September 22, 2014

Caps Quick Takes: Game 10 vs. Oilers

The Washington Capitals evened their season record, recovering from a bit of a shaky start to overcome an injured and overmatched Edmonton Oilers squad, 4-1. The Caps’ top and third lines both accounted for two goals and Braden Holtby recorded 30 saves to lead the Caps to their third straight win, and second on their five-game road trip. The Caps now head to Calgary for a roundup at the Stampede Saturday night.

1) Braden Holtby was tested early and often in the first period and was up to the task. It took the Caps a little bit to find their legs, especially on defense against the Oilers fast-skating forwards, and it was up to Holtby to keep the Caps in this one early until the Caps got warmed up. 30 saves, and a couple of lucky posts, and the Caps get out of Edmonton with two more big points. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 9 Recap: Erat clinches shootout win in Winnipeg

Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals played the first of a five game road trip that will see them touring western Canada before heading into a Metro Division showdown in Philadelphia. Despite an ugly, ragged, defense-optional contest, the Caps came away from Winnipeg with two points as Martin Erat clinched a shootout victory over the Jets for a 5-4 final.

The win raises the Caps record to 4-5-0, tied with Columbus for fourth in the division with eight points and remarkably just six points behind division leader Pittsburgh. [Read more...]

CAPS: Happy Birthday, Mike Green

HAPPY 28th BIRTHDAY MIKE GREEN!!

(Born on 10/12/1985 in Calgary, AB, Canada)

Greenie even tweets so don’t forget to wish #52 a Happy Birthday!

Mike Green - Washington Capitals practice at Kettler, 3/28/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Mike Green – Washington Capitals practice at Kettler, 3/28/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

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

Something made Caps Brooks Laich and Mike Green laugh while chatting wth volunteer Connor (age 7) – Washington Capitals and So Kids Can partnered with KaBOOM! and ARHA to replace the playground at S.T.A.R.S. Playground at Hopkins-Tancil Court in Old Town Alexandria, September 13, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green accepts the JB Impact Award from CBS sportscaster James Brown during the 10th annual SneakerBall, the Greater Washington Sports Alliance’s signature charity gala, on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The JB Impact Award honors a player who has used sport to positively impact the area through community service. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green accepts the JB Impact Award from CBS sportscaster James Brown during the 10th annual SneakerBall, the Greater Washington Sports Alliance’s signature charity gala, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013. The JB Impact Award honors a player who has used sport to positively impact the area through community service. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

 

 

Washington Capitals Game 1 Recap: Grabovski notches hat trick but Caps fall to Blackhawks, 6-4

For the third time in a week, the Washington Capitals took on the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, but this time, it counted for something. Unfortunately for the Caps, it counts more for Chicago, as two late goals by the defending Stanley Cup champions led them to a 6-4 win in the season opener

After a long banner-raising ceremony honoring the Cup champs, the puck was finally dropped on a brand-new NHL season.

Emotions ran high on both benches: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, freshly back from his torch escapades in Greece; and the Blackhawks, still riding the wave of their Cup run.

The Hawks wasted no time getting on the board. Brandon Bollig scored just 4:06 into the first. But it seemed that for every goal the Blackhawks buried, the Capitals sneaked one past Corey Crawford shortly after.

And how fitting it was that the first Capitals goal scored this season was by its captain, Ovechkin, and even more apropos, on the power play, which proved to be as efficient as ever Tuesday night.

Patrick Kane scored near the end of the first; Mikhail Grabovski got one back for the Capitals. And so it went.

Brent Seabrook put the Hawks up 3-2; Grabovski deflected the first of two Mike Green power play shots to even things at 3-3.

Less than five minutes later, Grabovski deflected another Green point shot to make it 4-3 to give him his first career hat trick in his first regular season game as a Capital.

But only a few minutes later Brandon Saad got behind the Caps defense — notably veteran John Erskine — and equalized it for the Hawks. Defenseman Johnny Oduya increased the lead by one several minutes later on a goal Braden Holtby would probably like to have back, deflecting off his catching glove and slipping by him into a gaping net, to make it 5-4 Blackhawks late in the third.

The Capitals had a prime 5-on-3 opportunity late in the third period they couldn’t make good on, then another 50 seconds with a one man-advantage that yielded scoring chances but no goals. Crawford, as he has been so many times for the Blackhawks, was brilliant in killing the Caps power play.

