Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
I wrote on our mission statement that hockey should be as fun to read about as it is to watch. So what happens when hockey– Caps hockey at least– becomes a chore? Tuesday’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals was another messy loss, and gnome amount of puns will cheer us up right now.
The Leafs scored first, JVR seizing upon a communication breakdown between Neuvirth and Poti behind the Caps net. JVR struck again after Washington’s defense temporarily lost motor function. Marcus Johansson got his first of the year late in the first after Tomas Kundratek gave him a nice feed at the back door. Korbinan Holzer got his first NHL goal with a tricky long bomb. Mike Ribeiro executed a nice zone entry and passing sequence by sinking a powerplay goal, but the Leafs emerged victorious.
Leafs beat Caps 3-2.
Photo credit: Graig Abel
Not a bad way to go out. The Washington Capitals’ domination of the Toronto Maple Leafs was likely the last we’ll see from this version of the team. Knowing this, the Caps busted out all their greatest hits from the last few years. Let’s review!
Marcus Johansson wrapped around Reimer’s net for an unchallenged goal in the first minute. Alex Semin fought off Luke Schenn and scored five-hole. Jeff Halpern took two whacks and hit top shelf. Keith Aucoin finished a bang-bang sequence from Johansson and Ovechkin to make it 4-0.
Colby Armstrong cracked the shutout with a wristshot early in the third period. Tim Connolly got a greasy one on a power play to make it interesting, but they ran out of time. Caps beat Leafs 4-2.
The crowd reacts to Dennis Wideman’s first PPG of the night. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
The Washington Capitals converted four of six power play opportunities on Friday night to best the Toronto Maple Leafs. The win pushes the Caps solidly into 8th place in the east and bounces their overall PP% up to 18.1%, good for 12th in the league. There’s a lot to be happy about, but Former-Cap/Current-Leaf David Steckel isn’t feeling warm and fuzzy about any of it.
In his post-game interview, Steckel scoured his team’s performance on the penalty kill with some salty language: “Any time you give up four power play goals, you’re not going to win a [expletive] game.”
Today, the Capitals teamed up with Dreams for Kids for Extreme Recess Hockey. Caps Matt Bradley, Tom Poti, Dave Steckel and coaches Bruce Boudreau and Bob Woods took to the ice after practice and skated with children with physical and developmental disabilities. For some of the kids, today’s skate was the first time they had ever played hockey or even shot a puck. Britt McHenry of ABC7 was on the scene at Kettler and had a chance to speak with some of the participants including Connor, who had the chance to skate with some of his heroes.
Matt Cooke and Alex Ovechkin in happier times. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
Once again the Super Bowl Sunday rendezvous between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins was a rousing success. Through three periods of hockey, the Caps laid siege to the Penguins’ net and their depleted forces.
Mathieu Perreault won a battle below the goal line to feed Brooks Laich, who was waiting eagerly in Fleury’s paint. His greasy backhander put the Caps up 1-0. On the penalty kill in the second, Marcus Johansson scored perhaps his prettiest goal yet, a no-look backhander. 2-0. Desperate in the third, the Penguins’ offense relented and allowed Mike Knuble the empty netter. Shutouts don’t feel so bad from the other side. Caps beat Pens 3-0.
Editor’s note: One year ago, Emily Karol gave a newborn RMNB a kick in the pants with her report on the first Casino Night. This year she does the same with the added bonus of Chris Gordon’s photos.
By the way, Emily is looking for a roommate. Available February 1st, she’s got a single bedroom with a private bathroom and a walk-in closet located just 3 miles from Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Email her if you’re interested. Awesome people only, please. Take it away, Emily.
When I learned that the 2nd annual CapsCare Casino Night and Auction would take place on January 9th, I couldn’t be more excited. I attended the first Casino Night and had a blast, but this year’s festivities hit on the birthdays of both Bruce Boudreau and me. Who could pass up the chance to wear a pretty dress, drink some cocktails, and schmooze with fabulous people on your birthday? Not me.
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.
Sigh. Thomas Vanek scores the OTGWG. (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)
Without Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres are not really daunting foes. The well-haired goalie had been convalescing with a hip injury for the last handful of games and returned to the Washington Capitals’ distinct displeasure. But with a stiff upper lip, the Caps entered the fray in nigh-Canada. Sort of.
Karl Alzner opened the game with a laser through traffic that found a wide swathe of net behind Ryan Miller. The second period was an unbridled embarrassment. The Sabres scored twice (a well-screened bomb by Montador and a fluke by Vanek). For their part the Capitals simply refused to play offense of any kind, offering only four shots across the middle frame. To qualify that, Jason Chimera spent four minutes in the box for a cross check that might have been overblown a bit, and Tomas Fleischmann also caught a double minor for a freak high sticking that carried no aggression.
Nicklas Backstrom allowed 7 minutes to escape the third period before equalizing with a high swat. Ten minutes later, a suspicious high sticking call earned Backy a double minor (the Caps’ third of the game). The Capitals survived another backbreaking penalty kill all the way into overtime. Things look liked they were headed towards the shootout until Thomas Vanek suckered Carlson and Holtby in sequence to score a sharp-looking OTGWG. Bummer, I know, but at least the Caps take a point home. Sabres beat Caps 3-2 (OT).
January has been a spectacular month for the Washington Capitals. With newly crowned Captain Alexander Ovechkin at the helm, the team has lost only one game. Entering tonight’s appointment with the Tampa Bay Lightning, their nine-game winning streak was imperiled. After all, it was the Bolts that handed Washington their most recent defeat, the only under the Russian Machines’s reign, and nearly demoralized the team (if not for some histrionics from Matt Bradley). Compounded by the teams’ history is the Caps’ tendency to play down against lesser opponents and give lackluster performances at matinee games. In spite of all these factors and the lack of my wearing the undefeated RMNB t-shirt, the Caps snuck past the Bolts with a 3-2 victory and finished the month of Janaury with an incredible 13 wins.
Let’s get these bullet points out so you can fall asleep watching the Grammys:
This week there’s one link in particular that should lead to some debate; whether the Capitals would be better off signing Nicklas Backstrom to a long term contract instead of Alex Semin.
There’s also a bit on one Cap’s under-appreciated skill, which Olympic team has the highest paid players, how to go about building a team, and who the top fighters since the lockout are.
I should note that I don’t think fighting is a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I do find it entertaining (when it’s done well).
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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