On December 27, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Patrick McDermott
Welcome back, everybody! The Capitals returned to action on Friday night, hosting the New York Rangers and being good hosts by giving their guests the puck pretty much the whole time. What should have been a blowout ended favorably for the Caps, thanks to some singular efforts by a few players in red.
Mike Green cracked Rangers goalie Cam Talbot (yeah, really) with a nifty power play goal set up by Marty Erat. The Rangers evened it up in the second with a powerplay marker of their own, converted by Benoit Pouliot. After a ton of zone time for the Rangers, Steve Oleksy set Nick Backstrom solo upon the offensive zone where he put the Caps up 2-1 going into the third. Carl Hagelin got a shorty just a couple seconds into the final period, but Eric Fehr restored the Caps lead with a wrister from the circles.
On December 23, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Perreault and Beagle (Photo: Patrick McDermott)
I feel sorry for all the johnny-come-lately fans who never knew Bruce Boudreau’s Caps. You know who I’m talking about: all those fake fans who started following the Caps just because of the undeniable electricity of Hunter hockey. Those trendy, fairweather fans who only bought their first Caps shirsey because they saw Ovi pile on an inconceivable 38 goals back in 2011-2012. All they ever knew of the Caps was the unlimited delight of low puck possession and the benching of fan-hated Mike Knuble.
Okay, starting over.
If you were to make a list of things that turned this franchise around in the last decade, you’d see Bruce Boudreau’s name somewhere right underneath Alex Ovechkin and the return to the red uniforms. Now Boudreau is with the Ducks and positively killing it in the Western Conference. Boose brought his league-leading team to Verizon Center for his first game since getting fired more than two years ago. The crowd and the team seemed to appreciate the emotional dimension, and we fans got a decent, if uneven, game out of it.
Mikhail Grabovski got the Caps on the board first by tapping in a pass from Troy Brouwer (and helped along by Ben Lovejoy). Nicky Backstrom converted a power play four minutes later with a sneaky shot to Jonas Hiller’s shoulder. Andrew Cogliano got the Ducks into the game by sweeping up the shards of a broken Caps defense.
The second period was polluted by penalties, and Saiku Koivu tied it with a bang-bang in the waning seconds. Hampus Lindholm got a puck through a crowded shooting lane and well-screened Philipp Grubauer to put the Ducks up with five minutes left. Alex Ovechkin rang the post, and our hearts sank.
On December 21, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Look how tiny Jagr looks. (Photo: Patrick McDermott)
I hate the way the Devils play. They stifle offense (i.e. fun, Capitals-style hockey) and execute the trap as if it’s not something to be ashamed of. Luckily, they did it poorly on Saturday night. What I expected to be a low-scoaring affair ended up being a crash-the-net party with a whole lot going on. The Caps exploded in the second period, but the Devils rallied in the third and won it in overtime.
For the Devils’ first shot, Marek Zidlicky got a dart past Braden Holtby on the power play. The Caps struck back with three goals in the second period, starting with Jason Chimera whacking in his own rebound from right under Brodeur’s nose. Mikhail Grabovski caught Eric Fehr’s pass right in the paint and knocked it in to give the Caps the lead, and Joel Ward crashed the net to make it 3-1 going into the third.
Jagr scored in the third period. I don’t want to talk about it. Alex Ovechkin was in the penalty box for that one, but he redeemed himself with an even-strength goal from the slot a few minutes later. The Devils rallied late: Zidlicky got his second of the night with a wide open one-timer, and Dainus Zubrus tied it with eight minutes left. That’s the way it stood at the end of regulation.
Game Over Andy Greene got a lucky bounce in overtime to win it for Jersey and save us all from the shootout.
On December 20, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Grant Halverson
I’m just glad we had a game to watch tonight. Going two days without a game in Capsland is like Lord of the Flies in fast forward; it gets ugly quick. We had a little bit of a mutiny last night, so I for one am grateful for a distraction. The distraction on this weirdly warm Friday night was the Carolina Hurricanes and their Staal brothers, for whom many bothans died to provide access codes past the Capitals defense. Putting Philipp Grubauer through his paces, the Canes outplayed the Caps but were unprepared for the Caps’ Jeet Kune Do on special teams.
Jordan Staal scored in the first period, finally converting after 17 or 18 semi-breakaways. The Capitals returned fire on a powerplay early in the the second when Marcus Johansson got all up in the net’s piece. John Carlson put the Caps up with a bullet on another PP, but Riley Nash tied it up with a rebound from the crease– again on the powerplay. And then, because all must goals must come during special teams, Troy Brouwer deflected in the go-ahead goal for the Caps while Sasha Semin was in the Sasha box.
