The Capitals had three restricted free agents eligible for arbitration this year — Mike Green, Mathieu Perreault, and new fan favorite Jay Beagle. The team extended qualifying offers to all three players earlier during the offseason, and Thursday the club announced that they had signed two out of the three.
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.
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).
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…
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.
Last season, the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup with grit, a stiffing defense, and a big weirdo in net by the name of Tim Thomas. Thomas had an incredible 1.98 GAA, .940 Save Percentage, and 4 shutouts in last year’s playoffs. In the Finals, Thomas went into beast mode, giving up only 8 goals in 7 games, giving Boston its first Stanley Cup since 1971-72. Naturally, he was the Playoffs MVP.
Well the Bruins are back to defend their title and are trying to become the first team since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings to win the Cup in back-to-back years. Standing in their way however, will be our 7th-seeded Caps, a rag-tag group of veterans, AHL’ers, and Russians that I’m pretty sure Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury still think are Eurotrash.
Unless he suffers a gruesome injury or chooses to skip out on a game because of an Obama appearance, the Capitals will have to find a way to consistently score on this Tea Partier from Flint, Michigan. And that, for them hasn’t been easy.
Timmay is a career 14-5-3 against Washington, which includes a save percentage north of .920. He’s consistently beaten the Caps in their own barn, winning 7 of 9 career games against them. While Thomas went 1-1-1 against the Capitals this year in 3 starts, he also stopped 82 of 89 Washington shots. He was nearly impenetrable, no matter how much we only want to remember his — um — poor performance in the March 29th shootout.
So on those 7 goals, how have the Caps beaten Thomas? Is there a particular place on the ice that the Caps have had more success shooting?
This is it. The Caps nipping at the heels of the division-leading Panthers, playing to deny them the clinch and maybe snatch their crown.
Jay Beagle scored early, trapping a Troy Brouwer shot with his rump and firing from the sweet spot. Alex Ovechkin got on the board in the second, crashing the net and converting Marcus Johansson’s rebound. Brooks Laich piled on with a sniper shot from the high slot after a long session in the offensive zone. Mikael Samuelsson was all alone in the Caps zone, breaking the shutout with a high wrister. The Cats made it a one-goal game via Ed Jovanovski’s deflect goal early in the third. Alex Semin made it a four-goal night with a minute left. Caps beat Panthers 4-2. We’re playoff-bound, baby!
Something unusual happened in the Caps’ win against Montreal on Saturday — Jay Beagle scored. If you were watching closely, though, you might have seen something even more unusual. This was Jay Beagle’s third goal of the year, the Washington forward’s career best in the NHL, but clearly the Verizon Center staff were never expecting him to stop at two goals.
On March 31, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Neuvy smirks after taking a Rene Bourque slapshot off the mask. (Via @WashCapsRock)
The Washington Capitals’ season is still on shaky ground. Buffalo’s loss to Pittsburgh on Friday kept their hopes alive, but Saturday’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens held huge determinative power. Perfect time for a Comebackstrom.
After having his initial shot blocked, Alex Semin found a wide-open Mathieu Perreault in the slot, for a one-timer. 1-0 Caps. Unguarded in front of the net, Matt Hendricks hit Jay Beagle with a cross-crease pass to put the good guys up 2. Erik Cole then scored a momentum-killing goal with one minute left to go in the first.
In the second period, the Canadiens dominated. Tomas Plekanec tied it up when he went around a slow-skating Roman Hamrlik and scored on the backhand.
After multiple scoring chances for both teams in the third period, the game went to Overtime. Then the shootout. Thanks to goals by Matt Hendricks and Alex Semin, Caps win 3-2.
Heading into tonight’s game, there was no doubt that the Jets’ season was on the line. With a loss, they would fall six points behind the Capitals for the eighth and final playoff spot — all but essentially eliminating them from the playoff race. “These are games that define your team,” Evander Kane told The Washington Times’ Stephen Whyno. “And we’re going to see what we’re made of.” Sure are.
Predictably, the Jets came out fired-up and scored first. Andrew Ladd tallied his 24th goal of the season on literally a magical backhander. 22 seconds later, the Capitals responded, as Marcus Johansson perfectly placed a slap-pass onto Brooks Laich’s blade and watched him tip it in past a helpless Ondrej Pavelec.
Late in the second period, the Jets regained the lead as Nik Antropov out-worked Ovechkin to the front of the net to flip one past Vokoun. Mathieu “I’m teeny tiny like a leprechaun” Perrault managed to tie the game again on a third period power play. Unfortunately, Dustin Byfuglien and his big rear were too much to handle. Jets beat Caps, 3-2.