We try to read lips, but it’s not easy to know what our Capitals are saying. Not unless a HBO crew is following them, or they’re within earshot of Pierre McGuire.
Luckily, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Mike Knuble, and Matt Hendricks got mic’d up for the second round of the playoffs. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Rangers vs. Caps. Tears and swear words not included.
The Capitals are back in Washington with a chance to keep their season alive. It didn’t have to be that way. With half a minute left to protect their lead in Game Five, Joel Ward high-sticked Carl Hagelin. The ensuing Rangers powerplay cost the Capitals the lead and the win– and what would have been a veritable chokehold on the series.
After he bested the Bruins in the quarterfinal round, Ward was the target of some vile and feckless trash from Boston fans. After his double-minor penalty led to Monday’s loss, that same pernicious evil erupted from Caps fans as well.
Here are Three True Things:
Joel Ward is not at fault for the team’s loss.
This hate is as rare as it is unacceptable.
Joel Ward is a great hockey player and a great addition to the ’11-’12 Washington Capitals.
After the grueling march of disappointment that was Game Three, we expected a rallying effort from the Caps. But we weren’t naive enough to expect a different kind of game. We know by now that the Capitals are capable of playing only one-goal games. What we didn’t know is that they could get goals out of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green in the same game. It was like 2009 up in here.
Artem Anisimov tied it up early in the second by beating Braden Holtby, who was left helpless when Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin couldn’t block a weirdly bouncing pass. Nick Backstrom reasserted the lead by tenderizing Artem Anisimov and then putting Chimera’s pass in the net. Artem Anisimov won an icing race against Jeff Schultz and set up Marian Gaborik for another tying goal through Holtby’s five-hole.
Mike Green put the Caps up with a powerplay goal late in the third. It was the game-winner. Caps beat Rangers 3-2.
Much has been written about the Caps’ new commitment to shot blocking. Simply put: they’re blocking more shots than the Rangers, a team who talks about shots more than the cast of “Jersey Shore”. Through two games, the Caps have blocked 39 shots to the Rangers’ 30, and some of those those blocks have saved goals– or even games.
When you’re not wearing goalie pads, blocking shots takes some nerve. Ever wonder what it looks like afterward?
Game One of the conference semifinals was a bore. Also: a loss. But the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers brought a lot more oomph to Game Two. It was a hard-hitting, higher shooting, kind-of-awesome affair. And despite any controversies we may drudge up here or complaints we may file, the only thing that matters right now are results.
At 12:20 of the 2nd game of the 2nd series, player number 22 crashed the net. Yep, Mike Knuble got the game’s first goal capping off some good movement from Joel Ward and Keith Aucoin. Then… well it’s hard to explain, but we’ll try: the puck rolled over Carlson’s stick, setting up Kreider for a breakaway that Holtby defused. Beagle moved the puck up to Chimera, who dumped it to Matt Hendricks, who scored a no-look goal*. (Phew!)
Brad Richards scored a 4-on-4 goal as neither Brouwer or Wideman could catch him in transition, and the second period went scoreless.
The Rangers tied it up with a powerplay goal off Carlson’s back halfway through the third period. Carlson reversed that by drawing an interference penalty from Richards, which Alex Ovechkin instantly transmogrified into the game-winning goal. Caps beat Rags 3-2.
Jason Chimera dropped the puck to John Carlson, who fired a shot that Matt Hendricks tipped in. Tyler Seguin dove to knock in a loose puck behind Braden Holtby to tie the game heading into the third period. The game went into overtime.
And then it happened. You knew it would. Mike Knuble crashed the net and Joel Ward swept in the rebound. Caps beat Bruins 2-1 (OT).
The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.
I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)
A few days ago in a post entitled “How to Solve Tim Thomas in the Playoffs,” I pointed out that the Capitals have had a tough time scoring on Tim Thomas in the regular season. When they did score in regulation, there was an obvious pattern: