November 23, 2014

About Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres 11/22/14

This one wasn’t as bad as it looked. The Capitals outshot and outplayed the Sabres, basically everything but outscore them, which is kind of how you win games.

Matt Niskanen

He scored the lone Capitals goal (his first in a Capitals sweater) in the 2-1 loss, registered 4 shots on goal, and played 24:16 (tied with John Carlson for team-high TOI). The goal came on the power play, where Niskanen filled in capably for Mike Green, who left the game after taking only one shift in the third period.

Braden Holtby

Holtby keeps getting better and better. This one loss didn’t mar his SV% too much (he finished the night with a .923), and he’s looking more like the goaltender that the Caps need and expect him to be each night.

Alex Ovechkin:

He didn’t score a goal in the loss, but he registered 8 shots on goal and 5 hits. He played 20:06, which was second to Nicklas Backstrom’s (who played 21:56) TOI for forwards.

Washington Capitals Game 20 Recap: Enroth leads Sabres to 2-1 win over Capitals

“I think we believe we can beat any team in this league, and honestly, any team in this league can play really well on a given night, so you can’t just say because of the Buffalo Sabres’ record, it’s a gimme, and obviously it showed tonight,” said Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby after the team’s 2-1 loss to the lowly Buffalo Sabres.

The Capitals lobbed 44 shots and the kitchen sink at Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth, but a one-timer from defenseman Matt Niskanen, his first of the season, was the only puck that made it to the back of the net.

Niskanen was filling in at the quarterback position on the power play for Mike Green, who left the game after taking only one shift in the third period.

Barry Trotz told reporters after the game that he didn’t think Green’s injury was serious, but was planning on checking with trainers at some point to confirm.

Holtby stopped 26 of 24 shots, but the blame for the loss could hardly be put on him. Both Buffalo goals were of a fluky nature. Matt Moulson’s second period goal bounced off the boards and over Holtby’s paddle. Holtby called it“one of those freak goals.”

“I was leaning far to my left to be able to see it, the initial shot. I kind of had to move to my right to begin with, and I took a strange hop, lost my footing somehow. I think it went off Carly’s stick and bounced over mine,” he said.

It’s hard to believe it took 20 games for Matt Niskanen to score his first goal as a Capital, but that can be chalked up to not getting as much power play time as Green or John Carlson. If Green is out for any length of time, expect Niskanen to continue filling Green’s spot at the point on the first power play unit.

Niskanen thought that while there were some good takeaways from the game, the Capitals could have done a few things better, like get traffic in front of the net.

“A lot of pucks hit the net. We could get more bodies in front of the crease,” said Niskanen. “Their goalie was good tonight, but I think he saw too many. More than we would like. We’ve got to start working that into our game. We’re doing a lot of good things, but goalies in this league, if they see shots, they’re going to stop them most of the time.”

Nicklas Backstrom, who registered only one shot on goal in the loss, thinks the team is better than their record shows.

“I think we are playing better at home than the results look like. We’ve got to find a way to start winning home games as well,” said Backstrom.  “We have to show teams that this our barn and this is where we are going to take most of our points. We need to change that for sure.”

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Colorado Avalanche 11/20/14

The Washington Capitals finished their three-game road trip with four out of six possible points, capped off with a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche.

Nicklas Backstrom channeled Peter Forsberg for his first period goal, Daniel Briere got one back for the Avs, but before the second period was over, Jason Chimera scored his second of the season. Colorado inched back with a Tyson Barrie goal in the third, but Alex Ovechkin scored his 9th of the season for the win.

 

First Star:

Alex Ovechkin.

Two-point night for the captain. This guy has scored some zany goals over the course of his career, and he added to his resume with this beauty of a game-winner:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QN6Ucr2jHgg

 

Second Star:

Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom scored a goal and an assist on the win. His assist came on Ovechkin’s crazy third period game-winner.

 

Third Star:

Braden Holtby.

Holtby looks like he’s rebounded from his early season struggles. He’s  4-1-1 in his last 6 games, and stopped 27 of 29 shots in the win, with a SV% of .931.

