marty

[Ed note: After a year of doggedly researching and documenting the panoply of awfulness that are the Washington Capitals' rival cities and teams, the PuckBuddys'  physicians grew concerned, recommending they take a nice, quiet rest somewhere so they could forget temporarily about hockey and focus instead on finger paints and macaroni art. Helpfully, Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr gave them just the right opportunity to lay down their burden.

Now, no longer able to keep them involuntarily committed, the Buddy's have returned to crash our net and empty the NHL's septic tanks that you, wisely, would rather not. Because that's just the sort of stand-up guys they are.

However, we caution they are still a bit on edge. So please, everyone...no sudden movements.]

The Scene: The pioneering urban anthropologist Ulf Hannerz once remarked “That which most repels us in other cultures is very often what lies buried and secret at the heart of our own.”  Well, no he didn’t; I just made that up. But then again, I doubt that Ulf ever visited New Jersey.

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Soooo Close: Devils Beat Caps 3-2 (OT)

Neuvy run over

Neuvy run over during the second period. (Photo credit: Mel Evans)

[Editor's Note: Peter Hassett wisely took the opportunity to leave DC this week. Ian Oland is in protective custody. Chris Gordon has joined the circus on the trapeze. The PuckBuddys are entirely responsible for this week's tragic events.]

“Nothing ever really goes away – it just changes into something else.” – Sarah Ockler.

There’s a last bit to that quote that we’ll share at the end. (Spoiler!) Still, we can’t help but watch the Capitals 2013 and wonder: what are they changing into? And where is this metamorphosis leading? Answers – now.

First period: Some early testing by the Caps heartens us. We like what we’re seeing on defense from Ward; once again, the Caps look dominant in the first. Can’t hear the name “Travis Zajac” without thinking about buying a vowel. Yes, that’s what we’re down to. Sadly, Jacob Josefson to Stephen Gionta (brother of Habs’ Brian) with a snapper past Neuvy puts them 1-up.

We feel you, Meryl.

We feel you, Meryl.

Second begins with a dash to the Caps net, gobbled up by Neuvy. Mike Ribeiro and Jason Chimera denied what shoudda coudda been. Troy Brouwer passes to no one, which is somehow emblematic of the team this year. Phew! on a Neuvy save during a Devs attempt at a shortie, leading to both teams feeling a little better about themselves, while Martin Brodeur notches another lump on his coconut. Phew! again as Neuvy (again) saves the Caps on a Devils PP. Tonight is a good night for Neuvirth, so heck, let’s give him a 5-on-3 because why not? Of course,  Patrik Elias scores (nothing you can do, Neuvy) bringing Devs up 2-o. Please let this end.

Last period starts with us wondering if the mullets (*ahem Carlson*) are slowing the Caps down. Adam Oates looks sour like the Dad in “That’ 70’s Show,” which we’re coming to understand. Caps PP yields zip, and we get another shot. MoJo sends it off to nowhere, and Phew! (3x) Neuvy saves the day. Finally, Ward knocks to Ribeiro and the Caps are on the board, 2-1. And then HURRAH! Greenie sends a sizzler into the net, Caps tied 2-2 with less than three minutes remaining. An almost heart-stopper brings us to:

OT: Pushups everyone! Hero becomes the goat as Greenie gets sent to the penalty box and Caps go on PK. Neuvy is on his best game tonight: how many times can we “Phew!”? Caps kill effectively kill the penalty, while Ovechkin is sleep-skating. Twenty seconds to go and Ilya Kovalchuk takes advantage of Ovi’s slop, firing it past Neuvy and ending the game.

SCORE: Devils  3, Capitals 2.

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New Jersey Devils: Where Dat Rally Balloon?

The PreGame: Close your eyes for a moment. Now fling your head out the window.

Wait. Stop that. Open window, fling head, close eyes.

Better. Breathe deep…deeplier deep. Now, what do you smell out there? Summer? Winter? Victory? Streak?

