Photo: Tony Gutierrez
The Washington Capitals wrapped up the first week of the new season with a Saturday night date with the Dallas Stars. The Caps’ blistering power play kept on cracking, but the team looked aimless at even strength.
Alex Ovechkin did the power play thing, scoring the game’s first goal from his favorite spot. Following an unwise hard-around in the D-zone, Star Erik Cole tied it up from the slot, and Alex Chiasson (playing in his 8th NHL game) gave them the lead on a 3-on-2. A late-game delay of game from Tyler Seguin yielded some excitement in the final minute, but no goal.
Stars beat Caps 2-1.
The first puck of the 2013-14 season will drop in exactly 30 days, so we’re going to spend the whole month reminding ourselves of all the good things coming our way on October 1st. I thought I’d start with this little gem: Everybody’s healthy. For once.
Over the last two seasons, Mike Green, Brooks Laich, and Nick Backstrom have combined to play just 63.5% of games. Concussions and #brittlegroin have cost those players a combined 142 man-games, probably a big factor in the Caps’ struggles since 2011. After successful rehab for all three, we’ve got reason to think those troubles are behind us now.
Yet again. (Photo credit: USA Today)
Alex Ovechkin sat on the bench, glaring down at the ice with his head between his hands. He looked defeated, because he was. His sixth visit to the Stanley Cup Playoffs was about to end in another disappointing loss, after another year failing to meet expectations.
After the game, Ovi stood in front the white board at the far end of the Capitals locker room and went off.
I am not saying there was a phone call from [the NHL], but someone just wanted Game 7. For the ratings; you know, the lockout, escrow, the league needs to make profit.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
Game three of the quarterfinal series between the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers was an opportunity for a statement. The Capitals could have played just as they had last week and put NYR in a headlock. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Capitals got drawn into a quagmire on rocky ice– a penalty-punctuated, back-and-forth battle that they could not win despite dominating the even-strength game.
Rangers beat Capitals 4-3. Capitals still lead the series 2-1.
[Ed. note: Jason Rogers, Sperm Whale captain and hockey Hemingway, is back for your amuse bouche. But be warned: do not take his insights as mere foam on the web: so far, he’s been more spot on than Vinnie “Legs” Baggodonnouts. You are warned. Follow him now here. Thus endeth the editor’s finger-wagging.]The Early Morning Skate: Like a piece of old taffy or an oft-abused Slinky, this season is reaching its final stretch. The Washington Capitals sit a few points out from the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and on Tuesday the good guys from DC take I-95 South (avoid the mixing bowl!) to North Carolina to face the Staal & Staal Traveling Circus, featuring “Sasha the Incredible Human Enigma?”
This will be the fourth of five meetings this season between our Caps and the Tropical Depressions, and it is time for this Washington team to decide whether it wants to spend May playing hockey or golf. Watch and learn.
The Mourning Skate: What is the length of one point? Is it the width of one puck crossing or not crossing the goal line? Is it the size of one of John “Towelie” Carlson’s skate edges slipping and giving the other team a breakaway? Is it the distance between wherever the first round of the playoffs is held and Jeff “Sgt.” Schultz’s favorite local golf course?
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
DFL. The Washington Capitals came into Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers in dead last place. Not in the southeast, not in the east. In the whole damn league.
Here’s the part where they turn it around.
Halfway into the game, Bruno Gervais sent a loose puck deep into Holtby’s net. Nick Backstrom tied it up with his first goal of the year, a patient deke to beat Ilya Bryzgalov one-on-one late in the second. Troy Brouwer took the lead with a brilliant near-side roofer. Wojtek Wolksi robbed Baby Schenn and put a one-touch goal on Bryz to make it 3-1. The Flyers got one back with a Brayden Schenn rocket right as the power play expired.
Caps beat Flyers 3-2.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
Swedish site Sveriges Television is reporting that Nick Backstrom has signed with Alex Ovechkin‘s KHL team, Dynamo Moscow, for the remainder of the lockout. Details are sketchy, and who knows how long the lockout will last, but it seems like the band is getting back together. Kinda/sorta.
According to SVT (and via the inscrutable magic of Google Translate) Backstrom said, “I want to play hockey and this will be a fun challenge.” Backstrom also says Ovechkin convinced him to sign.
This is great news for the two BFFs, but let’s hope CBA negotiations this week result in an even bigger reunion soon.
Photo: Chris Gordon. Guy on TweetDeck: Adam Vingan
The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.
I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)
After the first two games of the quarterfinal round, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas is sporting a .964 save percentage, having stopped 54 of the 56 shots he has faced. Last season’s Vezina and Conn Smythe winner, Thomas has already had a successful follow-up campaign, earning a 35-19-1 record during the regular season. He is the calm core of Boston’s defense and a reliable presence to backstop the league’s third best offense.
But Thomas’s composure came somewhat unspooled on Saturday night. After a whistle, he punched the previously concussed Nick Backstrom, who ended up scoring the game-winner in double overtime. While Thomas escaped without the match penalty recommended in rule 51.3 for goalies who use a blocker pad to punch a skater, he has not escaped the attention and ire of the Washington Capitals and their fans.
Games Three and Four of the series will be played in DC, and we just figured out precisely how we will troll.
Neuvy smirks after taking a Rene Bourque slapshot off the mask. (Via @WashCapsRock)
The Washington Capitals’ season is still on shaky ground. Buffalo’s loss to Pittsburgh on Friday kept their hopes alive, but Saturday’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens held huge determinative power. Perfect time for a Comebackstrom.
After having his initial shot blocked, Alex Semin found a wide-open Mathieu Perreault in the slot, for a one-timer. 1-0 Caps. Unguarded in front of the net, Matt Hendricks hit Jay Beagle with a cross-crease pass to put the good guys up 2. Erik Cole then scored a momentum-killing goal with one minute left to go in the first.
In the second period, the Canadiens dominated. Tomas Plekanec tied it up when he went around a slow-skating Roman Hamrlik and scored on the backhand.
After multiple scoring chances for both teams in the third period, the game went to Overtime. Then the shootout. Thanks to goals by Matt Hendricks and Alex Semin, Caps win 3-2.
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