A Game to Forget: Stars beat Caps 5-2

Mitchell Layton

(Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

The Washington Capitals had the opportunity to prove national dominance against the best-in-the-west Dallas Stars. That didn’t happen.

Michael Ryder took a second chance, banked it off one or two Caps top-liners and past an unsuspecting Michal Neuvirth. On the power play, Nick Backstrom gave a blind feed to Alex Semin, who fired hard from 15 feet out. Neuvirth’s teammates abandoned him to another Michael Ryder goal. Then came John Carlson, who fired an ICBM over Lehtonen’s pads after the faceoff. Adam Burish deked Backstrom and Neuvy to give Dallas the edge early in the third. Hotshot Jamie Benn made it a two-goal lead on the power play. And Eric Nystrom netted off a nice rebound to make it a three-spot. Stars beat Caps 5-2.

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Caps beat Canes 5-1, Cody Eakin Scores First NHL Goal

Photo credit: Gerry Broome

The Washington Capitals last met the Carolina Hurricanes at home for the first game of the season. That game established the 2011-12 Caps as the scoring force we’ve been waiting for. Tonight was more of the same. More delightful, delightful same.

Right after the faceoff, Anthony Stewart redirected a Jay Harrison shot that Neuvirth wasn’t ready for. Jeff Halpern dove for his goal in the second. Soon after, Marcus Johansson provided a gorgeous saucer to Troy Brouwer, who scored effortlessly. John Carlson slapped a big one home on the power play. Cody Eakin scoared his first NHL goal halfway through the third thanks to a smart pass from Alex Semin. Alex Ovechkin slid the puck gracefully to points-leader Nick Backstrom, who executed the layup. Caps beats Canes 5-1.

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First rule of hockey writing: if there’s a photo of a guy hit in the junk, USE IT. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

The Florida Panthers were still coming down off blowing out Tampa 7-4 when they showed up for their game with the Washington Capitals. That big win must have taken a lot out of them, ’cause they just didn’t show up to play on Tuesday.

Three penalty killers gravitated to Alex Ovechkin, leaving Marcus Johansson enough space to score his third of the season. Early in the third period, Alex Semin effortlessly ripped the puck far side to make it 2-0. With an empty net, Alex Semin fed goal-scoring leader Jason Chimera, who lobbed it in for the coup de graceCaps beat Cats 3-0.

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Have You Heard? The Caps Are Back.

I feel like I’ve seen this person before… (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Fans enter Verizon Center before the season-opener. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

One hundred fifty-seven days. That’s a long summer for Caps fans. And Saturday night at 7:09 P.M. Eastern Time when six ounces of vulcanized rubber tumbled toward the ice sheet it was finally over.

“The atmosphere was great,” Alex Ovechkin told reporters after the game. “The fans push us forward all the time. It’s nice to play at home, especially the first game. I know everybody was missing hockey here so it’s nice to come back.”

The trademarks of Caps hockey were all there last night: Sam Wolk pursed his lips to his horn and let lout three loud blasts at the drop of the puck; Wes Johnson bellowed out the name of Alexander Semin (heavy on the “r”) after Washington lit the lamp for the first time this season on Sasha’s tally; William Stilwell, better known as the Goat, let out a thunderous roar of “Let’s Go Caps!” as he stomped the metal beneath his feet when shown on the big screen in the second period.

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A Primer to the Washington Capitals 2011-2012 Season

Primer to the 2011-12 Capitals Season

If you took a break from hockey after May 4th, when the Tampa Bay Lightning swept the Washington Capitals out of the playoffs, we completely understand. It was rough. But the new season is here, along with reasons for renewed hope. So in case you’ve been avoiding hockey in general and this blog in particular, we’ve prepared a primer to catch you up.

Here is everything you need to know about the Washington Capitals but were afraid to ask (2011-2012 edition).

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Dmitry Orlov

Photo credit: Kyle M.

It was over 30 minutes past the scheduled end of his practice session, but Dmitry Orlov simply did not want to leave the ice. With almost all of his teammates from Group C already in the locker room, the 20-year-old defenseman had the secondary rink at Kettler Capitals Iceplex all to himself, effortlessly gliding around invisible opponents with the puck seemingly glued to his stick. Dima was clearly enjoying the moment.

Group C included such standout blueliners as Roman Hamrlik, an NHL veteran of almost two decades, and John Carlson, not much older than Dmitry, but already recognized as one of the top young rearguards in the league. The young Russian appeared to be unfazed by such company. Every time the players gathered around a member of the coaching staff to receive instruction, Dima took his spot, usually in the front row of the huddle, and listened and watched very intently. He no longer relies on anyone’s help in order to understand — a very timely improvement in his command of the English language — as all of his Russian-speaking teammates were assigned to Group A.

Having finally completed his puck-dangling routine, Dima finally went off into the locker room, but not before he patiently signed autographs for a small group of his fans waiting for him rink side. A few minutes later he made his way into the media area — by then completely empty, aside from a couple of reporters finishing up their stories — and spoke candidly with RMNB about his improving English, participating in shootouts, and his first and only fight.

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Mike Green

Suffice to say, Mike Green was snakebit last year. The Caps defenseman dealt with freak injuries to the shoulder, knee, and hip and also managed to miss 26 of Washington’s final 28 games in the regular season due to a pair of traumatic head injuries. Green’s 49 games-played were the fewest he’s totaled in a single season since he came up to the NHL full-time in 2006-07. His 24 points were also 52 short of his career-high set in 2009-10.

Tuesday, TSN’s Jermain Franklin caught up with Green after a workout in Calgary and the 26-year-old spoke optimistically about his health, his goals for the upcoming season, and George McPhee’s offseason moves. The two-time Norris Trophy finalist also responded to Matt Bradley’s recent comments about Alex Semin and the Capitals supposed lack of discipline in the locker room saying,”if you’re not going to be committed this year, you’re not going to fit in with our team.”

A partial transcript of the interview is below.

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Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz

After absorbing an eight-game losing streak in December and seeing their offense repeatedly not click, Bruce Boudreau and George McPhee decided that the time had finally come to change the team’s run ‘n’ gun style to a more defense-first system. During the year, the Capitals traded top six forward Tomas Fleischmann to Colorado for veteran Scott Hannan and also picked up Dennis Wideman at the trade deadline. The results were stunning.

After finishing 16th in the league in 2009-10 with a goals allowed per game of 2.67, the Capitals finished in the top five in 2010-11, with 2.33. Washington also had the third best penalty kill in the league last year, improving almost six percent from the year before. However, the Caps still flamed out early on in the playoffs, being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I felt we needed to add a defenseman last year in the summer and we didn’t do it,” McPhee said Friday. “We made the trade the during the year, but it’s a hard process to go through.”

So in response, McPhee signed 37-year old defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who played the last four seasons in Montreal, to a two year, seven million dollar deal.

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