-- Benjamin Disraeli
Over the last three seasons, the leaders for the Washington Capitals in goals per game are: Alex Ovechkin (0.66), Troy Brouwer (0.31), Joel Ward (0.25), and Eric Fehr (0.22). In 2014-2015, Fehr finished with 19 goals, his highest total in a season since posting a career-high 21 goals with the Caps in 2009-2010. The 75 games in which he appeared was a career high over ten NHL seasons, surpassing the 73 games he played last season.
Fehr did not have a spectacular season. For example, while the Caps had seven players (including backup goalie Justin Peters and late-season pick-up Curtis Glencross) named one of the NHL’s three stars in at least one game this season, Fehr is not on that list. But there he was, providing timely offensive contributions. The Caps were 13-2-2 in the 17 games in which he scored a goal, 19-5-4 in the 28 games in which he recorded a point.
That he had a solid season should be no surprise. In one respect, this has always been a part of his game. In ten seasons he has had but one in which he finished with a Corsi-for percentage under 50.0 (that coming last season – 49.0; numbers from war-on-ice.com). In nine seasons with the Capitals he has never been below 50 percent in close score situations. This season he finished at 50.6 percent overall and 50.8 percent in close score situations.
It might warm the hearts of Caps fans to know that of the 19 goals Fehr scored this season, three of them came against the Pittsburgh Penguins, all of them against the Sidney Crosby line (Crosby scored one goal against the Caps this season with Fehr on the ice). Nine of his 89 career goals have been scored against the Penguins.
Fehr’s scoring is but a part of the offensive profile. His scoring chance/on-ice plus-minus at 5-on-5 this season was plus-29. In his three years in his second tour in Washington he is plus-91 in 200 games (numbers from war-on-ice.com).
And, as it turns out, Fehr likes the outdoors. In two Winter Classic contests he has three goals, the most of any participant in the history of the New Year’s Day event, including this one at Nationals Park last January:
Fearless’ Take: Eric Fehr, Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, and Nicklas Backstrom were the Capitals forwards to record at least 80 hits and 40 takeaways. Fehr did it in more than 300 fewer minutes than all of them. Against teams qualifying for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference he was 7-5-12, plus-5, in 21 games (a 27-20-47, plus-20 scoring pace).
Cheerless’ Take: Fehr had 13 goals in his first four ten-game segments, six in his last four segments. He had 20 points in his first four ten-game segments, 13 in his last four. He was plus-12 in his first four ten-game segments, minus-4 in his last four. Not a pattern you like to see.
Game to Remember: December 27th versus Pittsburgh. The Caps were in the midst of a three-game road trip to wrap up the 2014 portion of the season. They touched down in Pittsburgh after losing the first game of the trip, a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. Their second game on the trip would be the first in the season series against the Penguins, a team against which the Caps had lost eight consecutive games. The last time the Caps had defeated the Penguins, on January 11, 2012, Eric Fehr was skating for the Winnipeg Jets. On this night, though, it would be Fehr starting the scoring for the Caps when he jammed a loose puck past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from the left post late in the first period. The Caps added a goal by Marcus Johansson early in the third, and Fehr cemented the win mid-way through the frame with another greasy goal. John Carlson fired a shot from the right point that Joel Ward deflected down out of mid-air to the feet of Fleury. As Fehr was being checked to the ice by defenseman Scott Harrington at the top of the crease, Fehr one-handed the puck past Fleury to cap the scoring in the Caps' 3-0 win. It would be one of two two-goal games for Fehr in 2014-2015.
Game to Forget: March 5th versus Minnesota. The Capitals were nursing a 1-0 lead mid-way through the third period when the game took an odd turn. With referee Ian Walsh injured and on the ice at one end of the rink, the Wild were rushing into the Caps’ zone at the other end. Zach Parise controlled the puck long the left wing wall just inside the blue line and slid a pass to Ryan Suter entering the zone. As Suter wound up for a shot, Fehr slid across but was an instant too late to block the drive, which Jason Pominville attempted to redirect past goalie Braden Holtby. As Holtby was making a fine save on the Pominville attempt, Fehr did not give up on the play, getting to his feet and to the front of the net. Once more, he was just a split second too late to prevent Pominville from putting back the puck to tie the game. Five minutes later, it was Pominville finishing again as Fehr tied up Pominville to deny him as a passing option. Despite a fine defensive effort on both plays, Fehr finished a minus-2 in the Wild’s 2-1 win.
Odd Fehr Fact: On Opening Night, Eric Fehr logged 21:07 in ice time. It was the only game all season (including playoffs) in which he skated more than 20 minutes.
Postseason: 0-0-0, two shots on goal
Eric Fehr missed the last three games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, but he was in the lineup for the Caps for Game 1 of the opening round series against the New York Islanders. He skated a total of 30 minutes over the first two contests, but in Game 3, on his second shift, he took a hard hit from the Islanders’ Kyle Okposo and did not return. He would play just one more game in the postseason, the Caps’ Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers in the second round.
In the end…
It has been a long winding journey for Eric Fehr since he was taken 18th overall by the Caps in the 2003 entry draft. Once thought of as a potential high-end goal scoring winger, he fought through a series of injuries to remake himself into a checking line center who can contribute offense without being depended on as a regular goal-scorer. It was cruel irony that in what was his most durable season, injuries would strike in the postseason and might have been a factor in the last faceoff he took – the last faceoff the Caps took – of the season, one that he lost and the Rangers scored off of moments later to win Game 7 and the Eastern Conference semifinal series. It was a blemish on what was otherwise a solid year for Fehr, one that might not have taken place if not for his perseverance in the face of many obstacles along the road as an NHL player.
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