On December 21, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
First of many for Andrew Gordon. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
That is how you do it! The Washington Capitals have done the unthinkable: playing two smart games back to back.
Who better to get us started that Andrew Gordon? His goal-crashing shot off a speedy Marcus Johansson pass was the night’s first goal and the first of Andrew’s NHL career. (We knew you could do it!) The Devils responded with a Patrik Elias whizzer from above the circles, expertly screened by former Cap Danius Zubrus. Hershey’s own Jay Beagle returned fire with a chip-in up close. On a breakaway. Jason Chimera brushed off a hook and converted. Alex Ovechkin pulled an honest-to-goodness statue-of-liberty play with John Carlson, who launched a neutrino puck into Marty Brodeur’s net. Finally, Mike Knuble gingerly diverted a Tom Poti shot for the free wings. Caps beat Devils 5-1.
On December 4, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Burmistrov’s devastating chip shot eludes Varlamov. (Photo by Luis M. Alvarez)
It’s not like the Washington Capitals have a hard time getting pumped up for a intra-division game. Facing the Atlanta Thrashers at home tonight, the Caps put a season-high 46 pucks on net (with another 20 attempted). But Ondrej Pavelec stood like a giant in the Atlanta net, turning away all but one of those pucks. At least it wasn’t a shutout.
Rich Peverly deflected a monster shot from Byfuglien to create the first goal of the night. Penalty engine Alex Burmistrov recorded the second goal, a brilliant chip shot from no angle. At the end of a long shift in Atlanta territory, Alex Ovechkin ended his nine-game goal drought with a one-timer assisted by the other Alex. After David Steckel took a controversial kneeing penalty, Andrew Ladd took only eight seconds to score the game’s final goal. Bummer. Thrashers beat Caps 3-1.
On December 1, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Varlamov takes on all comers. (Photo credit: Tom Gannam)
[Ed. note: Peter has a fever and is kind of loopy. Go easy on him.]
Halak defeated thanks to Brooks Laich. (Photo credit: Tom Gannam)
Tonight the Washington Capitals had their first chance to exact vengeance on Jaroslav Halak since he shut the Caps down in the playoffs. Now suiting up with the St. Louis Blues, Halak is the most foreboding embodiment of the Capitals’ postseason woes besides perhaps the Caps themselves. In an uneven effort, the Caps managed to exorcise- at least partially- those Halak-faced demons. But the big story was Semyon Varlamov, who padded his highlight reel with some improbable, firecracker saves.
Brooks Laich scored a PPG on the Caps second shot of the night, a high puck right up in Halak’s face. Boyd Gordon recorded his first tally of the year by Jedi-mind-tricking Halak to bobble the puck in himself for the second time this year. The Blues woke up with a screened spin-shot from Alexander Steen that Varly never saw coming. In the third period, Knuble and Backstrom swapped roles: near the paint, 19 converted the rebound off 22′s high-slot slapshot. In the final minute, with the Blues net abdicated, Alex Ovechkin gave Nick Backstrom the empty-net goal layup. Caps beat Blues 4-1.
On November 11, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Puck commemorating Steve Kolbe's 1000th game as the radio voice of the Capitals. (Photo credit: Wes Johnson)
Alex Semin’s raspberry of hatful determination. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)
You know that video game where you fight Dr. Wily, and you think you’ve got him beat, but then he gets some kind of high-tech armor with lasers and rockets and WiFi and megagigabytes. Turns out Wily is way harder when he’s all upgraded. Well, here comes the Tampa Bay Cyber-Lightning, Mark II. Our southeast conference rivals gave the Washington Capitals a hard time last year, and they only got better over the summer.
The Capitals, led by curio Alex Semin, had a slow start. As if predestined, they surrendered the first goal of the night to Tampa’s Teddy Purcell. Tom Poti and Mike Knuble each notched goals in the second. The third period found Ryan Malone tying the game on the power play, almost taunting the Capitals to step it up. And step it up they did. Alex Semin recorded back-to-back goals with matching assists from line partners Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Steven Stamkos returned fire with a frighteningly smart goal, but Ovechkin would strike soon after. An empty net goal in the final half minute earned Semin the hat trick and finalized the question. A crushing win by the home team, their sixth in a row: Caps beat Bolts 6-3.
On November 7, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Braden Holtby, in his first career NHL start, makes one of his 23 saves on the night. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
Game Over. (Photo credit: Luis M. Alvarez)
Traditionally, Sunday games have been trouble for the Washington Capitals. The crowd might be docile, the ice sloppy, the players hungover; doesn’t matter. Quoting Ovechkin: “It was a five o’clock game. Usually you take a nap at this time.”
