GreenSticks (5 of 15)

Photos: Chris Gordon

Seven years ago, Joseph Caprario’s father took his eight-year-old son to a Washington Capitals game after winning a charity auction. This was back in 2008, when Mike Green was electric and on his way to a 31-goal season. After that game, little Joseph met Green. The defenseman gave the fan a game-used stick and signed the blade with a silver Sharpie. Joseph treasured it; he hung the stick on his wall. For the affable Green, it was a routine gesture.

“A few months later, I started playing hockey myself,” Caprario told me. “Meeting Green was what inspired me to do so. I started as a defenseman. He was my favorite player.”

Elyssa Cole, a 29-year-old teacher in Sterling, Virginia, has always been a huge fan of the Caps and an even huger fan of Mike Green. She loves collecting Caps memorabilia. Five years ago, she found on eBay something she had to have. It was a Mike Green game-used stick. Cole splurged, shelling out $200 to buy it.

On Sunday, both Caprario and Cole made the hour-long trip to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to give back to the guy they felt had already done so much for them.

“I figured that if this stick is so good to him that he plays better, this was the right thing to do,” Cole told me. “As a fan, I’d do anything to help the team win.”

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evgeny-kuznetsov-scores

Monday night, Evgeny Kuznetsov continued his recent strong play. The 22-year-old Russian scored his eighth goal of the season in the third period and scored the game-deciding tally in the shootout.

His regulation goal was amazing.

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Uh… Caps beat Sabres Barely 4-3 (SO)

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Be honest: you saw this coming. After last night’s thrilling win over the Bruins, the Caps weren’t quite so motivated playing on the road against the league’s escape goats, the Buffalo Sabres.

Why was this even a contest? Because the Capitals are gaslighting you right now basically. They want to see you crack. Don’t let them see you crack, fan.

Jason Chimera looked particularly goat-tastic on Buffalo’s first goal, a give-and-go sequence capped off by Tyler Ennis. Curtis Glencross scored– yet again in the first period– cleaning up Matt Niskanen’s rebound during the power play. Cody Hodgson got a fluke goal off Braden Holtby’s back to give the Sabres the lead.

“…to give the Sabres the lead”

Mike Green showed tremendous patience in finding the empty 80 percent of Anders Lindback’s net in the second period, so we went into the third tied.

Evgeny Kuznetsov put the Capitals in the lead in the third period, which shouldn’t have been a big deal considering the opponent, but here we are, genuinely excited about the Caps leading the Buffalo Sabres, and even that didn’t last. Johan Larsson deflected a shot by Chad Ruhwedel, who really is an actual hockey player and not just a name you get by slamming on your keyboard like Wefwejop.

Anyway, overtime didn’t decide anything, so…

Shootout bullets!

  • Ennis did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Kuznetsov put the biscuit in the basket with a jaunty waltz
  • Moulson did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Backstrom did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Whoever went last did not put the biscuit in the basket

Caps beat Sabres 4-3 in the shootout. yey they beat the sabres.

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ovechkin-manhandling-weber

When the Washington Capitals lost Nicklas Backstrom to injury for most of a season, they were a different team. The elbow to Backstrom’s head from Rene Bourque devastated the team.

So on Monday, when Sabres defenseman Mike Weber went to slam Nicky’s head against the boards (he missed), Caps captain Alex Ovechkin would have none of it.

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No, The NHL Draft Doesn’t Need to be Fixed

nhl-draft

This year, several NHL teams including the Capitals’ opponent tonight, Buffalo, have been awful. Two potential superstars will be avaliable at this year’s draft: Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. Fans of those teams want to lose.

On Monday, Kevin McGran of the Toronto Sun wrote about this phenomenon and published an article titled “With lottery teams tanking for Connor McDavid, it’s time NHL rethinks draft.” In the article, McGran states that since teams are tanking for Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel that indicates the NHL draft system needs fixing.

Does it though? And are these teams really tanking? Let me address a few key points of his article.

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Caps at Sabres Pregame: Stack the Pads, Pad the Stats

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That pic is from 2011 and it’s awesome. (Photo: Gary Wiepert)

The Capitals played terrifically last night en route to a shutout win over the rival Boston Bruins. That was a high-stakes game against a good foe. Tonight: not so much.

Tonight the Caps will pad their stats and hopefully not blow a solid chance at two points on the road in Buffalo.

Puck drops at 7 PM. The game’s on CSN Plus, so if I find out you watched the NBC Sports feed I will flip out on you.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 37-23-10 51.8% 100.3 25.0% 81.3%
Buffalo Sabres 19-43-6 36.6% 100.1 10.9% 74.7%

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Shot Generation Is a Problem for Caps Forwards

Alex Brandon

Photo: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have one of the most prolific goal scorers in NHL history in Alex Ovechkin. One of the main ingredients in Ovechkin’s success is his ability to generate an insane amount of shots. Since entering the league, Ovechkin has 2252 shots on goal during 5v5 play, 553 more than the next player, Rick Nash. In terms of shot attempts, Ovechkin has 4326, which is 1,479 more than the next closest player. Here’s one stat I can’t wrap my mind around:

This season is no exception. Ovechkin is once again pacing the league in shot attempt rate.

But here’s the problem: After Ovechkin, the 2014-15 Caps’ forward corps struggles mightily to generate shot attempts.

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ovechkin-photo-hi-res

Alex Ovechkin had selfishly gone three days without doing something nice, so he had to indulge himself on Sunday. His most recent act of kindness: surprising Caps fan Jeff Jones with a new signed jersey after losing his house in a fire.

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holtby-butt-check

Milan Lucic has a history of running goaltenders. Tonight he tried to do it to Braden Holtby. Instead he got butt-checked.

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Alright, listen. There was a game and the Caps won, but all I really care about is that Nate Schmidt scored. I’m not gonna play it cool and dedicate just a single, solemn bullet to Nate’s goal because you will all know I’m being disingenuous.

So here, up front, is John Walton calling Nate Schmidt’s goal.

 

And up top is a photo of him being happy because that’s what he does. That’s what relentlessly positive Nate Schmidt does.

And here’s what I looked like after the goal.

Anyway, the Caps beat the Bruins. John Carlson also scored. Holtby got a shutout. Let’s talk about it.

Caps beat Bruins 2-0.

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