It would be remiss to not mention the three assists Nick Backstrom had, all on the power play. Grabovski finished with three goals and an assist, and Ovechkin added an assist on Grabovski’s power play goal as well.

Despite pulling Holtby in the final minute, the Capitals still came up short to the reigning champions. Mike Green attempted a diving save in front of the empty net to thwart Marion Hossa’s scoring attempt, but the Hawks were awarded the goal.

In the end, it was a rousing opening night act. The Caps did many things right. They did many things wrong. They had a third period lead they could not hold. In the grand scheme of things, a one-goal loss to the defending champs on their home ice isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it feels like an opportunity slipped through the Caps hands in this one.

Washington Capitals Media Day Audio

Audio courtesy Sky Kerstein

Thursday was the Washington Capitals annual media day, where all the players were made available to tell the media they were in the best shape of their lives (except, of course, for Brooks Laich, who left practice with a strained hip flexor) and that they are looking forward this season to competing for the Stanley Cup.

Below you can find the raw audio from many of the Caps players from media day today. In addition, this season once again courtesy of Sky Kerstein, District Sports Page will have the largest online library of raw audio from Caps practices, games and postgame press conferences.

 

09-12-13 Alex Ovechkin Practice RAW

09-12-13 Brooks Laich Practice RAW

09-12-13 Karl Alzner Practice RAW

09-12-13 Mike Green Practice RAW

09-12-13 Nicklas Backstrom Practice RAW

09-12-13 Steve Oleksy Practice RAW

09-12-13 Troy Brouwer Practice RAW

CAPS: Mike Green Receives SneakerBall Award

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green accepts the JB Impact Award from CBS sportscaster James Brown during the 10th annual SneakerBall, the Greater Washington Sports Alliance’s signature charity gala, on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The JB Impact Award honors a player who has used sport to positively impact the area through community service. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green accepts the JB Impact Award from CBS sportscaster James Brown during the 10th annual SneakerBall, the Greater Washington Sports Alliance’s signature charity gala, on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The JB Impact Award honors a player who has used sport to positively impact the area through community service. (Photo Courtesy of Washington Capitals)

Capitals Defenseman Mike Green Receives SneakerBall Award
Capitals defenseman honored at the celebration of D.C. sports

ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green was named the recipient of the James Brown Impact Award, presented during the 10th annual SneakerBall, the Greater Washington Sports Alliance’s signature charity gala, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in recognition of his involvement in the community. The award honors a player who has used sport to positively impact the area through his or her commitment and compassion for Washington, D.C., through community service.

Entering his ninth season with the Capitals, Green has devoted many hours of community and charitable service for a variety of organizations in need. In 2008 Green created the “So Kids Can” program with DC 101’s Elliot Segal to benefit youth-focused nonprofit organizations. To date, So Kids Can has donated nearly $250,000 to charity. In addition Green has participated in a number of other community initiatives.

“It is an honor to receive the JB Impact Award,” said Green. “I’ve been fortunate to be involved with several projects that have given back to the Washington, D.C., community, and I look forward to another season giving back to those in need through service.”

SneakerBall is the only black tie and sneakers gala that annually celebrates the best of sports in the region. The event is organized to benefit the Greater Washington Sports Alliance Foundation, which is made up of six local charities and creates avenues for corporate philanthropy to enhance the region’s youth sports programs and facilities. The Greater Washington Sports Alliance Foundation, a 501(c) 3, supports youth investment initiatives that provide young people from greater Washington the leadership skills to live healthier, happier and more productive lives through sports and fitness.

About Greater Washington Sports Alliance:
Established in 2003, The Greater Washington Sports Alliance (GWSA) is a regional, nonprofit sports commission created to foster economic development and civic pride through the power of sports. GWSA’s mission encompasses the attraction of sporting events to the region, the promotion of the regional professional, collegiate and amateur franchises, the support of youth investment organizations and the branding of Washington, D.C., as a world class sports destination.

Washington Capitals End-of-Season Roundtable, Part V: How would you rate the defense?

