On February 4, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Strachan vs Martin (Photo: Patrick Smith)
They’re not all barnburners. Some games merely are. They start, sixty minutes pass, and then they’re over. Tuesday’s Capitals-Islanders game wasn’t completely free of drama, but it was a low-scoring, mostly sleepy affair. Every time something cool was about to happen, a countervailing uncool thing (whiff, penalty, Milbury) canceled it out. Worst of all, the Caps lost.
The game went scoreless for 42 minutes until Andrew MacDonald’s muffin floated past Neuvirth. Is that it? Yeah, that’s it. That’s dumb.
On February 2, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Patrick McDermott
It’s Super Bowl Sunday, which means the Washington Capitals once again played a matinee game to set the stage for a whole lot of couch-sitting by you all day. You’re gonna go through a lot of wings, chips, pretzels, assorted other fried things, and bad beer on your way to gridiron glory and hypertension. I shall join you, but not before we revisit the real big game: the Detroit Red Wings at Caps. With a national audience, two (or three) crucial standings points on the line, and a triad of Caps scratched to injury, this was a big one.
Jason Chimera got rewarded for some hard work in the opening minutes, recording the game’s first goal five minutes in. Joel Ward caught a great pass from Nick Backstrom to score a powerplay goal and make it 2-0. The momentum shifted as the Wings got the puck more, resulting in a powerplay goal by Gustav Nyquist, but the Caps struck back with another PP marker– this time from John Carlson.
Tomas Tatar got a sneaky shot under Neuvirth’s shoulder to make it 3-2, but Joel Ward struck back nineteen seconds later. A two-handed slash (a greatslash?) by Troy Brouwer gave the Wings a power play and Nyquist’s second goal of the game.
Nyquist got the hat trick early in the third, obliterating the Caps’ lead, but Troy Brouwer crashed the net and created a new lead following a Wings turnover. That one didn’t last either. Justin Abdelkader was all up in the paint to score after a faceoff in the Caps zone. Into overtime we went.
On January 31, 2014, In Game Recap, By Igor Kleyner
Photo: Luke Glendening
Editor’s Note: Peter and Chris are totally not here tonight. They’re at the Neutral Milk Hotel (who?) concert at DAR Constitutional Hall. Instead of having Ian recap the game poorly in English, we’re throwing a bone to our Russian readers tonight and letting Igor do the recap in Russian Machine’s native tongue! Please translate what we wrote in the comments below. If you’re nice, we’ll help.
Сегодня Кэпиталз привезли свой кошмарный Январь в Детройт. Десять поражений в течении первого календарного месяца нового года и предпоследнее место в таблице своего дивизиона – это уже довольно серьёзно, ну а то как команда проиграла вчера свой поединок в Коламбусе… перечень неприятных впечатлений довольно длинный – совершенно безалаберная игра в обороне, беззубая атака, невероятно “бесполезный” (аж -5!) Овечкин, потенциально серьёзная травма Грина – в общем ситуация хуже некуда. Всего одно очко отделяло Детройт от Кэпиталз в таблице Восточной Конференции перед игрой, да и играли Ред Уингс в прошедшем месяце не намного лучше чем Вашингтон; если бы регулярный сезон закончился сегодня, обе команды вместо плэй оффс учасвовали бы в североамериканском варианте Кубка Надежды – на площадках для гольфа. А ведь Ред Уингс не пропускали борьбу за Кубок Стэнли уже почти четверть века! Смогут ли парни в белых свитерах с зимней классики закончить этот жуткий месяц на победной ноте – или Лорд Волан-де-Морт опять появится на нашей стартовой странице?
I’d be more okay with the Capitals’ play this season — sometimes teams just don’t gel — if they were actually a bunch of terrible players playing terribly. But this team is loaded with a good core: a three-time MVP, one of the best centers in the game, three above-average defensemen, an above-average goaltender, and a bunch of intelligent veteran players. Unfortunately, the players in front of Braden Holtby either repeatedly make the same dumb mistakes, are too passive on defense, or are too careless with the puck.
There is no urgency with this team despite their difficult upcoming schedule and their recent seven-game losing streak. In the last two games, the Caps have given up nine goals against the Sabres and the Blue Jackets. Nine goals. Against the Buffalo freaking Sabres and the Columbus effing Blue Jackets.
Let’s review the Columbus goals. I want you to understand my pain.
It’s f@$&ing freezing here and I didn’t eat dinner. My dog is being an @%^$*. A water main exploded up the street from me, so there’s a river of ice outside my door that has its frozen heart set on shredding my #brittlegroin. Everything sucks and so do you.
Here’s my recap of the Washington Capitals at the Columbus Blue Jackets. Read it at your peril.
The first-period Caps gave up a pair of shorthanded breakaways, the second of which resulted in a Columbus goal. Then Ryan Johansen escaped some decidedly dainty defense to make it 2-0. Brandon Dubinsky’s softy on Braden Holtby early in the second period made it 3-0, and Ryan Johansen got his second goal a little after that.
