Capital’s coach Dale Hunter
courtesy of photopete
Like many sports, hockey is a game of momentum and lucky bounces. As Caps’ coach Dale Hunter likes to say, “That’s hockey.” The Winnipeg Jets got a few lucky breaks last night to beat the Caps 3-2 before a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.
Ii was a wild ending. Four power play goals in the span of eight minutes late in the third period left the two teams tied at the end of regulation. After an inconclusive overtime, the Jets won the game in the shootout.
The Caps came out aggressively in the first period, peppering Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 12 shots on goal to the Jets 4. The Caps had another 13 shots that either missed the net or were blocked. Even though both teams play a “trap” style of defense, it was wide open hockey with fast rushes in both directions. It seemed like the clock had been turned back to the run-and-gun Caps of the best of the Boudreau years. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me it was a lovely sight. Continue reading
The Caps have announced this morning that they have re-signed centerman Brooks Laich to a six-year contract worth an estimated $27 million. Laich would have been an unrestricted free agent if a deal hadn’t been struck by Friday, July 1; letting Laich go could’ve been a step backwards for the team.
Fortunately, the Caps stepped up and held on to one of their more dynamic on-ice leaders. The center had made it known that he preferred to stick around the DC area, fully intending to return to the Caps locker room in the fall. Today, that’s a surety for at least the next six years.
“My intent the whole time was to return. That was the only option. We got to a point where it got very close to the draft and I really wanted to get the deal done so I knew for sure I’d be going back to Washington,” Laich told Caps media senior writer Mike Vogel. “You never know could happen at the draft; they could have made trades or gone in another direction. I didn’t want to lose Washington.”
“He was important to our team,” said General Manager George McPhee in the Caps press release. “We had to sort out what kind of commitment he wanted to make and what kind of commitment we wanted to make. But as we got further along in the process and really got a more comprehensive view of contracts in the league and where he fits with those players and those contracts, it seemed like he was right in line with a lot of them.”
Laich’s continued presence will keep the Caps’ veteran center line intact, joining Niklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson up the middle.
courtesy of ‘Brian Isemann’
It is a Wednesday night in April. Washington, D.C. was about 65 degrees in the afternoon with a bit of a chill breeze coming from the water. The townsfolk are buzzing about cherry blossoms and how utterly bad the Nationals are going to be.
For years in D.C., this was not a time to be talking about hockey.
But, there is this red machine is like a fire in the middle of the city. People flock to it for the experience, for the cheers and the hits and the hope to see Alex Ovechkin light a lamp, hear a foghorn sound. For 101 straight regular season games, Verizon Center has been packed to the rafters with manic fans, unleashing fury and clamoring for chicken wings.
It was no different this Wednesday.
And their team didn’t disappoint.
The Caps were sloppy against the Panthers, but they certainly were the better team, claiming a 5-2 victory to finish off their home schedule (25-8-8) of the regular season. Washington is now a win away from claiming its second straight Eastern Conference regular season title and having home ice through a theoretical playoff run.
courtesy of ‘bridgetds’
Everybody around the Capitals are starting to get a little bit antsy. Washington is a point back for the top seed in the Eastern Conference, it has won eight straight games and doing so in gritty style. The trade acquisitions are paying off and it does not seem to matter who is in goal, Washington is pulling out victories.
The Caps themselves do not seem to be antsy. If anything, a good adjective to describe them would be focused. Focused describes the surrounding media and fan base also, all looking towards the ice and seeing a team that is playing well and asking ‘what is it going to mean in the playoffs?’
Sunday’s 4-3 overtime matinee win against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks was a showcase game. It was the NBC Game Of The Week and had a little bit of a “what-if” surrounding it. What if the Caps had not gotten run by the Canadiens in the first round? What if they were able to grind through and make it through the Eastern Conference to play in the Finals? What if the faced this same Chicago team last June for it all?
One thing is for certain … it would have been fun to watch.