Beagle Rabid as Caps beat Hawks 4-0

Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

The vibe was weird in Friday’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals. The Caps were playing for nothing but honor, but the Hawks were jockeying for playoff position. You couldn’t tell by the tilt of the ice. The Caps played a sloppy– but productive– game led by the team’s 1C, Jay Bodenheimer Beagle.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 51st  goal of the year on the power play from the remotest bastion of the Ovi Spot. Jay Beagle took two swipes to make it 2-0. Nick Backstrom eliminated the two-goal lead with a no-angle bank shot off Antti Raanta’s buttocks. Beagle struck again before the second period was done because nothing makes sense in an absurd universe upon which all meaning is a deliberate projection.

Nothing in the third. Sorry, Jay.

Caps beat Hawks like a million to nothing.

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BlackhawksWhiteHouse (1 of 13)

Photos by Chris Gordon

Hockey, thankfully, is nonpartisan. Sports is one thing Americans can set aside politics for. Instead of hating our neighbor because he’s on the other side of the aisle, we can hate him because he’s a Flyers fan. With that in mind, please no angry political comments. We’re still a hockey blog.

Today I covered the ceremony to honor the 2013 Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks at the White House. It’s a decades-old presidential tradition to honor the champions of major American professional and college sports — even the winners of the Little League World Series. Today’s event was the 55th time a team has visited during the Barack Obama presidency. Annoyingly, it’s also the second Blackhawks trip. Normally a team visits when they’re in town to play the local DC team, though that wasn’t the case today. The Blackhawks don’t come to Verizon Center until right before the playoffs in mid-April, so the team used one of their odd days in between home games to make the trip.

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Bill Smith

Alex Ovechkin scores his first goal of the season. (Photo Bill Smith)

Finally!

141 days after they got the boot by the Rangers, the Washington Capitals are back. You no longer have to talk to your friends, go out to dinner with your significant other, return calls from your family, or bathe with any regularity. From this moment until May at the earliest, your ass belongs to us.

I might have taken that too far. I’m sorry. I’m a bit excited over the return of net-crashing and the scoaring of goals (moar edition), imminent consummate Ovi-Grabo hookups, and all that stuff. I’m somewhat less psyched over everything that is happening in the Caps’ own zone and those teenage mutant ninja Caps, but whatever. It’s very early, and this was a game against a very tough opponent– one who has a real chance to repeat championships.

Here’s how it went down.

At the end of an Eric Fehr penalty, Jack Hillen’s weak clear allowed the puck to find Chicago’s Brandon Bollig in the crease. Bollig (6’2″, 223 lbs) easily out-muscled Connor Carrick (5’11″, 180 lbs) to score. Later, Alex Ovechkin took a pass from Mikhail Grabovski below the goal line to even it up on the power play, but Patrick Kane scored seconds later– right after Jonathan Teows gave Braden Holtby a bit of grease from behind.

In the second period, Mikhail Grabovski beat Corey Crawford on a two-on-one flanked by mobile decoy Jason Chimera. Brent Seabrook then re-established the Hawks’ lead with a goal off a rebound during a Connor Carrick hooking penalty.

Power play QB Mike Green set up Mikhail Grabovski for a tip-in to make it even at the top of the third period, thanks to Ovechkin’s defense-attracting skills. Green struck again on a subsequent power play–again setting up Mikhail Grabovski for a tip-in (that makes three). Brandon Saad exploited a turnover, executing a give-and-go to knot the score with 12 minutes left. Holtby let in some soft service on a shot from Johnny Oduya that probably was going wide. The Caps were unable to convert a late-game five-on-three, and Green tripped Marian Hossa on an empty-net breakaway, resulting in an automatic goal.

Hawks beat Caps 6-4. Welcome back, everybody.

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Photo credit: Bill Smith

With the Capitals down 4-1 to the Blackhawks late in the second period, Alex Ovechkin carried the puck solo into the Blackhawks’ zone. With three defending players marking him, Ovechkin didn’t wait for his teammates; he did it Rambo-style. The Russian machine dipped his shoulder, slid the puck between his skates, and walked around one of the NHL’s best defensemen, Duncan Keith. He finished the sequence by putting the puck over Corey Crawford’s left pad to score.

Video is below the jump.

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Road Trip Gets Heavy, Hawks beat Caps 5-2

Photo credit: Bill Smith

This is it. We’ve had a big red circle around this week since the schedule was announced. Washington Capitals @ Chicago Blackhawks kicks off three very tough road games (Detroit and Philly are the other two). With the Eastern Conference standings as dense as they are, this game means a lot.

Duncan Keith caught a lucky rebound up the middle that Andrew Shaw tipped in, then Viktor Stalberg smoked Dmitry Orlov for a big breakaway goal. Mike Knuble scored a long-distance goal (okay, it was just 32 feet) early in the second. Patrick Kane restored the two-goal lead with an easy wrister after a series of defensive goofs. Wideman and Schultz let Shaw skate away with the puck, and his wraparound become the Hawks’ fourth goal. Alex Ovechkin got some open ice and roofed it. Chicago got the empty netter as soon as Neuvy cleared out. Hawks beat Caps 5-2.

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Troy Brouwer

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Over the summer, General Manager George McPhee started snatching players like a rabid mom snatching groceries on Supermarket Sweeps. In are gritty NHL veterans like Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik, and Jeff Halpern. Out are fan-favorites like Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon.