Us? We get mulch, daffodils and notes of flattened street rat. But we much prefer these others. Summer – remember buoyancy and cautious cockiness? Winter; well, early winter means Christmas, and Christmas last was a Capsmas miracle against the Devils, so thank you Baby Jesus!

Victory? Contrary to Maj. Kilgore, victory doesn’t smell like napalm in the morning.  Rather it’s a man-handling of the Habs, a swift start and sustained margin against the Leafs, and a ‘You-Ain’t-Gonna-Win” sass against the dreadful Islanders, all in a row. Yum.

And Streak? Actually, we haven’t really smelled that this year for a long, long time. But still, I think I might recall…

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Andy Marlin

Alex Semin interferes with Mattias Tedenby (Photo credit: Andy Marlin)

The last game before the holiday break featured the Washington Capitals in desolation against the New Jersey Devils. The Caps looked desperately weak for most of the game, digging a deep hole. But the third period was an explosion of Caps offense– one of the best comebacks in recent history. Still, the gimmick loomed.

Ilya Kovalchuk struck on a power play in the second period, a dribbling puck between Neuvirth’s pads. Not long later, Alexander Urbom scored on a defenseless net to make it 2-0. Adam Henrique chipped one in from up close to make it dire.

Brooks Laich used some speed and a Wideman pass to get the Caps on the board. Jason Chimera crashed the net and made it a one-goal game. Then Chimera tied it up at the end of a long offensive shift.

Into the shootout, where the Devils came out on top. Devils beat Caps 4-3 (SO), but the Caps take home one well earned standings point.

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New Jersey Devils Pregame: Happy Non-denominational Tidings

Craig is a Puck Buddy. This is his story. @PuckBuddys

Ohai Caps fans! Coinciding with Coach Hunter’s latest round of mind-boggling line changes, we’re changing up things today on the pregamer, too.  No, Doug hasn’t been sent down to Hershey with the other famous Caps redhead, Cody “Swoon” Eakin, but he’s taking a short break from cranking out his inimitable prose, obscure cultural references (he’s still working on Cy Twombly), and his proselytizing on behalf of the radical gay agenda.

Actually, he’s wrapping up the last of his community service obligations that resulted from his conviction in that 2011 World Juniors point-shaving scandal. And truth be told, he was also the one who bought all that liquor for those Russian kids. But luckily for all involved, including international aviation authorities, the team behaved responsibly on that flight home after their big win. In fact, we just heard from a few of our old pals on last year’s Russian team – and even they were appalled by Alec Baldwin’s airline antics last week.

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Devils beat Caps 3-2 (SO), And It Sucked

(Photo credit: Mitchell Layton from like 3 years ago)

Live from Verizon Center… it’s Saturday night! The Washington Capitals bested the New Jersey Devils in hostile territory on Friday, so they invited the conquered down to Chinatown for another round. Mike Green, injured in the first duel, did not dress, replaced by the Giraffe Jeff Schultz. Brooks Laich played defense, and Alex Semin returned to action, where he immediately took an offensive zone penalty.

Troy Brouwer stole the puck and beat Hedberg for the night’s first goal. Carlson did his 70-footer thing, and a screening Chimera tipped it in to make it 2-0. Petr Sykora scored on a set play off the face off to end the shutout. Ryan Carter got a deflection to tie it up. From there we entered the shoot out, where way more stuff happened than I can record here. Suffice it to say: Devils beat Caps 3-2 via shoot out.

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Caps beat Devils 3-1, Mike Green Hurt, Alex Semin Benched

(Photo credit: Nick Laham)

After a two-game skid, the Washington Capitals started their home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils by playing some crummy hockey. Inexplicably, they won anyway.

12-year-old Adam Larsson scored the first goal of the game, which was also his first-ever NHL goal. Captain Alex Ovechkin found the perfect spot up front to rouse the Caps’ offense and make it 1-1. Jason Chimera exploited the Devils’ power play line change to score the Caps’ first shorthanded goal of the season. Marcus Johansson casually backhanded to give the Caps a two-goal lead. Caps beat Devils 3-1.

