Holtby Overtime: Caps Top Isles 3-2 (OT)

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Ballgame. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Like the Bond marathon on SyFy over the last few days, the Washington Capitals are a fickle thing. Lately, the Caps have mixed the sublime elegance of the Sean Connery era with the confusing stupor of the Timothy Dalton movies. More often than not, it’s been the latter.

Plainly, they didn’t deserve to win yesterday’s game. Only the godlike brilliance of Eric Fehr kept the Caps from a fifth straight loss. They did win, however, and got their tired asses on a plane to hell Long Island this morning. With Braden Holtby making his second start in as many days, the setup for this one didn’t look good.

Washington’s start, however, was better than we’ve come to expect. Though New York handily outshot them early, the Caps controlled possession. The teams traded chances, with no one converting. Hey, that’s better than being 3-0 after 20!

As usual, the Caps got it going in the second. The period was filling with odd-man breaks and open looks for Washington, with the fourth line converting midway through the frame. Martin Erat – yes, that one — made a nice play behind the net before setting up the puck for Tom Wilson, who fired it on net. Aaron Volpatti did the net crashing thing to put the Caps on the board.

In the third, though, the Isles got the goal back — and they did on a Caps power play. Four minutes into the period, local pariah Mike Green missed a pinch and Cal Clutterbuck took the puck the other way on a breakaway. Yeah, it was awful. Then, Thomas Vanek gave the Isles the lead with some whacking in front, to Braden’s dismay. With less than two minutes left, this one looked over. HOWEVER… Nicklas Backstrom was stone cold clutch, converting in front with the Caps down a man. In overtime, the big Russian — that would be Alex Ovechkin — did his thing. Boom. Crazy times. Caps top Isles 3-2 (OT).

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nicklas-backstrom-loses-tooth

Thanks to @jp_daddi0 for the screenshot

Back on October 26th in Calgary, Alberta, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom‘s took a puck to the face. Midway through the second period, the Swede was hit in the jaw by an errant pass from Marcus Johansson. Backstrom, bleeding from his lip, returned to the bench. One of our readers caught him ripping one of his teeth out and handing it to the trainer. Yikes.

Playing the St. Louis Blues on Sunday night, Backstrom endured more facial violence. After recording three assists in the game, Nicky spoke to reporters in the locker room. His smile was somewhat less pearly.

According to the District Sports Page’s Katie Brown, Backy had lost another tooth. How did it happen?

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halak-sad

This is not the 2010 playoffs, Halak.

Heading into Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin had scored in two straight. You can make that three straight now. Ovechkin has four goals in three games and is tied for the league lead in goals (17) with Alex Steen. And he has a certain Swedish bro to thank for all of it.

Ovechkin attempted six shots on net in Sunday’s first period. Three missed the net, one was blocked, and the two that actually reached the goaltender — well those suckers went in. 100% shooting percentage, baby. Regress this.

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backstrom-shootout-goal

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom seems to do everything quietly. He’s tied for third in the NHL point race, but you’d be hard pressed to hear anyone talking about it. In Thursday’s shootout win over the Minnesota Wild, Backstrom had 4 shots, the primary assist on Alex Ovechkin‘s power play goal, and the SOGWG (shoot out game-winning goal).

In a game where the Capitals were outplayed for long stretches, Backstrom was the difference-maker.

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EricFehr

Who's this guy? (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Who’s this guy? (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Fehrsie looking resplendent at right wing. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Martin Erat and Eric Fehr have both spent significant time this season stuck on the fourth line, a misuse of their considerable talent. But with Alex Ovechkin missing his second game due to an upper-body injury, both wingers now find themselves on Washington’s top trio, skating 20 minutes a night. In 120 minutes of play, the new first line of Erat, Nicklas Backstrom, and Fehr has been fantastic, registering three goals and nine points. For Nick, three of his five goals this year have come in the last two days.

So what’s the key to Nick’s newfound goal scoring ability, and the line’s success as a whole? Well, Ovechkin has generated the vast majority of the first line’s shots this season. Though they are improving, Johansson and Backstrom had the maddening tendency to pass, pass, pass early in the year. Without Ovi, has Backstrom been forced shoot the puck more, always an important factor in scoring goals? In short, no. When I asked him about it, Backstrom insisted that he wasn’t directing any more pucks toward the net than usual. A little late-night research backs him up. Nick has attempted three shots in each of the two games without Ovechkin, roughly in line with his normal pace. So, some nice shots and a bit of luck.

