October 31, 2014

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings 10/29/14

Unfortunately for the Capitals, the Red Wings took home two points tonight. The Caps got a break due to a phantom goalie interference call in the first period, and outshot the Wings for a lot of the game, but they weren’t able to do a whole lot with their power play, and coughed up the puck quite a bit.

Caps lose 4-2.

 

First Star:

Andre Burakovsky.

He’s had three assists in his last four games. Who knew back in training camp when he assumed the position of center that he’d adapt so naturally to it? Barry Trotz, probably. He skated the first part of the game on the first line with Ovechkin and Ward, but Trotz shook up the lines throughout the game. No telling where he’ll be next game. He does seem to have good chemistry with Johansson and Brouwer, so it would make sense to deploy that line as such.

 

Second Star.

Troy Brouwer.

Brouwer snapped his scoreless streak with a snipe from the Ovi spot on the power play. The P1 and P2 as designed by Trotz is working out rather nicely,

 

Third Star.

Braden Holtby.

The Wings had 4 power plays, and Holtby assisted capably in killing all but one, where Pavel Datsyuk let off a shot that you wouldn’t blame any goaltender for not being able to stop. Holtby didn’t have answer for the cause of the team’s turnovers, obviously, but did comment to reporters that it’s his job to cover for the mistakes made by his teammates, and that he’d wished he’d done a better job of that.

Honorable mention:

Jason Chimera’s nose. Seriously. It was gross. http://t.co/N42aYir10x

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Calgary Flames 10/25/14

In honor of Jay Beagle’s grand homecoming to Calgary, the Washington Capitals pulled out a 3-1 win over the Flames.

Joel Ward started the scoring for the Caps in the first, then Dennis Wideman (yeah, that Dennis Wideman) tied things up before intermission. Ward got past Kari Ramo again for the lead, and the Caps never looked back. Nicklas Backstrom’s tally made it 3-1, and suddenly the road trip started to look pretty good.

 

First Star:

Joel Ward.

Last year, this guy locked himself in a bathroom stall and broke his career goal and points record. This year, he has 4 goals and 1 assist through 7 games, and it’s looking like another good year for him. The remarkable thing about his 2-goal performance against the Flames was that he wasn’t skating with his twin, Jason Chimera, or Eric Fehr. In an effort to shake up the lines a bit after a frustrating night in Edmonton, Trotz bumped Fehr up to the first line, and Ward to what is ostensibly the fourth line with Liam O’Brien and Michael Latta, and Chimera skated with Jay Beagle, the hometown boy, and that other Russian guy, Evgeny Kuznetsov.

 

Second Star:

Braden Holtby.

He didn’t see a whole lot of action, but answered when called upon. He had a couple “yeah-my-teammates-really-needed-this-save” moments in Edmonton, and rectified those mistakes with a nearly perfect performance in his 20-save win.

 

Third Star:

Nicklas Backstrom.

One goal, a breakaway, and an overall stand-up guy earns Backstrom a spot on this list (again). He is only really here because he scored his 3rd period goal with 19:19 remaining in the period and I wanted an excuse to post this video:

Honorable Mention

Brooks Orpik, who should actually be the third star but there isn’t a dated music video to accompany his team-high 10 hits.

Washington Capitals Game 7 Recap: Ward twice as nice after demotion

After dropping the first of the three-game western Canada swing Wednesday in Edmonton, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz jumbled the lines again, moving Joel Ward down to the fourth line for Saturday night’s tilt in Calgary.

Perhaps the motivation worked, as Ward had two goals to pace the Caps over the Flames 3-1 in the Saddledome.

The Caps (4-1-2) got on the board midway through the first. Calgary turned the puck over trying to kill a penalty and Ward collected the loose puck along the left wing and beat Karri Ramo stick side for a 1-0 lead.

Calgary tied it up late in the period. Troy Brouwer took an unnecessary retaliation roughing penalty and with just 10 seconds remaining in the frame, Dennis Wideman slipped one past Braden Holtby. It was Wideman’s fifth goal in six games.

