Photo credit: Rod Lamkey Jr.

George McPhee has not seen a season this tumultuous since the events that led up to the acquisition of Alex Ovechkin back in 2004. He’s dismissed a coach and watched his team fall from the top of the standings to a precarious spot on the proverbial bubble.

Now, as the Washington Capitals prepare for one last playoffs push, McPhee has the challenge of managing assets at all stages of their careers. That includes 37-year-old Roman Hamrlik, who was signed over the offseason to a two-year, $7 million deal, and 39-year old Mike Knuble, who will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end — both of whom have been scratched from recent games.

McPhee’s attitude towards his veteran players, however, is anything but cynical. In his 14 years as general manager of the Capitals, McPhee, whose nickname is The Undertaker, has revealed something of a softer side.

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[Ed. note: Capitals During Wartime has illuminated struggles in Washington leading up to the trade deadline. Read previous installments: Centerless, Road-weary, Negativity, Bruce vs. Dale, and Trending topics.]

By this time Monday, Capitals general manager George McPhee will have already made whatever moves he has deemed wise for the future of his club. With all the prognostication and educated guessing about trade scenarios going around, I have decided not to add any noise to an already muffled signal.

Instead, we conclude this series with a look at two Capitals players who will loom large on Monday in one way or another. Those players are Mike Knuble and Tomas Vokoun.

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It’s Good to Be Home: Caps beat Habs 4-1

Photo credit: Mitchel Layton

Friday night’s meeting between the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens was an exciting one. The only thing that muddled the joy is that funny feeling that this may be one of the last times we see this version of the team play..

Mathieu Perreault got on the board by redirecting a Jason Chimera pass along the crease that Tomas Kaberle deemed not worth his time. Jason Chimera took the puck for an 80-foot stroll, pushing Carey Price into the net along with the puck. 16 seconds later, Marcus Johansson dropped a pass to Dmitry Orlov, who set up Alex Ovechkin waiting in the circle for a one-timer. That shot found the back of the net, giving the Caps a solid 3-0 lead going into the third.

Rene Bourque ended the shut out (actually 260 minutes and 4 seconds long) with a shorthanded goal. Joel Ward got the empty netter, and that was that. Caps beat Habs 4-1.

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Montreal Canadiens Pregame: The Puckies!

The Red Carpet: Oh Lorda Mercy. Sunday = Oscars. Monday = Trade deadline. We don’t know which town is more nervous, Hollywood or Washington.

Larfs, what a silly question! Of course we do. Exactly because we’ve served our time in both, and we know which town is more bloodless:

Phone call in DC: “Hello. Yeah, but what can you do for me tomorrow?”

Phone call in Hollyood: “What? You again?” *click.*

Check it out. Starshines like Julia Roberts or Harrison Ford disappear from the screen. A little too… seasoned. Anonymous tradesmen like James Cromwell or Melissa McCarthy: can’t book you enough. Proven winners… and we hate this more than you do… like Brad Pitt or Meryl Someoneorother. Well, they win. Because they’re winners. Until they don’t.

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At the end of the second period, Mike Knuble shocked absolutely no one by doing what Mike Knuble does best — crashing the net, standing in the paint, and scoring a dirty goal, his first since December 5th.

Except, apparently, referee Eric Furlatt, who promptly waved it off. Injustice. We demand a goal review. We demand this be taken all the way to the Supreme Court. It wasn’t quite Game 7 of the Montreal series, but it must have stung for Knuble, who is on a 27-game scoreless streak and seemed hell-bent on making a difference in his first game back after three consecutive scratches.

Knuble ended the night with 3 hits, 2 shots on goal, and one assist in 17:07 of ice time, and he also briefly returned to the first line during the third period. A pretty good game overall, but this one is still going to haunt him.

Good goal, no? Perhaps the most good goal to ever be scored? You guys tell us:

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Recap: Caps’ Russian Rockstars Beat Panthers, 2-1


Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechter

Two sweet, sweet regulation points.

