Patrick McDermott

MVP. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

And so we said goodnight to the Southeast Division. With one last dance between the Washington Capitals and the Winnipeg Jets (née Atlanta Thrashers), the stakes were a division title and a guaranteed ticket to the postseason dance for the home team. It was a barn-burning good time, which doesn’t sound like a good time if you own a barn but you don’t so it was. The Capitals came out of the gates shooting and hardly stopped to catch their breath. All four lines were clicking, and that’s exactly the kind of hockey we want to see one week before the playoffs start.

Alex Ovechkin is the best.

Caps beat Jets 5-3. The Capitals make the playoffs. The Capitals are Southeast Division champions.

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Travis Golby

Eff you. Brouwer is an anteater. (Photo credit: Travis Golby)

On Thursday, the Washington Capitals beat the Winnipeg Jets by coming out shooting and then protecting the lead. On Friday night’s insta-rematch,  the Caps didn’t own the puck by any measure, but they did carpet bomb the Thrashers so decisively that no one noticed. Goals went like this: Brooks, Brouwer, Beagle– and then Ovi and Green jumped in to disrupt the literary consonance– and then Byfuglien, and then Ovi again for some kind of poetic unity. It was a blowout when the Capitals needed it most.

Okay, maybe they coulda used it more at the beginning of the season. Sure. No no no, that’s a fair point. I hear you. Yeah. Okay. Listen I don’t wanna fight tonight. It’s Friday and the Caps won and won big. Can’t we all just get along?

Caps beat Thrashers 6-1.

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Marianne Helm

Photo credit: Marianne Helm

The Southeast Division Farewell Tour kicked off with a battle between the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets. The Capitals managed to continue their strong five-on-five play from Tuesday and convert it into two early goals. Big Buff and the Jets tried to mount a comeback, but the Caps stuck two more daggers in ‘em instead. And oh yeah: Braden Holtby had his fourth perfect game this year.

Caps beat Thrashers 4-0.

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Braden Freaking Holtby, Y’All! Caps beat Jets 3-0

John Woods

Photo credit: John Woods

The Washington Capitals looked like a troubled team before Saturday’s game at the Winnipeg Jets. With a grinder on their top line, a goal-scorer in Wojtek Wolski scratched in favor of a tough guy, and more injured players than you can shake a groin at, expectations were low for the early afternoon rumble in Manitoba. For twenty minutes, those expectations were met, and then the Capitals took control of their destiny and looked like a damn fine hockey club.

And oh yeah: Braden Holtby.

Caps beat Jets 3-0.

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Winnipeg Jets Pregame: It’s Payback Time

The Jets are five points behind the Caps with one less game played. They have the worst road record in the Eastern Conference.

And since this happened, Alex Ovechkin has scored four goals in three games. Thanks a bunch, Winnipeg!

It’s been a long time since Verizon Center has seen their boys. How will we greet them? And how will we welcome the Jets, whose fans have been so snarky lately?

A few suggestions:

  • Let’s go Thrashers! CLAP CLAP CLAPCLAPCLAP
  • P-A-R-K / Your kids got no place to play / Winnipeg ooh ooh Winnipeg!
  • Jets, you suck! Jets, you suck! ExceptforyouEricFehryou’recool! Jets, you suck!

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Atlanta Thrashers Pregame: Wait, What? Winnipeg Who?

Photo credit: Jonathan Kozub

Puck Buddy Doug Johnson writes for RMNB. Follow @PuckBuddys unless you’re Sean Avery.

The Pre Game: I’m going to let you in on a secret. We people of the prairie have known it for decades, but as a group we tend to be Scandinavian, and so tight-lipped. We only pass it down– whispered– when there’s no other choice; as on those nights the wind shakes the windows and hope seems to extinguish in the pit of a cold, dead emptiness. And here it is: there is no darker, stranger place on this Earth than Winnipeg. It’s Canada’s sooty heart of darkness… and now, thanks to the NHL, we have to spend a night there.

You can spend a lifetime overnight in Winnipeg.

The Puck Drop

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s Canada! How scary can that be?” Here’s how creepy: David Lynch won’t even go there. That’s how creepy Winnipeg is. Built at the base of a floodplain that sinks in summer and concentrates the winds into an arctic vortex each winter, Winnipeg is a place that sensible cultures would just abandon. Admit their mistake, move on, and leave it to future anthropologists to try and make sense of the debris: curling, BTO, and Guy Maddin.

Sure, some have escaped. Cody Eakin and Eric the Fehr among the more adorables. But let me ask you this: do you know anyone who’s been to Winnipeg? Didn’t they come back…changed?