 

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Arizona Coyotes 11/18/14

In Arizona, Jay Beagle got one, and Eric Fehr got the biggest fish in overtime for the win. Two points, and the Capitals are off to Colorado.

 

First Star:

Eric Fehr.

This season has been weird for Fehr, from playing on the first line to being a healthy scratch. Trotz trusted Fehr enough to keep him on the ice during 4-on-4 overtime, and his confidence paid off with an OTGWG. Fehr only played 10:21, so bonus points for efficiency.

Second Star:

Braden Holtby.

Holtby seems to be coming out of the rough patch he’s been in of late. He was instrumental in the Caps’ 2-1 win, and stopped 23 of 24 shots for a SV% of .958. He’s the difference between the games the Caps should have won and the games they are winning.

Third Star:

Tom Wilson.

Wilson should be commended for his physical play in Arizona. He threw some heavy hits, but it is worth noting that he kept his nose clean and didn’t engage in any extracurriculars. He’s a talented forward and should focus his efforts there. He finished the night with 6 hits, 2 SOG, and 13:55 TOI.

Washington Capitals Game 18 Recap: Capitals down Coyotes with Fehr’s overtime winner

The Washington Capitals needed an extra inning to decide their game against the Arizona Coyotes, where Eric Fehr scored the winning goal. Caps win 2-1.

After a rough weekend with losses to St. Louis and New Jersey, the win was a good bounce back from two straight losses. With the victory, the Caps now stand in 3rd in the Metropolitan Division with 19 points.

Jay Beagle scored his second of the season in the first period, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson evened it up for the Coyotes. In overtime, Fehr netted his third of the season for the game-winner.

A few notes:

  • Braden Holtby stopped 23 of 24 shots for a SV% of .958. Holtby, like his beard, was majestic. He’s finally bouncing back.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov skated 7:32, the second lowest TOI next to Chris Brown, who skated 6:36. Barry Trotz says he’s trying to find minutes for everybody, but burying Kuznetsov on the fourth line clearly isn’t working.
  • The Capitals had 24 shots on goal, including 4 in OT. They had just 2 SOG in the second period.
  • Shot attempts were tied at 50 for both teams.
  • The Capitals were 0/3 on the PP, but were perfect on the penalty kill, killing all 4 Coyotes power plays.
  • Tom Wilson had another strong showing. He led the team with 6 hits, had 2 shots on goal, and played 13:55. Good look for him.

The Colorado Avalanche are up next for the Caps on Thursday at 9 PM eastern time. Since it’s not a back-to-back, expect Holtby to get the start in net. Ride the wave, Trotz, ride the wave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Capitals Power Rankings Week 6

Two losses in three games, (St Louis was rough), but Ovechkin and Johansson are scoring a bit and Backstrom wants all the assists. Brooks Laich is still out, but Tom Wilson only missed one game with whatever it was he had (at least it’s not the mumps).

