capitals hockey

Capitals to Host 2015 Winter Classic

In the next of a long string of badly-kept secrets from the NHL regarding its Winter Classic, the 2015 version will be hosted right here in Washington, DC. The formal announcement will come from Caps owner Ted Leonsis tomorrow during the team’s annual Caps Convention.

No information yet on the venue or opponent; supposedly that will come tomorrow during Leonsis’ announcement. Potential sites are Nationals Stadium (of which Leonsis has a minor ownership stake of which Mark Lerner, one of the Nats owners, has a stake in Leonsis’ Monumental Sports company) or FedEx Field in Maryland, home of the Washington pro football team.

Opponents can run the gamut, but ideally would be from one of the larger hockey television markets and a team rival. With the Caps in a new division this year, the list only increases with possibilities.

The 2015 Winter Classic will take place on January 1 and be aired nationally on NBC.

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Milbury Blasts Ovechkin During Caps Loss to Flyers

Photo courtesy of BrianMKA
Alex Ovechkin
courtesy of BrianMKA

If you watched the horror show in Philadelphia last night, you know the Caps just looked bad. As in, start-of-the-season bad. The team floated the “we were tired” balloon as an excuse, as the game was their third in five days.

It’s an excuse that would hold more weight if the Caps were firing on all cylinders from the start and deep in the playoff race. But they’re in catch-up mode and in danger of missing out on this year’s Cup run. “Being tired” just doesn’t cut it at this point.

Most interesting, however, was NBC Sports commentator Mike Milbury’s diatribe about Caps captain Alex Ovechkin. I’ll caveat by saying I’m not a huge Milbury fan for innumerable reasons. But considering the Caps woes right now, including Ovie’s less-than-stellar stats for this point in the season…I think Milbury has a point buried in his overemotional pontification.

Are the Caps in danger of tanking out this season if Ovie can’t get it together?

My magic 8-ball says “Signs point to yes.”

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Brouwer Scores OT Winner as Caps Come Back

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Capitals Logo
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Going into the third period last night, it looked as if the drubbing the Caps delivered to the Florida Panthers over the weekend was a fluke. Down 5-3 just over six minutes into the final frame, the Caps were at a point familiar to fans this season: the fold-n-fade.

Fortunately, not so last night. Eric Fehr tipped in a Joel Ward-to-Mike Green pass to put the spark back into the Caps. That culminated into an Alex Ovechkin power play goal with just under three minutes to go, tying it up at 5.

Troy Brouwer finished the Panthers off 32 seconds into overtime with a sweet breakaway, giving the Caps a much-needed divisional win. The victory also gave the team a morale booster shot. “Two points is two points,” Brouwer said to reporters after the game. “We’ve had a few games we’ve given away two points, now it’s our turn to battle back and get those two very important points. The way we did it is very encouraging, too, because we rely on our skill a lot of the time, but this time it was ugly. It was good bounces, guys going to the net. Those are the ways that you score those goals, and that’s how you get back in the games, guys working hard.”

A two-game win streak is promising, even if both come against a struggling Florida team. The real test will be if this can turn into a string of wins to put the Caps back on track. They’ll face Tampa Bay tomorrow at 7:30 pm.

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Sputter and Slide in Loss to Penguins

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courtesy of bhrome

Going into last night’s game in Pittsburgh, the Caps had gone 9-0-1 in the Penguins’ own home, a streak dating back to 2007. So if there was any night the Caps could break out of their dismal start and begin the arduous climb back into the playoff picture, now was the time.

Until the second period, it looked as if the Caps were on the upswing. And then it all fell apart. The Pens scored five goals in the second, including two in the span of eleven seconds, and put the game out of reach. Michal Neuvirth was pulled after Pascal Dupuis put the Penguins up 2-1, but the goalie switch didn’t spark anything. The Penguins lit up Braden Holtby for three more goals. Final result? Penguins 5, Capitals 2. Streak broken.

