Caps Turn Tide, Total Freakout Temporarily Put Off

Haven’t seen many of these lately. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

"Nick, Dennis, you do know I like my job, right?" (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Lauri Korpikoski picked up the puck at center-ice after being awarded a penalty shot and skated in on Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun. With a quick flick of the wrist the puck was in the back of the net, and the Caps down 2-0. Bruce Boudreau — possibly fighting for his coaching life — turned his back is disgust and slammed into the plexiglass to his left with fervor. It was a new low this year for the Caps, who were coming off a horrendous 7-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night and in the mist of the skid that saw them lose six of seven and four straight. But after hitting rock bottom, the Caps finally got back up — with a lot of luck and maybe a little help from a certain red balloon.

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RMNB Presents the Rally Balloon T-Shirt

Capitals Rally Balloon

RMNB’s New Rally Balloon T-Shirt. Click here to view all colors and sizes.

LaBarbera swipes at the Rally Balloon. (Photo credit: Ann Heisenfelt)

The Rally Balloon. It turned a struggling team– who had lost four straight, with one star benched and another under scrutiny, with an embattled head coach and a bunch of grumpy fans– into winners.

When the Capitals were down 2-1 in the second period, an unassuming red balloon floated out from the crowd. It hovered ominously twenty feet over Jason LaBarbera’s head. The annoyed Coyotes goaltender swiped at the ‘loon before knocking it up in the air with his stick. No biggie, right?

The Capitals promptly scored three inspired goals and defeated Phoenix 4-3.

First star of the game? Among fans it’s the #RallyBalloon. There’s now a RallyBalloon Twitter account, a rollicking Rally Balloon hashtag, and now our Rally Balloon T-Shirt.

Check ‘em out here.

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#RallyBalloon! Caps beat Coyotes 4-3

After a disastrous road trip, the Washington Capitals hoped to snap their four-game losing streak by walloping the Phoenix Coyotes. It wasn’t a wallop truly, but let’s just be thankful for the win.

John Carlson’s turnover on the power play set up Radim Vrbata for a shorthanded breakaway and the game’s first goal. Lauri Korpikoski converted the penalty shot he earned from another shorthanded breakaway. John Carlson deflected off a Coyote to get the Caps on the board.

Then a red balloon floated eerily above the ice like an angel of mercy.

Cody Eakin scored the second goal of his career with another flukey deflection, and we were tied. Early in the third, Nick Backstrom scored the kind of greasy goal you could lubricate an engine with– 3-2. On a 5-on-3, Brooks Laich scored, screened by Troy Brouwer, to snap the Capitals’ power play drought. Korpokoski got an ugly rebound to keep it interesting. Caps beat Coyotes 4-3.

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Phoenix Coyotes Pregame: Howl!

The Pre-Game: Oh Lordy, we hate being wrong. Especially if it involves Canada. What happened Saturday was nothing short of a national pantsing of the Caps on the equivalent of Canada’s national holiday (that admittedly comes once a week, and with lots of beer). We suspected it would be a high-scoring affair, but completely misread in which direction. Blah blah they were disconnected blither blather they weren’t moving their feet twiddle twaddle they weren’t chasing the pucks and so forth. Not my job to pick over Saturday night’s turkey carcass; others have done that far better. Let others pile on our Mustardy Coach. We’re looking forward to what’s being cooked up tonight.

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Dmitry Orlov goal celebration

Dima celebrates his fourth goal of the year (Photo credit: Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth)

Dripping with sweat after a thirty-minute session on a stationary bike, I asked Dmitry Orlov how he was feeling Saturday night after the biggest game of his professional career.

“Not good. We lost.”

Orlov, a 20-year-old offensive defenseman from Novokuznetsk, Russia, could have cared less about his first ever three-point performance, the fact that he rifled three shots on net, or that he was on the ice for three minutes of the game’s five-minute overtime– big-time minutes for a young player.

