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.
Photo credit: Mike Stobe
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.
“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.
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: Jacquelyn Martin
The last time these two teams met, the headless Caps were reeling. After trading away captain Chris Clark, Washington failed to put together a full 60 minute effort and just looked plain off in Los Angeles. Now, more than a year later, the boys from DC have a man with a ‘C,’ but that tune still sounds awfully familiar.
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.
SCOAR! (Photo credit: Chris O’Meara)
There was a zeitgeist surrounding the Washington Capitals’ visit to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s playground. The words we kept hearing were “must win,” which is great motivator even if it’s not objectively true. Still, the Caps seemed to take it to heart, bringing an effort to the game that reminds us– above all else– of the ’09-’10 version of the team. Not bad.
Red-hot Teddy Purcell scored on Tampa Bay’s first shot of the night, a 40-foot slapper to Varlamov’s weak side. On a 4v4 sequence that we’ll discuss later, Nicky Backstrom used some stick-to-it-iveness to even the score from the crease. Brooks Laich (!) piled on with a wizardly backhand top-shelfer set up by Mathieu Perreault. Alex Ovechkin put the visitors up 3-1 with his long-delayed return to the PPG stat column. Tampa’s Brett Clark kept the second period busy with a retaliatory powerplay tally. The third period found Nick Backstrom cleaning up an Ovechkin crash for his second of the night, and Jason Chimera recording an empty-netter. Caps beat Bolts 5-2. Wings, MFers.
Aww (Photo credit: our own Chris Gordon)
The quintessential 2010-2011 Washington Capitals game includes a worthless first period, so the opening frame of tonight’s date with the Montreal Canadiens was surprisingly invigorating. If only the rest of the game could have followed suit.
Mathieu Perreault capped off an extended shift in the offensive zone with a takeaway and five-hole goal on Carey Price. On the powerplay, Mike Knuble filed some paperwork in his office to give the Caps an early and pleasant 2-0 lead. In the second period, Brian Gionta launched a rocket on a 2-on-1 breakaway to put the Habs on the board. Then John Carlson’s failed drop pass led to another breakaway and another goal for Gionta. OT was exciting but scoreless, and we found our way to that old standby: the shootout.
Nick Backstrom led off, beating Carey Price but ringing iron. Brian Gionta, the bastard, scored top-shelf on Varlamov. Matt Hendricks pulled that same darn move again, but Price saw it coming. James Wisniewski’s attempt was covered by Varly. Alex Ovechkin, in a must-score situation, didn’t. Game over. Habs beat Caps 3-2 (SO).
Here’s a picture of Ovechkin eating snow for the billionth time. (Photo credit: Scott Cunningham)
To all our friends stuck on the roads during this crazy #thundersnow storm, safe travels. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.
So the final game for the Washington Capitals before the All-Star break found them meeting the Atlanta Thrashers in the not-so-balmy temperatures of Georgia. It did not go well.
Nik Antropov settled a lucky bounce in the Caps zone, leading to an easy goal against Semyon Varlamov. That was it. No other goals. Shutout for Ondrej Pavelec. Thrashers beat Caps 1-0.
It’s important when using statistics to make arguments or try to sway public opinion that you are not above learning something new. For me, this includes the effect of zone starts on scoring, how Corsi correlates to winning, and why scoring chances are an important metric to track. Each one helps put a player’s performance into context to try and determine the true skill level of a hockey player– both past and present. This is why I don’t change my mind, but I do make new decisions based on new information.
Take Washington’s goalies for instance. At first, I felt Michal Neuvirth deserved the right to be the “number one,” and I wasn’t wrong. He had a wonderful November and performed admirably. Then Semyon Varlamov’s groin started to heal and showed that he was ready to reclaim the number one spot– especially in the context of how he performed in different game situations.