Holtby Nearly Perfect: Caps beat Oilers 4-1

Derek Leung

Photo: Derek Leung

The Washington Capitals got their road trip off to a rocky yet successful start in Winnipeg on Tuesday. The hope was that the Caps could feed at the trough of Canada’s weaker teams to kick off their jaunt and maybe get back to .500. No better team to feed on than the Edmonton Oilers.

Alex Ovechkin wrapped up a sleepy first period with his 10th goal in 10 games: a quick wrister off the faceoff. Joel Ward crashed the net in the second to tip in John Carlson’s shot from the blue line. Nick Backstrom finished a great series from Ovechkin and Johansson early in the third to make it 3-0. Native son Jason Chimera wowed his family and friends with a gorgeous skill goal in the final 10 minutes.

Justin Schultz got a garbage goal in garbage time to bust up the shutout.

Caps beat Oilers 4-1!

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¡Bailamos! Caps beat Oilers 4-2

Greg Fiume

Sasha Fierce (Photo: Greg Fiume)

Shut up with your 1-4 record. When the Washington Capitals suited up to face the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, their sole purpose was to rid themselves of the abysmal record they shared with a certain other Washington team. An explosive second period helped them do just that.

Edmonton’s Boyd Gordon scored first, seizing on a bad breakout by the Caps. After some feisty forechecking by the second line and Steve Oleksy on the blue, Brooks Laich scored his first of the year– a point-blank wrister.

The second period was a flurry of PPGs as Joel Ward knocked on the back door and Troy Brouwer got a one-timer from the slot. In the middle of that tasty man-advantage sandwich was a mean-ass slot goal from Alex Ovechkin.

Tough-acting Will Acton got a late one from the crease.

Convincing win.

Caps beat Oilers 4-2.

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So About Those Penalties…

NOT PICTURED: Officials Stephane Auger and Dan O’Halloran acknowledge the crowd after being named the first stars of the night. (Photo credit: Andy Devlin)

It was a ridiculous night in sports: Winnipeg beat the Flyers 9-8, P.K. Subban dropped the gloves (and almost kayoes himself), and David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals hit a walk-off homer to force a Game 7 in the World Series.

So when the Capitals were whistled for NINE penalties in two periods of play (four in the first, five in the second), it kinda went with the theme of the evening. One of those penalties, a Troy Brouwer hook, led to Edmonton’s game-winning goal. Goodbye, 82-0 season. Haha.

“You have to adjust when you’re out there,” a remarkably calm Bruce Boudreau explained after the game. “You have to know who the ref is. If they’re calling it loose… okay. But if they’re calling every little thing, it’s up to the players to be able to adjust to it. In the rulebook, they’re penalties. Some people call it. Some people don’t. You get to know pretty early if they’re calling it and who’s going to call what.”

Sure, I guess. Well, with the power of photo and video, let’s take a closer look at some of Auger and O’Halloran’s — um, brilliant — work from last night.

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Khabibulin vs. unsatisfactory soup (Photo credit: Andy Devlin)

On their first long road trip of the season, the Washington Capitals encountered some trouble from the Edmonton Oilers. With a perfect record so far, there was a lot on the line in the Canadian wilderness.

Karl Alzner opened it up with a wicked wrister from beyond the circles. Then, on the second 4-on-3 of the first period, Taylor Hall snuck one in from the back door. Jordan Eberle took  a powerplay rebound and turned it into a goal. That’s it. Oilers end the Capitals streak 2-1.

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Some things: they’re easy to hate. Cancer. James Mitchner novels. The Fanny Pack Family and their adorable moppets blocking the wrong side of the Metro escalators. Other things, it’s tougher. Like puppies. Or Canadians.

The Low Down: Seriously, it’s kinda hard to lay the h8 against our drunken, fur-trapping in-laws to the north, no? Geez, they’re just so gosh-darned cute, what with their doughnuts and whale-blubber lamps and huge land mass and commitment to human rights and all? Ah-DOR-able. Eh? But then there’s the Edmonton Oilers (4-2-2, 2nd in Northwest Division).  For them we’ll make an exception.

The Legacy: If you’re under the age of 25, go stand in the corner and Google “Oilers 80′s.” Of course, that was then; the era of Sather and Gretzky and the rest winning the cup five times are long gone. These days the Oilers don’t so much strike fear in the hearts of opponents as they do sadness. So far this season, Edmonton is alone at the bottom of goals per game (1.7) of all NHL teams. And, until Tuesday at least, it looked like they couldn’t win a game in their own division.  Of course, not all is bitter tears for the Oilers.

