December 21, 2014

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.

 

Washington Capitals Game 31 Recap: Fehr’s overtime goal gives Caps win in wild one

Now 31 games into the 2014-15 Washington Capitals season, few observers know what to make of the team. On some nights they look reminiscent of the Capitals that were on display from 2008-11, and other nights they look like they’ve barely improved from the relative disaster that was the Adam Oates era.

If Thursday’s game was any indication, though, some improvement has been made.

Eric Fehr scored less than a minute into overtime to give Washington a 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, a win that moves the team back into third place in the Metropolitan Division, if only for one night. The Caps’ playoff chances increased 5.2 percent to 66.5 with the victory, a win that they very nearly gave away. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 25 Recap: Caps scratch out win over Canes

Eric Fehr converted a turnover into a goal with just over four minutes left and the Washington Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Thursday.

Fehr intercepted a poor pass by Reilly Nash at the Carolina blue line and calmly lifted a wrister past Anton Khudobin for his fourth of the season and the Caps held on down the stretch, including playing most of the last three minutes 6-on-5.

Braden Holtby made 28 saves, including a toe save late in the third that preserved the lead at the time.

Jay Beagle scored first, a mere 2:19 in. Jason Chimera took advantage of Michal Jordan’s misplay at the point and raced down the ice to get a shot off. Khudobin couldn’t handle the rebound and Beagle followed up and dumped the puck into the gaping net for his third goal of the season.

Old friend Alexander Semin scored the Hurricanes only goal. It was Semin’s first of the season and represented his 500th NHL point. Semin took a cross-ice pass from the point by Jay Harrison, beat Andre Burakovsky to the slot and roofed a backhander past Holtby.

The Caps travel to New Jersey to face the Devils Saturday night at 7:00 pm.

Observations:

  • This team really misses Mike Green, especially on the power play. Green missed his fifth game with an “upper body” injury and the power play has been out of sorts the entire time. Neither Matt Niskanen or John Carlson have the same play-making skills as Green can bring.
  • Alex Ovechkin had three shots on goal, one blocked and one miss wit four hits.
  • Coach Barry Trotz spent much of the night matching lines, with the defensive pair of Carlson and Brooks Orpik on the ice any time Jeff Skinner was. The duo kept Skinner off the scoresheet and Orpik blocked a whopping seven shots and registered seven hits. All that is to say is when Orpik was on the ice rarely did the Caps have the puck. Caps fans are going to have to get used to the idea that Orpik is going to continue to be a black hole of offense for the Caps while playing against the opposition’s top line.
  • While Holtby allowed just one goal and did make several key saves, he also puck-handled into two golden scoring chances for Carolina. He continues to make poor plays with his stick when he should be more conservative. In this, he was fortunately it didn’t come back to bite him.
  • Jason Chimera probably played his most effective game of the season. He utilized his speed on the fourth line all night to cause disruption and his play on the first goal is what the Caps hope to see more of. He had five shots on goal with one blocked and a miss.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes 12/4/14

Eric Fehr scored with just over four minutes left to give Caps a win over Carolina. Jay Beagle scored (good boy). Alexander Semin waiting until game 25 to score his first of the season. Regulation win on the road!

First star: Eric Fehr. Fehr scored the game-winning goal against the Hurricanes, saving the Capitals from overtime. He played 15:10 and had 3 SOG and 3 hits in the game.

Second star: Jason Chimera. Jay Beagle’s first period goal would not have been possible without Chimera’s speed on the rush. Beagle tapped in the rebound from Chimera’s shot for the Caps first goal. Chimera finished the night with 5 shots on goal and 13:09 TOI.

Third star: Jay Beagle. Beagle is here because he actually scored a goal on an rebound, which the rest of the team seems to have trouble with. Good on you, dude.

Washington Capitals Game 24 Recap: Penalty kill woes abound as Capitals fall 4-3 to Canucks

Special teams failed the Washington Capitals in their 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, who scored on three of their four power plays in the contest.

John Carlson contributed two goals and an assist to the Caps’ offense, which marked his first career multi-goal game in the NHL. Brooks Laich scored his first goal of the season, his first since March 8, 2014.

Daniel Sedin scored on two of the Canucks’ power plays and Radim Vrbata added one power play goal. Derek Dorsett’s first period goal was Vancouver’s only goal at even strength.

