Photo credit: @matt71royer

We learned a week ago that Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee can get quite animated during games. During the third period of Game Seven, McPhee’s emotions boiled over late while the Caps power play sputtered.

The Capitals trailed from the onset, but they suffered what seemed to be a death blow when Michael Del Zotto rifled a shot past Braden Holtby to put the Rangers up 2-0 with 9:55 to go in the final frame. A goal from Roman Hamrilk gave the team life just 38 seconds later, and then the Capitals got a gift: Ruslan Fedotenko‘s delay-of-game penalty.

But instead of converting the man advantage, the Caps squandered it in an embarrassing fashion, setting up shorthanded chances for the Rangers and spending most of their time stuck in their own zone. The low point was when one of the Caps attempted a dangerous no-look pass that nearly ended up in their own net.

CBC caught McPhee in the rafters watching the mess. He was — uh — unhappy.

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The End of the Road

Photo credit: Paul Bereswill

The Washington Capitals played their season on the edge of a knife. After losing Bruce Boudreau and picking up Dale Hunter in November, the Caps adopted a style of play that yielded smaller margins of victory, but more rarely imploded spectacularly.

Tonight the Capitals lost their final coin toss.

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Caps Fans Are Ready for Game Seven

Samuel Miller’s pump-up video for Game Seven. Goosebumps!

Tonight, the Washington Capitals will try to do what they so awesomely did to Boston 17 days ago: knock off a higher-seed in their own barn. If the Caps manage to beat the Rangers in Game Seven, they’ll advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 14 years. And just like a few weeks ago, Caps fans are doing whatever they can to send up their good karma to the Big Apple.

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Photo via: Bruce Arthur

The Rangers have been advertising for Eastern Conference Finals tickets since before Game Five, but apparently that just wasn’t a big enough jinx for New Yorkers, they wanted to see if they could top it.

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Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

Of the 12 playoff games the Capitals have been a part of so far, 11 were won by the team scoring the first goal. Needless to say, with the Caps’ back against the wall in an elimination game tonight, that first goal became pretty important. We didn’t have to wait long.

Jason Chimera drew a penalty within the first minute of play, and Alex Ovechkin scored on a beautiful PP sequence at exactly 88 seconds into the first period. He does have a flair for the dramatic.

Video is below the jump.

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Game Six: This Means Ward!


Photo credit: John Tlumacki

The Capitals are back in Washington with a chance to keep their season alive. It didn’t have to be that way. With half a minute left to protect their lead in Game Five, Joel Ward high-sticked Carl Hagelin. The ensuing Rangers powerplay cost the Capitals the lead and the win– and what would have been a veritable chokehold on the series.

After he bested the Bruins in the quarterfinal round, Ward was the target of some vile and feckless trash from Boston fans. After his double-minor penalty led to Monday’s loss, that same pernicious evil erupted from Caps fans as well.

Here are Three True Things:

  1. Joel Ward is not at fault for the team’s loss.
  2. This hate is as rare as it is unacceptable.
  3. Joel Ward is a great hockey player and a great addition to the ’11-’12 Washington Capitals.

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The biggest jinx since the Oil Painting. (Photo credit: Ted Starkey)

On Monday– many, many hours before the Capitals and Rangers took the ice for Game Five– the New York Rangers sent out an email encouraging its fans to buy tickets for the Eastern Conference Finals. But they left out one tiny little detail: they haven’t made the finals yet.

While we understand the need to sell tickets, this overdone graphic — which shows half the team doing a stick salute in Narnia or something, is pompous and ludicrous. The New York Rangers have lost their last two playoff series against the Capitals. You’d think they’d know better.

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This guy. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Washington Capitals went back to the dimly lit den of sin called Madison Square Garden on Monday night. Against the New York Rangers, with whom they were tied 2-2 in the series, the Caps struggled to muster the offense that had characterized their last couple games, but they did have a little traction on the power play. Unfortunately for them, however, the Rangers had more.

Anton Stralman got a softy on Braden Holtby in a dominant first period for the Rangers. The tide turned in the second period, and Brooks Laich evened it up with a sneaky snap after an offensive-zone faceoff.

John Carlson earned the lead with a barrage of slap shots on a third-period power play. But in the final 20 seconds of the game, Joel Ward’s high-sticking penalty gave Brad Richards the tying goal. With 7 freaking seconds left.

So we went to overtime once more, but it didn’t last long. Marc Staal ended it on the power play.  Rangers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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New York and the Rangers: Rotten Apple


Photo credit: Movie Vault

Editor’s note: The playoff series gives Caps fans a chance to learn all about our stupid rivals and the exotic (i.e., terrible) places they come from. For the second of their Stanley Cup travelogue series, the PuckBuddys offer “How To Spot A Rangers Fan” and helpfully explain why a trip to Manhattan is only slightly worse than a colonoscopy. Follow @PuckBuddys.

Sometimes literary fiction can teach us something great and truthy. I’m thinking here about timeless classics like “Escape from New York,” “The Stand”, or “I Am Legend” (Will Smith version, duh). In these worlds, Manhattan’s streets are littered with drooling ghouls, shuffling corpses and brainless zombies, with a few rapists tossed in for good measure. The entire island is alternately either a prison or a graveyard, both equally wretched, and always there’s one or two smart people trying desperately to flee, usually to Washington.

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Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

After the grueling march of disappointment that was Game Three, we expected a rallying effort from the Caps. But we weren’t naive enough to expect a different kind of game. We know by now that the Capitals are capable of playing only one-goal games. What we didn’t know is that they could get goals out of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green in the same game. It was like 2009 up in here.

Here’s how it went:  After a battle in the corner, Alex Ovechkin ripped a one-timer that beat Lundqvist’s glove for the game’s first goal.

Artem Anisimov tied it up early in the second by beating Braden Holtby, who was left helpless when Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin couldn’t block a weirdly bouncing pass. Nick Backstrom reasserted the lead by tenderizing Artem Anisimov and then putting Chimera’s pass in the net. Artem Anisimov won an icing race against Jeff Schultz and set up Marian Gaborik for another tying goal through Holtby’s five-hole.

Mike Green put the Caps up with a powerplay goal late in the third. It was the game-winner. Caps beat Rangers 3-2.

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