And then Alex Ovechkin scored his 400th career goal on the empty net!
On December 17, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Len Redkoles
All I wanted from this Capitals-Flyers game was a quiet affair, free of histrionics, that ended in a regulation win. After what feels like weeks of the cardiac Caps and their inconceivable comebacks, I need the hockey equivalent of warm milk and a Downton Abbey marathon. Despite my earnest pleadings, I was denied a calm, drama-free night. Instead I got a decent hockey game that devolved into something dumb and violent. And not dumb and violent in a fun, hockey way– where there’s lots of big, clean hits and chirping. No, we got the kind with the post-whistle scrums, the fights that lead to injuries, and the bad hits that lead to injuries and suspensions. Dumb.
In perhaps his most sedate goal yet, Alex Ovechkin put an indifferent backhand past Steve Mason during an early power play in the second period. The Flyers responded immediately– like any true Caps opponent– with a snazzy goal by Jacob Voracek. Then Eric Fehr realized he was wearing his Winter Classic uni and decided to score one of his own, taking a pass from Troy Brouwer below the goal line. Matt Read and company outworked Carlzner and the top line to tie the game again.
Then Tom Wilson put a dirty hit on Brayden Schenn and the Flyers punished the Caps for it. Twice. Wayne Simmonds added to the rout in the third, taking a gimme puck from John Carlson before beating a besieged Braden Holtby.
On December 15, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
A photo of the entire Capitals offense by Patrick McDermott.
The Capitals banged up the Philadelphia Flyers last time they met, but for a while this sleepy Sunday matinee rematch between looked like it would go another way. From the very first faceoff, the Flyers had control but then, in the third period, Green started a raucous rally and a couple of Russians kept it going. Epic.
On a first period power play, Alex Ovechkin put a lovely pass to Marcus Johansson to put the Caps up 1-0 (UPDATE: Ovechkin has been credited with this goal. A two-goal game.UPDATE UPDATE: The NHL has reversed the reversal). ROFL hit up Claude Giroux from behind the net to tie the game before the first intermission.
The game got away from the Caps in the second. Mark Streit made it 2-1 Flyers after an unwise stretch pass from Carlzner to the top line found an orange sweater.
Sean Couturier got an impossible shot past Philipp Grubauer to make it 3-1 early in the third, and then Voracek deflected what looked like the dagger goal just 80 seconds later. Mike Green’s wrister found the back of the net with 8 minutes left, and then Dmitry Orlov scoarlov’d a one-timer after the faceoff.
I thought it was over, but then Alex Ovechkin- OF COURSE– scored during 6-on-5. That guy. I love him, but now I’ve gotta rewrite my recap. Overtime yielded no decision, so son of a– here they come…
On December 13, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Eliot J. Schechter
Friday night’s game between the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals could have been an exciting reunion of two former division rivals. Instead, the Capitals put up an uneven effort, and relied on special teams to keep up with a Florida team that was curiously strong on the puck. Grubauer kept the Caps alive despite a lot of action, earning the team a point in sixty-five minutes, but not the decision.
Scoreless through twenty, Dylan Olsen (who?) finally hit the back of the net after unlimited zone time for the Cats. Nick Backstrom tied the game during 4v4, but– wait for it– Florida scored soon after thanks to a bad Mike Green turnover and bad Mike Green D coverage. Joel Ward crushed the nut to re-tie the game late in the second, though that one required video review.
The third was pointless, so everybody got a pity point and we headed into OT, but that never does anything, so…. again…
Fehr converted a nice wrister
Barkov looked like a jerk and got swept away
Ovi hardly got a shot off
Huberdeau had a long reach and beat Grubi
Backstrom fumbled it, then did the exact same move as Huberdeau
Grubi got a piece of Boyes, but didn’t stop it
Bjugstad had speed and stopped on a dime to put it in
Brouwer rang post
Kulikov rang post because why not
Erat refused on a sly move
Flash’s shot no match for Grubi’s stick
Johansson had some weird moves and an unconvincing backhand
Upshall rejected on the wide backhand attempt
THIS IS GOING LONG
Orlov pokechecked– yikes
Hayes also sent back because no one can score anymoire
Ward’s shot got blocked a giant bald head or something, maybe just a weird camera angle
Goc missed or something I dunno I am kind of blacking out at this point
Chimera– and I’m just guessing here– is not gonna score, nope he does not, typical
Kopecky wins it thank goodness at this point I’m ready to be done
On December 10, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Patrick McDermott
Missing one of the league’s best shooters in Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning might look weak to some. Their goal totals in recent games haven’t exactly been terrifying. And yet, the Bolts found a way to thoroughly exploit the Capitals in the first twenty minutes of Tuesday’s game. One individual Capitals performance was at fault for a lot of that trouble, but where one falters, another steps up. Alex Ovechkin put together one of his best games ever to hoist his team into– not just a close game– but one of the most exciting in recent history.
