January 25, 2022

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars 1/17/15

For the second night in a row, the Capitals battled back from a multiple goal deficit, but fell short of a comeback. Justin Peters got his first start since the end of November and it wasn’t a great outing. Rust, maybe. The loss was they Caps’ second loss in as many night,s but they’ll bounce back. Regression happens.

First star: Nicklas Backstrom. He added two points in the 5-4 loss, a goal and an assist on Alex Ovechkin’s third period breakaway.

Second star: Alex Ovechkin. He has four points in Washington’s last two games (both losses), but scored his 25th goal against Dallas and assisted on Backstrom’s third period goal, his 16th assist of the season.

Third star: Eric Fehr. Since the Winter Classic, Fehr has notched six points in seven games, including a two-goal performance in Toronto. His second period goal in Dallas, his 14th of the year, got Washington’s comeback started. He also won 15 of 16 faceoffs. Not bad for a guy who didn’t play at center until last season.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals 3, Nashville Predators 4

First Star: Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin’s two goals wiped out a two-goal deficit and nearly saved the game for the Capitals. He was sniffing for a hat trick, but it was not meant to be. Tonight showed he can still carry the team on his back when called upon. He finished with nine shots on goal and one hit.

Second Star: Braden Holtby. Seriously, this guy. He allowed four goals on 30 shots, but made some four-alarm saves along the way. He’s a large part of the Caps’ successful run over the last month and a half. He’s probably tired, and he’ll get a rest against Dallas.

Third Star: Nicklas Backstrom. Two assists, bringing his total to 31 on the year, is impressive, to say the least. He assisted one of Ovechkin’s goals, and Marcus Johansson’s short-lived  third period go-ahead goal.

 

Washington Capitals Game 43 Recap: Holtby keeps hot hand, blanks Flyers

CHIMERA SCORES LONE GOAL AS CAPS INCH CLOSER TO TOP OF METRO

Braden Holtby made 21 saves to shutout the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 Wednesday night at Verizon Center. His 20th consecutive start was his fourth shutout of the season, third since his consecutive games streak started.

The Capitals are 14-2-4 in their past 20 games, just there points shy of the Islanders for first in the Metro. Holtby has a 1.98 goals-against average, .934 save percentage in that span.

Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle have found a strange sort of chemistry. On their line’s first shift of Wednesday’s game, Chimera scored the game’s lone goal. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 41 Recap: Holtby key to Washington’s success

At the halfway mark of the season, the Washington Capitals aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, and many of the problems that plagued them at the start of the season appear to be mostly eradicated.

Their 3-1 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings punctuated the halfway milestone for the Capitals, who returned home from a road trip that saw them a dominant win in Toronto and a tired overtime loss in Philadelphia.

Saturday’s win was Washington’s fifth straight, but don’t call it a streak. “If we want to be an elite team, this shouldn’t be a hot streak,” said Braden Holtby, who backstopped the Capitals to their 22nd win of the season. “This should be a normal streak for us.”

Holtby, ever humble, notched his 20th win of the season Saturday night (marking his third consecutive season with 20 or more wins) and remains key to Washington’s success. He’s started in more than half of the team’s games this season – 23. He’s been on fire.

Joel Ward called it “beast mode.” Whatever it is, Holtby has been able to shake off any problems that might have lingered from last season, when Adam Oates was behind the bench.

Holtby started 48 games in 2013-14, with a record of 23-15-4. In 36 starts, he’s set to surpass last year’s wins at only halfway through the season.

Last season, which will go down as one of the weirdest times to be a goalie in Washington, Holtby was shuffled around by Oates, who at one time kept three goalies at his beck and call: Michal Neuvirth, who was eventually traded to Buffalo for Jaroslav Halak; Philipp Grubauer, who now waits in the wings in Hershey; and Holtby.

This year is different. Barry Trotz has placed his confidence in Holtby as Washington’s starting goaltender, and Holtby is so far repaying that trust in full.

Winter Classic: Leonsis calls 2015 game “the best Winter Classic”

For the host team, sometimes a Winter Classic win feels like more than two points, but you can hardly fault them. The hockey world was watching, and the Capitals delivered. Troy Brouwer scored the game-winner for the Washington Capitals against his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, with seconds remaining in regulation. The Capitals won 3-2, and it was as thrilling a finish as you’d expect from an event like the Winter Classic. It was made for the big time.

After Washington’s victory, Washington Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis cautioned, as if to remind himself, “I don’t want to make this more than it is.”

The Winter Classic has been the NHL’s marquee event since 2008, and Leonsis had been gunning for one of his own ever since his Capitals visited the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2011.

In the end, the game is still worth two points, but Leonsis hopes it is a signal of future successes for the franchise he’s devoted so much to over the years.

“I mean, I’m hoping that we can continue to be a franchise that can accomplish bigger things that winning the Winter Classic.”

For Leonsis, it wasn’t only about the spectacle, it was about the experience. His deep investment in the event and its execution added an emotional factor to the day.

“I knew that our fans would fill the stands, be a sea of red,” said Leonsis. “I knew that the NHL really has their execution of this event down. And we were good hosts. We spent a lot of time – I personally spent a lot of time – walking around the building. I saw all the care over every detail.”

Leading up to the event, some felt that there wasn’t a lot of buzz or excitement surrounding the Chicago – Washington matchup, since both teams have played in multiple outdoor games, and neither are conference rivals. So while the game was worth as much as any other regular season contest, it didn’t possess the spark that typically accompanies matchups between divisional and conference rivals.

Despite doubts, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman wouldn’t have allowed Washington as the host of the game if he didn’t believe it would succeed.

