September 3, 2014

Brouwer, Chimera, and Ward to represent Canada at 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus

Three Washington Capitals will be representing Canada at the World Championship in May, according to the official Capitals press release. Despite failing to make the playoffs, all three players notched career years- Brouwer and Ward in goals, and Chimera in points and assists.

Press release: 

ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals forwards Troy Brouwer, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward will represent Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus. The World Championship begin on May 9 and conclude on May 25.

Brouwer, 28, will represent Canada at the World Championship for the first time. The Vancouver native registered 43 points (25 goals, 18 assists) in 82 games with the Capitals this season, setting new career highs in goals, points and power-play goals (12). Brouwer finished the season ranked tied for sixth in the NHL in power-play goals, first among Washington skaters in hits (210) and second on the team in goals.

Chimera, 34, will be making his third World Championship appearance. The Edmonton native has recorded eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 18 career games at the tournament. Chimera earned a medal in each of his previous World Championship appearances, winning gold with Canada in 2007 and silver in 2008. He has represented Canada at two World Championships (2007, 2008) and at World Junior Championship (1999). The 6’3”, 216-pound left wing registered 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games with the Capitals this season, setting career highs in assists and points.

Ward, 33, will represent Canada at the World Championship for the first time. The Toronto native registered 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) in 82 games with Washington this season, setting career highs in goals, assists, points and power-play goals (6). Ward earned his first career hat trick on Nov. 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers and finished the season ranked third on the team in goals and points.

 

Washington Capitals Game 80 Recap: Caps calm ‘Canes 5-2

Neither the Washington Capitals or the Carolina Hurricanes had anything to play for on Thursday night and for half of the game both teams played like it. Eventually, the Caps were able to exert their dominance and earned a convincing 5-2 win in their final road game of the season.

You had to wonder what the mentality of the Caps would be heading into this one, their first meaningless game since 2007. Luckily for them, the third line continued to be the team’s most consistent line and the Caps were able to ride their strong performance to an easy win.

Joel Ward kicked things off quickly scoring just 1:02 into the game. Linemate Jason Chimera poked the puck away from the defense below the red line and Eric Fehr took the puck and fed it to Ward with a nifty backhand pass. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 74 Recap: Caps start slow, lose to Bruins, 4-2

Entering Saturday’s contest against the Boston Bruins, the Washington Capitals knew the door to a playoff spot was ajar. Toronto and Columbus both fell to their respective opponents the night before and subsequently failed to gain any ground in the race for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. All the Capitals needed to do was step over the threshold, and they’d be that much closer to the postseason.

It was almost as if they didn’t realize the chance they had. A slow start; a third period flurry; a 4-2 loss.

Braden Holtby, who has a history of good starts against Boston, did his best. But the rest of the team did not. He made a number of crucial saves, including a robbery of Chris Kelly in the first period, but the rest of the team could not deliver what they needed most – goals. Or, at least not enough when it mattered to win.

The best forward line for the Capitals of late has been the “third” line of Jason Chimera, Joel Ward, and Eric Fehr, and they were the ones who delivered the team’s first goal, while they were already mired in a 3-0 hole. Chimera scored his 14th of the season with 10 seconds remaining in the second period.

In the third, the Capitals seized a bit of momentum back. It was the way they wanted to play, but it was too little, too late. They need to begin games this way, not find their rhythm while attempting to chip away at a two-goal lead.

“I thought that most of the third period, we took the play to one of the best teams in the league. That’s a positive for us,” said Fehr. “Definitely don’t want to take that long, but we know they are a good team, and in our own rink, we should be able to use momentum and create chances.”

Once again, in the dying seconds of the third period, a puck found the back of the net for the Capitals. Young hope Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his second goal of the season, but it was too late. The Capitals had found the recipe, but they were already cooked.

Washington Capitals Game 51 Recap: Lifeless Caps drop 2-1 to Devils for 7th straight loss

The Washington Capitals, with captain Alex Ovechkin once again with a lower body injury, continued their lackluster play, dropping a 2-1 decision to the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center Friday night.

It was the Caps (22-21-8) seventh loss in a row and fifth consecutive loss in regulation. They drop three points behind New Jersey in the Metropolitan Division and remain just three points ahead of the New York Islanders for eighth — and last — place in the division.

It didn’t take the Devils long to grab the lead. Just 4:57 in, Martin Erat tried to hit Dmitry Orlov with a pass in the offensive zone. The puck got turned over, and the Devils went racing back the other way with the Caps in the middle of a line change. Stephen Gionta kept the puck and fired a slap shot that ate up Michal Neuvirth, with the puck slipping between his body and his blocker arm.

The Caps were outplayed throughout the frame, with plenty of turnovers and lack of urgency. New Jersey took 17 total shots, with 11 going on goal, three blocked and three missing the mark. The Caps managed just 12 total shots — six on goal.

New Jersey scored again quickly in the second period. With Dmitry Orlov off for a holding penalty, Jaromir Jagr found Adam Henrique completely alone on the far post, who tapped in for a 2-0 lead. Jagr’s second assist of the game tied him with Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time in assists in the NHL.

