Caps Install New Hat Trick Displays at Verizon Center (Photos)

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Photos by Chris Gordon.

This season, the Capitals are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Since they weren’t able to raise any Eastern Conference Regular Season Champion banners last year, the team decided to add a new installation outside section 111 honoring the hat tricks in franchise history. The exhibition, in a neat touch, includes displays of headwear collected after 13 hat tricks at Verizon Center since 2008. Most of those, naturally, come from Alex Ovechkin, with cameos from Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer and departed Caps Alexander Semin and Mathieu Perreault. There’s currently space for three more hat tricks. How quickly those get filled will depend on whether teams keep leaving Ovi wide open at the near circle.

Below, take a look at some photos.

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Hockey can be a strange sport sometimes. Such as on Tuesday, when the Washington Capitals took on former coach Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks. Seeing Boudreau bark orders to another team is odd enough; seeing Mathieu Perreault dart around in black and olive feels outright wrong.

Late in the third period, with the Capitals protecting a 3-2 lead, bedfellows got even stranger when Alex Ovechkin and Perreault collided near the Caps crease. Perreault took an extra whack at a loose puck, which Ovechkin did not seem to like very much.

The Russian machine cleared the crease the only way he knows how, shoving Perreault twice and knocking him over. With Matty belly up along the boards, Ovechkin loomed over his former bro as if to say, “You know not to do dis.”

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One Down, Three to Go: Caps beat Ducks 3-2!

Debora Robinson

Photo: Debora Robinson

Alright, here we go.

The Caps’ Californian vacation is a crucible that will decide exactly of what this team is made. If the Caps can do the impossible and sweep these four games (the fourth at home against the Kings), they could once again make a late-season push for the postseason. With Tuesday’s narrow win over Bruce Boudreau and his Anaheim Ducks, those hopes are still alive.

Here’s how it all went down.

Joel Ward and the terrific third line did their thing again, crashing the net for the game’s first goal. The Ducks struck back as any Caps opponent would do: within the next minute. Before the first period was up, Troy Brouwer converted on the power play to give the Caps a one-goal lead.

The Caps survived a scoreless second period, but Mathieu Perreault found space and a screen to tie the game early in the third. That simply set the stage for Alex Ovechkin, who scored one of his cleanest Ovi shots from the Ovi spot. Halak fought off a late scramble by the Ducks.

Caps beat Ducks 3-2!

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Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks Are Flying High

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

The Anaheim Ducks have the best record in the NHL. Their coach, Bruce Boudreau, seems to have fallen up when he was fired by the Washington Capitals in 2011. The team has won nine in row, led by offensive stars Ryan Getzlaf, number three in league in points, and Corey Perry, number three in the league in goals. They have a good chance to win their second Stanley Cup since 2007. Monday night, they extended their winning streak with a comeback victory in Boudreau’s, Bob Woods’s, and Mathieu Perreault’s return to Verizon Center.

“Nine in a row: that’s pretty cool,” Boudreau told reporters after the game. “They were trying hard for the guys that were in Washington.”

For Boudreau, it was a surreal experience, plucked from the AHL’s Hershey Bears to lead the Capitals in 2007. More than anyone save for Alex Ovechkin, Boudreau is responsible for putting hockey back on the map in Washington. Without him, the Capitals wouldn’t have had their 202nd consecutive sellout Monday night. Without him, the team wouldn’t become the talk of the NHL. Without him, there may not have been any banners.

“Four and a half years — the greatest years of my life,” Boudreau said. “They didn’t put me on the board! Oh well.”

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Bruce Boudreau Back in the Old Barn: Ducks beat Caps 3-2

Perry and Beagle - Patrick McDermott

Perreault and Beagle (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

I feel sorry for all the johnny-come-lately fans who never knew Bruce Boudreau’s Caps. You know who I’m talking about: all those fake fans who started following the Caps just because of the undeniable electricity of Hunter hockey. Those trendy, fairweather fans who only bought their first Caps shirsey because they saw Ovi pile on an inconceivable 38 goals back in 2011-2012. All they ever knew of the Caps was the unlimited delight of low puck possession and the benching of fan-hated Mike Knuble.

