May 22, 2017

Washington Capitals First Round Game 3: Caps take 3-0 series lead after penalty filled affair

OVECHKIN TAKES FRANCHISE RECORD FOR PLAYOFF POINTS; ORPIK EXITS AFTER ROUGH HIT

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Ima

With a high-tension game that ended with a five-minute major against the Philadephia Flyers, two ten-minute game misconducts, and a delay-of-game penalty assessed to the Flyers’ fans, the Washington Capitals silenced the Wells Fargo Center and took game three of the series 6-1.

The Capitals scored five power-play goals, the most in their history in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. They were 5 for 9 and are 8 for 17 with the man-advantage in the series.

The goal scoring in the first, when Marcus Johansson added anther point to his stellar first-round sheet. On the very first power play, John Carlson took a shot from just inside the blue line and the puck deflected just of Johansson’s shin. Adding his first goal of the series to his five assists, Johansson grabbed his sixth point in the series to trail only Nicklas Backstrom and Carlson (7 apiece).

[Read more…]

New World Order: Capitals frustrating opponents with “playoff hockey”

The quotes that came out of the New York Rangers room after their Game 4 loss to the Washington Capitals had an eerie and familiar quality to them for fans of the Caps.

“Offensively, we’re fighting it,” center Derek Stepan said. “We haven’t done it all year and, right now, we’re fighting it. [The Caps] are doing a lot of good things defensively and they’re blocking shots and when we’re getting our looks, [Braden] Holtby’s making saves. It’s certainly frustrating.”

“It feels like they have an answer for everything,” said Derick Brassard, the Rangers’ lone goal scorer.

“It’s not like we’re playing bad,” Brassard said in the postgame. “We’re playing some good hockey. It’s just we didn’t have that problem all year scoring goals, and now they’re making it really challenging for us. They block everything. They’re in front of the lanes.”

If Caps fans hear those words and think they sound familiar, it’s because that’s what the Caps used to say routinely as they were frustrated by defensive-minded teams and ousted from playoff series after playoff series in year’s past.

It was five years ago this month that forever changed this franchise. After winning a President’s Trophy, the Caps entered their first-round series with the Montreal Canadiens as prohibitive favorites. Not just in the series, but to win the whole dang thing.

But the Canadiens dumbed down the hockey, packed their defensive end, and rope-a-doped the Caps into outshooting themselves and eventually won the series in seven games. It’s a very similar stance the current iteration of Capitals are carrying out against the Rangers, this season’s President’s Trophy winners.

It might not be entirely intentional. This Caps team would like to play with more pace and score a few more goals. But so far the recipe has them on the brink of advancing. We’ve seen this movie enough times to know that nothing is over until it’s over, but the Capitals can’t be in a better position to succeed after four games.

The frustration coming out of New York is palpable. The Rangers want to use their speed and skill to play an up-tempo game. They don’t believe the Caps can keep up with them in a track meet. That was the case here for many seasons, as well. But that seems like many, many moons ago.

Since that April disaster against Montreal, players have come and gone. Three different head coaches have lost their jobs. The general manager was fired. That was five years ago, if you can believe it.

Now, Barry Trotz has the Caps playing the defensive stance. The Caps are being lauded for their hard work, their intensity, their brand of “heavy” hockey. The Caps are dominating in the faceoff circles. The Caps are winning battles along the boards and in the slot — on both ends.

The Caps are playing “playoff hockey”, and Trotz has them one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. Nothing is over until its over, but the Caps have to like where they are sitting and the effort they’ve exerted to get there.

Washington Capitals hope defense-first takes them to Holy Grail

The Washington Capitals have been getting rave reviews from various corners of the hockey media world on their transformation from Bruce Boudreau’s exciting, offensive-minded approach to the stifling, sit-on-a-lead defensive approach implemented by Dale Hunter.

In fact, the opening two paragraphs from Scott Burnside’s column on ESPN.com today pretty much sums up the feelings of much of the Canadian media on the topic.

“It’s still a bit difficult to reconcile this grinding, hard-nosed version of the Washington Capitals to earlier, high-flying, playoff-crashing versions.

But the fact this current, albeit less flashy, model is still around and preparing for a seventh game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins suggests change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 3 Re-Cap: Bruins pull Caps into their game; take series lead over Caps

(Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

BACKSTROM ASSESSED MATCH PENALTY FOR CROSS-CHECK, AUTOMATIC SUSPENSION UNTIL LEAGUE REVIEW

In a fraction of an instant, a well-intentioned effort by Washington Capitals defenseman Roman Hamrlik to get in front of a Zdeno Chara slap shot turned into an unfortunate assist for the shot. The resultant deflection escaped Braden Holtby, allowing the Boston Bruins to win 4-3 in the first game of this series to end in regulation and take a two games to one lead in this Eastern Conference Quarterfinals matchup.

Of at least equal or greater concern to the Caps now though is the fate of their top center, Nicklas Backstrom, who was assessed a match penalty for a cross-check to Bruins forward Rich Peverley after the final horn, triggering an automatic game suspension pending review from the league office. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: