How Not to Win at Hockey: Flyers beat Caps 3-2 (OT)

King Fights Shelley

King vs. Shelley: a portrait of pointlessness. (Photo credit: Len Redkoles)

The Washington Capitals quenched their wanderlust, beginning their 15-game voyage (only 5 stops at home!) with an evening hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers. The conference-leading home team sported their explosive offensive, keeping busy the Washington goalies all night. The Capitals, except for a 40-second spurt, had precious little presence in the offensive zone. We went to overtime, but we didn’t stay long.

91 seconds into the game, Michal Neuvirth failed to track Jeff Carter’s wraparound and allowed a goal on the night’s first shot. Claude Giroux doubled down against relief-goalie Semyon Varlamov by seizing on a second chance. In the third, Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble stormed Sergei Bobrovsky’s crease for a goal. 40 seconds later, Alex Ovechkin fed at the trough to tie it up. But in overtime, Jason Chimera gave Andrej Meszaros more than enough room to fire one home. Game over. Flyers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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Leafs beat Caps 5-4, Stunning Comeback

Mathieu Perreault celebrates his first goal of the year

Mathieu Perreault is the bright spot in this tough loss. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

CAPTION (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Colton Orr helps D.J. King with some facial redecoration. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Former Caps coach Ron Wilson brought his Toronto Maple Leafs to town looking for some redemption in their beleaguered season. The Washington Capitals meanwhile searched for the first win in their so-far unsuccessful extended home stand and switched up their roster to handle injuries from Sloan, Erskine, Steckel. With Hershey hotshot Mathieu Perreault (hereafter Matthew Perot) pinching in, it looked for a while like the goal-crazy Caps of seasons past had returned. But they leaned back in the third period, and… well, I don’t really have the heart to tell you.

Matty got on the big board on his first shift– less than three minutes into the game, deflecting a wrister off Tom Poti from the paint. Clarke MacArthur responded by shaking off John Carlson and teasing Neuvirth with a pause. It took two swings for Mike Knuble to earn a powerplay goal, the 249th of his career, and regain the lead. Perry struck back from the circles after waiting for a screen. Alex Ovechkin scored a whizzer of a wristshot to give the Caps an insurmountable 4-1 lead. Well, sorta. Mikhail Grabovksi, Tim Brent, and Clarke MacArthur each found their chances to exploit the snoozing home team, evening it up in the final 90 seconds. Overtime came and went. The shootout proved to be Mikhail Grabovski’s shining moment– as a spinarama escaped Michael Neuvirth’s pads. Leafs beat Caps 5-4 (SO).

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Jessica’s Movember Birthday Adventure with the Caps

Jessica with Eric Fehr

Editor’s note: November was a remarkable for the Washington Capitals. Not only because of the team’s success (10 wins in 14 games), but also the mustaches some team members grew. Movember, as it is called, is a month-long charity event to raise awareness for men’s health. Reader Jessica M. shares her story of the Movember party held at Lyon Hall this past Sunday night.

John Carlson poses with Jessica.

John Carlson poses with Jessica.

Well, this past year has been pretty crappy for me. At 36, I was diagnosed with two different kinds of cancer and underwent four surgeries (including the one that led to the first diagnosis). Thankfully, both tumors were caught early and I am now cancer-free. So I decided to celebrate the hell out of my birthday this year.

My husband Kevin and I had already bought tickets to the Caps/Canes game on the 28th, my birthday– we splurged and got seats four rows off the ice. Now seems like a good time to add that I’ve only once seen a game live that the Caps lost, and that was seven years ago in the pre-Ovi era (I remember because it was on my 30th birthday). So unlike Peter, I have a pretty good record for seeing Caps wins. I have to admit, I was afraid that record was about to go down in flames after the score was tied with 2.2 seconds left to go, but the boys pulled out a win on my birthday! That was present enough right there.

