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Capitals at Flyers In-Game Blog: 3-22-2011

Pregame Preview:

Tonight, the Capitals head into Wells Fargo Center just two points behind the Flyers for first place in the Eastern Conference. A regulation win for the Caps would place both teams at 96 points with the Flyers having played two less games this season than the Caps.

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Rangers at Capitals In-Game Blog: 02-25-2011

Pregame Preview:

The Caps enter the final meeting between the New York Rangers and themselves having won three of their last four games and are coming off of three days of rest. That should bode well for the team’s energy tonight.

Four of the next seven games for the Caps will be at home, which should help after a solid 3-2 road outing.

Since their 2-1 shootout win against the Capitals on January 24th, the Rangers have mustered a 3-7-1 record since, including a six game losing streak.

An interesting note: the Capitals are 13-0-0 when Alexander Semin scores a goal.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Kings at Capitals In-Game Blog: 02-12-2011

Pregame Preview:

This afternoon, the Capitals are looking to get their first win in their last six games against Western Conference opponents. They are winless in their last five matchups (0-4-1) against the Western Conference, with their most recent attempt resulting in a 2-0 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

The Capitals also need to regain home-ice advantage in order to help their cause heading into the postseason. After starting the season 12-1-1 at Verizon Center, the Caps have posted a disappointing 5-6-6 record since.

Mike Green also makes his return after taking a speeding puck to the head against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. He was held out of the Sharks game because of post-concussion symptoms. His defensive presence would have been a luxury at the end of the Sharks loss as the only goals scored game came in the final minutes of the third period.

1st Period Overview:

Alex Ovechkin started the period off right for the Caps, firing his 21st goal of the season just over a minute into the game.

D.J. King tried to make an impact in a rare appearance by getting into a shoving match with some Kings after a Semyon Varlomov save midway through the period. Towards the end of the period, he fired up the crowd with a fight between him and Kings center Kevin Westgarth. King took the early advantage in the fight but Westgarth got a couple of nice blows in there to make it pretty even in the end.

The crowd got a scare when Mike Green was legally checked into the boards face-first, prompting a loud “Ooooooooo” from those in attendance.

The Caps offense was aggressive for most of the first period and the defense held the Kings to no score. That’s the criteria that wins games and could help turn a season around.

Faceoffs Won: LAK – 7 WAS – 5
Hits: LAK – 16 WAS – 11
Shots on Goal: LAK – 4 WAS – 8
Goals: LAK – 0 WAS – 1

2nd Period Overview:

The Caps took their first power play of the game following the 14 minute mark. The highlight of the power play was a slapshot by Mike Green from far out, which failed to go in.

The Kings were able to get their first score at the 9:19 mark after Anze Kopitar knocked in a rebound after a Wayne Simmonds miss in front of the net.

Alexander Semin missed a great opportunity on a wide open breakway after receiving a pass from Ovechkin and shot wide past Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier.

The Caps took their second power play with 5:32 remaining in the period but the Kings were able to clear the puck into the Caps zone on multiple occassions, taking time away from their one-man advantage. That’s the second power play the Caps failed to score on.

The Caps took a roughing penalty called on Mike Green with less than 33 seconds remaining.

Faceoffs Won: LAK – 10 WAS – 8
Hits: LAK – 6 WAS – 11
Shots on Goal: LAK – 15 WAS – 7
Goals: LAK – 1 WAS – 0

3rd Period Overview:

The Kings struck first in the final period with another rebound goal. Kyle Clifford fired the puck from Semyon Varlamov’s left side while Andrei Loktionov handled the deflection directly in front Varly for his third goal of the season.

The Caps took their third power play in the middle of the period but were subject to multiple clears by the Kings into the Caps zone. This time the lack of power play execution prompted loud boos from the frustrated home crowd.

Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll put the game away for the Kings with two goals in less than 90 seconds late in the period, putting the Kings up 4-1.

