Friday, December 31, 2010

Winter Classic Update

Per the NHL, the Winter Classic start time has been changed from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM. So change your plans accordingly. Go Caps!!!

Game #40 Preview: The Winter Classic - Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins


Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA

When:  January 1, 2011, 1:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 14-6-3-1
Caps Game 40 Record: 14-17-3-1
All-Time vs. PIT: 83-86-16-5
All-Time at PIT: 34-51-7-1
Last Season vs. PIT: 4-0-0
Last Meeting: 12/23/10, WAS 2 PIT 3 (OT-SO)

This Year:
WAS Record: 22-12-5
Standings Points: 49
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 12/28/10, WAS 3 MON 0
Streak: Win 2

PIT Record: 25-11-3
Standings Points: 53
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st    
Last Game: 12/29/10, PIT 1 NYI 2
Streak: Loss 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 85 PERRAULT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 14 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 83 BEAGLE, 39 STECKEL
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 55 SCHULTZ, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Pittsburgh
Forward Line 1: 14 KUNITZ, 87 CROSBY, 9 DUPUIS
Forward Line 2: 25 TALBOT, 71 MALKIN, 24 COOKE
Forward Line 3: 18 CONNER, 10 LETESTU, 48 KENNEDY
Forward Line 4: 17 RUPP, 27 ADAMS, 45 ASHAM
Defense Pair 1: ORPIK, 58 LETANG
Defense Pair 2: 7 MARTIN, 4 MICHALEK
Defense Pair 3: 3 GOLIGOSKI, 5 ENGELLAND
Goalie: 29 FLEURY
Back-up Goalie: 1 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (undisclosed) DTD, 15 GORDON (lower body) IR, 17 KING (undisclosed) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR

PIT – COMRIE (lower body) IR, GRANT (wrist, neck) IR, STAAL (foot, hand) IR

Caps Milestones:
Mike Knuble needs 2 points to reach 500 in his career.
Nicklas Backstrom needs 6 points to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

It’s finally here. The Winter Classic with the Capitals travelling to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins in front of 80,000 fans at the outdoor rink set up at Heinz Field, home of the NFL’s Steelers. The script could not have played out any better for the NHL. The Pens lead the league in standings points and Washington is back playing winning hockey and the two teams played to a standstill a week ago. The Caps are bringing momentum into the game with two good wins over Carolina and Montreal. The defense is settling in nicely with Scott Hannan getting more comfortable with Mike Green and Jeff Schultz return to the lineup. The Caps new defensive systems have been getting better as of late. The team has allowed 11 goals against in their last 7 games and is averaging 16 blocked shots per game in that same stretch. The offense is starting pick up with Alex Ovechkin scoring in two straight and Mike Green with points in 3 consecutive games. Look for the Classic to start with physical action from both teams as they try to send messages early. It should be a tight contest but I am expecting a big game from the Capitals captain and victory for the boys in the white jerseys.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 PIT 2

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Game #39 Recap: Caps 3 Montreal 0

Semyon Varlamov shutout Montreal and the Capitals scored 2 goals in the first period and ended up with a 3-0 win. After defending 2 Montreal plays in the first five minutes of the game, the Capitals broke through with a great individual effort by Jay Beagle. The Hershey call up took the puck out from behind the net skated out and backhanded the puck into the net. It was the second goal for Beagle since being called up on December 15th. The Caps got the second goal from a Mike Green one timer off of a slick pass from Nicklas Backstrom. The Caps held Montreal in check for most of the night. Washington blocked 18 shots and did not allow a goal in 5 Montreal power play attempts. The Capitals still have yet to figure out their own power play as they went 0 for 8 on the night. This is the one area the team needs to improve on to become more effective. The scoring was closed out in the final minute of the game with Alex Ovechkin collecting an empty net goal off a clear from Karl Alzner. The team will now gear up for the big New Year's Day showdown with Pittsburgh in the Winter Classic.