But I had more celebrating to do. We decided at the last minute to get tickets to the Movember party at Lyon Hall. Since I’ve survived cancer this year, it’s become a cause near and dear to my heart. My grandfather died of prostate cancer; my father-in-law thankfully did not, though he did undergo treatment for it. I think it’s really important to raise awareness of certain cancers, both men’s and women’s, that don’t get a lot of attention, so I’m grateful to the Caps for participating in Movember this year. And thanks also to Lyon Hall for hosting the event!

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Happy Hanukkah! Caps beat Blues 4-1

Semyon Varlamov: intense.

Varlamov takes on all comers. (Photo credit: Tom Gannam)

[Ed. note: Peter has a fever and is kind of loopy. Go easy on him.]

Jaroslav Halak gets scored on (Photo credit: Tom Gannam)

Halak defeated thanks to Brooks Laich. (Photo credit: Tom Gannam)

Tonight the Washington Capitals had their first chance to exact vengeance on Jaroslav Halak since he shut the Caps down in the playoffs. Now suiting up with the St. Louis Blues, Halak is the most foreboding embodiment of the Capitals’ postseason woes besides perhaps the Caps themselves. In an uneven effort, the Caps managed to exorcise- at least partially- those Halak-faced demons. But the big story was Semyon Varlamov, who padded his highlight reel with some improbable, firecracker saves.

Brooks Laich scored a PPG on the Caps second shot of the night, a high puck right up in Halak’s face. Boyd Gordon recorded his first tally of the year by Jedi-mind-tricking Halak to bobble the puck in himself for the second time this year. The Blues woke up with a screened spin-shot from Alexander Steen that Varly never saw coming. In the third period, Knuble and Backstrom swapped roles: near the paint, 19 converted the rebound off 22’s high-slot slapshot. In the final minute, with the Blues net abdicated, Alex Ovechkin gave Nick Backstrom the empty-net goal layup. Caps beat Blues 4-1.

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The Mess at MSG: Caps beat Rangers 5-3

Brooks Laich started and ended the Caps scoring tonight.

(Photo credit: Frank Franklin II)

MG52 unleashes the fury! (Photo credit: Frank Franklin II)

Brooks Laich with the book-end goals. (Photo credit: Frank Franklin II)

Well, that was an ugly one. The Washington Capitals’ first appointment with the New York Rangers, hosted in the majestically gloomy Madison Square Garden, had all of the poetry of an alleyway brawl. 28 penalty minutes were distributed in the first period alone. Mike Green dropped gloves for crying out loud!

The Rangers got up to an early lead when Brian Boyle beat Jeff Schultz at the circle. All night the Capitals defense was spotty, and it seemed the Superfriends could not make up for it. Every time the Caps tied the score, the Rangers pulled ahead again. But the Caps found strength where we faithful knew it would be: depth. Brooks Laich recorded a pair, Mike Knuble finished the funk, Matt Hendricks provided the GWG, and even lovable John Erskine got on the board. Henrik Lundqvist lay defeated. Caps beat Rangers 5-3.

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The Halloween Renaissance: Caps beat Flames 7-2

Suffice to say, it was a tough night for Kiprusoff

Green scores. Ovi tackles. (Photo credit: Jeff McIntosh)

Green scores. Ovi tackles.

DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (All photos by Jeff McIntosh)

Halloween. This is the time of year when the eerie and unlikely are commonplace. This is the season of mists, of despair, of loss.

Nah, forget that. The Caps struggled mightily in the first period with the Calgary Flames. Going down by two goals early on, the Caps looked vanquished. A pathetic power play only hurt our wavering confidence. Maybe we should turn the game off and hit up that costume party after all? Nyet. Nicky Backstrom turned the Caps second power play into a goal reminiscent of ’09-’10’s best, and then the second period happened.