Hits: LAK – 8 WAS – 9
Shots on Goal: LAK – 9 WAS – 8
Goals: LAK – 3 WAS -0

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Caps Recap 11/16/09

With Hockey teams, it’s all about chemistry. With some players, you can’t detect their impact by the score-sheet alone; only by their absence. The Caps have gone two weeks without their star left-winger Alex Ovechkin, and won four tough games without him. Read the rest of this entry »

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Caps Recap 10/26/09

Well, the good news is that the Washington Redskins didn’t lose last week (they don’t play until tonight) and neither did the Washington Capitals!

It’s another Monday, so it must be time for another Caps Recap! Read the rest of this entry »

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ESPN Erroneously Reports Brash, Green Suspended

I’ve received a lot of inquiries over the course of the day regarding reports on ESPN this morning that Washington Capitals Forward Donald Brashear and Defensman Mike Green were suspended for Game 7 tomorrow night.

This report was patently false, although there is a decent chance that Brash could be suspended for contact with Colton Orr during the pre-game skate and the viscious hit (although clean, IMHO) he put on Blair Betts during Game 6, a hit that resulted in a broken orbital bone for the Blueshirts top penalty killer.

From the’s Rangers-Capitals blog:

ESPN erroneously reported that Mike Green and Brashear were suspended this morning. The Brashear news is a possibility, but not official. The Green report was shocking and completely untrue. I’m told that a fan posing as a Washington Post reporter called ESPN and told them Green and Brashear were suspended. ESPN put it on its bottom line ticker and reported it on SportsCenter this morning. It was completely untrue and they retracted it immediately. Green was laughing about it this afternoon.

If Brash can’t go, Captain Chris Clark would likely get the nod, with Michael Nylander an outside possibility.

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Capitals Drop Game 2 Despite Varlamov’s Fantastic Start

In what was expected to be another aggressive, offensive affair, Game 2 turned into a tale of two goalies.

On one side, there’s the young, four-year veteran who is regarded as one of the best young goalies in the NHL. On the other side is a raw but talented 20-year old prospect that is in line to be the future goaltender of his team who is making his first career playoff start.

Rookie Simeon Varlamov replaced Jose Theodore, who allowed four goals in Wednesday’s one-goal loss. The bold move was announced to the team Saturday morning.

Varlamov allowed only one goal in his impressive debut but for the time being it is overshadowed by the Game 2 loss and the two-game hole the team has dug itself into.

The deciding goal came with 12:16 to play in the first period. Varlamov failed to stop the puck from flying over his left shoulder once Rangers right winger Ryan Callahan fired the shot. He finished the game with 23 saves.

“He was phenomenal tonight. He did everything he could. There was nothing he could have done on the goal. It was a backdoor one-timer right under the bar,” defenseman Brian Pothier said. “He was solid. I don’t think he made any mistakes tonight.”

The Capitals tried everything they could to get a shot past the Ranger’s Henrik Lundqvist but were incapable of taking him out of his game. Washington continuously attacked the net, outshooting New York 35-24 but was unable to get anything to go through.

“It was just a matter of us finding a way to score a goal. We had a ton of chances. They blocked a ton of shots. We need to figure out some kind of recipe to get some goals,” Pothier said.

The lack of points was not the result of a lack of effort on the Capitals’ part. They have outshot the Rangers 70-46 in the series so far. That statistic and the fact that they are down 0-2 should say more about the performance of Lundqvist than it does about Washington’s offense.

“We played a great game, I thought. We made a mistake and they capitalized on it. We couldn’t penetrate their defense they had. They did a great job of blocking shots and Lundqvist is obviously an exceptional goalie so we need to figure out a way to get pucks through,” Pothier said.

The Capitals started the game fast and attacked the net as they tend to do but towards the end, passing miscues continued to hinder scoring chances.

Another factor in the two losses was the team’s failure to alter their regular season style of play to accommodate their postseason matchups, Mike Green said.