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New Jersey Devils: a Week from Hell, a Team from Jersey

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Editor’s Note: Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for RMNB. There’s this new thing called Twitter; look into it.

The Pre Game: Some weeks…  they exist to test our mettle. Or remind us of what’s truly important. This has been one of those weeks.

Joe Frazier

First came news of the passing of Smokin’ Joe Frazier. A brawler of the first order and a retired sports ambassador of highest rank, we were jolted first thing Monday to learn of his death at just 67. “Respect and admiration,” is how Muhammad Ali remembers him. We join our fellow Michigander in his descant.

We just wish it were with that kind of dignity and accolade that Joe Paterno could’ve retired, but this week wouldn’t have it. Sucked into the vortex of a repugnant scandal swirling around him or partly of his making (everyone else is judging so we leave it up to you), JoePa has coached his last Big Ten game, just one week after achieving what must have been a long-held goal – most wins of any Division I coach, ever. He has coached at Penn State as long as I’ve drawn breath. The alleged horrors of Coach Sandusky and the criminal process will stand on their own. The lingering acrid smell of individuals with their eye on something other than the children’s and players’ well-being hangs foul over Happy Valley.

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Carlson Looks Right at Home as Caps Blank Devils, 3-0

Neuvirth Save

Michal Neuvirth make a save on the bewildered $100 million dollar man (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett).

Veteran winger Mike Knuble netted two goals while registering one assist on the night. Photo credit: Andy Marlin

Veteran winger Mike Knuble netted two goals while registering one assist on the night. Photo credit: Andy Marlin

It’s easy to forget about John Carlson.

The rookie Washington Capitals defenseman logs 20 minutes a night, rarely makes stone-headed blunders and chips in the occasional pressure on transition.

Yet as the Caps nudge ever closer to clinching a fourth straight Southeast Division championship, Carlson’s rock-solid contributions are becoming increasingly harder to ignore.

The New Jersey native had two assists, logged almost 23 minutes of ice time and played nearly flawless hockey in a 3-0 shutout win of the New Jersey Devils. The win tied the Capitals for first place in the Eastern Conference with the Philadelphia Flyers and made an improbable New Jersey playoff bid seem even more unlikely.

Despite moving into third-place on the all-time Washington Capitals points list for rookies, Carlson was not named one of the three stars of the night. Yet his sharp work while joining the attack led to two goals, and his steadiness in the back helped the brilliant Michal Neuvirth register his fourth shutout and third since February 4.

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The Streak Ends: Wings Edge Caps, 3-2

Zetterberg's Second Goal

Sigh. (Photo credit: Dave Reginek)

The Capitals came back twice against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night, but it would be a matter of inches that would stop them from extending their winning streak to ten games.

The Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring at 12:23 at in first period, firing a one-timer over Caps ‘keeper Michal Neuvirth’s shoulder. Washington would get it right back, however, as John Carlson’s blast from the point found twine just 33 seconds later. D.J. King got his second point of season on the play. I know! Woo!!! Less than two minutes after the Caps tally, Detroit would once again jump out in front as Valtteri Flippula clogged up the crease and deflected Brian Rafalski’s slapper past Neuvirth.

Alex Ovechkin would tie things up once again under six minutes into the middle frame. After taking a nifty backhand pass from Alexander Semin, Ovi raced up the middle going one-on-one with Brad Stuart before firing a wicked wrist shot through Stuart’s legs. Boom! 2-2.

Midway through the third period, Zetterberg would knot his second tally of the night. He lifted the puck over Neuvirth’s head from a sharp angle as the Czech netminder hugged the post. The Capitals attempted to rally late and came this close to doing so as Semin’s wrist shot hit just off target, ringing the crossbar with just 20 seconds remaining. Streak over. Wings edge Caps, 3-2.

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