Let’s not mince words. The second period of this game was a bulldozer. The Caps scored six goals, two pairs of those goals coming within 13 seconds of each other. I’d tell you who scored the goals, but it’d take too long. Trust me: it’s everyone you’d expect. And also Dave Steckel. The Flames never came back after those early volleys. Caps beat Flames 7-2.

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Armchair GM: Fiddling with the Roster

Marcus Johansson looks great in a Bears Uniform.

The Capitals’ awful, awful, very bad, no good week came to an unexpectedly pleasant finish on Saturday night. Alex Semin’s hat trick and Tomas Fleischmann’s OTGWGFTW capped off a miserable stint for the team.  Two deflating losses to the Bruins provide an excellent case study in the Caps’ problems: aside from a soaring PK squad and a competent netminder, the Caps are struggling.

That’s why we assembled the Russian Machine Brain Trust, formed to fight the foes no single hero could withstand. We put on our tweedy jackets, pack our pipes full of snuff, put some Mingus on the hifi, and did some armchair GMing. What follows is our panicked odyssey through the Capitals roster, our premature prognostications, our malevolent molestations, and one cheap crack about John Erskine’s facial hair.

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Bruins beat Caps 3-1: We’re Grumpy

matt-hendricks-gregory-campbell-fight

The one bright spot: MoJo scores his first NHL goal. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

The one bright spot: MoJo scores his first NHL goal. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Matt Hendricks makes sure Gregory Campbell remembers to never mess with #8 again. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

In the first of their two games with the Boston Bruins, the Capitals continued to express the manifold problems plaguing the team in this still-new season. With an inert offense, a struggling defense, and an impotent power play, it’s no wonder that the Bruins left Verizon Center with a 3-1 win. At least the Caps can trumpet their flawless penalty kill unit.

David Krecji, Milian Lucic, and Matt Hunwick scored Boston’s goals tonight. Washington answered with only one, Ikea-bred rookie Marcus Johansson’s first as an NHL player. Of the Capitals 36 shots on net, it seemed most of which were targeted squarely at the bulk of Boston goalie Tim Thomas. We’ve been told that the goals will come, and we’re still waiting. Bruins beat Caps 3-1.

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This or That: Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson?

Here was our favorite response.

Oh God, someone get me out of here.

Have any of you ever wanted to watch some of your favorite NHL players sweat it out on camera? Well if you have, then this “This or That” segment produced by Caps365 is for you. Almost the entire Caps roster is asked a simple question: Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson? However, for some, this becomes a question of: Does dominance on the playing field trump who you are as a person?

The responses are hilarious. A few of the guys respond in complete defiance (Varly), some blush (Alzner) and some respond in uncomfortable laughter (Laich).

So who would you choose: Tiger or Phil? Whose answer did you like the best? And what is John Erskine so happy about?

Caps beat Isles 2-1 in a Squeaker

Nick Backstrom tips-in Alex Ovechkin's slap shot from the point. Caps win 2-1.

D.J. King's first bout of the year only took one shift. He should have a nice shiner tomorrow. (Photo by Nick Wass)

D.J. King's first bout of the year came on his first shift of the year. He should have a nice shiner tomorrow. (Photo by Nick Wass)

Nicklas Backstrom’s first goal of the year is the game-winner! (Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Caps’ final game of their three-game residency at Chinatown maintained their perfect record there, but also continued the sloppiness haunting this early season. Despite a few soaring, individual efforts, the team as a whole could not click. For the second game in a row, it was the efforts of Alex Ovechkin and Michal Neuvirth that made all the difference.

Alex Ovechkin‘s second period goal and third period deflection via Nicklas Backstrom were all that was needed to put the team over the Islanders’ lonely score by the fresh-faced Nino Niederreiter. Little Mikey recorded 23 good-looking saves to endear himself a remaining skeptical minority of Caps fans.

This mid-October, mid-week match with the New York Islanders was a bit of a snoozer , as the Caps keep on looking ugly and winning anyhow. Lessons still need to learned apparently. Oh well. Caps beat Isles 2-1!

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