capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Brouwer Scores OT Winner as Caps Come Back

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Capitals Logo
courtesy of tbridge

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, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Oh Look, an Apology (Sort of)

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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?

Photo courtesy of deejayqueue
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.

Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Features

Capital Upgrade: Summer 2012 Edition

Photo courtesy of bhrome
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

Dale Hunter: Samurai Warrior

Photo courtesy of photopete

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

Photo courtesy of clydeorama

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, 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, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Caps Top Bolts in OT

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Ovechkin Takes To The Ice
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For the second time in five games, Alex Ovechkin scored in overtime to cap a comeback victory as the Capitals defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 last night at Verizon Center. The win kept the Capitals’ fragile playoff hopes alive.

After a fiery speech by head coach Dale Hunter following a lackluster second period, the Capitals played the third period with urgency, grit and determination. Marcus Johansson tied the game at 2-2 with four minutes remaining in the game to force overtime. Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix

Ovie Scores in OT as Caps Come Back to Defeat Islanders 3-2

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Ovechkin Fist Pump
courtesy of clydeorama

Alex Ovechkin played a terrible game last night. His passes weren’t connecting, he was often out of position, and he turned over the puck repeatedly. He shot wide to the left. He shot wide to the right. But when the game – and perhaps the season – was on the line in overtime, Ovie scored a spectacular goal to win the game and vault Washington back into a playoff spot.

Troy Brouwer set up the overtime heroics by scoring twice in the last four minutes of regulation to lead the come-from-behind victory. New York netminder Evgeni Nabokov was a brick wall through 56 minutes of the game, turning away the first 30 shots he faced. But Brouwer took an aggressive approach, taking his body to the net and scoring both goals from within a few feet of the goal line. Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Caps Fall to Jets in Shootout, 3-2

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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

capitals hockey, Sports Fix

Caps Blank Panthers, 4-0

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Tomas Vokoun Makes a Pad Save
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The Caps scored early and often and rode a hot goaltender to a 4-0 win over the Florida Panthers last night at Verizon Center. With the win, the Caps vaulted past the Panthers into first place in the Southeast Division and a spot in the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Tomas Vokoun stopped 42 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.

The fans were barely in their seats when the Caps lit the red light for an early lead. Jason Chimera dug the puck out of the corner and fed a pass to Matthieu Perreault who slid the puck under Panthers’ goalie Scott Clemmensen just 13 seconds into the game. Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Caps Outlast Lightning, Win 4-3

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Brouwer Skates Over Blue Line
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The Caps rode two early power play goals and a hat trick by Troy Brouwer to a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning last night at Verizon Center. Tampa Bay stormed back in the third period to draw within a goal twice. With the goalie on the bench for an extra forward, the Lightening pressed to the very end, scoring with 10 second remaining in the game, and nearly tieing the game as the final buzzer sounded. Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix

Caps Edge Penguins, 1-0

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Vokoun Moving in Crease
courtesy of clydeorama

A breakaway goal and solid goaltending was enough to beat the conference rival Pittsburgh Penguins, 1-0, last night at Verizon Center. Jason Chimera scored on a first period breakaway for the winning goal and Tomas Vokoun made 30 saves to earn the shutout. The game had consequences in the race for the playoffs for both teams as the Caps passed the Penguins in the standings to move into 8th place in the Eastern Conference.

The Penguins dominated the early going in puck possession and offensive zone time. The Caps came out looking flat, chasing pucks, passing into each others’ skates and shooting from long range. Only Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer were able to take the puck and body to the net. A couple of rocking checks by Alex Ovechkin and Brouwer seemed to wake Washington out of their west coast fog and generate some energy from their Eco Watch health products.

The Caps got on the score sheet 15 minutes into the game when Joel Ward knocked the puck away from Evgeni Malkin to spring Jeff Halpern for a 3-on-1 break. Halpern saucered a perfect pass to a streaking Chimera who beat Marc-Andre Fleury high on the blocker side. Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Caps Top Predators, 4-1

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Mike Knuble has played 1,000 NHL games.
courtesy of bridgetds

The Capitals honored 39-year-old Mike Knuble last night for playing in 1,000 NHL games, then went out and earned a hard fought 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators before a festive crowd at Verizon Center last night. Riding goals from marquee players Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin along with some timely saves by goalie Michal Neuvirth, the Caps played as complete a game as we have seen under new coach Dale Hunter. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Come Up Short Against Cats

Photo courtesy of Brian Isemann
courtesy of Brian Isemann

The Washington Capitals dropped another game in their latest skid, losing to Southeast Division rival (and current leader) Florida. The Panthers held off a late-game rally by the Caps for a 5-4 victory and now lead Washington in the division by seven points.

The loss is the team’s ninth out of their last 12, and third in four games under new coach Dale Hunter.

