courtesy of ‘photopete’
Just to update a note we had in yesterday’s preview – the Capitals have placed goalie Semyon Varlamov on injured reserve for an undisclosed injury. Speculation is that he’s being hindered by a nagging groin pull, but nothing has been confirmed. Varlamov can be recalled from IR at any time and is expected to travel with the team to Atlanta for the season opener tomorrow.
The move, coincidentally, drops the Capitals’ roster to the league-mandated 23 man limit. Rookie Michal Neuvirth is expected to start tomorrow and will most likely dress for Saturday’s home opener against New Jersey. Recently signed Dany Sabourin will be Neuvirth’s backup.
Varlamov hasn’t played since the Sept 22 preseason game, though he did participate in skating practice yesterday.
‘All alone in the net’
courtesy of ‘bhrome’
Tomorrow is the start of the 2010-11 NHL regular season, pretty much the only sport that matters in my household. Around the DC area, the Washington Capitals are becoming – if not already – the number two sports franchise, and with good reason: unlike many of the other pro teams in the area, the Caps have been consistent winners the last several years.
Today’s date, actually, should probably be declared a local holiday. Why? Well, five years ago on October 5, some rookie with the number 8 on his sweater hit the Verizon Center ice in the season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Forty seconds into the game, Alexander Ovechkin – the rookie in question – hit defenseman Radoslav Suchy so hard against the glass that one of the supports broke loose and hit the ice. A portent of things to come? If so, Ovechkin had two more signs to stamp his arrival to the NHL that night – his first two goals of his career, one of them a great one-timer from Jeff Halpern. At the end of that game, there was no doubt: Ovechkin – and the Capitals – had arrived at the next level.
It’s been an Ovechkin-fueled rocket ship ride for the Capitals since, with no sign of stopping.
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’
Matt Bradley scored his first goal in over two months midway through the third period last night, giving the Washington Capitals the victory over the Atlanta Thrashers with a final score of 2-1. The win also puts an end to a three game slide as the Caps enter the final stretch of regular season play. Atlanta’s loss puts them just a little more behind in the scramble for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.
The game was a refreshing change of pace for the Caps, who have been outscored 9-1 in the first periods of their recent skid. Last night, Nicklas Backstrom tipped in a Mike Green slap shot from the point in the last minute of the first, giving the Caps the lead going into the first intermission. Backstrom’s goal was his 30th on the season; his previous career high was 22, just last season.
Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves against the anemic Atlanta offense in his first win since March 4. The Caps’ next contest is an away game in Columbus on Saturday at 7 p.m.
courtesy of ‘brianmka’
The good news? Alexander Ovechkin has found the net again. The bad? The Caps home game streak at Verizon has ended at 13 as the Dallas Stars stole a 4-3 shutout win.
The Caps seemed en route to another home win against the visiting Stars. After two periods, the Caps held a 2-0 lead and with a record of strong third periods, seemed destined to add to the record-breaking streak. The Stars have been lackluster of late; they entered the Verizon Center with a three game losing streak and have been outscored 17-5 since the Olympics ended.
“I thought the entire team had a hiccup in the third period,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “They [Dallas] came on [in the third period] and thought, ‘Hey, we’re still in the game.’ Once they got the first one in, I knew it was going to be a dog fight.”
‘Hockey Helmet from 1980 Olympics’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’
As you read this, Olympic hockey has begun for the 2010 games in Vancouver. So what does it have to do with DC?
For Caps fans, everything. Think of these next two weeks as less an NHL break and more of an intermission show that has the makings of an epic Game 7 Stanley Cup Final every night during the playoff round. The Capitals have five players in the tournament, scattered across three national teams. And depending on how they do and where they place, the Caps may have quite the motivator when these players return the first week in March.
Tomas Fleischmann: Czech Republic (CZE) In the middle of a breakthrough season with 17 goals and 41 points through 48 games, “Flash” will most likely end up on the second line working with the likes of Martin Havlat, Tomas Plekanec, or Jaromir Jagr. However, with several capable forwards on the Czech team this year, Fleischmann will have no problems slipping into a groove on any of the scoring lines. The Czech team is not expected to medal this Olympics, but if goalie Tomas Vokoun stands on his head and gets into a zone, they have a good shot at a medal upset. Continue reading
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’
This kinda slipped under my hockey radar (sorry, been focused on the Winter Classic in two days), but better late than never, right? Three prominent Capitals players were announced to the Russian 2010 Olympic hockey squad on Christmas Day: Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Semyon Varlamov.
I know, not a huge surprise, these guys. They’ll be joined by several other NHL and KHL stars, including former Caps players Sergei Fedorov (now with Metallurg Magnitogorsk) and Viktor Kozlov (with Salavat Ufa).
It’s an interesting roster, with 9 players on the 23-man squad coming from Russia’s own Kontinental Hockey League. One wonders if the Russians are playing a bit of sports politics by trying to puff up the KHL, rather than build the best team possible. (Keep in mind, however, that the final-final roster won’t be announced until February 15.)
Still, it’s a team with massive firepower and will be highly entertaining to watch. Just like Caps hockey…
‘Ovechkin about to score’
courtesy of ‘afagen’
Last Two Weeks: 4-3
Place: First in the Southeast
The Caps hit a bit of a skid this week. Sure, it’s hard to say that 4-3 is a skid, but when you’re as dominant as the Caps have been this season, it’s tough to watch losses at all. Especially when they’re shutouts like the game against the Sabres last week. Sure, Ovechkin is lighting it up like crazy, with 23 goals and 41 points, and Nicholas Backstrom is proving to be the assist machine with 28.
Injuries continue to be a bit of a plague, as they’ve sidelined important parts of the Caps lines, and now include Semyon Varlamov with a groin-strain. Perhaps the team is just road-weary? Long road-trips have taken their toll on teams past, so that’s entirely possible
One important piece of info, though, for Virginia-based Caps fans, the drive for a Capitals Vanity Plate for your car continues, and they need your help. On Frozen Blog has the details and applications close on the 31st.
‘090127 Alex Ovechkin’ courtesy of ‘Dan4th’
So Wednesday night saw the end of what could arguably be the best Caps season in recent history. Despite the letdown of Game 7, Caps fans – diehards and bandwagoners alike – can walk away with heads held high.
Should I remind you why?
1. Alexander Ovechkin. Every year, he gets better. From his exuberant celebrations (Don Cherry be damned) to his wide, gap-toothed smile, to his on- and off-ice passion, he is Mr. Caps Hockey. Does he still have more to learn? Honestly, yes. But he’s young, he’s talented, and he’s willing. It’s only going to get better from here, so settle in and enjoy the ride.