capitals hockey, Sports Fix

Caps Edge Penguins, 1-0

Photo courtesy of clydeorama
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.

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

Caps Fall to Penguins, 2-1

Photo courtesy of
Jason Chimera
courtesy of bridgetds

The calendar turned a page yesterday, but the Washington Capitals are still playing from their November playbook as they lost 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at Verizon Center. Jason Chimera scored the lone goal for the Caps to continue his hot start to the season. It was the first time the Caps had lost to the Penguins in regulation in more than three years.

In the Caps’ second straight loss under new head coach Dale Hunter, the team played a physically aggressive game but were badly outshot, 35-17 for the game. “We played too much in our own end,” said Hunter after the game. “We have got to get the puck out much quicker.”

Call it “Dale Hunter Hockey” as it is emerging over the past four days. It starts with solid defense, the relentless pursuit of the puck, lots of hard hitting, and battles in the corners. The Caps had a strong forecheck all night, getting to the offensive corners and winning position battles. But they failed to control the puck and were not able to convert the aggressive play into scoring chances. Passes did not connect. Very few shots were directed toward the goal.

I am reminded of the days when Ollie Kolzig would routinely face 40 shots a night backstopping a scrappy, tight-checking team. I miss Bruce Boudreau already. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Overcome Devils 3-1

Photo courtesy of
‘IMG_3383.jpg’
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, Sports Fix

Caps Top Rangers in Game 2

Photo courtesy of
Marcus Johannson digs in for a faceoff against Brandon Dubinsky of the Rangers.
courtesy of ‘bridgetds’

Is playoff hockey awesome, or what?

The Capitals went toe-to-toe with the New York Rangers in an intense physical game, scored two quick goals in the second period, then locked down the defense to hang on for the 2-0 victory and a 2-0 lead in the series. Michal Neuvirth made 22 saves to earn his first NHL post-season shutout in front of a lively and appreciative crowd last night at the Verizon Center.

The Rangers showed more fire and hustle in the first period, outshooting the Caps 13-7, outhitting by a margin of 18-11, and generally dominating puck possession. The bodies were flying, and more then one player took the short trip down the corridor to the locker room for repair, only to be back on the bench for the next shift. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Bruins Crush Caps Again, 4-1


‘DSC_7102~’
courtesy of ‘photopete’

Two nights after beating the Caps in Washington, the Bruins handed the Caps a second straight defeat last night in Boston, 4-1. While the Caps unleashed even more shots on Tim Thomas than Tuesday night, the Boston goalie was brilliant and the Bruins physically dominated the Caps all over the ice. It seemed that the only team that learned any lessons from Tuesday night was the Bruins as they demolished Washington’s perfect record on the penalty kill, scoring three power play goals on four chances.

Two bright spots for the Caps were the play of rookie Marcus Johansson, who was promoted to the second line and responded with his best game of the season. Semyon Varlamov made his first start of the season and showed why the Caps have a promising future with two young netminders.

The Caps once again had many quality chances in the offensive zone, especially early in the game, but Thomas played lights-out good, making 38 saves for the game. The Bruins scored a power play goal in the last minute of the first period when Patrice Bergeron found Michael Ryder open at the side of the crease, and he knocked it past Varlamov for a 1-0 lead.

Continue reading

News, The Daily Feed

Caps Welcome Chimera, Say Goodbye to Clark, Jurcina

Photo courtesy of
‘Miller Robs Clark’
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’

Welcome Jason Chimera to Caps country. The Columbus Blue Jackets left winger was traded to the team for Capitals captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina yesterday afternoon.

Chimera, who has 8 goals and 17 points on the season, comes at a time when the Capitals are flying high as the top club in the Eastern Conference. With a glut of right wingers and defensemen, team GM George McPhee felt the time for a trade was right.

Columbus has to agree. With one of the worst records in the league this season, they’ve needed some serious help in team leadership and on the blue line; this trade seems to have addressed both issues for them.

While one of Columbus’ most popular players in the locker room and one of the team’s fastest skaters, Chimera hasn’t lived up to expectations in Ohio. He debuted in the 2005-06 season with 17 goals and 30 points and knocked out 15 goals in 36 points in 2007-08. But last year, injuries limited Chimera to only 49 games, with a production of 8 goals and 22 points overall. He does bring energy and edge to the ice, and the Capitals hope he can blossom in their more aggressive style of play.

Both Coach Bruce Boudreau and McPhee said the Capitals won’t select a new team captain immediately.