In the second, the Caps re-took the lead and it was Ward again. Michael Latta took a stretch pass from Brooks Orpik and raced into the zone and behind the net. He centered the puck and Ward kicked it from his skate to his backhand and beat Ramo to go up 2-1. It was Ward’s seventh career multi-goal game.

Nick Backstrom made it a two-goal game just 41 seconds into the third. Karl Alzner sprung the Swedish centerman and Backstrom used a Calgary defenseman as a screen in the middle of the ice and whipped a wrist shot past the screened Ramo and a 3-1 cushion.

Braden Holtby made 20 saves, none bigger than the kick save he made on Paul Byron on a breakaway midway through the third.

The Caps move on to Vancouver to face the Canucks Sunday night at 9:30 pm Eastern.

  • Brooks Orpik had a tremendous game on the blueline, registering an assist and 10 hits. He was a physical force all night.
  • Alex Ovechkin didn’t factor in the scoring, but played another solid game all around with four hits and a terrific backcheck on what would otherwise have been a short-handed breakaway for Calgary.
  • Troy Brouwer had a noticeably tough night. The veteran winger took the bad penalty which led to the only Flames goal of the night, he made a pair of turnovers on consecutive shifts in the third when he stopped skating, and whiffed on a wide open empty net late in the third. Smashed sticks at the bench = 2.
  • Caps were 52% in the dot and outshot Calgary 30-21. They were credited with just five giveaways on the road.

Washington Capitals 2014-15 Season Roundtable Part IV: Satisfied with the goalies?

We’re a little late to the party here, but District Sports Page conducted a roundtable with staff writers and friends of the site to discuss pertinent issues surrounding the 2014-15 Washington Capitals.

Our panelists: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief; Katie Brown, Staff Writer; Eric Hobeck, Staff Writer; J.J. Regan, Contributor; Abram Fox, former contributor, Harry Hawkings, Editor at Rock the Red.

Part I: Grade the Caps offseason and their biggest acquisitions
Part II: What is your single biggest area of concern?
Part III: What do you expect out of Alex Ovechkin this season?

Part IV: Are you satisfied with the goaltending situation? [Read more...]

CAPS: 2015 Caps Canine Calendar

Members of the Washington Capitals players participated in the 2015 Capitals Canine Calendar photo shoot to benefit Homeward Trails Animal Rescue at Potomac Regional Overlook Park in Arlington, Virginia.

A limited number of 2015 Caps Canine Calendars will be available for $20 beginning Tuesday, Dec. 2, when the Capitals host the Vancouver Canucks. The Caps Better Halves will help sell the calendars during the month of December at the MSE Foundation table located at section 104 on the main concourse. In addition the calendar will be available for purchase at the team stores at Verizon Center and Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The online sales are closed.

Players being photographed include Karl Alzner, Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle, Troy Brouwer, John Carlson, Jack Hillen, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Justin Peters, Aaron Volpatti, and Joel Ward with their dogs and Braden Holtby, Michael Latta, Alex Ovechkin, Dmitri Orlov and Tom Wilson with shelter dogs.

Last season $34,044.99 was donated to Homeward Trails through the sale of the 2014 Capitals Canine Calendar.

How could you resist a calendar with your favorite hockey players and adorable dogs? Here are a few of the photos posted on Twitter and Instragram.

 

@backstrom19 gets some puppy kisses after his shoot. #capscaninecalendar

A photo posted by MSE Foundation (@msefoundation) on

#CapsCanineCalendar shoot with Braden Holtby and Hogan from Homeward Trails Animal Rescue

A photo posted by MSE Foundation (@msefoundation) on

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils 10/16/14

The Capitals soundly whipped the Devils 6-2 Thursday night at Verizon Center. They are still undefeated in regulation, as both of their losses so far this season have been in the shootout, and their record is now 2-0-2, which also happens to be the DC area code. Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, and Andre Burakovsky all scored, which I believe is now known as a “Swedetrick.”

 

First Star:

Braden Holtby.

