Winning Feels Nice: Caps Top Blue Jackets 4-1

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Happy times! (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

Finishing up their longest home stand of the season, the Washington Capitals took on new look (!) Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday. Facing a bunch of weak teams, the Caps didn’t do well in their last four games of their five game set at Verizon Center, posting a record of 1-3 and falling to 2-5 overall. Yesterday, Adam Oates had enough and went all “Screw everything! YOLO!” on the lines. Erat to the second! Fehr on the fourth! Grabo on the third! Other things! Par-ty!

No offense in the first frame. In the second, though, power play powerhouse Joel Ward rifled one top shelf on Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Caps the lead. Washington added to it about six minutes later when Brooks Laich popped in the rebound after Steve Oleksy’s inexplicably fancy stick work. The Caps took it home in the third with tallies from Troy Brouwer and Alex Ovechkin. Garbage goal for Artem Anisimov late. Wee! Caps top Jackets 4-1.

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Scary moment early in Saturday’s game between the Capitals and Avalanche. As Alex Ovechkin prepped a hit on Gabriel Landeskog, he accidentally caught Marcus Johansson under the visor with his elbow. Johansson left the ice looking dazed, but returned to the ice for his next shift.

Johansson missed 14 games last season due to a concussion.

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The Washington Capitals apparently hosted the Nashville Predators to an exhibition game on Wednesday night. The Capitals won, reportedly, 4-1 and most of the talk after the game regarded Matt Hendricks and his return to DC, the fights, and something about Graboners (No, this will never be a t-shirt).

When I checked out highlights of the game this morning, my jaw figuratively hit the floor. Nicklas Backstrom’s goal– wow. It wasn’t so much what Backstrom did; it was what Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson did to set it up.

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Yep. (Photos by Chris Gordon)

There were some wild panels at this year’s Capitals Convention. My friend Kate cooked with Mike Green, George McPhee talked about getting verbal abuse about trades from teenage girls, and Ted Leonsis… well, I guess that one wasn’t so weird. The best one of all, though, was the ping pong tournament between pairs of Caps players. Taking part: Karl Alzner and John Carlson, Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom (aka Team Swede), and Mathieu Perreault and Troy Brouwer (Team Sexy Legs). Team Sexy Legs you ask? Well, just take a look at Troy’s outfit. I will never look at my thighs the same.

In the end, Team Swede won all their games, taking the tournament crown. Below, take a look at my photos.

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Marcus Johansson Signs Two-Year, $4 Million Contract

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

The Washington Capitals announced Saturday that they have signed forward Marcus Johansson to a 2-year deal worth an average of $2 million per year.

MJ90’s contract may serve as a final audition for a player who has shown fleeting moments of greatness, but is not yet an exceptional presence in the Caps’ top six.

Johansson has played 183 regular-season games with the Capitals since 2o1o, establishing himself as a talented skater. Johansson put up 6 goals and 16 assists in 34 games with the Capitals last season, one in which he was two entirely separate players. From the season’s start through the beginning of February, a concussion-addled Johansson struggled and brought his teammates down with him. Returning a month later and then paired with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, Johannson performed much better.

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Leave Alex Ovechkin Alone!

Scott Levy

Photo credit: Scott Levy

Okay, the subject line is a joke, but some people are being silly about Derek Stepan‘s game-winning goal last night. They’re saying it was Alex Ovechkin‘s fault– that his laziness on defense is a problem.

Here’s how it really went down.

After a long shift in the defensive zone, Marcus Johansson failed to clear the zone and pass to Alex Ovechkin, who was skating toward Lundqvist at center ice. A scramble for the puck ensued, and Stepan scored from the weak side. Ovechkin skated lazily towards Stepan as it happened.

Bad visual, but that’s all.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Steve Oleksy played in 14 playoff games in professional hockey before tonight: with the Idaho Steelheads, the Lake Erie Monsters, and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He had never played in an NHL postseason game, because, until March of this year, he was little more than an AHL role player.

Thursday though, he set up the game-winning goal in the Washington’s 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers to open up the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. And it was awesome.

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Greg Fiume

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Oh god. Oh god. Oh. God.

I’m a bit wrapped up in the Washington Capitals this year. I thought I’d be cool, analyzing the game with the sober distance of an expert, but I’m not that at all. I’m a basket case, and I bet I’m not alone. It’s the gosh-darn playoffs, and the Caps are off to a hot start.

Washington bombarded NYR goalie Henrik Lundqvist in the first period, but the Rangers somehow got the early lead anyway. The Caps didn’t change their style though and responded with three goals in the second period. Holtby withstood an enfilade in the third and earned a wonderful game-one win.

Caps beat Rangers 3-1. Caps lead series 1-0. Boom!

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My Apology, and How We Got Here

Patrick McDermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Sooooooooo… I was wrong about the Capitals. And I’m sorry.

Early in the season, I waved away the Caps’ struggles, citing some strong puck possession numbers. But as those numbers eroded and the Caps kept losing, I hedged my bets. The Capitals were giving up too many penalties, performing poorly on the kill, and were not really tilting the ice. By the middle of February, I became wary. Cut to early March, when my last ounce of pollyannaish pluck was depleted. I said the Capitals weren’t headed for the playoffs, that their possession was debilitating, and that a turn of good luck wouldn’t be enough to turn their fortunes around.

I was wrong all over. My bad.

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

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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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