Caps Smack Leafs 5-1; Don’t Hit Nicky!

Chimeragoal

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Looking to extend their season-high seven game win streak, the Washington Capitals hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. In a match-up of possible first-round opponents, the Caps came off a shaky ending to their last win and played a game that was anything but against a tired Leafs team.

Jack Hillen scored (when doesn’t he?), Nicky got boarded, the Caps got mad, Erat got his first in red, the Brouwitzer a nice backhand shot was unleashed, Ovi had a scoar, and MoJo hacked one in. Caps smack Leafs 5-1.

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Mike Knuble

Knuble in the Sasha Box.

On Saturday, if you were lucky enough to catch the Carolina Hurricanes game against the Philadelphia Flyers, you got to see two former Washington Capitals players compete against each other: Alex Semin and Mike Knuble.

During the second period, both players were on the ice, and whattaya know: Semin drew a penalty on Knuble. After some work in the corners by Semin, Knuble put his stick under Semin’s hands, and Semin dropped to the ice as if an imaginary piano had fallen on top of him.

Video below the jump.

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Collapse: Habs Hammer Caps 4-1

Canadiens destroy Caps 4-1

Oy. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

[Editor's note: With RMNB's Peter Hassett out in California for the week, the PuckBuddys recap the latest Caps loss.]

Sometimes, platitudes are the only comfort we have. Like “Third time’s a charm!”  Or “All in to win!” Or “Shomer f—-n shabbos!” Yeah, like that.

Be real. We went into this game feeling queasy; like Taco Bell Doritos Volcano Nachos queasy. Walking into Verizon we were already outscored two-to-one in the first two games; an unappealing start. Some pointed fingers at Coach Adam Oates‘ inability to instill discipline. (Those worries may have been answered by Oates’ curious decision to bench Marcus Johansson and Matthieu Perreault, and then re-start Matty.) Some demurred that the team is still learning a new coach and new style, and we’re willing to go some distance here. A few fickle fingers pointed at under-production by Ovi, Holtby, Greenie, Carlson

Enough. Tonight brought one hard answer: the Capitals aren’t firing.

The first frame saw some testing on both sides of the other’s defense. Good efforts by Green, Backstrom and Ribeiro, and a surprising amount of icing from Montreal. Michal Neuvirth made several great saves (a few too close,) and we were hopeful with Nicky’s late flick to Wojtek Wolski until Ovi spoiled that. The PPs yielded nada, leaving both teams relatively balanced both offensively and defensively (though the Habs lead with hits.)

Rly?Second period: oh crap, 5 on 3? Ovi and Brouwer leave the Caps naked, yet Beags and Carlson, while never clearing it out, keep the Caps alive. Then with only :04 in the first PP, Plekanec cracks one in (with Markov on the assist) bumping the Habs up 1-0. Moments later, Andrei Markov (with Pacioretty) snaps one over Neuvy’s shoulder bringing the Canadiens up 2-o. Oxygen slowly leaving Verizon. Can it get worse? Yes. Rene Bourque sails it down the side and snaps it to Brian Gionta, who knocks it past Neuvy, tippling the score at 3-o. You want more? Francis Bouillon, on assist from Josh Gorges, blows one past a clueless Neuvy; Habs go up 4-0, Caps fans register their displeasure.

Third quarter squishes out with pretty much everyone in the wrong spot at the right time. Shots still favoring the Caps, although you’d never know that. Time dribbles by, our RMNB editors suggest a game recap isn’t even worthwhile. We soldier on, as does Matt Hendricks. At least someone’s trying. So is Beags to Chimera to Joey Crabb! Well at least John Carlson’s hair won’t get shutout, even though he’ll get one last penalty.

SCORE: Canadiens 4, Capitals 1

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Concussions have become the topic du jour around the NHL in the last few years, and for very good reason. Nearly a hundred cases of head trauma have been recorded just this season, and with Caps star Nicklas Backstrom missing forty games with concussion the issue has now hit DC  fans closer to home. Despite his highly physical style of play, Alex Ovechkin has managed to avoid concussion so far in his career. Still, he hasn’t been ignoring the epidemic, and for several months Ovechkin has been testing Bauer’s new trauma-preventative RE-AKT helmet. It’s now being worn by several other Bauer-sponsored NHL stars, but Ovechkin was the first to agree to test the RE-AKT — even before Backstrom’s incident with Rene Bourque.

We spoke to C.J. Ficek, Bauer’s Product Manager for Helmets to find out more about the helmet and Ovi’s decision to wear it.

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Neuvy smirks after taking a Rene Bourque slapshot off the mask. (Via @WashCapsRock)

The Washington Capitals’ season is still on shaky ground. Buffalo’s loss to Pittsburgh on Friday kept their hopes alive, but Saturday’s game versus the Montreal Canadiens held huge determinative power. Perfect time for a Comebackstrom.

