Photo: Geoff Burke
We’ve said this before, but Braden Holtby is really good (even when he’s not actually playing in an actual hockey game). Against the Islanders on Thursday night, Holtby was tremendous, stopping 24 of 26 shots. His best save came in the third period on John Tavares, but we didn’t notice until NBCSN showed a slo-mo replay.
In addition to the Isles game, Thursday night at Verizon Center is also Military Appreciation Night. The Caps donned camo uniforms for warmups and sold Courage Caps (as in hats) for a good cause, but the best moment was the ceremonial puck drop.
Captains John Tavares and Alex Ovechkin joined Lance Corporal Josh Misiewicz, USMC, of the USA National sled hockey team at center ice for the ceremony.
James Dean day dream. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
When Barry Trotz took over, some fans were afraid the Capitals would switch to a tight checking, boring style of play, wringing the joy out of watching players like Alex Ovechkin. Far from it. Tonight, Ovechkin was nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy, the league’s Most Valuable Player award, for the fifth time, having won the award three times before. Though at the tail end of his 20s, Ovechkin has continued to be league’s premier sniper. He ran away with NHL’s goal scoring race by over 10 goals, netting 53 tallies on his way to his third consecutive Rocket Richard Trophy. Ovechkin also finished fourth in the league in points while his 25 power play goals provided the cornerstone for the NHL’s best man advantage unit.
The Hart Trophy is voted on at the end of the regular season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, with the winners to be announced at the Las Vegas Awards ceremony after the season. The other Hart nominees were Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and John Tavares of the New York Islanders.
The Washington Capitals have been almost powerless during the man advantage this series. Thirteen opportunities had come and gone with just one goal to show for it.
Early in Saturday’s brawl at Nassau, the Islanders were well aware of Washington’s power outage. The Isles committed two penalties and killed them with ease.
Then Isles captain John Tavares got busted for slashing and John Carlson finally made his team pay.
Lubomir Visnovsky leaves the game after being checked by Tom Wilson in the second period. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
Last season, searching to make an impact as a rookie with limited ice time, Tom Wilson got himself into a lot of trouble, often making questionable hits and dropping the gloves whenever he got the chance. He finished the season with the seventh highest number of penalty minutes in the NHL. Now in his second season, and sometimes skating top line minutes under new head coach Barry Trotz, Wilson has moderated his game, becoming less of a wrecking ball and more of an agitator. In game four, however, the wrecking ball was back.
With Lubomir Visnovsky attempting to corral a loose puck behind his own net, Wilson came flying in, delivering a massive shoulder to chest blow. While Visnovsky was ravaged by the hit, the check appeared clean. The puck was there, Wilson never left his feet, and he hit Visnovsky square in the chest. Nevertheless, the refs took umbrage with the hit, calling Wilson for a change. The Islanders were outraged.
“He’s an idiot,” Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said of Wilson, according to the New York Post. “That guy runs around, he hits reckless. He jumps, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”
Photo: Bruce Bennett
The Washington Capitals lost just fifteen seconds into overtime of game three, and it was totally preventable.
After a comedy of errors and poor decisions by the Capitals, John Tavares chipped a loose puck over Braden Holtby‘s shoulder to give the Islanders a 2-1 series lead.
I asked former Caps blogger Eric Rigsby– a coach, an ex-college club player, and current Old Fat Bald Guys hockey player– to break down the play for us.
Photo from NHL.com
John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.
Braden Holtby was fantastic for the Washington Capitals on Saturday, making 32 stops in the team’s 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Islanders. Unfortunately, we can’t award him with the save of the game. That honor goes to Eric Fehr‘s stick.
No, not Eric Fehr, silly. Eric Fehr’s magical hockey stick.
In the third period, as John Tavares tried to bang home the game-tying goal with 1:04 left, he clanged the puck hard off the post. The puck ricocheted high into the air where a falling Fehr lost control of his hockey stick. Instead of falling to the ice like a normal hockey stick would, Fehr’s twig decided hey, lemme just make this save for Holtby while I’m up here.
Photo credit: Al Bello
“That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.” – Kurt Vonnegut
For years, the Islanders have made that quote ring true. Confused ownership, terrible hockey and of course Nassau Colosseum. The old place will soon be gone from our TV screens. The smell, the lighting, the architecture, the scoreboard stolen from the local high school. So it goes.
Now, though, the Islanders are moving on. Pretty soon they’ll playing their games in a decedent building in Brooklyn. They’re also now good at hockey. The Caps had trouble with that tonight.
The first period was mostly dominated by the Isles. Anders Lee put them up top after John Carlson failed to cling to his man. Washington then released a small furry of shots before Alex Ovechkin got the Caps back in it with another one of them goals from the circle place when his team has more people on the ice. Travis Hamonic then gave New York the lead again when his high flying wrist shot made it past an effectively blindfolded Braden Holtby.
The second was mostly Isles, but the Caps came on towards the end. The Isles took another unnecessary penalty and Ovi did The Thing. 2-2.
Isles pressed in the third but there was nothing doing.
In the extra, scrapeless frame, Nicky grabbed someone’s stick. John Tavares threw his hands in the air. That’s all. Isles beat Caps 3-2 (OT).
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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