Rank Player The whatfor
1 Nicklas Backstrom Two points in three games for Backstrom. The 2 assists came against CBJ on 11/11, which the Capitals won 4-2.
2 Marcus Johansson Johansson continues to improve. He logged 2 goals in the Caps win against CBJ, and his 8 goals on the season are on par with Alex Ovechkin and Joel Ward who both have 8 goals apiece as well. .
3 Joel Ward Ward scored his 8th goal of the season in the Caps’ 4-1 loss in St. Louis, tying him with Ovechkin and Johansson, who also have 8 goals apiece.
4 Troy Brouwer Brouwer has 1 point in the Caps last three games, an assist in the win vs. CBJ.
5 Mike Green He stands at 12th in points for NHL defensemen, and has two assists in his last three games. He’s been a consistently positive possession player for the Caps this season.
6 Alex Ovechkin He’s tied for the Caps points lead with Backstrom, and scored 2 goals in the win vs. CBJ.
7 John Carlson Carlson doesn’t have a point in his last three games, and it doesn’t look like he’s seeing a lot of PP time, but he’s taking the brunt of ice time for Caps defensemen (he played 24:51 in St. Louis).
8 Matt Niskanen He hasn’t collected a point is 5 games, but his steadying presence on the blue line should not go unnoticed.
9 Eric Fehr Tom Wilson’s return bumped him back to the third line, and since Joel Ward is the only member of “Gang Green” to see any significant PP time, there’s not been a real opportunity for Fehr to add to his totals.
10 Andre Burakovsky The rookie has 12 points on the season, and collected an assist on each of Johansson’s goals vs. CBJ. He’s tied for 2nd in points by NHL rookies.
11 Braden Holtby Two wins in his last three starts with a SV of .909. That number will likely improve. His puck-handling gaffe against the Devils cost the team the win, however.
12 Karl Alzner Nothing remarkable this week, but Alzer continues to work hard and fly under the radar, as always.
13 Evgeny Kuznetsov He’s been held scoreless in his last 5 games, and still sits with 6 points on the season.
14 Brooks Orpik Orpik is wrangling heavy minutes and heavy hits, but the hits should be taken with a grain of salt. Hitting that much means you don’t have the puck very much.
15 Nate Schmidt He’s collected two assists in his last three games after going scoreless for 14 games to start the season.
16 Jason Chimera Chimera isn’t having a great start to the season as far as goals or points. Only 2 points in 16 games.
17 Tom Wilson Wilson missed one game as a precaution on 11/11. Trotz called him the “best player” on the ice in the loss in St Louis.
18 Jay Beagle Beagle has seen time on almost every line this season. The coaching staff clearly has a lot of confidence in him, and he’s being rewarded for his hard work.
19 Michael Latta Latta has just one assist in 14 games, and while he isn’t a standout, he does his job well.
20

 

21

Justin Peters

 

Chris Brown

His only start this week was a loss, and his SV% is a dismal .882.

Since his call up on Nov. 14, Brown hasn’t added any offense, but he’s a good fourth line energy player.

Brooks Laich Yup.
 – John Erskine Sidelined due to neck surgery. Doubtful he’ll crack the lineup any time soon.
 – Aaron Volpatti Still. On. IR.
 – Jack Hillen Scratched this week.
 – Liam O’Brien Healthy scratch for 3 games this week..
 – Dmitry Orlov He’s skating, but not ready to play yet.

 

 

Washington Capitals Game 16 Recap: Capitals shut out by Devils 1-0, Holtby’s misplay leads to game-winner

Close games are often defined by who dares to make the first mistake. On a slow Friday night in D.C., the Washington Capitals came out on the wrong end of a close game with the New Jersey Devils, excellent at playing the sleepy game, who won 1-0.

The defining play was a misplay of the puck behind the net by Braden Holtby. Holtby left his nest to “create a battle,” he told reporters. He was trying to find Marcus Johansson, but was slashed by Jaromir Jagr as he played the puck.

“I hadn’t touched the puck very much throughout the game, so I didn’t really know what their forecheck was, and I turned around and saw the two guys pressuring pretty hard, so that usually means their half-wall guy is open.”

“I tried to be patient with my read, and I took too long, probably made the wrong read, and the guy [Jagr] slashed my stick when I went to clear it. At that point in the game, you have to pick the safe play, and I didn’t, and it cost us,” said Holtby.

Holtby was forced to let go of the puck, and it caromed to a ready and waiting Mike Cammalleri, who scored the game-winning goal in to a virtually empty net. Brooks Orpik was in front, but he didn’t stand a chance.

“In hindsight, a 0-0 game- at that point you just need to rip it up the half wall, up the glass, a safe play. That’s a mistake I can’t make,” said Holtby. “It looks unfortunate, cause its 0-0, but you can prevent that from happening by realizing what time of the game it is, what type of game it is, and then not being fancy with the puck. “

Holtby stopped 27 of 28 shots, and defenseman Karl Alzner thought his goaltender “played great.”

“I haven’t talked to him about it yet, but it looked like that guy [Jagr] got a good hack on him right as he was going to play the puck,” said Alzner. “That’s happened to me before and you can’t really do much about it, so it’s just a tough break. He played a great game and that’s the way we have to look at it.”

The Capitals were packing up to head to St. Louis shortly after the game, and the back-to-back game doesn’t give them a whole lot of time to dwell on their bad luck. These types of games are won or lost in a split second.