“Yeah, that’s just a coincidence,” Backstrom said with some sass.

Nevertheless, the temporary first line has been impressive. Erat and Fehr deserve credit for holding their own in a new and challenging position, each playing on their third different line this year. Fehr, especially, made a large jump, playing two total polar opposite roles in one week. Monday in Vancouver, he played 12 minutes as the gritty fourth line center. Saturday, he played almost twenty minutes as the first line right wing.

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Missing Defense, Missing Teeth: Flames Drop Caps 5-2

StupidHelmets

Look at these idiots. (Photo credit: Derek Leung)

Hey!

Hey!

Utterly stunning as it may be, the Washington Capitals came into Saturday’s late night bout against Calgary on a three game winning streak after a pair of 4-1 victories and shootout nail biter in Winnipeg. With a newly even record, the Caps looked to put themselves above .500 for the first time this year with a win against the lowly Flames. They didn’t.

Kris Russell scored just over a minute into the game after a horrid opening shift for the Caps. It didn’t get better. Jiri Hudler put the Flames up by two with some net crashing. Jason Chimera got one back for the Caps on a nice backhand shot in front. Mike Cammalleri, though, just continued the bloodletting. Holtby pulled, Holtby mad. In the second, the Caps were better. Aaron Volpatti‘s muffled wrister found the back of the net to put them within one heading into the final frame. That period was stupid. Cammalleri potted another. Curtis Glencross added one more. Flames drop Caps 5-2.

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backstrom-bleeding

Nicklas Backstrom was already handsome. Now he’s hockey handsome.

In the second period, as Marcus Johansson passed to Backstrom in the neutral zone, the puck bounced up and hit the talented Swede in the face. Backstrom immediately retreated to the bench, bleeding from the mouth.

That’s when something amazing happened.

According to RMNB reader @Caribosa (who’s at Saddledome sitting by the bench tonight), Backstrom reached into his own mouth, a la Eric Belanger, and ripped that broken tooth out and gave it to the trainer.

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backstrom-visa

Photo credit: Travisa Visa Services Facebook page

The Washington Capitals roster includes just four players born in the United States. The rest of the roster is filled with a bunch of Canadians, 12, and Europeans, 8. That means that every so often, Caps players must go through some red tape to to travel. Oh, the thrilling process of acquiring visas (not credit card version).

Earlier this year, that red tape was a bit more inhibiting, as Mikhail Grabovski missed almost a week of Capitals training camp because of visa issues. Grabo, who had spent the last five years living in Toronto and playing for the Maple Leafs, got bogged down in paperwork up in America’s Hat. Maybe Leafs fans just didn’t want him to leave.

Recently, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom had no such problem. He got his visa painlessly. Maybe that was because the president of Travisa Visa Services is a huge freaking Caps fan.

He made Backstrom take a picture with him when he stopped by the D.C. office.

During the summer, the president also wrote a long, passionate message on his company’s Facebook page about how they need to band together like a hockey team. Love that metaphor. He also dropped this gem at the end: “I know that this year the Caps will go all the way to the Stanley Cup finals. Let’s go Caps!”

I have never traveled abroad before, but suddenly I need a visa and I need it from him.

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backstrom-jets

Photo credit: Trevor Hagan

The Capitals were kind of a mess throughout Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The game was tied after a wacky second period (featuring the Ovisplosion), and it took Nick Backstrom’s mystical Swedish skills and Troy Brouwer‘s finishing ability to restore a Caps lead.

It was the only pretty thing in an ugly (but happy!) game, so let’s give it a closer look.

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ovechkin-dog

Ovi poses with Hook, a one-eyed pitbull mix. (Photo credit: MSE Foundation)

The Washington Capitals may have authored a convincing 4-2 victory last night against the Edmonton Oilers, but there was still lots of hard work to do at Kettler Capitals IcePlex today. And by hard work, I mean putting on glittery outfits and posing for photos with puppies. This year’s Caps Dog Calendar, done in association with Homeward Trails, is going to be one to remember (and also may fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay).

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