November 29, 2015

Washington Capitals Game 23 Recap: It’s Chimera’s ice, the rest of the Caps just skated on it; Caps down Leafs 4-2


 (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

With two New York Rangers losses in two days, the Washington Capitals came into tonight’s game looking to take the lead in the Metropolitan Division. It was a struggle to say the least and appeared the the grueling schedule of seven games in eleven days caught up to the players. But the Caps found a way to improve to 17-5-1 and prove that a win is a win, no matter how ugly.

A 1-1 tie after the first period did not reflect how lopsided the period actually was. The Leafs dominated possession and shots (16-4). It was only early on, after two great saves from Braden Holtby,  that Jason Chimera sped up ice winning a footrace on the counterattack, and took a wrist shot that whizzed into the net.

A Brooks Laich turnover in the neutral zone led to a goal from Toronto’s Peter Holland less than three minutes later. As has often been the case after the first period this year, Holtby had kept them in the game. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 15 Recap: Caps recover from sluggishness against Detroit to take down Philly


Three goals in the second period and a three-point (2g, 1a) night from Jason Chimera helped the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center, moving Washington’s record to 11-4-0 on the year.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov named NHL “First Star” of the week

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

Evgeny Kuznetsov  (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)


After a marvelous three game effort in Canada this week, Evgeny Kuznetsov was bestowed the NHL’s “first star” award. Racking up 3 goals and 6 assists for a total of nine points. With those numbers there may of been  a small uproar had Kuznetsov not received the award.

The first points came against the Calgary Flames Tuesday night when Kuznetsov played set up man to 3 goals in the Caps 6-2 win. He followed that performance with the game winning assist to Alex Ovechkin on Friday in the 3-2 victory over the Canucks. Kuznetsov capped his road trip with his first NHL hat trick on Saturday night scoring in prodigious fashion and adding on 2 assists for a five point achievement that lifted the Caps to a 7-4 win vs the Oilers. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 6 Review: Two 3rd period goals lift Caps over Canucks


(Photo by @PR_NHL)

(Photo by @PR_NHL)

The Washington Capitals scored two third period goals — from an unlikely source and a highly-likely one — to beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 at Rogers Arena, sending the home team to its fourth consecutive loss in its own building.

Jay Beagle tied the game at 2 not quite 6 minutes into the final stanza, and Alex Ovechkin, the Great 8, scored his fifth of the season with just under 5 minutes to play to give the Caps (5-1-0, 10) their first win in Vancouver since March 28, 1998. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 5 Recap: High-flying Caps douse Flames


The Washington Capitals kicked off the season with a nice 3-1-0 homestand. But in the second full week of the season, these Caps were sent out on the road to travel across the plains of Western Canada, out to the coast, and back again on a three-game swing.

The Capitals got off on the right foot, as Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and the Caps routed a poor-showing Calgary Flames squad 6-2 at Scotiabank Saddledome, with five different players and all four lines scoring. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 1 Recap: Ovechkin’s beauty gives Caps win on opening night

Beaten badly by a New Jersey forward just moments earlier, Alex Ovechkin retrieved the puck deep in the Washington zone, and quickly entered New Jersey territory. On the first night of his second decade in the National Hockey League, Ovechkin added to his already-legendary highlight reel with a marker that sent the sellout crowd at Verizon Center into delirium.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals 2015-16 Season Preview: Left Wing

Of all the positions on the Washington Capitals, perhaps the one with the least transition or confusion is left wing. It’s a mostly veteran unit, led by the game’s greatest goal scorer of his generation. It also includes a budding young star, a young veteran coming off a career year, and a grizzled vet trying to hang on for one more year.

Who’s In/Who’s Out
In: None
Out: Aaron Volpatti, Curtis Glencross
Depth Chart: Alex Ovechkin, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera
On the farm: Jakub Vrana, Nathan Walker

Alex Ovechkin (30, 6’3″, 239, shoots left. 81 games, 53-28-81, +10, 58 PIMs. 25 PPP)

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

(Photo: Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

If moving Ovechkin back to left wing wasn’t the very first thing Barry Trotz did after he was hired last summer as coach of the Caps, it couldn’t have been very far down on the list. Worries that Trotz’ systems would hinder Ovechkin’s goal-scoring pace and creativity turned out to be unfounded. One of the brightest highlights of last season was Trotz finding freedom for Ovi to be Ovi, while coaxing his big left winger to participate in defensive responsibility and “buying in” to the team approach.

Try this one out — Alex Ovechkin has scored 136 goals in the past three seasons. Second on the list is Joe Pavelski… with 94. In fact, there are only five other players with more than 80 goals, and eight total with more than 70 goals over that time period. Simply put, he’s the finest goal scorer of this generation, and so far he isn’t slowing down with age.

However, GM Brian McLellen realized that if the team is going to win a Stanley Cup with Ovechkin and running mate Nicklas Backstrom, he needed to surround them with more talent. Last year, he seriously upgraded the defense. This offseason, he added T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams. While “now or never” might be drastic, the next two or three years might be Ovechkin’s best opportunity to hoist a Cup.

Andre Burakovsky (20, 6’3″, 198, shoots left. 53 games, 9-13-22, +12, 10 PIMs, 2 PPP)

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

(Photo: Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Burakovsky had a somewhat up-and-down season last year, but that’s not to be unexpected for a 19-year-old. He showed extreme skill at times, and at others seemed to get lost on defense. He has decent size and doesn’t seem to shirk from contact, and his showing in the playoffs for the Caps (once given an opportunity) showed promise that he can be a reliable Top-6 option for the team this season. He can play wing or center, but Trotz seems to like him on the outside. Burakovsky seemed to drive play when he was given the opportunity last season and his development is integral to the Caps success. A 20-25-goal season isn’t outside the realm of possibility from the 20-year-old.

Marcus Johansson (24, 6’1″, 209, shoots left. 82 games, 20-27-47, +6, 10 PIMs, 3 PPP)

Marcus Johansson during warmups at Verizon Center (Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

(Photo: Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Johansson picked a great time to have a career season. Entering an RFA season, Johansson was a relatively consistent source of offense as his goals and shots on goal totals eclipsed his previous career highs. In fact, he was second on the team in even strength goals at 5×5. The good news is that his shooting percentage wasn’t an aberration, so Johansson was just a living embodiment of Gretzky’s first axiom of goal scoring: You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. Getting him off the top line — where he rightly deferred to his more talented linemates — did Johansson a world of good. Who he lines up with this season will be fascinating, especially with the development of Burakovsky. You could do worse with Johansson as your third line left winger.

Jason Chimera (36, 6’3″, 216, shoots left. 77 games, 7-12-19, -1, 51 PIMs, 0 PPP)

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

(Photo: Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Old Stone Hands’ offensive production continues to dwindle. While his speed is still world class, he limits his usefulness by increasingly taking bad selfish penalties. Chimera’s utility should exclusively be limited to killing penalties and a checking line at this point in his career, and it’s hard to see Trotz using him in any other role — except for the “gritty veteran” factor. Chimera was second on the team in goals-against-per-60 minutes, so he’s still hard to play against, but he contributes next-to-nothing on the other end.

On the farm: Jakub Vrana was the Caps’ 2014 first round draft pick out of Czech Republic. He played for Linkopings in the Swedish league last season netting 12 goals and 12 assists in 44 games before joining Hershey for three regular season games, registering five assists, and 10 playoff games, where he scored two goals and four assists. Nathan Walker is a diminutive (5’8″) 2014 third round pick, born in England and raised in Australia. He’s the first Aussie drafted by the NHL and a great story, but two seasons at Hershey has netted six goals in 71 games.

Washington Capitals Game 5 Review: Washington moves to brink of second round with 5-1 drubbing of Islanders

With an iron will and tenacity that no opponent could counter, the Washington Capitals strode onto the ice Thursday night with a grand opportunity. A good performance with a result to match would put them on the verge of their first Eastern Conference Semifinal appearance in three seasons.

Down a goal early, they weren’t fazed. Rising to the occasion, five unanswered goals, two from Evgeny Kuznetsov, lit a fire under the Verizon Center faithful and made for a 5-1 win over the New York Islanders in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 2 Recap: Caps score twice in third, shock Islanders

Down 3-1, and having given up a critical goal shortly after tallying their much-needed first, the Washington Capitals were in very dire straits and at risk of falling behind the New York Islanders two games to none in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Spurred on by their fans as well as improved puck control, they ensured that talk of a potential sweep would be just that – talk.

A spirited final 30 minutes of hockey, in which Washington scored three unanswered goals in a space of 11 minutes and 28 seconds (spanning two periods), lifted Washington to a 4-3 win in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series against the Islanders in front of a raucous crowd Friday night at Verizon Center.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 76 Recap: Caps find big road win in New York


Jason Chimera had scored two goals in his past 23 games. On Sunday against the New York Rangers, he scored on two consecutive shifts in the third period to lift the Washington Capitals to a much-needed 5-2 road win over a team they could very well see in the first round of the playoffs in two weeks.

Chimera would not have been able to play the hero on Sunday without the contributions of the team’s best player, Alex Ovechkin. The Great Eight scored goals in the first and second periods to almost single-handedly keep the Caps in the game through the first 40 minutes. [Read more…]

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