November 20, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 59 Recap: Late rally not enough as Canadiens handle Caps

HOLTBY CHASED IN SECOND AS LISTLESS CAPS HANDED RARE HOME LOSS

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Displaying the character that’s become a hallmark of this team, the Washington Capitals clawed away at a 4-1 Montreal lead on Wednesday night, but were unable to recover, losing 4-3 after starting goaltender Braden Holtby was chased early in the second period.

Alex Galchenyuk scored twice for the Canadiens.

Yet another slow start doomed the Capitals, as turnovers and odd-man rushes against proved to be a major factor in the loss, and the Capitals gave up the first goal for the sixth straight game. Andre Burakovsky said afterward that fixing the slow starts is “something [they] have to do.” [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 24 Recap: Holtby sublime, pushes Caps past Habs

HOLTBY EXTENDS CAREER-HIGH WINNING STREAK TO EIGHT GAMES

(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals came off a four-day rest looking as slow as if it was the first game of a new season, but luckily Braden Holtby decided to extend his win streak with or without the rest of the teams help. T.J. Oshie’s second goal of the game, a tip-in from the high slot off a Karl Alzner wrister, was the difference in a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Belle, the Caps’ sixth in a row.

Tom Wilson has two shots in two games — and two goals. That is how this game started and it would have been nice of the rest of the Caps could of kept that pace. Wilson’s  goal came early in the first when the Canadiens turned it over in their own zone following a Brooks Laich poke check. Laich then saucered a nice pass to Wilson, who went top shelf from the goal mouth to put the Caps up 1-0. After that it was up to Braden Holtby to up their stat line of 11-1-0 when scoring the first goal this season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 78 Recap: Ovi passes Bondra; Caps top Canadiens in OT

ALEX OVECHKIN SCORES 473RD CAREER GOAL, SURPASSES PETER BONDRA ATOP CAPS ALL-TIME LIST

Alex Ovechkin and Joel Ward both scored two goals, Troy Brouwer scored the only goal in the shootout, and the Washington Capitals earned two hard-fought points, beating the Montreal Canadiens in Centre Bell, 5-4 on Thursday.

With 96 points, the Caps move ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into third place in the Metropolitan Division.

The win also marks the 600th of Barry Trotz’ career. [Read more…]

Looking at Caps’ possible playoff matchups

As the Washington Capitals inch closer to a playoff berth, it’s time to start looking ahead at possible playoff matchups.

Though the Caps have only five games left on their schedule, there are still a handful of teams they can meet in the first round. Here’s a look at all the teams the Caps could face and how they match up against them.

New York Rangers

Caps record against them this season: 1-2-0 with one game remaining

How they could meet in the playoffs: The Rangers win the Metropolitan division and the Caps finish in a wild card spot. The standings would then dictate which division winner would play which wild card team.

Why they can beat the Caps: The Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last season and are even better this year ranking in the top three in the NHL in both goals scored and goals allowed per game. They are incredibly fast and incredibly deep. When Keith Yandle is on your third defensive pair, you do not have many holes on your roster. While the Caps boast the league’s leading goal-scorer in Alex Ovechkin, the Rangers boast the second leading scorer in Rick Nash.

Why the Caps can beat them: Henrik Lundqvist has only played once since Feb. 2 and has only a few games to get back into form. Even though Cam Talbot has played well in relief, there is no question who the team’s top netminder is. If he’s not back to form by the start of the playoffs, that’s a major blow.

Chances the Caps win the series: Slim. Not only are the Rangers the best team in the Eastern Conference, but they are also the worst matchup for the Caps. The Caps have no answer for the Rangers’ speed and the defensive pairing of Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi have been a nightmare for Ovechkin in the past. With secondary scoring a major weakness for the Caps, it’s hard to figure out just how the Caps will score against Lundqvist and a defensive pair capable of shutting down Ovechkin. If you think Sunday’s win over the Rangers was a hopeful sign, keep in mind that the Caps were dominated by the Rangers in their first two meetings this season and for the first two periods on Sunday. The Rangers could have easily blown that game wide open, but missed several open opportunities in which they had Holtby beat. In a best of seven series, the Caps’ effort on Sunday would not be good enough to win four of those seven games.