Once again, Holtby is our first star. He made a few ten-bell saves to keep the game close, including a crucial stop on Jaromir Jagr. In the third period, Holtby’s work was supplemented by offense (for once) in the form of three goals. He stopped 26 of 28 shots in the win.

 

Second Star:

Marcus Johansson.

It’s only 4 games in, but Johansson is my vote for most improved under Barry Trotz so far. His second period tally was the kind of shot he probably would have passed up last season. Overall, he looks far more confident in his abilities; fast and sharp. Trotz has been good for him.

 

Third Star:

Joel Ward.

If Ward and Jason Chimera are the heart and soul of the third line, Eric Fehr is the brains. Tonight, Ward was reunited with the brains, and scored perhaps the funkiest goal of the season so far. He chucked the puck to the rear boards behind Cory Schnieder, but it bounced up and to the right of Schneider, behind the goalpost. When Schnieder retreated to protect the goal line, the puck went in. Good goal. Just watch the video.

Washington Capitals Game 3 Recap: Caps earn point against Sharks despite 3-0 hole

OVECHKIN SCORES TWICE TO LEAD CAPS IN THREE-GOAL COMEBACK

Despite trailing one of the best teams in the Western Conference 3-0 after the first period, and facing a two-goal deficit with 5:51 left in the game, the Washington Capitals earned a point by forcing overtime on Troy Brouwer’s late third period goal.

Unfortunately, the Caps were shut out in the shootout, and fell to the San Jose Sharks 6-5. But considering the start, it could end up being one of the biggest points the Caps earn all season.

The Caps found themselves in an early hole. Just 1:23 into the contest, Joe Thornton won a draw in the left wing faceoff circle to defenseman Matt Irwin, who blasted a long-range shot past Braden Holtby for a 1-0 Sharks lead.

Moments later, fourth-liner Michael Latta was called for elbowing. Though the Caps did a credible job killing the advantage, San Jose struck again with two seconds remaining in the infraction, as Irwin lifted a backhander past Holtby. Irwin was a healthy scratch in the Sharks’ first tow games.

Things got out of hand with just over 10 minutes left in the first, as John Scott — known primarily for beating people senseless — snuck a shot past Holtby on an odd-man rush as Brooks Orpik got caught out of position.

Just like that, the Caps trailed 3-0 and Holtby found a seat on the bench, in favor of Justin Peters making his Capitals’ debut.

“The first period I didn’t like at all,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I just didn’t like our commitment. We were a pass-first team in a shoot-first league in the first period. You’re not going to give a team like the Sharks a three-goal lead and expect to come back.”

The Caps got on the board at 2:51 of the second period. With Tomas Hertl off for interference, the power play put on an impressive passing clinic, with Troy Brouwer feeding Alex Ovechkin at the high point, to John Carlson on the wing, back to Ovechkin and finally to Marcus Johansson, who was camped on the right post.

After a battle for the puck. Johansson tapped it past Antti Niemi for the first goal against the Sharks in three games this season.

San Jose killed the momentum at 14:33, as a harmless looking shot bounced off Eric Fehr and past Peters to make it a three goal game again. Joe Pavelski, who took the initial shot, was credited with the goal.

But as quickly as that came about, the Caps righted the ship. Following an odd-man rush, Mike Green collected the puck in the corner, played keep-away until he could settle into a good shooting spot in the center of the ice, and whipped a wrister past Niemi to make it 4-2.

Moments later, Ovechkin took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom in the high slot and did what only Ovi can do: make a world-class goalie look bad, as he rifled a shot through Niemi to cut the deficit to one at 4-3.

But San Jose made it a two-goal game less than two minutes into the third. Chris Tierney broke up a Caps rush at the Caps’ blue line and fed Tommy Wingels streaking in all alone on Peters. Peters made the save on Wingels’ first shot, but the Sharks winger got another whack at it and snuck it through.

The Caps got another power play with 6:15 left and made good on it, as Ovechkin registered his second of the game and fourth of the season with a wicked wrister from the left wing circle, bringing the Caps within one at 5-4 with 5:51 remaining in the game.

