I’ve got mixed feelings about yesterday’s loss to the Nashville Predators. The first period was genuinely awful, and the game was filled with all sorts of narrative wretchedness concerning former teams and abandoned prospects, but the Caps put up an honest comeback effort, and Troy Brouwer’s contributions shouldn’t be dismissed.
That said, it’s all in the past now. Barry Trotz made some noise about having no short-term memory in this final stretch. I see the virtue in that. As the Caps prepare to take on the Rangers, I hope they can leave their behinds in the past.
It’s “Rivalry Night”, kiddos, and there’s nearly no better rivalry in the NHL right now than the Capitals and the Rangers.
Last time around– can you believe we’ve only played them once this season? — didn’t go so hot. We were fumbling and they were ascending. Things have turned around a bit, but tonight’s match is really just the beginning of the end of regular season play. We’ve only got three chances to nail these guys, and chance one starts tonight.
Both teams are coming off wins, but very different ones at that. The Sabres’ face-plant against the Caps was hardly a meaningful test, unlike Tuesday’s Rangers’ win over the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders. Add in the Pens, and you’ve got a fairly tight bunch at the top between those four teams.
Every Rangers post must include a shot of Lundqvist. It’s the law.
We’re both playing well, although the Caps have been getting a might sloppy of late, and both squads are in relatively decent condition, considering how deep we are into the season. On the Rangers side, handsome ol’ Henrik Lundqvist is still out, healing his pretty, pretty face, but so, too, might be Mike Green and Brooks Orpik, who are two D-men we do not want to lose.
Less meaningful, but more irritating, will be the likely flood of Rags fans who will pollute Verizon tonight. Some things are simply, self-evidently, inescapable. Death and taxes. Daylight Savings Time is stupid. And right up there, Rangers fans are just awful.
We reached out to the decidedly non-awful Neill Fowler — writer, owner, operator and bottle-washer at New York Rangers Blog — for some insight about the Rangers, and the second of what we expect will be several more meetings before this whole thing is through. He was good enough to share his thoughts after a tense, but ultimately successful, evening for the Rangers last night.
The Rangers come to town fresh off a 2-1 win over the Islanders last night. The Rangers are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. They currently sit second in the Metro, one point behind the Islanders and seven points ahead of the fourth place Caps. If the Caps hope to go far this Spring, they’ll likely have to go through the Blueshirts. Expect a playoff-like atmosphere at Verizon Center tonight.
On December 23, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Alex Trautwig
On Tuesday night, some of the Washington Capitals must have put on their kerchiefs and others their caps to settle in for a long winter’s nap. That would have been fine, but there was an NHL game scheduled against Metropolitan rivals, the New York Rangers. The Caps were not good for forty minutes and desperate for the remainder.
Rick Nash got a goal on the rush in the first period, and Martin St. Louis made it 2-0 with a wide-open, wide-angle shot on a second-period power play. Rick Nash scored a back-breaker in the third period, but Kuznetsov tied a rope around the Caps and hung them from a prison ceiling and then they were fine in time for the final act. Alex Ovechkin put an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot in the net to make it a one-goal game with less than ten minutes remaining.
Dumb penalties from Backstrom and Chimera neutered the Caps’ comeback attempt. Martin St. Louis converted a late-game power-play for the Rags. Sad trombone.
On December 23, 2014, In Pregame, By Peter Hassett
Chag Sameach, homies. We’ve got one more game before everyone shuts down for holiday silliness. Problem is– this game’s against the big bad New York Rangers. The Caps and the Rangers are pretty much in the same spot in the standings, so this game will factor big when it comes to sorting the Metro teams.
Join us, won’t you, on CSN for a 7 PM bout at Madison Square Garden. Bring the figgy pudding and adult egg nog. We won’t go until we get some. We won’t go until we get some. We won’t go until we get some. So score us some goals.
‘Tis the holiday season and we’re just going to go ahead and assume you’ve all been enjoying the pretty presents being handed out by our Capitals. Greenie going great, Ovi being unbelieoviable, Nicky being all under-stated and awesomely Swedie and such; Brooks and Braden and Beags and every other present that we really really REALLY want this year. (You know which one, Santa.)
