March 29, 2015

Washington Capitals Game 75 Recap: Slow start dooms Washington as Caps come up short

Exasperated sighs and disappointed faces told the tale on Saturday afternoon in the Washington Capitals locker room. Squandering an early 5-on-3 power play, the Caps spotted the Nashville Predators a 3-0 lead before clawing back to pull within a goal twice. A late flurry of shots with an extra attacker wasn’t enough, and Washington ultimately fell 4-3 to the Predators at Verizon Center.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 74 Recap: Caps blow lead, win in OT

Matt Niskanen saved the Washington Capitals from adding insult to injury, scoring quickly in overtime to lift the Caps to a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, to whom the home team surrendered the game-tying goal with an even 30 seconds left in regulation.

The Caps (40-24-10) pulled to within one point of Metropolitan Division third-place Pittsburgh, who fell to Carolina 5-2 and put themselves five point clear of eighth-place Ottawa, which also lost, 5-1, to the division-leading New York Rangers and Boston, 3-2 losers to Anaheim. [Read more…]

Secondary scoring remains Caps’ biggest weakness

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

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

What is the biggest weakness of the Washington Capitals?

It’s a simple question, but an important one. The playoffs have a way of exposing every weakness of every team very quickly. Knowing what those weaknesses are can help determine who the true Stanley Cup contenders are.

With nine games left in their regular season schedule, the Washington Capitals sit in a playoff position with a four-point cushion. To put it simply, they are the seventh best team in the Eastern Conference. But why? [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 73 Recap: Caps downed by the Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are trying to stave off the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference and entered winners of three in a row and 10-2-2 in their past 15 home games.

You can add one to the win column in both cases, as the Jets scored a goal in each period and Ondrej Pavelec made 28 saves, some spectacular, to shut out the Washington Capitals 3-0 on Saturday at the MTS Center, halting the Caps modest three-game winning streak.

It ends the Caps (39-24-10) seven-game winning streak against Winnipeg. Washington is now two points behind Pittsburgh for third in the Metro, and the Penguins have a game in hand with 10 to play. The Caps are four points ahead of Boston, who has a game, and five clear of Ottawa, who has two games in hand and sit outside the playoffs currently.

Winnipeg got the scoring started halfway through the first. Drew Stafford carried down the left wing, centered to Mark Scheifle in the slot which drew all the defenders, and Scheifle flicked to Mark Stuart, alone to his right for the unmolested attempt and goal.

It was Scheifle doing the damage in the second. This time, Stafford picked John Carlson’s pocket on the Caps goal line and knocked it to Blake Wheeler, who then found Scheifle cruising through the slot by himself and he buried it.

Pavelec saved his best for late. With just under five minutes to go, the Caps streaked in on a rush and Marcus Johansson found Mike Green alone on the doorstop, but Pavelec was able to slide across the crease and snare Green’s wrister to preserve the shutout.

Winnipeg added an empty net short-handed goal from their own zone by Adam Lowry with 1:22 left in the game.

CAPS NOTES:

  • Washington hit four posts in the contest.
  • The Caps top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Johansson managed four shots on goal, two apiece by Ovechkin and Backstrom. Ovechkin had six attempts blocked and missed on five.
  • The Caps were o for 3 on the power play, but also killed all three short-handed situations.
  • Troy Brouwer wiped out 50 seconds of power play time early in the third period with an elbowing penalty.
  • Two-and-a-half minutes later, Michael Latta was called for high-sticking. The combined penalties made it hard to engineer a comeback.
  • Braden Holtby made 21 saves on 23 shots.

Washington Capitals Game 71 Recap: Caps outlast Sabres, “win” in shootout

One night after playing “playoff atmosphere” hockey to shut out the Boston Bruins, the Caps came out flatter than Stanley, needing a shootout to secure two points from the Buffalo Sabres, a team trying to secure its standing in line for the opportunity for the first pick in next year’s NHL draft.

The Caps (38-23-10) are four points ahead of Boston for the seventh seed in the East and nine clear of Ottawa, which is the first team outside of playoff seeding currently. Boston now has two games in-hand over the Caps and the Senators have three.

Evgeny Kuznetsov was the only player in the shootout to score.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 70 Recap: Washington stellar in win over Boston

Before Sunday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz discussed the mindset needed of a team vying to secure a spot in the postseason, saying that his team’s work ethic had “slipped a little bit.”

For all 60 minutes, Washington’s worth ethic was on display as they took control of momentum from the opening shift en route to a 2-0 win over the Bruins at Verizon Center.

Energy from both the Caps, who only added to their playoff cushion with the victory, and their fans played a role from the beginning and helped deliver Washington to just their second win in the last five games, a set that made up a season-long homestand.

