Does Everyone Need More Bradley?

matt-bradley

Everyone Needs More Bradley, right? Whether Matt Bradley was scoring game winning goals, working the PK against some tough competition, staying out of penalty trouble or just plain acting like a superhero, the Caps definitely needed more of it.

But do all players benefit from playing more with Brads?

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Flash (Back) In The Pan

tomas-fleischmann

What started with an apology from Caps PR Mogul Nate Ewell ended with information that sent the Twittersphere into a tizzy: The Washington Capitals have signed forward Tomas Fleischmann to a one-year contract. The pact is reported to be for $2.6 million and avoids a potentially messy arbitration hearing that was set to be heard Wednesday.

The important thing to remember here is that the Capitals were going to sign Fleischmann to a one-year deal regardless. You simply do not let a developed asset like a 20-goal scorer walk away for nothing, and avoiding arbitration helps preserve goodwill on both sides. The only important detail was: for how much?

And that seems to be the rub for most: $2.6 million is too much. But is it?

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Tomas Fleischmann

With Tomas Fleischmann’s arbitration hearing looming in the next few days it doesn’t look like the two sides will come to an agreement beforehand. GMGM moved pretty swiftly to avoid the courtroom drama with Fehr and Schultz indicating, at least to this writer, that the two sides are VERY far apart.

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It’s finally over!

If you’ve stood by your computer constantly hitting refresh like I did, then you know I am talking about the Kovalchuk Sweepstakes, which is reportedly a 17-year deal with the New Jersey Devils. Yes, seventeen YEARS. Yeah, that is a loooooong time.

The New Mickey Mouse Club

We're going to party like it's 1993

How long, Neil?

Well, seventeen years ago Ace of Base ruled the airwaves, and The New Mickey Mouse Club got some new members: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. So yeah, 17 years is a long time.

Time will tell if he’s worth it, but Kovalchuk has put up some serious regular season numbers in his career before his 28th birthday: 642 career points in 621 career games at the NHL level. Not bad for the the first overall pick in the 2001 NHL entry draft.

I will leave others to debate whether or not the contract is worth it or how it just laughs in the face of the current CBA, but you have to believe that at least one Russian in the DC area was intently watching these talks unfold: Alexander Semin.

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More Bang, Less Buck, No Criticism

John Madden holding the Stanely Cup (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Now that I have gotten my feelings on free agency out of my system, I’m ready to take a look at some of the bargain UFAs that may still be available. I mean, does it matter if I think Matthew Lombardi was a decent contract and second line center option while you say The Little Viking, Matty P. and/or Flash can handle the load, since we’ll both be cheering the Caps to a Cup anyway? Together. Like BFFs?

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Why It’s Lombardi Or Bust

matthew-lombardi

Sure, maybe it was stating the obvious when we said the second-line center the Caps should target is Matthew Lombardi, but it’s more than that. If we look at the numbers, I think he is the ONLY viable option in free agency.

Luckily our first line center is set in stone for the next decade. You may have heard of him; he’s kind of a big deal. But then there is quite a drop off:

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Curses! Caps Lose 2-1 To Habs. Fail To Close Out Series At Home.

habs-take-game-5-in-washington

Golf Habs Golf? Sadly, Montreal's Skins Game Is Put Off For Another Day. (Photo via @katerstheace)

Golf Habs Golf? Sadly, Montreal's Skins Game Is Put Off For Another Day. (Photo via @katerstheace)

For the first 10 minutes of tonight’s potentially series-ending contest, the Washington Capitals went through the motions and were subsequently dominated in every facet of the game by the Montreal Canadiens. It wasn’t until our once-lost-but-now-found Russian Supernova, Alex Semin, made one of the most selfless plays of his NHL career with 11:20 left in the first period that the Capitals finally woke up and started playing hard. But by then it was too late. Mike Cammalleri’s wicked blast from the circles at 1:30 made it 1-0. Then five and a half minutes later, after a terrible defensive breakdown in front of the net, Travis Moen went short-side on Varly and scored his first goal of the series, the eventual game-winner. Despite peppering Jaroslav Halak with 15 medium range shots in the first frame (and 38 overall), the Capitals had way too many defensive breakdowns. And as Brendan Morrison so accurately surmised: “We made too many glaring mistakes.”

The Capitals lose to the Habs 2-1. Let’s make some excuses:

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The Sweep! Caps Beat Pens 6-3!

Caps Sweep The Pens (Image by Jack Reickel)

Thanks, Jack Reickel, for the amazing picture!

It seems the Caps of old are back. The last few weeks, really ever since the Olympic break, the team has lacked its luster. But in this fourth and final game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals brought a ton of heart and their signature roll-call scoring with them.

Thanks to goals from Alex Semin, Mike Knuble, Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Bradley, and then two more from some other guy, the Caps emerged victorious. Maybe it’s the Penguins are flagging late in the season, or maybe the Caps really are the better team. Watching the despondent faces of Pens fans trickling out of Mellon Arena, it doesn’t matter much to me; I’m just happy.

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Me Laich-y! Caps Beat Bruins 3-2 OT.

Me Laich-y. Brooks Laich Scores The Game Winner in Overtime. Caps Beat Bruins 3-2.

Weird bounces, Long goal reviews & Floating Pucks. What a fun night. (Photos by Nick Wass)

Weird bounces, Long goal reviews & Floating Pucks. What a fun night. (Photos by Nick Wass)

Funny isn’t it that the Capitals and Bruins will meet twice in the last week of the regular season before playing one another in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If tonight’s game sets a precedence for next week, we’re due for some entertaining hockey.

Tonight’s victory over Boston saw goals from fan favorites Nicky Backstrom, Mike Knuble and Books Laich, who secured the overtime gamewinner. Despite the everpresent physicality of Zdeno Chara’s bleeding nose and the dynamism of Patrice Bergeron, the Caps emerged victorious. Three games or bust.

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Alex Ovechkin celebrates with Jose Theodore after the Capitals beat Columbus 3-2.

We’ve dwindled down to the final five games of the season, but despite the doldrums, the Capitals showed up to play tonight. Even if most of the viewing audience was busied with the NCAA basketball tournament, this rare meeting of the Washington Capitals and the Columbus Blue Jackets was solid hockey. Columbus came out extremely hard, seemingly ignorant of the fact that the team was gutted at the trade deadline, their head coach has been fired, key players are hurt and the team is 12 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot.

The “Blazers” as Joe Beninatii constantly referred to them as, had odd man rushes all night long, but failed to convert almost every time because of solid goaltending from Jose Theodore or generally poor execution. Columbus’ wealth of penalties seemed to doom any chance for them to reach a crucial early lead. And despite the Capitals giving up a third period tally – which forced Bruce Boudreau to call a timeout and have an expletive-filled dress down of the team – the Blue Jackets could not force Overtime. Thus leading to the Capitals making history.

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