We want those sweet, sweet holiday goodies to keep flowing – so no being naughty for us! At least until it’s safe to be smug jerks again. Thus we dispense with the reminders of the smelly awfulness of the Rags (we’re being nice!) and introduce you instead to Joe Fortunato, resident smarty and managing editor at Blueshirt Banter, for his thoughts on tonight’s tilt.
After the game, the fan base — and the team — seemed to hit the panic button. People on Twitter smashed their keyboards, pointing out Washington’s glaring defensive holes and overreliance on the power play. None of that, however, is anything new. It’s not likely to change before playoff time either.
On Saturday, Adam Oates came up with wacky line combinations in hopes of righting Washington’s four game skid. It didn’t work.
The game got off to an awful start when Rick Nash picked off a silly defensive zone pass from Dmitry Orlovto put New York up just 70 seconds in. Fifteen minutes later, Nash was at it again. A lack of spatial awareness led to two hooking penalties on the Caps. On the ensuing 5-on-3, the former Blue Jacket floated a weak wrister through Phillip Grubauer’s legs. About a minute and a half later, Derek Stepan put the nail in Washington’s coffin with a shot though traffic. Braden Holtby came in, but the game was already over.
Ovechkin tried to give the Caps life with a 5-on-3 bullet early in the second, but Ryan Callahan put Washington back in their place just 86 seconds later. This was never a game anyway. Rangers slam Caps 4-1.
On December 27, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Patrick McDermott
Welcome back, everybody! The Capitals returned to action on Friday night, hosting the New York Rangers and being good hosts by giving their guests the puck pretty much the whole time. What should have been a blowout ended favorably for the Caps, thanks to some singular efforts by a few players in red.
Mike Green cracked Rangers goalie Cam Talbot (yeah, really) with a nifty power play goal set up by Marty Erat. The Rangers evened it up in the second with a powerplay marker of their own, converted by Benoit Pouliot. After a ton of zone time for the Rangers, Steve Oleksy set Nick Backstrom solo upon the offensive zone where he put the Caps up 2-1 going into the third. Carl Hagelin got a shorty just a couple seconds into the final period, but Eric Fehr restored the Caps lead with a wrister from the circles.
On December 8, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Grabo. (Photo: Bruce Bennett)
It’s been a good weekend for Washington fans.
Wait, lemme take another swing at that.
It’s been a good weekend for Washington Capitals fans. After a convincing win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday, the Capitals popped the balloon of a goalie who has given them hell in recent months. An explosive second period gave the Caps a big lead, and the superb Philipp Grubauer had an answer for all but one Rangers shot.
After a scoreless first period, Jason Chimera finally ended Henrik Lundqvist’s shutout streak by paying the price in the paint. An outside shot by Steve Oleksy was deflected just 25 seconds later to make it 2-0. Mikhail Grabovski earned a penalty shot on a late-period breakaway, and he freaking roofed it with a point-blank slapper. The Caps held a 3-0 lead after forty minutes.
Nate Schmidt, yes, Nate Schmidt added one in the third, but Pouliot returned fire to break Grubi’s shutout before the buzzer. A bummer, but a great win.
On October 16, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Greg Fiume
Wednesday night’s bout between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was billed as “Rivalry Night.” I’m not so sure. While the recent Rags and Caps teams have certainly made like Crystal Lake camp counselors– hooking up every May– the games have been as trite as an overcooked slasher flick. Both teams grew more neanderthal and conservative in the last few years, making for some really stifled hockey. Under Adam Oates’ increasingly offensive system and Alain Vigneault’s canuckley deployment, I hold out hope this will change, but nothing about Caps-Rangers gets me excited.
Those feelings, it turns out, were justified. The Capitals put up maybe their worst game of the year.
Scoreless through the midway mark, the Rangers broke through with a sneaky far-off wrister by John Moore and then a close-up skill move by Ryan Callahan.