“The fact of the matter is, we wouldn’t have brought the Winter Classic here, despite Ted’s persistence, if we didn’t think it was right,” Bettman told reporters after the game. “It’s Ted’s persistence, not just in pursuing this event, but in making the Caps such an important part of the sports scene in Washington.”

“It’s Ted’s pursuit and persistence — in making the Capitals such an important part of the community – that brought us to the point that we believed that by bringing the Winter Classic to Washington we could have a great event and that’s what we had.”

Leonsis felt the league’s faith in his franchise was rewarded. “It does feel good to have the league believe in us, and I think this was the best Winter Classic.”

“If you look at the quality of the game, the speed of the game, the quality of the ice … I think the weather was absolutely perfect. And to win at the buzzer basically, it makes for great theater, great drama.”

Besides his team winning the game, Leonsis cherished a moment he witnessed before the fanfare of the day began.

“I was walking to do an interview this morning, and there was a mother and daughter, and they had their arms around each other, and they just had the biggest smiles on their faces. I just stopped, and I looked at them,” said Leonsis. “One of the ladies blew me a kiss. I mean, those are the kind of moments you want to capture. You want to make lifelong memories.”

 

Jason Chimera weighs in on Joel Ward’s Winter Classic advertisements

Last week, Joel Ward took over the internet and the Navy Yard Metro station in D.C. with a series of advertisements for Winter Classic toques sponsored by Reebok.

After Washington’s last home game before the Winter Classic, Ward said none of his teammates had seen the ads yet, thus sparing him from any potential ridicule.

“If we could keep that on the downlow, that’d be great,” he said. [Read more…]

Joel Ward hasn’t seen his own Reebok ads, wants to keep them “on the downlow”

Earlier today, on my way back from Nationals Park, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the giant banners that were smattered around the Navy Yard metro station. The ads, by Reebok, depict Joel Ward engaging in a plethora of manly activities, all while sporting a Reebok Winter Classic toque.

The one that got the most attention showed Ward, shirtless, sitting in a hole in an iced-over lake in the middle of nowhere.

joel-ward-hot-tub-winter-classic-607x426

So many questions.

I had a hunch that he’d already gotten some guff from his teammates about the ads, namely his linemate, Jason Chimera, also know as his “twin”.


joel-ward-winter-classic-ads5-550x1024 joel-ward-winter-classic-ads3-607x345

As it turns out, Ward hasn’t even seen the ads, and isn’t in a rush for his teammates to find out, either.

“The best thing about it is no one’s said a word except for you,” said Ward. “If we could keep that on the downlow, that’d be great. I’m sure I’ll hear at some point.”

The Reebok campaign also features Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa in similar poses to Ward.

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So far, the only place these ads have been seen is at the Navy Yard Metro at the Half Street entrance, which is the one you’ll be taking to get to Nationals Park if you’re attending the 2015 Winter Classic.

Check out our friends at RMNB for a full gallery of the toques. Photos by yours truly.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils 12/20/14

For what seemed like the millionth time (okay, actually the fourth, and final time of 2014), the Washington Capitals played the New Jersey Devils. This time, it was the bookend of a three-game road trip, in which the Caps were 2-0-1, the only black mark being a 20-round shootout loss to the Florida Panthers. The Caps are 6-0-2 in their last 8 games. Not shabby.

Braden Holtby pitched the shutout in the 4-0 win, propped up by goals from Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, and two from Nicklas Backstrom.

First star: Braden Holtby. He’s 6-1-2 in the month of December. Holtby stopped 21 shots in his second shutout of the season, his 14th win of the year.

Second star: Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season, and assisted on Mike Green’s game-winning goal. He leads the team with 34 points (10g, 24a) and has collected seven points in his last four games.  He’s ranked fifth in the NHL in assists.

Third star: Alex Ovechkin. Held to 4 games without a goal, he was overdue for one, and what a stunner it was. The goal was his 15th of the season, and Ovechkin has 4 points in his last 4 games.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

First star: Mike Green. Green was crucial to Washington’s winning effort in Columbus, with his assists on Troy Brouwer’s game-tying goal and Eric Fehr’s overtime game winning goal. It was arguably one of his strongest performances of the season. His end to end rush just 42 seconds into overtime ended up on the stick of a streaking Eric Fehr, who was essentially airborne, and whacked it past Sergei Bobrovsky for the 5-4 win.

 

Second star: Eric Fehr. He scored the above game-winner, his seventh goal of the season, and collected an assist on Joel Ward’s first-period goal.

Third Star: Karl Alzner. He’s not a guy that typically lights up the scoresheet, but this season, Alzner is bringing the heat. His third period goal was his second of the season and tied the game at 3-3. He also nabbed an apple on Ward’s first period goal.

Honorable Mention: Michael Latta’s slick pass to Jason Chimera in the first period.

 

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 12/13/14

The Washington Capitals knocked off one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference for the second time in a week, topping the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 behind Nick Backstrom’s first career hat trick in the regular season.

First star: Nicklas Backstrom. It’s hard to believe he’d never had a regular season hat trick before tonight, but it’s true. Backstrom’s first and only career hat trick came on April 17, 2010, in Game 2 of the ill-fated playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. Backstrom’s natural hat trick was his 17th career multi-goal game and 10th multi-point game of the season.

You’re going to want to see this:

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

Second star: Tom Wilson. Wilson, when he keeps his nose clean, is an important part of the team’s offense. He collected two assists, and now has four assists in his last four games and it was his third career multi-point game and his first career multi-assist game.

Third Star: Braden Holtby. Holtby made 26 saves in the 4-2 win, his 12th victory of the season. He’s won 4 of his last 5 starts, and is 4-1-1 in the month of December. Any doubts about Holtby’s capability to be the starting goaltender are long gone. As long as he keeps playing this well, he should continue to get the majority of the starts in net for the Capitals.

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