“I think we’re just so used to playing a certain way and now with playoff hockey the game changes a bit and we have to adjust. If you’re going to win you have to adjust.”

Washington, who boasts the NHL’s third best road record, will have to continue their playoff quest in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Monday. In order to be successful, they must find a way to solve the predicament Lundqvist puts them in on a game-by-game basis.

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Caps Recap 2/16/09

It’s not easy to outshine a player such as Alex Ovechkin; but for this past weekend, Mike Green managed to do just that. Even though Green’s scoring run ended with eight games, he set a new league record for consecutive games with a goal scored by a defenseman. His eight game goal scoring streak was the longest such consecutive streak since the ’98-’99 season when Miroslav Satan and Teemu Selanne both had eight game runs.


Ovechkin may be knocking off records held by previous Caps left and right, but Green’s achievement is one that even the Great-Eight doesn’t have yet. Green’s eight game goal scoring streak is the longest by a Capital since ’86-’87 when Mike Gartner went on a nine-game goal-scoring run. Read the rest of this entry »

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Caps Recap 2/9/09

It was another good week to be a Caps fan last week as the Caps went 2-1-0 in their three games. The Caps managed to cling to their positions in both the League and Eastern Conference standings when they fended off New Jersey.


Alex Ovechkin scored his 200th career goal making him only the fifth player in NHL history to score 200 goals in his first four years. Mike Green broke a franchise record for consecutive games with a goal scored by a defenseman as he is currently on a six-game goal scoring streak.


The Caps did lose the services of Net-Minder Brent Johnson as he went in for surgery on a hip flexor that has plagued him all year. He is expected to be out for the next eight weeks, but may be back in time for the play-offs.


After starting the week off with a convincing win over New Jersey, the Caps had an equally convincing loss to Los Angles. The horrific play versus L.A. resulted in the return of fan favorite Karl Alzner from Hershey. The Caps defense improved dramatically as they bounced back to beat division-rival Florida in a low scoring affair Saturday night at Verizon Center.


Let’s get to some recapping.


Tuesday, Feb. 3rd – @ New Jersey – In a game that meant the difference between 2nd and 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals staved off the Devils in a 5-2 victory. They did this by jumping out to a 3-0 lead and going three for four on the power-play. New Jersey, who was fresh off comeback overtime wins over Boston and Pittsburg looked like they might do the same versus the Caps as the scored to end the second and begin the third periods bringing the score to 3-2, but it was Michael Nylander’s power-play goal, and Eric Fehr’s empty netter that finally tamed the Devils.


Perfect Timing – Michael Nylander hadn’t scored twice in a game since December 29, 2007. Nylander scored only his 6th and 7th goals of the season versus New Jersey and it’s appropriate that one of his two goals would be the game-winner. “He doesn’t like to shoot,” Washington’s Coach Boudreau said after the game. “We have a few of those guys, and then we have one guy who shoots every chance he gets. He makes up for those guys.”


Wow, that was fast – Brooks Laich scored the Capital’s second goal, just four seconds into the team’s second power-play opportunity.


Thursday, Feb. 5th – versus Los Angles – The sellout crowd at Verizon Center had barely had time to find their seats before Alex Semin had scored the team’s first goal; just 0:15 seconds into the first period. Unfortunately, the Caps faithful had been in their seats for a while (and had watched the Kings score three straight goals) before Mike Green would score the second.  By the end of the second period, L.A. had a comfortable 4-2 lead. The Caps would attempt to stage a late rally, but it was too little, too late as they would fall to L.A. 5-4.


We’ve secretly replaced the Capital’s defense with Foldger’s Crystals – The Capitals looked sloppy and disjointed versus the Kings. Bad passing and worse turnovers seemed to be the name of the game. “The first two periods were as bad as we’ve played all year,” lamented Caps coach Bruce Boudreau afterwards. “They’ve got good speed, and they were coming up the middle well. Our guys were all over the place. We weren’t playing anywhere near what we’re supposed to be doing. That’s the frustrating part of the game.”


