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  • Rangers at Capitals In-Game Blog: 01-24-2011

    Pregame Preview:

    What should not to be lost in the midst of Alex Ovechkin’s 10th career hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night is the performance of rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. The rookie, who started and won the last two games in place of injured Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth, has been very impressive, only allowing one goal in each contest and making acrobatic saves when needed. It will be very interesting to see how he performs against a Rangers team that ranks much higher in the Eastern Conference than the Maple Leafs and New York Islanders.

    The Capitals, who are accustomed to being in the upper echelon of the league in offense, rank 14th in the league in goals forced and are hoping Ovechkin’s hat trick will jump-start an offensive resurgence for an otherwise slow season for the two-time NHL MVP.

    Nicklas Backstrom, who has also been in an offensive slump as of late, hopes his goal against the Islanders on Thursday night, his first in his previous 22 games played, will return him to regular form. With 33 games left, he is currently 21 goals shy of his total from last season.

    1st Period Overview:

    The Capitals had plenty of scoring chances early on in the period such as Jay Beagle’s decision to skate wide left and not shooting instead of crashing the net. Through the first half of the period, both teams combined for only two shots.

    To no one’s surprise, Sean Avery exchanged words with Mike Knuble behind the Capitals net around the eight minute mark. There was nothing to come of it but it will be interesting to see if Matt Hendricks or D.J. King take issue with Avery as the night goes on.

    Avery and Beagle also exchanged words as the period ended and both teams were leaving the ice.

    Both teams had one power play opportunity and were obviously unable to score on both chances. This game has been all defense so far.

    Faceoffs Won: NYR – 7 WAS – 11
    Hits: NYR – 9 WAS – 12
    Shots on Goal: NYR – 7 WAS – 5
    Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 0

    2nd Period Overview:

    Matt Hendricks notched his 7th goal of the season by tapping in the assist from Marcus Johansson and Scott Hannan over Martin Biron’s right shoulder. 1-0 Caps after 1:27 into the second period.

    Both teams are more aggressive crashing the net this period with Holtby seeing most of the action early on. The Caps offense turned up the heat as the period went on but appeared very indecisive with the puck at time, especially during their second power play of the game in the 15th minute.

    The Capitals announced tonight’s game as the 87th consecutive sellout.

    Faceoffs Won: NYR – 6 WAS – 9
    Hits: NYR – 7 WAS – 10
    Shots on Goal: NYR – 11 WAS – 6
    Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 1

    3rd Period Overview:

    The refs are not making themselves popular with the Verizon Center crowd tonight. First, a couple of questionable penalties were not called on the Rangers early on in the game. Then, Ovechkin was called for a two-minute diving penalty when it appeared he was held, eliciting a barrage of boos from the home crowd. After that, the fans didn’t let up on the refs after one official unintentionally stopped the progress of a Capital trying to move the puck.

    With 6:41 left, the Rangers got on the scoreboard with Marian Gaborik’s 16th goal of the season. The goal was under review as it had touched Gaborik’s glove before entering the net. When it was ruled a goal, the call endeared the refs to the fans even less.

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

    Overtime Overview:

    Faceoffs Won: NYR – 3 WAS – 1
    Hits: NYR – 1 WAS – 1
    Shots on Goal: NYR – 1 WAS – 6
    Goals: NYR – 0 WAS – 0

    Shooutout Overview:

    – Shootout attempt by Alex Ovechkin SAVED by Martin Biron
    – Shootout GOAL scored by Wojtek Wolski on Braden Holtby
    – Shootout GOAL scored by Matt Hendricks on Martin Biron
    – Shootout GOAL scored by Mats Zuccarello on Braden Holtby
    – Shootout GOAL scored by Nicklas Backstrom on Martin Biron
    – Shootout attempt by Brian Boyle MISSES wide of net
    – Shootout attempt by Marcus Johansson SAVED by Martin Biron
    – Shootout GOAL scored by Artem Anisimov on Braden Holtby

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    Caps have Montreal Backed in a Corner

    With Washington having a 2-1 advantage in the series entering game four, Montreal finds itself staring into the abyss. Montreal dominated Washington for the first 111 minutes of this series holding the highest scoring team in the league to a paltry three goals while scoring seven of their own.

    The last 82 minutes however have been quite a different story as Washington has scored ten goals to Montreal’s two.

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    Caps may be Without Ovie for a While

    So, what I know will come as a shock to many, this past week, the Washington Capitals became the first team to clinch a playoff spot. Now some skeptics will say, “oh, well that’s not a surprise, the Capitals play in the weakest division in Hockey!” Read the rest of this entry »

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    Caps Back to Work

    I missed the Olympic Men’s Hockey Gold Medal Game. Oh sure, I was watching the scoreboard, but I didn’t get to see the game. Apparently, I was one of the few who didn’t see it, as it drew in record numbers in ratings. I was on the road, and startled my wife when the US tied the game when I broke my silent vigil to shout “oh my God; they tied it!”

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    Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

    Today, both Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were named to the NHL’s ‘Three Stars of the Week’ for last week. Is it really any wonder? Read the rest of this entry »

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    Caps Pwn Pens to Extend Streak to 14

    What a week! The Washington Capitals do love their dramatic finishes.