With the conclusion of Washington Capitals season, too early yet again, it’s time for appreciation, evaluation and critique. In this seven part series, the Caps staff at District Sports Page, and a few friends, will be taking an in-depth look at what went right, what could be better, suggest some changes and grade out the team position-by-position.

Our panel: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief of DSP; Abram Fox, Caps Team Editor of DSP; Katie Brown, Caps Beat Writer for DSP; Sky Kerstein, 106.7 The Fan and DSP contributor; Ted Starkey, SBNation.com and DSP contributor, Adam Vingan, NBCWashington.com; and Harry Hawkings, RocktheRed.net.

PART I: What was the Capitals’ biggest accomplishment this season?

PART II: What was your biggest disappointment about the Caps this season?

PART III: What single adjustment would you advocate for next season?

PART IV: How would you rate the offense this season?

PART V: How would you rate the defense this season?

DAVE: D. I thought, pretty clearly, the blueline was the Caps’ biggest problem this season. In the very beginning everyone was a liability, including the normally stalwart Karl Alzner. I don’t know if it was adjusting to Adam Oates’ system, or the layoff from the lockout (remember, not a single member of the defensive corps played competitively during the lockout), but until about 25 games in, everyone was just getting in each others’ way, pucks were bouncing off skates into their own goal almost every night, and breakouts died in the neutral zone because no one knew what to do with the puck.

When Mike Green came back from his yearly injury absence, things got much, much better, but that because there was nowhere else to go. Green ended up leading the NHL defensemen in goals scored, but teams still keyed their forecheck on clobbering Green any chance they could. John Carlson ended up in the top five in the league in blocked shots, but according to most of the fan base he should have been a candidate to be sent back to the minors early in the season. Pundits wondered for a while, without irony, if Carlson did indeed peak in juniors. Alzner rebounded from his slow start to put together another solid defensive season and even insinuated himself in the play more often this season, and was tied for third on the in shots on goal in the playoffs. Not that Karl being third on the team in shots on goal is a good thing.

The others? A hodgepodge of has-beens, journeymen and never-weres. Tom Poti proved to the team — and probably the league — that his career has come to an unceremonious conclusion. John Erskine enjoyed something of a renaissance, but was completely exposed during the playoffs. Roman Hamrlik, employed by the Caps for a good chunk of the season, was sent packing to sit in the press box at Madison Square Garden instead of Verizon Center. The #fancystat folks loved Jack Hillen’s contribution, but it was really hard to see that translate to success on the ice, and his lack of physical stature left him open to punishment. Steve Oleksy provided some depth, but he’s a career minor league journeyman for a reason, and those reasons were evident if willing to look for them.

Dmitri Orlov and Tomas Kundratek were banished to Hershey, and for the life of me I don’t understand why, especially in Orlov’s case. But both should see plenty of time with the Caps next season.

About the only thing that was legitimately encouraging on defense this season is that Jeff Schultz, finally, took his proper place in the press box after about mid-way through the season. I fully expect the Caps to try to trade the 6’6″ liability, if not simply buy him out under the amnesty clause in the CBA.

ABRAM: 6/10. The defense gets the same rating as the offense, even though they weren’t as good, because Washington’s D corps was working with much less talent. Steven Olesky, a career minor-leaguer, became a stalwart on the back line, and Jack Hillen and John Erskine both earned a great deal more ice time than a putative playoff team would prefer. The Caps were in the bottom half of the league allowing 2.71 goals/game, and allowed a deflating 32.3 shots/game. In the playoffs the defense made a marked improvement, cutting the scoring down to 2.29 goals/game, and limited shots as well, cutting that number down to 29.3/game, fifth best in the league (though it should be noted that five of the top eight teams in that stat were also eliminated in the first round). Notably, the team’s penalty kill stepped it up in the playoffs, finishing the playoffs with a 92.9% kill rate after ending the regular season in the bottom of the league at 77.9%.

KATIE: Aside from Mike Green, Karl Alzner and John Carlson, the blue line was not stellar this season. John Erskine, who signed a contract extension this year, seemed a step or two behind or looked lost for as many times as he blocked a shot or jumped in the crease to save a flying puck. Jack Hillen rebounded from injury and proved to be reliable, and Steven Oleksy, called up from Hershey earlier in the season, provided an inspirational story and a little bit of grit. Overall, the defense wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either, so mediocre with flashes of brilliance should sum it up.

