Thursday, February 26, 2009
It was a strange game. The Caps had several short-handed scoring opportunities, but couldn't collect on any of them. In fact, the most distinctive sound heard in Verizon Center on Tuesday was the "ding" of the puck hitting the post and deflecting back onto the ice at least five times. Guys that appeared to have open shots couldn't find the net, and it turns out a two-goal lead wasn't sufficient to come away with a win.
The penalty minutes racked up quickly, as the refs seemed determined to call anything that bore any resemblance to an actual infraction. Both teams enjoyed 5-on-3 advantages at times during the game, but only Philly could capitalize. Overall, it was a much better outing for the Caps than when last they met the Flyers -- in Philadelphia on December 20, when they lost 7-1. It was no less a disappointment, however, as Philly is the only team in the Eastern Conference against which Washington has a losing record this season (1-2-0).
The Caps will face the Flyers once more in the regular season, on March 12 in Philadelphia.
Final score: Caps 2, Flyers 4.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Sergei Federov, Shaone Morrisonn, and Brooks Laich scored goals in the decisive 5-2 win over the Penguins yesterday. The Pens' interim coach Dan Bylsma pulled goalie Marc-Andre' Fleury after the Caps went up 4-2 in the second period and replaced him with Mathieu Garon.
The Caps penalty kill was a major factor in the win. The Pens managed only one goal in eight power play chances totalling over 14 minutes, including almost a minute of 5-on-3. The Caps picked up two power play goals in three opportunities.
Crosby had a few choice words for Ovi at the end of the second period, as Ovi returned to the bench. Words and shoves were exchanged, and Ovi sent Crosby off to the locker rooms with a wave.
The Caps are now 3-0 against Pittsburgh this season. The two teams will meet one more time this season, on March 8 in DC.
The Russians were the stars of this game: Federov was named First Star, Ovi was Second Star, and Third Star went to Semin.
Final score: Caps 5, Pens 2 (W).
Friday, February 20, 2009
It was not a good outing for Jose' Theodore as he faced his former teammates. He made a few great saves, and missed a few that seemed routine. The offense offered little to help Theo, with just one goal from Nicklas Backstrom.
Once again, the Caps yielded a win to a Western Conference foe. They're now 7-10-0 against Western teams, and 30-7-5 against Eastern Teams. The Caps will face the Penguins on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Verizon Center in the NBC NHL Game of the Week.
Final score: Caps 1, Avalanche 4 (L).
Thursday, February 19, 2009
The Habs have struggled lately. Their power play has been anemic, converting only three goals in 26 opportunities in the last 7 games. Alex Kovalev, MVP of the All Star Game, wasn't allowed to make the road trip with the Canadiens, as the team hopes sitting out the games against Washington and Pittsburgh will help him break out of his current slump.
It was a very physical matchup, with the Canadiens delivering 20 hits and the Caps, 19. The Habs took advantage of the Caps' penalties to revive their power play, scoring three power play goals. The Caps put up three markers of their own, each one worthy of highlight reel. The first, by Alex Ovechkin, is the talk of the town, with a move only Ovi could pull off. The second, from Nicklas Backstrom, came off a beautiful give-and-go with Sergei Federov. The third, with just over two minutes left in the third, came courtesy of a David Steckel deflection off a shot from Tom Poti after Steckel won the face-off. Regulation ended with the score tied at 3-3, and both teams were held scoreless in overtime. Off to the shootout!
Fortunately for the Caps, Alexander Semin was back in this game and took the first puck in the shootout, scoring a goal on Carey Price. Backstrom followed and also scored. Jose' Theodore held the Habs scoreless in the shootout, leading to a Caps victory. Final score: Caps 4, Canadiens 3.
Next game: Capitals Vs. Colorado Avalanche on Friday, February 20 at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Ovi and Eric Fehr get some instructions on playing the Wii.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday's game against the Panthers looked quite different from Saturday's game against the Lightning. The Caps had less energy (understandable, given there were only 19 hours between the end of one road game and the start of the next). They also took a ton of penalties -- eight minors. Even so, the Caps held on for three periods to come away with a win.
The story of the game, as it is in so many, is Alex Ovechkin. He scored two goals on Tomas Vokoun and one empty-netter to record his eight career hat trick, and his second in two weeks. Fans could see his determination building throughout the game as he took eight shots on goal, scoring one in the first and two in the third. The team needed him to come through in this game, and he came through in a big way.
Mike Green's consecutive game goal streak ended on Sunday, but Eric Fehr's continues: he scored his fourth consecutive, and his sixth in seven games. Nicklas Backstrom had another two-point game, as he had assists on two of Ovi's goals.
