Caps beat Bruins 4-3! Almost There…

Crash the net! (Photo credit: Brian Babineau)

The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins had split wins in each other’s cities. Saturday afternoon’s bout in Boston was the first of two games within 30 hours, and another example of how tight this series has been.

After a scoreless first, Alex Semin wristed the puck past Tim Thomas while Joe Corvo writhed in pain in the periphery. Jay Beagle sent a loose puck dribbling past Thomas to make it 2-0– the first time either team has had a two-goal lead all series. Dennis Seidenberg got some space from Ovechkin and beat Holtby near-side to get the Bruins on the scoreboard. Just a few seconds later, Marchand (with help from Peverley) pushed the puck through Holtby’s five-hole and tied the game.

And then…. in the third period…

KANOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOBLE!

Yes. Mike Knuble crashed the net to make it 3-2 for the Capitals. Johnny Boychuk tied it up while Dennis Wideman was in the penalty box. On the Brouwer Play, Troy Brouwer scored a brouwer play goal, his first brouwer play goal and the game-winner. Caps beat Bruins 4-3.

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Holtby Superior! Caps beat Bruins 2-1

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

After two noisy days without a game, the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins finally got into it again. After the feisty mess that was Game Three, the Capitals had something prove for the hometown crowd– and they had to do it without Nick Backstrom.

Brooks Laich set up Marcus Johansson for an odd-man rush to score in the first ninety seconds of the game. With Dennis Wideman overcommitted on offense, Rich Peverley had an easy time tying it up with an odd-man rush. Alex Semin beat Thomas with a surgical strike on a power play late in the second to give the Caps the lead. Caps beat Bruins 2-1.

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Prescriptions for Game Four: Win It For Nicky Signs

Photo: Chris Gordon. Guy on TweetDeck: Adam Vingan

The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.

I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)

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Photo credit: Gerry Thomas

Last year, the Capitals re-signed Alex Semin to a one-year, $6.7 million extension on January 27th, ending months of speculation about the 27-year-old’s future with the team. This season, Semin’s production is way down (17 goals in 59 games), and he’s on pace to have his lowest goal-scoring season since his rookie year in 2003-04 when he tallied 10 goals in 52 games. No early extension was forthcoming this January for Semin, nor will it be, as Caps GM George McPhee told NHL Live Tuesday — but it’s not because of his off year. McPhee has decided to change his strategy.

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RMNB Week in Review: Ovi is a Rock Star

John Carlson “Zaching.” (Via Captain America’s Twitter)

This week, the Caps went 0-2-0 against the New York Rangers and the San Jose Sharks. They were outscored 7-6 and used two different goalies while Tomas Vokoun was sick with the flu, recalling Braden Holtby on Monday for his first NHL appearance this season. Sadly, that was all the hockey for the week, and the Caps had three days off so that they could talk about their feelings, bowl with season ticket holders, and get into the “Zaching” trend. Unfortunately, the week ended with Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman getting into it at practice, but nothing heals like winning, so it’s time for the Caps to start doing some of that.

Elsewhere in the NHL, the Flyers acquired Nicklas Grossman and the Sharks acquired Dominic Moore, the Anaheim Ducks are making a serious run for the playoffs, the Preds were confused about whether or not they’ve won the Stanley Cup, Caps ECHL affiliate Stingrays got some attention for a really weird goal, the Red Wings broke the all-time record with 21 straight home wins, and Jaromir Jagr turned 40.

If you’re still wondering the most important question — how does everything in the world relate to the Washington Capitals? — we’ll break it down for you after the jump.

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Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman’s Tempestuous Practice

Photo credit: Nick Wass

At about 11:30 Thursday morning, during a mandatory practice at Kettler, Alex Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman got into a bit of a scuffle. According to WaPo’s Katie Carrera, Wideman slashed Ovechkin during a drill, and the Caps captain wasn’t too happy about it, responding with a slash of his own. There was a brief, heated shoving match between the two players.