After having his initial shot blocked, Alex Semin found a wide-open Mathieu Perreault in the slot, for a one-timer. 1-0 Caps. Unguarded in front of the net, Matt Hendricks hit Jay Beagle with a cross-crease pass to put the good guys up 2. Erik Cole then scored a momentum-killing goal with one minute left to go in the first.

In the second period, the Canadiens dominated. Tomas Plekanec tied it up when he went around a slow-skating Roman Hamrlik and scored on the backhand.

After multiple scoring chances for both teams in the third period, the game went to Overtime. Then the shootout. Thanks to goals by Matt Hendricks and Alex Semin, Caps win 3-2.

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Nicklas Backstrom is Back, Will Play Against Montreal

Photo credit: The Washington Post

On January 3rd, the Capitals beat the Calgary Flames 3-1, but suffered a huge loss, losing team MVP Nicklas Backstrom indefinitely due to a concussion. The head injury and subsequent symptoms forced Backstrom out for three months, but finally, after 40 games, the Capitals are about to get a huge boost.

Why? Because Backstrom’s back, baby! The 24-year-old Swede will return against Montreal tonight and retake his normal spot on the first line, centering Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson.

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Montreal Canadiens Pregame: The Comebackstrom?

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Somehow, inexplicably, the Caps won on Thursday. It was a manic mess of a game, like something the Flaming Lips would do if they played hockey. In case your blood pressure is returning to normal and bowels are solidifying, here comes another cataclysmic hockey game to freak you out all over again.

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RMNB Week in Review: The Week From Hell


Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

This is probably not a week that you want to remember in great detail, things didn’t go, uh — exactly as planned, but don’t worry, we’ll whip right through this quickly and painlessly and move along, there’s another game tonight, so there’s no time for moping. The Caps went 1-3-0 this week with losses against the Lightning, the Canes, and the Sens. Sad trombone. And just because a TSN commentator chose to utter the words “How could things get worse for the Washington Capitals?”, Alex Ovechkin also suffered a lower-body injury, didn’t participate in multiple team skates, and missed the game in Ottawa. Despite all this, the week did end on a good note when Ovechkin caught the Brooks Laich fever and unexpectedly declared himself ready to go, and then promptly scored against Montreal in a game that the Caps won. It’s a huge relief that it ended well, but I think most of us are just glad this week is over.

Elsewhere in the NHL, lots of other people were having bad weeks too. The day after it was revealed that his “upper-body injury” was probably a concussion, Jonathan Toews crashed his car into a pole, Pavel Datsyuk had knee surgery that will put him out for two to three weeks, Vincent Lecavalier is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury, and the Maple Leafs goalie tandem is testing their franchise’s patience, Jeff Carter, on the other hand, had probably about the best week that he’s had in nine months as he was traded out of Columbus to the LA Kings, which is good news for him because it’s probably exhausting to keep up a sulk for that long.

In case you were wondering the most important question, though — how does everything in the world apply to the Washington Capitals? — we’ll break it down for you after the jump.

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It’s Good to Be Home: Caps beat Habs 4-1

Photo credit: Mitchel Layton

Friday night’s meeting between the Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens was an exciting one. The only thing that muddled the joy is that funny feeling that this may be one of the last times we see this version of the team play..

Mathieu Perreault got on the board by redirecting a Jason Chimera pass along the crease that Tomas Kaberle deemed not worth his time. Jason Chimera took the puck for an 80-foot stroll, pushing Carey Price into the net along with the puck. 16 seconds later, Marcus Johansson dropped a pass to Dmitry Orlov, who set up Alex Ovechkin waiting in the circle for a one-timer. That shot found the back of the net, giving the Caps a solid 3-0 lead going into the third.

Rene Bourque ended the shut out (actually 260 minutes and 4 seconds long) with a shorthanded goal. Joel Ward got the empty netter, and that was that. Caps beat Habs 4-1.

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Backstrom after taking an elbow from Rene Bourque. (Photo credit: Clydeorama)

Did you think we were over this? We’re not.

Nick Backstrom has missed 22 games since absorbing Rene Bourque‘s elbow to his head on January 3rd. He has not skated in practice, and there is no timetable for his return. The Capitals have gone 8-11-3 without Nick Backstrom and are no longer among the east’s top 8. We’ve talked about Bourque endlessly and we even made a Punch-out style video about him, but hell no we’re not over this yet.

Neither is the team. Earlier this month, Brooks Laich told the Washington Post, “I don’t think our guys are ever going to forget what happened.”

The Capitals return home on Friday after a floundering road trip. There’s no reason to believe that any recent trends will magically reverse, so we’re encouraging this sideshow. And that’s why we’re debuting our new campaign for Rene Bourque: PUNCH THIS FACE.

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