February 18, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 43 Recap: Holtby keeps hot hand, blanks Flyers


Braden Holtby made 21 saves to shutout the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0 Wednesday night at Verizon Center. His 20th consecutive start was his fourth shutout of the season, third since his consecutive games streak started.

The Capitals are 14-2-4 in their past 20 games, just there points shy of the Islanders for first in the Metro. Holtby has a 1.98 goals-against average, .934 save percentage in that span.

Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle have found a strange sort of chemistry. On their line’s first shift of Wednesday’s game, Chimera scored the game’s lone goal. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 40 Recap: Niskanen Penalty in OT dooms Caps

The Washington Capitals renewed their rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers for the first time this season on Thursday, but despite an early power play goal the Caps were unable to take two points from their division foe. Jakub Voracek’s power play tally in overtime settled the tie and handed the Caps a 3-2 loss.

Despite having played the night before, it was the Caps who jumped out to the quick lead. Ovechkin was left open on the power play and ripped a one-timer from the top of the circle to take the 1-0 lead just over three minutes into the game. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 62 Recap: Caps fall in Philly 6-4

For some reason, this Washington Capitals team is incapable of playing for 60 minutes. Sunday at home against the Philadelphia Flyers, it was the last five minutes the Caps could figure out. Wednesday in Philly, it was the first 40, as the Caps fell behind 4-0 and never quite recovered, falling to the Flyers 6-4.

The Capitals managed just eight shots on goal in the first two periods.

It didn’t take long for the Flyers to get on the board. At the 6:48 mark of the first, Sean Couturier won a physical battle at the blue line against Jack Hillen in his first game back from the leg fracture that had him miss all but the first two games of the season.

Couturier pushed the puck to Claude Giroux, who had beaten Alex Ovechkin into the Caps zone. Giroux kept the puck away from Ovechkin, deked Braden Holtby, and put a backhander into the wide open net, all while Mike Green watched from the high slot.

Less than two minutes later, the Flyers tallied again. Troy Brouwer was trucked at the Caps blue line by Zac Rinaldo, Brouwer, clearly frustrated and now out of position, took a swing with his stick at Matt Read and was clled for slashing. With Brouwer in the box, it took just 13 second for the Flyers to light the lamp, with Jacob Voracek potting his 17th of the season.

Then, all hell broke loose.

Luke Schenn delivered a clean hit on Ryan Stoa, in his first game as a Capital. Tom Wilson, as he’s done on multiple occasions this season, stood up for his teammate and went at it with Schenn. In the ensuing scrum, John Erskine got tied up with Vinny Lecavalier and the two went at it, with Wayne Simmonds mucking things up grabbing Erskine while engaged with Lecavalier.

Erskine and Lecavalier were assessed game misconduct penalties, and Wilson an instigator and misconduct, while Simmonds received two minutes for slashing and another two for cross-checking. He should have received a misconduct for impeding Erskine while he was engaged with another player, but the refs didn’t see it that way.

Regardless, the Caps didn’t register a shot on goal in the ensuing power play.

The Flyers scored twice more in the second period, with Giroux netting his second of the game (23), after a turnover by Mike Green behind his own net, and Michael Raffl, his eighth of the season. Raffl’s goal spelled the end of the night for Holtby, who made 14 saves on 18 shots.

Philipp Grubauer relieved and made 10 saves on 11 shots the rest of the way.

The Caps finally got on the board at 14:06 on their fifth shot of the game, as Green’s wrist shot deflected off Joel Ward and Andy McDonald and past Steve Mason to break up the shutout.

Washington woke up in the third period, but it was too little, too late.

Ovechkin started the comeback attempt with a power play goal (44) from a nifty cross-crease pass by Nick Backstrom. Playing four-on-four, Troy Brouwer found the back of the net on a pass by Hillen, and it was 4-3 before the midway mark of the third period.

But another defensive breakdown put the Flyers back up by two. Eric Fehr lost Jakub Voracek in the middle of the ice and Mike Green did little but wave his stick at Voracek as he glided through the slot an beat Grubauer to make it 5-3.