Cue internet panic. It’s been a tough week for the Capitals, having three days without games probably wasn’t ideal for them following three straight losses, and all that downtime has turned into an ugly self-feeding cycle of discontent, rumors, and worrying soundbites. It’s clear that winning games would be the badly needed antidote, but they haven’t had a chance to do that, and frustrations have seemingly started to boil over.

Reactions to Ovechkin and Wideman’s tiff were all pretty much along the lines of oh no, not this too, but luckily, the players involved were on hand to explain it.

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Capitals During Wartime: Bruce vs. Dale

[Ed. note: Capitals During Wartime is a series analyzing Washington’s struggles before the 2012 trade deadline. We’ve discussed weakness at center, a poor road record, and negativity among fans so far.] 

In the latest edition of Capitals During Wartime, I mused about how and why we discuss the negative stuff going on with Capitals right now. Concluding, in short, that our foremost responsibility is to the Truth, and not just Good Feelings, I promised not to shy away from D.C.’s ongoing hockey bummers– but also not to drench that analysis in hyperbole.

This article is a statistical rundown of the Washington Capitals through 54 games for the purpose comparing the tenures of Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter head to head. But I will not be offering any commentary. My voice is limited to the selection of statistics below. Any conclusions you make or narratives you perceive are your own. I have included traditional stats, some advanced stats, and some individual curiosities that we’ve discussed recently on the site.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: Tampa Smells

Doug Johnson of the Puck Buddys is back from break. Follow PB on Twitter.

The Pregame: Tampa. Sh*t, I’m still only in Tampa.

Or them, technically. Meaning us. As in, them, Tuesday night, isn’t us. And us don’t like them.

As dance partners go, Tampa Bay is the nattering, grabby-hands B.O. champion* of NHL cities. The one you get stuck with while your date runs off for a giggle as you try to shake him/her/it loose, but you can’t, because no-one else will even look at them, as they are now adhered to you like dog stain on rug, like flab on hips, like a vote-starved politician (redundant!) to your wallet.

Try as you might, they just won’t go away, and the longer they stay attached to you your social capital sucks dry as you furiously look for some escape but come to realize that, no, you and this thing are now welded together in a grotesque, condemned to dancing together for all eternity, or at least until realignment. Face it, Tampa: you smell.

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Not Alex Ovechkin. (Pic via capitals.com)

For those of you who like the All-Star Game, good news: this game was just as loose and ridiculous as you could have possibly dreamed. For those of you who dislike the All-Star Game, good news: it’s over.

We return to real hockey on Tuesday and thank goodness for that, but it was a nice weekend of rest for most of our team, and a nice weekend of dumb, mindless spectacle for hockey fans. I expect to see the rest of the Caps come back with suntans, and Dennis Wideman to come back with a smile on his face. As silly as most of the actual events of the weekend are, recognition is and always will be one of the best feelings in the world, especially for a guy like Wideman that rarely gets what he deserves.

It’s still official Dennis Wideman Day for the rest of Sunday, and then after that you can go back to your regularly scheduled Caps fandom.

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Ka-POW! (Photo credit: Christian Petersen)

Tonight was the gimmick to end all gimmicks, this was the real pony show. I know there are those of you who think the Skills Event is completely stupid and contrived, but let’s face it, if you got together a bunch of young hockey players, gave them a lot of alcohol, and just left them to their own devices, you’d probably get about the same result anyway.

I think we can all agree that this is probably not the kind of event that’s tailored to Dennis Wideman’s particular skillset. I’m not sure what kind of competition they could have held that would have been perfect for him, in fact–Best Replacement Mike Green? Grossest Lower Body Injury (Grossest Upper Body Injury of course is currently held by Matt Hendricks).

I won’t call attention to a certain Youtube blooper, but I’m just glad that he chose not to do trick shots. I would hate for him to have to relive traumatic memories. Instead, Wideman was entered in the Hardest Shot and the Challenge Relay portions of the competition, though entering the Hardest Shot competition for Zdeno Chara’s team is kind of like being the other US swimmer in the lane next to Michael Phelps. I have to end the affectionate ribbing by reiterating that I love Dennis Wideman. He’s fourth overall in points for defenseman. He deserves to be where he is, and it was fun to watch the huge smile on his face the whole time.

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