Beyond the discounted signing of Tomas Vokoun, there may have been no better addition to the line-up than the Draft-night trade McPhee swung with the Chicago Blackhawks in which he landed Troy Brouwer for a first-round pick. Brouwer, who signed an affordable two-year deal worth $2,350,000 per year on July 6, was part of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup Champion squad and is known in part for his physical, hard-hitting game. The 26-year-old right wing has also been a proven scorer at every level he’s played, tallying 20 goals in the NHL, 40-plus goals in the AHL, and 100-plus points in Juniors.

So with Opening Night only a few days away, what can Caps fans reasonably expect offensively from Brouwer? Also, how about some bizarre facts about Troy that only RMNB can dig up? Follow me past the jump to find out.

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Capitals celebrate Mike Knuble's OTGWG

GROUP HUG! (Photo credit: Rob Carr)

Jason Chimera brings the intensity in a second period fight with Brent Seabrook. (Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin)

Jason Chimera brings the intensity in a second period fight with Brent Seabrook. (Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin)

In dramatic fashion, in front of a national television audience  and a sellout crowd at Verizon Center, the Cardiac Caps were once again back at work as Washington pushed their winning streak to eight. Less than one month ago it would have been hard to imagine any of this happening. Nevertheless, the Caps are now just a single point out of first-place in the Eastern Conference.

“Guys have a bit of a swagger right now, back to the way things were,” said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring less than five minutes into the contest. After receiving a feed from Marian Hossa, Nick Leddy put the puck past Holtby. Just under two and a half minutes later, however, Boyd Gordon would knot the game at one. After picking up an errant pass by the ‘Hawks power play, Gordon raced down the wing before firing a slapper past Chicago netminder Corey Crawford for the shortie. Late in the first frame, after John Erskine drew a holding penalty, Washington headed to their recently anemic power play. This time, however, it would be different. New Cap Jason Arnott fired a bullet from the point that found twine, giving Washington their first lead of the game.

Three minutes into the second period, Chicago would tie the game at two when Holtby gave Tomas Kopecky a little too much daylight. Kopecky seized the opportunity, banking the puck off ‘keeper’s back from behind the goal-line. In the waining moments of the stanza, things got physical when Chicago’s Brent Seabrook delivered a hard check behind the net to Jason Chimera. Everyone favorite fire-footed, stone-handed forward took exception to Seabrook, challenging him to a duel. Seabrook appeared to come out with the win in the bout but it was Chimera got the take-down.

“Chimmer, I thought, he was a factor. He did not get a star or anything, but I thought he was a real big factor in the game,” said Chimera’s teammate Brooks Laich. “He was the one that sort of instigated that little rhubarb there. I think he does a good job and takes one of their top defenders off. So I think he had a very good night.”

Six and half in to the final frame, the aforementioned Laich put home Matt Hendricks’ (or more accurately Eric Fehr’s) feed from the corner to put the Caps on top. Washington appeared to be in control until Marcus Johansson was called for hooking at 18:10. “I thought it was a pretty chintzy call,” said Boudreau. On the ensuing Blackhawks power play, Jonathan Toews converted on a mad scrum in front of the net, as the puck bounced in off Holtby’s skate.

In overtime, the Capitals missed numerous chances until, finally, Mike Knuble — with a little help from Johansson — came to the rescue. Ballgame over. Caps top ‘Hawks, 4-3.

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White House (6 of 33)

On Friday afternoon, President Barack Obama welcomed the Chicago Blackhawks to the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup championship last season. The ‘Hawks presented Mr. Obama with a jersey bearing his name and the number 44. “I think we’ve even got some blood on here,” the president said after he was given the sweater. “It shows it’s authentic. Fantastic.”

After the ceremony, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a street hockey clinic with local children on the South Lawn as part of her “Let’s Move” campaign to help keep kids fit. Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green was attendance to help Mrs. Obama kick off her event. Below the jump, I chronicle the day in pictures.

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Can The Washington Capitals Win The Presidents Trophy This Year?

With only 12 games to go the Washington Capitals are within striking distance of another franchise first: The Presidents’ Trophy.

Along with the cash bonuses to the organization it ensures home ice advantage throughout the playoffs – a huge plus to a team with a 26-4-4 record at the Phone Booth and PK issues away.

It is a five horse race (Washington, Chicago, Phoenix, Vancouver and San Jose) and the Caps have the easiest road to the prize.

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Oops. Russian Machine made a boo boo. (AP Photo)

Oops. Russian Machine screw up big time. (AP Photo)

At around 2:00pm, after Alex Ovechkin was tossed and Chicago was starting the third period with a 3-0 lead, I got a call from RMNB lead writer Peter Hassett who’s currently spending his last day in California for a weekend wedding. He said and I quote:

“I thought the Tampa Bay Game was the disaster game of the season. I guess it’s this one now.”

I reminded him that there was still 1 full period of play left- which is a lot of time for the Capitals even without Ovechkin – and that Chicago blew a similar 3-0 lead to the Flyers the day before. Undeterred, Peter replied “Dude, It’s Over.”

So of course, the Capitals were victorious and won in Overtime over a stunned Chicago Blackhawks team, 4-3. SORRY PETER. We’re just going to warn you now, we’re not in the mood for happy bullets.

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