Down three goals in the first period alone, a comeback seemed unlikely for the Washington Capitals, but a resurgence led by Alex Ovechkin’s 4 goals paved the way to a 6-5 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night. [Read more...]
After soundly whipping the Nashville Predators 5-2 Saturday night, the Washington Capitals hoped to build off that performance against the New York Rangers, and build they did, establishing a 3-0 lead in the second period that the Rangers couldn’t overcome. Caps win 4-1.
After a scoreless first period, Jason Chimera whacked in a Martin Erat spinaround shot that left Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist sprawling on his back in the crease to give the Caps a 1-0 lead. Until then, Lundqvist hadn’t allowed a Capitals goal in 202 minutes, dating back to game 6 of the 2013 playoffs.
Less than 30 seconds later, the Capitals scored on Lundqvist again. This time, it was Steve Oleksy’s goal, his first of the season, assisted by Jay Beagle. Oleksy returned to the lineup against New York after being a healthy scratch for the last 7 games.
To pile on, Mikhail Grabovski was hooked by Ryan McDonagh on a breakaway, and earned a penalty shot. Grabovski went with a slapshot instead of a fancy move, which went top shelf on Lundqvist. The Caps led 3-0 by the end of the second period.
Nate Schmidt slapped home his second goal of the season, which appeared to deflect off Eric Fehr’s stick. The scoresheet credited Fehr with the goal at one point, but most recently has it as Schmidt’s goal. Either way, it was icing on the cake for the Caps, who played one of their best games of the season against a tough New York Rangers team.
Rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer, who is serving as Braden Holtby’s backup while Michal Neuvirth recovers from an ankle injury, stopped 30 of 31 shots in his second career NHL start.
The Capitals have the day off Monday before hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center on Tuesday, December 10.
Saturday night, the 18th all-time meeting between the Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators, proved to contain a few milestones for the home team, who won by a score of 5-2. Troy Brouwer, scoreless in his last 11 games, with only 5 points in the entire month of November, broke through and scored early in the first period to give the Caps a 1-0 lead. Brouwer had no idea he’d scored the goal, even after the goal horn sounded, until his linemate, Eric Fehr, skated over to tell him while he was still whacking away, erroneously thinking the puck hadn’t gone in yet. “I think I had at least one more whack, maybe two more whacks, after the horn went off. In situations like that, you have to do whatever it takes,” said Brouwer. “Our line had talked about getting more pucks and bodies to the net and I thought maybe it rattled in after the first shot. I didn’t know I touched it, as you could tell by my reaction.” After a Rich Clune high-sticking penalty gave the Capitals a power play, Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 22nd goal of the season, a set play off a faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals have scored 15 power play goals in their last 17 games. Ovechkin’s power play goal was the 136th of his career. He needs two more to pass Peter Bondra and move into first place on the Capitals’ all-time power play goals list. Next up was Karl Alzner, who scored his fifth career NHL goal in the first period, a slapshot assisted by Mike Green. It was his first-ever goal at Verizon Center in 148 regular season games as a Capital. “When we played the Islanders last week I think [Alzner] might have had 7 shots that night – 4 legitimate chances,” said Adam Oates, who was complimentary of Alzner’s performance. “It doesn’t always turn into your turn, but the more we work on it, when it is his turn, we need a goal from him or a good play and he got one tonight. Every little touch he makes benefits us big picture.” After a second period with no goals or penalties, the action picked back up in the third period, with rookie defenseman Nate Schmidt scoring his first career NHL goal. Twenty-three seconds later, the Predators got one back –the 13th time this season the Caps have given up a goal shortly after scoring one. By the time Eric Fehr scored his fourth goal of the season, the Caps were well on their way to victory. Fehr and his linemates, Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer had a pretty good night, combining for 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists), between them. Grabovski , who has four points in his last five games, had two assists, and Fehr, who has five points in his last five games, notched a goal and an assist. It was Grabovski’s fifth multi-point game of the season, and Fehr’s third multi-point game of the season. “We talked before the game [and said] just get pucks to the net and crash and get some rebounds and try to get a greasy one,” said Fehr. “It worked out.”