Alex Ovechkin and Ribeiro got a goal and assist in the loss. Ovechkin continues to do well, struggling only in the points department. He was his usual aggressive self, even as he continues to adjust to his new spot on the right wing. He’s got five points in five games – but it’s just not enough to spark a flagging and apparently mentally drained Caps team.

After the game, Ovie was clearly upset. Reporters asked how angry he was. “Angry enough,” was his simple response.

It’s a sentiment many long-time Caps fans identify with these days.

Next game is tomorrow as the Caps host the equally-struggling Florida Panthers. Puck drops at 7 pm.

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Drop Another Lead, Lose to Leafs

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courtesy of bhrome

After leading through most of three periods, the Caps couldn’t contain some of Toronto’s younger talent. Nikolai Kulemin and Matt Frattin scored just over two minutes apart in the middle of the third, giving the Leafs the lead and eventually, a 3-2 win.

Michal Neuvirth earned the night’s third star for his 37 save effort but it wasn’t enough to keep Washington from its fifth loss of the season. The Caps are now 1-5-1 and off to a dreadful start of this shortened campaign.

Upsides are a little hard to find. The Caps did stymie seven of eight Leaf power plays on the night, though it also means the Caps took too many penalties in the game. Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the season. And Neuvirth was a solid presence in the net.

“It’s a very disappointing loss obviously, we were up 2-1 after the second like in Ottawa,” a dejected Neuvirth told NHL.com. “Maybe we are missing a little bit of luck and we definitely have to stay out of the box.”

The Caps are at home tonight and face a stuttering Philadelphia Flyers team. Puck drops at 7 pm.

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Surge Late, Tie Devils

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Michal Neuvirth
courtesy of Dan4th

For a bit, it looked like the monkey was coming off the Caps’ back. Two late goals in the third period by Mike Ribeiro and Mike Green – the first in the season for both – tied up the game and sent it into overtime. The New Jersey Devils were having none of it, though. With just under twenty seconds left in the extra period, Ilya Kovalchuk slammed the puck past goalie Michal Neuvirth. The Devils preserved their undefeated start to the season with the 3-2 win.

Washington is the last NHL team to register a point for this season; they are now 0-3-1 and last in the Southeast. Neuvirth was the bright spot in the game, registering 32 saves on 35 shots. Despite the loss, coach Adam Oates was optimistic. “I think tonight was an example of we did [work]. And it was great to see,” said Oates.

“The first question was, we haven’t played for 60 minutes. Well, we did tonight. It was a lot of growing pains, if you will, but the guys did their job. You obviously want the win, but we did a lot of good things.”

Next game is Sunday against Buffalo at the Verizon Center.

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Bolts Drop Caps in Season Opener

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Shake the rust off, it’s time for hockey!

The Caps opened the shortened 2013 campaign with a 6-3 loss in Tampa Bay last night. The game was close through two periods. Three unanswered goals by the Bolts sunk a Caps team that looked shaky, slow, and  a bit rusty.

Not exactly a stirring debut for new coach Adam Oates. But the stuttering start is somewhat expected, as teams had less than a week in an abbreviated camp. Forming a cohesive spirit with new faces and a new bench boss at the drop of the puck isn’t easy.

Bright spots were two goals from Joel Ward and one from newcomer Wojtek Wolski that tied the game in the second. “You always hope to contribute, for sure,” Ward said. “You’re not going to go out there and say I’m going to score five or anything, but you try to finish your opportunities if you can. I was fortunate to get a couple.”

Another moment that many Caps fans enjoyed was watching defensemen Tom Poti play in his first NHL game since January 2011. Poti got a point in his return. Earlier in the week, Caps senior writer Mike Vogel tweeted that if Poti was able to get back on the ice, he’s a sure-fit for this year’s Masterton Trophy, awarded to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey. Poti’s battled several physical issues, including a lingering groin injury, for the last two years.

Next up is the Caps home opener on Tuesday against Winnipeg.

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Oh Look, an Apology (Sort of)

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
Ted Leonsis
courtesy of Keith Allison

Oh look, Ted apologized.