SKY: C.

TED:B. Defensively, the Capitals are thinnest, with the top two of Mike Green and Karl Alzner being reliable, but John Carlson was wildly inconsistent this season. John Erskine and Jack Hillen weren’t really the answer, either. While Dmitry Orlov was in Hershey, the bottom end of the Capitals’ defense was part of the breakdown in the series against the Rangers.

ADAM: I’m not sure if I can simply give an entire defensive corps a grade, but I was impressed by the team’s depth. Twelve defensemen played over the course of the regular season, which at one point was a league-high. Karl Alzner and John Carlson continued to grow, while Mike Green looked like his old self again near the end of the season. Jack Hillen was solid when he wasn’t injured, and Tomas Kundratek, Dmitry Orlov, Cameron Schilling and Steven Oleksy proved that the Capitals’ blue line pipeline is strong.

HARRY: I give the defense a B-minus this year.  Mike Green, Karl Alzner, Steve Oleksy (seriously) and John Carlson all had good seasons individually but the bottom half of the defense, like Jack Hillen, John Erskine, Tom Poti, and Jeff Schultz were all inconsistent or downright bad.  The Capitals’ d-zone play never looked right all season; it seemed as though they were running around constantly and their penalty kill was 27th in the NHL at 77.9% and showed little improvement through the season.  In short, there was always an issue with the defense despite the solid play of some individuals, and unlike the offense, it didn’t get noticeably better as the year progressed.

Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 2: ‘Casual Mike’ Green’s OT goal, Holtby’s shutout put Capitals up 2-0 in series

Going into this series with the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals knew there would be tight games against John Tortorella’s stingy shot-blocking team. Getting quality shots through defensemen and past Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist would be key to the Capitals success.

Saturday afternoon,  the Capitals showed they were up to the challenge. After no score during three periods of play, all it took was a cool-headed Mike Green shot on the power play to win it, 1-0, for the Capitals, putting them 2-0 in the best-of-seven series over the Rangers. The goal was assisted by Mike Ribiero and Alex Ovechkin.

Green made sure to give credit to Ribiero for the pass. “He does such a great job drawing guys to him and obviously they are on Ovi, so I just happened to be open and my goal to get it by the first guy and try to hit the net,” he said.  It was his eighth career playoff goal, and his eighteenth career game-winning goal and the first overtime game-winning goal of his career.

“We talk about this a lot,” said coach Adam Oates on Green’s ability to score in high-pressure situations. “It’s a reason why I don’t want Mike to try too hard to be a scorer during the game because we need him to have the poise back there at a key moment when it’s a big power play, place is going crazy, there’s electricity. You need guys out there who are calm. That’s one of his gifts.”

Defenseman Karl Alzner agreed. “He’s a big-time player, he handles the pressure well. He’s calm all the time with the puck in regulation, so when it gets to overtime and guys start to get the shakes a little bit, he’s still calm Mike Green,” he said.

“He’s able to find those holes, it really is amazing, I wish I could do it like him. We call him Casual Mike every now and then,” Alzner quipped.

Special teams have arguably been the deciding factor thus far in this series. The Capitals’ penalty kill has been perfect, while the Rangers’ power play has been sputtering. Out of seven total Rangers power plays, the Capitals have allowed exactly zero Rangers goals. Conversely, the Capitals’ power play is firing on all cylinders. They have two goals on seven power play opportunities.

The Rangers had three power plays, not including two four-on-four situations, but the Capitals penalty kill picked a great time to click, only allowing two shots on the three Rangers man-advantages.

“We’ve been working hard and working together,” said center Nicklas Backstrom when asked about what’s working on the penalty kill. “That’s the biggest key, I think. They have really good players on their team, so you’ve got to make sure to take away all those options.”

The power play that led to Green’s game-winning goal was earned after a delay-of-game penalty was called on New York’s Ryan McDonagh – a situation that Karl Alzner was faced with earlier in the game. Alzner attempted to tip the puck out of the Capitals’ zone, but it bounced up over the glass. After the initial no-call on the play, the officiating staff called into Toronto to get clarification of the rule, and it was determined that the call made on the ice was correct. It is only a penalty if the puck is deliberately shot out of the zone and ends up over the glass.