The Caps are 13 points ahead of Florida in the Southeast Division.
The Boys in Red will enjoy a day off today with their fathers before getting back to business in DC. Their next game is at home on Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30 p.m. against the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal has lost five of its last six games, and 10 of the last 13.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Michal Neuvirth made his NHL debut in goal against the Lightning. With his dad watching from a suite above the ice, Neuvirth showed he's got what it takes to compete at this level. His glove was "Lightning" fast as he made 31 saves in the game, starting with a couple of saves in the first period against Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier. He allowed only one goal in three periods (which was actually deflected off the stick of teammate Staffan Kronwall).
Alexander Semin started the scoring for the Caps with a goal off a give-and-go with Nicklas Backstrom in the first. He went on to record two assists for a three point night, earning him a Second Star designation for the game. Semin now has points in 19 of his last 21 games. Semin's goal was followed by goals from Alex Ovechkin and Shaone Morrisonn (his second of the season).
As everyone expected, the night belonged to Mike Green. All eyes were on Green from the first puck drop to see if he would lay claim to the title of "most consecutive game goals by an NHL defenseman" and Green didn't disappoint. Following his power play goal in the second, the entire Washington team converged on the ice to congratulate their teammate and celebrate his achievement. Green also walked away with First Star of the game. Mike's father Dave Green was there to proudly watch as his son made history. If he scores again today, he'll tie the franchise record for consecutive game goals by players in any position, held jointly by Alan Haworth (1985-1986) and Mike Gartner (1986-1987).
Eric Fehr put up his fifth goal in six games. Fehr says he hasn't changed the way he plays; he's doing what he's always been doing, but the pucks are going in. To outside observers, since Chris Clark has been sidelined with a wrist injury, it looks like Fehr has stepped up his game and proven that he deserves his position on this team. Fehr led the team with six shots on goal last night.
Kronwall had two shots on goal, a hit, and a blocked shot in 12:46 of ice time in his debut with the Capitals.
The Caps are doing some of the things they know they have to do to play beyond the regular season. They took only three minor penalties last night and allowed no power play goals during six minutes of penalty killing. They improved their road record to a game over .500 (13-12-4) for the first time this season. And, much to the delight of their fans, they didn't play down to the level of their competition, as they've been known to do on several occasions this season.
Apparently there was a celebration in the locker room after the game involving shaving cream (instigated by Ovi, of course). The Caps didn't have too much time for celebrating, though; they had to head over to Sunrise, Florida to prepare for their 5:00 matchup with the Panthers. The Caps defeated the Panthers at home just eight days ago, 3-1.
Nex game: Caps vs. Panthers (away), on Sunday, February 15 at 5:00. GO CAPS!!!
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The game had an eventful start, with fights involving Donald Brashear and Matt Bradley coming just minutes into the first period. Jay Beagle, who was called up from Hershey for the game, skated on the energy line with Brash and Brads. Beagle earned respect from his teammates, delivering three shots on goal, two hits and two takeaways in 7:41 of ice time.
The Rangers made a concerted effort to contain the offensive artillery of Alex Ovechkin, with two defenders covering him during most of the game. Ovi didn't make it easy for them, though; he delivered 13 hits in the game. He also had an assist on the first goal from Mike Green. Green tied an NHL record for most consecutive goals by a defenseman with his 20th of the season, and he went on to score a second goal in the game. Tomas Fleischman and Eric Fehr also recorded goals in regulation.
The Caps found themselves in penalty trouble once again in this game, logging five minors in the third period including a double-minor to Shaone Morrisonn. Jose' Theodore and the Caps' penalty kill unit successfully defended over nine minutes of short-handed play, however, leaving the score tied 4-4 at the end of regulation. No goals were scored in overtime, which led to a shootout. With the Rangers up by 1, Ovi put one in the net to force a fourth round. The Rangers' Ryan Callahan rang a shot off the crossbar which hit the crease and glided through the paint into the goal, which, unbeknownst to Theodore, constitutes a valid goal in the shootout. The Rangers were again up by 1. Brooks Laich was unable to connect on his ensuing opportunity; the Rangers won 5-4. The Caps came away with a point, and Mike Green was named Second Star of the Game.
The Caps are now in third place in the Eastern Conference, just a point behind the New Jersey Devils. They have the opportunity to gain four points this weekend as they play back-to-back games against Tampa Bay and Florida.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Caps have won all three games they've played against the Rangers this season. If they win tonight in regulation, it would be the first time the Caps have ever taken all available points from their matchups with Rangers for a season.
Wingers Alexander Semin and Viktor Kozlov are both questionable for tonight's game, so the Caps have called up Hershey Bear Jay Beagle in case both have to sit the game out. Look for Jose' Theodore to start in net, backed by Michal Neuvirth. Backup goalie Brent Johnson had surgery to repair a hip injury yesterday; no word yet on the extent of his procedure or expected recovery.
Game time is 7:00 p.m.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Mike Green also got recognition recently in an article on Sports Illustrated.com. (Just ignore the error in the article stating that Mike scored the first goal in the game against the LA Kings, which was actually scored by LW Alexander Semin. Mike scored the second goal of that game.)
Lucky for Caps fans, he's going to be around Washington for a while. Congratulations again, Mike! (c) Photo by Sharon Taylor
Sunday, February 8, 2009
The Caps didn't look like the same team who hosted the LA Kings last Thursday. Other than scoring the first goal early in the game (Eric Fehr's tally just 33 seconds after the first puck drop), there were few similarities between the two contests, especially the defensive performance. There were fewer penalties, and the Caps finally ended a 13-game streak of allowing at least one goal during the penalty kill.
Mike Green continues to set the bar higher and higher for NHL defenseman. Last night, he scored not one but two goals, one on the power play and one empty-netter. He now has 19 goals, 14 power play goals, and 46 points on the season. He leads NHL defenseman in all three categories.
Fehr's goal was the third he's scored in four games (he now has six for the season). In his last five games, he had 20 shots. Prior to that, he had 58 total shots in 28 games.
With five minutes left in the game and the Caps leading by just one goal, Shaone Morrisonn put his teammates in a precarious position when he checked Panthers forward Cory Stillman into the boards from behind. Morrisonn was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct. The Caps were already on a penalty kill at the time, with Sergei Fedorov in the box for interference; now they had to defend a 5-on-3 for just over a minute and play the remainder of the game 5-on-4. The penalty kill unit came through big for the Caps, stopping seven shots during the final five minutes to preserve their lead. Green gave the Caps an insurance goal with just over a minute left when he sent the puck 168 feet into the empty net after the Panthers pulled Goalie Tomas Vokoun for the extra skater.
Jose' Theodore earned first star of the game for blocking 20 shots and allowing just one goal, and David Steckel's assist, 7-for-11 (64%) faceoff performance, and four blocked shots during the penalty kill earned him second star.
Final score: Caps 3, Panthers 1. The Caps will face the Panthers again in just a week when they travel to Florida to play the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina in back-to-back away games next weekend.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Friday, February 6, 2009
Alexander Semin scored the first goal of the game just 15 seconds after the first drop of the puck, the fastest Washington has scored this season.
Alex Ovechkin scored the 200th goal of his NHL career in his 296th game. Only four players have done it faster.
Mike Green scored his fifth goal in five games, setting a club record for the most consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman.
Remarkable accomplishments all, but not enough to help the Caps overcome the Los Angeles Kings on a night when a team fighting to achieve a playoff berth in the Western conference appeared more determined to earn the win. Going into the third period, the Caps were down 4-2, and Ovi's 200th brought the Caps to within a goal of tying. With 1:33 left in regulation, the Kings scored an insurance goal. Brooks Laich's tip-in goal with 1:06 left again closed the gap to only a goal. The Caps took several face-offs in the Kings' zone in the last minute and fired shot after shot in an attempt to force the game into overtime, but Kings goalie Jonathon Quick continued to make spectacular saves on some of the best guys in the business to give his team the win. Final score: Kings 5, Capitals 4.
While Johnny recuperates, Simeon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth will be called up from Hershey to fill in. General Manager George McPhee has indicated the Caps are not looking for anyone outside the Caps system to replace Johnny. Varlamov is out right now himself with a knee injury, but is expected to return soon. Neuvirth suited up on Thursday for the Kings game, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. He may even get a start sometime next weekend when the Caps have back-to-back games in Florida against the Lightning and the Panthers.
Best wishes for a successful procedure and speedy recovery, Johnny!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
All of this comes from a very busy guy: he ranks 10th in the NHL with average ice time per game of 25:33.
Those are amazing accomplishments, and many are starting to speculate as to how strong a candidate Green is to win the Norris Trophy.
In addition to his contributions to the team, Mike Green is also a great guy. He gives back to the community and his fans by providing tickets to deserving children and families of soldiers and low-income families through the Most Valuable Kids program.
