[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.
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.
Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
The Washington Capitals were at the lowest of lows before the defending champion Boston Bruins came to town. This being the last game before the All-Star break and the first game of Alex Ovechkin’s suspension, expectations were barometrically low.
Rich Peverly tried to go around Karl Alzner, who knocked in the goal from his belly.
It was a 5-goal second period! Joel Ward set up Cody Eakin, whose shot trickled past Tukka Rask. 41 seconds later, Mathieu Perreault executed a give-and-go with Alex Semin to score. John Carlson surrendered a pathetic giveaway, and Tyler Seguin roofed it. Mathieu Perreault scored his second of the night on a blistering breakaway. That “little ball of hate”, Brad Marchand, caught a lucky bounce in the crease and tied it back up.
Mathieu Perreault recorded his hat-trick goal in the third period while fighting off a dozen men in the paint who were armed with flaming swords and guns that fire sharks. It was the game-winner. Dennis Wideman got the empty netter. Caps beat Bruins 5-3.
Vokes and the boys celebrate the shutout. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
The Washington Capitals lost two straight games in California before coming back home to lick their wounds and face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pittsburgh Penguins, however, were not available for hockey. The team that showed up was some shell-shocked, injury-riddled assemblage of yinzers in PGH uniforms. Not that the Capitals were much better.
Jason Chimera stepped up for the national broadcast, scoring on a breakaway set up by Jeff Halpern’s lovely set pass and some poor decisions by Paul Martin and Evgeny Malkin. And then… nothing. That’s all she wrote. Caps beat Penguins 1-0.
Photo credit: Chris Carlson
Washington Capitals at Los Angeles Kings. Here’s Jonathan Coulton’s recap of the Caps road trip in California:
Marcus Johansson scored the night’s first goal, a 2-on-1 set up by Mike Knuble. Kyle Clifford got one past Tomas Vokoun on a rebound to tie it up. Anze Kopitar added to that late in the first period after Brooks Laich was pilfered. Jack freaking Johnson converted a 3-on-1 and then did the freaking Tebow move as if the world didn’t already suck. Then Stoll scored and our eyes started glazing over. Something else happened, but our eyelids were heavy. Johansson looked bored somehow scoring his second of the night. Kings beat Caps 5-2.
Ovi celebrates an early powerplay goal. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
The Washington Capitals entered the new year with three wins in their rear-view and a convalesced Mike Green. Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames stopped in D.C. at the worst time.
Alex Ovechkin scored on the first shot of the night, a power play rocket one just 71 seconds in. Troy Brouwer crashed the net for number two, but Curtis Glencross got one back by snatching a behind-the-goal pass from Iginla. Nick Backstrom set up Dennis Wideman for the Caps’ third goal. Caps beat Flames 3-1.
I score? I really score? (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Coming into Tuesday’s game against the Predators, the Caps had been inefficient offensively, managing to score only one goal in each of their last three games. Would being confronted with two of the best defensemen in the league — Shea Weber and Ryan Suter — and a team that has played in 10-straight one goal games (7-3-0) somehow help their cause? Also, would an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring one of their team leaders, give the Caps a lift?
You bet your ass it did.
After the Capitals started the game off with four dominant shifts in the Predators zone, Alex Ovechkin — beautifully set-up by Karl Alzner — scored on a breakaway at 7:47 of the first. Later in the period, Nicklas Backstrom wrapped home goal number two of the night, his twelfth of the year. After a scoreless second period, Sergei Kostitsyn ruined Neuvy’s shutout bid with a twisted wrister from just outside the slot. Then Alex Semin decided he felt like scoring. Troy Brouwer, too! Caps beat Preds 4-1.
George McPhee and Mike Knuble pose with the silver stick. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
With the drop of a six-ounce disc of vulcanized rubber, 39-year-old right wing Mike Knuble became the 269th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 career games. While only a small percentage of players ever reach that milestone, an even tinier amount do it at age 39. Consider, Knuble is the second oldest player to ever reach 1,000 games, trailing only ex-Capital defenseman Grant Ledyard (who was 40).
Kanoobs, a veteran of 16 career NHL seasons, won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Detroit during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons – his first two years in the league. However, it would take him four more years to finally have a breakout year and establish himself. In 2002-03, after Sergei Samsonov suffered a wrist injury, Knuble was asked to fill the void on the first line alongside Joe Thornton and Glen Murray with Boston. The gritty, two-way forward responded by finishing the year with 30 goals and 59 points. Knuble’s never looked back since.
Entering this season, Mike has recorded eight straight 20-goal seasons. Even more remarkable: Knuble’s scored 221 of his 271 career goals after his 30th birthday. That’s more goals than Steve Yzerman and Wayne Gretzky racketed up during the same playing age. This stat speaks volumes about Knuble’s relentless work-ethic, high hockey IQ, and professionalism. “You spend the first four or five years of your career trying to lock up a spot in the league and try to prove to everybody that you can play,” Knuble explained after Capitals practice Monday. “That’s enough of a battle. Once you get over that hump and you’ve proved you can play, then it’s a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy.”
Naturally, the Capitals organization went all out to celebrate the assistant captain’s achievement tonight.
“Kanooblian” by Mark Burrier. See Rare Words for more of Mark’s art.
Mike Knuble will play his 1000th NHL game on Tuesday night. And I get to write the pregamer! Woohoo!
There’s a team. They’re from Nashville. That’s where Steve Earle got busted for dope the first 40 times, and it’s where my girlfriend Hayley Williams lives right now. The Predators are 17-11-4. Their new guitar pick logo is awesome. They beat the Caps 3-1 last month, and their home jerseys harshed my rods and cones. Faith Hill hates Carrie Underwood. The Preds are just barely inside the playoff picture right now. D-man Shea Weber is insanely good (24 points, plus-15) and will get even better. But enough about them, let’s talk Kanooble!
Check out Brooksy’s face. (Photo credit: Michael Martin)
The Washington Capitals headed to the mile-high city to meet the Colorado Avalanche with hopes of a perfect road trip. NOPE.
Cody McLeod chipped the puck from the blue line; Neuvy didn’t even see it. Alex Semin scored his first goal since November 23 with a really smart wrister. Erik Johnson snapped his own goal drought just a minute later. That was the GWG. Avs beat Caps 2-1.
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