halak-new-mask

On a day when Ryan Miller dumped his white mask in favor of a beautifully painted music inspired mask, Washington Capitals goaltender Jaroslav Halak has done the same.

Last week, you’ll remember, we asked Halak if he was getting his bucket painted.

“I’m getting my mask soon,” Halak said to me, too embarrassed to hold up his vanilla bucket. “It’s by a painter [from] Montreal.”

Well today, Diel Airbrush released photos of Halak’s new mask and it’s majestic.

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One Down, Three to Go: Caps beat Ducks 3-2!

Debora Robinson

Photo: Debora Robinson

Alright, here we go.

The Caps’ Californian vacation is a crucible that will decide exactly of what this team is made. If the Caps can do the impossible and sweep these four games (the fourth at home against the Kings), they could once again make a late-season push for the postseason. With Tuesday’s narrow win over Bruce Boudreau and his Anaheim Ducks, those hopes are still alive.

Here’s how it all went down.

Joel Ward and the terrific third line did their thing again, crashing the net for the game’s first goal. The Ducks struck back as any Caps opponent would do: within the next minute. Before the first period was up, Troy Brouwer converted on the power play to give the Caps a one-goal lead.

The Caps survived a scoreless second period, but Mathieu Perreault found space and a screen to tie the game early in the third. That simply set the stage for Alex Ovechkin, who scored one of his cleanest Ovi shots from the Ovi spot. Halak fought off a late scramble by the Ducks.

Caps beat Ducks 3-2!

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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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caps-baby-earmuffs

With five minutes left to go in a successful first period, CSN panned to the crowd. Smart move. Those crowd shots have been a treasure trove lately. Today, CSN found an adorable baby wearing a Caps jersey and noise-canceling ear muffs and eating some kind of oblong-looking cracker thing.

It’s okay if you need a moment.

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CapsGreenJerseys-3

Photos by Chris Gordon

You might had to contend with hordes of drunk dudebros in green on Saturday night. That’s life around St. Patrick’s Day.

On Sunday afternoon, the Capitals got in the spirit of the holiday. They wore green jerseys, modified versions of the team’s third-line practice sweaters with shamrocks on the shoulders and inside the numbers.

The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game outside section 109. Some of the profits benefiting the Anacostia Watershed Society, which helps clean up the river.

Below, take a look at some of my sweet iPhone shots of the duds. My camera’s memory card, um, failed.

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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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dmitry-orlov-re-signs

Photo: Evan Vucci

The Washington Capitals have announced that they have signed defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a two-year contract worth an average annual salary of two million dollars.

Orlov will earn $1.75M in 2014-15 and $2.25 in 2015-16.

Orlov has scored three goals and six assists with the Caps this season despite not playing until November 30th. Orlov spent the first two months of the season between Hershey and Washington, where he was kept a healthy scratch to avoid an escape clause in his contract. Since returning to the ice, Orlov has been the team’s strongest possession defenseman.

Following a hit on Brayden Schenn on March 2nd, Orlov was suspended two games– the first suspension of his career.

The Capitals have no restricted free agents left to re-sign this season. Unrestricted free agents Dustin Penner, Mikhail Grabovski, and Jaroslav Halak all have contracts that expire after this season.

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Gregory Shamus

Photo: Gregory Shamus

It was right around this time last year the Washington Capitals kicked off a hot streak that lofted them to the postseason. Losing twice in as many days to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps don’t look like liable to do that again.

The Penguins aren’t a great team. They’re way top-heavy on offense and somewhat disadvantaged on defense, but they’re still way way better than the Caps– both in composition and execution.

Evgeni Malkin sort of owned an offensive-zone shift against Orlov and the top line, releasing an actual perimeter shot that Jussi Jokinen delected in. That was all the goal-scoring we got until Crosby beat Orlov, Carrick, and Halak to make it 2-0 with five minutes left. The Caps mounted a little comeback attempt, but forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.

Shutout.

Pens beat Caps 2-0.

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High Tension in Kuzya’s Debut: Pens beat Caps 3-2

Nick Wass

One legged ant-eater (Photo: Nick Wass)

Caps-Pens! The biggest rivalry in DC sprots! With only 18 standings points between them–

Wait, really? The Pens are that far ahead? Oh golly. Lean times in the District.

Moving on… the Caps need to make up some ground in the eastern conference if they want to make the playoffs, but they’re gonna have to do better than what they did on Monday night. Giving up an early goal and Sidney Shot from the Sidney Spot gave Pittsburgh enough of a boost early on to fend off a Caps surge in the second.

Chris Kunitz scored all of 46 seconds in, taking a pass of Sidney Crosby and beating Mike Green on his way to the not-perimeter. Eric Fehr fought back with a nifty finish set up by Jason Chimera, but the Pens fired back with Crosby’s one timer on the power play.

The Caps tied it up in the second as Nicky Backstrom banked a pass of some poor Penguin in the paint. That was fun, but then Chris Kunitz restored the Penguins lead off a rebound off Halak’s pads a little after the halfway mark.

The Caps could not convert a late-game power play. Cram.

Pens beat Caps 3-2.

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The Comeback Caps beat Coyotes 3-2 in Rego!

Carolyn Kaster

Photo: Carolyn Kaster

The Washington Capitals wrapped up a week of tremendously unimpressive hockey with a stunning comeback win over the Phoenix Coyotes.

It started off great with Alex Ovechkin generating four shots in the game’s first six minutes, but the Caps couldn’t sustain the pressure, giving the Coyotes the puck and plenty of opportunity to pepper first-time Capitals Jaroslav Halak in goal. Down two goals with ten minutes to go, the Caps summoned up some magic they hadn’t used since last week: even-strength scoar.

Brandon McMillan struck first, catching Keith Yandle’s stretch pass while the Caps were making a line change. Radim Vrbata made it 2-0 with a power play goal that dwibblwed between Halak’s pads.

But then! Karl Alzner tallied goal number two of the season thanks to a feed from Eric Fehr, and then Brooks Laich tied it up thirty seconds later. Life back in Verizon Center, and then everyone’s head exploded as Backstrom gave Troy Brouwer a layup to put the Caps up from the Ovi spot.

This stupid team. This stupid, lovely team.

Caps beat Coyotes 3-2.

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