capitals. But it’s impossible not to discuss Wilson and Latta when bromances are in play. Their shenanigans as roommates when both were young bachelors figuring out life in the NHL, and adult life as a whole, produced several fan-favorite moments.

From their trips to the penalty box together, to their condiment purchasing habits, to their paternal relationship with Backstrom, any time a story about the Caps roomies surfaced it was appointment reading. Hockey is a sport that often suffers from its players lacking personality. Whenever Wilson and Latta were together, they showed it in droves. It made the Capitals an even more enjoyable team to follow.

Wilson and Latta’s friendship hasn’t subsided since they went their separate ways after Latta left Washington via free agency. However, with Latta’s impending move to China to join the KHL’s Kun Lun Red Star, it will be interesting to see if they can still do long distance with an ocean in between them. We think they’ll find a way to make it work.

Honorable Mentions:

Braden Holtby and Lucca Carlson

Earlier this summer, John Carlson’s wife Gina revealed via instagram that their son Lucca’s favorite Capital was not his father, but the Caps’ Vezina-winning netminder. Lucca’s immediate admiration for Holtby’s play, surpassing his own father, could imply that an apprenticeship is on hand in the years to come.

Lucca is certainly a young prospect. But the possibility for years of tutelage under one of the NHL’s elite goalies makes him promising all the same. The Capitals might already have their goaltending situation in 2038 figured out.

Ovie the Bulldog and Everyone

We can’t forget about greatest duo of them all: man and dog. Ovie is the face of Caps canines, earning him the right to represent man’s best friend on this list.

Ovie has always been glad to get a scratch behind the ear from anyone wearing red. He traveled across the country to be with his people for the Stanley Cup Final. Days after the series, he even played diplomat with his recreation of the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene with Vegas’ own Bark-Andre Furry. It served as a beacon for fans of both franchises to let bygones be bygones.

Ovechkin and Junk Food

Over the course of the legendary winger’s career, we’ve learned that he doesn’t conform to the same strict dietary habits as many of his NHL peers. According to Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt, Ovechkin was once known to drink three bottles of Coca-Cola before games. Perhaps most famously, his favorite pregame meal is Mamma Lucia, a meal that contains chicken parm, pasta, bread, and four different kinds of sauces.

At 32 years old, Ovechkin has reached the age where most NHL player’s production begins to decline. Yet his most recent season included a goal scoring title, a Conn Smythe trophy, and yes, a Stanley Cup. If correlation is causation, Ovi will live to 150 survivng on Big Macs and Mountain Dew.

The Washington Capitals and the Stanley Cup

We’ve waited a long time for these two to be together. Now that they finally are, they seem like the perfect match. Say it with me: