Caps Smack Leafs 5-1; Don’t Hit Nicky!

Chimeragoal

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Looking to extend their season-high seven game win streak, the Washington Capitals hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. In a match-up of possible first-round opponents, the Caps came off a shaky ending to their last win and played a game that was anything but against a tired Leafs team.

Jack Hillen scored (when doesn’t he?), Nicky got boarded, the Caps got mad, Erat got his first in red, the Brouwitzer a nice backhand shot was unleashed, Ovi had a scoar, and MoJo hacked one in. Caps smack Leafs 5-1.

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Note: I’m writing this post heavily medicated and a day after right-leg surgery. Yes, I’m hockey-player tough.

While the Washington Capitals got outplayed in the first period of Saturday’s game against the Jets, they came out strong in the second , scoring some goals and getting a little cocky. I love it when my favorite team gets cocky. Particularly because it can lead to a line brawl, one started by five-foot, ten-inch (yeah right) French Canadian Mathieu Perreault.*

After absorbing a legal shoulder-check from tough guy defenseman Zach Bogosian, Perry decided to get a lil’ saucy and slash Bogosian in the legs. Bad idea.

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Flyers beat Caps 4-1, Grubauer Plays His First NHL Game

Elsa

Photo credit: Elsa

Washcaps Philaflyers. Last game good. This game less good. Make words hurt so use less. Puck not in good net. Puck in bad net. Giroux make goal. Simmonds make goal. Gagne make goal. Maxbag Talbutt make goal. Ward make goal make Bryz sad. Groooooooooooo.

Flyers beat Caps 4-1.

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Seven Penalties, One Period

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This is what happens when you’re in the box too much. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

Backstrom (boarding), Hendricks (holding), Kundratek (delay of game), Ovechkin (tripping), Erskine (hooking), Poti (interference), Brouwer (misconduct) — seven penalties, one period.

“I can’t really explain it without getting into trouble,” Karl Alzner told me when asked about the Caps’ stunning collapse and the calls that caused it in the third frame of Thursday’s game against the Devils. “It just happened.”

Alzner’s mood was echoed by many in the locker room. The Washington Capitals didn’t want to talk about happened during those 20 minutes. And it didn’t really matter whether they wanted to or not — there were no clear answers. Yes, some of the calls were iffy. Yes, they played a good game otherwise (if you also ignore the first 10 minutes of the contest). But this was unacceptable. It was a baffling display. Six penalties in 11 minutes and two goals: that’s what it took to turn a solid win into a crushing loss. Troy Brouwer added a 10 minute misconduct for arguing with the referees at the end of the game just for good measure.

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Caps beat Panthers 6-5 (OT), Felt Like a Fehr Night

Eliot J. Schechter

Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechter

The Washington Capitals schlepped down to that bustling metropolis of Sunrise to face the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. It was classic Caps hockey: dumb penalties, tons of goals, a nominal interest in defense.

Mike Ribeiro found the puck on the weak side to score an early power play goal, but then Tomas Fleischmann banked a shot off John Erskine’s skates to even it up. Shawn Matthias knocked in a go-ahead goal for the Cats from high in the slot. Karl Alzner scored a nasty slapper off the faceoff to knot the score at 2. Let me repeat that: Karl Alzner scored a goal. Peter Mueller Huberdeau bounced a flubbery puck past Braden Holtby, but then Matt Hendricks got a rebound of his own. Jonathan Huberdeau exploited some bad defense to make it 4-3 Florida. Holtby bobbled a loose puck to give Drew Shore his first NHL goal — after a review from Toronto. Eric Fehr finally made it onto the scoresheet with a tip-in just five minutes before the end of regulation. Alex Ovechkin ripped a tying goal off the faceoff during a late-game power play.

And then Troy Brouwer won it in OT on a breakaway. Cause that’s how this team gets down.

Caps beat Panthers 6-5 (OT).