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The Holtby Shutout

Jason Arnott congratulates Braden Holtby after registering his first NHL shutout

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

I was in attendance the other night when Braden Holtby made NHL history. You see, the Washington Capitals are now the the only team to have three goalies — all 22-years old or younger — to pitch a shutout in the same season. It was electric. The Phone Booth was chanting “Holt-by! Holt-by! Holt-by!” Unfortunately, as the three stars were about to be announced, all I could think was: does he really deserve a star?

Before this gets off on the wrong foot, I realize that a NHL shutout is a great accomplishment. Since the lockout, there have been only 491 of them in regulation, and as I said before, no team has ever seen so many from such young tenders before. I also know Holtby is a talented goalie. After all, we here at RMNB have been referred to as the world’s foremost authority on the young netminder. But let’s put this in a little perspective.

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Alex Ovechkin scores against the Oilers

Apparently, Ovi wants you to have a new desktop wallpaper every other day now. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Braden Holtby smiles while holding the puck commemorating his first career shutout. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Braden Holtby smiles while holding the puck commemorating his first career shutout. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Entering tonight’s game with the Edmonton Oilers, the big story on everyone’s mind was that Alex Ovechkin’s main running-mate for the past four seasons, Nicklas Backstrom, would be sidelined for the first time in his career due to a fractured left thumb he re-aggravated Monday against the Lightning. As Backstrom’s impressive consecutive games streak ended at 341, the big unknown was if it would have a negative effect on the Capitals suddenly surging offense.

Despite their impressive play of late, the Capitals’ last eight victories have been by only a one goal margin.

Uh, not anymore.

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A Sheldon Souray Fight in 100 Pictures

The knock-out blow

Mama, said knock you out!

All photos by Kyle M. of Sweetest Hockey On Earth.

In Hershey’s nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Norfolk Admirals Saturday, Sheldon Souray got in his second fight of the season, choosing Lightning defense prospect Vladimir Mihalik as his combatant. Mihalik, who stands in at a towering 6’8”, was still no match for the 6’4” Souray, a veteran of over 50 NHL fights.

SHOE’s Kyle M. has supplied us with the 100 pictures he took of the fight from the Giant Center’s photo-well. His pictures slow down the thirty-second altercation into a work of art, expertly capturing all the essential elements of a good fight: the grappling, the punches, the emotion, and the knock-out blow. Enjoy!

Several months ago, Sheldon Souray had a falling out with the Edmonton Oilers and General Manager Steve Tambellini. The conflict was so immense in fact that the Oilers spent the entire summer trying to dump the former three time All-Star and ordered him not to come to Training Camp. Unfortunately for Edmonton, there weren’t many teams who were interested in an aging 34 year old defenseman who is still owed $4.5 million over the next two years and has a cap hit of $5.4 mil.

To make matters worse, Souray also dealt with injury problems last year as he suited up for only 37 games. Um, go ahead and blame Jerome Iginla for that one.

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Alexandre Giroux Signs 1-Way Deal With The Edmonton Oilers.

Alexandre Giroux scores a deal with Edmonton.

Alexandre Giroux holds the Calder Cup. (Photos by Kyle M.)

Alexandre Giroux holds the Calder Cup. (Photos by Kyle M.)

One of the greatest Bears of all-time has finally left for a legitimate shot to stick in the NHL. Bears first line Left Wing Alexandre Giroux signed a one-way NHL contract with the Edmonton Oilers early Saturday morning.

Per Mitch Beck of Howlings, Giroux had several good offers on the table and chose Edmonton because he gets to play in front of an old mentor:

The Quebec City native will be reunited with ex-Rangers coach Tom Renney. The left handed shooting Center played for Renney in the one game he got in with the Rangers back in 2005. In that game he played just three shifts and drew a key penalty on the second shift that led to a power play goal.

Giroux told Howlings, that he had other NHL options, including an offer from the New York Islanders. He also had a much more substantial $1.3mm offer from the KHL that he leaves on the table in order to complete his dream of being a regular NHL player. He does it with no regrets. “It was a lot of money and it was a hard decision, but I’m really excited to have this chance to make an NHL roster,” the recently turned 29-year old said. “Coach Renney is a great coach and the organization has such a great history. I’m looking forward to going there and giving it everything I’ve got to help the team become a contender once again and prove I belong there.”

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