Caps beat Flyers 3-2: Have They Turned a Corner?

patrick mcdermott

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.

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Report: Nick Backstrom Joins Alex Ovechkin at Dynamo Moscow

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.

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Prescriptions for Game Four: Win It For Nicky Signs

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.)

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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.

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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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Video: Nicklas Backstrom Skates for Fifth Straight Day

Photo via dumpnchase.com

With the Capitals spending their St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago (and its ludicrous dyed-green river), news from Kettler is almost non-existent. Thankfully, our boy Dave provides the skinny on Nick Backstrom, who continues to skate on his own.

Follow us past the jump for videos of Backstrom looking good, taking laps and firing shots.

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Winnipeg Jets Pregame: The Circus Has Left Town

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s Craig Brownstein of PuckBuddys. Tweet at ‘em.

Cycling the Puck in a 24-Hour News Cycle

Malcontents, flamers, and haters: Gentle readers, Doug is taking a pass on the WPG pregamer and it’s in my mostly capable hands today. True story – He’s penning his RMNB resignation letter and is negotiating with the New York Times on placement, word count, accompanying artwork, and possible liability issues. If I’m reading his RMNB pregaming instructions correctly (which he scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin), this is where I: A. Write opposing team’s city smells. B. Call their fans are ill-mannered, uncultured, uneducated, slovenly, and slack-jawed. C. Say opposing players are “stupid morons with ugly faces and a big butts and their butt smells and they like to kiss my butt.” D. Sit back and enjoy the smug satisfaction of being a hockey blogger.

But no. This game, the march to the playoffs and the gravity of the Caps precarious spot requires much more than just infantile name-calling. The seriousness of the situation screams out for far more elevated and sober commentary, which in this case means adolescent hectoring. And I’m the right man for the job.

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Photo credit: Chris Gordon

Tonight the Caps are holding a casino night for charity. The sold-out event is sponsored by Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, whose blackjack tables are totally rigged I think. The event is very wholesome, and all proceeds will go to Caps charities. That’s a much better way to waste money than, say, benching Mike Knuble and his $2M contract so you can play Jay Beagle’s lanky ass instead.

There’s one problem: Nick Backstrom is going. NB19, as you know, hasn’t played hockey since suffering a concussion at the hands of Rene Bourque in early January.

You guys gotta promise me you’ll be cool hanging out with Nicky tonight. He’s had a rough go of it lately. For that reason, RMNB has compiled a list of things you should keep in mind as you rub elbows with Backstrom and fritter away cash at the event.

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Capitals During Wartime: Centerless

[Editors note: over the next month, we'll be looking at the challenges the Capitals face, the trade deadline, and the playoff chase. It's not gonna be fun, but we gotta do this.]

When Nick Backstrom took a blow to the head from Rene Bourque on January 3rd, the Capitals lost the service of their number-one center. Backstrom was on track for a better than 80-point season, which would have been a strong recovery from the slump of ’10-’11. Instead, the team lost the anchor for its top line and its most productive forward.

Without Backstrom, the Capitals have only three strong options for centers: Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, Jeff Halpern. Additionally, Mathieu Perreault, Cody Eakin, and Matt Hendricks have done center duty in a pinch. Meanwhile, the Capitals offense has  been shut out twice in the last three games and have averaged only 23 shots on goal since mid-December. That’s just not good enough.

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Carolina Hurricanes Preview: Point Break

Doug Johnson: Puck Buddy, dog owner, hockey fan, public intellectual. Follow @PuckBuddys.  

The Pregame: So you gotta give credit where it’s due. Whatever your political leanings (ours is usually doubled over, holding our stomachs, in the loo) that ol’ Newton Leroy Gingrich gets points for some sassy thinking. Seems then-Speaker Stay-Puft, some six years into an affair with a young House staffer (and Tiffany connoisseur) named Calista, basically told his wife Marianne that she would need to “share” him with his mistress. (There we are in the loo again.) At least, this according to ex-wife Marianne – no, not the one he divorced while she was in the hospital, that was a totes different wife! – who basically told Newt to get stuffed. He dumps her, marries the mistress who promptly begins a powerful benziodiazepine regimen (we’re making that part up) and now all is lollipops, the end.

We bring this up, in part because it’s still a larf-riot, but also because we’re doing some sassy thinkin’ of our own. Let’s just say, completely hypothetical here, that you’re the GM of a professional sports team with loads of potential but some underperforming talent. What to do? You want to keep him; sure, who doesn’t? But maybe you could also find a comely, pliable team somewhere else that may just want to share a little of his upkeep and tending while making you look genius. Everyone wins, right?

And thus American civic life dies a muffled death.

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