After three power play failures, the Caps finally got on the board at 10:10 of the third period. John Erskine sent a wrist shot toward the net that seemed to get redirected several times, the last by Jason Chimera, who was credited for the goal to cut the Devils lead to 2-1.

But it was too little, too late as the Caps couldn’t muster a shot on goal in the final minute playing 6-on-5.

The Capitals travel to Montreal to face Les Habitents Saturday night at 7:30 pm.

NOTES: Mikhail Grabovski was injured in the second period when he got tangles with Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador. He left the ice favoring his left leg, which appeared to get twisted when Salvador fell on him. He tried to skate at the start of the third period, but went back to the dressing room and did not return to the game.

Washington Capitals Game 47 Recap: Caps play better but still lose in Pittsburgh 4-3

Early in the season, the Washington Capitals had a habit of not playing particularly well possession-wise and pulling out a win regardless, a lot of the time in a shootout. Recently, that trend has reversed as the Caps have played much better in the past couple of weeks, only to find themselves losing ground in the standings.

That pattern played out again Wednesday night, as the Caps played even with the Pittsburgh Penguins most of the night, but gave up two late goals in the third period and fell to the Pens 4-3 at CONSOL Energy Center.

For Pittsburgh, the win marks their franchise-record 13th straight win at home.

The Capitals (22-17-8) find themselves tied with Philadelphia at 52 points for second in the mediocre Metropolitan Division, just five points ahead of seventh place Carolina.

The Caps got goals from Brooks Laich (5), Jason Chimera (9) and Alex Ovechkin, his league-leading 34th of the season. But Jussi Jokinen tied the game at 3 at 11:35 of the third period, then Olli Maatta won it with his fourth goal of the season, shot through a maze of bodies just off the left post past Michal Neuvirth, playing in his second game since early December.

Though neither Penguins goal was a power play marker, late in the game the Caps had to be feeling the affects of three third period penalties — and playing their fifth game in seven days.

“You have to know how much juice you have left in the tank,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “We blew two leads. On both goals, I thought we should change, but we didn’t. We got caught a little tired and we made mistakes and they have great players.”

The Caps scored first — short-handed– as Karl Alzner took advantage of a rare Penguins miscue along the left wing wall and pushed the puck up to Laich, who walked into the offensive zone with Troy Brouwer on a 2-on-1. Laich tried to play the puck across to Brouwer but ended up toe-dragging around a fallen Pens defenseman and beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a wrist shot from close range.

The Penguins tied the game at 9:53 in the second, as a deft Penguins breakout against the Caps top line resulted in a 4-on-2, with Kris Letang victimizing Neuvirth (33 saves) for his ninth of the campaign.

Chimera’s tap-in, on a beautiful slap pass from Marcus Johansson, gave the Caps the lead back at 14:31. But that lead was short-lived, as Tyler Pyatt got inside position on John Erskine at the top of the crease and banged home a pass from Maatta to make it 2-2.

Washington grabbed a 3-2 lead at 8:35 in the third, playing 4-on-4. Mike Green fed Johansson along the goal line and he waited for Ovechkin to shake loose in the left wing faceoff circle. Ovechkin’s lethal one-timer escaped Fleury and gave Caps fans reason to hope that the cycle of well-played games would result in points in the standings on this occasion.

That was not to be the case, however.

Once again at 4-on-4, Dmitry Orlov lost track of Jokinen, who took a pass from Brandon Sutter on the right post for a slam dunk at 11;35, then Maatta took a handoff from Evgeni Malkin — who was allowed to skate unencumbered through and around the Caps defense — stepped up to create a double-screen, when whipped a wrist shot past the unaware Neuvirth for the final dagger.

The Caps continue their road trip Friday at 7:00 pm ET against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Caps Quick Take: Game 12 vs. Canucks

The Caps, playing the last of four straight games in western Canada, looked it last night. They were dominated possession-wise by the Vancouver Canucks and lost 3-2, in a score not as close as it would indicate. The Caps were outshot 41-19, and the total shots were even worse: 68-42. Alex Ovechkin, who’s on pace for a record number of shots on goal this season, managed just three, despite the Caps having four power plays (and going 0-for-4).

1) Watching these two teams, it was painfully obvious just how poor the Caps defensemen are at clearing their own zone. They aren’t particularly fast, and their breakout passes aren’t particularly accurate. That leads to getting bogged down in the neutral zone and turnovers. It’s magnified when they play a team like Vancouver (or, Vancouver themselves) since the Canucks are so crisp and such good skaters in their own end. John Carlson really should be better than he is at this stage in his career. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 12 Recap: Caps lulled to sleep by Canucks 3-2

The Washington Capitals completed their western Canada swing with a sleepy game in Vancouver, able to muster just 19 shots on goal, in a 3-2 loss to the Canucks Monday night that was not as close as the score would indicate.

The loss drops the Caps to 5-7-0 on the season.

