joel-ward-huge-goal

Photo: Jared Silber

A few years ago, Dan Steinberg asked Joel Ward why his teammates call him The Big Cheese.

“Just the big guy on campus, you know?” Ward explained. “The Big Cheese, it’s like the king on the throne. I mean, the Cheese kind of holds everything together in here, you know?”

On Thursday night, Ward, playing on the first line again with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, showed why he’s such a big deal. The winger scored with 1.3 seconds remaining in the third period after being marvelously set up by Alex Ovechkin. Ward also scored in game seven on Monday. He famously netted the series-ending goal in deciding game against the Boston Bruins two years ago.

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Late-Game Heroics: Caps beat Rangers 2-1!

two-heads

I have so many jokes about this picture, but Ian won’t let me make any.

The rested Rangers came out flying in the first period of the first game of the second round, but it was weary Washington who scored first. A pitched battle followed– with plenty of end-to-end action and shoulda-been-coulda-been goals. A late goal by the Rangers made it a contest, and just as we prepared for overtime, something happened.

On a power play late in the first, Alex Ovechkin gained the zone and carved a Christmas ham with a sneaky shot. With five minutes left, the Rangers tied it up after a looooong offensive-zone session. No big deal– Alex Ovechkin and Joel Ward combined for the clutchest of clutch moves you’ve ever seen.

Caps beat Rangers 2-1. Caps lead the series 1-0. Hahahahahaha

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ovechkin-goal

Photo: Jared Sibler

The Capitals take a 1-nothing lead into the intermission thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s latest mindblowing goal.

In a late-period power play (Jay Beagle was held by Dom Moore), Alex Ovechkin gained the zone. As soon as he hit the face-off circle, Ovi loosed an uncanny dart.

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holtbeard

During the national anthem tonight, NBCSN cut to a close-up shot of Braden Holtby standing in the crease. Look at that beard. It’s growing so rapidly that I’m worried Holtby will look like this when the Caps return home for game three.

The Holtbeard is a sentient being. Like a sun-hungry seedling, it is searching for light. It made two of Holtby’s saves in the first period. During a stoppage in play, a morning dove flew out his beard, searching for food for its babies.

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The Washington Capitals vs How-Old.Net

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One last piece of nonsense before we get down to business tonight: Microsoft, instead of building a useful version of Windows for desktops, instead published the not-at-all-a-data-mining ploy website, How-Old.net. You find a picture, and its magical algorithm tells you how old the person is.

I put the Capitals in. This thing is terrible. Or is it magical. I don’t know. Everything on the planet is great and awful at the same time.

Check it out.

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SSJ ovi

Graphic: Ondrej T.

The Caps and the Rangers have met in the playoffs a bunch, and that history doesn’t freaking matter at all. These Rangers are faster and less ham-fisted than Tortorella’s. These Capitals are less cautious than Hunter’s and less devastatingly awful than Oates’s. These are basically two new teams, and the Caps are the better one.

7:30 PM at MSG and on NBCSN. Caps in 6. Crash the net.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 45-26-11 51.9% 100.3 25.3% 81.2%
New York Rangers 53-22-7 50.6% 101.7 16.8% 84.3%

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p-v-i

Round two of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight. It’s time for a new round of predictions to be summarily mocked by you jerks in the comments.

But first, a look back at how we did in round one:

  1. Peter: 6 for 8
  2. Keith, a Coin: 4 for 8
  3. Ian: 2 for 8

Haha, a stupid coin beat Ian.

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RangersCapitalsJaredSilber

Just last night, the PuckBuddys took delivery of their brand-spankin’-new ginormous UHD TV-monster. We’ve never actually had HD before, so we’re particularly excited to get it just in time for the start of the Rangers/Caps series, so we can actually see every moment that will make us want to vomit in crisp detail.

There’s a lot to feel good about how the Capitals are performing. The Isles series forced them to speed up and sharpen play, and assuming the last game wasn’t an outlier, this is a squad that can take it to anyone. Still, we are up against the Rangers. Again. It’s beginning to feel like the Möbius Strip of playoff hockey.

Once again, we were lucky enough to get a few minutes with Neill Fowler— owner, operator, editor and bottle-washer at New York Rangers Blog, to get his thoughts on the Rangers, the Caps, the series, and why playoff hockey makes us so nauseated. Continue Reading

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braden-holtby-game-seven-ovi

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Little ol’ Chris Gordon has a big ol’ byline today. Over at the New York Times, where they spell NHL as “N.H.L.” and number one as “No. 1,” Gordon tells us the tale of Braden Holtby, a humble farm boy who rose to become the Washington Capitals’ most important player.

Give it a read by clicking on this mondo link.

Congratulations, Chris. You’ve made the Grey Lady look better than ever.

 

The Apple Watch is a Hot Item in the Caps Locker Room

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Wednesday morning, I set off to Kettler Capitals Iceplex on a serious mission. I was on deadline, working on a story on Braden Holtby for The New York Times. I paced around the rink until the locker room opened. When Karl Alzner, Holtby’s longtime teammate, became available, I prepared to pepper him with questions about Holtby’s breakout season, but Karl had other ideas.

“Hey, I gotta ask *you* a question!” Alzner exclaimed, pointing out the baby blue Apple Watch on my wrist. “How did you get that so fast?”

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