Standings Free Fall: Devils Top Caps 2-1


Ugh. (Photo: Andy Marlin)

Just like Alex Ovechkin, ya boy Peter was out with an injury tonight. Undisclosed for those asking. I’m nursing the flu. We’re sort of like the Caps of Caps blogs right now.

Embarking on five game road trip with their dads in tow, the Caps headed to newly Cory Booker-less Newark for date with the Devils. Allowing the fewest shots per game in the NHL and featuring the blue-hot Cory Schneider, New Jersey didn’t look like great opponent to get Washington’s hapless offense going. They weren’t. Yep, it’s gonna be one of those again.

As usual these days, the game got off to a horrid start. Five minutes in, Dmitry Orlov made another silly mistake, fumbling the puck in the Caps offensive zone. Steven Gionta and Ryan Carter went the other way on the odd-man break. Shockingly, Mike Green did not misplay the 2-on-1. It wasn’t enough. The puck snuck past Michal Neuvirth off the blade of Gionta.

Early in the second, Adam Henrique put the Devs up by two with Orlov in the box for holding. Jaromir Jagr made the play, fabulously skating through the Capitals defense before feeding the puck in front for his second assist of the game. Facing this Capitals offense, it looked like that was all New Jersey needed.

Jason Chimera, however, had other ideas. Midway through the third, he deflected a John Erskine shot from the point for his third goal in seven games. It wasn’t enough though.

Seven in a row. Devils top Caps 2-1.

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Without their captain Alex Ovechkin on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals were listless against the Ottawa Senators, getting shutout 2-0. It was their sixth straight loss. It looks like things could get a whole lot worse.

In the second period of the Caps’ second straight game without Ovi, Mikhail Grabovski fell awkwardly on his left leg after being taken down from behind by Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador.

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Photo credit: Alex Brandon

You can understand their frustration. About to lose their sixth game in a row, the Washington Capitals had good reason to be grumpy. Despite improving play at even strength, the team was still beset by penalties and unable to score. Down 2-0 with ten minutes remaining, Mikhail Grabovski was effectively ejected from the game with a two-minute roughing penalty and a ten-minute game misconduct.

Apparently that’s the punishment you get when you nearly gouge out the eyes of your opponent.

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Caps Get Chances, But Not Goals, Against Sharks


Photo credit: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates has been searching for five-on-five production all season. While Alex Ovechkin has thrived, other members of top six have been less consistent. After the first period on Tuesday, Oates had a new iteration for the first two lines: Eric Fehr-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich-Mikahil Grabovksi-Alex Ovechkin.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals the last couple games and he’s looking for a spark,” Laich told me of Oates’s change. “Our line had a couple of good chances.”

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The Washington Capitals should have beaten the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. If it wasn’t for Ryan Miller‘s stunning late third period save, they would have.

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Photo credit: Chris O’Meara

For most of the year, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has skated on a line with super Swedes Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. While Nicky and Mojo are talented players, they are at times too timid to shoot the puck themselves. While Ovechkin leads the league in goals, his five-on-five output could still be better.

That may be why Adam Oates got all surly and switched up the lines three games ago. Ovechkin now skates with Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr, players who are a bit more aggressive. And that may be why, on Thursday night in Tampa, we saw a little more of Alex Ovechkin the playmaker.

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Photo credit: @dcsportsbog

Playing the Carolina Hurricanes on December 3rd, Washington Capitals center Mikhail Grabovski stepped out on the Verizon Center ice for warm-ups wearing a nameplate with his name spelled wrong. Instead of the i, Grabo’s last name was spelled with a y.

When Grabovsky came back for the first period, his jersey was correct. Since the i and the y in the Cyrillic alphabet are interchangeable, we had a giggle and moved on.

But now it’s back. Grabovski’s y jersey returned in Minnesota.

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Adam Oates Looks for Scoring Balance With New Top-Six


Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

This season, Alex Ovechkin’s shot has been an unstoppable force of destruction. Ovi has registered 31 goals. His line’s scoring, however, has often been one-sided. Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin’s linemates for much of the season, have scored just six even-strength goals. When Ovi’s hitting the net, it’s not a problem. But if last year’s MVP hits some bad luck, as he did over the four games before last night, the line struggles. Ovechkin has just a single assist during five-on-five play.

“It’s not enough,” Oates said when I asked him about that stat. “It shows how much all three guys are important.”

For Thursday’s game against the Hurricanes, Oates switched up his lines, putting Ovechkin with Eric Fehr and Mikhail Grabovski while placing Johansson and Backstrom with Brouwer.

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Photo credit: Rob Carr

In overtime, unless you’re a really bad hockey team or extremely good at shootous, you play to win the game. A minute and fifteen seconds into overtime, the Washington Capitals tried to do exactly that, making an aggressive play in the Carolina Hurricanes’ offensive zone to try and secure that one extra standings point.

They paid the price for it however, as Jeff Skinner scored his hat-trick game-winning goal on a jailbreak odd-man rush into the Capitals defensive zone.

Every Capital on the ice minus Philipp Grubuaer shares blame on the goal. Let’s take a look at the bad reads and bad decisions. (This is as close as we’ll ever get to a Justin Bourne Systems Analyst post.)

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Whoops. (Photo credit: Marc DesRosiers)

On Monday morning we published a story about how awesome Mikhail Grabovski is, including the likelihood of him re-signing with the Washington Capitals.

Maybe we should reconsider if we actually want that as it seems Grabo forgot how to play the sport of hockey during the Ottawa Senators game.

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