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On Bruce Boudreau’s Future

Photo credit: Marianne Helm

Bruce Boudreau became head coach of the Washington Capitals around Thanksgiving 2007. He turned around a losing season, made the playoffs, and sported a winning record ever since. From then on, the Capitals have consistently won the Southeast Division– if not the Eastern Conference or Presidents’ Trophy.

But the Capitals have not lasted long in the playoffs, and their last two seasons have been plagued by dramatic losing streaks. After last night’s rout at the petioles of the Maple Leafs, General Manager George McPhee declined to comment when asked for a vote of confidence for his head coach. And now, on Sunday afternoon– when we’re all surely glued to the Redskins game– the Internet is atwitter with talk of Bruce Boudreau’s future.

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Leafs beat Caps 7-1, Bruce Boudreau Stuck at 199 Wins

Photo credit: Abelimages

Hockey Night in Canada. The Washington Capitals hoped to earn Bruce Boudreau’s 200th NHL win against his old team. Did. Not. Happen.

An embarrassingly bad turnover from Jeff Schultz led to Tim Connolly’s goal. Brooks Laich took a drop pass from Chimera to even it up. Matt Frattin recorded his first NHL goal late in the first period. Early in the second, Tyler Bozak scored a powerplay goal from in traffic. Bozak then gave Phil Kessel a blind pass that became one gorgeous tally. Vokoun out, Neuvirth in. Joffrey Baratheon-Lannister-Lupul scored a PPG to make it 5-1. Then someone did something and it was 6-1. Then, Jeez Louise, David Steckel scored shorthanded. Leafs beats Caps 7-1.

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Toronto Maple Leafs Pregame: Make Believe!

Paul Hunter/Toronto Star

The Pre-Game: Oh Lordy, we hate being right. Especially if it involves Canada. Not as in: their single-payer health care system is far more efficient than our insurance company-laden poop pie. More like: there’s no more dangerous team than an underestimated one with shelves of talent and an insane fan base. (Either way, it’s a poop pie, frankly.)

So here we are, game 3 of 3 of the road trip, landing us square in Squaresville: Toronto. (Wagging finger in old maid mode:) We warned you about those teams! We cautioned against squads whose numbers didn’t quite look right, yet had piles of skill ready to dump on the ice! What, you didn’t listen? You think you know better? Are you listening to me?

Uh, no, chances are, you’re not. At least not based on the last few Caps’ book in Vegas. We think that changes Saturday.

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Sharpen Your Knives, Jets beat Caps 4-1

Marianne Helm

Fittingly, the most awkward photo of Ovechkin available. (Photo credit: Marianne Helm)

The last time the Washington Capitals played hockey in Manitoba, Steve Konowalchuk scored a hat trick. Tonight’s game with the reformed Winnipeg Jets had a lot of fanfare preceding it, which makes what happened even sadder.

Off Brooks Laich’s pass, Alex Semin wristed the game’s first goal from a harsh angle. Evander Kane used two quick touches to beat a trio of Caps and tie it up. Joel Ward didn’t clear the defensive zone, turning over to Kane who potted his second of the night with a lightning fast shot. Brooks Laich missed on his shorthanded chance, leading to Blake Wheeler’s goal and a 3-1 lead for the ‘Peg. Hot-hand Kyle Wellwood tapped in the Jets’ 4th goal on the powerplay. Jets beat Caps 4-1.

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The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) teamed up with the Capitals’ Tomas Vokoun and Jeff Halpern a few months ago to shoot a PSA encouraging parents to check ratings when choosing games for their children — what Vokoun calls a “box check.” The ad, which has been playing without sound in Verizon Center bathrooms all season long, has finally made it to YouTube and we have it above. One word of advice for companies looking for a Caps spokesperson: Halpern is a natural!

Below the jump, check out a few behind-the-scenes pics from the ad via ESRB’s Facebook Page.

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