After stringing together two wins, the Washington Capitals were unable to extend the streak to three, falling 4-1 at Verizon Center to the Carolina Hurricanes, who were missing former Capital Alex Semin to a concussion.
The Caps got off to a good start, even outshooting the Canes for most of the first period — but Jeff Skinner boosted the Canes to a 1-0 lead midway through the period, beating Braden Holtby on his glove side.
It was the beginning of a not-so-great night for Holtby, as Skinner beat him again in the second period, on his blocker side, on what looked like a harmless wrist shot, after outskating Tyson Strachan. It was one of many breakdowns for the Capitals.
Despite starting the second period on the power play, one of three they had in the second period, the Capitals couldn’t find a rhythm on the man advantage all night.
Mikhail Grabovski took a tripping penalty midway through the second period, leading to another Canes goal. On the bright side, the penalty kill overall wasn’t half-bad – the Capitals killed off three of the Canes four power plays. Coach Adam Oates said he thought the first period was the best they’d played all season, despite Skinner’s goal.
“We came in after the first period and we all looked at each other and said ‘best period of the year; best first period of the year.’ They had two chances. Seven to two. And the goal was a chance,” said Oates. “So we did a lot of good things.”
“No matter who you are you eventually leak a little oil, and I think we did that,” continued Oates.
“Over the course of 80 games I think sometimes you’re going to have games where everything the other team does well goes in, but for the first 30 minutes I didn’t mind our game at all.”
The Canes’ third goal of the game came on their power play, and scored a fourth soon after, an even strength tally from Jiri Tlusty.
Skinner’s second goal likely took all the air out of the Caps effort, Karl Alzner said.
“Their second goal [in the second period] kind of deflated us a little bit. I still thought we were okay, then they got that power play goal and there was just no life left. Not only on the bench, but in the stands.”
“We may have underestimated these guys a little bit and when they were up three to nothing on us, we were mad, but we didn’t use that anger the right way,” said Alzner.
“We used it to kind of feel sorry for ourselves. It was really strange to see.”
It was Holtby’s 13th straight start; and not a good night for him. He seemed a bit off – not injured, but maybe just fatigued. Philipp Grubauer started the third period in his stead. Grubauer stopped all nine shots directed at him, and said he wasn’t fazed by going in cold and being on the penalty kill right out of the gate in the third.
One small bright spot was Mike Green, leading the league in shots without scoring a goal (65), finally scored his first goal of the season on a Caps power play in the third.
The Capitals are 5-4-0 against Metropolitan Division opponents this season.
MSE FOUNDATION KICKS OFF HOLIDAY SEASON
WITH WALMART SHOPPING EVENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation kicked off the holiday season with a shopping spree at Walmart for its annual Family-to-Family initiative on Nov. 21. This holiday season the wives and girlfriends of Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards players and coaches will assist in shopping, wrapping and delivering gifts to underserved families in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
Mandy Alzner, wife of Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, Brandi Holtby, wife of Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, Monika Hybnerova, girlfriend of Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth, Gina Nucci, girlfriend of Capitals defenseman John Carlson, Courtney Parrie, fiancée of Capitals defenseman Mike Green, and Claire Volpatti, wife of Capitals forward Aaron Volpatti, shopped for 20 families at the Walmart Supercenter located in Tyson’s Corner on Nov 21.
Combined the participants spent nearly $20,000 on gifts for local families. Children will receive clothing, educational items and toys, while parents and guardians will receive clothing and household items along with giftcards.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Parrie. “It’s so special. It’s a great time of the year with the holidays and being able to give back to the community is a wonderful opportunity.”
The trip marked the third year the Capitals, Mystics and Wizards have joined forces to participate in the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Family-to-Family program.
Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation supports the charitable efforts of the professional teams under its umbrella: the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards. MSE Foundation is committed to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and focuses on the following five pillars to maximize its impact on the community: education and scholarship, hunger and homelessness, military and veterans’ affairs, pediatric health and fitness and youth basketball and hockey. In 2013 MSE Foundation, along with the Leonsis Foundation, will donate more than $1.5 million to local charities. More than $1 million has been donated to date.