Bittersweet – Alex Ovechkin scored his 200th goal in his 296th game. It’s a huge milestone as he is now only the fifth to do so in league history. It’s a shame it had to come in a losing effort.


Saturday, Feb. 7th – versus Florida – Florida may be a distant speck in the rear-view mirror as far as the Southeast point standings go, but that was no reason for the Caps to take them lightly. Following the pattern of the L.A. game, the Caps scored first, just 0:33 seconds into the game. The teams were deadlocked 1-1 after the first and second periods. It was Mike Green’s early third period, PPG that broke the tie. Florida was granted a golden opportunity late in the third as they were give the two-man advantage with Sergei Federov and Shaone Morrison called for penalties less than a minute apart. Morrison’s 5-minute major meant the Panthers would be on the power-play for the rest of the game.


The Caps had been on a 13-game streak where they had given up at least one power-play goal, but on this night the streak would be broken as it would be Mike Green scoring short-handed on the empty net to finally put the Panthers to bed.


Green Light – Mike Green is one game away from tying the league record for consecutive games with a goal scored by a defenseman. That record was established by Boston’s Mike O’Connell who tallied in seven straight games for the Bruins in January of 1984. O’Connell netted a career-high 18 goals that season. Green has now scored seven goals in his past six games, and currently has 19 goals on the season.


The Wrap Up – The Caps played well versus their Eastern Conference rivals, but not so much against a mediocre Western Conference Opponent. Nine of the Caps’ 16 losses have come at the hands of Western Conference opponents to whom they are 7-9-0. The Caps seem to play great against the top teams in the East, and look like they may be playing late into the play-offs, but they will need to figure out a way to put away the West if they want to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup.


Coming Up – The Caps are going to be busy as they wrap up the month of February. They play three games this week; all on the road. They start off in New York this Wednesday versus the Rangers, and spend this weekend in Florida with back-to-back game versus the Lightning and Panthers. They return to Verizon next week where they start a five-game home stand and play six games in 11 days to wrap up the month.


The Caps are still 4th in the league, 2nd in the Eastern Conference and 1st in their division, and are in no danger of losing their position to any of their next three opponents, but with New Jersey nipping at their heels, they will need to win versus all three.

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Caps Recap 1/12/09

It was a rough week for the Washington Capitals who went 1-2 on their three opponents. The Caps suffered only their second regulation loss at home and saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end.


I’m going to do things a little differently for this week’s recapping by giving you the good and the bad.


That’s good! – No Fly Zone – After the 7-1 thrashing the Caps had taken from the Flyers in their last meeting the Caps played a much more solid game of hockey this time. It quickly became apparent that the Caps were stressing defense this time around. After three periods, and the overtime the shots on goal were 34 apiece, and the score was still locked at 1-all. It was Victor Kozlov that scored the only goal in the shootout that sent the hated Flyers home with an OTL.


That’s Bad – Love for Ovie – Alex Ovechkin had scored a goal in each of the previous nine home games prior to the Flyers game where he did not notch so much as an assist.


That’s Good! – The All-Star Nod – Alex Ovechkin was officially named to the Eastern Conference All Star team this week. It was more of a formality as most knew he was going to be in last week, even if he was snubbed from the starting line-up.


That’s Bad – 8 is not enough – Ovie was the only Capital to get an All-Star invite, even with the great play of Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green this season. It’s still amazing to me that the Canadiens get four players in the starting line-up while they are ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference, and the Caps are lucky to get the League MVP on the team while they are ranked second only to Boston.


That’s Good! – Record shatters Record for Best Record – The Caps 27-11-3 and 57 points qualify for the best first half of a season in Caps’ history.


That’s Bad – What’s worse than getting a tie for your birthday? – Getting a loss. The Caps got blanked 3-0 on the 54th anniversary of their bench boss’ birth when they faced Columbus at Verizon Center last week. I know you can’t get ties in the NHL anymore, but an OTL would have been better than a loss. Hopefully they do better when they play on my birthday on the 19th.


