In what needed to be their best game of the season in order to survive, the Caps did just that in shutting out the Lightning to force a Game 7 Wednesday. Braden Holtby stopped all 24 shots thrown at him, while TJ Oshie had two goals with Devante Smith-Pelly having the third to give the Caps a 3-0 win.
With win #11, the time has come to talk about a former #11 in Caps history.
When it comes to the Capitals, there’s very few players who grew up in the area that have been able to play on the team. In fact, this #11 is the only one to do so thus far, the Potomac native, Jeff Halpern. He is also the last Capital to wear #11 before it was retired for Mike Gartner.
Halpern grew up in the DC area, but learned his hockey in the Northeast due to not many elite schools in the area during his time. His father would drive him to Connecticut and back for practices and games. While he didn’t get noticed in prep school– Halpern played Junior B in Ontario, which got him noticed for him to go to Princeton.
Though he was undersized, Halpern impressed the Capitals enough during their prospects camp for them to give him a contract after his four seasons at Princeton. Halpern only played six games for the Portland Pirates after his senior season before becoming part of the Caps everyday line-up in 1999-2000. Halpern was a heart-and-soul player, which is to say he didn’t put up the superstar point totals, but had those intangibles that people seem to crave these days. With only one 20-goal season in 2000-01, Halpern was more of the ilk to block shots and get into the dirty areas to score goals.
He was a favorite amongst his teammates, too, which allowed him to be named captain in 2005-06, which was also the last season for him in his first stint with the Capitals. After some time in the south, west, and Montreal; Halpern landed back with the Capitals in 2011-12, playing 69 more games and putting up 16 points before moving onward to different things before his retirement following the 2013-14 season.
It’s a dream of players to play with their hometown team, but not something you often hear about when it comes to the teams in the non-traditional market. For someone like Halpern to come in and be able to achieve that dream created a solid connect and showed that players from that area can make it in the big time.