March 27, 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…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 4

FIRST STAR: Alex Ovechkin. Fully engaged Ovi in this one. A goal, which gave the Caps late life, five shots on goal, three blocked, five more missed and eight hits.

SECOND STAR: Jason Chimera. Two assists, though took a bad penalty during a string of bad penalties in the second period.

THIRD STAR: Troy Brouwer. Goal and an assist. 7 of 11 in the dot.

Goat of the game: Tom Wilson. Hate to kick a guy when he’s down, but there’s no place in the game for instigating contact during warmups. Total bush league move by a guy whose luster is starting to come off.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals 2, Philadelphia Flyers 3

FIRST STAR: Braden Holtby. Hard to fault him for the generally lousy play in front of him in this one.

SECOND STAR: I’m struggling here. Cam Schilling? One shot, another attempt blocked, two hits. Cam Schilling it is.

THIRD STAR: This.

 

Washington Capitals Game 53 Recap: Kuznetsov’s resurgence key to the second line’s success

Evgeny Kuznetsov has struggled to find his niche in the lineup this season, but he seems to have found some chemistry with linemates Jason Chimera and Troy Brouwer. Their line accounted for both of the Washington Capitals’ regulation goals in their 3-2 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks.

Kuznetzov earned two assists, Chimera scored a goal and collected an assist, and Brouwer had an assist, which came off a diving keep-in play at the blue line, which led to Chimera’s tying goal.

“I’m sure that we’ll get a couple more games together, and hopefully we can utilize that,” said Brouwer. “We were real good as line tonight, and not just because we created two goals, but we were sustaining some pressure. When we were in our d-zone, we were being able to get out of our zone fairly quickly.”

Kuznetsov’s linemates had nothing but praise for the rookie during their postgame scrums.

“He’s making plays out there,” said Chimera. “Our line probably could have had three or four more. It was fun playing with those guys tonight. Kuzy’s playing at the top of his game right now, so pretty fun for him.”

“We kinda let Kuzy just control the play like he needs to, and he made a lot of good plays….head up, seeing the ice real well,” said Brouwer. “And he was able to find guys in good areas.”

Chimera has faced his own adversity this season, too. He was a healthy scratch in Ottawa Friday night, so coming back with a strong, two-point performance against a top NHL team speaks volumes for his resiliency.

Trotz took a chance with putting these three players together, as a coach does any time he composes a lineup, and his faith was rewarded handsomely.

“At the beginning of the year, that was partly the reason he [Kuznetsov] was bouncing around up and down the lineup. Lately, he’s been able to get Trotz’s trust, and we got put out for important d-zone faceoffs against some pretty good players sometimes,” said Brouwer. “Whenever you can have the coach’s confidence to put you out in all situations, it just makes it easier for him to run the bench, and it makes it easier for us to play.”

Kuznetzov’s two assists marked his third multi-point game this season. He has seven points in his last seven games, and points in three consecutive games.  He has 22 points on the season.

“With Kuzy, he’s really starting to come through with his offensive ability and get himself on the score sheet. It’s only going to be good things for our line, which means we’re going to play more,” said Brouwer. ”We’re going to be utilized a little bit more. Me and Kuzy have been pretty comfortable with each other lately. We’ve just been trying to find a spark in the last 10 or 15 games or so, and I think tonight was a real good one for us. “

 

 

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…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals 1, Philadelphia Flyers 0

Braden Holtby’s fourth shutout of the season, and Jason Chimera’s sweet deflection goal, lifted the Washington Capitals over arch-rival Philadelphia Flyers 1-0.

First Star: Braden Holtby. In his 20th consecutive start, he made 21 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, third since his consecutive games streak started.

Second Star: Braden Holtby. 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.

Third Star: Braden Holtby. I don’t really have a third blurb, I just wanted to mention Holtby again.

Honorable Mention: Jason Chimera. I guess the guy that scored the only goal of the game should get some mention.

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…]

OPINION: For the Caps, it’s not the end of the world

“It’s not the end of the world,” Troy Brouwer, on Jason Chimera’s overtime penalty on Thursday.

For years, the Washington Capitals have been battling the perception that they aren’t intense enough, that they collectively lack an ethic tough enough to compete as a team at the highest levels in the NHL.

George McPhee thought so, or he wouldn’t have fired the most successful head coach in the franchise’s history to hire a coach out of the Juniors with no NHL coaching experience at all whose reputation was nothing but hard work, diligence, and yes, toughness.

Brian MacLellan must think so too, as he was part of the braintrust to bring in Barry Trotz — a coach whose reputation for discipline and hard work goes without question — to replace another offensive-minded, but failed, head coach.

Certainly it’s been part of the Canadian media’s mantra about “what’s wrong with the Capitals” the entirety of Alex Ovechkin’s tenure rockin’ the red.

Taken with that background, then, Troy Brouwer’s comments on Friday about Jason Chimera’s boneheaded penalty in overtime Thursday night can be read several ways, depending on your impression of the team and your feelings about the players themselves.

First, Brouwer’s actual comments, unfiltered:

“We’ve all been in that situation where you’re helpless. You’re in the box after you do something unintentional that might cost your team a couple points.

“[Chimera] felt bad about it and he apologized after the game. It could happen to anybody and it does happen to a lot of guys.

“I’m sure he felt isolated, but that’s when we as teammates have to pick him up and let him know that it’s not the end of the world, we’re still here for him, he’s a big part of our team, and we’re going to need him to rebound.” [emphasis added]

On Friday, Trotz indicated he had not spoken with Chimera directly about the incident, and Chimera — surprisingly — did not speak with media after practice, something he rarely avoids, at least in my experience covering the team. So that left Brouwer to speak for him.

First of all, Brouwer’s opinion that Chimera did “something unintentional” is not supported by the facts. Chimera’s interference penalty — knocking down defenseman Jack Johnson far away from the puck — was certainly intentional. Poor judgment? Yes. Unintentional? Absolutely not. So that part of Brouwer’s comments seem excuse-making.

Anyway…

If you want, you can interpret Brouwer’s comments as “standing up” for his teammate. He specifically says that as teammates they “have to pick him up.” All that said, if he had stopped there, it would have been easy to take Brouwer’s comments at face value.

But he goes on to say that “it’s not the end of the world.” Maybe not. But with the Caps still mired in the middle-to-low side of the pack in the Eastern Conference, every point is going to matter at the end of the season. Every single point.

If you want to read into Brouwer’s comments and believe that they perpetuate the narrative that the Caps are too complacent — that they lack the urgency, intenseness or toughness requisite to be one of the top teams in the league and truly compete for a championship in a sport that’s as much about desire as skill — it’s right there for you.

If you see this team underperform again and again (winning three straight on the road only to lose to an inferior team at home) and want to look for reasons deeper than possession metrics, Brouwer’s comments certainly opens those doors for you.

If you buy into the perception of a lax atmosphere that surrounds and permeates the Caps — the team, organization, media, and yes, fans — then it probably doesn’t surprise you that Brouwer thinks “it’s not the end of the world.”

If you want to look at the Washington Capitals and wonder why they never seem to play up to their collection of talent, you’re within your right to read Brouwer’s comments and interpret them outside of face value.

I guess if the Caps miss out on the playoffs by one point in April, it won’t be the end of the world.

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.

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