Sunday night, the Anaheim Ducks hosted the Calgary Flames at Honda Center for Military Appreciation Night. It resulted in the NHL’s best ceremonial faceoff ever.
Members of the U.S. Marines and the Canadian Army were joined on the ice by Lance Corporal Brandon C. Benningfield and Corporal Nero, his Military Police Patrol/Explosive Detector Dog, for the pregame ceremony.
Corporal Nero dropped the puck.
Photo: Justin K. Aller
Bruce Boudreau began the 2011-12 season with his team as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup. In his last two seasons, he followed up a Presidents’ Trophy with an Eastern Conference regular-season title. Now, he had seven straight wins to start the year. A little over a month later, Boudreau, the fastest coach in NHL history to 200 wins, was gone. The man who resurrected hockey in Washington was replaced by two coaches who slowly bled the greatness out of the Capitals.
Just under four years later, Boudreau has found himself in a similar spot. Now the coach of the Anaheim Ducks, he had led his team to within one game of the Stanley Cup Finals the year before. But the start of the 2015-16 season was a catastrophe. His team scored 10 goals in the entire month of October. They finished the month with a single victory. Boudreau didn’t have any answers.
“I don’t know,” he said after his team threw away another game on October 27. “I’m sort of at a loss right now.”
On Sunday, Alex Ovechkin took a two-handed slash from Ryan Getzlaf. Ovechkin responded by falling to the ice like a sack of bricks. It drew the attention of the officials, who might otherwise have missed a dangerous play. The Ducks captain was whistled for slashing.
After the game, Getzlaf was irate. He called Ovechkin a diver.
Photo credit: Kyle Mace
Andrew Gordon won two Calder Cups with the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears in four seasons. He played nine games with Washington last season, scoring his first career NHL goal on future hall of famer Martin Brodeur, a feat he celebrated by kissing assister Marcus Johansson on the bench. But Andrew left the organization over the summer to hazard the free market. After a promising performance at Anaheim’s training camp, Gordon was added to the team’s roster (and then cheated on us in Finland with another blog).
I caught up with the notoriously well-spoken Andrew Gordon after the Ducks’ painful 5-4 overtime loss to the Capitals on Tuesday. We talked about California weather, competing against his former teammates, and the enduring adoration of Washington’s fans.
Photo credit: Ethan Miller
Wednesday was a night of hardware in the NHL as the league’s annual awards show took place in Las Vegas. The night’s biggest winners? Corey Perry of the Ducks picked up the Hart, Ryan Kesler of the Canucks hoisted the Selke, baby-faced Jeff Skinner of the ‘Canes took home the Calder, Stanley Cup champion Bruin Tim Thomas won the Vezina and Washington fan favorite Disco Dan Bylsma of the Pens presented with the Jack Adams Award.
So how did the Capitals fare?
Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill
[Ed note: This post is by the Carroll County Times’ Brandon Oland, Ian’s very own flesh and blood. Since he’s accustomed to staying up until 4am, we figured he could fill in for us tonight. Take it away, Brandon.]
Doubts were creeping in. Could the Washington Capitals score enough goals to keep up with Anaheim’s freakishly talented top line? Could the Caps steal a pivotal road win against one of the NHL’s top teams? Could the underperforming Alexander Semin regain his finishing touch?
Yes, yes and yes.
Semin scored three goals, including the game-tying and game-winning tallies to lift the Capitals to a thrilling 7-6 victory in one of the most captivating back-and-forth battles in recent team history. That is, unless you are a fan of defense.
Semin notched his fourth hat trick of the season and seventh of his career. He also finished with a tidy plus four, officially breaking out of the longest goal-scoring slump of his career (17 games) in explosive fashion.
The goals came fast and furious in this defense-purely-optional imitation of the NHL All-Star game. Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf got the scoring started with a way-too-easy power play tally set up by a brutal interference penalty on Tyler Sloan. Getzlaf’s goal came with 15:50 to go in the first. Alexander Ovechkin responded six minutes later on a breakaway sparked by a tremendous outlet pass by Nicklas Backstrom. Brooks Laich gave the Caps a brief 2-1 lead with 3:53 left in the first frame, capitalizing on a horrible turnover by Teemu Selanne. After Saku Koivu worked past two waving Capitals defenders, Selanne redeemed himself with a nifty redirect just a few minutes after his lazy pass to tie the contest up. Toni Lydman gave the Ducks a 3-2 lead with 30.7 seconds left in the first, thereby ensuring Bruce Boudreau wouldn’t let Semyon Varlamov see the ice in the second.
Photo credit: Greg Fiume
No jokes. Nothing cute. The Washington Capitals, deep into a slump, host the Anaheim adjective-less Ducks in a regular season game with a lot of additional gravity. Our hopes are high, our loins girded, our hearts full.
Brooks Laich first marked up the board with a chip-in off of John Carlson during a first period powerplay. In the second, the oddly vowelled Joffrey Lupul put a bounce in the net– also while on powerplay. And it stayed that way until overtime, when Ryan Getzlaf escaped John Carlson’s coverage to wrist the game winner past Semyon Varlamov. Ducks beat Caps 2-1 (OT).
Adrian Dater had an interesting post naming the top 10 centers in the NHL. As you would expect with 30 teams, each with 4 centers, some big names were omitted. The ranking is also subject to much debate. Take a look:
- Sidney Crosby, PIT
- Pavel Datsyuk, DET
- Henrik Sedin, VAN
- Jonathan Toews, CHI
- Mike Richards, PHI
- Evgeni Malkin, PIT
- Mikko Koivu, MIN
- Joe Thornton, SJS
- Nicklas Backstrom, WSH
- Ryan Getzlaf, ANA
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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