In an entertaining battle of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers last night to win 5-4 in a shootout in Philadelphia and clinch a spot in the playoffs. In their first game this season without scoring leader Alex Ovechkin, the Caps took advantage of their early chances to jump out to a 3-0 lead after just 22 minutes.
When Philadelphia changed goalies, the momentum swung the other way as the Flyers out-hustled and out-muscled the Caps to score four unanswered goals. “Our biggest problem in the second period was turning the puck over,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “The first period, we didn’t have any turnovers. We got it out, we got it deep. In the second and third period they were putting more pressure on us but we were turning the puck over.”
With five minutes left in the game, the Caps looked thoroughly beaten. But Mike Knuble, who had a dominating night with a goal and two assists, set up Marcus Johansson for a one-timer to force overtime. After a scoreless overtime, Alexander Semin scored the game winner in the shootout to seal the deal. Continue reading →
So the NHL Trade Deadline has come and gone, and the Washington Capitals made the most of it. Truth be told, the Caps started a few days ago, acquiring Marco Sturm off waivers from Los Angeles, and then added two new pieces of the current puzzle yesterday. Dennis Wideman joined the blue line corps early in the day, and the biggest catch came at the buzzer with the Caps announcing the acquisition of center Jason Arnott from New Jersey.
Do the Caps believe they’re ready for the post season with these three players? Caps management seems to think so. Let’s break it all down and see if we agree. Continue reading →
UPDATE 3:00 pm: Looks like Jason Arnott is indeed coming to Washington. Preliminary reports have Arnott coming in, and Dave Steckel going out, along with a 2nd round draft pick. We’ll have a complete rundown of these two trades and what it may mean for the Caps tomorrow.
Today’s NHL Trade Deadline day and as in year’s past, I’m glued to various hockey sources for trade news. Many suspected the Caps to be busy, and it looks like they’ve busted out a trade today. We’ll update as news hits, and look for a feature tomorrow with an in-depth recap of today’s moves.
As of 11:50, Mike Vogel broke the news that Washington has traded with division rival Florida, sending minor leaguer Jake Hauswirth and their 2011 third-round pick in exchange for defenseman Dennis Wideman. The puck-moving d-man has 9 goals and 33 points this season, but also sports a whopping minus-26.
The Caps topped off their latest 5 game road trip with a hard-fought 1-0 victory in Pittsburgh. The game capped off a wild cross-country journey that saw the Caps bring in 6 points out of a possible 10. And for many, it also brought about a rebirth of sorts of Alex Ovechkin. He got the lone tally with a 45 foot blast during a second period power play that proved to be all the Caps needed to hold off a struggling and injured Penguins team. The goal was Ovechkin’s third in the last four games; he’s got 6 points total over the same stretch, and has 9 goals (17 points) over his last 15. Slump? Over.
“That is what he does, and this is what he wasn’t doing in the first 45-50 games,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “He wasn’t getting his shot off. I didn’t even see it (the goal) in the replay at all. He has been playing like that for the last two weeks and being a real leader.”
The Caps’ win also marked an odd trivia point for the team that won’t likely be repeated by anyone in the NHL any time soon. In the Caps’ last three visits to Pittsburgh, they’ve beat the Pens in three different venues: the Civic (Mellon) Arena with a 6-3 win on April 6; the 3-1 Winter Class victory at Heinz Field on January 1; and last night’s shutout in the new Consol Energy Center. The game was also Michal Neuvirth’s second shutout in 15 days, both against the Penguins. Continue reading →
One shot in the final 8 minutes, down one goal? Last year this would have been unheard of. This year, it’s becoming the staple of most Capitals’ games, and it does not bode well at all.
The Caps surrendered 3 goals on 18 shots last night to a Phoenix team looking for positioning in the tight Western Conference playoff race. Though the Caps did pepper Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with 31 shots – 11 between Alex Ovechkin and Mathieu Perrault – the Caps just couldn’t get it done. The power play was a dismal 0-5 on the night as well. Michal Neuvirth stopped only 15 of the shots he faced and the Caps just looked absolutely flat on the ice.
Special teams has been a focus during practice, but the Caps still drag along a goose egg over their last 15 chances. It’s not that they’re not shooting; last night’s contest saw 13 shots on their first four chances. “We were moving it around and we looked like a power play,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “I thought for sure we were going to score a couple of goals on it. Sometimes, it’s not meant to be.” Continue reading →
Tuning in the Caps/Lightning contest last night was like watching a game from last season. The Capitals’ top line dominated, the team was ready offensively, goaltending was solid, and it felt like it was 2010 all over again.
