Week 21 Snapshot: Everything Falls Apart

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Photo: Alex Brandon

There’s a stat called CHIP, as in salary Cap Hit of Injured Players. It measures the impact of injuries to a team based on how many games the players miss and how much they get paid. Up until recently, The Capitals had fared very, very well on the injury front this season. They had Dmitry Orlov and John Erskine missing from the blue line but were otherwise mostly unscathed. The Caps had one of the lowest CHIPs in the league.

Then March happened. Ovechkin missed a game, both Brookses are banged up, Peters got hurt, Latta is out, are and there’s a stomach bug going around. Just as the Capitals are mounting their final push for the playoffs, they’re all of a sudden a shambling mess.

Add to that the team’s performance since the all-star break (except for the week they roughed up the scrubs), and you’ve got some genuine worry about this team. They’re barely holding on to a playoff spot, and they’re one game away from squandering their longest home stand of the season.

It seems like everything’s broken for the Caps right now.

In this week’s snapshot, everything is fixable.

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Stars beat Caps 4-2: Butthockey Returns!

For a variety of reasons, I’m envious of all the nice folks who had social plans on this Friday night. Mostly it’s because after I publish this I’m just gonna put on my pajamas and watch Deep Space Nine with my dog, but also because those folks probably didn’t have to watch the Capitals get their butts handed to them (i.e. themselves, the Capitals, no ambiguous antcedent here) by the Dallas Stars.

This was a bad game, and I’m not even gonna recap it, not really, but I will put in some cute dog GIFs.

Shawn Horcuff struck first, getting a weird bounce to get a puck past Braden Holtby. No big deal, ’cause Curtis Glencross got yet another first-period goal a few minutes later. But Colton Sceviour shot through three wickets to put the Stars in the lead, where they remained for the duration.

In the second period, Tyler Seguin got a power-play goal from wiiiiide open and Vernon Fiddler made it a blowout. Kuznetsov got a late goal from wayyyyy out, but it was already over.

Stars beat Caps 4-2.

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Keep Sleeping: Rangers beat Caps 3-1

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Freaking Ovi. Freaking Beagle.

The Capitals hadn’t played since Saturday; the Rangers played last night. And yet it was the Capitals– beset by injury– who looked slow and overwhelmed on Wednesday night. Down a goal, the Capitals made a big comeback effort in the third, but it got defused by the tiny guy in blue, so Washington lost to the new division leader.

In the first period, Nate Schmidt choked up the puck in neutral, opening up a shooting gallery that ended with Carl Hagelin’s goal. Ovi tied it up with an Ovi shot from the Ovi slot, but J.T. Miller put the Rags back up after a weird bounce on a clearing attempt. The Caps picked up the pace in the third but couldn’t crack Cam Talbot. Martin St. Louis delivered the dagger.

Rangers beat Caps 3-1.

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Here’s Every Top-Line Beagle Goal, For and Against

Jay Beagle, Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin

Photo: Alex Brandon

Jay Beagle is having a career-best season. With 10 goals and counting, he’s got more offensive flair than ever before. That offense has come with criticism– not for Beagle himself, who is a talented and beloved bottom-sixer, but for the coach(es) who deployed him on the top line with Alex Ovechkin.

We, among others, criticized Adam Oates for playing Beagle and Ovechkin together in 2013-14. In 42 minutes together last season, Beagle and Ovechkin and were outscored 8 to 1 and outshot 94 to 58. This season, inexplicably, Barry Trotz has used Beagle and Ovechkin together even more (112 minutes and counting), though he’s seen much better results.

In 2014-15, Beagle and Ovechkin get outshot by merely 15 shot attempts every 60 minutes, which is only as bad as, say, John Scott.

Hockey, I’ve been told, is about results. So here’s every top-line Beagle goal I could find from this season.

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Week 20 Snapshot: Roughing Up the Scrubs

Photo: Amanda Bowen

The Washington Capitals had a good week. With three wins in four games, the third best possession in the league, and five goals from the world’s best scorer despite him missing a game to injury, it’s hard to argue otherwise.

Okay, maybe you could say that a week of games against Buffalo, Toronto, and Columbus isn’t exactly indicative of the broader NHL’s competition level. But with only 15 games left in the regular season, every shot, goal, and win counts that much more– even if it just means the team is more confident as they face down some much tougher teams next week.