The Caps didn’t fold, as Brooks Laich tipped a Green floater past Mason to cut it to 5-4.

The Caps pulled Grubauer with 70 seconds left and had an offensive zone faceoff to work with, but Steve Downie corralled a loose puck and sent it from his own blue line to make the final 6-4.

Washington Capitals Game 34 Recap: Capitals fall 5-2 to Flyers; is Wilson’s hit suspendable?

(Photo by Len Redkoles)

(Photo by Len Redkoles)

Hockey is a game of nuances. Any number of routine things – a hit, a save, a faceoff win – can have an impact on the outcome of a game on any given night. Tuesday night in Wells Fargo Center in the second of a home and home series against the Philadelphia Flyers, the Washington Capitals fell victim to nuance — and the Flyers, 5-2.

In this case, it was a rookie who desperately sought to make an impact. Tom Wilson, who plays an average of five minutes per game, laid a hard check on Flyers forward Brayden Schenn in the second period. Schenn had trouble leaving the ice, and Wilson was given a 5-minute major for charging,  five minutes for fighting, and a 10-minute game misconduct.

The Flyers scored twice on the ensuing 5-minute power play, dramatically changing the complexion of the game for the Capitals, who had otherwise matched wits with the home team thus far.

Wilson received a charging penalty for his hit on Schenn, which was the correct call. Adam Oates defended it, telling reporters after the game that he thought it was a clean hit.

Prior to Wilson’s hit, the Capitals and Flyers traded goals for much of the second period, but the score was a manageable 2-2. After Wilson’s hit, the Flyers led 4-2, and added another goal for good measure in the third period.

While the Capitals are not strangers to multi-goal deficits, there was no comeback in the cards Tuesday night. The 5-minute penalty kill sucked all the life out of the Capitals’ effort, and the Flyers owned all the momentum.

Braden Holtby, who shut the Flyers out in a 7-0 rout on November 1, played valiantly and made 30 saves in the loss, but wasn’t given much help from his defensemen. Karl Alzner and John Carlson, who were separated briefly last season, look like they might be due for a similar change.

It is unknown if Wilson will see any sort of supplemental discipline, since he didn’t leave his feet, and Schenn dropped his head at the last moment before impact. The caveat here for a player like Wilson, who is essentially an enforcer, is that while he wants to make the most of every shift — because he doesn’t get that many — he needs to be careful to not try too hard to make a splash. Trying too hard leads to stupid mistakes. And stupid mistakes – like overcompensating on a hit – can have an adverse impact on the team and the outcome of a game, like it did Tuesday night.

Washington Capitals Game 33 Recap: Capitals win matinee matchup with Flyers in shootout 5-4

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott)

Philipp Grubauer’s stint as the Washington Capitals backup goaltender has probably been a little more stressful than he bargained for. In his last three games, (one of them in relief of Braden Holtby) he’s faced some of the league’s best players in three straight shootouts. He stopped two Philadelphia Flyers shooters to top off the Capitals’ Sunday matinee comeback, a 5-4  shootout win.

The Capitals are finding themselves on the wrong side of a score deficit more often than not these days. Luckily for them, they are in the Metropolitan Division, and the Metropolitan division is not very good. After pounding the Flyers at in Philadelphia on November 1, they found themselves down 4-1 in the third period to the Flyers in their home barn. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 13 Recap: Capitals bully Flyers 7-0

After being unable to register a shot in the game’s first 15 minutes, the Alex Ovechkinless Washington Capitals dominated the remainder of the game to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0.

Missing Alex Ovechkin because of an upper-body injury, the Capitals seemed doomed by yet another slow start in Philadelphia, but the Flyers weren’t the team to take advantage of that.

