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

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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

Photo courtesy of bhrome
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

Bolts Drop Caps in Season Opener

Photo courtesy of photopete
courtesy of photopete

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)

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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?

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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.

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, The Daily Feed

Dale Hunter Steps Down

Photo courtesy of photopete
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

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

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
courtesy of clydeorama

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

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Sabres Cut Down Caps, 5-1

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Jason Chimera can’t beat Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres.
courtesy of bhrome

In a game rife with playoff implications for both teams, the Buffalo Sabres humiliated the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center last night, handing the home team a resounding 5-1 defeat in front of a large contingent of boisterous Buffalo fans. Coming into the game tied in the standings with Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot, the Caps were out played at both ends of the ice and failed to mount a serious challenge.

With just five regular season games remaining before the playoffs begin, the Capitals are now on the outside looking in. The Caps face the top three teams in the Eastern Conference (Rangers, Bruins and Panthers) as well as recent playoff nemeses Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning. Washington will have to win nearly all of its remaining games and hope that some higher teams falter down the stretch. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Collapse in Loss to Jets

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Alex Ovechkin spotted the Caps to a 3 goal lead.
courtesy of clydeorama

It was a tale of two games: it the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of swiftness, it was the age of slacking off, it was the epoch of crisp passes on the tape, it was the epoch of sloppy clearing attempts, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, – in short, the third period was so far unlike the first period, that some of its noisiest fans insisted on the game being received in the superlative degree of comparison only. And they booed lustily.

With all apologies to Charles Dickens, thus was the Caps game last night. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first 25 minutes of hockey, the Caps utterly and completely fell apart, lost the lead – and eventually the game in overtime – to the Winnipeg Jets, 4-3. It was a demoralizing loss to a team immediately behind Washington in the standings. Two spectacular, highlight-worthy goals by Alex Ovechkin were for naught.

“This is a tough pill to swallow right now,” said Matt Hendricks after the game. “We had all the momentum going our way, then the next thing you know we lose in overtime.” 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
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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
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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