On March 22, 2011, In News, By Russian Machine Never Breaks
Photo credit: Chris Gordon
Earlier in the season, some of the critics (and at least one esteemed newspaper columnist) were saying that the Caps needed an older and more experienced netminder. Now, the quandry is that they have an abundance of young talent and need to finally settle on a goalie before the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With Braden Holtby back in Hershey, the contest seems to be down to Michael Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov. The young goalies, by the way, were roommates on the Caps recent road trip. What did they talk about? “Expensive cars,” Neuvirth confided after Monday’s practice.
The Capitals came back twice against the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night, but it would be a matter of inches that would stop them from extending their winning streak to ten games.
The Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring at 12:23 at in first period, firing a one-timer over Caps ‘keeper Michal Neuvirth’s shoulder. Washington would get it right back, however, as John Carlson’s blast from the point found twine just 33 seconds later. D.J. King got his second point of season on the play. I know! Woo!!! Less than two minutes after the Caps tally, Detroit would once again jump out in front as Valtteri Flippula clogged up the crease and deflected Brian Rafalski’s slapper past Neuvirth.
Alex Ovechkin would tie things up once again under six minutes into the middle frame. After taking a nifty backhand pass from Alexander Semin, Ovi raced up the middle going one-on-one with Brad Stuart before firing a wicked wrist shot through Stuart’s legs. Boom! 2-2.
Midway through the third period, Zetterberg would knot his second tally of the night. He lifted the puck over Neuvirth’s head from a sharp angle as the Czech netminder hugged the post. The Capitals attempted to rally late and came this close to doing so as Semin’s wrist shot hit just off target, ringing the crossbar with just 20 seconds remaining. Streak over. Wings edge Caps, 3-2.
For Caps fans who are frustrated with Washington’s once potent but now sputtering power play, Orlov’s accelerated development is nothing short of fantastic news. Hershey’s bench boss Mark French, encouraged by how much Dima seamlessly blended into Hershey’s lineup in the opening minutes, rode his hot hand using the Novokuznetsk, Russia native on the second power play unit later in the game. Orlov responded by unleashing several booming slap shots at Albany netminder Mike McKenna and eventually collected an assist on Steve Pinizzotto’s second period power play goal.
Speaking to the media after Monday’s trades, Capitals General Manager George McPhee had nothing but praise for Orlov: “We’re pretty high on this player. He’s a mobile puck moving defenseman,” McPhee said. “Really good on the power play… he’s got an edge to him. He can hit and play tough. And he really wants to be here.”
RMNB’s own Igor Kleyner caught up with Orlov after his first pro game Saturday to discuss the Bears, the AHL and yes, even Evgeny Kuznetsov’s wedding. Below the jump, we offer the translation of his conversation.
A mask is more than just protective gear for a goalie. It is a ‘keeper’s face on the ice, often showcasing parts of his personality. Capitals Red Line caught up with Semyon Varlamov to give fans the story behind Varly’s buckets.
On February 27, 2011, In Game Recap, By Brandon Oland
Photo credit: Mike Stobe
Hendy tried to spark the team, but instead he got his face Kanopka'd. (Photo credit: Kathy Kmonicek)
With the Washington Capitals in danger of losing a second game in two nights, their flabbergasted head coach Bruce Boudreau called a timeout and made some adjustments.
He scrapped his floundering top line and put together his dream team trio in a desperation last resort to try and spark a squad that inexplicably could not create scoring chances.
With Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin playing together, the Capitals rallied from two goals down to beat the rapidly improving New York Islanders, 3-2, Saturday night for a pivotal road win just two days before the trade deadline.
On February 20, 2011, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
“Perry, we did it! We actually score on power play!” (Photo credit: Rick Stewart)
After going 1-4 in their last five games — all against Western Conference foes — the Caps headed back to the friendly confines of the east coast on Sunday, hoping to right the ship versus Buffalo. Facing a hungry Sabres team in a nationally televised matchup, Washington was certainly up to the task.
The first period may have been scoreless but it certainly wasn’t uneventful. The Capitals managed 16 shots but Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was fantastic, making big saves throughout the frame. Washington also had four power play chances in the period, including over a minute and a half on the two man advantage. However, the Caps PP continued their struggles, failing to convert as Miller remained strong.
Mathieu Perreault would finally break Miller’s streak in the second stanza. After an odd bounce in the corner, the puck kicked out to the front of the net. Perreault took advantage, putting the Caps up 1-0. However, after Brooks Laich was called for goalie interference, the Sabres would head to the power play. At 8:20 Jason Pominville converted on the man advantage, getting the puck past a screened Semyon Varlamov to knot the score at one.
Midway through the third, former Cap Shaone Morrisonn was whistled for interference, once again putting Washington on the power play. But this time, it actually worked. Alex Ovechkin skated the puck into zone before firing a shot on Miller who made the stop. However, the biscuit went to waiting Perreault. With a little help from Marcus Johansson — whose deflection awarded him the marker — Perreault put the puck in the back of net, giving the Capitals the lead. Buffalo attempted a rally but Varlamov stayed strong. Caps beat Sabres, 2-1.
On February 17, 2011, In Game Recap, By Brandon Oland
Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill
Let there be hats! (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.
Just over a minute into the contest, Alex Ovechkin ripped the Capitals only tally past Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The goal came the moment I was settling in with my nachos at Verizon Center. Coincidence? I think not. However, Anze Kopitar would have something to say about that in the second, flipping the puck over a seated Semyon Varlamov to knot the game at one. Then with 16:24 left in the third, Andrei Loktionov gave L.A. a 2-1 lead as the biscuit once again got past an out of position Varlamov. It would only get worse for the Capitals as Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll pushed the lead to three. By the end of the game, Verizon Center was half empty. Kings beats Caps, 4-1.
Another week has passed and amazingly people still have questions for us. Judging by our readers’ letters, it seems like most of you have lost hope that this year is the year. Don’t worry, we deleted those emails and focused all our attention on questions regarding groins.
Like always, if you’ve got a question, a comment, or need ideas on how to get out of jury duty, feel free to shoot us a message and we’ll answer you back next Friday!
Now follow us past the jump, where our grandiose hero Neil weights in on the topics of officiating and trades.