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Karl Alzner and John Carlson: The Disaster Duo

Karl Alzner skates off the ice after the Habs score in the second period

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Nothing is going right for the Washington Capitals right now. But one of the biggest problems is clear: the misfortunes of Karl Alzner and John Carlson. Of the 14 goals the Caps have allowed this season, Carlson has been on the ice for nine of them and Alzner for eight. Until they were broken up at the start of third period, this was the team’s number one defensive pairing. That’s not how you win hockey games, something Washington has demonstrated.

“I have no idea,” Alzner said when asked what was going wrong for the two.

“We’re not getting the bounces, plays that I normally would do, an easy poke check — it’s happening for the both of us,” he added. “We weren’t contributing anything good to the team.”

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Capitals Home Opener (2 of 2)

Alex Ovechkin high fives fans on the way to the locker room after warmups. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

Caps fans, finally back at a game, watch warmups.

Caps fans, finally back at a game, watch warmups.

At 7:12 PM on January 22 six ounces of vulcanized rubber hit the ice at Verizon Center for the first time in 258 days. It was May 9, 2012 when the Washington Capitals held their last home game here, a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Since then, there was a Game Seven in New York, a long summer, and an even longer fall. The almost four month long NHL lockout kept fans across the continent away from the game and for some separated them from their second home.

“I’m overjoyed to be back at Verizon Center because I feel like part of me was missing when they were gone,” said Caps fan Melissa Blum of Germantown, Maryland. “I grew up watching hockey and it’s my favorite thing so when it wasn’t there that was unfortunate. Now that they’re back so I’m happy.”

“It’s going to take a little bit of time to knock the fan rust off,” William Stilwell, better known as Goat, said. “This time of year I’ve usually gotten some yelling callouses build up but tonight it’s like boom, right into the thick of it. I’ve been doing a lot of screaming in traffic, things like that.”

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McPheeInauguration

Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz rid the Metro, look miserable because they are on the Metro.

Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz ride the Metro, look miserable because they are on the Metro.

Caption contest! (Photo credit: @tombeline)

The Washington elite and tourists turned out in droves on Monday, filling the nation’s capital for the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Revelers packed the mall and filled (most) of the streets along the parade route. The crowd downtown reached around 800,000 by the time people finally got off their Metro trains, down from the estimated 1.5 million people four years ago. Members of the Washington Capitals were no exception. General Manager George McPhee — a dual citizen of the United States and Canada — scored a spot at the Canadian Embassy, a prime viewing area near the intersection of Constitution and Pennsylvania. From my view next door at the Newseum, the scene looked festive with our friends from the North putting up a large “Canada salutes Barack Obama” banner and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling their sovereign land.

McPhee wasn’t the only Cap in attendance. Matt Hendricks, an American, posted a picture of Canadians Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz stuck on MetroRail with approximately 348,236 other people on their way downtown to view the celebrations.

The parade wasn’t much to write home about. Sadly, there were no massive inflatable Muppets. There were, however, a bunch of high school marching bands and a 40 minute delay. And then another couple thousand high school marching bands. But that’s neither here nor there. This was a day to come to together and freeze as one.

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Alzner

Alzner, left, seen here not tweeting. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

The NHL lockout caused many casualties. Games, fans — all lost to the sport for years to come. No loss, however, was bigger than Karl Alzner‘s Twitter account. After some tense exchanges with fans on the site in early December, Alzner deleted his profile. It had been a wild ride. Washington’s number 27 brought pictures of his dogs and the living room they destroyed. He tweeted pictures of his dogs. And sometimes even his dogs.

“I told him to grow up,” fellow Twitter user Joel Ward (@JRandalWard42) told RMNB’s Ian Oland when asked about the disappearance. “I hope I can get some of his followers on my team.”

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Capitals Players React to NHL Lockout Ending on Twitter

John Carlson

John Carlson’s hair at the Redskins game. (Via @DCSportsBog)

At 5:45 on Sunday morning, we learned that the NHL and NHLPA had reached an agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement. Washington Capitals players took to Twitter, and yes, they were happy.

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