Okay, starting over.

If you were to make a list of things that turned this franchise around in the last decade, you’d see Bruce Boudreau’s name somewhere right underneath Alex Ovechkin and the return to the red uniforms. Now Boudreau is with the Ducks and positively killing it in the Western Conference. Boose brought his league-leading team to Verizon Center for his first game since getting fired more than two years ago. The crowd and the team seemed to appreciate the emotional dimension, and we fans got a decent, if uneven, game out of it.

Mikhail Grabovski got the Caps on the board first by tapping in a pass from Troy Brouwer (and helped along by Ben Lovejoy). Nicky Backstrom converted a power play four minutes later with a sneaky shot to Jonas Hiller’s shoulder. Andrew Cogliano got the Ducks into the game by sweeping up the shards of a broken Caps defense.

The second period was polluted by penalties, and Saiku Koivu tied it with a bang-bang in the waning seconds. Hampus Lindholm got a puck through a crowded shooting lane and well-screened Philipp Grubauer to put the Ducks up with five minutes left. Alex Ovechkin rang the post, and our hearts sank.

Ducks beat Caps 3-2.

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Bruce Boudreau on His Return to Washington

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Photo credit: @mediachameleon

Two years ago, after the Washington’s eighth loss in 11 games, the Capitals fired head coach Bruce Boudreau. Gabby had glided the team to a Presidents’ Trophy and made the Caps the talk of the NHL. He had also overseen crushing playoff defeats and long losing streaks. After the latest one, general manager George McPhee had enough.

In 2013, Boudreau is on a different streak. He now coaches the Anaheim Ducks, a team he took over just two days after being fired by the Caps. Tonight, Bruce returns to Verizon Center for the first time (along with Mathieu Perreault), with his team on an eight-game winning streak. They own the best record in the NHL.

Here’s what Bruce had to say at the morning skate, via a press release from the Ducks.

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Braden Holtby Plays Defense During Practice (Photo)

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Photo credit: @Sydneyhasnever

The Washington Capitals are carrying three goaltenders right now. Why? Not sure. But with Philipp Grubauer earning another start tonight, Braden Holtby decided to take a shift or two on defense during this morning’s practice.

I’m in love with this photo right now. I’d take Holtby over Urbom any day of the week.

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Last season, Mathieu Perreault made Washington Capitals shootout victories a bit more memorable with his bench freak-outs, which we dubbed the #PerryCelly. It became A Thing. A bit less known, however, was the knowledge the whole #PerryCelly thing came about because of Karl Alzner.

One night, Alzner and Perreault were watching the YouTubes, as humans are like to do. They came across Peter Dill, a basketball player for Seton Hall. Dill was not very good– he tallied just a single basket in two years playing for the school– but boy did he get excited when his team scored.

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The Capitals are Basically on Furlough

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Photo: Frederick Breedon

After Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, I figured their four days off this week would be a good thing. The team would get a chance to work on its 5v5 play, and the distance of time would give us a bit more clarity on a chaotic, young season.

Nope. I was wrong.

The Capitals don’t intend to tinker with their lines just yet, while the rest of the league seems dedicated to making Caps fans miserable. It’s been a four-day break in which players are still getting paid, but everyone still seems as grumpy as a non-essential government worker.

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Photo credit: Hannah Foslien

When George McPhee traded 19-year-old Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat last year, the Washington Capitals acquired a 32-year-old veteran who should have fit in nicely with their top-six. This season however, Erat — who has a $4.5 million cap hit — plays under ten minutes a night on the team’s fourth line. With the surprise signing of Mikhail Grabovski during the offseason and Tom Wilson’s great play during the preseason, the Caps had to shed salary ahead of their season opener to make room for The Ten Train. So they dumped Mathieu Perreault to the Anaheim Ducks for a fourth round pick and an AHL player.

As I said that day, moving Perreault was curious considering the team’s lack of depth at center and his success over the last three seasons. And through two games this season, he has been — gulp — Anaheim’s best player.

Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild, Perreault scored his first point (an assist) and first goal as a Duck. His goal was the overtime game-winner.

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