The Washington Capitals are currently on a four-game win streak and have a record of 17-7-3. You might expect them to be jumping out to a mondo Metropolitan Division lead just like they did last year. But as NHL.com reported Monday morning, the Metro division cumulatively went 17-1-0 last week, and the Caps gained no ground despite their win streak. They sit in fifth place in the division despite their solid record, although they have games in hand on everyone other than the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Philadelphia Flyers are on a nine-game win streak. The Penguins are 7-3-0 in their last ten and feature the league’s current leading goal-scorer in Sidney Crosby (20 goals in 22 games). The New York Rangers have a plus-35 goal differential, and the Blue Jackets are somehow plus-31. This is not last year’s Metro division.
It was foam blinking thing night at Verizon Center. Fittingly, the Washington Capitals delivered a headache of a hockey game.
Things started auspiciously when Lars Eller scored his first goal with the Capitals just 93 seconds into the game after an excellent setup by Brooks Orpik! Alex Ovechkin added another one late in the period when his wrist shot went by a screened Henrik Lundqvist.
The second period was a disaster. First, Brandon Pirri scored from the high slot after a defensive misplay by the Caps. Then Jimmy Vesey netted his second and third career goals in quick succession. On just five shots, the Rangers scored three goals while controlling possession.
The Caps couldn’t mount a comeback in the third. Rick Nash got the empty netter. Rangers beat Caps 4-2.
Shall we try for a fourth win? I think we should. Tonight, the Caps are facing the New York Rangers at the Verizon Center. You could consider this a fun little Metropolitan Division match up, or ‘Lundqvist vs. Holtby: The Battle of the Goalie Baes’. I hate saying ‘bae’, but this is really my only exception.
How are the Rangers looking these days? Fine. The Rangers are currently sitting third in the division at four standings points while we sit first with seven. You’ll want to tune in to keep an eye out for some entertaining Rangers line juggling as coach Alain Vigneault will be trying to break that .500 against your team. Defenseman Dan Girardi is not expected to play after his groin injury last Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
After tonight, we won’t see the boys for a bit as they begin a week-long journey through Canada for some late night games. So soak in the regular start time and the VC rumble because you’ll never hear it again (until November 3). Puck drop is just past 7 pm on CSN, let’s party.
|Team||Record||Possession||PDO||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|New York Rangers||2-2-0||54.22%||99.1||14.3%||81.3%|
Photo: Geoff Burke
“Imploded,” “epic tantrum,” “baby stuff”: that’s what the New York tabloids looked like after the Rangers’ 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers wondered aloud how they were going stuff the NHL’s best team the following night, the same one that leads them by 18 points for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Capitals made it pretty easy for them in the first. Less than six minutes into the game, Braden Holtby turned the puck over before Ryan McDonagh fired a shot from the point that took down Jesper Fast and Brooks Orpik. Dan Girardi then launched the loose puck towards the net. Fast shoveled it past Braden Holtby before Orpik even knew what was going on. Later in the period, the Rangers camped in the Capitals’ zone after a Karl Alzner tripping penalty. After New York hit two posts, Keith Yandle unleash a bullet past Holtby.
In the second, the Capitals began to turn things around, taking the lead in shots on goal and shot attempts on Jay Beagle’s first goal since returning to the lineup after the Capitals poked Antti Raanta like your they were your grandma on Facebook and you were you. The Caps continued to press the pace in the second, drawing a late period penalty. On the ensuing power play, T.J. Oshie flew into the zone, scored his 19th goal of the season, and busted his face to tie the game.
In the third, a sloppy turnover by Dmitry Orlov gave New York the lead. The Caps came close, but couldn’t come back from the early hole. No more of these guys until seven game playoff series that ends in disaster. Rangers beat Caps 3-2.
Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images
Happy Friday! Tonight, the Rangers are in town for the last time this season.
Henrik Lundqvist Antii Raanta and Co. will pretend that snatching two points from the Caps is remotely meaningful. In case you forgot, there’s an 18-point cushion between the Caps and the Rangers.