Caps Casino Night is always a fun event. Fans get dressed up and mingle with tux-wearing players while having a great time and giving to charity. If you’ve never been and are thinking about going, here are my photos from Caps Casino Night 2012 and 2011. Tickets go on sale today so get them quickly because they will sell out.
Capitals Casino Night Tickets Available Dec. 3
Presale for March 12, 2014 Casino Night begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday
ARLINGTON, Va. – Capitals Casino Night tickets will be available beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 3, for past attendees and Friday, Dec. 6 for season ticket holders. The presale will last until 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10, when tickets go on sale to the public.
Capitals Casino Night will take place on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel. The event features gaming with the players, a raffle, a silent auction and a live auction.
Games include blackjack, Texas hold’em, roulette, craps and slots. There also will be video game stations and auctions featuring Capitals game-used jerseys, sticks and skates as well as autographed items from other professional athletes. A live auction will offer fans the chance to win unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences with players and coaches. In addition fans can also win autographed memorabilia, hotel stays and gift certificates through the raffle.
The Cavalier Ballroom with Wii gaming stations, the raffle and silent auction will open at 6:30 p.m. The Commonwealth Ballroom with casino games and live entertainment will open at 7 p.m. with the event concluding at 10:30 p.m.
Tickets are limited. Attendees must be at least 21 to attend Casino Night, and dress is cocktail attire. To purchase tickets visit WashingtonCaps.com.
Once tickets are purchased they will be available for pick-up at the MSE Foundation table located behind section 104 on the main concourse during home games starting March 2. Tickets will not be mailed. If attendees can not pick up tickets at a home game during March, tickets will be placed in will call and available for pick-up the night of the event.
All funds raised from the 2014 Capitals Casino Night will benefit MSE Foundation. MSE Foundation is the nonprofit arm of the Washington Capitals that offers unique resources and programs to various charities and nonprofit organizations through the Washington, D.C., area on behalf of the Washington Capitals. Each ticket, less benefit received of $100, is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.
After going on a four-game losing skid, the Washington Capitals have strung a couple of wins together this holiday weekend, winning at home against Montreal on Friday and on the road against the New York Islanders in OT, 3-2.
The first period was bereft of much excitement, aside from a strong start from both teams, and a cornucopia of scoring chances for both. The Caps controlled possession, but were outshot by the Isles, but the period ended in a scoreless tie.
Midway through the second period, the third line of Martin Erat (who got to dress tonight thanks to Brooks Laich’s absence), Aaron Volpatti, and Tom Wilson got the Caps on the board. Erat made a smart play behind the net to get the puck to Wilson, who threw it on net. Isles goaltender Anders Nilsson gave up the rebound, which Volpatti then swatted in.
The Islanders tied things up with a shorthanded tally by Cal Clutterbuck on the Capitals’ only power play of the game early in the third. With less than two minutes left to play, Thomas Vanek gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead on an odd play in the Caps zone.
Braden Holtby appeared to have the puck frozen under his glove – which would typically warrant a whistle in most cases. The puck popped out and Holtby lost it in the shuffle, leading to the Islanders goal.
The Caps attempted to pull Holtby late with a little over a minute left, but Mike Green was called for interference on Michael Grabner, and the hopes of a late game-tying goal for the Capitals looked a bit bleak.
Nicklas Backstrom broke a 12-game goalless streak with his shorthanded game-tying goal with under a minute left. He’d gone 5 games without a point, his longest drought since 2010.
Alex Ovechkin made quick work of the overtime period, scoring his 21st goal of the season with just under three minutes to play. He has 5 career game-winning goals against the Islanders alone.
Holtby was brilliant again tonight, stopping 32 of 34 shots directed at the Caps’ net. It was the 23rd time this season the Capitals have allowed 30 or more shots out of the 27 they’ve played so far this season.
Dmitry Orlov finally got a sweater tonight, too, his season debut. He logged 13:41 of ice time, and had a solid, if uneventful outing.
Entering Wednesday’s contest, the Washington Capitals hadn’t lost to the Ottawa Senators in D.C. since March 12, 2006, going 11-0-2 in their last 13 games at home against Ottawa. Make that 11-1-2 now, as the Caps frittered away a 3-1 second period lead, falling to the Sens 6-4 before a bewildered capacity crowd at Verizon Center.
