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’
The message after the game was loud and clear in the Capitals dressing room on Saturday afternoon.
It is time to wake up.
“It is like we are waiting for something. I don’t know. Waiting for something,” forward Mike Knuble said. “We are entering the toughest part of our season right here and it is going to be a real indicator if we are going to be a serious contender or not, quite honestly.”
courtesy of ‘bridgetds’
The Capitals and Lightning battled for first place in the Southeast Division on Tuesday. Just about halfway through the season and both teams had 51 points and compare well to each other in prominent statistical categories. After Tuesday is there any doubt that Tampa Bay and Washington will battle for the division all the way down to the last week of the regular season?
It was Tampa that would triumph on Tuesday, taking home a 1-0 victory on a Martin St. Louis goal 2:54 into overtime at Verizon Center. The teams played a scoreless three periods, matching each other surge for surge, penalty for penalty, shot for shot. It was not playoff hockey but it was as close to the feel of postseason play that opponents can get in the first week of January.
“Half way through the game you could tell that it was one of those games that might be going to overtime,” St. Louis said. “The whole game both teams had their surges. Both goalies were tremendous and we needed extra time and we just, you know, got a bounce and made something with it.”
In a Winter Classic between the NHL’s top two greatest players, neither had a hand in the game that unfolded before the 68,111 people at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field or the national audience viewing on NBC. The Capitals, who grabbed two points in a tight Eastern Conference race with a 3-1 win, saw Eric Fehr and Semyon Varlamov show up as the heroes for the evening.
Despite the uncooperative weather, the Caps managed to even the score from the last time the two teams met. The game, originally scheduled to start at 1 pm, had been moved to 8 pm due to a rainy cold front that rolled through the area. As the game unfolded, light rain fell in spots, making the ice less than optimal but still playable; it didn’t hinder either team from plowing full force into the other.
Bottom line, however, was that no one left the game last night unsatisfied. The Winter Classic, much hyped over the last month, lived up to its billing for fans, coaches, and players of both teams. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “I can’t imagine football players play every game like this. It’s unbelievable. It’s the kind of thing you want to do all the time, go out and play like this.” Continue reading
courtesy of ‘MissChatter’
It was not about payback.
Payback comes in April. Or May.
It was just a game. In December. And for the Caps, it was a good one.
Washington continued its climb out of its November/December funk, claiming a 3-0 victory over Montreal at Verizon Center on Tuesday night. Semyon Varlamov picked up his sixth win, and second shutout, of the year with 25 saves while out-dueling Carey Price and setting the tone for what turned out to be a solid defensive effort for Washington.
“No, not really. We wanted to beat Montreal because they play Tampa next,” coach Bruce Boudreau said when asked if beating Les Habitantes made the win more special. “We figure if we can beat them then all of a sudden they go down there and are more desperate and hopefully come up with a good couple of games in Florida. No, because if we are sitting here in April and we play whatever team and we don’t have success, it is going to mean nothing and you guys [the press] are going to be all over us again.”
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.