At 12:34 of the first, John Carlson struck from the point on the power play, and the Caps finally had something to show for their physical domination and unwillingness to back down the Bruins’ own physicality.

Nate Schmidt scored a rare goal with 6:23 left in the second, his first of the season. “I actually was trying to look to see if there was off the back side of the post because the [Boston] forwards were coming up trying to block it,” Schmidt said. “I was just trying to get it to the net, let’s be honest,” he said with a laugh. Not only was the defenseman exuberant in the huddle immediately after the goal, he clearly wore the emotions of a player with a sizable weight lifted off his shoulders in the locker room afterward. “It’s like ‘finally.’ It’s like, you’re just glad it finally happened but I guess there was no better time, better late than never.”

Backstrom’s assist on the Carlson goal moved him into first place by himself on the franchise’s all-time assists list, breaking a three-way tie with Alex Ovechkin and Michal Pivonka, who had 418 each. He extended his lead with a secondary helper on the Schmidt tally.

Backstrom called the feat a “nice bonus,” adding, “it’s always [nice] when you get credit for something; maybe you’ve done something good. But, you have to remember, that I played with a lot of good players over the years and without the teammates, coaches and the fans, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Braden Holtby had 32 saves on the night, extending his career high for shutouts in a season to eight.

CAPS NOTES

  • Backstrom’s two assists extended his league-high total for the season to 56.
  • Trotz said that Dmitry Orlov (wrist) would have increased intensity with his rehabilitation this week, and that he had a higher probability of going to Hershey for a rehab assignment after the Caps return from a three-game road trip early next week.
  • In addition, Trotz said that he had yet to make a decision on whether Philipp Grubauer or Holtby would start the back end of the team’s back-to-back set on Monday night in Buffalo.
  • Interestingly, Holtby leads the NHL in shutouts since the 2012-13 season with 16.
  • Tom Wilson had a game-high six hits, while drawing a penalty and committing none.

Washington Capitals Game 69 Recap: Stars take advantage of power play

The Dallas Stars scored three power play goals and the Washington Capitals’ recent malaise continued as the Caps fell at home 4-2.

The Stars concluded their five-game road trip with a fairly dominating performance over the homestanding Capitals, who have lost two in a row at home and 3 of 4 overall.

Shawn Horcoff, Colton Sceviour, Tyler Seguin and Fiddler scored for Dallas (32-27-10), which beat the Caps for the eighth straight time. Keri Lehtonen made 18 saves. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 68 Review: Caps flat in loss to Rangers

The New York Rangers are flying high right now, bolstered by the play of backup goalie Cam Talbot while Henrik Lundqvist convalesces. The Caps were given two days off this week to recharge their motors.

Whether it was the time off, or the Rangers play, the Caps looked flat, falling to New York 3-1.

The Rangers slide into first place in the Metropolitan Division with the win, one point ahead of the Islanders, while the Caps (36-22-10) remain four points behind the Penguins for third.

Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 45th goal of the season, while Brooks Orpik and Mike Green missed the game with ailments. Braden Holtby made 28 saves in the losing effort.

Carl Hagelin, J.T. Miller and Martin St. Louis scored for New York (42-17-7). Talbot made 28 saves, including 16 in the third period when the Caps finally found some motivation.

The Caps were pressing in the third and had the better of play late until John Carlson’s lackadaisical pass was picked off by Chris Kreider, who fed notorious Caps-killer Martin St. Louis for the back-breaking third goal.

 

History repeating: Burakovsky’s overdue move to AHL reflects Caps poor development plan

Assistant Coach Blaine Forsythe and Andre Burakovsky Washington Capitals Practice, 10/07/2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Assistant Coach Blaine Forsythe and Andre Burakovsky
Washington Capitals Practice, Oct. 17, 2014 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

As soon as the Washington Capitals traded for Curtis Glencross, it was only a matter of time before Andre Burakovsky found himself in Hershey. The young winger has cycled between the top line and press box for much of the season and once the team had one more forward than they could fit into the roster it wasn’t hard to guess who the odd man out was.

But after spending the season at the NHL level and compiling nine goals and 12 assists in 49 games, is sending Burakovsky back to the AHL the right move for his development? [Read more…]

Three stars: Washington Capitals 6, Buffalo Sabres 1

FIRST STAR: Curtis Glencross. Glencross has proved to be a wonderful addition to Washington so far, providing a much needed spark to the second power play unit. He had three points against Buffalo.

SECOND STAR: Nicklas Backstrom. He’s got an NHL leading 50 assists. Beastly.

THIRD STAR: Jay Beagle. Barry Trotz favorite Beagle is in the midst of the best season of his career. He’s always worked hard to improve, and this year, it shows.

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