New York Islanders

Caps record against them this season: 2-0-2

How they could meet in the playoffs: The Caps finish second or third in the division and the Penguins fall to a wild card spot.

Why they can beat the Caps: John Tavares is quickly becoming one of the most dynamic offensive players in the league helping the Islanders score the fourth most 5-on-5 goals this season. For all their current struggles, at one time the Islanders were far and away the best team in the Metropolitan Division. Jaroslav Halak in net is a wild card. He has been good not great this season, but every Caps fan knows how good he is capable of being in the playoffs. He carried a worse Montreal team all the way to the conference finals in 2010, he could certainly help this Islanders team go just as far.

Why the Caps can beat them: The Islanders have been reeling with seven losses in their last nine games. They are also relatively inexperienced and rank 21st in the NHL in goals against per game.

Chances the Caps win the series: High. It is always good for a team to get hot at the right time, but the Islanders have been fading down the stretch. They have gone from being the division leader to a tie with Pittsburgh for second place and trailing the Rangers by a wide margin. This will not be a confident group going into the postseason.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Caps record against them this season: 3-1-0

How they could meet in the playoffs: The Caps finish second or third in the division and the Islanders fall to a wild card spot.

Why they can beat the Caps: The Caps may have won the first three meetings this season, but the Penguins finally seemed to figure things out in their final matchup with a 4-3 win that was not as close as the score indicates. After failing to get any traffic at all in front of Braden Holtby, the Penguins were all over the Caps netminder and the crease. It certainly looked as if they had found the formula for beating the Caps in that fourth game.

Why the Caps can beat them: The Caps have dominated the season series, winning three of their four games in commanding fashion. In their first three games, the Caps beat the Penguins by a score of 10-1. The Penguins just cannot stay healthy this season. They got back Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist on Saturday just to lose Kris Letang to a concussion.

Chances the Caps win the series: 50/50. Two of the Caps best games this season were their first two wins against Pittsburgh in which they completely dominated. It’s hard to have much faith in Marc-Andre Fleury who is rapidly becoming Jose Theodore — great in the regular season, lousy in the playoffs. Secondary scoring won’t be an issue if Ovechkin scores at the rate he has against Pittsburgh so far this year with four goals and one assist in four games. The Penguins don’t have the defense to shut him down. Having said all of that, it’s the Penguins and they always seem to find a way to beat the Caps in the playoffs. Pittsburgh played poorly in their first three games against the Caps and they know it. When they finally get pressure on the net, they came out on top. Their gameplan would be to drive the crease hard and play physically against Holtby. That should scare Caps fans considering backup goaltending is a weakness. That’s not to say that the Penguins would intentionally try to hurt Holtby, but they certainly would not let him leave this series without a few bumps and bruises.

Montreal Canadiens

Caps record against them this season: 0-0-2

How they could meet in the playoffs: Montreal wins the Atlantic Division, Caps earn a wild card spot. The standings would then dictate which division winner plays which wild card team.

Why they can beat the Caps: Two words, Carey Price. The likely league MVP has been unreal this year and leads the NHL in GAA (1.88) and save percentage (.937) among goalies with at least 20 starts this season. Those are some crazy numbers.

Why the Caps can beat them: Take away Price and Montreal is actually a pretty mediocre team. Led by Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens are 23rd in the NHL in goals per game. With all due respect to Pacioretty, Montreal lacks an offensive superstar on their roster who is capable of taking over a series.

Chances the Caps win the series: Slim. Can Price actually carry Montreal past the Caps in a best of seven series? Absolutely give how he has been playing. A mediocre Montreal team with a hot goalie? The Capitals know how lethal that combination can be and this time the Canadiens will have home ice advantage. With P.K. Subban on defense, Montreal will sell out on stopping Ovechkin and the Caps do not have enough other weapons to beat Price.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Caps record against them this season: 2-1-0

How they could meet in the playoffs: Tampa Bay wins the Atlantic Division, Caps earn a wild card spot. The standings would then dictate which division winner plays which wild card team

Why they can beat the Caps: Good luck stopping the Lightning’s offense, the best in the NHL this season. Not only do they have Steven Stamkos, but they have three other players who also have passed the 20-goal mark (the Caps only have one as Troy Brouwer has exactly 20 goals) and have five players with over 50 points (the Caps have two). Most importantly, it’s not an offense that is dependent on the power play as they have scored the most 5-on-5 goals in the NHL this season.