After a day off, let’s see if the Caps can manage to win a game by more than a single goal. Tonight kicks off another back-to-back for the good guys, who are undefeated in the month of March.
7 PM. CSN-DC+. GET HYPE.
|Team||Record||Possession||PDO||Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|Washington Capitals||47-14-4||51.5%||101.8||23.9% (1st)||84.5% (4th)|
|New York Rangers||37-21-6||48.6%||102.6||17.2% (24th)||77.6% (25th)|
Photo: Rob Carr
When the Capitals signed Mike Richards to a $1 million, one-year contract on January 6, Washington head coach Barry Trotz forecasted that the former Flyers and Kings forward would make his debut against the Anaheim Ducks on January 22 at Verizon Center. Richards hadn’t played since last April after having his contract voided by the Los Angeles Kings over the summer.
“There’s no assurances in anything, in life,” Trotz said at the time.
But after seeing Richards quickly get his legs under him and adapt to the Capitals’ system, Trotz had Richards debut almost a week earlier than planned when he skated on Washington’s fourth line on Saturday night in Buffalo.
“I probably went into this weekend thinking maybe in the seven-, eight-minute range,” Trotz said Sunday night, referring to Richards’s ice time. “Seven to eight minutes in the first game and seven to eight minutes in the second. Probably 10 at the high end.”
Despite a 4-1 Capitals loss, Richards was fantastic on Saturday, skating over 13 minutes, including a stellar three minutes spent penalty killing. One day later, Richards skated nearly 12 minutes against the New York Rangers. He spent another three minutes on Washington’s shorthanded unit, which was perfect in four opportunities.
“What you see is how competitive he is,” said Trotz. “You can skate all you want in practice, but when the game is happening there’s a fire inside that young man.”
Photo: Rob Carr
Speaking about Saturday night’s 4-1 loss to the Sabres, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz said the team “didn’t invest enough in the game.” That seems like a stupider way of talking about “compete level.” Nevertheless, the Capitals diversified their assets tonight! Or whatever. I’m a liberal arts major.
The Rangers got the jump early, outshooting the Caps 5-1 in the opening 10 minutes. Just past the halfway mark of the first period, Chris Kreider converted on that zone time, tipping a Ryan McDonagh shot from the point past a helpless Braden Holtby. Late in the period, however, the Caps vaunted power play got them back-in when Alex Ovechkin stepped out of his office to fire a wrist shot past Antti Raanta, making his first start in 11 games.
In the second, it was the power play again. This time Nicklas Backstrom fired a brilliant pass from the half wall to Marcus “Soft Serve” Johansson, who tapped-in the puck for the go-ahead tally. Washington added to their lead with a Taylor (!) Scorney, but the goal was later awarded to Justin Williams, who got a stick on the shot. Kreider put the Rangers back within one off a broken play in the slot, another one Holtby had little chance of stopping.
The final frame sealed DC’s win as J-Will added another tip-in tally before hitting the empty net (well, the Rangers helped) for his second career hat trick. Caps beat Rangers 5-2!
Photo: Bill Wippert
Last night didn’t work out great for the Washington Capitals. Outplayed and outscored by a scrappy upstart Buffalo Sabres team, the Caps had one of those rare losses. Today at 5 PM they’ll be in peril of doing it again at the hands of New York Rangers, a team headed in the opposite direction of the Sabres but just as dangerous.
Tune in at 5 PM on CSN. Chris Gordon will have your deep-tissue Swedish massage with aromatherapy and recap.
Photo: Bruce Bennett
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals as the Capitals beat the New York Rangers 4-3 (OT) at Madison Square Gardens on Saturday evening. Ovechkin and Justin Williams had put the Caps 2-0 up but the Rangers fought back in the third period to lead 3-2. Nicklas Backstrom equalised with 5.7 seconds remaining and Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal 1:25 into overtime to take him to 499 NHL career goals.
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