You can read more about Mike Green "In The Spotlight" on NHL.com.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Caps are back home tomorrow for a rare visit from the Los Angeles Kings, then Saturday the Florida Panthers will come to call at the Verizon Center. Despite having to deal with yet another round of injuries, fans should expect the Caps to play with the level of enthusiasm and energy appropriate for a team destined for the playoffs. They know the areas they need to improve to make it past the regular season, and they've proven they have what it takes to face off against the best teams in the NHL.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Another Caps player who made the trip, Viktor Kozlov, started the game but left after the first period with a "groin tweak." Not sure how serious the situation is yet. His absence left the Caps' bench short-handed for the remainder of the game and was obviously felt on the ice as Coach Bruce Boudreau juggled his lines to fend off the Devils, who were determind to keep their eight-game winning streak alive.
Let's just hope this isn't the start of another long run of injuries like the one the Caps suffered in November and December. Get well soon, guys!
Coach Boudreau also declined to identify the planned line combinations, so as not to give his opponent any advance information to work with, but he did say they would be different from last Sunday's game against Ottawa. I wouldn't expect any radical changes, though; moving C Nicklas Backstrom and LW/RW Alexander Semin to new lines and different combinations seemed to be pretty effective. It will be interesting to see if they stay that way.
Monday, February 2, 2009
So, what's up with Clark? Turns out he's been plagued by a wrist injury suffered in training camp that hasn't healed. Caps General Manager George McPhee announced today that Clark will have surgery on Thursday to repair the wrist, which will take Clark out for the rest of the regular season. There's a possibility he could be back if the Caps make it deep into the playoffs.
Coach Bruce Boudreau stands behind Clark retaining his role as captain when he's healthy and returns to active status. Caps fans wish Chris Clark a speedy recovery!
The Devils are riding an eight-game winning streak. They're 32-15-3 overall, just one point behind Washington in the Eastern Conference. They're 15-8-1 at home.
Devils Captain RW Jamie Langenbrunner is hot, hot, hot right now. He has three straight two-goal games. He was named the NHL's First Star of the Week for last week and of the Month for January. Here is what teammate C Travis Zajac had to say about his team captain after their overtime win against Pittsburgh on January 30: "He's playing with a lot of confidence right now and burying all his chances. He's working hard and playing hard and making smart plays. As a leader and the captain of this team that's what we expect from him and he's doing a great job."
Goalie Scott Clemmensen, who is the starting goaltender while Martin Brodeur recovers from elbow surgery, is 22-9-1, with a .920 Save % and 2.29 GAA. One of Clemmensen's wins came against the Caps in OT in New Jersey on November 15. The Caps played the Devils in back-to-back games that weekend, with the Caps getting the win in regulation at home on November 14.
The Devils have seven players who have recorded 10 or more goals this season, including Patrick Elias and All-Star Zach Parise. They have four solid offensive lines and three effective d-lines. RW Brendan Shanahan has recorded three goals in four games since returning to the Devils on January 10.
The Caps' record on the road currently stands at 11-12-3, and they are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. To get the win against the Devils, the Caps will need strong goaltending (the Devils have scored 30 goals during their 8-game winning streak) and an impressive offensive performance (NJ has allowed only 125 goals this season, the fifth-fewest in the NHL).
The game begins at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 3 and will be broadcast on Versus.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
- Both the Caps' goalies improved their records. Jose' Theodore got the win on Saturday against Detroit; Brent Johnson on Sunday against Ottawa.
- Alex Ovechkin proved once more why he is indeed the Great 8: he scored goals on Saturday, and earned his second hat trick of the season (and 7th in his career) on Sunday. He leads the NHL with 36 goals on the season. His next goal will be the 200th of his NHL career.
- Mike Green scored a goal in each game, had an assist on Saturday and three on Sunday, for a combined six points in two games.
- Niklas Backstrom, who was moved to the second line with Tomas Fleischman and Eric Fehr for these two games, had two assists in each game and an empty net goal on Sunday.
- Fehr had two of the best games he's had all season, taking 5 shots on Saturday and scoring a goal on Sunday.
- Sergei Fedorov had three assists on Sunday.
- Defenseman Tom Poti was back on the ice for the Caps after missing 15 games with a groin injury, and the blue line was much stronger than they were when he was out.
- The Power Play Unit was excellent on Sunday against the Senators. Just 3 seconds into their first pp of the game, the Caps won the faceoff and Green scored. Less than a minute later, 4 seconds into their second pp, the Caps again won the faceoff and this time Green passed to Ovi, who scored.
- Both games were sold out at Verizon Center, and the Caps treated over 18,000 fans each day to a reminder of why this team is leading the Southest Division. Their record is now 21-3-1 at home, second best in the NHL.
This week will be a busy one for the Caps as the they look to extend their 2-game winning streak. On Tuesday, they travel to New Jersey to face the Devils, who trail the Caps by just a point in the Eastern Conference. Then they come back home to face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and the Florida Panthers on Saturday.