Why the Caps can beat them: Ben Bishop may be a towering presence in net, but with a paltry .914 save percentage this season he has failed to establish himself as the dominating goalie a team needs for a deep playoff run. After getting swept in the playoffs last season by Montreal, you have to wonder how high confidence will be in Tampa this year.

Chances the Caps win the series: Slight edge to Tampa Bay. There will be plenty of scoring to go around in this one. The Caps defense won’t be able to bottle up Stamkos and Co. while Ovechkin will get his points against the unproven Bishop. The problem for the Caps is that they are absolutely awful when they do not score first. The only team with fewer wins than the Caps this season after conceding the first goal is Buffalo. They are a completely different team when they are down early, a position they could easily find themselves in often against an offense as lethal as Tampa’s. How confident are you that the Caps can score first in four out of seven games against the best offense in the NHL?

Three Stars: Washington Capitals 0, Montreal Canadiens 1 (OT)

First Star: Braden Holtby. Kind of misplayed the goal, giving too much of the post on the tip, but c’mon. After his stretch of four-goal games he’s come back strong again and got some help from his defense in this one. If this Caps team can remember to play defense down the stretch and into the first round, they could scare or surprise someone. If they don’t, they’ll be watching again from the outside.

Second Star: Alex Ovechkin. Eight shots on goal, five hits, 25:18 TOI including a four-plus minute shift in the second. Russian Machine.

Third Star: Marcus Johansson. Three shots on goal but was in the play, especially in the third period. I thought he did  nice job of trying to carry the puck and create.

Washington Capitals Game 49 Recap: Caps fall to Canadiens 1-0 in overtime

Entering play 1-3-1 in their last five games, the Washington Capitals traveled to one of the least hospitable arenas in the league looking to get back on track, especially defensively. For much of the game, they were successful in that regard.

A taut, scoreless game went to overtime, where a defensive breakdown by two of the teams best-paid players cost the team a point, and the Caps fell to the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 on Saturday. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 1 Recap: Caps fall to Habs in shootout 2-1

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

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

 

The Washington Capitals opened the 2014-15 season by hosting the Montreal Canadiens in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center. The red-rocking crowd was treated to all of the pomp and circumstance of a home opener and excitement until the end with a shootout. After a four round shootout, the Habs took the two points winning 2-1.

The Caps took the ice with energy and dominated the first period, out shooting the Habs 13-2. “We had the puck the whole time in the first period, we had them [Montreal] on the floor, but we couldn’t knock them out,” said Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz after the game.

Andre Burakovsky, making his NHL debut, scored the Caps first and only goal 6:43 into the first period.  “It was a great moment,” said Burakovsky after the game about his first NHL goal. “It would be so much better if we just win this game.”

Trotz smiled when asked about Burakovsky’s play. “I thought he was going to have the winner there for a long time. We were really playing quite well. They weren’t getting too many chances and the chances they were getting were mostly results of some zone time and on the face off.”

The Caps continued to lead 1-0 until Habs Tomas Plekanec scored half-way through the third period to tie it up 1-1. The Caps just couldn’t find the back of the net despite scoring chances and Canadiens had two goals disallowed.

Players from both teams were a little feisty.  Each team had nine penalties, serving nineteen minutes and neither team scored during a power play. Caps outshot Habs 30-24 and outhit them 30-29.

Brooks Orpik made his Caps’ debut wearing the “A” on his sweater and immediately showed an impact. Fans on Twitter were professing their love for the new Cap as he showed he can hit and protect his goalie. “I’m just fortunate to have them in front of me. I think we’re going to win a lot of games based just on our defense,” said Braden Holtby. “It wasn’t as uncontrolled in our zone. It felt like all night we knew what was going on with who was supposed to go where at when. Very easy to read off for me. It showed on the scoresheet for our defense. “

See DSP’s Three Stars of the Game and photo gallery of the player introductions and 40th Anniversary ceremonial puck drop.