Head coach Adam Oates was visibly frustrated in his post-game remarks, saying, “If guys don’t know that we let one get away, shame on them.”
The Caps got on the board first at 12:10 of the first period. Michael Latta carried the puck to the left wing dot, where he was upended by an Ottawa defender. Eric Fehr swooped in on the loose biscuit and lifted it cleanly past Craig Anderson for his second goal of the season.
Mike Green took a hooking penalty right after the goal, though, and the Senators made him pay, as Bobby Ryan tipped in a shot from the center point by Patrick Wiercioch to even it at one apiece.
The Caps got it right back. Moments after Zack Smith went off for hooking Nick Backstrom on a offensive zone faceoff, Alex Ovechkin passed to the crease. The puck caromed off Troy Brouwer and a defender and went right to Marcus Johansson, standing alone at the right post. All Johansson had to do was push the puck in for a 2-1 lead.
Washington extended the lead to 3-1 just a minute later. Brooks Laich won the puck in the left wing corner and knocked it to Jason Chimera. Chimera’s pass bounced off Joel Ward and with Laich moving to the net, he corralled the loose puck and slipped it five-hole on Anderson.
That’s when things got silly for a bit, and actually changed the momentum of the game. Senators’ forward — and noted pugilist — Chris Neil took a run at Nate Schmidt, delivering a big blow to the Caps defenseman. Neil was whistled for interference on the hit, but Tyson Strachan decided he needed to stick up for his fallen defensive partner and he fought Neil. Strachan was hit with an instigator penalty and 10 minute misconduct to go along with five for fighting, negating what should have been a Caps power play for Neil’s original infraction.
Strachan said he didn’t see the ref signal the original call against Neil and said he felt like he was “doing his job.” Both Oates and Brooks Laich defended Strachan stepping up for his teammate. But it’s undeniable that Ottawa got the better of the momentum from the exchange and that Neil, a veteran, took advantage of the situation to pump some life into his until then moribund team.
The fights carried over to the second period. Aaron Volpatti delivered a heavy body check on veteran Colin Greening, and Greening, who is struggling mightily this season with no goals and just three assists so far, retaliated with a slash to Volpatti’s thigh pads, then both players dropped the gloves.
The Senators then cut the lead to one at 6:36 of the second. With Eric Fehr in the box on a tripping call, defenseman Chris Phillips walked in on the left wing, wound up, and fired a slap shot past the glove hand of Braden Holtby to make it 3-2. It was Phillips’ first goal of the season.
Greening got that first goal a little later in the period. Immediately after springing from the box following his fighting penalty, Greening bore down the right wing and fired a laser past Holtby’s glove side to tie the proceedings at three — and leave the Verizon Center faithful with slacked jaws.
The Senators outshot the Caps in the period 19-3.
The Capitals’ penalty parade continued in the third, as Fehr went off for his second tripping call of the game. Ottawa made good on it right away, with Mika Zibanejad tipping in Jason Spezza’s shot from long distance as he skated through the crease unmolested.
Things continued to go poorly for the Caps for much of the third period, but they got a gift with 3:30 remaining, as John Carlson was hauled down by Zack Smith as Carlson was trying to keep a puck in the offensive zone. On the ensuing faceoff, Joel Ward won the draw and the puck came right back to Carlson at the point, and his wrist shot got through a maze of bodies and went over Anderson’s left shoulder to tie the game at four.
But the Caps couldn’t stand their own good fortune. Just over a minute later, Zack Smith split Mike Green and Schmidt and sent a wrist shot toward net that Holtby simply misplayed, and the Senators retook the lead at 5-4.
An empty net goal by Bobby Ryan with 12.6 second left provided the final margin of defeat.
Never a dull moment for the Washington Capitals.
First came the report on a Czech language site. Then the confirmation from the horse’s mouth: Martin Erat demanded a trade from the Caps. After, GM George McPhee indicated he was willing to comply with the veteran player’s requests. Then, coach Adam Oates confirmed McPhee’s opinion that with Brooks Laich healthy, Erat just had a hard time fitting in on the Caps roster.
