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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oleksy-face-after-game

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!

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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This photo is smoldering with sex appeal. (Photo via welshhockeyfan)

A few weeks ago, Mike Ribeiro got in his first NHL fight– against Brad Marchand. It was a site to behold: the teams’ two tiniest players wildly throwing haymakers at — or maybe just near– each other. The bout was more cute than vicious, and on Thursday night we got another adorable dust-up a lot like it.

With a a minute left in the third period and the Caps clutching to a 2-1 lead, John Erskine shoved the living shit out of Eric Staal, just to let him know that he didn’t appreciate the Canes’ captain swinging his stick at him like he was Chris Davis or something. Staal pushed back, and then all 10 players on the ice converged in an sweaty swarm of hockey hate.

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ilya

Early Morning Skate: So, the last time we were here, we were there. Filthy Philadelphia, needing a solid road win, and feeling optimistic to start. In fact, we were all, like, yay here we gowhattheflipwasthat?! and c’mon Holtbeast get it together and then yay Groooouuubsie and boooo Max Talbot grrr grrrr and ow that traffic-cone orange makes my soul weep and that was pretty much the best summary of that ugly mess of a game I can imagine.

Mmmm...tastes like Cheez Whiz

Mmmm…tastes like Cheez Whiz

What exactly was it that happened that terrible, cold February night at the F-U Center? Where, exactly, were manimal Troy Brouwer and Captain 8 (despite being probably the best in Red on the ice that night) and John “Towelie” Carlson and the Millionaire and his wife and the nameless rest? Certainly not there to play hard, or at least battle back through a tough start. And why was it, exactly, the Lord Supreme in His wisdom didst create that dung-heap of a burg to begin with?

Now this is our idea of a hot Fly team. Really.

Now this is our idea of a hot Fly team. Really.

You see, I’d like to chalk up that bumbling bungle of a game simply to our visiting the giant spirit suck that is Philly and its moronic fans. Like to, but cannot. Yeah, there were a couple fluky puck bounces and what-not, but those things give as much as they take. No, what we saw was a failure to launch by the Capitals after a dis-spiriting start. It was not, in any possible permutation of the concept, ‘good.’

The Puck Drop: But it’s Spring, and Easter (for some) or Maru (for others) or Passover or Nowruz or we’re just going to stop this now. Traditionally, it’s a time for rebirth and renewal and rejuvenation and reloading and all that. For the Capitals’ flock, it’s once more the race to the playoffs.

For several years now, the Capitals have demonstrated fine mettle in April, much like the pale gossamer jonquils besotting the landscape, if those jonquils were angry, snarling, forechecking, glass-smashing monsters made of steel and laser beams.

In short, there’s two ways this ends. One: we leave Filthydelphia redolent of Whiz, covered in soot and chagrin; or two, you can eat me Peter Laviolette. No wait, that’s a given. Oh yes; or two, we bounce outta Barftown and kick it into grinder gear for the coming match-ups against the Canes and ugly Islanders (revenge want now) and be the team that showed up to rub Winnipeg’s nose in its own dark, dark shame. I know which one I’m hoping for.

So let’s git ‘er done.

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Marianne Helm

Photo credit: Marianne Helm

The Southeast Division Farewell Tour kicked off with a battle between the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets. The Capitals managed to continue their strong five-on-five play from Tuesday and convert it into two early goals. Big Buff and the Jets tried to mount a comeback, but the Caps stuck two more daggers in ‘em instead. And oh yeah: Braden Holtby had his fourth perfect game this year.

Caps beat Thrashers 4-0.

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Back to Full Power: Caps Beat Sabres 5-3

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Nineteen seconds, one goal. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

The Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres are neck-and-neck in a battle for playoff position. The Caps are just one point behind the Sabres as the lockout shortened regular season begins to come to a close. One problem, though: the spot they’re fighting for is 13th place in the Eastern Conference.

This season has been pretty abhorrent for fans in Buffalo and Washington. The Caps, however, still have time to salvage this year. Playing in hockey’s weakest division, the Caps came into Sunday’s game nine points out the the Southeast-leading Winnipeg Jets with 21 games left to play. But if Washington want to be playing hockey in May, that drive has to start now. Maybe it did. Thirty hours after the start of their deflating but fight filled 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, Washington showed no St. Patrick’s Day hangover (I’m sorry).

Caps beat Sabres 5-3.

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