The PreGame: Close your eyes for a moment. Now fling your head out the window.
Wait. Stop that. Open window, fling head, close eyes.
Better. Breathe deep…deeplier deep. Now, what do you smell out there? Summer? Winter? Victory? Streak?
Us? We get mulch, daffodils and notes of flattened street rat. But we much prefer these others. Summer – remember buoyancy and cautious cockiness? Winter; well, early winter means Christmas, and Christmas last was a Capsmas miracle against the Devils, so thank you Baby Jesus!
Victory? Contrary to Maj. Kilgore, victory doesn’t smell like napalm in the morning. Rather it’s a man-handling of the Habs, a swift start and sustained margin against the Leafs, and a ‘You-Ain’t-Gonna-Win” sass against the dreadful Islanders, all in a row. Yum.
And Streak? Actually, we haven’t really smelled that this year for a long, long time. But still, I think I might recall…
Screengrab by: @recordsandradio
If I had told you in October that a late-February game against the Islanders would be one of the most important games of the season, you would have laughed yourself sick. This one was big, though. All of them will be from now on. The Caps hung in there, didn’t stop fighting, tied up the game in the most completely improbable fashion possible — and then they won. You might not have seen that one coming.
Josh Bailey glided right through a defensive breakdown and scored the first goal. Matt Moulson deflected a long shot in front of Neuvirth to make it 2-0. Brouwer scored one Knuble-style in front of the net with the clock winding down. Brouwer then officially became a certified hero by tipping in a second goal with seconds left to go and took us to overtime. Alex Ovechkin ended it with a five-hole beauty, and you know what? We might believe. Just a little bit. Caps win, 3-2.
You thought you’ve been through the hard times already, right? Wrong.
The Washington Capitals’ pathetic bumbling against the Carolina Hurricanes was their worst performance that I’ve had the dubious honor of documenting. This was the kind of game that costs people their jobs. Or at least it should.
No goal summary for you. Hurricanes beat Caps.
Two sweet, sweet regulation points.
By winning this game, the Caps pulled within two points of division-leading Florida, and shockingly we were even able to keep them from getting a loser point! We gather this is basically their whole strategy this year, but the Caps are finally starting to crowd their space again. Watch your backs, Florida.
The Caps left Tomas Fleischmann completely open in front of the net to score the game’s first goal. Mike Knuble created some great crease havoc on the power play for Alex Ovechkin to bat it in. Alex Semin fired one of those comets over Theodore to make it a two-Sasha game. Caps win, 2-1.
This game actually started out all right, but if you’ve seen the Caps play the Sharks lately, you knew that it could only get bad somehow. What is it with those guys, seriously, every time. Did the Caps all watch “Jaws” too many times as children, or what?
Joe Pavelski opened the scoring with a weirdo bounce on a harmless shot from Dan Boyle that black magicked itself over Braden Holtby’s shoulder. He put a second goal on the board when the Caps let the entire Sharks roster camp out in front of the net, because that’s a really good way to get a goal scored against you. Then the puck rolled down Holtby’s back to the goal line for Patrick Marleau to tap it in. Dmitry Orlov scored with one of those Dmitry Orlov blasts from the point with half a second left to go in the second. Brent Burns pinballed a Joe Thornton shot behind Holtby. Marleau scored the third Sharks PPG of the night to make it 5-1. Roman Hamrlik backhanded one past Greiss, which we have to admit we didn’t really see coming. Jeff Schultz upped the weirdness by scoring from the blueline to cut the deficit to two. Sharks beat Caps, 5-3.
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.
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.
Photo credit: Michael Martin
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.”
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.
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