“We had some big efforts,” Trotz said. “I thought [Ovechkin] was the best player on the ice today. He had a couple goals. He’s blocking shots. He’s running over people. He was a beast out there.”

Brouwer tied it just over a minute later, as he took an outlet pass from Green, faked out Irwin who fell, and beat Niemi high glove side to even things up.

Overtime came after a few nervous moments as Backstrom took a high-sticking penalty with less than two minutes left in the third period.

CAPS NOTES:

  • With his assist tonight, Ovechkin passed Mike Gartner (392) for second place on the Capitals’ franchise assists list. Ovechkin now sits 26 assists shy of passing Michal Pivonka (418) for first place on the Capitals’ assists list.
  • Andre Burakovsky earned an assist, extending his point streak to three games (10/9-10/14: 1g, 3a). Burakovsky is the first Capitals player to start his career with a three-game point streak since Alex Ovechkin started his career with an eight-game point streak in 2005.
  • Liam O’Brien earned an assist, marking his first NHL point.
  •  The Capitals scored two power-play goals for the second consecutive game.
  • Washington outshot San Jose 34-23 and outhit the Sharks 26-13.

Comparing lineups: have the Caps gotten better?

Caps during National Anthem - Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps during National Anthem – Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Brian MacLellan and Barry Trotz era has officially begun for the Washington Capitals as the team looks to put a lackluster 2013 campaign behind them.

MacLellan began that process in the offseason with several key acquisitions. The opening night roster is about as close as you can get to seeing a general manager’s vision as there are fewer injuries and politics that dictate shifts in line combinations. To see if the teams has improved and by how much, let’s compare this season’s opening night roster to last season’s. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 2 Recap: Alex Ovechkin scores twice as Caps blank Bruins

After a less-than-encouraging start to the 2014-15 season on Thursday, the Washington Capitals rebounded with a resounding 4-0 road win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. Captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the first period to give the Caps an early advantage that they didn’t give up.

[Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 1 Recap: Caps fall to Habs in shootout 2-1

Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

 

The Washington Capitals opened the 2014-15 season by hosting the Montreal Canadiens in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center. The red-rocking crowd was treated to all of the pomp and circumstance of a home opener and excitement until the end with a shootout. After a four round shootout, the Habs took the two points winning 2-1.

The Caps took the ice with energy and dominated the first period, out shooting the Habs 13-2. “We had the puck the whole time in the first period, we had them [Montreal] on the floor, but we couldn’t knock them out,” said Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz after the game.

Andre Burakovsky, making his NHL debut, scored the Caps first and only goal 6:43 into the first period.  “It was a great moment,” said Burakovsky after the game about his first NHL goal. “It would be so much better if we just win this game.”

Trotz smiled when asked about Burakovsky’s play. “I thought he was going to have the winner there for a long time. We were really playing quite well. They weren’t getting too many chances and the chances they were getting were mostly results of some zone time and on the face off.”

The Caps continued to lead 1-0 until Habs Tomas Plekanec scored half-way through the third period to tie it up 1-1. The Caps just couldn’t find the back of the net despite scoring chances and Canadiens had two goals disallowed.

Players from both teams were a little feisty.  Each team had nine penalties, serving nineteen minutes and neither team scored during a power play. Caps outshot Habs 30-24 and outhit them 30-29.

Brooks Orpik made his Caps’ debut wearing the “A” on his sweater and immediately showed an impact. Fans on Twitter were professing their love for the new Cap as he showed he can hit and protect his goalie. “I’m just fortunate to have them in front of me. I think we’re going to win a lot of games based just on our defense,” said Braden Holtby. “It wasn’t as uncontrolled in our zone. It felt like all night we knew what was going on with who was supposed to go where at when. Very easy to read off for me. It showed on the scoresheet for our defense. “

See DSP’s Three Stars of the Game and photo gallery of the player introductions and 40th Anniversary ceremonial puck drop.

Capitals magnet schedule was given out to all fans at the  Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Capitals magnet schedule was given out to all fans at the Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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