On March 21, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Marianne Helm
The Southeast Division Farewell Tour kicked off with a battle between the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets. The Capitals managed to continue their strong five-on-five play from Tuesday and convert it into two early goals. Big Buff and the Jets tried to mount a comeback, but the Caps stuck two more daggers in ‘em instead. And oh yeah: Braden Holtby had his fourth perfect game this year.
“Thank you, hockey gods!” (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
Fifty-seven days and 28 games into the 2013 regular season, Washington Capitals forward Jason Chimera finally scored his first goal on the year. And not a moment too soon.
A year ago, Chimera had a career best season tallying 20 goals and 39 points. This season, Chimera has bounced around the Caps line,up, seeing time with fourth-line grinders like Jay Beagle as well as second-line duty with playmakers like Mike Ribeiro. Regardless of who he played with, the goals didn’t come — until Sunday.
As Troy Brouwer skillfully forechecked behind the Sabres net midway through the second period, he sent a no-look backhand pass to the slot that found Chimera for a wide-open one-timer.
Nineteen seconds, one goal. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
The Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres are neck-and-neck in a battle for playoff position. The Caps are just one point behind the Sabres as the lockout shortened regular season begins to come to a close. One problem, though: the spot they’re fighting for is 13th place in the Eastern Conference.
This season has been pretty abhorrent for fans in Buffalo and Washington. The Caps, however, still have time to salvage this year. Playing in hockey’s weakest division, the Caps came into Sunday’s game nine points out the the Southeast-leading Winnipeg Jets with 21 games left to play. But if Washington want to be playing hockey in May, that drive has to start now. Maybe it did. Thirty hours after the start of their deflating but fight filled 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, Washington showed no St. Patrick’s Day hangover (I’m sorry).
[Doug Johnson of the PuckBuddys is back! And he has this preview. Yet another preview. Which, for the record, he doesn't need to do, he just chooses to do. He could stop at any time. Really. Just this one more. Go be co-dependent with him here.]
Morning Skate: Well fiddle-dee-dee. No sooner do we air out the Rangers’ stank from Verizon than the hillbillies from Hooterville return, bringing with them an undiscovered country of smell. Yes y’all, the Carolina Hurricanes are blowing back in, bringing with them their corn-pone, possum caps, crystal meth and Alex Semin, in something like that order.
Just what is happening in hockeyville? What is at the root of this existential struggle? I was contemplating this conundrum when a colleague at work asked me about the loud whooshing in the vent above my desk. “Is it blowing or sucking?” he asked.
This is what happens when you’re in the box too much. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
Backstrom (boarding), Hendricks (holding), Kundratek (delay of game), Ovechkin (tripping), Erskine (hooking), Poti (interference), Brouwer (misconduct) — seven penalties, one period.
“I can’t really explain it without getting into trouble,” Karl Alzner told me when asked about the Caps’ stunning collapse and the calls that caused it in the third frame of Thursday’s game against the Devils. “It just happened.”
Alzner’s mood was echoed by many in the locker room. The Washington Capitals didn’t want to talk about happened during those 20 minutes. And it didn’t really matter whether they wanted to or not — there were no clear answers. Yes, some of the calls were iffy. Yes, they played a good game otherwise (if you also ignore the first 10 minutes of the contest). But this was unacceptable. It was a baffling display. Six penalties in 11 minutes and two goals: that’s what it took to turn a solid win into a crushing loss.Troy Brouwer added a 10 minute misconduct for arguing with the referees at the end of the game just for good measure.
For example, take a look at Thursday’s game against division rival Tampa. The Capitals gained a 4-1 lead, only to surrender two third period goals and barely escape with a win. There were missed poke checks, goals scored from a seated position, and lots of enthusiastic coaching. You know: Caps hockey.
On February 14, 2013, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo credit: Scott Audette
Happy Valentine’s Day, hockey lovers! I hate this stupid day, but I found a good way to pass the time. The Washington Capitals served the Tampa Bay Lightning to some offense-go-boom and peppered it with all the careless defense that makes Caps hockey both fun and infuriating.
Troy Brouwer executed a lovely passing sequence on the game’s opening power play, but Martin St. Louis evened the score with a series of swats at Holtby’s pads. Eric Fehr scored his second goal in as many games by going straight to the net, and then made it three with a rocket from outside in the third period. Jay Beagle reintroduced himself with the dirtiest goal ever scored by a half-human/half-hound. Teddy Purcell got one back with a zero-angle shot that probably went off a Caps skater’s boot, and Nate Thompson made it darn close with a breakaway that Holtby misread. The Caps survived a late-minute panic and earned the win.
When Panthers center Drew Shore scored his crazy, mid-air, ricochet goal and gave Florida a 5-3 lead, all seemed lost for the Washington Capitals this night. But this isn’t the same team of a few weeks ago. Eric Fehr scored on a rebound in front of the net. Alex Ovechkin tied it up with a beautiful wrist shot from the point on the powerplay. And Troy Brouwer got all Herculean and won the game in overtime.
Braden Holtby has been shaky at times this season. After his excellent run in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the young netminder has struggled to find his game the first few weeks of the season. Of course, he wasn’t the only one.
“It’s obviously it’s others saying that — the media and whatnot,” Holtby said of the early season travails. “It doesn’t even come close to the pressure we put on ourselves in this room.”
Saturday, though, we saw the Holtby Caps fans love — saves, sass, and stick handling that can put forwards to shame.
With the Caps on the power play up 1-0 early in the second period — a frame that they’ve had some issues with this season — Holtby scooped up the puck cleared down the rink by the Florida Panthers. The former minor hockey forward then fired a beautiful saucer pass from here to the moon — or rather from the crease to just before the far blue line (around 110 feet), where Troy Brouwer was waiting. Brouwer then rifled a slap shot past Jose Theodore for his second goal of the night (his first tally required less skill and more backside).
“Great play, big goal,” head coach Adam Oates said. “It obviously hurt.”