Tomas Vokoun Washington Capitals

Photo credit: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

One day after trading Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for a first and second round pick, General Manager George McPhee got the bargain of a lifetime when Tomas Vokoun agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Finally, a veteran goalie talented enough to provide skill and stabilization in net who could help put his team over the top.

“I don’t think we anticipated being this fortunate,” McPhee said.

Spending time with Montreal, Nashville, and the Florida Panthers for the past four seasons hasn’t given Vokoun a chance at winning too often, but could the move to Washington put him in position to win the Vezina trophy, awarded to the league’s best goaltender?

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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?

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Alex Ovechkin swings at the puck

Ovi swings with the knob of his stick during the Breakaway Challenge. (Photo credit: Kevin C. Cox)

Alex Ovechkin won his third straight Breakaway Challenge title tonight at the 2010-11 NHL SuperSkills Competition. How did he win it? With an unbelievable series of moves in his second and fourth attempts. In his second breakaway, Ovechkin smoothly juggled the puck in mid-air from center ice. He then knocked the puck up high up to himself, switched the position of his twig, and then swung with butt end of his stick. In his fourth and final attempt, Ovi dribbled the puck down the ice with the knob of his stick, went to his knees, got back up, and then went backhand on Marc-Andre Fleury. After he scored, Ovi sheathed his stick Chi Chi Rodriquez style as players from both benches laughed and banged their sticks against the ice. Ovechkin had a giant smile on his face the entire time.

When asked about his moves, Ovechkin replied, “I’m so excited right now, I can’t remember.” Fair enough.

Ovi and Green’s Team Staal defeated Team Lidstrom tonight 33 to 22. Below the jump, we have video of Ovechkin’s breakaway attempts and the other most noteable Capital moments of the night.

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Eight is Enough: Bruins beat Caps 3-2


Matt Bradley is about to bleed. (Photo credit: Michael Dwyer)

The Washington Capitals mounted one of their largest offensive pushes ever to try and stop the Boston Bruins from extending  their losing streak to eight. Nope.

The Bruins scored the first three goals of the night all in the first period: a screened shot by Patrice Bergeron, a deflection off Scott Hannan by Andrew Ference (his first in 99 games), and a five-holer by Blake Wheeler. Matt Bradley responded early in the second with a dangle-and-wrist from a tight angle. Karl Alzner turned on hero mode, slapping one in off Tim Thomas’ shoulder to keep the Caps within striking distance. Despite a furious effort in the waning moments,  the Bruins felled the Caps 3-2.

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Caps (and Braden Holtby) beat Bruins (finally) 5-3

Alex Semin scoars, Tim Thomas stone-faced.

Flawless! Holtby's four saves and first NHL victory gets him the hardhat. (Photo by @cnichols14)

Flawless! Holtby's four saves and first NHL victory gets him the hardhat. (Photo by @cnichols14)

Tim Thomas: impenetrable (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

You’d think the Capitals, after suffering two consecutive beatdowns at the hands of the Boston Bruins, would have the good sense not to face them again. In spite of that, the NHL overlords decreed that they should meet again on this fifth of November.

After a quiet first period, marked only by a  Tyler Sloan goal (whaaaa?), the Caps provided an explosive second period– quickly becoming the team’s signature period– to lead 3-0. The Bruins then excused superlative goalie Tim Thomas in favor of Tuukka Rask and scored three unanswered goals themselves, earning Michal Neuvirth the hook. Enter Braden Holtby and cue John Carlson, provider of the GWG– a perfect slapshot immediately after the faceoff. With the Boston net vacated, Alex Ovechkin tasted blood in the water and sealed the deal. Caps beat Bruins, thankfully, 5-3.

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Bruins beat Caps 4-1: Mortifying

Milan Lucic celebrates as John Carlson and Semyon Varlamov turn away in horror.

Varly looks like Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull only angrier. (Capture by @Caps_Girl)

Varly looks like DeNiro in Raging Bull, only angrier. (Capture by @Caps_Girl)

Milan Lucic and the Bruins are too much for the Caps to handle for a second straight night. (Photo credit: Mary Schwalm)

Every great song is about loss of some kind: loss of life, loss of a beautiful woman, or loss of that loving feeling. The Capitals should probably download some Righteous Brothers on their iPiddles about now.  Maybe some Chuck Brown to commemorate the miserable funk they’re in. Maybe some Hank Williams to soundtrack the drowning of sorrows. Or maybe some Dark Tranquility— you know, death metal: really brutal stuff to remind them of how brutal this game was.

What can we say?  Besides the last ten minutes, this was some of worst Caps hockey we’ve seen in more than a year. But we can’t deny that Bruins were truly dialed in, most of all due to senior goalie Tim Thomas, who stopped 38 of 39 Caps shots (a season high). But it must be said that the lion’s share of the shots he faced seemed predestined for his pads.  Not that he wasn’t terrific, but that Caps awfulness might have inflated that perception.

It seems unfair to pick any players out for bad performances; it was almost uniformly bad. Like last game, the Caps are still wracked by injury, direly missing Boyd Gordon and Mike Green in particular. Like last game, they struggled to clear the defensive zone and coordinate forward thrusts, often feeding avaricious Bruins perching on the forecheck. Like last game, they didn’t put pucks in the air against a virtuoso butterfly goalie who owned the low area. And just like last game, they were hoisted with their own petard. Bruins beat Caps 4-1.

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Now the Real Show Begins. Bruins Beat Caps 4-3 (SO)

Jason Chimera Gets Chippy With Tim Thomas

Alex Ovechkin is held pointless against the Bruins. Bummer. (Photos by Nick Wass)

Alex Ovechkin is held pointless against the Bruins. Bummer. (Photos by Nick Wass)

The last game of the season is a curious thing. The playoffs are a sure thing, and the only matters left to question are individual achievements and not getting injured. So then, was today a bust?

The Boston Bruins, filled out by AHL call-ups, bested the Washington Capitals in 65 minutes of hockey and three rounds of a shootout.  Whatever. We’re over it.  Upward and onward.

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