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.
The third line celebrates Chimera’s goal. (Photo: Greg Fiume)
Photo: Patrick McDermott
After Alex Ovechkin the Capitals goal scoring list takes a dip. Coming into Sunday’s game, Ovi had 38 goals. Joel Ward, the second-leading scorer, had 15. Ward continues to do his part. The 33-year-old added three more points to a remarkable season, scoring twice and assisting once in Washington’s 5-4 6-5 victory over Detroit.
“Since last year we’ve asked him to play more involved,” Caps coach Adam Oates said after the game. “He’s a good hockey player. He can’t just come to the rink and be complacent that ‘Oh, I’m gonna play third-line minutes and do the job.’ No. We need production. We need you to help the other guys out. … We need you to be a goal scoring threat.”
After the game, the fan base — and the team — seemed to hit the panic button. People on Twitter smashed their keyboards, pointing out Washington’s glaring defensive holes and overreliance on the power play. None of that, however, is anything new. It’s not likely to change before playoff time either.
On Saturday, Adam Oates came up with wacky line combinations in hopes of righting Washington’s four game skid. It didn’t work.
The game got off to an awful start when Rick Nash picked off a silly defensive zone pass from Dmitry Orlovto put New York up just 70 seconds in. Fifteen minutes later, Nash was at it again. A lack of spatial awareness led to two hooking penalties on the Caps. On the ensuing 5-on-3, the former Blue Jacket floated a weak wrister through Phillip Grubauer’s legs. About a minute and a half later, Derek Stepan put the nail in Washington’s coffin with a shot though traffic. Braden Holtby came in, but the game was already over.
Ovechkin tried to give the Caps life with a 5-on-3 bullet early in the second, but Ryan Callahan put Washington back in their place just 86 seconds later. This was never a game anyway. Rangers slam Caps 4-1.
Let’s be honest, in a 2-1 shootout loss to the league’s worst team there are few good moments to focus on. But as the Washington Capitals came out for the third period tied with the Buffalo Sabres 1-1, CSN accidentally caught the most fun-loving of fun-lovingest moments on the Caps bench.
As Joe B. discussed responses to CSN’s #CapitalsTalk question of the night, jokester Jason Chimera shoved Joel Ward and then whacked him in the face.
Love ugly Christmas sweaters and cheesy music videos? This video will make you happy. The Washington Capitals have recorded a music video for Jingle Bells to wish you guys happy holidays. It features Caps captain Alex Ovechkin on the bells, Brooks Laich on the drums, Joel Ward on an inflatable pink saxophone, Troy Brouwer on bass, Aaron Volpatti on the guitar, Nicklas Backstrom on the tambourine, John Erskine on a pre-k piano, Tom Wilson on the ukulele, and– of course– Mike Green rocking the cowbell.
If the Washington Capitals were uptight before their game against hated rival Pittsburgh tonight, you wouldn’t know it watching NBCSN’s pre-game show. As everyone’s favorite sideline reporter Pierre McGuire interviews Karl Alzner, forward Joel Ward finds the camera and stares. And then stares some more.
Braden Holtby and Alzner celebrate a shootout victory. (Photo credit: Jonathan Kozub)
When Mathieu Perreault was traded to the Anaheim Ducks, the Caps lost more than a talented forward. Perreault was the terrier puppy of the Washington Capitals: small, frantic, usually bouncing with joy. His post-game celebrations became A Thing. But Perreault wasn’t the one who came up with the idea. It was his buddy Karl Alzner, who was inspired by YouTube videos of Seton Hall basketball player Peter Dill. Though they both made up elaborate rituals, it was Perreault who got all the attention. So, after a while, Karl stopped trying.
“I was like ‘Man, that’d be awesome if we did that!’” the mustachioed defenseman told me Wednesday. “I said, ‘Perry, you gotta watch this! It’d be awesome if we did this after a win’” Next game, it went to a shootout. He did it, I did it, and his got a ton of attention.”
This year, though, Perreault is gone and the Capitals have won a spade of games in the shootout. Therefore, it’s been up Alzner to carry the torch. His repertoire is more advanced than Perreault’s, with Alzner featuring distinct celebrations this year: Bow and Arrow, Thor’s Hammer, and the Hulk Hogan.
Joel Ward has had a couple of hot streaks in his career. In fact, he’s making $3 million a year partially because of one (13 points in 12 games) during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Nashville Predators. Despite his playoff success, Ward’s recent regular season results have been unimpressive. In his first year with the Caps, we scored just six goals in 73 games. Last year, in a lockout shortened season, he had eight. Eighteen games into the 2013-14 campaign, he’s matched that total.
“When he came here obviously he had a great playoff for Nashville,” head coach Adam Oates said after the game. “When we’ve talked, him and I, I expect him to play now like he does in the playoffs, every night. Now, that’s a playoff game. We need these points.”
Chiefly, it was Washington’s third line of Joel Ward, Mikhail Grabovski, and Jason Chimera providing the firepower, scoring four of the game’s seven goals. Ward, in his first career hat trick, notched three. All in all, members of the line registered an amazing 10 points in 60 minutes. Since being placed together on October 18th, the trio has been masterful, registering nine of the team’s 18 even-strength goals since Adam Oates’s line shuffling. That’s, like, half of them. Not bad for bottom-six guys.