Capitals magnet schedule was given out to all fans at the  Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Capitals magnet schedule was given out to all fans at the Washington Capitals home opener against Montreal featuring 40th Anniversary cermony, 10/09/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Tonight we are debuting new game night content for DSP. Each Capitals game night, we’ll pick our three stars of the game, and our reasons why. Leave a comment and let us know what you think! Also see game recap and photo gallery.

First Star:

The inaugural first star of the night is Andre Burakovsky.

In front of family, friends, and the home crowd at Verizon Center, he scored his first career NHL goal on his second shot and the first Capitals goal of the 2014-15 season, 125 seconds into his first NHL game. He also rivaled Tomas Hertl “this is dream” levels of adorableness during his 2nd intermission interview with Smokin’ Al Koken. He also had a scoring chance in overtime, and made an appearance in the shootout.

Here’s the goal:

 

Second Star:

Braden Holtby.

Holtby stopped 23 of 24 MTL shots in regulation and overtime, and made 2 flashy glove saves in the shootout, until Brendan Gallagher sunk one for the Canadiens win. Even if you hate the shootout, it’s worth watching simply for Holtby’s casual glove saves.

Third Star:

Brooks Orpik.

Orpik lowered the boom 6 times during his debut as a Capital, and was cheered heartily by the Verizon Center crowd for the first time in his career, and certainly not the last. It was exactly what was expected of him, and there’s plenty more where that came from, to be sure.

 

 

Washington Capitals will host Montreal Canadiens in 2014-15 season opener

Saturday afternoon, the Washington Capitals released the date and opponent for their 2014-15 regular season home opener, the Montreal Canadiens on October 9. The meeting against the Canadiens will also be the Capitals’ first game of the season.

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will host the Montreal Canadiens at Verizon Center on Oct. 9 in the team’s opening game of the 2014-15 season, the National Hockey League and Washington Capitals announced today.

The Capitals are 6-1-0 all-time in season openers at Verizon Center and will face Montreal in its opening game of the season for the first time in franchise history. Washington posted a 2-1-0 record against the Canadiens last season and are 36-30-9-1 all-time against Montreal at home. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin registered four points (three goals, one assist) in three games against the Canadiens in 2013-14 and Braden Holtby posted a 2-0-0 record with one shutout, a 0.96 goals-against average and a .966 save percentage.

The Capitals’ full 2014-15 regular-season schedule will be released tomorrow.

Washington Capitals Game 52 Recap: Capitals snap losing streak with 5-0 rout of Canadiens

In their second game in as many nights, almost halfway through their five-game roadtrip, the Washington Capitals finally broke their seven-game losing streak with a 5-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens.

Braden Holtby earned his ninth career shutout and only faced 21 shots from the Canadiens, who mustered a mere three shots in the first period, and didn’t have a shot on goal in the second period until the 13-minute mark.

Alex Ovechkin, back in action after missing one game with a still-vague lower-body injury, scored the first of the Capitals four goals in the second period. John Erskine, Jay Beagle, and John Carlson contributed to the Caps second-period offense. Fresh from Hershey, recent call-up Casey Wellman scored the Capitals’ fifth and final goal of the game in the third period, off a nice feed from Ovechkin after the veteran drew the defense away on the break.

Sometimes, all it takes to break a bad streak is playing a team that’s a little worse off than you, and taking advantage of them. That’s what the Capitals did to the Canadiens, a team that should be better than they are currently playing, because they are actually a good team.

It remains to be seen if the Capitals will be able to clean up the wreckage of their six-game skid and make their way to the playoffs. Their remaining schedule is tough, and packed with skilled teams both before and after the Olympic break.

The Capitals still have lingering issues on the blue line and at forward depth that need to be addressed. Another bad blow would be Mikhail Grabovski missing an extended period of time, which hopefully is not the case. That’s not to say fans shouldn’t be happy to see the Caps finally come out on top after what seemed like an endless stretch of disappointments in the month of January. They’ve been playing some of their best hockey and not getting the points to show for it. Ganging up on the Canadiens was just what the Capitals needed.

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