During a lightly attended optional practice today, the Washington Capitals allowed William, a young boy from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, take the ice with some of his favorite childhood heroes. Above, watch as the talented youngster is given a chance to score on a breakaway against Semyon Varlamov. This may very well be the most precious thing I’ve ever seen.
Wideman grimaces in pain after being laid out by Tuomo Ruutu. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon!)
Cam Ward celebrates the victory. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
After an extended 10 day break to rest an undisclosed injury, the Capitals welcomed their kapitan back to the lineup Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. During the three game stretch in which Ovechkin sat out, the Caps went 2-1-0, their most dominant win coming Saturday night in Montreal when Braden Holtby shutout the Canadiens.
Alex Semin’s Canadian Ice Dad, Jason Arnott, also returned from injury, forcing Jason Chimera to the press box. Pre-game, head coach Bruce Boudreau told CSN that while it was great that two of his top six forwards were returning, he also had a fear that there would be a letdown. “You know, the guys have been working so hard while [Ovechkin and Arnott] have been out. I’m scared they’ll look at them returning and go ‘they should carry the load now.'”
In the first period, however, Boudreau would have nothing to worry about. Led by a determined Russian Machine, the Capitals as a team hit everything that moved and rifled 16 shots at Cam Ward, feeding off the energy of a Verizon Center crowd they hadn’t played in front of for sixteen long days. The Caps would not see their hard work be rewarded, and the game would remain scoreless until early on in the second period. After Nick Backstrom took a tripping penalty at 1:06, Joe Corvo brilliantly found Jussi Jokinen wide-open in the slot for a one-timer. Jokinen converted and the Hurricanes would take a 1-0 lead.
Marco Sturm seems, let's just say, pleased with his goal. (Photo credit: Graham Hughes)
Less than 24 hours after being shutout at the hands of the Ottawa Senators, the Washington Capitals turned the tables against the Montreal Canadiens on Holtby — err — Hockey Night in Canada. The 21 year-old stonewalled the Habs on the way to his tenth victory this season.
The Capitals dominated the play during the first period of play, outshooting the Canadiens 12 to three and scoring the only tally of the frame. The goal came just 84 seconds into the contest when Marco Sturm knocked in a rebound off a Nicklas Backstrom wrist shot.
Washington continued their strong play in the second stanza, outshooting the Habs once again while Braden Holtby held the fort in net.
In the third both teams managed good opportunities, but it would be the Caps who would convert. After, guess who, Marco Sturm poke-checked the puck away at center-ice, Backstrom started a three-on-one break before Alexander Semin finished the play off by flicking the Swede’s pass past Montreal goalie Carey Price. SHUTOUT FOR BRADEN! Caps stonewall Habs, 2-0.
Colin Greening celebrates his goal; Varly is not pleased. (Photo credit: Phillip MacCallum)
Well, where do even begin? Poor effort, non-existent offense, a goalie playing in his first game since the 20th of February and some, let’s just say, interesting officiating. Those four things combined make the blueprint for how you find a way to lose to the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
Nothing of interest happened in the first period, but there was another meaningless D.J. King fight just under three minutes into the game.
The Senators’ Colin Greening opening the scoring at 13:25 in the second frame. After a scramble in front of the net, Greening appeared to kick not only the puck, but Capitals ‘keeper Semyon Varlamov’s whole pad past the goal-line. The big wigs in Toronto took a look at it, but the play stood. 1-0 Sens.
Both teams registered eight shots on goal in the second period — with the Capitals having the best chance on an Alexander Semin breakaway — yet no one would tally.
Just over two minutes into the third stanza, Erik Condra pushed the Senators’ lead to two. After a Karl Alzner giveaway, Condra picked up Milan Michalek’s backhand no-look feed and wristed it pass Varlamov.
The real action, however, would happen just under 13 minutes into the period when Matt Bradley laid-out Patrick Wiercioch at the goal-line. Though the hit appeared to be a legal shoulder to chest hit, the Sens and referees took exception. First Ottawa’s Zach Smith jumped Bradley, forcing him to duel. Smith got the win in the ’bout, but correctly received an instigator penalty for his instigating. However, the refs called Bradley boarding, one thing the hit almost certainly was not as Bradley and Wiercioch were 12 feet from the dashers when the hit occurred. That would be it. Ho-hum. Sens blank Caps, 2-0.
Editor’s note: After two friends won an auction at Caps Care Casino Night, RMNB reader Julie Roemele was presented with the opportunity of a life-time: to learn hockey from some of her favorite NHL pros. This past Sunday, Kettler Capitals Iceplex hosted a Capitals hockey clinic featuring workshops from Brooks Laich, Matt Hendricks, Semyon Varlamov, Mike Green and Assistant Coach Bob Woods. Below, Julie describes her and her son Joshua’s experience.
Julie's all smiles as she skates at on the fresh sheet of ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. (Photo credit: Cheryl Nichols)
When someone gives you the chance to learn from the best, you don’t pass it up. So when my friends Mark and John called to invite me to a hockey clinic with the Capitals that they’d won at the Caps Care Casino Night, I couldn’t feign disinterest because I was a little afraid I’d be unsteady on the ice. Admittedly I’m more hockey mom than hockey player, even though I’ve been taking lessons for a year now.
Once at Kettler, the participants (there were about 20 of us) were split into five groups of four to work at five different drill stations. First up, defense with Caps Assistant Coach, Bob Woods. He’d pass each of us the puck and instruct us to circle as if trying to lose an opposing player. He would then dump a puck into the end boards while we skated after. To be honest, I suck at this and I was glad when the ten minutes were up, but it’s a skill I need to improve if I’m going to be a better player. I’ll definitely keep practicing it.
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.