“Obviously we would have liked to be on the winning end of that, said Alzner. “That’s a big game for us, but the effort was pretty good for us, so we’ve got to be somewhat happy with that. But those two points are the ones we need.”

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 11/11/14

The Washington Capitals won their third straight game Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin had two goals apiece in the 4-2 win.

Jay Beagle played on the first line and didn’t screw anything up. He even dished a slick no-look pass to Ovechkin on his first goal. Nate Schmidt got his first point of the season with a secondary assist on Johansson’s second goal of the night. He’s probably smiling about that right now. Additionally, Braden Holtby stopped 24 of 26 shots and had one of his better performances this season.

 

First Star:

Marcus Johansson.

With his two goals Tuesday night, Johansson now has 8 goals on the season, and has already eclipsed his goal total from last season. He has as many goals as Ovechkin, and had 8 shots on goal (career high) against Columbus. His trigger finger is serving him well.

 

Second Star:

Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin had 8 shots on goal in his 2-goal performance. Pretty insane until you realize Johansson had 8 SOG as well. The Caps player with the next highest SOG was John Carlson with 3.

 

Third Star:

Andre Burakovsky.

Burakovsky assisted on both of Johansson’s goals, bumping him up to 12 points on the season. His line with Johansson and Troy Brouwer is clicking well. The Caps top six is producing a lot of goals, and it’s no coincidence they’re on a winning streak.

 

Honorable mention:

Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom collected two assists, one on each of Ovechkin’s goals. He’s up to 16 points on the season.

Washington Capitals Power Rankings Week 5

What an interesting week for the Washington Capitals. After losing five straight games, the Caps collected a home and a road win during a weekend back-to-back. Tom Wilson and Brooks Laich got hurt, and Eric Fehr and Evgeny Kuznetzov were healthy scratches. Jay Beagle is a first-liner (again), so get well soon, Tom (please).

Rank Player The whatfor
1 Nicklas Backstrom Backstrom scored 2 goals and an assist this week, including an overtime game-winner against Carolina. He’s the heart and soul of the team.
2 Marcus Johansson Johansson is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. He has two goals and an assist in 3 games, and has adopted the “shoot first” mentality quite well. .
3 Joel Ward Ward scored the game-winner in Chicago on 11/7, and now has 7 goals, one more than Alex Ovechkin. He can thank Trotz for all that power play time.
4 Troy Brouwer Brouwer has a goal and an assist in three games, and would probably be a better choice than Beagle for the top line while Tom Wilson is convalescing.
5 Mike Green Green had one assist in three games this week, but has consistently driven play as a positive possession player. His 11 points is good enough for 13th in the NHL for points by a defenseman.
6 Alex Ovechkin He didn’t score any goals this week, but had 3 assists in 3 games. Let’s hope he doesn’t weigh down his new linemate Jay Beagle
7 John Carlson Carlson had two multi-point games this week, for a total of three points. He leads all Caps defensemen in points, with 11, and ranks 7th points by a defenseman in the NHL. (Mike Green has one more goal and two fewer assists).
8 Matt Niskanen The Caps broke their 5-game losing streak in Chicago on 11/7, and Niskanen collected two assists. He’s steady in his own end, and can be trusted to make the right decisions when he has the puck.
9 Eric Fehr Fehr was a healthy scratch for two games, but he scored a goal in his first game back on Saturday night. He had 4 SOG that night, tied with Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Johansson.
10 Andre Burakovsky The rookie scored a goal and added an assist in the Capitals’ win in Chicago. His production has dropped off a bit, but that’s expected. He’ll be just fine.
11 Braden Holtby Holtby rebounded from several bad showings with a 40-save performance in the Caps 3-2 win in Chicago, in which he boasted a .950 SV%.
12 Karl Alzner The 26 year old defenseman added an assist, his third of the year. He’s not taking the heavy minutes that he used to but he and Niskanen are a solid second defensive pairing.
13 Evgeny Kuznetsov Kuznetzov might be struggling to adapt to the NHL, or he’s struggling because he’s skating with the fourth line most nights. Or he’s a healthy scratch, like 11/7. Either way, give him time. He deserves better, but hockey isn’t fair.
14 Brooks Orpik Orpik is taking some heavy minutes and facing tough competition night after night. It almost makes up for his untimely defensive-zone turnovers.
15 Nate Schmidt He’s logging close to 20 minutes a night with D-partner Mike Green, and though he doesn’t have a point yet this season, he’s been a positive possession player for the Caps.
16 Jason Chimera He hasn’t scored or had a shot on goal in 4 games, but Chimera’s third line is a capable shutdown line most nights.
17 Tom Wilson Wilson sustained a ‘”lower-body” injury Saturday in the second period of the Caps home game against Carolina. He’s listed as “questionable” for  Tuesday’s home game as well.
18 Jay Beagle The fourth liner earned a promotion to the Caps top line, thanks to Tom Wilson’s injury on Saturday. He also scored his first goal of the season (prior to the first line promotion). Sure, he works very hard, can certainly deserves the respect he’s garnered from the coaching staff, but just ask Adam Oates how well 8-19-83 worked out last season. It wasn’t pretty.
19 Michael Latta Latta doesn’t face very tough competition, but he has a positive Corsi rating and gets the job done.
20 Justin Peters Peters allowed 3 goals in the Caps’ OT win vs. his former team, the Hurricanes. His .882 SV% doesn’t look very good right now, but there’s still time for him to turn things around.
Brooks Laich Out with an “upper-body” injury, per the team. He last played on 11/7, and was reevaluated by team medical staff on Monday.
 – John Erskine Sidelined due to neck surgery. Doubtful he’ll crack the lineup any time soon.
 – Aaron Volpatti
  1. Still.
 – Jack Hillen Scratched this week.
 – Liam O’Brien Healthy scratch for 3 of the last 5 games.
 – Dmitry Orlov Yup, still on IR.