Of Note:
  • Semyon Varlamov got his 6th win and 2nd shutout of the season. He stopped all 25 shots he faced and 58 of 60 in the last two games. The Caps have to be extremely happy with the play of their two young goaltenders. They seem to be pushing each other quite well.
  • Mike Green scored his 7th goal of the season and has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last 3 games.
  • The Capitals dominated the face-off dot winning 36 and losing only 16 draws. Nicklas Backstrom went 10-2 and David Steckel went 15-7,
  • Jay Beagle has 2 goals on the season, both were game-winners.
  • Eric Fehr and Matt Hendricks assisted on Beagle's goal.
  • Scott Hannan was +1.
  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 14th goal of the season and has goals in back to back games.
Official Reacp
Game Summary
Event Summary

Monday, December 27, 2010

Game #39 Preview: Montreal Canadiens at Washington Capitals


Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  December 28, 2010 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 6-8-4-1
Caps Game 39 Record: 15-14-5-1
All-Time vs. MON: 53-67-17-2
All-Time at Home vs. MON: 32-28-9-0
Last Season vs. MON: 2-1-1
Last Meeting: 2/10/10, WAS 5 MON 6 (OT)

This Year:
WAS Record: 21-12-5
Standings Points: 47
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 12/26/10, WAS 3 CAR 2
Streak: Win 1

MON Record: 20-14-2
Standings Points: 42
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 3rd    
Last Game: 12/26/10, MON 1 NYI 4
Streak: Loss 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 85 PERRAULT, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 26 HENDRICKS
Forward Line 4: 39 STECKEL, 83 BEAGLE, 63 GORDON
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 89 SLOAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Carolina
Forward Line 1: 13 CAMMALLERI, 14 PLEKANEC, 46 KOSTITSYN
Forward Line 2: 67 PACIORETTI, 11 GOMEZ, 21 GIONTA
Forward Line 3: 52 DARCHE, 15 HALPERN, 40 LAPIERRE
Forward Line 4: 57 POULIOT, 81 ELLER, 94 PYATT
Defense Pair 1: 44 HAMRLIK, 6 SPACEK
Defense Pair 2: 75 GILL, 26 GORGES
Defense Pair 3: 45 PICARD, 68 WEBER
Goalie: 31 PRICE
Back-up Goalie: 35 AULD

Injuries:
Washington – 55 SCHULTZ (broken thumb) IR, 3 POTI (undisclosed) DTD, 15 GORDON (lower body) IR, 17 KING (undisclosed) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR

MON – 79 MARKOV (knee) IR

Caps Milestones:
Mike Knuble needs 2 points to reach 500 in his career.
Nicklas Backstrom needs 7 points to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

In the first meeting between these two clubs since Game 7 of last year’s Round 1 of the playoffs, Montreal comes calling to the Verizon Center for a match with the Capitals. The Caps are bruised and battered but have put together a solid string of games and are 3-1-2 in their last 6 contests. They look to continue the solid defensive play that has given up an average of 2.17 goals per game in those 6 games. The Capitals offense is beginning to heat up with Alex Ovechkin recording a 2-point night against Carolina on Sunday. Look for the Caps to keep the play simple with an aggressive forecheck and solid backchecking. I expect another close game with Ovechkin being a major factor.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 MON 1

Game #38 Recap: Caps 3 Carolina 2

Washington traveled to snowy Raleigh and came away 3-2 winners behind the strong play of goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varly stopped 33 of 35 shots and was positionally solid all night. Alex Ovechkin put in a hardworking effort and was rewarded for being in the right place at the right time when he put home his 4th game-winning goal of the season. The Caps were out played at the beginning of the game but did not yield a goal and they took a 1-0 advantage on a goal from Mathieu Perreault. At the end of the first period Perreault was blindsided by Carolina's Tim Gleason. The hit broke Perreault's visor and stick with the stick coming around and slicing his face. It was a gruesome site and Gleason was giving a major penalty for charging and thrown out of the game. I am sure the league will take a look at the hit but most likely nothing will come of it. The Caps started the second period with a 3 minute power play as Matt Hendricks was given a roughing penalty following the Gleason hit. Washington moved the puck well and got some decent shots on net but couldn't score. Following the penalty the Caps made a bad line change and the Canes tied the game with a 2-on-1 goal. The Capitals answered back with David Steckel disrupting the Canes breakout and Alex Ovechkin jumped on the loose puck and took it to the net. He tried a move on the Canes d-man but lost the puck and it came squarely onto Steckel's tape, who fired it home to regain the lead. Ovechkin got the third Washington goal when a shot from Mike Green deflected right to him in the left wing circle. Ovie buried it for a two goal lead. The beginning of the third period saw the Caps with a defensive lapse that the Canes turned into a deflection goal in front of Varlamov. The Canes pressed for the rest of the period, including two power plays but Washington only allowed 7 shots on goal. Overall it was a good win for the team. They next play on Tuesday against Montreal.

