Kuznetrick! Caps beat Canucks 4-3

Nick Wass

Photo: Nick Wass

The Washington Capitals have been taking it on the chin since the Olympic break. Friday’s game against the similarly struggling Vancouver Canucks was a primo opportunity to save face and play some thick and proud Caps hockey. Plus, the new guy was freaking superb.

The third line opened it up with a terrific shift. Eric Fehr drove the puck, but got bounced away by Eddie Lack. Luckily, Jason Chimera served it up to Joel Ward, who scored on his second swing. Jordan Schroeder tied it up for the Canucks on a broken play.

In the second, Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his first career NHL point on an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot and then set up Tom Wilson via a glorious slap pass to give the Caps a dreaded two-goal lead.

Shawn Matthias and Nicklas Jensen tied it up in the third– erasing the Caps’ 12th two-goal lead of the season. No matter. Mike Green found the net three minutes later, set up by some nifty behind-the-net moves by Backstrom and Kuznetsov. Alexandre Burrows rang post with eight minutes left but found no twine.

Caps beat Canucks 4-3.

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All Tomorrow’s Penalties: Canucks beat Caps 3-2

Jonathan Hayward

Photo: Jonathan Hayward

Man, it is late. Are you awake? Okay, just stick with me for a minute and then you can go to bed.

It’s been a long, tough road trip for the Capitals. Western Canada has been mostly forgiving to the team’s softer features (e.g. like everything that happens in their end of the ice), but the Caps needed a win over Vancouver in this final game to get  back to .500 on the season. The thing about wins, though, is they require your team to score more goals than the other team.

Zack Kassian beat the Caps 4th line to a loose puck and scored the game’s first goal. Jason Chimera knotted the score a bit later with a Kanooblian goal up in Luongo’s face. After a scoreless second period, Jason Chimera dived to feed Mikhail Grabovski on the go-ahead goal. Ryan Kesler nullified the lead soon after with a lay-up on a loose puck, and then Daniel Sedin put the Canucks up after a lengthy O-zone occupation against the Caps top line.

Canucks beat Caps 3-2.

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Canucks beat Caps 7-4, Get Out of America’s Hat ASAP

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward

Photo credit: Jonathan Hayward

The Washington Capitals ended their expedition through Western Canadia with a game against the Vancouver Canucks. These being the two most offensively potent teams of the last two seasons, the Saturday night bout had the rapt attention of all of Canada and the five or six D.C.-area fans who didn’t get invited to Halloween parties (e.g. us).

Tomas Vokoun left the net to play the puck, but retreated back just in time for Maxim LaPierre to bank it off his skates and into the net. Alex Ovechkin returned fire with a swat that rolled behind Roberto Loungo’s tuchas. On the power play, Christopher Higgins had all night to shoot, grab a rebound, and shoot again. Alexander Edler zeroed in on the net early into a power play to make it 3-1. Alex Ovechkin fired a laser pew pew pew on the power play. Mike Knuble put enough stank on his penalty shot for it to wobble past the goalie– tie game.. Edler struck again, one-timing from wide open after a pass from one of the Sedin twins. Marcus Johansson seized on a bad Canucks line change to beat Luongo and tie the game.

Then Alex Ovechkin committed interference, and it all went to hell.

Relief goalie Michal Neuvirth bobbled the  puck to give Henrik Sedin for an easy tip-in. Soon after, Chris Higgins skated past a wiped-out Sean Collins to give Canucks a two-goal lead. Maxim LaPierre’s semi-breakaway made it a three-goal lead. Canucks beat Caps 7-4.

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Jonathan Hayward

You know the deal: Doug Johnson. Puck Buddys. Twitter.

The Puck Drop: Well, that was unpleasant, Caps.

That “nervous feeling” we had?  A little too much rest, a little too little regard for the opponent? That, combining with a too many penalties, snapped our garters and our streak. Lookie here, Canada: we tried being nice, and you had to go and dump all over our parade. We obviously need to approach this in a different way.

The Set Up: If you’re anything like us – and frankly, what are the chances of that? – you’ve always had a secret crush on Vancouver. It’s like Portland, but with less smug. And more Olympics. So we were seriously pulling for the Canucks to smear Boston’s smelly faces all over the ice last June, which they didn’t. (They did sort of try to riot, however, which was really very cute.) But now it’s different. City-crush be darned; we want the Canucks, and we want to break them, especially after that Edmonton nonsense with the Jonas Brothers Line, and that brick-wall Japanese netminder of theirs, Kabuki something.

And we just might get them. From last year’s highs the Canucks have fallen… well, not to new lows, but certainly somewhere in the mid-level yawns. 4-5-1 is not the start of a championship season. Pucks on net seems to be the biggest problem; in only 10 games so far they’ve been shut out three times. So….

