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 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.
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.
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.
Alex Semin interferes with Mattias Tedenby (Photo credit: Andy Marlin)
The last game before the holiday break featured the Washington Capitals in desolation against the New Jersey Devils. The Caps looked desperately weak for most of the game, digging a deep hole. But the third period was an explosion of Caps offense– one of the best comebacks in recent history. Still, the gimmick loomed.
Ilya Kovalchuk struck on a power play in the second period, a dribbling puck between Neuvirth’s pads. Not long later, Alexander Urbom scored on a defenseless net to make it 2-0. Adam Henrique chipped one in from up close to make it dire.
Brooks Laich used some speed and a Wideman pass to get the Caps on the board. Jason Chimera crashed the net and made it a one-goal game. Then Chimera tied it up at the end of a long offensive shift.
Into the shootout, where the Devils came out on top. Devils beat Caps 4-3 (SO), but the Caps take home one well earned standings point.
The Puck Drop: So, class, pencils down. What have we learned this weekend, hmm? Anyone? Anyone?
Well one of the things we’ve learned is that Coach Dale Hunter really isn’t like Coach Bruce Boudreau. As a player or as a coach. Yes, do we remember that? Do we also remember how Dennis Wideman got gipped out of a hat trick by some fusty clock-watchers in Toronto? Recall that? And… and another lesson; do we all remember how confusing it is to watch the Capitals play game to game? That roller-coaster – yeah, remember that? Awake one night, asleep the next? Hmmm?
It’s AH (Anno Hunteramus) 1, and so far we’re breaking even with genuinely mixed performances. A few months back, before “The Troubles“, we spanked the Flyers 5-2 in their own barn, with Hamrlik (remember when he was hot?) knocking in the GWG and Vokoun in the net. And here we are today. It’s cold, but Hamrlik is sorta hot again – or at least not cold cabbage – and Raccoon is once again starting to show a little of his elite-ness.
So, class, this Tuesday, which Capitals team do you think will show up? Hmm? Bueller?
Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
When we went to bed on Friday, Dennis Wideman was the possessor of a hat trick. His three-goal night versus Toronto was the first by a defenseman for the Caps in a decade, the first overall by the Caps this season, and the first of Dennis’ career. It was also the first 3 PPG game among defensemen in the NHL since 2006.
This morning, the NHL updated the game’s scoring (via WaPo’s Katie Carrera), giving that final power play goal to Brooks Laich for his 7th on the season. Nick Backstrom loses his secondary assist, knocking him down to 31 points.
Wideman still takes from the night four power play points (2G, 2A) and the first multi-goal game of his career, but all those hats you threw on the ice are now a fraud. And he’s still minus-1 on the night. Dennis admitted as much on Friday night, but you should still blame it all on stupid old Brooksy.
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
Dale Hunter recorded the first two wins of his NHL career against Canadian teams. After tonight’s date between the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs, you can make it three.
Dennis Wideman caught Mike Knuble’s pass and converted the PP. Dennis Wideman threaded the needle and converted the PP. (Phil Kessel scored.) Dennis Wideman fed Nick Backstrom, who converted the PP. (From the blue line, Cody Franson slipped one past a screened Vokoun.) Dennis Wideman converted the PP. Caps beat Leafs 4-2.
????? (Photo credit: Jana Chytilova)
The Washington Capitals’ only win under Coach Hunter came from the Ottawa Senators, whom they met again on Wednesday. It was their second meeting in a week, and it was freaking terrific.
Jeff Halpern recovered Dennis Wideman’s rebound to make it 1-0. With Vokoun and Erskine bobbling the puck, Erik Condra took a stab and tied it up. Nick Foligno combined speed and patience to score just as the power play expired. Brooks Laich set up Nick Backstrom, who roofed the tying goal on the power play. Alex Ovechkin looped around the Ottawa net, suckered his defender, and loosed the go-ahead goal. Troy Brouwer piled on 15 seconds later with his Gordie Howe Hat Trick goal. Milan Michalek needed like 5 milliseconds to score on a late-game power play. John Carlson sniped the empty netter. Caps beat Sens 5-3.
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