On February 7, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Greg Fiume
The Washington Capitals reclaimed the Southeast Division lead with a thunderous victory over the Florida Panthers, who kind of sucked. It’s possible that the Panthers expected to play the doughy 2011-2012 Capitals. When the Caps came out all tumescent instead, the Cats were probably bewildered. Great game.
Mathieu Perreault scored on the games first shot, a plucky shut set up by Jason Chimera just 13 seconds into the game. Alex Ovechkin zipped past the Florida D to convert on the power play. Jason Chimera opened the second period with a shorthanded goal, his second of the year. 10 minutes later, Alex Ovechkin’s blazing fast wrister surprised Scott Clemmensen. No goals in the third period. Caps beat Cats 4-0.
On February 1, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Alan Diaz
The Washington Capitals have three dates with the Florida Panthers in February, and these games will determine their chances for a postseason. This one was a so-called “four-point game”, and the Capitals came up tragically short.
After a scoreless first period, Mikael Samuelsson faked a hardaround and then fired a shot to Neuvirth’s far side– hitting the post then net. It was a fluke-y, no-look shot from almost 90 feet out, but it caught Neuvirth being lazy, and that’s what matters. Brooks Laich tied it up with a feisty top-shelfer from the crease during 4-on-4 play. Samuelsson got his second of the night with the go-ahead goal on a third period power play. After a long adjudication, Stephen Weiss was awarded a goal that had been washed out at first.
John Carlson made it a one-goal game with a leisurely slapper from the high slot, but Shawn Matthias grabbed an empty netter a few moments later. Panthers beat Caps 4-2.
For those of you who stayed up late Saturday with the hopes of getting an up-close-and-personal look at #AvsFailWatch, sorry. The Capitals are scuffling. The team has mustered only one goal in each of the past three games (1-2-0), they have failed to win more than two straight games since starting the season 7-0, and they have an unimpressive 4-5-0 record since Dale Hunter was hired as coach. 31 games into the season, the Caps are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and would not qualify for the playoffs if they started today. Bummer city.
While it’s easy to fret about all the unmet expectations this season, there are also some positive changes going on– though you might have to get out a magnifying glass to see them.
First, the Capitals are giving up nearly one less goal per game under Hunter (3.27 GAA with Bruce, 2.55 with Dale). Five-on-five, the Capitals are finally subscribing to more of a chip-and-chase system and are trying to be a tougher team to compete against. “Unfortunately, it’s a really hard way to play,” Tomas Vokoun recently explained to CSN’s Chuck Gormley. “But it’s the only way you can win a Stanley Cup. And the sooner we learn it as a team the better off we’re going to be.”
On November 25, 2011, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
With two wins in their rear view, the Washington Capitals hoped to end their homestand by beating up the New York Rangers, whom they ousted from the playoffs last Spring. Instead, flubs on friendly ice foiled the Caps.
With John Carlson utterly smoked, Jeff Schultz had to deal with Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik, who scored. Artem Anisimov potted on the power play to give the Rangers a two-goal lead. Eh, make it 3-0: Marcus Johansson got a little cute on the breakout, turning over the puck so that Ruslan Fedotenko could have an easy layup. Alex Ovechkin massacred someone on the boards leading to a turnover that gave Troy Brouwer a goal scored from inches out. On the power play, John Carlson released a weaponized slap shot to make it 3-2. Michal Neuvirth’s glove was a bit clumsy, and Brian Boyle converted the rebound. On a 2-on-1, Ryan Callahan set up Brad Richards for an easy redirect– 5-2. Alex Ovechkin finally recorded a home-ice goal, beating a small platoon of Rangers to do so. Fedotenko made it 6-3, and we stopped caring. Rags beat Caps 6-3.
Chimmer with the game-winner. Now, let’s go eat a Turkey dinner. (Photo credit: Evan Vucci)
Two nights ago, Alex Semin was banished to the press box, a healthy scratch for the first time since his rookie year.
Five minutes and twenty-three seconds into the first period, redemption was his. Sasha Minor took Alex Ovechkin’s wizardly backhand feed and fired a rocket past Ondrej Pavelec on the 2-on-1 to open the scoring. The mustachioed Andrew Ladd got one back for the Jets, however, when he and Nik Antropov worked their on 2-on-1 magic. But, before I could even finish swearing — 12 seconds later in other words — Brooks Laich set up Jason Chimera at the top of the crease to once again give the home team the lead. Keeping with the back-and-forthiness, Kyle Wellwood tied the game up for Winnipeg again just three minutes later. Birthday boy Nicky Backstrom, though, didn’t let that stand when early in the second frame he whacked one five-hole on Pavelec to give the Caps a 3-2 lead. But the Jets didn’t run out of fuel there when, with eight minutes left in the third, Bryan Little wristed one past Tomas Vokoun to tie it for the gazillionth time. To overtime we went, and that’s where Chimmer shined once again — with an awesome celebration to boot. Ballgame. Caps beat Jets, 4-3.
On November 19, 2011, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Abelimages
Hockey Night in Canada. The Washington Capitals hoped to earn Bruce Boudreau’s 200th NHL win against his old team. Did. Not. Happen.
An embarrassingly bad turnover from Jeff Schultz led to Tim Connolly’s goal. Brooks Laich took a drop pass from Chimera to even it up. Matt Frattin recorded his first NHL goal late in the first period. Early in the second, Tyler Bozak scored a powerplay goal from in traffic. Bozak then gave Phil Kessel a blind pass that became one gorgeous tally. Vokoun out, Neuvirth in. Joffrey Baratheon-Lannister-Lupul scored a PPG to make it 5-1. Then someone did something and it was 6-1. Then, Jeez Louise, David Steckel scored shorthanded. Leafs beats Caps 7-1.
After only eleven pages, I got struck by what the authors claim is the consensus of a successful draft, summarized by Mike Futa, co-director of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Kings:
“It’s the only job where you can be right 15 percent of the time and be ruled a Hall of Famer for success, You are going to be wrong 85 or 80 percent of the time, and if you hit on 2.5 home runs every Draft, you are par with some of the best scouts ever.”
Two NHLers out of seven players drafted, assuming no trades are made, seems like a low bar, so I decided to see how the George McPhee era has done in regards to scouting.
McPhee joined the Capitals in 1997, so the first draft we can attribute to him is in 1998. Since it takes about five years for a prospect to develop, we will look at his draft record from 1998-2006. Let’s consider a prospect a success if he has played in at least 200 games at the NHL level. That gives him five years of 40 games played to qualify.
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:
Neuvy celebrates with his teammates after coming up victorious in the shootout. (Photo credit: Graig Abel)
What can’t Knuble do? (Photo credit: Graig Abel)
In their first game of the final back-to-back of the season, the Capitals found themselves in Air Canada Centre to face the surging Toronto Maple Leafs. Since the All-Star break, the Leafs have gone a ridiculous and improbable 18-7-5, riding mid-season call-up James Reimer’s (Oops, sorry!) Optimus Reim‘s incredible goaltending back into playoff contention.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, their chances of still making the playoffs were about as likely as Jason Chimera having a 50 goal season: less than one percent. To stave off mathematical elimination for one more night, they had to have either a regulation or overtime win against DC and a loss from Buffalo.
“They have to have every point,” winger Brooks Laich explained to the media after the Capitals pre-game skate. “They have to have every point in regulation the next three games and then hope for the best. This is an elimination game for the Leafs and they’re going to show us their absolute best.