The Caps dropped Southeast Division rival Tampa Bay by a 5-2 score, putting 5 goals behind Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, who has previously stoned the Caps – twice. Nicklas Backstrom potted two goals and four points, captain Alex Ovechkin contributed a power play goal (his first since Oct 30) and three assists, and linemate Jason Chimera finished it off with an empty netter. The result was a happy one for Caps fans, who let out a collective sigh of relief across the DC area.
Whether the team that showed up last night in Tampa is the one returning home this weekend remains to be seen, however. The Caps face a battered Penguins team on Sunday during a Super Bowl appetizer match-up; game time is 12:30 on NBC.
The Caps’ penalty kill streak was ended at 27 when Brett Clark tipped a puck in behind Semyon Varlamov with only 7 seconds left in a Matt Hendricks penalty. But it was the last score the Lightning would get on the night.
The Caps are now only three points behind Tampa in the division.
On a night when Washington saluted former Capitals’ feisty scoring star Dino Ciccarelli, the Caps looked like they wanted to start where Dino left off 19 years ago. Washington came out with blazing hot sticks, shooting the puck and crashing the net. The defense was jumping into the action, and the Caps looked like the explosive offensive team of last season. Unfortunately, the Montreal Canadiens looked like the team that eliminated the Caps from the playoffs last year, too. The combination of suffocating defense and opportunistic offense paid off again for the Canadiens. Continue reading →
According to a team press release, the Washington Capitals have re-signed mercurial, talented, and currently injured winger Alex Semin to a one year deal valued at $6.7 million dollars. Currently in his sixth year with the Caps and the NHL, Semin is struggling through injuries after coming off his first 40-goal season and career high of 84 points. He has not played in the team’s last nine games.
Semin is tied for the league lead with three hat tricks this year, coming in a 35-day spurt between Oct 23 and Nov 26. For the first two months of this season, he ranked second in goals (18) and fifth in points (30). He already ranks 11th in Caps history in goals (166) and 19th in points (335).
The Russian winger’s new contract extends his time with the Capitals through the 2011-12 season and gives him a raise of $700,000 from his last contract, tying him with Nicklas Backstrom for second highest paid player on the team. Even with this extension, according to capgeek.com, the Capitals still have over $13 million dollars of cap space left to sign 9 players who will be free agents after this season. This signing, however, may not have been without some drama. Via Twitter, Washington Post writer Tarik El-Bashir reports that the Capitals offered Semin a multi-year deal, but the winger and his agent declined the offer in favor of the shorter deal they accepted. The team did not mention if the deal contained a no-trade or no-movement clause. It’s very plausible the multi-year deal was rejected due to the fact that the CBA is slated to be re-addressed and possibly re-structured at the end of the 2011-2012 season.
One would think that Ovechkin’s hat trick against Toronto the other night was the spark that would re-ignite the Capitals offense. Last night’s game against the Thrashers was eagerly anticipated by many with expectations of seeing the old Caps offense of the early season just explode right before the weekend All Star break.
Alas, no. The Caps lost to a streaky Atlanta team 1-0, with Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec shutting the Caps down once again. Quite a difference for the Atlanta netminder, who started the season by fainting to the ice in the first period against the Caps. With the win, the Thrashers take the season series with a 4-1-1 record against the Capitals.
It’s not without effort on the Caps part, however. They have been trying like crazy to make something work; witness the onslaught against hapless Toronto. But the offense just isn’t clicking in the right way and goals aren’t coming in the bunches everyone is used to seeing over the last three years. The Caps threw 36 shots on Pavelec last night; Ovechkin accounted for 8 and Brooks Laich for 7. The Caps have scored more than three goals only once in the last 15 games.
The Capitals went into Sunday afternoon’s tilt with Ottawa hoping to awake their offense and leave behind their struggles against the Senators they way they broke their losing streak against the squad back in December. They got their wish in the third period, scoring three goals on the Senators and playing strong enough defense to pickup a pair of points.
For the fifth time in 25 games this season, the Caps have been shut out. Prior to this stretch of goose eggs, the Caps have only seen the zero four times in 190 games. Last night, Dwayne Roloson stood on his head 23 times and punctuated the fact that the Tampa Bay Lightning are a worthy opponent for the Caps in the Southeast Division, beating the Caps 3-0 in Tampa. Continue reading →
At the beginning of the season, many fans of the Caps pretty much wanted to fast-forward to mid-April and get going with the playoffs. Going into this year’s campaign, the Caps looked pretty good on paper and were predicted to be yet again runaway winners of the Southeast Division and one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference.
