I officially renounce my every-other-game theory about Alex Ovechkin. For a few weeks, Ovi would do something ridiculous in a game and then take the next night off. Except now he’s doing it every single game. Not to be greedy but the Caps are gonna need even more of Ovi’s magic for Saturday’s matinee match-up against the New York Islanders.
Saturday’s is the first of three games within the Metropolitan division, in which the Caps currently find themselves in second place. It’s gonna be a big week.
The game is on CSN. Puck drops a little after 12:30.
That’s a pretty impressive run for the Caps. Here’s each Metro team’s record from December 4 to February 6.
A few days removed from Adam’s tweet, the Caps now sit three points behind the Islanders and two behind the Penguins. Let’s take a look, at the team level, at some of the possible underlying factors behind the Caps’ substantial gains in the standings since early December.
On December 29, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Kathy Kmonicek
At first, the Caps weren’t prepared to compete against the New York Islanders. Head coach Barry Trotz left two good players without sweaters. Instead, he put weak link Jason Chimera on the top line. The Isles outcompeted the Caps in the first period with their superior compete level, which was levels above the compete level of the Caps, but then the Caps leveled up their compete level in the third to tie the game in dramatic fashion and force overtime.
Anders Lee scored for the Islanders in the first period off a ridiculous deflection. New York made it 2-0 in the second period when Lubomir Visnovsky banked a shot off Brooks Orpik and behind Holtby. In the third, Calvin DeHaan scored shorthanded after Evgeny Kuznetsov choked the puck up in front of the Caps net.
Very marginal player Eric Fehr crashed the net to beat Jaroslav Halak and set himself decidedly on fire. On the rush, Ovechkin set up Backstrom for a gorgeous goal. Ovi got one of his own with a lightning bolt of a goal off a late-game face-off. The Caps withstood a late-game double-minor penalty by Kuznetsov long enough to earn a point and force overtime, but Johnny Boychuk won it during 4v3.
Barring a postseason meeting, tonight will be the last time the Washington Capitals will ever play at Nassau Coliseum.
Nassau is a weird beast, smallish by NHL standards, hard to reach using mass transit, but beloved for its legacy and dumpy-ness nonetheless.
It was here that Bossy scored at will. It was here that Potvin won three Norrises. It was here that Dale Hunter made the cheapest of cheap shots (and earned what was at the time the longest suspension in league history).
The Isles brought the Cup home to Nassau four times– in a freaking row– in the early eighties. Now, at the edge of 2015, I wouldn’t be too surprised if they do it again. The Isles are a good team, and they’d certainly like to make Nassau proud before they move to Brooklyn, the edge of the island, at the start of next season.
7 on PM on CSN. Let’s say goodbye to the old dump together. Go Caps.
On November 28, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
“Red rover, Red rover, send Niskanen over!” (Photo: Rob Carr)
The Washington Capitals looked terrible for the first ten minutes of their home game against the New York Islanders, and no, I won’t blame the turkey. But instead of a lackluster affair, the Caps woke up and played a competitive game against one of the league’s best– a reward for the 18 thousand fans in attendance and the return of my personal Caps anthem below the jump.
The Capitals’ second power-play unit took the ice in the first period thirty seconds before Matt Niskanen unloaded his cannon through traffic to make it 1-0. A glorious snap shot from Marcus Johansson gave the Caps their first 5v5 goal in forever and made it 2-0, but hold on a sec. In the next 66 seconds, the Capitals’ bottom six allowed two goals– one from John Tavares and one from Anders Lee, to neutralize the two-goal lead before the first intermission.
Tom Wilson absorbed a bunch of Isles defenders to open up a seam for Alex Ovechkin to score halfway through the second period.
In the third, Evgeny Kuznetsov feasted upon his second-line spot, scoring at the tail-end of an offensive-zone shift, sliding into the high slot and ripping the puck top shelf. Joel Ward got the empty-netter and there was much rejoicing.
With a 1.2 percent chance of a postseason, the Washington Capitals were basically playing for pride against the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon. I’m supposed to be analyzing these games in addition to just recapping them, but I’m having a hard time sussing out exactly what we just watched.
Are they thick and proud? Are they a mess? Is all coming together? Is there any urgency? Are they surging late? Have they given up?
I’m gonna go with contradictory yes across the board. The Caps went into a two-goal hole, and then climbed out, and I don’t know what to make of that.
Cal Clutterbuck struck first for the Isles, taking advantage of the Brouillette-Strachan defensive pairing. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it up in the second period after a pass from Marcus Johansson that was either brilliant or dumb luck. The Isles struck back 90 seconds later, as a Caps opponent is wont to do. Frans Nielsen made it 3-1 for the Isles on an iffy goal, but Nicky Backstrom returned fire a little after the halfway mark by cleaning up a broken play. The third line (Mojo edition) continued to be insane-o with Joel Ward’s game-tying goal, his 23rd of the season.
The third period was quiet. Too quiet. Overtime too. So, here we go again…
On February 4, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Strachan vs Martin (Photo: Patrick Smith)
They’re not all barnburners. Some games merely are. They start, sixty minutes pass, and then they’re over. Tuesday’s Capitals-Islanders game wasn’t completely free of drama, but it was a low-scoring, mostly sleepy affair. Every time something cool was about to happen, a countervailing uncool thing (whiff, penalty, Milbury) canceled it out. Worst of all, the Caps lost.
The game went scoreless for 42 minutes until Andrew MacDonald’s muffin floated past Neuvirth. Is that it? Yeah, that’s it. That’s dumb.
On November 30, 2013, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Ballgame. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
Like the Bond marathon on SyFy over the last few days, the Washington Capitals are a fickle thing. Lately, the Caps have mixed the sublime elegance of the Sean Connery era with the confusing stupor of the Timothy Dalton movies. More often than not, it’s been the latter.
Plainly, they didn’t deserve to win yesterday’s game. Only the godlike brilliance of Eric Fehr kept the Caps from a fifth straight loss. They did win, however, and got their tired asses on a plane to hell Long Island this morning. With Braden Holtby making his second start in as many days, the setup for this one didn’t look good.
Washington’s start, however, was better than we’ve come to expect. Though New York handily outshot them early, the Caps controlled possession. The teams traded chances, with no one converting. Hey, that’s better than being 3-0 after 20!
As usual, the Caps got it going in the second. The period was filling with odd-man breaks and open looks for Washington, with the fourth line converting midway through the frame. Martin Erat – yes, that one — made a nice play behind the net before setting up the puck for Tom Wilson, who fired it on net. Aaron Volpatti did the net crashing thing to put the Caps on the board.
In the third, though, the Isles got the goal back — and they did on a Caps power play. Four minutes into the period, local pariah Mike Green missed a pinch and CalClutterbuck took the puck the other way on a breakaway. Yeah, it was awful. Then, Thomas Vanek gave the Isles the lead with some whacking in front, to Braden’s dismay. With less than two minutes left, this one looked over. HOWEVER… Nicklas Backstrom was stone cold clutch, converting in front with the Caps down a man. In overtime, the big Russian — that would be Alex Ovechkin — did his thing. Boom. Crazy times. Caps top Isles 3-2 (OT).