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Thrashers beat Caps 1-0, Shutout Number Seven

ovechkinGoingDown

Here’s a picture of Ovechkin eating snow for the billionth time. (Photo credit: Scott Cunningham)

To all our friends stuck on the roads during this crazy #thundersnow storm, safe travels. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

So the final game for the Washington Capitals before the All-Star break found them meeting the Atlanta Thrashers in the not-so-balmy temperatures of Georgia. It did not go well.

Nik Antropov settled a lucky bounce in the Caps zone, leading to an easy goal against Semyon Varlamov. That was it. No other goals. Shutout for Ondrej Pavelec. Thrashers beat Caps 1-0.

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Thrashers beat Caps 3-1 as Pavelec Soars

strov
Burmistrov’s devastating chip shot eludes Varlamov. (Photo by Luis M. Alvarez)

It’s not like the Washington Capitals have a hard time getting pumped up for a intra-division game. Facing the Atlanta Thrashers at home tonight, the Caps put a season-high 46 pucks on net (with another 20 attempted). But Ondrej Pavelec stood like a giant in the Atlanta net, turning away all but one of those pucks. At least it wasn’t a shutout.

Rich Peverly deflected a monster shot from Byfuglien to create the first goal of the night.  Penalty engine Alex Burmistrov recorded the second goal, a brilliant chip shot from no angle. At the end of a long shift in Atlanta territory, Alex Ovechkin ended his nine-game goal drought with a one-timer assisted by the other Alex. After David Steckel took a controversial kneeing penalty, Andrew Ladd took only eight seconds to score the game’s final goal. Bummer. Thrashers beat Caps 3-1.

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Poor Effort, Bad Bounces Sink Caps: Thrashers Win 5-0

Braden Holtby: despondent.

A despondent Braden Holtby looks on after giving up the third goal of the night. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

Ovi reacts after missing a shot in the second period. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

Ovi reacts after missing a shot in the second period. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)

When Joe B. and Locker finished their pre-game intros and CSN cameras zoomed in for the opening face-off, it was hard not to notice the rows and rows of empty seats in Phillips Arena. The Capitals, seemingly aware of their surroundings, lacked energy and focus and proceeded to play down to their opponents. After giving up three quick goals to Ben Eager, Nik Antropov, & Evander Kane respectively, Braden Holtby was quickly summoned to the Caps bench by an enraged Bruce Boudreau.

Michal Neuvirth was steady in relief, but unfortunately for the Capitals, they were never able to locate their game after the switch. The offense was blessed with quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance but all resulted either in a missed shot, a ping off the post, or a solid save by Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

Evil cheeseburger-eater Dustin Byfuglien then put the game officially out of reach, closing the second period with a nifty short-side wrist shot past Neuvy. And let’s not even talk about that Burmistrov goal. I’m still angry at Jeff Schultz, who stopped skating, got deked out of his jockstrap and resembled a giant, awkward pylon on the play. Whatever. Thrashers win 5-0.

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The Erskine Supremacy: Caps beat Thrashers 6-4

John Erskine scores the GWG!

“Can you believe we won this???” (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Boulton and Erskine beat the tar out of one another.

Boulton and Erskine beat the tar out of one another. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

This third meeting of the Washington Capitals and Atlanta Thrashers was not overshadowed by injury like the season-opener was by Ondrej Pavelec‘s collapse. Instead, we were treated to a cavalcade of slapstick puckery. The puck had a mind of its own tonight, and the game’s three goalies were none too happy about it.

Alex Ovechkin opened it up early with a lucky bounce knocked in by goalie Chris Mason. Mason had already bobbled an earlier shot; this one he knocked in all by himself. Mike Green piled on with a mustache-fueled power play goal hooked up by Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble. Atlanta’s Rich Peverly turned in what was either a world-class goal or a total fluke (we vote the latter). Tyler Sloan dove in front of a shot to lead to a turnover and breakaway for Alex Ovechkin. Ovie’s pass enabled Alex Semin to score a dazzling deke-and-goal that should humble the authors of the All-Star game ballot.

Like an out-of-control garbage truck full of terminally ill kittens, the second period brought destruction and woe to all in its path (i.e. the Capitals). Andrew Ladd scored one and Bryan Little scored two, the last of which was a shorthanded breakaway furnished by the careless puck control of our very own Russian Machine.

The third period languished on for 13 minutes before John Erskine– yes, that John Erskine– rocketed the game winner past relief goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Then David Steckel found the empty net as Capitals players are so eager to do.

Phew, that was exhausting. Caps beat Thrashers 6-4.

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