Squandered Opportunity: Bolts beat Caps 4-2

Stamkos signs autographs on the red carpet pregame. Also: WTF? (Photo credit: Scott Audette)

The Washington Capitals began the final week of their (regular) season with a road game with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That team who swept the Caps out of the playoffs last year, looked like that same team from last May.

Alex Semin missed an empty net, but scored on a lovely one-timer just seconds later. Teddy Purcell tied it up with a powerplay tally, and then Tom Pyatt deflected a Hedman shot in Neuvy’s net just half a minute later. Jason Chimera crashed the net and tied it up with three minutes left, but Steven Stamkos gave the Bolts the lead again with 63 seconds left. Then Stamkos got the empty netter and that was that. Bolts beat Caps 4-2.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: Final Sprint

Saturday’s win over the Canadiens was way too close, but two points were gained and that is all that matters. Now, in this final week of the regular season, six points remain available. The Caps kinda need all of those if they want home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

That means getting two tonight in Tampa.

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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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Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: S’all Downhill From Here

Sorry, Puck Buddys fans. The dudes skipped town last night and didn’t even leave a phone number. They could be in Marrakesh raising an army horde of bonsai kittens or playing Stratego with Sherpas in Tibet. We. Just. Do. Not. Know.

So yeah, the Capitals won that bout with the Penguins, but was that not one of the weirdest meetings between the two you’ve ever seen? Neither team seemed too interested in the whole “shooting” mechanic of hockey, and Matt Cooke didn’t even curl his evil mustache or malevolently pet his shaved cat once. With that humble 1-0 win, the first half of the Capitals’ season ended. It was a mess of a type we have not seen since Glen Hanlon’s reign.

But there are 41 pristine games ahead of us, starting with… [checks schedule] aw dammit! Tampa Bay Lightning woeugfbwieugwe

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Vokoun shuts the door in the shootout. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Ballgame. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

This certainly wasn’t what Tomas Vokoun had in mind for his first game as a Washington Capital. Five goals. Bronx cheers. And, surprisingly, a win.

“It just shows how strong this team is,” Vokoun told reporters after Monday’s 6-5 shootout victory. “They literally won today without goaltending. So what can I say? … It was just ugly, ugly, ugly game for me.”

“It’s the first game, obviously you want to leave a good impression for the fans and everything,” he continued. “Couldn’t tell you the last time I remember having as bad a game as I did tonight. But we won the game, certainly not thanks to me. The team play great. I think it shows a lot of character, guys battle, came back four times. I’m going to make a promise I’m going to get them back sometime when they’re going to need me.”

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Thick and Proud, Caps beat Bolts 6-5 (SO)

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

You could liken Tomas Vokoun’s debut for the Washignton Capitals to being fed to wolves. A team that relies heavily on their netminders, the Capitals chose their date with the fluke-friendly Tampa Bay Lightning to introduce the goalie. This is the same team that knocked the Caps just a few months ago and whose coach has mastered the art of saying passive-aggressive dick-y things. No pressure. GAME ON.

Teddy Purcell deflected off Mike Green’s legs for an early goal that probably pissed Vokoun off righteously. Marcus Johansson converted a wraparound after Dwayne Roloson left the net (more on this below). Bruno “Ricky” Gervais wristed it from beneath the goal line, catching Vokoun off the post to put the Bolts back up. Dennis Wideman unleashed a monster from the blue line that hit iron and webbing (Neil put this shot percentage at around 2%). Dominic Moore had all the time in the world to put his puck in short-side from the slot. Then Schultz ripped one off of Troy Brouwer, whose shot was screened by Joel Ward.

Lemme catch my breath… There’s more.

Jason Chimera crashed the net to clean up Brooks Laich’s rebound and put the Caps up 4-3 in the third. Nick Thompson exploited a completely screened Tomas Vokoun to even it back up. Vokoun had no excuse on the next one, a deep-from-behind ricochet by Brett Clark. Jason Chimera tied it up with a rocket from the circles, earning all in attendance free wings from Glory Days. Into overtime and onto the shootout. New paragraph needed.

Hendricks dekes a deke that hath not yet been deked to give the Caps one. Vokoun sends back soup. Ovechkin rebuffed. Vokoun sends back soup. Sasha scoars! Caps beat Bolts 6-5 (SO)!

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Guy Boucher plots to kill 007 (Photo credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Image)

Craig Brownstein of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine. You shall follow them on Twitter.

Banging out preview for Monday night’s game against the Bolts required us to go through some repressed playoff memories. Bear with us for some much needed catharsis; we’re still fragile.

Late last April, we embarked on a grand tour of European capitals just as Game 5 with the filthy Rangers was wrapping up. We were glued to the Blackberry as our readied for take off. Just before wheels up, word came through that the Caps bested the Rags, 3-1. We began our adventure by causing quite the raucous in the first class cabin with fanboy squeals, high-fives, and RED streaks of Russian curses– guaranteeing a date with aviation authorities upon landing across the Atlantic.

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Crankypants. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

On a warm Tuesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning were kind enough to host the Washington Capitals for an hour of playoff hockey. It’s not going to end well.

Sean Bergenheim opened up with an easy one– a five-holer made possible by Mike Green’s absentee defense. Early in the second, Mike Knuble pierced Roloson thanks to Ovechkin’s set up. A bomb from John Carlson and screened by Eric Fehr gave the Caps a 2-1 lead, but Vincent Lecavalier returned fire from the goal mouth to tie it up. After a powerplay pile-up in the paint, Alex Ovechkin found the open puck and inserted it in the twine. A turnover gave Steven Stamkos a beautiful netter from the slot. 24 seconds later, Ryan Malone kicked in the game winner. Bolts beat Caps 4-3.

The Caps are in a three-game hole. Dire.

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Balls. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

It’s been awhile since you’ve added a tally to your wins list, eh?

The Washington Capitals hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning to another night of hockey in the old Verizon Center barn. And it pretty much went just like the first one.

During a late first-period powerplay, Vincent Lecavalier deflated the crowd with a high dart to the back of the net. Brooks Laich crashed the net to tie it up, but Martin St. Louis’s deflection off Mike Green’s skate gave Tampa a 2-1 lead. With Neuvirth pulled, the Capitals fought the Battle of Roloson’s Crease to victory– with Captain Alex Ovechkin pitching in the puck from zero distance. In the biggest overtime of the season, the Caps started strong. But Teddy Purcell fed Vinny Lecavalier a puck right in front of Michal Neuvirth. Game over. Bolts beat Caps 3-2 (OT), but here’s the real kick in the teeth:

Bolts lead the series 2-0.

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The Face of the Enemy Revealed: Tampa Bay Lightning

Get ready for 4+ games of Steve Downie, Steven Stamkos, and Dwayne Roloson – the man who shut us out twice during the regular season and is approximately 4,000 years old. How are you feeling, Caps fans? Can we take them? What’s your prediction?