The hard part is over. Mathieu Perreault led the Capitals with five points in four preseason games and snatched the final roster spot from favorites Cody Eakin and Mattias Sjogren.
Last season he showed the ability to drive puck possession, finishing with the fourth best Corsi relative to the competition on the team, behind only Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin.
Consistency, however, was a bigger issue. He earned all fourteen of his points in just nine of his 35 games played and wasn’t able to claim a center spot that was up for grabs.
On Saturday, the Washington Capitals hosted their third annual Capitals Convention. A sold-out crowd of over 6,000 fans descended on the spacious confines of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to get autographs, pose for photos, and have questions answered by their favorite players.
Ted Leonsis, a mastermind behind the yearly event, was ecstatic for the turn-out. “That we’re able to sell out everything we touch really shows how wonderful the fan support is and my goal is to build a team as good as our fan base,” he said.
“Hockey players are so approachable,” Bruce Boudreau said. “They could be walking amongst [the crowd] and they’ll sit down and talk to you. I think it means a lot to [the fans] that they are so human.”
Below are my pictures of from the day including Alex Ovechkin giving out some free hugs, Mike Green signing a baby, and a lot of smiling players — and when I mean a lot, I’m talking some sort of world record.
Part of being a stat geek “numbers guy” means I go on the record a lot with predictions, and this season was no different. Sometimes I’m right and sometimes I am righter. Let’s take a look back and see how I did both on RMNB and on my posts for The Washington Post’s Capitals Insider.
It was a milestone night in Hershey on Saturday. Keith Aucoin registered his 700th career AHL point, Brian Willsie scored his career-high 30th goal of the season and Dmitry Orlov tallied his first career goal at Giant Center. The Bears went on to defeat the Albany Devils 7-4 in front of a sold-out crowd. With the win, Hershey clinched a playoff spot and earned the right to defend their back-to-back Calder Cup Championships.
The most fascinating part of the evening, however, was the line-brawl that was ignited after Brian Willsie scored against the Devils’ fourth line. As the five Bears on the ice went to congratulate each other, Albany tough-guy Chris Murray gave Mathieu Perreault a shove. The feisty, 174 lb. Perreault responded with a flurry of punches and Hershey’s entire line engaged Murray. Pierre-Luc Leblond – yes, the same guy who was suspended earlier in the year for jumping Marcus Johansson – then came to his teammate’s aid, charging towards the pile of Bears as if he were a bowling ball looking for a strike. Mayhem ensued thereafter, as everyone on the ice squared off except for the goalies.
All in all, 34 penalty minutes were doled-out between the two teams, including 14 PIM’s to Leblond and 12 PIM’s to Louis Robitaille. The Bears swept the contentious and brutal season series with Albany, 6-0-0. Below the jump, Sweetest Hockey On Earth‘s Kyle M. has shared his photos of the brawl.
Not all goals are created equal. A team scoring first has almost twice the win percentage of a team that trails first, while scoring an empty net goal almost always means the game was out of reach. But what about all the goals scored in between? Of all those goals that a player scores, how many contribute to victories and how vitally do they contribute?
On February 27, 2011, In Game Recap, By Brandon Oland
Photo credit: Mike Stobe
Hendy tried to spark the team, but instead he got his face Kanopka'd. (Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek)
With the Washington Capitals in danger of losing a second game in two nights, their flabbergasted head coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout and made some adjustments.
He scrapped his floundering top line and put together his dream team trio in a desperation last resort to try and spark a squad that inexplicably could not create scoring chances.
With Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin playing together, the Capitals rallied from two goals down to beat the rapidly improving New York Islanders, 3-2, Saturday night for a pivotal road win just two days before the trade deadline.
On February 20, 2011, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
“Perry, we did it! We actually score on power play!” (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)
After going 1-4 in their last five games — all against Western Conference foes — the Caps headed back to the friendly confines of the east coast on Sunday, hoping to right the ship versus Buffalo. Facing a hungry Sabres team in a nationally televised matchup, Washington was certainly up to the task.
The first period may have been scoreless but it certainly wasn’t uneventful. The Capitals managed 16 shots but Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was fantastic, making big saves throughout the frame. Washington also had four power play chances in the period, including over a minute and a half on the two man advantage. However, the Caps PP continued their struggles, failing to convert as Miller remained strong.
Mathieu Perreault would finally break Miller’s streak in the second stanza. After an odd bounce in the corner, the puck kicked out to the front of the net. Perreault took advantage, putting the Caps up 1-0. However, after Brooks Laich was called for goalie interference, the Sabres would head to the power play. At 8:20 Jason Pominville converted on the man advantage, getting the puck past a screened Semyon Varlamov to knot the score at one.
Midway through the third, former Cap Shaone Morrisonn was whistled for interference, once again putting Washington on the power play. But this time, it actually worked. Alex Ovechkin skated the puck into zone before firing a shot on Miller who made the stop. However, the biscuit went to waiting Perreault. With a little help from Marcus Johansson — whose deflection awarded him the marker — Perreault put the puck in the back of net, giving the Capitals the lead. Buffalo attempted a rally but Varlamov stayed strong. Caps beat Sabres, 2-1.
On February 15, 2011, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo credit: Norm Hall
We’re reaching a key point in the season, as Capitals veteran winger Mike Knuble said after the loss to the Kings, “This road-trip could be great or it could be an absolute embarrassment.”
It seems like all year we’ve been waiting for Washington to just snap out of it and return to last season’s form. But at the start of their matchup with Phoenix, the Caps were fewer points away from being out of playoff position then they were of taking the number one spot in the east.
“If they’re waiting for some switch to magically appear, it’s not going to happen,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said after Saturday’s flop.
It’s time to wake up. And the Capitals certainly didn’t do that Monday night.
The first period was rather uneventful. Aside from an early power play, the Caps had limited scoring opportunities, registering just one even strength shot in the frame. But then in the second, the Caps decided to #CRASHTHENET, as Marcus Johansson used the patented bank it off Martin Hanzal’s foot move, putting Washington on top. However, Hanzal quickly redeemed himself, scoring just 49 seconds later, going five-hole on Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth. With less than two and a half minutes left in the period, Ray Whitney gave the ‘Yotes a 2-1 lead when his wrist-shot hit the back of the net. In the third period, Vernon Fiddler would push the Coyotes advantage to two when converted on a 2-on-1. Matt Bradley, however, would answer right back, cutting the lead to one under a minute later, getting a shot past Phoenix ‘keeper Ilya Bryzgalov. But that would be it for Washington. Coyotes beat Caps, 3-2.
Just over a minute into the contest, Alex Ovechkin ripped the Capitals only tally past Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The goal came the moment I was settling in with my nachos at Verizon Center. Coincidence? I think not. However, Anze Kopitar would have something to say about that in the second, flipping the puck over a seated Semyon Varlamov to knot the game at one. Then with 16:24 left in the third, Andrei Loktionov gave L.A. a 2-1 lead as the biscuit once again got past an out of position Varlamov. It would only get worse for the Capitals as Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll pushed the lead to three. By the end of the game, Verizon Center was half empty. Kings beats Caps, 4-1.