By winning this game, the Caps pulled within two points of division-leading Florida, and shockingly we were even able to keep them from getting a loser point! We gather this is basically their whole strategy this year, but the Caps are finally starting to crowd their space again. Watch your backs, Florida.

The Caps left Tomas Fleischmann completely open in front of the net to score the game’s first goal. Mike Knuble created some great crease havoc on the power play for Alex Ovechkin to bat it in. Alex Semin fired one of those comets over Theodore to make it a two-Sasha game. Caps win, 2-1. 

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Capitals During Wartime: Our Misery is Their Trending Topic

[Ed. note: This is fifth installment of Capitals During Wartime, a series about Washington's struggles before the 2012 trade deadline. Read previous entries about coaching, negativity, road performance, and centers.]

Everyone has the moment when you realize that the Caps are in serious trouble. You know when mine was, because that’s when I started this Capitals During Wartime series. For Ian, it was Monday night, when he finally admitted to me how worried he was. For the rest of the Internet and the broader hockey community, that moment is right now.

This article documents The Week from Hell, a litany of depressing and infuriating stories about your Washington Capitals. Because we need a single, coherent record of what exactly it was like when things couldn’t possibly get any worse.

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This goal bounced off Holtby’s helmet and rolled down his back. It was that kind of night. (Photo credit: Greg Flume)

This game actually started out all right, but if you’ve seen the Caps play the Sharks lately, you knew that it could only get bad somehow. What is it with those guys, seriously, every time. Did the Caps all watch “Jaws” too many times as children, or what?

Joe Pavelski opened the scoring with a weirdo bounce on a harmless shot from Dan Boyle that black magicked itself over Braden Holtby’s shoulder. He put a second goal on the board when the Caps let the entire Sharks roster camp out in front of the net, because that’s a really good way to get a goal scored against you. Then the puck rolled down Holtby’s back to the goal line for Patrick Marleau to tap it in. Dmitry Orlov scored with one of those Dmitry Orlov blasts from the point with half a second left to go in the second. Brent Burns pinballed a Joe Thornton shot behind Holtby. Marleau scored the third Sharks PPG of the night to make it 5-1. Roman Hamrlik backhanded one past Greiss, which we have to admit we didn’t really see coming. Jeff Schultz upped the weirdness by scoring from the blueline to cut the deficit to two. Sharks beat Caps, 5-3.

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Capitals During Wartime: Bruce vs. Dale

[Ed. note: Capitals During Wartime is a series analyzing Washington's struggles before the 2012 trade deadline. We've discussed weakness at center, a poor road record, and negativity among fans so far.] 

In the latest edition of Capitals During Wartime, I mused about how and why we discuss the negative stuff going on with Capitals right now. Concluding, in short, that our foremost responsibility is to the Truth, and not just Good Feelings, I promised not to shy away from D.C.’s ongoing hockey bummers– but also not to drench that analysis in hyperbole.

This article is a statistical rundown of the Washington Capitals through 54 games for the purpose comparing the tenures of Bruce Boudreau and Dale Hunter head to head. But I will not be offering any commentary. My voice is limited to the selection of statistics below. Any conclusions you make or narratives you perceive are your own. I have included traditional stats, some advanced stats, and some individual curiosities that we’ve discussed recently on the site.

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Bruins beats Caps 4-1, Brooks Laich Injured

The Washington Capitals returned to Verizon Center for a matinee match with the Boston Bruins, their second game in 24 hours. Disaster.

Milan Lucic scored after a bad read by Dennis Wideman gave him an opening. Brad Marchand made it 2-0 after Karl Alzner and John Carlson funneled the puck to their own crease. Marchand set up Tyler Seguin for the game’s third– and the second in which Dennis Wideman lost his man. A gorgeous 200-foot series culminated in a goal by Marcus Johansson (or Ward, whatever) and the end of Tim Thomas’s Sovereign Shutout. Peverly got the empty netter. Bruins beat Caps 4-1.

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