First, Mike Green committed a penalty and the Lightning scored. Then, Mike Green committed a penalty and the Lightning scored. Then, in a Shyamalany plot twist, Mike Green was on-ice when the Lightning scored. Holtby was like, “Sick of you, Mike,” and he peaced out; Grubauer in. Alex Ovechkin put the team on the board with an instant-score following a faceoff.
Okay, buckle up. Here we go.
Troy Brouwer proved unable, so Nick Backstrom finished off the powerplay for him. Then, Alex Ovechkin happened. After Richard Panik earned a 5-minute major for boarding Karl Alzner, the Russian machine made Tampa pay. Twice. First, he laid up a cross-ice pass from Marcus Johansson, then he took a one-timer from Green to tie the game. Hats rained down. Another three-goal second period for the Washington Capitals.
Ondrej Palat put the Bolts back up in the third, taking advantage of some observational Capitals defense, but the Caps weren’t done. With the Caps net empty, Alex Ovechkin struck again, scoring his 4th goal of the night. HIS FOURTH FOARTH GOAL OF THE NIGHT.
Overtime proved unable to decide the game, and thus:
Eric Fehr scores and didn’t even crack a smile.
Filppula was denied.
The puck rolled on Ovi, who didn’t get greedy.
Kucherov tucked it past Grubauer.
Backy’s puck hit the post and bounced out.
Grubi pokechecked the hell out of Martin St Louis.
Grabo’s grab bag of tricks is deep, and he converts.
Teddy Purcell roofed it to keep the shootout going.
Troy Brouwer redeemed with a roofer!
Caps beat Bolts 6-5 in the shootout. EPIC COMEBACK! AND HOW ABOUT THAT ALEX OVECHKIN?!
On December 8, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Grabo. (Photo: Bruce Bennett)
It’s been a good weekend for Washington fans.
Wait, lemme take another swing at that.
It’s been a good weekend for Washington Capitals fans. After a convincing win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday, the Capitals popped the balloon of a goalie who has given them hell in recent months. An explosive second period gave the Caps a big lead, and the superb Philipp Grubauer had an answer for all but one Rangers shot.
After a scoreless first period, Jason Chimera finally ended Henrik Lundqvist’s shutout streak by paying the price in the paint. An outside shot by Steve Oleksy was deflected just 25 seconds later to make it 2-0. Mikhail Grabovski earned a penalty shot on a late-period breakaway, and he freaking roofed it with a point-blank slapper. The Caps held a 3-0 lead after forty minutes.
Nate Schmidt, yes, Nate Schmidt added one in the third, but Pouliot returned fire to break Grubi’s shutout before the buzzer. A bummer, but a great win.
On December 7, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Patrick Smith
It’s been too long. The last Caps game– back when healthcare.gov wasn’t working and the Spaghetti Os social media guy still had a job– was a pretty tough loss to the Hurricanes. Four days later, the Capitals hosted Matt Hendricks and the Nashville Predators to a Saturday night thing, putting up a ton of goals in the first frame and fending off their foes for the next forty minutes. Here’s how it went down.
Troy Brouwer cracked an 11-game scoreless streak early in the first with one of the softest softies ever, a slow backhand that dribbled past Nashville goalie/The Doors organist Marek Mazanec. Alex Ovechkin was Alex Ovechkin on the power play, and then Karl Alzner threaded the needle from way-out to officially make it a scoar-moar-goals kind of night. Roman Josi put a nasty wristshot to Braden Holtby’s far side to get the Perds on the board, but that was quite a strong first frame for the Caps. 3-1.
The second period was scoreless, but it did find the Predators closing the gap in the possession game.
Martin Erat set up Nate Schmidt for his first NHL goal in the third, but Eric Nystrom scored on the very next shift because this is the Capitals and they do just do stuff like that sometimes. Mikhail Grabovski, who is awesome, helped Eric Fehr, who is awesome, get free wings for the fans. Bam. Win.