Now? Well, it’s not all doom and gloom – but reality has definitely sunk in.
The Caps currently sit second in the Southeast Division, one point behind the current leader, Tampa Bay. And two points behind the Caps? The surprisingly strong Atlanta Thrashers. This year’s division race will not be a repeat of last year, when the Caps had sealed their division title before the Ides of March with a thirty point cushion. It will come down to the wire again, much like 2007-08, when the Caps wrested the title from the Carolina Hurricanes on the last game of the season.
When comparing the first half of this season to the last two, the Caps are virtually in the same spot. Currently sitting with 52 points this year, it’s only three points less than last season and five points less than two years back. True, it is “less than,” which annoys many fans to no end. But considering the adversity and issues the team has had to deal with so far, the fact that they’re not less than 10 or 15 points back is something to take a bit of pride in. Or is it?
Record: 23-12-5, 51 points
Last Two Weeks: 4-0-1
Place: Tied for first in the Southeast, Fifth in the East
We’re pretty much at the halfway point of the 2010-2011 Season, and the Caps have settled into a winning groove after their brutal losing streak in early December. They’re about to be tested, though, as January looks to be a defining month for the season. Two games against co-leader of the Southeast Tampa Bay, tough games in Philly and Atlanta, and home matchups against the Rangers and Senators, with just a few matches against teams they should beat.
Looking back on the Winter Classic, we saw a Caps team that continued their first period struggles, their second period explosion, and a third period full of fight. That’s been this Capitals team all season long, and until they can figure out their first period struggles, I think they’re not going to be strong contender for Lord Stanley’s Cup. There’s much to work on this season, and still a good amount of time to see it happen. Continue reading →
It wasn’t everything the Caps wanted for Christmas, but it came pretty close.
The Washington Capitals lost in the shootout last night to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins. Drama filled? This game had it in spades. You’d think a game like that would be a great centerpiece for a sports reality show or something… Maybe HBO Sports could get on that?
Despite the 3-2 loss, the Caps have a lot to be pleased about. Going into tonight, the Caps were on a two game win streak after a brutal eight game tailspin. The wins came against Ottawa and New Jersey, not exactly tough challenges for the Caps to overcome. Last night’s game against the rival Penguins was a true test of grit, and the Caps passed with flying colors. No fan should be hanging their head this Christmas.
“We’re back. We’re back to the style of hockey we can play,” said defenseman Karl Alzner. “That was one of the questions that [was] going around. Hopefully, we silenced a few of them. We had a low scoring game and we played solid for 60-minutes. It was a grade-A effort from our team. That’s what we like to see.”
‘Gordon Celebrates His First NHL Goal’ courtesy of ‘clydeorama’
It took a couple of minor league call-ups to get the Caps out of their scoring funk. Andrew Gordon and Jay Beagle, brought up from the AHL Hershey Bears on December 15, scored the first two goals for the Caps, and Washington went on to beat the New Jersey Devils 5-1 last night at Verizon Center.
There were two desperate teams on the ice to start the game. The Caps came into this game to try to string together a couple of wins and leave the eight-game skid behind them. The Devils needed to make up for the 7-1 loss in Atlanta on Saturday and their awful 1-7 record in December.
The new-found discipline of strong forechecking and playing deep in the offensive zone paid dividends as the Caps had a number of good scoring chances early in the game. Gordon lit the lamp first for the Caps, recording his first NHL goal with a strong push to the net as Marcus Johansson chased down a loose puck and whipped a perfect pass to the crease. Continue reading →
For about 30 minutes of hockey, it looked like the Caps might break out of their slump. But it turned into another night of missed opportunities, and Caps dropped their seventh game in a row to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, 2-1 in overtime. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was too much for the Caps as he made a defensive play to save a certain goal in the first period and then scored the game winner in OT.