The good:

  • The Caps played a solid 20 minutes. In the third period, but still – they almost pulled out a win.
  • Jason Chimera’s scoring touch continues; he tipped in a John Carlson shot with 1:44 remaining in the game, sparking some spirited (but fruitless) Caps play. Mike Knuble, Cody Eakin, and Brooks Laich also scored. Captain Alex Ovechkin had four…hits.
  • The Caps held Florida to six shots on goal in the final frame.

The bad:

  • Penalties. The Caps got a lot of them early, and Florida capitalized with 3 PPGs in the game.
  • The Caps power play is now 2 for 50 in the last 13 games. They failed to convert the two chances they had last night.
  • The team continued its inconsistent play, waking up only in the third period and putting in a solid effort to force a comeback. Too little, too late.

The quote:
Brooks Laich (via Tarik El Bashir): “It’s not acceptable to play hockey for 20 minutes and not execute for the other 40. We’re not here to try, we’re to win.”

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Alumni Dale Hunter New Head Coach

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‘Hunter and Gartner Banners’
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’
Early this morning the Caps dropped a major post-holiday bombshell. (Not that we didn’t see it coming.) Former Caps captain Dale Hunter has been announced as the team’s new head coach, replacing Bruce Boudreau. The change comes on the heels of a horrific November for the team, including a 5-1 loss to an overly injured Buffalo Sabres team. (A game we didn’t recap because it was that bad.)

Hunter played 19 seasons in the NHL, appearing in 1,407 games and tallying 1,020 points (323 goals). He is one of only four players to have their numbers retired by the Capitals. The new coach, recently of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, will make his bench debut tomorrow night as the Caps host the St. Louis Blues.

Under his guidance, the Knights won their first Memorial Cup Championship in 2004-05. Hunter is the fastest head coach in OHL history to record 300 and 400 career bench wins; he also possesses the highest winning percentage in league history with a record of 451-189-23-24 (.691) in his 11 seasons with the team.

We wish the new coach well in jump-starting the Caps back to their winning ways; he definitely has his work cut out for him.

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Continue Slide in Loss to Jets

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‘Boudreau Does Not Like the Call’
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’

Winnipeg Jets winger Evander Kane scored twice against Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth and shut down captain Alexander Ovechkin en route to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in Manitoba, Canada.

The good:

  • Alexander Semin scored the lone Caps tally early in the first period.

…and that’s about it.

The bad:

  • The Caps blew a 59 second 5-on-3 power play in the second period that could have turned things around after the Jets’ scoring spurt that saw three goals in just under five minutes.
  • Ovechkin had five shots on the night but remained scoreless for the third consecutive game. His current season tally of 7 goals, 14 points is a career low after 17 total games.
  • The third period was insipid.

The quote:
“The best way to slow it down is to score a goal,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “The best way to stop a crowd from cheering is to not making stupid mistakes in your own zone and giving them opportunities to score.”

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Overcome Devils 3-1

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courtesy of ‘bridgetds’

After the debacle against the Dallas Stars last week, the Washington Capitals needed a rebound. Coach Bruce Boudreau punished the team with some nasty practices and in the first of this home-and-home series against the New Jersey Devils, it seemed to have made an impact. The Caps finished strong in their 3-1 victory at Prudential Center.

The good:

  • The Caps overcame a sloppy and slow first half of the game, erasing the Devils’ early lead with a couple of opportunistic goals by Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson.
  • The game turned in the second period after some solid and consistent play by the Caps kept the Devils from capitalizing on any opportunities.
  • Jason Chimera’s game-winning goal was a combination of power and grace, plowing through a pair of Devils and outskating Devils’ rookie Adam Larsson to the goal mouth, then faking goalie Martin Brodeur to snap home a shorthanded goal. It’s easily the pivot moment of the game.

The bad:

  • Alexander Semin had just over 8 minutes of ice time in the game, with only 16 seconds coming in the final 35 minutes. Semin took a 2 minute hooking call halfway into he first period.
  • The first period start was hideous for the Caps, who took only 3 shots in the first 19:50.
  • Mike Green, who had just returned after missing six games with an ankle injury, went down late in the first period in a collision with New Jersey’s Ryan Carter. According to the Caps, the injury is not the ankle and Green will likely be out short-term.

The quote:
“If you look through history, and I wouldn’t want to do the calculating, but when you score a shorthanded goal in a tight game, that team almost always wins,” said Coach Boudreau when asked how important Chimera’s shorthanded goal was.

capitals hockey

Stars Shine, Caps Fall 5-2

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Neuvirth Makes a Save On a Tricky Puck
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’

They typically only face each other once a season, so a match-up between the Dallas Stars and the Washington Capitals is not one of the marquee rivalries in the NHL. Not like the salad days of the great Redskins and Cowboys teams over in the NFL. But coming into last night’s game, these two teams sported the best records in the league. Unfortunately, what promised to be fireworks turned to fizzle as the the Caps came undone in the third period. The Stars simply out-worked the Caps en route to a 5-2 victory in Washington. Continue reading