The Caps were dominated in most phases of the game, but especially in puck possession. Vancouver was able to generate 68 total shots (41 on goal, 12 blocked and 15 misses) compared to 42 for the Caps (19-11-12). The Canucks also controlled the faceoff dot, winning 67 percent of the draws. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 11 Recap: Win streak ends as Caps can’t find footing against Flames

The Washington Capitals had been playing their best hockey of the year, winning three straight, including the first two games of a five-game trip through western Canada. But Saturday night in Calgary, that good play came to a screeching halt as the Caps were outplayed much of the night by the Flames, and fell 5-2 before a full house at the renovated Saddledome.

With the loss, the Caps fall back below .500 at 5-6-0.

Braden Holtby was pulled less than 13 minutes into the game, while Jason Chimera and Aaron Volpatti were the only Caps to score. That right there should tell you something about the Caps’ fortunes in this one. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 10 Recap: Caps control play in 4-1 win over Oilers

OVECHKIN RECORDS 10TH GOAL IN 10 GAMES; HOLTBY WITH 30 SAVES IN CAPS’ THIRD STRAIGHT WIN

So far, so good for the Washington Capitals on their longest road trip of the season.

Alex Ovechkin led four goal scorers and Braden Holtby made 30 saves to lead the Caps to their third straight win, a 4-1 decision over the rebuilding Edmonton Oilers from Rexhall Place in Alberta.

The Caps broke out on top in the first. Following an icing call on the Oilers, Nick Backstrom won an offensive zone draw in the right wing circle to Marcus Johansson, who immediately put one on a tee for Alex Ovechkin in the high slot. Ovechkin then directed an absolute laser shot over Devan Dubnyk’s right shoulder for his 10th goal of the season in the Caps 10th game. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals 2013-14 Position Preview: Left Wing

Positionally, forwards are not an area in which the Capitals are lacking. There are 33 forwards still on the roster at the Washington Capitals training camp held at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, VA, which began on September 12 and will run through September 30. The roster will be pared down to 23 total players by that date, and it doesn’t appear there are any front runners to unseat any current roster players, aside from right winger Tom Wilson, who impressed coaches enough to allow him a chance to play in the Capitals last two playoff games in their series against the New York Rangers earlier this year, and has continued to earn accolades from the coaching staff in development camp, held in mid-July; rookie camp, held the week before this year’s formal training camp started; and training camp.

Marcus Johansson:

Coach Adam Oates told reporters he’d like to see the young forward play left wing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, rather than center, based on their success together last season. Oates added that because of his speed, he’d rather see Johansson utilize it as a winger, rather than center, where speed isn’t necessarily as crucial.

Johansson struggled early in the 2013 season before he was diagnosed with concussion symptoms He returned in March, around the time Ovechkin settled in to his switch to right wing, and finished the season with 22 points (6g, 16a). Expect Johansson to spend most of his time on the top line, but that could always change. Martin Erat could just as well see some time with Backstrom and Ovechkin.

Martin Erat:

Erat played in only nine games as a Capital after he was traded from the Nashville Predators with Michael Latta for top Capitals prospect Filip Forsberg at the trade deadline in April. A solid top-6 player for Nashville, the most likely scenario for Erat may be playing alongside newly signed center Mikhail Grabovski and right wing Troy Brouwer. He is listed on the Capitals roster as a right wing, but shoots left-handed. Oates has a preference for pairing left and right handed shooters on the same line, much the way he is fond of left–right defensive pairings. Erat playing at left wing is also a departure from his role in Nashville, where he played right wing.

Brooks Laich:

Once upon a time, post-Mike Ribiero, Brooks Laich was the Capitals’ second-line center. Then Mikhail Grabovski happened. Now, it looks like he’ll be relegated to the left wing, though he is listed as a center on the Capitals roster. Who he’ll be playing with or even if he’ll be playing early in the season remains to be seen. He’s been promised top-six minutes in the past, but Laich is a utility player, adaptable and willing to face any task set before him.

Laich is a leader in the locker room, too, as Ovechkin stated earlier this week. Adam Oates said he felt the Capitals were at their best last season when Laich was in the lineup, but injury once again makes things look murky for him, with straining his left hip flexor (unrelated to his groin issues last season) on the first day of training camp. He is currently day-to-day. There are still a few weeks until the regular season starts, so that may be sufficient time for him to heal and find his way back to the ice.

Jason Chimera:

After scoring a career-high 20 goals in 2011-12, Chimera had a tough year in 2013, finishing with only three goals and fourteen points. He may have lost his scoring touch, but he can still torch an opponent in a puck race. He’ll likely continue to see time on the third and fourth lines, where he’s paired well with players like Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, and Mathieu Perreault.

Aaron Volpatti:

Once ranked second in fighting majors on the Vancouver Canucks, Volpatti is a known pugilist, but since being claimed off waivers from the Canucks in February, he only tallied 7 PIMs in 17 games after joining the Capitals. Oates seems to like players like Volpatti – tough guys he can turn into gritty, pesky players who don’t have to drop the gloves to get their job done.

He signed a two-year contract extension with the Capitals in April, but was a healthy scratch during the 2013 playoffs. Most of his minutes were spent on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and now former teammate Matt Hendricks, aside from a weird turn of events that led to him playing on the first line for a game in March, while the Capitals were struggling to figure things out.

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