Goaltender Braden Holtby recorded his first career playoff shutout, stopping all 24 shots that came his way.  Holtby downplayed his accomplishment, acknowledging that a personal milestone takes less precedence than a team victory. “A shutout’s one thing, but a win is the big thing,” he said.

The Capitals will take on the Rangers in Game 3 of the series at Madison Square Garden on Monday, May 6, at 7:30 p.m.

 

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page. She grew up in Virginia and Maryland, currently resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. She combined her enthusiasm for the game with her love of writing after college. Katie has covered the Capitals as credentialed media for two seasons for several area blogs before joining the DSP staff. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. You can follow Katie on Twitter@katie_brown47.

Instant Analysis Game 2: GAME OVER GREEN; Caps take 2-0 series lead

Game Over Green. The Washington Capitals take a 2-0 series lead over the New York Rangers in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinal matchup with a 1-0 overtime win, as Mike Green’s bomb from the high slot deflected off a Rangers’ skate past Henrik Lundqvist for the game winner.

Some thoughts:

– The Caps had to figure the Rangers would come out with more fire in the first period after dropping Game 1, and they did. The Caps did a good job killing off the Rangers power play in the middle of the period and overall was solid withstanding the Rangers early assault. The Caps looked a little sleepy on offense to start but they brought the physical game to match New York, especially the captain, whose check on Carl Hagelin set the tone for him.

– Marcus Johansson had a golden opportunity to break the scoreless tie early in the second. Playing four-on-four, Alex Ovechkin hit Johansson at the far post and he had an open net, but instead of simply sweeping the puck to the net, Johansson tried to stick handle, giving both Henrik Lundqvuist and Ryan McDonough a chance to recover and ultimately Lunqvist made the save from a prone position.

– Toward the end of the second, the Caps put on a good bit of pressure against Lundqvist but couldn’t get one to drop. The best chance came from Nick Backstrom on a nice criss-crossing feed rom Johansson to Ovechkin to Backstrom at the far post. Backstrom’s shot seemed to glance off Lundqvist’s right skate and into the corner harmlessly.

– The Caps did a pretty good job on Rick Nash all afternoon, until about 3:45 left, when Nash won a battle at center ice, split a couple of Caps D and walked in on Holtby. Troy Brouwer slashed from behind and was able to hold Nash just enough to keep him from getting a great shot off. Still, Nash hit the pipe then almost bounced the rebound in. The penalty to Brouwer earned the Rangers a two-minute advantage, but the Caps were strong again on the kill, not allowing a single shot to go through to Holtby.

– The teams traded delay of game penalties in the third, but like the rest of the first two games, the Caps had the better of play during special teams.

– Once again: Braden Holtby. He made a couple of careless plays with the puck in the first period, but after that was impenetrable. He’s building quite a Stanley Cup Playoff resume.

Game 3 is Monday night from Madison Square Garden at 7:30 pm. It’s a lot nicer to go in there 2-0 instead of 1-1.

Washington Capitals Game 48 Recap: Fehr beats Bruins again on overtime goal; Caps face Rags in ECQFs

GREEN WITH TWO GOALS; CAPS TO FACE NEW YORK RANGERS IN STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

With the third seed in the Eastern Conference bracket of the Stanley Cup Playoffs sewn up entering the game, the Washington Capitals had very little to play for Saturday evening except health and pride. For the Boston Bruins, however, first place in the Northeast Division was still up for grabs, so the game had a little more significance.

An entertaining affair boiled down to overtime, and the Caps’ Eric Fehr, as he did earlier in the season, tallied the game winner in the extra frame as the Caps finished the NHL regular season with a 3-2 win over the Bruins, setting up a Quarterfinals Matchup with the New York Rangers for the fourth time in five years.

The Bruins gained a point and own a one-point lead over Montreal in the Northeast with one game to play.

Fehr’s tally came on a four-on-three power play, with Boston’s monolith Zdeno Chara off for hauling down Mike Ribeiro. Riberio found Mike Green with a cross-ice pass at the left-wing circle for a blast that Tuukka Rask couldn’t handle. The rebound popped into the slot, and Fehr slipped past defenseman Wade Redden to get enough of the puck with his backhand to flip it past the sprawled Rask (34 saves) and into the net. [Read more...]

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