Caps Fall to Coyotes, 3-2, on Valentine’s Day

Coyotes beat Caps, 3-2

Photo credit: Norm Hall

We’re reaching a key point in the season, as Capitals veteran winger Mike Knuble said after the loss to the Kings, “This road-trip could be great or it could be an absolute embarrassment.”

It seems like all year we’ve been waiting for Washington to just snap out of it and return to last season’s form. But at the start of their matchup with Phoenix, the Caps were fewer points away from being out of playoff position then they were of taking the number one spot in the east.

“If they’re waiting for some switch to magically appear, it’s not going to happen,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said after Saturday’s flop.

It’s time to wake up. And the Capitals certainly didn’t do that Monday night.

The first period was rather uneventful. Aside from an early power play, the Caps had limited scoring opportunities, registering just one even strength shot in the frame. But then in the second, the Caps decided to #CRASHTHENET, as Marcus Johansson used the patented bank it off Martin Hanzal’s foot move, putting Washington on top. However, Hanzal quickly redeemed himself, scoring just 49 seconds later, going five-hole on Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth. With less than two and a half minutes left in the period, Ray Whitney gave the ‘Yotes a 2-1 lead when his wrist-shot hit the back of the net. In the third period, Vernon Fiddler would push the Coyotes advantage to two when converted on a 2-on-1. Matt Bradley, however, would answer right back, cutting the lead to one under a minute later, getting a shot past Phoenix ‘keeper Ilya Bryzgalov. But that would be it for Washington. Coyotes beat Caps, 3-2.

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Video: CRL Goes Behind The Scenes of Ovechtrick Commercial

It is well known that our blog loves everything “Ovechtrick“. So when CRL’s behind the scenes video of the commercial shoot crossed our desk we were morally obligated to share it with you fine folks. Take a look:

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Well, That Went Well: Kings Drop Caps, 4-1

The Caps lose to the Kings

Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin

The last time these two teams met, the headless Caps were reeling. After trading away captain Chris Clark, Washington failed to put together a full 60 minute effort and just looked plain off in Los Angeles. Now, more than a year later, the boys from DC have a man with a ‘C,’ but that tune still sounds awfully familiar.

Just over a minute into the contest, Alex Ovechkin ripped the Capitals only tally past Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The goal came the moment I was settling in with my nachos at Verizon Center. Coincidence? I think not. However, Anze Kopitar would have something to say about that in the second, flipping the puck over a seated Semyon Varlamov to knot the game at one. Then with 16:24 left in the third, Andrei Loktionov gave L.A. a 2-1 lead as the biscuit once again got past an out of position Varlamov. It would only get worse for the Capitals as Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll pushed the lead to three. By the end of the game, Verizon Center was half empty. Kings beats Caps, 4-1.

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Matt Bradley cutely pushes a kid around on a sled.

Matt Bradley does his part by pushing a kid around on a sled.

Today, the Capitals teamed up with Dreams for Kids for Extreme Recess Hockey. Caps Matt Bradley, Tom Poti, Dave Steckel and coaches Bruce Boudreau and Bob Woods took to the ice after practice and skated with children with physical and developmental disabilities. For some of the kids, today’s skate was the first time they had ever played hockey or even shot a puck. Britt McHenry of ABC7 was on the scene at Kettler and had a chance to speak with some of the participants including Connor, who had the chance to skate with some of his heroes.

Second-Line Centers And Unicorns

Marty Reasoner

Photo credit: Christopher Pasatieri

There is more than one team that needs a second-line center at the deadline. With a thin pool to draw from it may be easier for the Capitals to secure the services of a unicorn than a pivot to provide auxiliary scoring. With $7,357,085 in cap space available for Washington, RMNB takes a look at who may be attractive candidates.

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Feed The Machine: Blockage and Stoppage

Feed The Machine

Another week has passed and amazingly people still have questions for us. Judging by our readers’ letters, it seems like most of you have lost hope that this year is the year. Don’t worry, we deleted those emails and focused all our attention on questions regarding groins.

Like always, if you’ve got a question, a comment, or need ideas on how to get out of jury duty, feel free to shoot us a message and we’ll answer you back next Friday!

Now follow us past the jump, where our grandiose hero Neil weights in on the topics of officiating and trades.

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Is Alex Ovechkin’s Contract A Good Deal?

Alex Ovechkin sits against the boards during warm-ups.

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Signing Alexander Semin to a one-year extension was a good move. It limits the Capitals exposure to the potential downside if he doesn’t preform to expectations and lets them remain flexible enough to trade Semin if they choose. And while we are on the subject of Alex contracts, do you think there will come a time where Washington will feel constrained by Ovechkin’s monster deal?

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Alex Semin: Bettman Has Never Been to Siberia!

Alex Semin

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

In his first game back since January 8th, Alex Semin led the Capitals with four shots on goal in 17:47 of ice time. After a 12 game layoff that stretched over 26 days, Sasha Minor looked rusty and missed on several golden opportunities. The Capitals fell to the Sharks 2-0, and endured their eighth shutout of the season.

After the game, SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov caught up with Semin and asked him how he felt in his return, his thoughts on Bruce Boudreau’s trap, and what it’d mean to him to open next season in Russia. RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has your translation below the jump.

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Nick Backstrom defending the neutral zone

Photo credit: Scott Cunningham

After the Capitals’ humiliating 7-0 loss to the Rangers in December, head coach Bruce Boudreau changed his defensive scheme to include the neutral-zone trap. I won’t go into the how and why this system works, but it essentially looks to keep small mistakes from turning into major breakdowns that lead to goals against.

Over the years, the trap has often been associated with teams that have a “defense first” mentality – you know, boring squads. That’s a far cry from last season’s “run ‘n’ gun” Caps team that lead the League in scoring by almost 50 goals while being merely average at keeping the puck out their own net. Most notably, it satisfies critics who feel the system employed by Boudreau over the past few seasons is incapable of winning in the playoffs. But is it?

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Alex Ovechkin: “Hang On, Malych. Such is Life.”

Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom look for revenge on Matt Cooke.

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

In Sunday’s matinee against their most hated rival, the Washington Capitals had their second straight dominant performance, beating Pittsburgh at home 3-0. Since they lost to the Pens in game seven of the 2008-09 playoffs, the Capitals have won six out of their last seven meetings and have outscored the Pens 29-17 during that same span.

Unfortunately, there were two key incidents that overshadowed talk of the game itself. First, Tim Wallace tried to exact revenge on “Danger” Dave Steckel for his incidental contact with Sidney Crosby in the Winter Classic. And second, perrenial agitator Matt Cooke tried to take out the Great 8 with a knee-on-knee collision late in the third period.

After the game, SovSport’s Pavel Lysenkov spoke with Alex Ovechkin and asked him what he thought about Cooke’s hit, the physical nature of hockey, and Evgeni Malkin’s season-ending injury. Below the jump, RMNB’s Igor Kleyner has the translation.

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