The Nationals started the second-half of the season on a rough note falling 3-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers despite a strong seven innings from right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg on Friday night. Even Manager Davey Johnson appeared a bit deflated after his squad let the tie-game get away from them in the top of the ninth. “Tomorrow’s another day,” he said as he ended his post-game press conference.
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
The Caps carried their resurgent power play and a two-game winning streak into last night’s game against Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers. But they came undone through a combination of Philadelphia muscle and poor goaltending. A series of soft shots and deflections got past starting goalie Tomas Vokoun as the Caps fell to the Flyers 5-1.
In the first period, the Caps came out looking like a different team than a month ago. With a disciplined approach they took the action to the Flyers, maintaining the puck in the offensive zone for most of the period with strong physical play. The aggressiveness paid off when the Caps drew two power play chances. But the Caps failed to shoot the puck on the man advantage and were unable to score on Flyers’ netminder Ilya Bryzgalov. The Caps lost the momentum, and tide turned.
The Flyers, meanwhile, shot the puck at every opportunity. Scott Hartnell put Philadelphia ahead 1-0 when he beat Tomas Vokoun between the legs on a clear shot from the top of the faceoff circle after 16 minutes. “I don’t think we had that kind of energy and emotion we had before,” said captain Alex Ovechkin of the first goal. Continue reading →
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 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.
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.
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.”