The Capitals’ second shot on goal with less than four minutes left in the first period, a one-timer from Nicklas Backstrom, was also the game’s inaugural goal. Defenseman Nate Schmidt saved the puck smartly at the blue line and fed it to Backstrom, who slapped it past Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who didn’t last much longer in net. He was pulled in favor of Ray Emery midway through the second period after allowing three goals on 17 shots. [Read more…]

Caps Quick Take: Game 13 vs. Flyers

In the last of their five-game road trip, the Washington Capitals survived another slow start, then jumped all over the Philadelphia Flyers, with five goals in the second period, to beat Philly 7-0. Things were going swimmingly until early in the third period, when Philly did what Philly does, running at players and starting a line brawl, as Ray Emery lost his head, stormed all the way down the ice and pummeled Braden Holtby as the linesmen kept any Caps player from stepping in.

1) First things first. The Caps played their best 20 minutes of the season in that middle stanza. Playing the woeful Flyers helped, but Washington dominated play like they haven’t all season. Extended offensive zone possessions. Cutting off the opponent at the blue line. Goals galore. Just fun to watch, especially against the competition. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Preseason Game 7: Caps win 6-3 in Friday fight night against Flyers

The latest preseason fashion seems to be fights, fights, and more fights. That didn’t change Friday night, where there were 5 total fights. At least we were spared a line brawl, but tensions flared from the puck drop to final whistle.

All told, there were  103 total  penalty minutes between the Capitals and the Flyers, including a blindside hit on Mikhail Grabovski by Flyers tough guy Zac Rinaldo that will almost certainly result in some type of discipline from the NHL.

Grabovski told reporters he saw Rinaldo coming, but it was too late to react. He was able to regroup and assist on Tom Wilson’s goal later in the game.

Interestingly enough, Wilson told reporters he “grew up watching” Grabovski play. “I know how talented of a player he is, it was nice to be on the receiving end of that pass.”

Eric Fehr continued his preseason scoring run Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, a deflection in the first period that beat goalie Ray Emery, who left the cage to play the puck, inadvertently passing it to the Capitals’ Mathieu Perreault. Perreault sent the puck over to Connor Carrick, who fed it to Fehr, who tapped it in while Emery was still out of position.

Alex Ovechkin scored from his wheelhouse on the power play in the first period, and Tom Wilson punched in an easy layup off Grabovski’s slick pass to make it 3-0 in the second.

The Flyers would even the score before the end of the second period with goals by Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds. No need for panic over the blown lead late in the 2nd- the Caps only dressed one of their regular defensemen Friday night, and the Flyers iced basically their regular season starting roster, minus Jakub Voracek.

In the third, Eric Fehr scored his second goal of the night, assisted by Connor Carrick, who had a three-assist night. Fehr also assisted on Ovechkin’s second power play goal.

The Capitals were able to inch ahead in the third after Fehr and Ovechkin’s tallies, winning 6-3 after an empty-net goal from Mathieu Perreault, who has played in only three of the Capitals’ seven preseason games.

” We found the groove right away,” said Perreault. “Getting a goal on the first shift gets you going.”

“We kind of slowed ourselves down in the second with all the penalties and fighting, so we got back to what we were doing in the first in the third, and we did a good job.”

Washington Capitals Game 35 Recap: Caps Blow Two-Goal Lead in 5-4 OT Loss to Flyers

Desperate for standings points to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Washington Capitals took and then frittered away a two-goal lead in the third period to fall 5-4 on the road to the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night in Philadelphia on a last-gasp goal by Kimmo Timonen to send the game to overtime, where Ruslan Fedotenko put the Caps out of their misery.

Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Marcus Johansson, and Alexander Ovechkin all scored for Washington, while Braden Holtby made 29 saves in the losing effort.

Although Timonen’s goal only tied the game, it clearly deflated Washington, who mustered no offensive pressure in the extra frame. D.C.’s nominal shutdown defensive pair of Karl Alzner and John Carlson failed to react to slick passing between Timonen, Sean Couturier, and Fedotenko, while the forward duo of Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro could only look on helplessly as Fedotenko easily slotted Timonen’s cross-ice pass into the empty net for the win. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 19 Recap: Listless Caps trounced in Philadelphia

As good as the Washington Capitals looked in their 3-0 home shutout of Carolina Tuesday night, that’s how bad they looked most of the night on the road in Philadelphia, where they were outplayed, outworked and outclassed by the Flyers by a 4-1 final score. The Caps fall to 7-11-1 with the loss.

