March 3, 2015

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…]

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…]

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…]

Washington Capitals Game 35 Recap: Caps blank Pens in Pittsburgh

Eric Fehr scored twice, Braden Holtby was once again stellar and the Washington Capitals blanked the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 at Consol Energy Center.

Holtby made 31 saves, including nine on the penalty kill, to lead the Caps (18-11-6-42) to break an eight-game losing streak to Pittsburgh. [Read more…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders 11/28/14

While you were eating (or maybe doing the wave at the Verizon Center, shame on you), the Washington Capitals took the home portion of this week’s home-and-home series against the New York Islanders. While they could hardly muster any enthusiasm on the Island (who can blame them, really), the Capitals overcame a slow start to win 5-2.

First Star: Matt Niskanen. The defenseman collected three assists in the game, his second career 3-assist game, and led all Caps skaters in ice time with 22:35. He’s earned a point in three consecutive games (1g, 4a). Mike Green’s absence, which might be extensive at this point, has been a good opportunity for Niskanen to showcase his offensive.

Second Star: Braden Holtby. In his eighth win of the season, Holtby stopped 26 of 28 shots with a SV% of .929. Holtby is 5-2-1 in his last seven starts, with a 1.61 GAA, and a .938 SV%. With his 68th win, Holtby is now sixth on the Capitals’ franchise wins list.

Third Star: Marcus Johansson. The Swede marked his fourth multi-point game of the season with one goal and one assist. Johansson finished the night with three shots on goal and one hit. He has 16 points on the season (7g, 9a), and has earned points in three straight games.

Honorable mention: Evgeny Kuznetsov collected two points in the contest, a goal and an assist, his second and sixth respectively. It was the second multi-point game of his career.

 

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 11/11/14

The Washington Capitals won their third straight game Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin had two goals apiece in the 4-2 win.

Jay Beagle played on the first line and didn’t screw anything up. He even dished a slick no-look pass to Ovechkin on his first goal. Nate Schmidt got his first point of the season with a secondary assist on Johansson’s second goal of the night. He’s probably smiling about that right now. Additionally, Braden Holtby stopped 24 of 26 shots and had one of his better performances this season.

 

First Star:

Marcus Johansson.

With his two goals Tuesday night, Johansson now has 8 goals on the season, and has already eclipsed his goal total from last season. He has as many goals as Ovechkin, and had 8 shots on goal (career high) against Columbus. His trigger finger is serving him well.

 

Second Star:

Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin had 8 shots on goal in his 2-goal performance. Pretty insane until you realize Johansson had 8 SOG as well. The Caps player with the next highest SOG was John Carlson with 3.

 

Third Star:

Andre Burakovsky.

Burakovsky assisted on both of Johansson’s goals, bumping him up to 12 points on the season. His line with Johansson and Troy Brouwer is clicking well. The Caps top six is producing a lot of goals, and it’s no coincidence they’re on a winning streak.

 

Honorable mention:

Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom collected two assists, one on each of Ovechkin’s goals. He’s up to 16 points on the season.

Washington Capitals Game 15 Recap: Ovechkin and Johansson lead Caps over Columbus

After righting the ship against Chicago and Carolina over the weekend, the Washington Capitals, led by Alexander Ovechkin, extended their winning streak to three games on Tuesday evening with a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 13 Recap: Capitals return to winning ways in Winter Classic preview

It wasn’t pretty and certainly wasn’t easy, but the Washington Capitals ended their five-game losing streak on Friday night in Chicago with a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks.

[Read more…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Calgary Flames 11/4/14

The last time the Capitals won a game in regulation, it was in Calgary on October 25. They were hoping to repeat that Tuesday night at Verizon Center.

Goals from Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, and Joel Ward had the Caps leading after two, but Calgary tied things up in the third. In overtime, Sean Monahan’s wrister ended things for the Flames. Caps lose, 4-3. The Caps end up with one point, but still remain winless in their last five games.

 

First Star: Alex Ovechkin

It was an historic night for Ovechkin, who surpassed Peter Bondra in franchise scoring, his 826th point coming on an assist to Backstrom in the first period. Ovechkin finished the night with seven shots on goal, blocked a shot late in the third and carried the puck into the zone – a play that almost led to Tom Wilson scoring the game-winning goal. He covered Monahan on the eventual game-ending play, which will surely be dissected tomorrow, but it would be wise to watch what the actual defensemen were doing on the play.

Second Star: Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom collected a goal and an assist in the loss. He has three goals and 10 assists on the season. His saucer pass to Tom Wilson late in the third almost led to a game-winning goal. Backstrom has a point in each of his last three games, and Tuesday was his second consecutive multi-point game and his fourth multi-point game of the season.

Third Star: Marcus Johansson

Johansson’s goal Tuesday night was his fifth of the season, and his third in five games. He’s displaying a more aggressive game this season, and appears to have found some chemistry with his linemates Troy Brouwer and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

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…]

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