Obtained (along with center Michael Latta) for former first round prospect Filip Forsberg at last season’s trading deadline, Erat now arguably represents McPhee’s biggest acquisition blunder.
Erat, 33, has been a top-six forward on every team he’s been a part of. Eight times in his career he’s scored better than 16 goals in a full season, and he started this one relegated to fourth line minutes with the likes of a 19-year old rookie and Latta, the player he was traded with, in his first stint in the NHL.
It’s no wonder he was dissatisfied with his playing time.
When McPhee made the deal last season, Laich was still out, rehabbing from his groin injury and surgery. Now skating full-time minutes, Laich has recaptured his old spot in Oates’ lineup, to the detriment of Erat’s minutes.
Both McPhee and Oates mentioned Laich’s health as a key to Erat’s playing situation, as if neither player were capable of filling a different role.
At the start of the season, Laich resumed play on the second line, pushing Erat past the third line on his way to less than 10 minutes of total ice time in each of the team’s first four games and five of its first seven. At some point early in the season, Erat met with McPhee to discuss the situation, confirmed by both men Monday after practice. Erat’s minutes have picked up recently, but still dissatisfied, Erat reiterated his concern and requested a trade to a team that will utilize him in a manner more customary to his career norms. According to McPhee, Erat has been “really flexible” on the teams he may be traded to, with respect to his full no movement clause.
That led us to the bombshell Monday morning.
This is very clearly a situation where this organization trusts the history and past performance of Laich, a player to whom they gave a six-year, $27 million contract two seasons ago. What remains to be seen, however, is if Laich will return to the 20-goal, two-way player he was before his groin injury or not. So far this season, it’s not. In 24 games, Laich has recorded three goals and two assists, fifth on the team in total time on ice, while Erat has a measly six assists in his 23 games.
A lot of folks did not like the Erat trade from the very beginning, as the Caps were very obviously trying to plug a hole in a playoff run while surrendering the team’s second-rated prospect in the process. McPhee said at the time it was not a rental; that Erat had two more years on his deal and that the team was looking long-term when they made the trade. On Monday, McPhee reiterated the organization didn’t know if Laich would be ready for the start of this campaign, and when he was, Erat then became the odd man out.
What’s frustrating to Caps fans, now, is that the team gave up a player that made Nashville’s opening night roster and would be playing top-six minutes there — at age 19 — were it not for a nagging upper-body injury, for a player that recorded a total of nine points in his short stint with the Capitals.
Trades are always difficult to judge until time has passed from the event, but this deal now has unmitigated disaster written all over it, unless McPhee can flip Erat for a first round pick or a player that can slide into a top-four spot on the defense, which will be highly unlikely now that the player’s desire is open in the public. There are teams that will take Martin Erat and what he can bring on the ice, but his return will be pennies on the dollar for what McPhee had to give up to acquire him.
It’s unfortunate asset management for a team that is hamstrung by salary cap implications — like Brooks Laich’s $27 million deal.
“It’s time for me to move on.” Martin Erat
Saying “I want be traded,” Martin Erat announced today following Washington Capitals practice that he has asked the organization for a trade. A report surfaced in a Czech source about his demands before practice. After he left the ice after the Caps skating-filled practice, Erat confirmed everything in that report — and then some.
“Since day one, I didn’t get the chance here,” Erat said ”I got traded here to be top-six player, but never got the chance, never played more than 15 minutes. It’s time for me to move on.”
Erat was acquired by the Caps, along with Michael Latta, at last season’s deadline for former first round pick Filip Forsberg.
Erat conformed that he did indeed meet with GM George McPhee earlier this season, but was given little indication of why he wasn’t garnering more than the 13:07 average of ice time that he’s been assigned thus far this season. The veteran player was clearly emotional speaking with the media this morning explaining his situation. Asked his opinion of why he didn’t fit in with the Caps, Erat replied, “No idea.”
In 23 games this season, Erat has not scored a goal and has six assists, playing mostly on the bottom lines. Recently, he’s been moved around in an attempt to shake up the lines, but that has brought no better results. He was a healthy scratch last week, and Erat confirmed after practice it was indeed the first time in his NHL career he has been a healthy scratch.