That’s Good! – Healthy Returns – The Caps saw the return of Thomas Fleischmann and Sergei Federov this past Friday. Fleischmann apparently had the flu, and Federov was listed as injured for so long that he probably forgot why he listed as injured in the first place. I know I did. Was it something to do with his ankle?


That’s Bad – Check that net for shrink wrap – The Caps may have been shut out versus Columbus but it certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. Washington poured the shots on goal, and outshot Columbus 45-23. They had at least four shots ring off the post but nothing seemed to bounce the Caps way.


That’s Good! – The Capitals bounced back from their 3-0 loss by hanging four goals on their next opponent; The Montreal Canadiens.


That’s Bad – Unfortunately the Canadiens scored five. The Caps entered the third period with a 2-1 lead, but let the Canadiens score four goals in the third while only scoring two themselves. The game appeared to be headed to Overtime, but that chance slipped away with 00:21 seconds left in regulation.


That’s Good! – A pattern of Hope? – The Caps have been shut out three times this season. They have lost the next game after each shutout, but have gone on to win six of the next seven after that.


That’s Bad – Unfortunately the Caps face the Bruins (twice) and Redwings as three of their next seven opponents. Boston is currently ranked second in the league standings followed by the Detroit Redwings at third, and Capitals at fourth.


That’s Bad – Part Two – Who’s this friggin’ Guy? – The Caps only had to register a point to send their Coach Bruce Boudreau to the All-Star game as an assistant coach for the Eastern Conference. Montreal had to win to send their coach Guy (pronounced “Ghee”) Carbonneau. Bruce is going to watch the game at home with the rest of us; While Montreal gets yet another All-Star nod.


Funny how the All-Star game is being played in Montreal; The Montreal Canadiens already have four starters for the All-Star game even though they are the fourth place team in the conference. The game that decides which coach gets the nod is decided in Montreal. The Canadiens are given two 5-on-3 power-plays after the Caps get the go-ahead goal in the second period and convert for two goals to start the third period….


…I’m calling shenanigans!


The Wrap up – Even though the Caps lost their last two games, they really didn’t play all that bad. There were a few times where a guy might be out of position, and a couple of times where guys bumped into each other, but some of that is to be expected when you shuffle up the line combinations as the Caps did when they got Fleischmann and Federov back.


I’m not quite ready to hit the panic button just yet. Yes the Caps lost two in a row, but nobody wins them all. They are still in good shape and none of their rankings slid (they are still first in their division, second in their conference and fourth in the league). Their opponents did get to catch up on them a little though so they will need to get back on the winning track to keep their conference and league rankings in place. Otherwise, they are in no real danger in the Southeast as they still hold a 10-point lead there.


Coming up – The Caps start their week off tomorrow at Verizon Center when they welcome in the 21st ranked Edmonton Oilers. Immediately after that they head up to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to face a Penguins team that has lost eight of their last ten games. They finish their week on Saturday by welcoming the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins to Verizon Center.


Final Thought – The Capitals are one superstar goalie away from being the best team in the league. It’s hard to say anything bad about the work that Johnson and Theodore have been doing as of late, but I’m not ready to consider them “franchise goaltenders” just yet. My blood boils when I consider the burn left by Cristobal Huet as he spurned the Caps for Chicago. The thoughts of what could’ve been will really drive you crazy.


The fact that Johnson and Theodore are playing so “on the bubble” makes it difficult to say the Caps should bring Varlamov up from the AHL for good, because he is still technically an unknown. So unless Caps GM George McPhee has any other magic tricks up his sleeve that can pull in a guy like Steve Mason or Roberto Luongo, I don’t think the Caps are true cup contenders this year.


This doesn’t mean that they won’t be fun to watch in the meantime, and you never know when it comes to George McPhee, we’ve seen him pull rabbits out of hats before.

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