March 4, 2015

Washington Capitals Game 65 Recap: Caps win penalty-filled game in Columbus

In an absolute mess of a game, the Washington Capitals proved –yet again — that the best way to counter a team trying to thug it up is to score on them on the resulting power play.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice — including a power play goal in the third period that eventually became the game-winner — and the Caps knocked off the also-ran Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 on Tuesday night in Columbus. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 60 Recap: Holtby stymies Islanders in shootout as Caps win 3-2

In arguably their biggest win of the regular season, the Washington Capitals lost a one-goal lead late in the third period, only to see Braden Holtby stop all three shots he faced in the shootout and secure a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday at Verizon Center.

The Caps got the lead from Eric Fehr with 5:34 to go in regulation. Fehr got the puck in the Washington zone via an errant New York pass, and fed Brooks Laich near the center line. Laich gave it right back to Fehr, who put a blistering snap shot past Johnson from the slot.

The Islanders forced overtime with 48 seconds left after Washington played a conservative game for the final few minutes, as Ryan Strome put a tight-angle shot behind Holtby as the Islanders skated 6-on-5 with the goalie pulled.
[Read more…]

Plugging the right wing hole on the Caps’ top line

Marcus Johansson Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Marcus Johansson
Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Washington Capitals may still have 28 games remaining in the regular season, but make no mistake, head coach Barry Trotz is already thinking about line combinations for the postseason.

It would be premature to call the Caps a ‘lock’ to make the playoffs, but at the very least they will be playing some meaningful games down the stretch of the regular season. Trotz needs to have his best line combinations set for when the team really needs to pick up points.

The problem, however, is that there is a big gaping hole on the right side of his top line as the Caps don’t currently employ a top-line right wing.

As the trade deadline approaches, Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan will have to determine if that right wing is even on the roster, and if he is, who will it be. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 51 Recap: Caps stymie Kings, Holtby picks up sixth shutout

In one of their most impressive victories of the season on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-0, keeping the defending champs from lighting the lamp even once at Verizon Center.

[Read more…]

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 1/28/15

First star: Braden Holtby. He backstopped the Capitals to a 4-0 win and plugged the holes for three penalty kills. He got his 23rd win, fifth shutout of the year, and second shutout of the season versus Pittsburgh.

Second star: Mike Green. Green is a polarizing character amongst fans, but it is undeniable that when he plays well, the team does well.  He added a lovely goal and an assist in an overall dominating performance Wednesday, his 10th multipoint game of the season.

Third star: Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom logged two assists in the win, his 10th multi-assist game of the year. He’s collected 25 points in his last 22 games. This guy has 35 assists through 48 games.

Honorable mention: Eric Fehr, who’s playing his first real season at center, for his beastly performance in the dot, winning  17 of 22 faceoffs. That’s 77.3%. Word.

 

 

Free agent decisions loom large for Caps as trade deadline approaches

Mike Green during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mike Green during warmups at Verizon Center, May 2 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

As the teams return from the All-Star Break and meaningful hockey starts again, the next big day on the NHL calendar is the trade deadline.

The NHL trade deadline is on March 2 at 3 pm, just over a month away. The task for each team over the next few weeks is to determine what their realistic goals are for this season and going forward so that they can determine if they will be buyers or sellers at the deadline.

On an individual level, general managers need to determine the future of their pending free agents, i.e. who they will seek to re-sign and who already has one foot out of the door.

The Washington Capitals are no exception. There are currently 10 players on the roster who are in the final year of their contract and General Manager Brian MacLellan has to determine now who he wants to see back in Washington next season. [Read more…]

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.

Washington Capitals Game 39 Recap: Caps find redemption against Leafs in high-scoring affair

The Washington Capitals rode into frosty Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night red-hot. Coming into the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Capitals lost just one regulation game over their past fourteen, a 10-1-3 record since Dec. 4.

With a sugar high from last week’s exciting Winter Classic victory and a home win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon, the Capitals continue to enjoy a great start to 2015. Their year continued rolling along with a 6-2 blowout win against the Leafs, a dominating performance that exacted revenge for their 6-2 loss in Air Canada Centre on Nov. 29. [Read more…]

Winter Classic: Caps top Blackhawks on Brouwer’s late goal

For everyone associated with the Washington Capitals — the organization, the team and the fans — the 2015 Winter Classic could not have gone any better. Perfect weather conditions, perfect ice conditions, just the right amount of pageantry and celebration, an overflow capacity crowd of 98.5 percent Caps fans, a well-played game by both teams, and a game-winning goal by the home team with less than 13 second remaining.

