FOR FRAK SAKE: Bolts beat Caps 3-0

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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.

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Caps Care Casino Night, Year Two

Karl Alzner poses with Emily

Editor’s note: One year ago, Emily Karol gave a newborn RMNB a kick in the pants with her report on the first Casino Night. This year she does the same with the added bonus of Chris Gordon’s photos.

By the way, Emily is looking for a roommate. Available February 1st, she’s got a single bedroom with a private bathroom and a walk-in closet located just 3 miles from Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Email her if you’re interested. Awesome people only, please. Take it away, Emily.

When I learned that the 2nd annual CapsCare Casino Night and Auction would take place on January 9th, I couldn’t be more excited. I attended the first Casino Night and had a blast, but this year’s festivities hit on the birthdays of both Bruce Boudreau and me. Who could pass up the chance to wear a pretty dress, drink some cocktails, and schmooze with fabulous people on your birthday? Not me.

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Leafs beat Caps 5-4, Stunning Comeback

Mathieu Perreault celebrates his first goal of the year

Mathieu Perreault is the bright spot in this tough loss. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

CAPTION (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Colton Orr helps D.J. King with some facial redecoration. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Former Caps coach Ron Wilson brought his Toronto Maple Leafs to town looking for some redemption in their beleaguered season. The Washington Capitals meanwhile searched for the first win in their so-far unsuccessful extended home stand and switched up their roster to handle injuries from Sloan, Erskine, Steckel. With Hershey hotshot Mathieu Perreault (hereafter Matthew Perot) pinching in, it looked for a while like the goal-crazy Caps of seasons past had returned. But they leaned back in the third period, and… well, I don’t really have the heart to tell you.

Matty got on the big board on his first shift– less than three minutes into the game, deflecting a wrister off Tom Poti from the paint. Clarke MacArthur responded by shaking off John Carlson and teasing Neuvirth with a pause. It took two swings for Mike Knuble to earn a powerplay goal, the 249th of his career, and regain the lead. Perry struck back from the circles after waiting for a screen. Alex Ovechkin scored a whizzer of a wristshot to give the Caps an insurmountable 4-1 lead. Well, sorta. Mikhail Grabovksi, Tim Brent, and Clarke MacArthur each found their chances to exploit the snoozing home team, evening it up in the final 90 seconds. Overtime came and went. The shootout proved to be Mikhail Grabovski’s shining moment– as a spinarama escaped Michael Neuvirth’s pads. Leafs beat Caps 5-4 (SO).

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Zone Starts and Expected Scoring Chances

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Ovechkin is out of sorts. Does anyone know why? (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Semin cooled off, Marcus Johansonn started to heat up, Ovechkin is un-Ovechkin-y, and we saw the Caps get shut out for the first time in almost a year. Quite an up-and-down week. Despite it all, scoring chances are once again preserved for posterity.

I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online.

Coach Boudreau used every line combo imaginable this week (except for the much ballyhooed DJ King-Steckel-Ovechkin line), so I thought we would look at expected scoring chance percentage (SC%). Scoring chance percentage is the amount of scoring chances-for (SCF) that go in the Caps favor when a particular player is on the ice. For example, if a skater is on the ice for 6 scoring chances-for and only 4 against his  SC% would be 60% (6 chances for divided by all 10 chances when on ice). If we know how often a player is deployed in the offensive zone, we can calculate their expected scoring chance percentage. Then it is simple subtraction: subtract the actual from the expected and we can see each player’s true efficiency. All numbers are for even strength only.

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Semin Snatches the Hat: Caps beat Bolts 6-3

Alex Semin recorded his second hat trick of the year against the streaking Tampa Bay Lightning.

Puck commemorating Steve Kolbe's 1000th game as the radio voice of the Capitals

Puck commemorating Steve Kolbe's 1000th game as the radio voice of the Capitals. (Photo credit: Wes Johnson)

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.

For naught.

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.

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Caps Steal Two Points in Nashville. Win 3-2 in OT.

Brooks Laich deflects home Alex Ovechkin's shot from the point as the Caps steal a win in Nashville, 3-2.

Brooks Laich celebrates his OTGWG. (Photo Credit: Joe Howell)

With Tom Poti and Mike Green out due to injury, we all knew that the Caps’ defense was going to be a little bit suspect tonight. But really, the main issue for the visiting team ended up being their collective effort. Case in point was the opening face-off where Tomas Fleischmann lost the draw cleanly to Cal O’Reilly. He then turned and watched helplessly as Steve Sullivan raced past his four other unprepared teammates and went in alone on Michal Neuvirth.

But for Neuvy, it was no big deal. He stone-walled Sullivan 8 seconds in. He stone-walled five Predator powerplays, including 29 seconds of a 5 on 3. And he made 37 saves in total to collect his fourth straight win.

Thanks to ten minutes of actual hard-work in the third period and two minutes of pure domination in the extra session, the Capitals leave Bridgestone Area with a huge 3-2 character victory.

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This or That: Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson?

Here was our favorite response.

Oh God, someone get me out of here.

Have any of you ever wanted to watch some of your favorite NHL players sweat it out on camera? Well if you have, then this “This or That” segment produced by Caps365 is for you. Almost the entire Caps roster is asked a simple question: Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson? However, for some, this becomes a question of: Does dominance on the playing field trump who you are as a person?

The responses are hilarious. A few of the guys respond in complete defiance (Varly), some blush (Alzner) and some respond in uncomfortable laughter (Laich).

So who would you choose: Tiger or Phil? Whose answer did you like the best? And what is John Erskine so happy about?

Caps Scoring Chances: Week 1

Marcus Johansson

Readers of the blog know I put a lot of stock into numbers to help put context around which players are performing and which aren’t. Corsi is one of my favorites because it is a good proxy for territorial possession in a game.  To get a player’s Corsi rating, simply add up all the goals, shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots of that player- both for and against- when he is on the ice. If it is positive, that player helps create scoring chances, and if it is negative – well, the opposite happens. Or, simply go to Behind the Net, and let them do the work for you.

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Narrowly Escaping Defeat, Caps beat Sens 3-2 (OT)

Alex Ovechkin scores the OT Game-Winner Against the Sens. Verizon Center Erupts in Joy.

Your new desktop background: Ovi’s  OTGWG. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Well, you could argue that the Washington Capitals did not deserve tonight’s win over the Ottawa Senators. You’d probably be right. If not for the superdeluxe hockey of the Great Eight, the Senators would take a matching pair of points with them as they leave D.C.  Despite a dominating performance for the entire game, the Senators trailed 2-1 until Ryan Shannon‘s beautiful wrister beat Michal Neuvirth. But it was Alex Ovechkin who, in overtime, displayed some future highlight reel material to beat Chris Phillips and Pascal LeClaire for the game winner. Mocking expectation, the Caps picked up the win, and they’ve also got a ton of new injuries to show for it. Oh well. Caps beat Sens 3-2!

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Caps Convention in Photos

Alex Ovechkin waves to the crowd at Caps Convention during an interview with DC101's Elliot Segal

Elliot Segal glares as Alex Ovechkin high-fives an invisible child.

The second annual Caps Convention was held this past Saturday at the Washington Convention Center. Along with the entire Washington Capitals roster, a number of prominent alumni made appearances, including Olie Kolzig, Peter Bondra, Yvon Labre, and Rod Langway. Fans got to meet and greet their favorite players, get autographs, and demand “Happy Birthday” be sung to them.

The event was a tremendous success. RMNB’s own Neil Greenberg was there to document the day. Enjoy!

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