I drifted into rage blackouts and delirium, but I came to momentarily as Joel Ward got a shorty of his own halfway through the middle frame. Eric Fehr tricked one past Bobrovsky to make it 4-2 and somewhat interesting, but Cam Atkinson extinguished the rally with a quick-response goal.
On January 28, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
That dude in the middle. (Photo: Bill Wippert)
Are the Capitals worse than the Buffalo Sabres? The Sabres might be the worst team the league has seen in a decade, and yet they’ve bested DC twice this season. This third and final game was a towel match. If Buffalo won, they would sweep the season series and Bob Backlund would have to retire. If the Caps won, they’d prove that their 5-0 slump-slaying win wasn’t a total fluke.
The Caps started their effort well, exploding for a pair of Ovi goals in the first period, but they couldn’t hold a lead to save their lives. They lifted the pressure and let Buffalo creep back in. So much for killer instinct. Here’s how it went down.
Alex Ovechkin did the power play thing in the first. No, not the thing where he scores from the Ovi spot. This was the other thing, the one where he scores right after the faceoff. But Ovi wasn’t done; he scored a minute later by deflecting Mike Green’s shot off his trousers. Christian Ehrhoff got Buffalo on the board as John Erskine and Ovechkin were unable to control a rebound.
Cory Hodgson drew a penalty from Jason Chimera and kept working to tie it up with 13 minutes left in regulation. The score stayed like that through sixty, so– for the third freaking time– the Caps and Sabres went to overtime.
When the Washington Capitals traded Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat and Michael Latta last year, an upset and cranky me commented on my own website,”Horrible trade. I’m embarrassed to be a Caps fan today.” To the two people who downvoted me, I will accept your apologies via email, tweet, and/or public groveling.
I didn’t hate the trade because the Caps were trading Forsberg (though I have the utmost confidence he will be a productive player in the NHL). I hated the trade because of the timing and philosophy behind it. The Capitals, worried about losing Mike Ribeiro to free agency, acquired another aging and expensive player. They loaded up for a playoff push despite being pretty dang far away from Stanley Cup contention– and in the process they gave away seven years of a talented young player who just a month ago was named MVP of the World Junior Championships.
A year later, we’re back at the crossroads. General Manager George McPhee — as well as Ted Leonsis and the rest of the organization — have some tough decisions to make about the team’s philosophy moving forward. The Caps are the sixth worst team in the league in the standings, three of their players have publicly requested trades, their defense is holey, and their offense lacks chemistry. But they also have a bevy of talented, young players knocking on the door for roster spots or waiting for bigger roles: Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Riley Barber, and Philipp Grubauer.
So are the Caps rebuilding, retooling, or loading up?
Whatever they decide, these next few weeks will be pivotal for the Capitals. They must make trades ahead of the March 5th deadline. But here’s one deal they better not make: trading for Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.
On January 25, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
How Russians ice fish. (Photo: Francois Lacasse)
The Washington Capitals hadn’t won a game since January 10th, and that was against the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are barely a hockey team. I don’t know why, but the Capitals thought, “hey, maybe we can end this seven-game losing streak against the Montreal Canadiens.” The Habs are the rogues of the PDO world, the Bael the Bard of hockey, most famous for felling the dominant 2010 Capitals and ruining our precious franchise for years. This shouldn’t have been the game where the Caps come back around again, but nothing makes sense in this stupid sport. The Capitals exploded for four goals in the second period and Braden Holtby earned a shutout to end an infinite long streak, recapture the team’s confidence, and make a whole bunch of attendant fathers happy.
Alex Ovechkin opened up scoring right after a second-period power play expired with one of the most lacrostic, greasy-yet-skillalicious goals Hogwarts has seen these many years. Then a puck that John Erskine didn’t even mean to shoot somehow found the twine to make it 2-0 Caps early in the middle frame. Jay Beagle got his first goal of the year, hitting a wide-open net thanks to Tom Wilson’s pass. On the delayed penalty, John Carlson lofted a lazy puck towards the net, improbably beating Carey Price thanks to a deflection.
Carey Price got pulled. Peter Budaj took the spot. Alex Ovechkin set up AHL stud Casey Wellman for his first goal of the year midway through the third.
Before every game, the Washington Capitals usually play soccer. That’s what you get when half your team is European.
The players usually form a circle and kick a soccer ball around in the air. In addition to waking up their muscles and tuning hand-eye coordination, the kickaround is a common team-building activity.
Except tonight, either because the players wanted to change things up due to their seven-game losing streak or because they forgot to pack the right equipment– the players used a giant yoga ball instead of soccer ball. CSN opened their telecast with a clip. It was silly.
On January 21, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Alex Brandon
It has been eleven long days since the Capitals won a game. We’ve had like three or four completely different seasons of weather since the last time they added a point to the standings and after a sparsely attended sixty minutes in snowy Washington, D.C., that streak is gonna get even longer. You’ll be planting succulents and buying beach towels before these guys win again.
Skip this paragraph. After a scoreless first, Kyle Turris got past Karl Alzner and beat Holtby to put the Senators up 1-0. Jason Spezza scored a powerplay marker in the third while Erat was in the box.
That’s it. The Ottawa Senators beat the Caps 2-0. A shutout. That’s six straight losses for the Capitals.