Tonight’s bout with Eastern Conference-rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers, was remarkable enough to wake the players from their expected slumber. The Flyers, riding a five-game winning streak and leading the league in penalties, brought the smash-mouth brand of hockey that we expected and did not permit the Caps to play lazy.
Flyer Nikolay Zherdev beat the Caps’ new goalie, Braden Holtby, on a two-on-one to open up the game. Eric Fehr responded with a low-probability/high-awesomesauce snipe from a wide angle. Ville Leino (who it turns out is a person and not a cozy Italian hamlet) got improbably lucky off a deflection to put the Flyers up 2-1. Alex Semin tied the game up on a power-play sweep-in, and there the scored remained until the end of regulation. The specter of a Sean O’Donnell boarding penalty chased the Flyers into OT, which Mike Green turned into an OTGWG. It wasn’t the raucous glove-dropper we were expecting, but a W is a W: Caps beat Flyers 3-2 (OT).
The upshot: The Caps squeak by an uneven bout with the trouble Toronto team to win in the shootout. But man, there’s a lot more than that. The Red Army has yet to play solid games back to back. The defensive end had lots of trouble, especially in the third, but the oh-fense was spectacular. The first period was sleepy, the second period electric, the third period a near disaster.
If that last paragraph reads disjointed, it’s only because the game was too (that and I’m not using conjunctions).
For the nth game this season, the Capitals were polite enough to let the other team score first. Nikolai Kulemin takes the puck, gets John Erskine to dive, and lures Michal Neuvirth a bit wide before shooting. MG52 answered with a PPG (now that’s what we’ve been missing!). Jason Chimera showed determination in the slot, accepting a deft pass from Boyd Gordon in the corner and then repeatedly swatting the puck until it snuck under Jonas Gustavsson‘s loins for the go-ahead. Either John Carlson (slapper) or Tomas Fleischmann (tip-in) scored the third goal, and the jury may be out on that one for a long time.
The third period was a bloodbath, filled with a troika of Leafs goals from Kaberle, Versteeg, and Bovak. Toronto claimed the lead, and it seemed the Caps were headed for a loss. And then Alex Semin, whom Boudreau almost scratched due to illness, converted an unlikely power play chance. Overtime came and went. The shootout found Ovechkin and Semin scoring wizardly goals and Michal Neuvirth stopping two attempts. Even though the Canadian bastards escaped with a point, at least we can say Caps beat Leafs 5-4 (Shootout).
On October 31, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Green scores. Ovi tackles.
DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH (All photos by Jeff McIntosh)
Halloween. This is the time of year when the eerie and unlikely are commonplace. This is the season of mists, of despair, of loss.
Nah, forget that. The Caps struggled mightily in the first period with the Calgary Flames. Going down by two goals early on, the Caps looked vanquished. A pathetic power play only hurt our wavering confidence. Maybe we should turn the game off and hit up that costume party after all? Nyet. Nicky Backstrom turned the Caps second power play into a goal reminiscent of ’09-’10′s best, and then the second period happened.
Let’s not mince words. The second period of this game was a bulldozer. The Caps scored six goals, two pairs of those goals coming within 13 seconds of each other. I’d tell you who scored the goals, but it’d take too long. Trust me: it’s everyone you’d expect. And also Dave Steckel. The Flames never came back after those early volleys. Caps beat Flames 7-2.
On October 28, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Surprisingly not Maine. (Photo via @dimickj)
Chuck Kobasew starts the scoring for the Wild (Photo Credit: Jim Mone)
For those of us wondering if the Caps can string together two good games in a row… no.
All the way up in exotic Minnesota, the Caps faced the almost-unknown Wild but left their A-game in Raleigh. The travelling Caps’ ennui was strong, but the Wild’s fans’ was stronger. This sleepy twaddle of a game was a waste of even Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin’s time, as the commentators spent a decent chunk of the night observing the finer points of referee trousers.
The Caps’ forwards were stingy on shots, mustering only four in the first period. They didn’t do too much better in the latter forty minutes either, totaling a meager 22. The Wild didn’t need a lot of shots to score (goals from Chuck Kobasew and Mikko Koiku), offering only 17. That, apparently, is enough. Despite a late goal from Alex Ovechkin and a case of too-little-way-too-late, Minnesota won the night. Wild beat Caps 2-1.