On December 14, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Oh, look. Holtby’s mask came off during play again. This is fine. I am fine.
I’ll get to the Penguins-Capitals game, and the debut of Mike Sullivan, and Oshie’s big performance and everything, but first: it happened again. Braden Holtby’s mask came off again. I’m not making too big a deal about this. This is literally a disaster in the making and no one is freaking out enough in my judgment.
But let’s talk about the scoring first.
Nick Backstrom scored early on, snatching a pass from Oshie to beat Marc-Andre Fleury up the gut. Three minutes later, John Carlson took his own rebound and turned it into a two-goal lead, which the Penguins began eroding with Evgeni Malkin’s tip-in through traffic. TJ Oshie put the Pens back in the two-goal hole where they belong with a dandy wraparound in the third period. The Penguins got busted late in the game for having cranky pants, so TJ Oshie got another goal. Woo!
On December 14, 2015, In Pregame, By Peter Hassett
No one cares about this anymore.
The Capitals are in Pittsburgh today to face the Penguins and their new coach, Mike Sullivan. Having recently fired the guy who literally wrote the book on hockey strategy but whose on-ice strategies grew increasingly inane, the Penguins could be primed for a bounce back.
It’s also possible that their problems run deeper than tactics. I hope Jim Rutherford isn’t looking into long-term real-estate investments in Shadyside.
Puck drops at 7 PM on CSN. Peter Hassett, who is me, will have your recap service.
On October 28, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Patrick McDermott
Ovechkin vs. Crosby. Reality vs. 2009 storylines. That’s right, Caps vs. Pens from Verizon Center.
The game got off to an interesting start for the Capitals, taking three penalties before the 10 minute mark of the first period. But Pittsburgh’s power play sucks, so the Caps were fine. Both goalies — Braden Holtby and Marc-Andre Fleury — were great and the game was scoreless after one.
The Caps dominated the second period, but the Flower remained excellent. The game started to get chippy, but no one put the biscuit into the basket. Onto the third!
Early in the period, NHL First Star of the Week, Evengy Kuznetsov deflected a puck home to give the Capitals the lead. Then the Caps did that whole let’s screw up every time we score thing and allowed Beau Bennett to convert a stretch pass to even the score just 24 seconds later. A few minutes later, Phil Kessel used a nice passing play to give Pittsburgh the lead. Despite a valiant Capitals effort, the Pens held it. Nick Bonino sealed the deal. Pens beat Caps 3-1.
On October 28, 2015, In Pregame, By Patrick Holden
The Penguins come to town tonight. You already knew this, right? Or do you count on these game previews to inform you of the schedule? Please advise, reader.
Tonight’s game worries this writer. The Caps are shooting 12.4 percent at 5v5 this season, a number they won’t be able to sustain all season. The Penguins are shooting 4.9 percent at 5v5 this season, a number that is too low to be sustainable. So, will the PDO gods visit DC tonight to normalize things? Hopefully not. Hopefully, like Wilson Phillips, they can hold on for one more day. But if the percentages do normalize tonight, let the viewer beware.
Speaking of viewer beware, tonight’s game in on NBCSN at 8 PM.
This summer, Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle put the Pittsburgh Penguins up for sale, and the price is steep: $750 million, which would be more than double the league record set in 2013. But there’s lots going for the Pens: they have a brand new arena (Consol Energy Center), a dedicated (and trashy) fan base, and three of the best players in the league: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel.
Over the weekend, one group established itself as a front runner to buy the team: Flyers fans!
I didn’t like this game and I don’t like you. I like only my dog and tacos. Everything else sucks, starting with the Caps, then followed by the weather, and then back to the Caps again,. Let’s get this over with quickly.
Instead of sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the regular-season series, the Capitals played maybe their worst game of the season. There were glimmers of awesome, but they were islanded in a stream of suck.
It was all Pens early, and then Patrick Hornqvist finally made the Caps pay for their carelessness. The Pens got ornery after that, but the Caps didn’t convert on the penalties. Instead, Matt Niskanen made a bad drop to an out-of-position Andre Burakovsky, so Brendan Sutter secured a shorthanded goal. John Carlson gave us something to be proud of late in the period with a sweet shot, but we knew this game wasn’t going well.
It only got worse in the second period’s penalty parade. That frame featured seven Capitals penalties, though it resulted in only one goal: Sidney Crosby’s slick wrister. His first point against the Caps this season.
Chimera and Brouwer crashed the net early in the third to make it a one-goal game, but Chris Kunitz thoroughly outworked Evgeny Kuznetsov to deflate our balloon. Late, Alex Ovechkin showed a glimpse of life with an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot. It wasn’t enough, but it was something not to hate about tonight.
In three meetings this season, the Capitals have outscored the Penguins 10-1. Inside the Metro, only Carolina has a worse intra-division record than the Penguins (7-11-4). Crosby’s reportedly having an off-year, and the fans are quite grumpy.
And none of that matters tonight.
The Penguins are still an excellent team. Crosby’s decline is mostly meaningless statistical noise; he’s still the best playmaker in the league, and the team’s record against the Metro doesn’t tell me much about who’s gonna win tonight. Like every game, this one will be decided by who’s got the better goalie and which team helps him out the most. I peeked at the Caps’ lines, and I think it’ll be the home team who wins this one and secures a regular-season sweep for the first time in five years.
Eight days ago, Alex Ovechkin slashed Kris Letang in the ankles. Ovechkin claimed he was trying to shoot a loose puck at the net. Instead Letang fell dangerously into the end boards. Ovechkin was not whistled for a penalty and Letang left the game briefly.
The Penguins, rattled, lost focus on the two points. Instead, they spent the third period doling out cheap shots to Ovechkin and the Capitals, dispensing frontier justice rather than trying to win.
The fans followed their team’s lead. A Penguins fan poured beer on the Ovechkin and trainer Greg Smith during a stoppage in play.
The Capitals kept their eyes on the prize. They scored two goals in the third period, one from Joel Ward and an empty netter from John Carlson, to win 3-1.
I know you can’t print out GIFs and pin them to a bulletin board, but I hope the Caps remember how Pittsburgh played last week. Here’s a reminder.