In fact, the Caps played so poorly the announcers of NBCSports had a field day with them, using words like “mailed in”. Long-time Caps-basher Mike Milbury took special exception to the play of Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, of whom he said,  “When you have great talent it comes with great expectations and  accountability,” Milbury said during the second intermission. “If you put him up to those  two standards tonight, he fails the test miserably.”

“God almighty, that’s just so disheartening to see a player with that kind of  talent fall that short in terms of effort,” Milbury said.

While Milbury has a flair for the dramatic and has long earned his reputation as someone who doesn’t appreciate the Caps — and Ovehckin in particular — he wasn’t far off. The Caps were routinely knocked off pucks, pinned in their own end, and sluggish through the neutral zone. The Caps went an almost 10 minute stretch during the second and third periods without a shot on goal, and had just 13 shots total midway through the third.

Caps head coach Adam Oates was almost as pointed as Milbury in his critique.

“We had a terrible start. The first shift and then down quick, playing against a team that needs it as bad as us and we had no answer for them.”

“It’s our first bad game in while and I think it was all of us and we looked a little tired,” Oates continued. “We didn’t have enough fight to fight back through them. I think it’s a little bit of the produce with the league right now because of the lockout with scheduling. Teams are tired. We will chalk it up to that and find ways to work on stuff.”

It didn’t take long for the Flyers to get on the board, as Claude Giroux — all alone on the far post — banged home a pass from Scott Hartnell just 23 second into the contest. Karl Alzner and Mike Green were both occupied by Hartnell in a scrum to the left of Caps goalie Braden Holtby and Giroux was able to just hang at the top of the crease until the puck was worked free.

Wayne Simmonds made it 2-0 Flyers just a couple of minutes later on a power play. Hartnell’s shot was blocked by Holtby, but Simmonds earned inside position and flicked the backhanded rebound past Holtby.

The Flyers dictated play in the first period, despite only outshooting the Caps by one, 10-9. But the even strength shots (9-6 Philly) and hits (11-4 Philly) start to explain the advantage the Flyers held in play. Overall, the Flyers outshot the Caps 32-24 and 28-19 at even strength.

Philadelphia made it 3-0 just 3:54 into the second period with another power play goal. The Caps actually looked good on the PK for the first 100 seconds, but a breakdown in the defensive end led to a deft backhand pass from Brayden Schenn to a wide open Simon Gange for his first goal of the season. Gagne was playing in his first game with the Flyers, having been recently acquired by his once-former team.

The nail in the coffin came at 14:55 by old nemesis Max Talbot, who fired a wicked slap shot from the high slot to beat Holtby and end the young goalie’s night. Defensemen Alzner and Green seemed to part at Talbot crossed the blue line and lined up to shoot; neither player made any effort to impede either Talbot or the puck.

Phillipp Grubauer, recalled earlier in the day due to an illness to Michal Neuvirth, entered to make his NHL debut, and ended up being the only bright spot for the Caps in this one. Grubauer, who started the season at ECHL Reading turned away all 14 shot he faced from the Flyers, including two sparkling saves against Brayden Schenn in the third.

“It was a dream come true,” the 22-year old rookie explained. “I dreamed about this since I started playing hockey. It was amazing. I try to step up and give those guys confidence and show the organization that I can do something as well.”

The Caps were able to break up Ilya Bryzgalov’s shut out bid with 2:08 left in the game. Joel Ward, who perhaps was the Caps hardest-working skater all night, banged home a rebound from Tom Poti before Bryzgalov could cover. The goal was Ward’s sixth of the season.

The Capitals have until Saturday to stew about this one, when they travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets. Hopefully head coach Adam Oates or one of the more veteran players on the team will step up and let everyone know this level of effort is simply not acceptable. The Caps seem to be willing to call out former teammates for their lack of effort. Let’s see if anyone has the gravitas to do the same for the current ones.

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