Missing Defense, Missing Teeth: Flames Drop Caps 5-2

StupidHelmets

Look at these idiots. (Photo credit: Derek Leung)

Hey!

Hey!

Utterly stunning as it may be, the Washington Capitals came into Saturday’s late night bout against Calgary on a three game winning streak after a pair of 4-1 victories and shootout nail biter in Winnipeg. With a newly even record, the Caps looked to put themselves above .500 for the first time this year with a win against the lowly Flames. They didn’t.

Kris Russell scored just over a minute into the game after a horrid opening shift for the Caps. It didn’t get better. Jiri Hudler put the Flames up by two with some net crashing. Jason Chimera got one back for the Caps on a nice backhand shot in front. Mike Cammalleri, though, just continued the bloodletting. Holtby pulled, Holtby mad. In the second, the Caps were better. Aaron Volpatti‘s muffled wrister found the back of the net to put them within one heading into the final frame. That period was stupid. Cammalleri potted another. Curtis Glencross added one more. Flames drop Caps 5-2.

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RMNB’s Guide To Free Agency

Photo illustration by Ian Oland.

Guess what tomorrow is? That’s right! Canada Day!

It also happens to be NHL Free Agency, the wildest and kookiest hockey day of the year. The Capitals aren’t expected to make any world-shaking moves this year, but you never know. The spirit of capitalism can possess even the most level-headed of GMs and make them act like crazy people, so stay tuned here tomorrow while we update you on what’s going down. The Caps have a few holes to fill, a few free agents who will find new homes — and who knows, maybe McPhee will trade Backstrom for Jeff Skinner or something, and we’ll all have to drink ourselves into oblivion.

Anything is possible! But luckily, not everything is likely, so follow us below the jump for your Guide to Free Agency 2012.

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2011-12 Year-End Review: Dennis Wideman

Photo credit: Clydeorama

If we were reviewing Dennis Wideman‘s season before the All-Star Break, or even in March, this would be an entirely different story. We’d talk about his almost-hat-trick, his stellar offense, his first All-Star Game. We still talk about all of those things, but there is a lot more yelling — because unfortunately for Dennis Wideman, the playoffs happened.

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There were a few common themes to the Capitals’ last postseason interviews, before they went their separate ways for summer. The first question posed was always about Dale Hunter, who has made the decision to return to the London Knights franchise in Ontario rather than stay on to coach the Caps. The team expressed universal admiration and gratitude for what he brought to the Capitals in his short tenure, often focusing less on his system than on the character and sense of accountability he was able to instill.

There was clear disappointment at the early ending to the season, but a different tone to the team’s assessment of their year than the year before — many of the Caps mentioned that they thought they were able to go out in a way that they feel better about this year, though of course they’d all still rather be playing hockey.

Read on for the details of Jay Beagle‘s injury, Brooks Laich standing outside Hunter’s window holding a boombox, and Hunter’s odd career model for Alexander Ovechkin.

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The Hangover: Some Questions for the Offseason

Photo credit: Paul Bereswill

Hey you: thanks for reading RMNB. Crazy season, right?

We started the year with our Winter is Coming promotional series. We documented a crazy winning streak, and then its astonishing decline. We said goodbye to one coach and hello to another. We saw gruesome injuries. We analyzed the Caps’ struggles at and before the trade deadline in our Capitals During Wartime series. We made posters and signs to pump up the fans and the team both. And we tracked the Caps as they made the playoffs by the skin of their teeth.

Yeah, we had exhaustive coverage this season, but there are so many questions left unanswered. Here are few we’d like to address this summer.

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This guy. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Washington Capitals went back to the dimly lit den of sin called Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Against the New York Rangers, with whom they were tied 2-2 in the series, the Caps struggled to muster the offense that had characterized their last couple games, but they did have a little traction on the power play. Unfortunately for them, however, the Rangers had more.

Anton Stralman got a softy on Braden Holtby in a dominant first period for the Rangers. The tide turned in the second period, and Brooks Laich evened it up with a sneaky snap after an offensive-zone faceoff.

John Carlson earned the lead with a barrage of slap shots on a third-period power play. But in the final 20 seconds of the game, Joel Ward’s high-sticking penalty gave Brad Richards the tying goal. With 7 freaking seconds left.