In this week’s snapshot, we look back with curiosity and forward with optimism.

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Everybody Scores: Caps beat Sabres 6-1!

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“Finally! We are anteaters!”

The Buffalo tank job made a stop in DC, and boy was it fun. The Sabres scored the game’s first goal, and we were scared for a moment, but then tanks gonna tank.

No, really. There was a moment when the 2014-15 Capitals were losing to the 2014-15 Sabres. Johan Larsson actually beat Braden Holtby after the top line lost a defensive-zone faceoff and then got a little careless in their own zone. The Caps took over after that. Mike Green carried the puck all the way down below the goal line and set up Curtis Glencross for his second goal in a Caps uniform.

Jay Beagle ground out a goal in the second period, and Brooks Laich got the monkey off his back before the second intermission. Joel Ward made it 5-1 with a superhuman effort in the power-play paint, and Marcus Johansson got a Swedish wraparound on an uninterested Sabres defense late.

Caps beat Sabres 6-1.

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Caps vs Sabres Pregame: Ovi’s a Game-Time Decision

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When it comes to being bad: 1974-75 Capitals > 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres

The Ovechkin-less Capitals had a hard time generating offense against the Wild the other night. Even if Ovi misses tonight’s game (which is a possibility), the Caps will have no excuse should they do it again. The 2014-15 Buffalo Sabres are one of the worst NHL teams of all time and they like it that way. They even traded away Michal Neuvirth to make the team worse. Worse!

I mean, they’re still not as bad as our beloved 74-75 Capitals, who won just 8 (great) games and got outscored 446 to 181. So if anyone tries to say the Sabres are the worst team of all time, you have my permission to Kanye them.

Puck drops at 7 PM on CSN.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 35-21-10 51.5% 100.3 24.2% 81.3%
Buffalo Sabres 19-41-5 36.4% 100.2 11.4% 74.8%

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No-vechkin, No Points: Wild beat Caps 2-1

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Not bad for a snow day! Bravo, fans.

The Caps lacked Alex Ovechkin for their Thursday night battle with the Minnesota Wild. In a curious coincidence they also lacked offense. It was a punishingly tight game, but the Wild eked out an edge late and now leave our snowy town with two points in hand, leaving none for our Caps.

During a first period power play, Curtis Glencross filled the net with a puck and our tummies with a free roast beef sandwich. From then on– nothing until the Wild scrambled the net for the tying goal. With five minutes left, Mike Green got overconfident in the breakout and surrendered the puck to Pominville, who scored again, darn it.

Meanwhile, Marcus Johansson rang the post twice. Shucks

Wild beat Caps 2-1.

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Caps vs Wild Pregame: Snow-vechkin? No-vechkin?

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The view from Capitol Hill (Photo: Kevin Ford)

The National Weather Service determines a blizzard based on high wind speed, not snowfall. Everyone else knows we’re currently experiencing a blizzard here on the east coast. But as far as we know, the Washington Capitals are still on for tonight’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

If you’re going, bring a tauntaun and a rugby team. 7 PM, CSN, I guess.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 35-20-10 51.6% 100.4 23.9% 81.1%
Minnesota Wild 34-22-7 52.8% 99.0 15.2% 87.0%

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Nasty Boys: Caps beat Blue Jackets 5-3

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Image by Danny

Raise your hand if you expected Tuesday’s Capitals/Blue Jackets game– the first after the trade deadline– to be a grim, fin-headed mess of a hockey game. The good guys won in the end, but if it costs them Michael Latta for any length of time, I won’t look back on tonight as a victory.

The game started as so many of them do: with Alex Ovechkin opening up scoring, this time with a savvy deflection of Brooks Orpik’s shot. Eric Fehr waited at the doorstep to make it 2-0 before the first period was up, letting us think this would be a secure, uneventful win.

Dumb. The second period was a penalty-laden mess, and it played to Lumbus’ advantage. David Savard and Scott Hartnell each scored with a pair of darts– with Tom Wilson’s net-crash goal in between.

Ovi struck again in the third period because screw the Jackets. Scott Hartnell earned his second while Troy Brouwer was in the box and threatened to tie it on a suspicious late-game penalty, but Holtby was superior. Marcus Johansson got the empty netter and that was that.

Caps beat Jackets 5-3. Let’s get the hell out of here.

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