Washington Capitals Game 14 Recap: Capitals blow lead, but Backstrom wins it 4-3 in OT over Hurricanes

Friday night in Chicago, the Washington Capitals were able to overcome a multi-goal deficit to win. Saturday night in DC, the Capitals were the ones who were nearly vanquished by the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, but fought back in overtime to win 4-3.

The Caps led 3-1 after two with goals from Troy Brouwer and Jay Beagle, respectively, in the first period. Eric Fehr padded the lead in the second period, with his second goal of the season. But the Hurricanes creeped back in. Goals in the third period by Eric Staal and Elias Lindholm sent the game to overtime. Nicklas Backstrom nailed an Alex Ovechkin rebound home for the 4-3 win.

 

  • Tom Wilson left the game in the second period with an upper body injury. It is not related to his ankle injury, per Barry Trotz.
  • Eric Fehr tied Marcus Johansson, Ovechkin and Backstrom with 4 shots on goal. He wasn’t present in the overtime period, because Trotz said he wanted a player that was better in “open ice.” Joel Ward got the call instead, but the logic is flawed. Ward is a grinder who scores most of his goals from close range. Fehr is a speedy winger with a good shot. There may have been something else that factored into the decision to keep Fehr on the bench during OT, and the Caps won anyway, but there was probably a better solution.
  • Thanks to Tom Wilson’s early exit, Jay Beagle earned yet another promotion to the Capitals top line. Beagle is a hard working grinder who does put a lot of effort into what he does, but he is not a top-six caliber skater or offensive talent by any stretch. He has 14 goals through 201 career games. Those numbers aside, it makes sense that the coach would want to shake things up a bit, but why not shuffle amongst the top-six? Ovechkin needs a guy on the other side that can keep up with his speed and skill, and Beagle isn’t the best choice for that.
  • Brooks Laich missed the game with an “upper body” injury, per the team. Trotz mentioned that he was kept out of the game as a precautionary measure, and his shoulder will be reevaluated by the medical staff on Monday.
  • Justin Peters didn’t have a great night. He got the start because Braden Holtby faced 40 shots in Chicago on Friday, and it was a back-to-back situation. The Canes’ 3rd goal was a deflection, but it was definitely one that he should have stopped. Goaltending is not a concern for the Capitals, but it has played a role in the team’s record.
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