So we went to overtime once more, but it didn’t last long. Marc Staal ended it on the power play.  Rangers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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Game Over Green: MG52 Nets Game Four GWG

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

The golden years of the Capitals’ “Young Guns” — Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Alex Semin — are over. Back in 2009, they were scoring almost constantly, having career years as the Caps blew out teams on the way to the Presidents’ Trophy.

Mike Green does his best Alex Ovechkin impersonation. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

Three years later, Bruce Boudreau is gone, the goals are way down, and Washington barely made the playoffs. But Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals they made a reappearance.

“We’ve been here the longest,” Backstrom told reporters after the game. “We need to step up.”

Ovechkin — whose struggles the past few seasons have been well documented — started the scoring off with a knuckling slapper that Henrik Lundqvist could not handle. Then, after New York tied the game up, Backstrom unleashed a fantastic snipe from the slot. And with the contest knotted at two with 5:48 left in the third, Green fired a bullet from the point on the power play to send the series back to New York even at two games apiece.

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Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

After the grueling march of disappointment that was Game Three, we expected a rallying effort from the Caps. But we weren’t naive enough to expect a different kind of game. We know by now that the Capitals are capable of playing only one-goal games. What we didn’t know is that they could get goals out of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green in the same game. It was like 2009 up in here.

Here’s how it went:  After a battle in the corner, Alex Ovechkin ripped a one-timer that beat Lundqvist’s glove for the game’s first goal.

Artem Anisimov tied it up early in the second by beating Braden Holtby, who was left helpless when Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin couldn’t block a weirdly bouncing pass. Nick Backstrom reasserted the lead by tenderizing Artem Anisimov and then putting Chimera’s pass in the net. Artem Anisimov won an icing race against Jeff Schultz and set up Marian Gaborik for another tying goal through Holtby’s five-hole.

Mike Green put the Caps up with a powerplay goal late in the third. It was the game-winner. Caps beat Rangers 3-2.

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The Marathon: Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (3OT)

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

The Washington Capitals returned home with hopes of gaining a series lead over the New York Rangers. Fans got involved with some rousing “O! V!” cheers, the Caps got their offense moving, and the ice was as soupy as you’d expect in the D.C. spring. But this game was unlike any others. It was a thing of History. Capitals history. And you can probably guess from that alone how it turned out.

After a scoreless first, Ryan Callahan converted a power play by tapping in a puck served up for him after bouncing off of Matt Hendricks. John Carlson tied it up with a dangle-icious wrister that went top shelf.

The third period was tense, but offered no resolution to the game. And so we went to overtime.

Alex Ovechkin rang the post on a huge breakaway– leading to some goal lights and a bit of premature celebration, but it was waved off. And thus we needed double secret overtime.

Brian Boyle blocked Mike Rupp’s sure-thing game-winner, and thus we needed triple overtime.

In trip OT, Jeff Schultz made the block of his life using his pants. Yeah, his pants. That’s how weird stuff got.

But then Marian Gaborik coordinated with Brad Richards to finally end it with some behind-the-goal-line action.

Rangers beat Caps 2-1 (3OT).

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Bruins beat Caps 4-3 (OT), We’re Going to Seven

Crash the net! (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Three times in Game Six did the Boston Bruins gain a lead over the Washington Capitals. And three times did the Caps tie it up. But the Caps just couldn’t finish off Boston.

Rich Peverley was credited for deflecting Bergeron’s blue-line bomb past Holtby. Mike Green got that back with a slapshot from way out, bouncing off Greg Zanon’s lower body in traffic. David Krecji used his speed to convert a power play and restore the Bruins’ lead. Jason Chimera evened it up by finishing off a great setup from Nick Backstrom at the end of the second period. Tyler Seguin’s rebound made easy feeding for Andrew Ference, giving the Bruins their third lead of the day. Alex Ovechkin canceled that out with a laser-quick  shot off the faceoff with just five minutes remaining.

Into overtime, which Boston dominated until Tyler Seguin got the game winner. Bruins beat Caps 4-3 (OT). We’re going to Game Seven in Boston.

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