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Update: Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportsnet reports that Matt Cooke has been suspended by the NHL for the rest of regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

During Sunday’s Penguins vs. Rangers game, Matt Cooke was up to his old tricks. The 32 year-old former Capital delivered an elbow to the head of a defenseless Ryan McDonagh. The Ranger player went down like a sack of potatoes but fortunately was uninjured. Cooke received a five minute major for elbowing on the play and a game misconduct. As Daniel Tolensky points out, Cooke has played in 881 NHL games yet has only been suspended a total of ten matches in his career. The League obviously deserves some of the blame for allowing Cooke’s dirty play to continue without significant consequences for his actions.

A month ago, Pens owner Mario Lemieux criticized the NHL for being too soft on the Islanders’ players that participated in the mega-brawl between New York and Pittsburgh. Just a week ago, Sidney Crosby said the NHL needed to fight deliberate head-shots. But now their own player, Matt Cooke, is once again under Colin Campbell’s review. Below, we’ve chronicled Cookie’s dirty deeds throughout the years.

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willie-mitchell Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images North America

“We need a blueliner” is a typical Caps Fan’s lament this offseason (second only to DAMMIT!) and recently unrestricted free agent defenseman Willie Mitchell has been rumored to be in the Capital’s cross-hairs. Mitchell has been training and skating for 18 days and is finally symptom-free after his latest concussion – all fueling speculation that his signing is imminent.

But would Wilie Mitchell a good fit on the Capitals’ blueline?

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Hart Trophy Should Be A Two-Horse Race

It's a two-horse race. Will Henrik Sedin win the Hart Trophy this year? (Photo by Harry How)

With the regular season winding down it’s only fitting we should start seeing opinions on who should win the Hart Trophy, “given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”

Edward Fraser feels there are a quintet of contenders while Ken Campbell argues Henrik Sedin deserves to be included in the conversation but doesn’t deserve to win it. Tim Morgan thinks both Gaborik and Lundqvist deserve nominations but when it comes down to it, based on previous voting, it is shaping up to be a two-horse race: Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin.  (Sorry Sidney, maybe next year?)

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Can The Washington Capitals Win The Presidents Trophy This Year?

With only 12 games to go the Washington Capitals are within striking distance of another franchise first: The Presidents’ Trophy.

Along with the cash bonuses to the organization it ensures home ice advantage throughout the playoffs – a huge plus to a team with a 26-4-4 record at the Phone Booth and PK issues away.

It is a five horse race (Washington, Chicago, Phoenix, Vancouver and San Jose) and the Caps have the easiest road to the prize.

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Wednesday Webhits: How Many Career Goals Can AO Score?

Wednesday Webhits - Can Alex Ovechkin Score 1009 Goals?

This week we look at Alex Ovechkin’s chances of going down as the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history, a break-down of last week’s big Kovalchuk trade, a look at the change in average shift length for today’s players versus those from 10 years ago (with a certain Capital being a rare exception), and busting a few common myths using the Vancouver Canucks as an example.

I had to wrangle these links up quickly, since I forgot what day it was. That’s when happens when you’re snowed in for almost a week without seeing the outside world. At least I had my spreadsheets to keep me busy.

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Last night on Twitter, while I was in character, a few requests were made to me after the Caps 3-2 Loss to the Vancouver Canucks:

  • edmorgans: @russianmachine Can you “lose” Poti in a snow drift somewhere between Vancouver and Edmonton? No one would suspect you!!!
  • jdb820: @russianmachine Can you do to Poti what you did to Nylander?

While it’s still unclear to me what Ovechkin did to Nylander (give him vodka and an ikea gift card?), I don’t get the anger towards Tom Poti. Yes, Tom Poti took a tremendously ill-timed third period penalty for cross-checking. Yes, as he skated over to the penalty box, he completely showed up the referee, slammed the penalty box door and got awarded another penalty – making his costly 2 minute minor an even more terrible double minor. Yes, the Canucks scored during the first penalty, took a 3-2 lead they’d never relinquish, and then used the second minor penalty to erase another 2 minutes of valuable comeback time. Alright so I get it. His penalty is what allowed the Canucks to win the game.

But I’m not going to throw him under the bus. Poti is a key veteran on this team, and the penalty he took last night was at best a questionable call by the referee. He shouldn’t of cross-checked Canucks agitator Alex Burrows so high, but it was painfully clear to me that Burrows dove. If you’re going to take a penalty though, an aggressive play in the defensive zone is alright by me. Now the hooking and holding penalties Alex Semin has taken in the third period of other games – in the offensive zone – is another story.

But last night, I was more peeved with Jeff Schultz’s ill-timed own goal in the first period. Take a look Below:

Jose Theodore stopped a hooked Ryan Kesler breakaway attempt after Mike Green tried to obstruct the star winger. Schultz, who trailed on the play, came up to the stopped puck, tried to kick it from skate to stick, and then watched the goal slowly enter the yawning net in horror. Because there was a penalty in the process of being called, Bruce Boudreau begged the officials to take away the tally, because he believed Schultz demonstrated possession of the puck. I completely disagree however, because if Schultz had possession, he wouldn’t of kicked the freakin puck in the net.

So as I start reading Tarik El-Bashir’s recap in his blog, this is what I read in his introduction:

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