Two things. First, where was this on Sunday? Why wasn’t this the email sent out? Not that this is all that much better, mind. (I’m bemused by the fact it’s actually entitled “A Note of Apology and Empathy.”)

Second, I find it interesting it comes out in the wake of other team notifications regarding some of the promos offered and first steps being taken to rebuild burned (nuked?) bridges. I’ve got to say, the timing on this is just…really, really poor.

I think what really irritates me most is this particular statement in Leonsis’ post:

It is now incumbent upon us to be a first-class partner not only with our players but also with our fans. It is time to move forward in the best way we can, together.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but why is it only now ‘they’ (I’m assuming the ownership group) recognize the necessity to partner with the fans? It’s a little late for that light bulb illumination. This tidbit of revelation would’ve been better served coming any day prior to September 15, 2012…

Business and Money, capitals hockey, Downtown, Penn Quarter, Sports Fix, The Features

Hockey’s Back – Should We Care?

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Empty Verizon Center
courtesy of deejayqueue

In case you missed it among the news of yet another Washington sports team’s playoff collapse, the NHL lockout is over. Which means the Capitals will soon be plying their trade at the Verizon Center.

We’ve had a few people ask over the last few months why we’ve not posted any lockout news here on WeLoveDC. It’s a reasonable question, considering we’ve been covering the Caps pretty solidly since our site debut. But we’ll be honest: we just didn’t feel like it.

On Sunday, messages from various teams around the NHL hit fan inboxes. Around here, the missive from Caps (and Wizards) owner Ted Leonsis sparked a flurry of conversation between Tom, Addison, and myself. Rather than keep it to ourselves, we felt it only right to vent our collective frustration here. After the jump, we break our silence and share our thoughts on the lockout, the league, the Caps’ coming season…and what it means to be a hockey fan in a crumbling hockey town.

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capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Features

Capital Upgrade: Summer 2012 Edition

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2012Draft031
courtesy of bhrome
Typically, the period between the NHL Awards night and Unrestricted Free Agent day – known to non-hockey fans as July 1 – can be one of tumult, surprise, or downright boredom. It’s when the front office of every team takes the spotlight, working last-minute contract deals, shuffling trades for salary cap space, and executing the yearly NHL Draft. Year to year, it can be hot, cold, or lukewarm for any organization.

This year, the Washington Capitals have been hot. How hot? Enough that I’ve had to morph this article from a NHL Draft day summary into one that encompasses several changes from the Caps’ front office over the last few days. And the initial prognosis – such as these can be in the off season – is that the Caps may have finally found the last pieces of their playoff enigma.

A fast recap: in the last week, we have 10 new draft selections, a new coach, a new second-line center, and sayonara to two players (with a third possibly on the horizon). Shall we dive into the changes? Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Dale Hunter Steps Down

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DSC_8793
courtesy of photopete

And it looks as if ultimate samurai coach Dale Hunter has fallen on his sword for the now-ousted Washington Capitals. According to various sources, Hunter stepped down from his stint as bench boss this morning.

GM George McPhee indicated at a brief press conference that the team will be taking its time selecting a new coach. If the Caps are smart, they’ll have someone signed on before the NHL Entry Draft on June 21. (McPhee did hint to WaPo that this was indeed a possibility.)

ProHockeyTalk has a (questionable) list of possible replacements from the NHL coach recycling bin. Of all of those listed, I would think Bob Hartley’s the best option.

Who would you like to see helm the pine bench next season?

capitals hockey

Dale Hunter: Samurai Warrior


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courtesy of photopete

Dale Hunter doesn’t talk much. But the Washington Capitals head coach is quietly leading his team into a Game 7 showdown in Madison Square Garden tomorrow night against the top-ranked New York Rangers.

The quiet but unflappable Hunter seems to exude confidence in his players, and they have responded in kind. Hunter has taken a team troubled by past playoff collapses and turned them into believers in his system and in themselves. The biggest difference between this post-season and the past four playoff failures is the man behind the bench.

