That Weird Moment When the Devils Forgot How to Hockey

Vine by @recordsANDradio

At times on Thursday night, it looked like someone put a hex on the New Jersey Devils. The defense-first team surrendered six goals to the Capitals, took a bunch of undisciplined penalties, and didn’t seem like themselves. Then there’s this strange play.

As 23-year-old defenseman Eric Gelinas takes a shot from the point, his attempt is blocked by his own teammate. As the puck dribbles back to him, Gelinas tries dishing it to his defensive partner. He falls over too.

It’s a catastrophe.

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Everybody Scoar: Caps beat Devils 6-2!

Patrick McDermott

Sad Devils, happy Mojo (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

A game against the New Jersey Devils is supposed to be a subdued, low-scoring slough. Instead, the Washington Capitals came out hot, withstood an assault, and then came back even hotter. This team is really good.

Alex Ovechkin needed just half a minute to get on the scoresheet, wristing a rebounder for his fifth goal of the season. The Devils mostly owned that period thanks to two goals by youngblood Damon Severson (both heavily screened), but another newbie, Chris Brown, got one of his own for the Caps.

Marcus Johansson scored during even strength in the second period, which is baffling to me. Nick Backstrom deflected a muffin from Matt Niskanen to put the Devils in a two-goal hole early in the third. The Twins made that even deeper when Joel Ward banked a shot hard off the back boards, then off Cory Schneider’s skates, nothing but net. And then Burakovsky extended his ridiculous goal-scoring streak on the power play.

Caps beat Devils 6-2!

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Caps vs Devils Pregame: New Lines, Old Jagr

jagr-old

Tonight at 7 PM, the Capitals will host the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center. The Devils are undefeated and looking pretty boss, unless you actually look at how they play, and then they’re kinda boring. The game is on CSN-DC, and you don’t need to worry about there being any conflicts with baseball because… well… yeah.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 1-0-2 48.48% 106 30.8% 91.7%
New Jersey Devils 3-0-0 41.88% 119 25% 82.4%

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oates-devils

“Cautiously optimistic” is one of those contorted bits of language that gets tossed about with abandon in Washington. DC loves bad language; the more obfuscatory and non-committal a phrase, the greater its use. Orwell called it “that mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence,” which makes us laugh because, while Orwell was referring to official British government communications, that seems an even more apt description of the Washington Capitals at several points over the past few years.

Not so this year. The front office, the coaches, Trotz and the team all look like they’re pulling in roughly the same direction. The point is: no modifiers about it. When it comes to the Capitals, call us Optimistic. Ish.

Which brings us to tonight’s tango with the New Jersey Devils (3-0).

Traditionally, this is the point where we trade barbs about the other place we’re playing, noting what a vile and smelly pool of despair it is. But we’re talking about New Jersey here. Saying mean things about New Jersey is like yelling at a sick puppy – it takes no talent and everyone just ends up feeling awful. So let’s just say “New Jersey” and leave it at that.

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Caps beat Devils 3-0 and Marty Erat SCOAR!

no biscuits in the basket

The New Jersey Devils are the worst good team in hockey. For the last thousand years, they’ve mined success by sucking the fun out of hockey. If it feels like the game is less exciting when the Devils are playing, it’s not just you. The team’s style inhibits shooting by both teams– on average almost 20 fewer shot attempts per game. That’s part of why I was a bit mild heading into Saturday’s pre-Olympic finale between the Devs and the Washington Capitals.

The teams traded power plays in the first period without biscuit-basket despositage. The Devils owned the puck for the most the second period, but left the basket unbiscuited. The third period was more of the miserable same until rookie Julien Brouillette put the biscuit in the basket with ten minutes left. The Devils emptied their net and then Marty Erat finally brokered a biscuit-basket merger and then Troy Brouwer was like, “yeah, this basket can handle more biscuits.”

Caps beat Devils 3-0. Braden Holby’s third shutout!

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New Jersey Comeback: Devils beat Caps 5-4 (OT)

Ward celebrates - Patrick McDermott

Look how tiny Jagr looks. (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

I hate the way the Devils play. They stifle offense (i.e. fun, Capitals-style hockey) and execute the trap as if it’s not something to be ashamed of. Luckily, they did it poorly on Saturday night. What I expected to be a low-scoaring affair ended up being a crash-the-net party with a whole lot going on. The Caps exploded in the second period, but the Devils rallied in the third and won it in overtime.

For the Devils’ first shot, Marek Zidlicky got a dart past Braden Holtby on the power play. The Caps struck back with three goals in the second period, starting with Jason Chimera whacking in his own rebound from right under Brodeur’s nose. Mikhail Grabovski caught Eric Fehr’s pass right in the paint and knocked it in to give the Caps the lead, and Joel Ward crashed the net to make it 3-1 going into the third.

Jagr scored in the third period. I don’t want to talk about it. Alex Ovechkin was in the penalty box for that one, but he redeemed himself with an even-strength goal from the slot a few minutes later. The Devils rallied late: Zidlicky got his second of the night with a wide open one-timer, and Dainus Zubrus tied it with eight minutes left. That’s the way it stood at the end of regulation.

Game Over Andy Greene got a lucky bounce in overtime to win it for Jersey and save us all from the shootout.

Devils beat Caps 5-4 (OT).

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Alex Urbom Has Scored Twice, Once Against the Capitals

Photo credit: Bill Kostroun/AP Photo

The Washington Capitals have picked up Swedish defenseman Alexander Urbom off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound blueliner was drafted by New Jersey 73rd overall in 2009.

A left-handed defenseman, Urbom is known for his reliable defensive game. His physical play has improved in recent years spent mostly with the Devils’ AHL affiliate in Albany. He has played in just 14 NHL regular season games, scoring two goals. Urbom, who worked with Caps head coach Adam Oates in New Jersey, is a mobile defenseman and an effective defender.

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Alex Ovechkin Scores Hat Trick, Caps beat Devils 5-1

Bruce Bennett

The Washington Capitals’ loss to New Jersey Devils on Thursday was one of their worst games in years. Saturday’s matinee still had some problems with penalties, but they added a magic ingredient: Alex Ovechkin’s thirst for SCOAR MOAR GOALS.

Alex Ovechkin sank a one-timer to cap off a great entry sequence by Chimera and Ribeiro. Ilya Kovalchuk used John Erskine as a screen to beat Braden Holtby late in the second period. Alex Ovechkin got his second of the day– coming up the right side and shooting between Volchenkov’s legs. Eric Fehr scored a shorthanded goal after robbing Johan Hedberg behind his net. Ovechkin converted a power play goal late in the third, and the hats rained down. Then Troy Brouwer got everybody wings, and it was party time.

Caps beat Devils 5-1.

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Capitals vs Devils in Nine Beagles

beags1

Capitals vs Devils on Thursday did not go well. Chris Gordon did his best to delight you while holding the RMNB reins, but nothing could salvage a very bad night for the home team.

Except maybe this.

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All Penalties, No Possession: Devils beat Caps 3-2

Patrick McDermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

I had a recap for tonight, but then the third period happened; my story was rendered irrelevant. In the span of 11 minutes, the Washington Caps took six penalties and allowed two goals to blow 2-1 lead to the New Jersey Devils. It was awful and frankly surreal. This wasn’t the ref’s fault, it was entirely the Capitals’. You cannot take that many penalties and survive. The Caps did not survive.

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