    Needless to say, the Washington Capitals have extended their winning streak to 14 and Alex Ovechkin has once again proven his dominance over Sidney Crosby.

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    Caps go for Thirteen

    Like you, when I saw the Caps were down 1-0 on an early power-play for the Rangers, I didn’t panic. After all, we’d just seen Boston go up 1-0 in the first period two days ago.

    Seeing the Mike Knuble goal helped ease any fears I might have had; that was Harlem Globtrotter-esque. You could easily set that play to “Sweet Georgia Brown.” Ovechkin comes in on the net from the right; fakes a shot and swings around behind the net. Ranger’s goalie Hendrik Lundqvist slides over to the other side of the net, expecting the wrap around from Ovie and what does he see? Nicklas Backstrom coming in on him from the left front.

    Lundqvist takes the post and commits to blocking the wrap-around from Ovechkin, dropping to his knees with his ankles out (they call that “the butterfly”). Ovechkin passes up to Backstrom, but Lundqvist sees that he still has a reasonable angle on Backstrom, so he recommits (decides not to get back to his feet and take a new position).

    Backstrom takes the puck and backhands it between the legs of the defender that is immediately behind him and catches Mike Knuble coming in with speed from the right. The whole play couldn’t have taken more than two seconds, but you know it was going in slow motion for Lundqvist.

    As soon as he saw the puck clear his defender and Mike Knuble closing in on it, he knew he was beat, and there wasn’t anything he could do but pray that the next sound he heard was either the “clang” of the cross bar or the “thunk” of the boards.

    I do have to admit to being a little concerned when New York made it 5-3 and their power-play looked unstoppable. Personally, I’d rather the Caps be a few goals behind early than jump out to a big lead. My reasoning is that when the Caps’ jump out to a big lead, it’s too easy for the players to start to take their foot off the gas and let a team back into the game.

    When the Caps are behind though, they focus on getting the puck into the net.

    Ovechkin’s 500th career point is a great example of that. Ovechkin’s coming down the left side. It’s just him, the defender, and the goalie. Alex pushes the puck way right like he’s about to turn to the inside, or maybe try one of his classic shots where he uses the defender as a screen. The defender takes the inside position, but Ovechkin draws the puck back to himself and pushes it between the defender’s legs.

    Ovechkin draws his stick in, and slides around the defender to the outside, and picks the puck back up on the other side of the hapless defender. Lundqvist again takes the near-side post but Ovechkin slides the puck towards the middle and flips it up over Lunqvist’s left shoulder for the score.

    The Capitals currently lead the league in points, goals, and goals-per-game, yet no single player on the Caps roster has registered a hat-trick (three goals in one game) this season.

    New York played a great game last night; their power-play was outrageous. They scored five goals and they still lost the game. There was a lot to be encouraged about for the New York fans, but I know how heartbreaking that kind of loss can be.

    ESPN ranked the Capitals 2nd in their weekly power rankings this week. They recognized Washington’s (at the time) 11 game winning streak, but still placed them second behind San Jose. They even mentioned in the rankings about how tough it must be to be on an eleven-game winning streak and still be ranked number two. If I’m Boudreau, I’m showing that ranking to the players today.

    “These people don’t respect you,” I’d say. “Even though you haven’t lost in nearly a month, nobody wants to give you any credit. You’re Washington; you play in a lousy division, you’re not from a ‘hockey-town.’ The only thing you’ve got going for you right now is this win streak. The best way you can get back at these guys is to keep on winning. The more you win, the more you make these guys look like fools.”

    “We all know this winning streak must end, but you decide when,” I’d continue. “The only way we are going to silence our critics is to win the whole-friggin’-thing. Bring the Cup to Washington, and you’ll have earned their respect.”

    Caps face Atlanta tonight. This has all the markings of a “trap-game.” Washington pasted Atlanta 8-1 last time, and Atlanta just lost their best player in a trade to Detroit. The Caps need to go into this game thinking that enough is not enough. They need to keep their feet moving and their sticks down. Don’t win it in the first period, win it in the third.

    Yesterday I was wearing my “retro” white Ovie jersey (I still can’t get the hang of “sweater”) and today I’m wearing the “retro” black one. Let’s keep the ball rolling and go for the baker’s dozen!

    C! A! P! S! Caps! Caps! Caps!

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    Caps (Precap?) 2/1/10

    So everyone’s heard the Capitals have now tied their club record for the longest winning streak in team history this week. Washington had four games in six days and still managed to win all four.

    So where do the Caps stand? Well, after their late December meltdown, the Caps slid pretty far in the standings giving up their seat atop the NHL leader-board. Just seven days ago, the Caps were two points behind Chicago and six points behind San Jose. The Caps are now two points ahead of Chicago and have closed to only 1-point behind San Jose for the top spot in the NHL.

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    Longest Streak in How Long?

    When the final buzzer went at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night, the Caps had earned their eighth win in a row.

    That may not seem like a massive number, but it’s the longest winning streak for Washington since they had ten straight wins in 1983-84 season – over 25 years ago. In fact, it equals their longest streak since 1989. Read the rest of this entry »

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    Caps’ Fans Rocked Glory Days

    So last night I went to the Official Capitals’ Away-Party at the Glory Days Grill in Gainesville, Va. Even though I have noticed that there are several Glory Days locations popping up around the area, I had never been to one before last night.

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