The Nail: Devils Beat Caps 2-1

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.

With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.

The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.

During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.

The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.

Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.

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Molly Riley

This photo of Beagle and Ovi celebrating a goal is from 2012. (Photo: Molly Riley)

As reported by Adam Vingan, Alex Ovechkin failed to get a single even-strength point in March. He finished the month in grand style by getting outshot* 15 to 5 against the Nashville Predators. Ovechkin is still the favorite to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals scored during the regular season, but when that happens it won’t be because of what’s happening during even-strength play. Ovi’s struggles with puck possession mirror those of the Capitals overall, but what’s happened in the last two weeks is particularly noteworthy.

Since March 16th, Ovechkin has shared the top line with Jay Beagle. Usually a fourth liner, Beagle’s promotion up the ranks has been surprising, though not totally unexpected. Injuries to Mikhail Grabovski and Brooks Laich depleted Adam Oates’ options at the center position. The big road trip in California gave Oates another reason to boost Beagle: splitting up Backstrom and Ovechkin should have created two scoring lines that would have made match-ups harder for home teams.

It didn’t turn out that way. Possession and production among the top six has been scant, and the Ovechkin-Beagle pairing has been the worst of all.

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beagle-ipad

When I sat down to film my CRL segment on Jay Beagle’s flip phone, I thought he might be mildly annoyed. Maybe he was appearing at the behest of the Capitals PR department. We were, after all, making fun of him, if only in a lighthearted way. Instead, Beags played along. He talked about Flipper, guessed his teammates tweets, and sat through my flubbed intros.

When it came time to try out new phones with the Verizon guy, Beagle pretended not to know how anything worked.

“So how do I answer a call?” he asked regarding a touch screen phone, after “accidentally” turning on some music. “I can’t flip it!”

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RMNB on CRL: Jay Beagle’s Flip Phone

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Photo: Sarah Kogod

Jay Beagle is a simple guy. He drives a 2004 Chevy Silverado and likes to go muddin’ and shootin’ in the Canadian country during the offseason. Beags is unswayed by the flash and flourish of other professional athletes. He still has a flip phone.

“Flipper,” and it’s a she, has been with him for six years. Beags is protective of it, threating to break the phones of any teammates who hatch nefarious ideas to steal his beloved device. Perhaps even throw them off a balcony. That’s not all though.

Beagle has never been on Twitter. He doesn’t own a computer. He does not take pictures with his iPad. For our latest segment for Caps Red Line, we wanted to see if we could take Jay into the 21st century. I don’t think it worked.

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perreault with kids

Any excuse to post a photo of Perreault (Photo courtesy of the Caps)

This California road trip comprises the most important week of Washington Capitals’ season. Tonight at 10 PM, the Caps will face Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks. When that happens, Jay Beagle will be on the first line and Dustin Penner will be on the fourth.

Here are the lines, per the inestimable Katie Carrera of the Washington Post:

Johansson – Beagle – Ovechkin
Kuznetsov – Backstrom – Brouwer
Chimera – Fehr – Ward
Penner – Wellman – Wilson

This is a bit odd, though maybe it’s not so dire.

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Gambling with Play Money: Caps Casino Night in Photos

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Yep. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals held their fourth annual Casino Night at the Pentagon City Sheraton. Fans had the opportunity blow fake money gambling with their favorite players, as well as dishing out real money on a live auction featuring big-ticket experiences, a silent auction on equipment and memorabilia, and a raffle. The money made from Casino Night will benefit the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. The team has raised nearly $1 million on past Casino Nights, and the live auction this year took in over $40,000.

“We did a got of research on craps,” Karl Alzner, who was there with his wife Mandy as well as her mom and grandparents, told me. “The correct throw and the technique and all that.”

“Even though it’s play money it’s still a lot of fun,” Alzner added. “We get to dress up.”

When I talked to Tom Wilson about the night, he had one main takeaway.

“Ovi’s pretty risky,” Wilson said.

Below, take a look at some of my photos from the night.

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beagle-erskine-zambonis

Wednesday was the first day back for the Washington Capitals. Practice for all the non-Olympians went about how you expect. But after the players’ on-ice session concluded, Jay Beagle and John Erskine had some fun. The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera and CSN Washington’s The Gorm™ photographed the two driving around the zambonis.

Why? No idea, but it looks like they’re having fun.

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Caps Players Share Their Olympic Vacation Plans (Video)

laich-brouwer

Moar jokes from these two!

Before the Washington Capitals left for Olympic break, I asked the non-Olympian players what their predictions were for Sochi. That was great, but I also asked them where they were going on vacation.

Some players were heading home, some were heading back to Hershey, and then others — whom I will not name — might have fibbed a bit about where they were actually going.

Check it out.

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laich-brouwer

Before Saturday’s game, I visited Kettler Capitals Iceplex and asked players for their Olympic picks. With the Caps sending five players to Sochi (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Martin Erat, and John Carlson), I wondered where Washington’s non-Olympians would place their allegiances.

I figured that since the RMNB staff was able to put its own biases aside when we made our predictions, maybe the players would do the same and maybe even offer some hardcore, dispassionate hockey analysis.

Nope. Not even a little.

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Standings Free Fall: Devils Top Caps 2-1

DevilsGoal

Ugh. (Photo: Andy Marlin)

Just like Alex Ovechkin, ya boy Peter was out with an injury tonight. Undisclosed for those asking. I’m nursing the flu. We’re sort of like the Caps of Caps blogs right now.

Embarking on five game road trip with their dads in tow, the Caps headed to newly Cory Booker-less Newark for date with the Devils. Allowing the fewest shots per game in the NHL and featuring the blue-hot Cory Schneider, New Jersey didn’t look like great opponent to get Washington’s hapless offense going. They weren’t. Yep, it’s gonna be one of those again.

As usual these days, the game got off to a horrid start. Five minutes in, Dmitry Orlov made another silly mistake, fumbling the puck in the Caps offensive zone. Steven Gionta and Ryan Carter went the other way on the odd-man break. Shockingly, Mike Green did not misplay the 2-on-1. It wasn’t enough. The puck snuck past Michal Neuvirth off the blade of Gionta.

Early in the second, Adam Henrique put the Devs up by two with Orlov in the box for holding. Jaromir Jagr made the play, fabulously skating through the Capitals defense before feeding the puck in front for his second assist of the game. Facing this Capitals offense, it looked like that was all New Jersey needed.

Jason Chimera, however, had other ideas. Midway through the third, he deflected a John Erskine shot from the point for his third goal in seven games. It wasn’t enough though.

Seven in a row. Devils top Caps 2-1.

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