gretzky-god

With the Capitals’ surprising win over Rangers at Madison Square Garden today, here’s a fun bit of trivia worth sharing. Via NHL Network, Wayne Gretzky scored the final goal of his NHL career 16 years ago. It came against the New York Islanders.

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The MVP in MSG: Caps beat Rangers 5-2

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The view from MSG’s bridge, from Caps Road Crew

Brutal weekend. Or at least it would have been without the best player in the NHL, Alex Ovechkin. The New York Rangers looked speedy and cohesive, whereas the Capitals looked discombobulated and panicky– but Alex Ovechkin grabbed this game by the horns and tamed it like a folk hero. Jason Chimera had a huge third period, and all of a sudden a nightmare weekend wasn’t so bad after all.

Alex Ovechkin started us off just four minutes in, carrying the puck into the Rangers zone and using the D as a screen to beat Cam Talbot. The next two goals belonged to New York: the first Kevin Hayes’ solo effort after John Carlson’s woeful turnover, the second Derek Brassard’s rush goal after Niskanen’s bad pinch.

Ovechkin struck again in the second period, using Joel Ward as a screen to knot the game heading into the final period.

Jason Chimera scored twice (I know, right?!) in the third period– both times by crashing the net and both times with the help of Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr. Marcus Johansson got the empty netter as soon as Cam Talbot left the crease.

Caps beat Rangers 5-2.

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ovi-goal-rangers

Photo: Jared Silber

Alex Ovechkin is now one goal away from 50. Late on a second-period power play, Ovechkin received a beautiful cross-ice saucer pass from Nicklas Backstrom, just outside the left circle.

Ovechkin wound up and fired into Joel Ward‘s screen. The puck appears to deflect off Dan Boyle‘s skate, through Cam Talbot‘s five-hole, and into the net.

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Alex Ovechkin’s 48th Goal (GIF)

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And that makes 48 goals for Alex Ovechkin. Early in the first period, Joel Ward set Ovechkin loose in the Rangers zone. Ovi outmuscled the D, moved to the Ovi spot, and released a screened shot to beat Cam Talbot.

1-0 Capitals.

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Caps at Rangers Pregame: Get Over It

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Rough night for Hank (Photo: Jim Rogash)

I’ve got mixed feelings about yesterday’s loss to the Nashville Predators. The first period was genuinely awful, and the game was filled with all sorts of narrative wretchedness concerning former teams and abandoned prospects, but the Caps put up an honest comeback effort, and Troy Brouwer’s contributions shouldn’t be dismissed.

That said, it’s all in the past now. Barry Trotz made some noise about having no short-term memory in this final stretch. I see the virtue in that. As the Caps prepare to take on the Rangers, I hope they can leave their behinds in the past.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 40-25-10 51.9% 100.1 24.4% 81.5%
New York Rangers 47-20-7 51.2% 101.8 17.4% 84.2%

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Photo: Scott Cannon

A few weeks ago, Mike Green started playing with an old Easton Stealth CNT from his 30-goal season. Discontinued almost 10 years ago, Green found one of those sticks in his garage. Green started breaking out the stick in special situations, hoping to regain some of the offensive magic he had in the last decade. The CNT, he said, is the best stick he’s ever used. At the time, he had just one.

After I wrote about it, readers starting emailing RMNB to offer their old game-used Stealths that they had purchased or had been given by Green. Some are even signed. Since then, readers have slowly been resupplying Green with those old CNTs.

On Saturday, Green scored with one of those reader-provided sticks, his second goal since he started using the CNT again.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

Troy Brouwer had a magical second period today. He scored two goals, single-handedly bringing the Caps out of a three-goal hole.

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forsberg-goal

Photo: Patrick McDermott

Filip Forsberg is a painful topic for Caps fans, like Esa Tikkanen and WMATA. We try to avoid it when we can, but Saturday’s matinee put young Filip front and center. The Calder contender, whom George McPhee traded away for an underperforming and underutilized rental and whom Trotz sent down to the AHL while coach of the Predators last season, recorded three points.

To live is to suffer, and to be a Caps fan is to suffer so much more sharply.

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Predators beat Caps 4-3: It’s McPhee’s McPhault

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Mike Green scored with one of your sticks. 

If you turned off Saturday’s Capitals-Predators game after twenty minutes, I’m worried for you. Yes, it was ugly at that point, but the Caps team of the game’s latter two-thirds wasn’t so bad. If you tuned out, you’d have missed Troy Brouwer’s hero pose and Mike Green’s Ovi spot routine. It was still a brutal loss, but it wasn’t such a bad game after all.

The Caps actually looked pretty good for ten minutes, but after failing to convert a 4v3, the Predators took over. First it was Mattias Ekholm, whose pretty backhand goal came right after the Caps power play expired. Then Mike Fisher took the wheel after Karl Alzner lost his stick and a battle in the crease to Filip Forsberg. Speaking of that dude, Forsberg broke our hearts and ended Holtby’s afternoon with a solo scoar.

That all happened in the first damn period.

The second found Troy Brouwer scoring twice, his 19th and 20th of the season, to put the Caps within striking distance. Things were looking up, but then Mike Ribeiro, who is probably a garbage human being, gave the Preds their fourth goal.

Mike Green put the Caps back within one just 20 seconds into the third, scoring on a Greenie shot from the Ovi spot with his Stealth. The Capitals ratcheted up the pressure late, but Pekka Rinne held onto the lead.

Preds beat Caps 4-3.

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Caps vs Preds Pregame: Win the Breakup

Photo: Chris Gordon

Now begins a tough weekend for the Washington Capitals. There’s the two early games against two very high-achieving teams, the Nashville Predators today and the New York Rangers tomorrow. There’s also the untidy narratives surrounding today’s game, specifically Barry Trotz playing his old team, who got better when he left, and the “return” of Filip Forsberg to Verizon Center, where he never really played as a Capital, but you know what I mean.

Puck drop at 12:30 PM on CSN. Pants optional.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 40-24-10 52.0% 100.2 24.8% 81.2%
Nashville Predators 46-21-8 53.1% 101.5 16.3% 81.4%

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