Caps at Penguins Pregame: 120 Minutes of Awesome

ovi

From Caps Instagram: “My name is Alex Ovechkin, I lead the nhl in goals.”

The Capitals have had the Penguins number so far this season, and that number is zero. In 120 minutes of hockey, Washington has outscored Pittsburgh seven goals to none.

But the Penguins of February 17 are healthier than previous versions, and Holtby has been averaging 3 goals against over the last 10 days. It’d be a nice trick to end the road trip with another blowout over a division rival, but the Caps are gonna have to bring the ruckus to get it done.

The lineup makes me think they might pull it off. Puck drop at 7 PM on CSN.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 30-17-10 52.0% 100.3 23.1% 80.8%
Pittsburgh Penguins 32-15-9 53.1% 100.4 20.7% 85.7%

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

What’s Behind the Caps’ Rise in the Standings?

standings

After Friday’s Caps’ 3-2 win over the Ducks, Adam Vingan of NHL.com put out this tweet:

(If you’re not already following Adam on Twitter, please do so now.)

That’s a pretty impressive run for the Caps. Here’s each Metro team’s record from December 4 to February 6.

Team Record Points
Caps 18-5-6 42
Penguins 13-9-6 32
Islanders 15-10-1 31

A few days removed from Adam’s tweet, the Caps now sit three points behind the Islanders and two behind the Penguins. Let’s take a look, at the team level, at some of the possible underlying factors behind the Caps’ substantial gains in the standings since early December.

Continue Reading

Caps vs Pens Pregame: Desperate Much?

gross-downie

When you’re on a four-game losing slump, the very best thing you can do is play one of your biggest rivals on the second day of a back-to-back.

The Pens are pretty banged up, but the Capitals are full-on desperate right now. I’m expecting fireworks. It’s on that NBC Sports’ rivalry night thing at 8 PM.

Crash the net.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 24-14-9 52.5% 100.1 23.9% 80.1%
Pittsburgh Penguins 27-12-8 52.3% 100.7 23.0% 87.1%

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Crosby Ovechkin

Another day, another chance at redemption.

First off, nobody’s panicking here. I said NOBODY’S PANICKING HERE but maybe just a teensy and perhaps a little urgency might be good?

Last night, playing against the Blue Jackets and their preposterous annoying cannons (can we dump those in a river pleeeease), we didn’t see as much of the sloppy play visited upon us since mid-January. Still, we did see too many penalties and overall our game still isn’t looking as tight as it had been looking. Time for a little more yelling we think, Coach Trotz.

Continue Reading

Caps at Penguins Pregame: No Holiday Hangover

penguins

How was your holiday break? Did you get any good gifts? I got a neat shirt. Please, please, please tell me you washed your RMNB shirt before you put it on. This is serious, man. Promise me.

Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Capitals at Consol. It’s the first match-up of the season between the two– at 7:30 PM on NBC Sportsnet. It’s gonna be a show.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 17-11-6 51.2% 99.8 25.0% 77.4%
Pittsburgh Penguins 22-7-5 50.6% 102.3 23.9% 86.8%

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Matt Niskanen: A Case Study in Context

Matt_Niskanen

Matt Niskanen, late of the Pittsburgh Penguins, is one of the marquee defensemen expected to go to free agency tomorrow. New Caps beat writer Alex Prewitt covered the buzz around Niskanen in the Post this morning.

A move to Washington would keep Niskanen with his old defensive coach, Todd Reirden, who coached the blueliner in Pittsburgh and can speak knowledgeably about the player to the Caps front office. And at a glance, Niskanen looks like a very strong player.

Let’s check out ExtraSkater.com, which is the best site on the internet next to the Benedict Cumberbatch Name Generator. Last year with Pittsburgh, Niskanen saw 53.4 percent of shot attempts belong to his team during 5v5– a number 7.3 percent better than when he was off the ice. In 2012-13, he had a 51.2 percent shot-attempt percentage, a 3.6 percent improvement compared to when he was on the bench.

That looks fantastic, but hold on a second.

Continue Reading

bosch-bylsma

The home team led their lower-seeded opponent three games to one. Then the goalie got hot.

In those final games, the opposing goalie put up a brick wall and his defense kept shots to the outside. Despite a massive advantage in possession, the home team– a favorite to win the Cup– lost game seven.

Despair reigned. The team’s star, an exemplar of offense, failed to score when it counted most. The team’s goalie looked manifestly flawed.

So the team looked inward. Where did we go wrong? Is this the wrong way to play? Who do we blame?

All the eyes turned to the coach.

Continue Reading

columbus-blue-jackets-flag-penguins-exhibit

Photo: @tim_guthrie

Since entering the NHL in 2000, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been a laughingstock. Sure, Rick Nash’s goal scoring gave them some respectability, and they had that weird playoff appearance in 2009, but it wasn’t until last week that I finally found respect for the franchise and its fans.

First, on Saturday, Columbus won its first ever playoff game. They beat the Pens (whom I really, really hate) in double overtime.

Then something magical happened at the Columbus Zoo, which changed everything.

Continue Reading

Gregory Shamus

Photo: Gregory Shamus

It was right around this time last year the Washington Capitals kicked off a hot streak that lofted them to the postseason. Losing twice in as many days to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps don’t look like liable to do that again.

The Penguins aren’t a great team. They’re way top-heavy on offense and somewhat disadvantaged on defense, but they’re still way way better than the Caps– both in composition and execution.

Evgeni Malkin sort of owned an offensive-zone shift against Orlov and the top line, releasing an actual perimeter shot that Jussi Jokinen delected in. That was all the goal-scoring we got until Crosby beat Orlov, Carrick, and Halak to make it 2-0 with five minutes left. The Caps mounted a little comeback attempt, but forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.

Shutout.

Pens beat Caps 2-0.

Continue Reading

High Tension in Kuzya’s Debut: Pens beat Caps 3-2

Nick Wass

One legged ant-eater (Photo: Nick Wass)

Caps-Pens! The biggest rivalry in DC sprots! With only 18 standings points between them–

Wait, really? The Pens are that far ahead? Oh golly. Lean times in the District.

Moving on… the Caps need to make up some ground in the eastern conference if they want to make the playoffs, but they’re gonna have to do better than what they did on Monday night. Giving up an early goal and Sidney Shot from the Sidney Spot gave Pittsburgh enough of a boost early on to fend off a Caps surge in the second.

Chris Kunitz scored all of 46 seconds in, taking a pass of Sidney Crosby and beating Mike Green on his way to the not-perimeter. Eric Fehr fought back with a nifty finish set up by Jason Chimera, but the Pens fired back with Crosby’s one timer on the power play.

The Caps tied it up in the second as Nicky Backstrom banked a pass of some poor Penguin in the paint. That was fun, but then Chris Kunitz restored the Penguins lead off a rebound off Halak’s pads a little after the halfway mark.

The Caps could not convert a late-game power play. Cram.

Pens beat Caps 3-2.

Continue Reading