After a tentative start for both teams, the Caps pressed to find an advantage. In the 15th minute, Nicklas Backstrom buzzed in from center ice. Matt Bradley and Brooks Laich crashed the slot in front of Ducks’ goalie Jonas Hiller. Backstrom circled the net and found John Carlson sneaking down from the point. Carlson shanked the shot, but Hiller had already committed. Laich took a backhand whack at the rebound and found the back of the net. It was exactly the kind of goal the Caps needed: bodies in front of the net, a broken play and a lucky bounce leading to a goal. The Caps were earning their bounces by making things happen. A few minutes later Laich slipped another one past Hiller only to have Getzlaf sweep it off the goal line. “We had the puck most of the night,” said Laich. “We were the ones with the chances.” Continue reading →
‘Vokoun Keeps the Puck Out’ courtesy of ‘clydeorama’
The Florida Panthers came to town last night with a losing record but a hot goalie. The latter proved to be the difference. Florida netminder Tomas Vokoun turned away all 36 shots to earn a shutout on the way to a 3-0 victory over the listless Caps last night at Verizon Center. The Caps dropped their fourth straight contest, going 0-8 on the power play. It was the first time the Panthers had won a game in regulation in nearly three weeks.
Washington dominated play in the first period, outshooting Florida 18-6. The Caps had five straight power plays in the first period – including nearly two minutes of 5-on-3 action – but were unable to slip one past Vokoun. As well as Vokoun played, however, the Capitals’ power play lacked energy, with players content to pass the puck around the perimeter and very little presence in front of the net. The best opportunity came when Alex Ovechkin took a shot from 30 feet and beat Vokoun cleanly on the glove side, only to watch the puck bounce harmlessly off the post. Failing to take advantage of opportunities doomed the Caps. “We had, I think, 20 minutes of power play” said Ovechkin. “We didn’t play how we have to play. We played so casual and you can see the results.” Continue reading →
‘IMG_2566.jpg’ courtesy of ‘bridgetds’
Alexander Semin owns the Tampa Bay Lightning. At the Verizon Center last night, Semin scored his second hat trick in as many games against the Lightning this season. It was Semin’s third hat trick of the year, and the Caps went on to crush the Lightning 6-0.
The Capitals’ defensive corps also had an outstanding game, even with Mike Green out of the lineup. Three defensemen – John Carlson, John Erskine and Tom Poti – scored for the Caps. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, the NHL scoring leader, was held off the score sheet for only the fourth time this season. “We pay a little more attention to him,” said Erskine. “Especially on the power play. We try to take him away a little, and it seemed to work tonight.” Tampa Bay mustered only 17 shots in the game.
The Caps got off to a quick start scoring just three minutes into the game. Marcus Johansson won an offensive zone faceoff back to Carlson who one-timed it over the shoulder of Tampa Bay netminder Mike Smith for a 1-0 lead. Continue reading →
The Washington Capitals suffered their first regulation loss in ten games last night, dropping a 5-0 decision to their division opponents in Atlanta. The Thrashers have handed the Caps two of their five regulation losses this season.
Atlanta led 3-0 after the first, with Ben Eager opening the scoring less than three minutes in. Two quick strikes around the 9 minute mark by Nik Antropov and Evander Kane was enough to send Braden Holtby off the ice for the evening. It was only the rookie’s fourth career start.
Dustin Byfuglien and Alexander Burmistrov rounded out Atlanta’s scoring. It was the Caps first shutout loss since Dec. 9, 2009 against Buffalo. Continue reading →
courtesy of ‘bridgetds’
Alexander Semin scored a hat trick and added two assists as the Caps downed the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3 last night at Verizon Center. Semin scored all three of his goals in the third period to break open a close game. It was a battle of high-scoring players as Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Semin faced off against the equally potent Tampa Bay trio of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and league scoring leader Steven Stamkos. The super stars shone through as five of the six players tallied two or more points in the game.
Lecavalier opened the game by ringing a shot off the post behind Michal Neuvirth in the first minute of the game to set the tempo. Tampa Bay out shot and out hustled the Caps in the first period, getting many more quality scoring chances. Tampa Bay finally broke through when the fourth line capitalized on an odd-man rush. Teddy Purcell punched in a juicy rebound on a sharp angle shot by Sean Bergenheim. It was the 12th time in 16 games that the Caps have given up the first goal; the Caps have been outscored 17-7 in the first period this season. “The first period wasn’t so good,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “We didn’t work hard enough. We have to find a way to start games better.”
On the other hand, the Caps have outscored opponents 17-2 in the second period in the past six games. Two minutes into the middle frame, Tom Poti notched his first goal of the season, picking up a rebound and lifting a backhand shot into an open net to even the score. It was Poti’s first game after missing eight games due to injury. Two minutes later, Mike Knuble put the Caps in front 2-1, reaching back from behind the net to tap in a loose puck on the edge of the crease. Continue reading →