Caps at Leafs Pregame: Don’t Play Down


I really thought this dude would be gone by now.

The Caps have gone from playing the single worst team in the league, Buffalo, to one of the best, the Islanders, back to one of the worst, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Though they’ve got a better record than the Caps, that poor hockey club just cannot get its act together. Tonight at 7 PM on CSN and NHL Network, the Caps will play visitor to the Leafs.

This is one of those “don’t play down to a lesser opponent” situations. This is also one of those situations where you guys tell me “we are what our record says we are” and I roll my eyes.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 10-8-4 52.0% 98.2 28.6% 80.6%
Toronto Maple Leafs 11-8-3 47.8% 100.4 18.5% 84.2%

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Our friends at Maple Leafs Hot Stove reached out to us last night to ask about a worrisome rumor. Darren Dreger reported yesterday that Adam Oates is being considered for a position as assistant coach in Toronto. We’re still unsure there’s any substance to the rumor, but I shared my thoughts on what that might mean for the Maple Leafs. Call it my last chance to go to the well. Now here’s an absurdly large link:

Five Questions on Maple Leafs Assistant Coach candidate Adam Oates

Thanks to the guys at MLHS for having me again.

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Caps beat Leafs 4-2! Next Up: California!

Evan Vucci

Photo: Evan Vucci

I hate St. Patrick’s Day. My family is Irish as Feakle and I like Irish writing and the Corrs and stuff, but I hate leprechauns and boiled potatoes and corned beef. I was really hoping Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs would be a short reprieve from the holiday and a happy kickoff to a huge week on the road for a Caps team barely holding on to playoff hopes. While we got a fantastic first period out of the home team, the rest of the game was a little dreary. Like Ireland.

The Caps came out literally on fire. Troy Brouwer got his 19th of the year from right up front. Jason Chimera kicked in yet another goal for his line with Fehr and Ward. And then Ward nailed a layup set up by Kuzya and Penner. The Leafs got one before the period was up– a lucky bounce into the slot and onto Troy Bodie’s stick–  but it was a dominant twenty minutes for the home team.

The second was the opposite. Dion Phaneuf released a long bomb that snuck through the top line and Orlov-Carrick pairing. Then the Leafs got three consecutive power plays that the Caps desperately killed off.

The Caps survived the third and shut down the Leafs’ comeback attempt when Jason Chimera drew a penalty on a breakaway. Troy Brouwer got the empty netter.

Caps beat Leafs 4-2!

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Peter Talkin’ Puck on Toronto Maple Leafs Hotstove

The fine gentlemen at Toronto Maple Leafs Hot Stove have invited me to join them again. We’ll be getting you prepped for Sunday’s game between the Leafs and the Caps. I bet we’ll be talking Kuznetsov and Grabovski and stuff at some point. Tune in and enjoy. I promise I won’t look like an Oompa Loompa like last time.

(Hopefully Georgia won’t ruin it.)

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Weekend at Bernier’s: Caps beat Leafs 3-2

Rob Carr

Photo: Rob Carr

We’re not particularly happy with the Capitals this season, but compared to Maple Leafs fans we’re the freaking Huxtables. The richest team in the league spends its bullion on goons (plural) and grinders, they proclaim that they alone have cracked the secret of scoring without shooting, and their coach chased Mikhail Grabovski out of town for no discernible reason. If the Caps are ugly, the Leafs are Eric Stoltz in Mask.

And that means almost nothing on a per-game basis. The Leafs had the puck more than the Caps for most of Friday night, which is just silly. Anyway, here’s how scoring went.

Alex Ovechkin streaked onto the ice to score his 32nd of the year, nicely set up by Grabo almost halfway into the game. JVR returned fire by deflecting Phil Kessel’s shot on a power play around the halfway point.

Early in the third, Phil Kessel beat Neuvirth thanks to Karl Alzner’s deflection, but Nicklas Backstrom tied it right back up with trick shot off Jay McClement’s skate. Totally deliberate. Joel Ward occupied the slot to beat Bernier and win the game.

Caps beat Leafs 3-2!

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WARNING: This may be gruesome.

As the second period of the Washington Capitals/Toronto Maple Leafs game drew to a close, former Leaf Mikhail Grabovski fell to the ice and suffered a scary injury. David Clarkson‘s skate clipped Grabovski’s face. There was blood.

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26 Days Out: The Maple Leafs are a Laugh Riot

angry nonis

The Toronto Maple Leafs, the most storied team in the NHL, had failed to make the playoffs in seven straight seasons until 2013. There was something magic in that lockout-shortened, 48-game season that allowed a team ranked second-to-DFL in puck possession to make the postseason.

And what a postseason it was. The Leafs took a commanding lead over the Boston Bruins in game seven before blowing it, freaking epically, in the final ten minutes of regulation. Patrice Bergeron won it for the Bruins in overtime, and Leafs management promptly began its offseason ritual of ruining the team.

They bought out the plucky Mikhail Grabovski, re-upped the derpy Tyler Bozak to a five-year deal, secured David Clarkson until he turns 37, and poisoned the well with Nazem Kadri. Given they probably won’t score a goal on every ninth shot next year, I suspect the Leafs are due for a reckoning in ’13-’14. Meanwhile, the Caps picked up Grabo from free agency and are actually planning on using him to play hockey in the offensive zone at some point.

Thanks for the lulz, Dave Nonis. Keep up the good work, Randy Carlyle. Never change, Toronto. See you at Thanksgiving *(U.S. edition).

Please, Gnome More: Leafs beat Caps 3-2

patrick mcdermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

I wrote on our mission statement that hockey should be as fun to read about as it is to watch. So what happens when hockey– Caps hockey at least– becomes a chore? Tuesday’s game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals was another messy loss, and gnome amount of puns will cheer us up right now.

The Leafs scored first, JVR seizing upon a communication breakdown between Neuvirth and Poti behind the Caps net. JVR struck again after Washington’s defense temporarily lost motor function. Marcus Johansson got his first of the year late in the first after Tomas Kundratek gave him a nice feed at the back door. Korbinan Holzer got his first NHL goal with a tricky long bomb. Mike Ribeiro executed a nice zone entry and passing sequence by sinking a powerplay goal, but the Leafs emerged victorious.

Leafs beat Caps 3-2.

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Graig Abel

Photo credit: Graig Abel

Remember how we were whining about losing that game in Ottawa? How it wasn’t fair? How we were skeptical that lady luck would ever swing the Washington Capitals’ way?

Not tonight. The Caps’ loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs wasn’t an artifact of luck, but rather the sadly predictable result of a penalty parade.

Mike Ribeiro hit up Joel Ward on the weak side for an easy opening goal. JVR tied it up with a rebound goal during a super-sized power play for the Leafs.  Alex Ovechkin recorded a PPG with a nasty wrister to restore Washington’s lead. Then the Capitals killed off a eleventy billion penalties. The Leafs tied it up in the third when Nikolai Kulemin ate snow to knock home a loose puck behind Neuvy. The Leafs stole the lead with a Matt Frattin net-crash halfway into the third.

Leafs beat Caps 3-2.

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Tuesday Night Hockey Did Not Go Well For the Caps

Photo credit: Bill Wippert

The Caps wasted a chance to climb the standings with Monday night’s loss to the Lightning, but we held out hope that our rivals– Buffalo (9th place), Ottawa (7th), and Florida (3rd)– would have crummy nights on Tuesday.

That did not happen.

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