Troy Brouwer’s power play goal with 12.9 seconds left in regulation lifted the Washington Capitals over the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the NHL’s regular season showcase, the 2015 Winter Classic.

Brouwer’s goal was set up by a very light hooking call against Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews with 1:13 remaining. It just another in a long line of strange penalties and no-calls in what was an uneven and disjointed officiated game against both teams — perhaps the only blemish on the day.

Karl Alzner was carrying the puck in the left corner when Toews’ stick glazed Alzner’s midsection, not even enough to slow the Caps defenseman or knock him off the puck. Regardless, referee Francois St. Laurent’s arm raised, sending Toews to the box.

During the power play, the Caps won a faceoff at center ice and Alex Ovechkin carried the puck into the offensive zone. He tried to get a shot away, but was slashed by Brandon Saad. Two Blackhawks reached for the puck, but Brouwer was there first. He spun an whipped a shot that beat Chicago goalie Corey Crawford to the glove side.

Brouwer seemed to not see the puck go in at first, then dropped his stick, clenched both fists and raised his arms in the air as his teammates clobbered him in celebration.

Saad was whistled for a penalty on the play, but the damage was already done.

The game was played at a 2-2 tie much of the second and third periods. What started with offensive fireworks in the first 23 minutes ended as a tense, defensive struggle decided on a pair of power plays.

The Caps scored on theirs late, and the Blackhawks failed on theirs in the second period, a 5-on-3 for 1:31.

At 9:18 of the second, Tom Wilson was whistled for goalkeeper interference as he and Crawford linked skates above the top of the crease after Wilson had been knocked off-stride by a Blackhawk defender.  Just 29 seconds later, John Carlson clubbed Chicago forward Andrew Shaw with a two-handed shiver to the upper chest and was sent off for high-sticking.

But the Caps killed the ensuing 5-on-3 and the remainder of the second penalty to keep the tie intact.

Braden Holtby was again superb. He made 33 saves, including four on Chicago’s five power plays.

Eric Fehr started the scoring 7:01 into the game. He tracked down a loose puck, outraced Brent Seabrook into the zone and skated in on Crawford. After a quick deke, Fehr beat the goalie glove-side for his 11th goal of the season and third outdoor goal of his career, becoming the NHL’s all-time leading goal-scorer in outdoor games.

Alex Ovechkin, who had a monster game, collected his 18th of the season at 11:58 of the first, beating Crawford on a rebound of a shot by Mike Green from the point.

Patrick Sharp made it 2-1 less than two minutes later on a power play goal with Nick Backstrom in the box for holding, and Saad tied it at 3:15 of the second period after a bad turnover by John Carlson turned into a tic-tac-toe between Toews, Marian Hossa and finished by Saad.

At the end of the day, the win was worth two points in the standings. But the spectacle of the Winter Classic at Nationals Park will long linger in the minds of Caps fans, the organization, the players and the league for years to come. The festivities were everything the league could hope for in these games, and the game D.C. went off spectacularly.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders Dec. 29

The Washington Capitals forced overtime on the Island and escaped with a point after a furious three-goal third period comeback. Eric Fehr, Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin all tallied. Brooks Orpik injured a knee, but team sources think it’s not quite as bad as it might have looked. An eventful night two days before the Winter Classic.

First Star: Eric Fehr. His 10th goal of the season (I know, right) got the comeback started. It was another greasy one, as Fehr got dumped on his keister in the crease after the shot went through. Fehr is in double-digits, just one coming on the power play. Speaking of which, Caps had four extra-man opportunities, Fehr got 0:00 of power play time.

Second Star: Alex Ovechkin. His goal was a beaut, a long-range wrister that Jaroslav Halak simply couldn’t get his glove up in time to stop. Six shots on goal, five hits and an assist on Backstrom’s marker, springing his running mate for the layup.

Third Star: Brooks Laich. Assisted on Fehr’s goal and was in the crease himself when the puck went in, had four shots, blocked two shots and was on the ice for 5:13 of short-handedness.

Goat of the night: Evgeny Kuznetsov. The young Russian has spent some time in coach Barry Trotz’ doghouse this season, and his four-minute high-sticking penalty with 1:04 left in regulation, that carried over to overtime, and eventually ended with Johnny Boychuk’s game-winning goal at 2:53 of the extra session, will not go over so well with the brass.

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