There is only one possible explanation: Dale Hunter is actually a Samurai warrior. Continue reading

capitals hockey

Caps Top Rangers, Force Game 7


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Lundqvist Ovechkin Stare Down courtesy of clydeorama

And so we go to Game 7.

In a 2-1 victory in Game 6 last night the Caps struck early, stayed aggressive, and then held off the NY Rangers down the stretch to stay alive in the NHL playoffs.

Buoyed by a raucous crowd at Verizon Center, the Caps scored two goals in the first two periods. The Rangers came charging back in the third. Just as in Game 5, the Rangers pulled the goalie and scored a last-minute goal. But the Caps clamped down on defense to prevent an equalizer. The Caps’ rookie netminder Braden Holtby was spectacular in earning the victory with 30 saves. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Rangers Outlast Caps in Triple OT


Brouwer Clears the Puck with a Skate

Action in Front of Braden Holtby
courtesy of PackaPuck

After 94 shots on goal, the game was still tied. Another 127 shots had either missed the net or been blocked. More than 100 hits had been delivered. At least two players required stitches in their face and yet returned to the game.

Finally, after nearly 115 minutes of hockey, Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers scored on the 95th shot of the game to defeat the Capitals 2-1 in Game 3 of the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series. Continue reading

capitals hockey

Won’t Admit Defeat: Caps 2, Bruins 1 (OT)

Credit: John McDonnell / The Washington Post

The previous six games in the series between the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals were decided by one goal, so there was no reason to expect game seven would be any different. The Caps and Bruins did not disappoint, taking another close game to the overtime period, where Joel Ward, added by the Caps in the offseason specifically for his past playoff heroics, backhanded a rebound past Tim Thomas to send the Caps to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the defending Stanley Cup champions to the golf course.
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capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Beat Bruins to Tie Series


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Holtby: Rock
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Rookie goaltender Braden Holtby put on the best show of his short and stellar NHL career as he stopped 44 shots to lead the Caps over the Boston Bruins by a score of 2-1 to even the best of seven series at two games apiece.

The Caps managed to score twice on just 21 shots, but it was enough to make Holtby’s heroics count. Alexander Semin scored the game winning goal on a power play. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Bruins Beat Caps 4-3, Dive to 2-1 Series Lead

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courtesy of bhrome

The Capitals came into Monday night’s game fresh off an inspired overtime victory in Boston, hoping to turn the tide in their favor in the friendly red confines of the Verizon Center. Despite a fast start, a few unfortunate bounces and defensive miscues prevented the Caps from taking the lead in the series.
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capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Capitals Block Bruins in Beantown, 2-1 (2OT)

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Backstrom Checks Stewart
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Well folks, it looks like we might just have a series on our hands. And if you are a hockey, what a series this is turning out to be. The Caps took on the Bruins in a Saturday matinee game that required five periods to complete, but in the end, the bonus hockey ended up being well worth the wait with the Caps securing a 2-1 win to bring a tied series back to Washington on Monday.
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capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Bruins Beat Caps in OT, 1-0


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Tim Thomas making the save
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The Bruins’ Chris Kelly scored 78 seconds into overtime to give the Boston Bruins a victory in the first game of the best-of-seven playoff series. Rookie goaltender Braden Holtby played an outstanding game, making tremendous saves throughout regulation, but was beaten on the first shot he faced in overtime.

“It was a chess game out there and we battled hard,” said coach Dale Hunter after the game. “Unfortunately it was a perfect shot inside the post that won the game.” Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Secure Playoff Spot


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Fan Silhouette
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As unlikely as it may have seemed nine days ago, the Washington Capitals have defied the odds, shaken off some stinging recent defeats and secured a place in the Stanley Cup playoffs starting next week.

The Caps defeated the Florida Panthers 4-2 last night at Verizon Center before a raucous sellout crowd. Washington took an early 3-0 lead, survived a mid-game rally by Florida, then played aggressively down the stretch. Combined with the Buffalo Sabres’ loss in Philadelphia a few minutes earlier, Caps fans were able to celebrate their team’s success in the final home game of the regular season. Continue reading