Get ready for 4+ games of Steve Downie, Steven Stamkos, and Dwayne Roloson – the man who shut us out twice during the regular season and is approximately 4,000 years old. How are you feeling, Caps fans? Can we take them? What’s your prediction?
Braden Holtby celebrates after stoning Lecavalier in the shootout. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)
The first sign of trouble came when a wicked shot by Tampa Bay center Nate Thompson struck Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth in the helmet mere seconds into the game.
The helmet snaps broke. His colorful mask fell off and skidded to the boards. Neuvirth doubled over, apparently unable to make the ringing in his head stop. He allowed a soft power play goal and departed after the first period, forcing the Washington Capitals goalie carousel to turn to third-stringer Braden Holtby in a divisional showdown with a hard-hitting playoff atmosphere.
Capitals fans have been trying to figure out which one of Washington’s three baby-faced goalies is the future of the franchise all year long. Holtby tried to stake his claim with a brilliant 21-save effort in a pivotal 2-1 shootout win over the Lightning. The Capitals now lead the Lightning by two points in the Southeast Division.
Here’s Braden Holtby’s submission to the NHL for save of the year. Clearly, he’s learned from the best!
Photo credit: Don Heupel
The Washington Capitals are in second place in the Southeast Division, only one point behind the leading Tampa Bay Lightning with 21 games remaining this season. Can the Caps catch them?
As usual, we will ask the Monte Carlo Machine to simulate the rest of the season. To determine the chance of winning any individual game we will use the Log5 method. Log5 is a method of estimating the winning percentage when two teams play each other. The formula is:
W%(A v. B) = W%(A)*(1 – W%(B))/(W%(A)*(1 – W%(B)) + (1 – W%(A))*W%(B))
Since we know what the win percentage is for both Washington and Tampa Bay, and their remaining schedule, we can pop these results in, run the Machine 10,000 times and see how often the Caps come out ahead of the Lightning in the division.
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.
Just lie down, Schultzy. It’ll all be over soon. (Photo credit: Scott Audette)
In Paddy Chayesfsky’s Network, seasoned newsman Howard Beale has a nervous breakdown on live television. At the height of frustration, he compels his viewers to open up their windows and shout, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
Don’t know why that popped into my head just now.
The Washington Capitals’ appointment with the Tampa Bay Lightning was supposed to be an impassioned affair: two tied Southeast teams battling for the division lead. That did not happen. The Caps, perhaps reeling from last night’s overtime loss to the Panthers, never really suited up. The ever-improving Lightning took control of the game and never relented.
Dominic Moore waited for the power play to end before scoring, exploiting some lazy defensive work by Washington. Sean Bergenheim followed up with a home-run swing at one of Semyon Varlamov’s flying rebounds. And then Simon Gagne grabbed a loose puck and beat the overwhelmed Varly on the breakaway. The Caps didn’t even try. Bolts beat Caps 3-0.
Matt Hendricks beats up Steve Downie blindfolded. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
The Washington Capitals hoped the Winter Classic buzz wouldn’t interfere with their hometown appointment with Southeast rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. With both teams sitting atop the division, the stakes were high, even if the game lacked the theatrics of Saturday’s Hustle at Heinz.
Unfortunately, the Caps couldn’t set off any offensive fireworks. After a sleepy first period, the red team started mounting a real effort, but they never beat 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson, just acquired from the Islanders. In overtime, it was another vet, Martin St. Louis, who finally put a puck past Semyon Varlamov, a tasty rebound off Vincent Lacavalier. At least we got one standings point. Bolts beat Caps 1-0 (OT).
Alex Semin’s raspberry of hatful determination. (Photo credit: Nick Wass)
You know that video game where you fight Dr. Wily, and you think you’ve got him beat, but then he gets some kind of high-tech armor with lasers and rockets and WiFi and megagigabytes. Turns out Wily is way harder when he’s all upgraded. Well, here comes the Tampa Bay Cyber-Lightning, Mark II. Our southeast conference rivals gave the Washington Capitals a hard time last year, and they only got better over the summer.
The Capitals, led by curio Alex Semin, had a slow start. As if predestined, they surrendered the first goal of the night to Tampa’s Teddy Purcell. Tom Poti and Mike Knuble each notched goals in the second. The third period found Ryan Malone tying the game on the power play, almost taunting the Capitals to step it up. And step it up they did. Alex Semin recorded back-to-back goals with matching assists from line partners Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Steven Stamkos returned fire with a frighteningly smart goal, but Ovechkin would strike soon after. An empty net goal in the final half minute earned Semin the hat trick and finalized the question. A crushing win by the home team, their sixth in a row: Caps beat Bolts 6-3.
Some of the Caps’ best games this season have been against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and tonight was no exception. Marking Captain Alexander Ovechkin‘s return after suspension, tonight’s bout with the Bolts gave us hits, goals, fights, and — for once– a team that looked truly solid.
Goals from Tomas Fleischmann, the Russian Machine himself, and Alex Semin lifted the Caps above the Tampa Bay team, but the glory of the win must belong to the most excellent Jose Theodore. Stopping all but one of the 34 shots aimed at his net, Jose made tonight’s 3-1 victory possible.
January has been a spectacular month for the Washington Capitals. With newly crowned Captain Alexander Ovechkin at the helm, the team has lost only one game. Entering tonight’s appointment with the Tampa Bay Lightning, their nine-game winning streak was imperiled. After all, it was the Bolts that handed Washington their most recent defeat, the only under the Russian Machines’s reign, and nearly demoralized the team (if not for some histrionics from Matt Bradley). Compounded by the teams’ history is the Caps’ tendency to play down against lesser opponents and give lackluster performances at matinee games. In spite of all these factors and the lack of my wearing the undefeated RMNB t-shirt, the Caps snuck past the Bolts with a 3-2 victory and finished the month of Janaury with an incredible 13 wins.
Let’s get these bullet points out so you can fall asleep watching the Grammys: