November 26, 2015

Washington Capitals Game 9 Recap: Caps take gritty win over Columbus


New team, same ego, as John Tortorella returned to the Verizon Center as newly-appointed coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. In a messy affair devoid of much offensive cohesiveness, the Washington Capitals were able to scratch out a 2-1 win over Tort’s troops.

Maybe the ghosts of Halloween came out a bit early to haunt the Caps. Looking slow, sloppy, and even a bit tired for the first half of the game, the Caps played a less than stellar outing against the struggling Blue Jackets. [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.

Capitals’ Marcus Johansson awarded $3.75 million in arbitration, re-signs with team

A Toronto arbitrator has awarded Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson $3.75 million as a result of Wednesday’s hearing, and the team announced late Friday that he has re-signed with the club for the 2015-16 season.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals sign Braden Holtby to long-term extension

Braden Holtby will call D.C. home for a long time.

Braden Holtby, pictured at a practice last October, will call D.C. home for a long time. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Washington Capitals have re-signed goalie Braden Holtby to a five-year contract extension worth $30.5 million, the team announced Friday afternoon.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Practice Update: Fehr out, Johansson iffy

Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz addressed the media Monday about the Caps’ newest injuries. Trotz announced forward Eric Fehr will be out at lest two games [ed. There are currently just two games scheduled] with an upper-body injury sustained in Sunday’s Game 3 when Islanders forward Kyle Okposo checked Fehr hard into the boards.

Trotz also said this injury is not related to the injury that forced Fehr out of three games at the end of the regular season.

Forward Marcus Johansson was limited in practice due to a lower-body injury, reportedly a cut o n his lower leg sustained after colliding with Cal Clutterbuck in Game 3. Johansson played through the injury Sunday but is iffy for Game 4.

The Caps have forwards Michael Latta and Andre Burakovsky in reserve. Latta seems to be the more logical fill-in for Fehr and the rookie Burakovsky could get the call should Johansson’s leg be deemed not fit for Game 4.

The Caps trail the Islanders 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Washington Capitals Game 81 Recap: Holtby stellar in Caps’ win over Bruins

Three times this season, the Boston Bruins went up against Braden Holtby. Three times they exited the ice without a single goal.

Holtby made 27 saves and Washington scored two goals early in the first period en route to a 3-0 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night at Verizon Center.

The win certifies that the Caps will play in the 2-3 matchup in the Metro Division. If the Islanders lost Thursday night, the Capitals will finish as the No. 2 seed. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 79 Recap: Caps erase disastrous start but lose in OT

The Washington Capitals entered Saturday night’s game with a chance to clinch a playoff spot, but they will have to wait at least one more day after losing to the desperate Ottawa Senators in overtime.

In the first ten minutes of the game, the Caps took three penalties and allowed three goals to put themselves in a 3-0 deficit that looked insurmountable. After regrouping in the locker room, a different Capitals team came out to dominate the remainder of regulation tying the game at three, but another mistake cost them in the extra frame. [Read more…]

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild

First star:

Braden Holtby.

He looked all set to tie Marc-Andre Fleury for the NHL lead with 8 shutouts, but all that was spoiled late in the third period. Minnesota’s second goal took three tries to swat in, and Holtby made a sprawling save just seconds before. He can’t steal every game.

Second star:

Curtis Glencross.

New guy Glencross has a nickname that followed him to Washington that originated from his days in Edmonton. “Scoreface,” they call him. He said someone must’ve had a “brain-wave” about it.

Third star:

Marcus Johansson.

Johansson hit more iron tonight than a golfer on a typical day, and he was all over the ice. Whatever the post didn’t stop, Dubnyk did.

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…]

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