 

  • Alex Ovechkin skated a monster shift near the end of the second period, clocking in at 2:39. He stayed on for the entire Caps’ lone power play, and then some. Ovechkin finished the night with 2 hits, 1 SOG, and led all forwards in ice time with 22:41.
  • Washington’s penalty kill has successfully killed only 4 of its last 12 penalties. That’s not great. Tonight, Trotz said the Sedins gave the PK fits, but there’s something ailing the Caps PK, and it needs to be fixed.
  • Matt Niskanen, who led all skaters in ice time with 24:24, had some things to say about what the Caps need to work on: “When things aren’t going well, it’s those one things just seem to kind of kill you. If you are playing really well and you are winning games, it seems like you get away with a lot. It’s just kind of the way it goes. Right now, we have to work for every little thing to go right for us and it just hasn’t happened consistently over 60 minutes for us in the last little while. Keep working and keep believing in the right things. I know I have said that before, but that’s all you can really do is look at your mistakes, try to get better and keep pushing forward.”
  • John Carlson and Brooks Orpik were on ice for 3 of the 4 Canucks goals against. Orpik still managed to end the night as a +3, which tells you how useful plus/minus actually is.
  • The Capitals had 2 shots on goal in a span of 10 minutes in the first period. Vancouver got a better start, and scored first. It almost seems like the Capitals need at least 10 minutes to really get into a game, which is a problem. They let opponents get a jump on them, and put themselves behind from the get-go, a pervasive problem even last season. Eric Fehr said the Caps are a “good desperate hockey team,” meaning they are able to overcome most deficits, but adds that “we don’t want to put ourselves in those situations.” Prevention is best.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes 11/8/14

Troy Brouwer tallied an unassisted power play goal for the Caps in the first, and Jay Beagle improbably scored his first of the season. Suddenly, the Capitals were leading 2-0 and life looked great. Riley Nash narrowed the gap for the Canes, but fresh-from-the-press box Eric Fehr gave the Caps the dreaded two-goal lead in the second period.  A couple bad defensive plays later, Eric Staal and Elias Lindholm have tied the game with less than 10 minutes remaining. In overtime, Cool Hands Nick Backstrom buried an Alex Ovechkin rebound, and Caps win, 4-3.

 

First Star:

Nicklas Backstrom.

In overtime, Alex Ovechkin lobbed a rocket at Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin. It created a rebound that went straight to the tape of Nicklas Backstrom’s stick. Backstrom shoots, puck in net. Game over.  Second win in two nights for the Capitals. Backstrom finished the night with 4 shots on goal and 22:39 TOI. He’s tied with Ovechkin in Capitals team scoring with 14 points.

 

Second Star:

John Carlson.

Carlson was the set-up man in the Caps 4-3 OT win against Carolina, with assists on Jay Beagle’s first period goal and Eric Fehr’s second period goal. The defenseman now has 11 points on the season  (2g, 9a) and is clearly Brooks Orpik’s offensive-minded better half. He led all Caps defensemen in TOI, skating 23:35.

 

Third Star.

Eric Fehr.

After watching from the press box for two straight games, Fehr proved that he deserves a roster spot in a big way by contributing a goal in the Caps win, their second straight victory. Fehr was not rewarded with any ice during OT, but other than a brutal turnover that led to a Canes goal, his third line was an integral part of the OT win.

Washington Capitals Game 10 Recap: Caps unable to stave off Bolts’ forecheck, lose 4-3

After a start to the season that put many hockey observers on notice, the Washington Capitals have now lost three straight games after falling 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road on Saturday night.

[Read more…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 11/1/14

The weather was pretty in Tampa tonight, but the ensuing contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning wasn’t so lovely for the Washington Capitals.

Ryan Callahan struck first for the Lightning in the first period, and Marcus Johansson answered with an even strength goal for the Caps. In the second period, Eric Fehr’s hard work paid off for a 2-1 Capitals lead, but Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov struck for the Lightning. Troy Brouwer tied things up late in the period. In the final frame, Jason Garrison scored the Lightning’s game winning goal. Capitals lose 4-3, their third loss in 4 games.

First Star: Marcus Johansson

The Swede scored his fourth goal of the season – an even strength goal, nonetheless – skating on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. He is well on his way to eclipsing his goal total (8) from last season. Johansson added 4 hits, and an assist on Troy Brouwer’s second period goal. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him break his career-high goals for a regular season (14) this year.

Second Star: Eric Fehr

He went from being a healthy scratch on Thursday to the scoresheet on Saturday. He scored his first goal of the season in Tampa. He only has 3 points in 10 games played so far, but you have to commend Fehr on bouncing back with a strong performance. Hopefully the coaching staff agrees.

Third Star: Troy Brouwer

Brouwer scored a power play goal from the slot, which briefly tied the game at 3-3. He finished the night with 4 shots on goal and 3 hits. The second period goal was Brouwer’s third on the season. Brouwer has 6 points (3g, 3a) through 10 games.

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