Michal Neuvirth Injures Right Leg During Warm-Ups (Video)

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Washington Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth was expected to play his eighth game of the season on Black Friday, but that did not happen. Neuvirth suffered an injury while skating out to the ice during warm-ups.

Speaking with Caps goaltending coach Olie Kolzig at the bench, Neuvirth pointed to his right knee. He was then helped off the ice and into the locker room, favoring his left leg.

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Festival of (Red) Lights: Sens Edge Caps 6-4

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Blame Rachel Cohen for this.

Blame Rachel Cohen for this.

[Note: This recap is Chanukah-themed tonight. Why? Because there's literally no one on the Internet right now.]

Last week, there was only one way to describe the play of the Washington Capitals: shameful. After winning three straight, the Capitals allowed seven unanswered goals at Verizon Center, before showing some life late against Montreal. Saturday’s game, though, was markedly different. The Capitals still lost, but they put 50 shots on goal, Washington’s highest total since 2010. On the first night of Chanukah, the Caps looked to continue that output against the lowly Ottawa Senators. They did — at first.

It started with a sublime play by yelling person-cum-Jewish pun Michael Latta, who skated into the offensive zone, got tripped, and then pole vaulted over a Sens defender. The loose puck went to Eric Fehr, who unleashed a lovely wrist shot to put the Caps on the board. Ottawa tied it up less than a minute and a half  later, however, when Bobby Ryan tipped one past Braden Holtby on the man-advantage. However, Marcus Johansson whacked in a loose puck in front on the power play just 38 seconds after the Sens tally, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead. BUT WAIT! A mere 47 seconds later, Brooks Laich backhanded home a loose puck in front. Four goals in under five minutes. Whew!

The second period was all Sens. Chris Philips put them within one with a blast on the power play, before Colin Greening tied the game at three.

In the final frame Mika Zibanejad added another PP tally. Ugh. The game looked hopeless until John Carlson tied it late. Prepare to cry, though, because just over a minute later Zach Smith beat Mike Green and Nate Schmidt to win the ballgame. Ryan added an empty netter. Sad face. Vodka. Sens edge Caps 6-4

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That Sucked: Pens Blank Caps 4-0

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:( (Photo credit: Rob Carr)

Ian Oland birthday card of the night. (Photo credit: Brouwer Rangers)

Ian Oland birthday card of the night. (Photo credit: Brouwer Rangers)

A few years ago, the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry was the NHL’s top draw. Led by the league’s best players, the teams spawned epic playoff series and fantastic regular season games. Eventually, though, Sidney Crosby got hurt and Alex Ovechkin got stale. For the past couple seasons, Caps-Pens has been a bit hollow.

This year, however, Ovi vs. Sid is relevant again: Crosby came into the game tied for the league lead in points, Ovechkin was tied for the lead in goals. Wednesday, the Caps were just one point behind the Pens for the Metropolitan division lead. With NBC in town, the good old days of the late ’00s were back — even if Brooks Laich didn’t give a crap.

Unfortunately, the game was less Snovechkin and more 2009 Semifinals game seven.

Paul Martin put the Pens up early through a screen that make Braden Holtby look foolish. Rejected Gossip Girl character Beau Bennett stretched the lead to two on a two-on-four — yes two-on-four — for Pittsburgh midway through the first. The second frame was utterly boring until ya boy Sidney Crosby unleashed an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot on the power play to put the Pens up by three. James Neal added another in the third.

Worst. Pens Blank Caps 4-0.

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During the first intermission, former NHL great Jeremy Roenick was asked what he thought of Braden Holtby‘s effort on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ two first period goals. Instead of using words, Roenick decided to go the caveman route, making a series of grunts and hand signals.

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 46 saves on his way to the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. That’s a regular-season record for Holtby, but not unprecedented given his workload this season.

Holtby has faced an above-average 30 or more shots in 13 of his 17 appearances this season. In 9 games he’s seen 35+ shots. Sunday was the second time he’s been up against more than 40.

And yet Holtby is sporting a fantastic .925 save percentage. With all of the close games they’ve been playing, the Caps have needed every one of those saves.

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Despite a pretty shaky defense, Washington Capitals starting goaltender Braden Holtby has been sensational this season. His .920 save percentage is above average and winning games. He has made the fifth most saves in the NHL. Since those struggles in the opening weeks, he’s been good almost every night.

On Friday, The Holtbeast bailed the Caps out again, stopping 27 of Detroit’s 28 even-strength shots and 34 out of 37 overall. His best save of the night came 15 minutes into the game, as Tomas Tatar tried to stuff a wraparound.

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Swedish artist David Gunnarsson released photos of the newest mask he finished painting this morning. Lo and behold, it’s for Washington Capitals starting goaltender Braden Holtby. Gunnarsson has entitled it “Number 70 of the Capitals.” The mask is stylized to go with the Caps’ third jerseys, the same vintage sweaters that they wore during the Winter Classic in 2011.

Gunnarsson, in his very odd/excitable dialect, walked us through the story behind Holtby’s new bucket on his Facebook page.

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Just a quick item for your lunchtime perusal.

As Uncle Ted himself pointed out earlier, despite the Capitals in the top 5 in the league in goals for, they are currently are 20th in the league in goals against with 52.

That goals-against count comes despite strong numbers from the goalies. Braden Holtby is sporting a fantastic .922 save percentage, Michal Neuvirth a decent .913.

As that suggests, the Capitals are allowing lots of shots on goal. They are 25th in the league in allowing shots on goal during 5-on-5 in close-game situations.

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Photo credit: Eric Hartline

Fighting in the NHL has been on the decline. It might be on its way out of the sport. Roster spots for goons are dwindling. Nerds have found no evidence that fighting impacts winning.

Yet on Friday night in Philadelphia, the Flyers decided the only way to save face after a figurative beatdown from the Caps was a literal beatdwn. Once Joel Ward scored his hat-trick goal, Wayne Simmonds threw an elbow to incite a fight with Tom Wilson. Ray Emery, Flyers back-up goalie and trained boxer, skated all the way down the ice and started throwing punches at Braden Holtby — even though Holtby declined to fight.

Steve Oleksy then dropped Vincent Lecalvier. Alexander Urbom fought Brayden Schenn. There was also a bit of loud noises from John Carlson.

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Watch John Carlson Get Super Pissed at the Emery ‘Fight’

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Photo credit: Eric Hartline

The Flyers-instigated brawl during Friday night’s game was an ugly scene for the league. Whatever your view of fighting, that a bloodthirsty player could get away with assaulting an unwilling opponent pulls the NHL towards the pro wrestling side of the spectrum. In the moment when Ray Emery attacked fellow goalie Braden Holtby, it was kind of hard to tell the difference between the two.

“He didn’t want to fight,” Emery told Chuck Gormley. “I said, basically, ‘Protect yourself.’ He didn’t really have much of a choice.”

Kind of like a mugging.

The Capitals were outraged that referee Francois St. Laurent let the ‘fight’ go on considering only one participant appeared to be willing.  Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, in particular, was peeved. As he should be.

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