Photo: Rob Carr
The Capitals penalty kill was the second-best unit in the league during the regular season, killing 85.2 percent of opponents’ chances. Yet on special teams, it was overshadowed by the power play, which finished fifth. While the PK doesn’t provide between-the-legs passes or booming one-timers, it has kept the Capitals in control of their first-round series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Washington’s penalty kill is a perfect eight for eight. Going back to the last five games of the regular season, the opponents’ power plays have been stopped 21 times in a row. Despite outshooting the Capitals 61-54 overall in the first two games, the Flyers have scored just one goal. Washington has six, including three power-play goals, good for a 2-0 series lead.
“We got our butts on the line,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after Saturday’s Game Two loss.
Photo: Patrick Smith
Wednesday morning, Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner was asked about the defensive pairing of Nate Schmidt and Dmitry Orlov. They were both set to make their NHL playoff debuts in Game One of the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers. He paused halfway through his answer.
“You know, I’m just thinking, laughing in my head about Schmitty,” Alzner said. “He’s always so excited for a regular season game, I can’t imagine what he’s gonna be like for a playoff game. It’ll be fun.”
Michael Latta in his natural habitat.
Tuesday night against the Islanders, Michael Latta got back in the line-up for the first time since February 22. During the first period, Latta made his presence felt, fighting 6’4” defenseman Scott Mayfield after teammate Mike Richards was slammed hard into the boards.
Because of Latta’s latest kerfuffle, we learned of his new nickname, courtesy of Karl Alzner.
Coming into tonight’s game, bearded beauty Karl Alzner had scored 15 career goals in eight NHL career seasons. Saturday against the Bruins, Alzner tallied number 16 and his fourth of the season. It was amazing.
Basically, Alzner forgot he was a passive, stay-at-home defenseman and started aggressively forechecking behind the Bruins net. What resulted was a pass and score that more resembled a goal connection between Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
Photo credit: Rob Carr
Last year, the Capitals’ top defense pair was John Carlson and Brooks Orpik. This year, those two have missed a combined 43 games. Tonight, it was Carlson’s turn again.
“He probably saw the doctors tonight and we’ll probably have an update (Saturday) because I don’t really know yet,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s not 100 percent or he would have played tonight. It is a lingering of the old injury so we just want to have the opportunity to let’s get it settled down or fixed. Whatever we need to do let’s just do it so that it’s not lingering on.”
Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner has now played in 423 consecutive games, passing Bob Carpenter for the franchise’s all-time record. Hockey is arguably the most brutal of the top four American sports. Playing just a single 82-season without missing a game is an accomplishment. Alzner’s managed to string four of those together, plus a full 48-game season after the 2012 lockout, and he’s well on his way to doing it again this season again (knock on wood).
Alzner is a reliable and smart player. He uses good skating skills and stick positioning to be successful. And, for five years and counting, he’s been willing to sacrifice his body when the moment calls for it.
The Capitals honored Alzner with a video on the jumbotron during the first period.
Photos: Amanda Bowen
Karl Alzner put the Capitals up 2-0 over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night. His effort (and self-described “lucky” goal) earned him third star of that game. When he came out for his curtain call, Alzner pointed to a small fan from across the ice and skated over to him. Alzner threw the puck over the glass and watched the child catch it before giving a thumbs up and fist bump through the glass.
The little boy’s reaction is precious.
The Caps-Rangers game earlier today was an instant classic. There was an amazing last second game-tying goal by Nicklas Backstrom, a brilliant OTGWG by Alex Ovechkin, and a clutch stop by Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt on a shot near the goal line. But if there was one play that stuck out to me more than the rest, it was Karl Alzner‘s unselfish shot block.
Let me set the scene. In the second period with the Caps up 2-0, Alzner broke up a J.T. Miller scoring chance with a diving pokecheck. As the play continued, Miller received the puck back from a teammate and looked to score again. Alzner, still laying on the ice from his previous heads up play, did something remarkable.
Caps forward Andre Burakovsky showed some love to the National Women’s Hockey League Sunday night. On his time off, the Burracuda went to HarborCenter to watch the Buffalo Beauts take on the New York Riveters. The Capitals arrived in Buffalo Sunday afternoon, a day early ahead of their game against the Sabres Monday night.
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