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.
On March 31, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
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.
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.
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.
On February 10, 2012, In Opinion, By Peter Hassett
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.
[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 Backstromtook 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.
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.
The Puck Drop: Hey everybody! It’s a pajama party! Whooot! ZOMG, we’re gonna stay up late, an we’re gonna make popcorn, an an we’re gonna have hot chocolate! An an an we’re gonna get in our PJs and an an an we’re gonna watch the Caps! Squeeee!!!
News Update!Dit-dit-dit-dah-dit-dit-deee-dit! Realignment on hold! Flash – Icers cry Foul on Fall festivities! Yups, the players union has turned nose down at the realignment plan handed down from on high. We’ll have more in the coming days. Stay tuned to this station…and now, we return you to your regular programming.
On January 3, 2012, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Ovi celebrates an early powerplay goal. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
The Washington Capitals entered the new year with three wins in their rear-view and a convalesced Mike Green. Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames stopped in D.C. at the worst time.
Alex Ovechkin scored on the first shot of the night, a power play rocket one just 71 seconds in. Troy Brouwer crashed the net for number two, but Curtis Glencross got one back by snatching a behind-the-goal pass from Iginla. Nick Backstrom set up Dennis Wideman for the Caps’ third goal. Caps beat Flames 3-1.