Of Note:
  • The Capitals big scorers were back on the score sheet with Ovechkin getting 1 goal 1 assist, Alexander Semin assisted on Perreault's goal, and Mike Green assisting on the Ovechkin game-winner.
  • Semyon Valamov got his 5th win of the season and was awarded the game's #2 star.
  • The Capitals blocked 14 shots in the game with Mike Green and John Carlson leading the way with 4 each.
  • The Caps continued their power play struggles as they went 0 for 2 but the penalty killing was strong again killing off all 4 Carolina power plays. Washington has allowed 1 ppg against in its last 5 games.
  • Scott Hannan was +1.
  • Nicklas Backstrom can't buy a goal. He had a wide open net at the end of the game but shot over the goal. It's coming for Nick, I can feel it, he is going to break out soon.
  • David Steckel had a good night. 1 goal on 1 shot to go along with 1 hit and 1 blocked shot. He won 11 of the 16 face-offs he took.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Game #38 Preview: Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes



Where: RBC Center, Raleigh, NC

When:  December 26, 2010 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 11-12-3-0
Caps Game 38 Record: 16-15-3-1
All-Time vs. CAR: 39-23-7-5
All-Time at CAR: 17-12-4-4
Last Season vs. CAR: 3-1-2
Last Meeting: 11/28/10, WAS 3 CAR 2 (OT-SO)
Season Series: 3-0-0

This Year:
WAS Record: 20-12-5
Standings Points: 45
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 12/23/10, WAS 2 PIT 3 (OT-SO)
Streak: Loss 1

CAR Record: 15-14-4
Standings Points: 34
Division Rank: 4th
Conference Rank: 9th    
Last Game: 12/23/10, CAR 2 MON 3
Streak: Loss 2

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 85 PERRAULT, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 39 STECKEL, 83 BEAGLE, 63 GORDON
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 3 POTI, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Carolina
Forward Line 1: 53 SKINNER, 12 STAAL, 26 COLE
Forward Line 2: 36 JOKINEN, 16 SUTTER, 15 RUUTU
Forward Line 3: 14 SAMSONOV, 59 LAROSE, 39 DWYER
Forward Line 4: 11 BOYCHUK, 29 CARTER, 20 BODIE
Defense Pair 1: 6 GLEASON, 77 CORVO
Defense Pair 2: 25 PITKANEN, 7 WHITE
Defense Pair 3: 4 MCBAIN, 44 HARRISON
Goalie: 30 WARD
Back-up Goalie: 60 PETERS

Injuries:
Washington – 55 SCHULTZ (broken thumb) IR, 89 SLOAN (hip flexor) IR, 15 GORDON (lower body) IR, 17 KING (undisclosed) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR, 26 HENDRICKS (illness) DTD

CAR – 19 TLUSTY (upper body) IR

Caps Milestones:
Mike Knuble needs 2 points to reach 500 in his career.
Nicklas Backstrom needs 7 points to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

After losing an epic game in the shootout against the Penguins the Capitals cannot afford a letdown. They travel to Carolina for a game against the 4th place team in the Southeast Division. If they play with the same intensity and desire then they should be alright but if they sink to level of their competition then all bets are off. Washington needs to bring that effort more consistently and when the big guns get back on line then it will be a sight to behold. Alex Ovechkin is having a particularly tough stretch. He has not scored a goal in 8 games and does not have a power play point in 13, which is the longest power play outage in his career. His current pace will have him finish with the fewest shots on goal for any season in his career along with the most shot attempts blocked by the competition. Simply, he needs to find more ways to get his shot on the net. Look for the Capitals to continue their assault on the offensive zone. In the most recent games they have been very effective keeping the opposition hemmed in their own zone and taking advantage of the turnovers. I expect a fired up Capitals team that is brimming with confidence and a big chip on it’s should. Caps should win big.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 5 CAR 1

Friday, December 24, 2010

Game #37 Recap: Caps 2 Pittsburgh 3 (OT-SO)

The big build up to the Caps and Pens was fully delivered by the game performance of both teams last night. A 7-round shootout was required to decide the outcome with the Penguins taking the win 3-2. The Capitals played a solid all around game and a much improved effort. The game started with Alex Ovechkin leveling Evgeni Malkin and then Zbynek Michalek who tried to stand up for Malkin. Ovechkin to his credit did not engage any of the Penguins, basically saying "it was clean, deal with it." The Pens opened the scoring when Sidney Crosby deflected a pass from the point behind Michael Neuvirth. The Caps pressed the attack and kept the puck mainly in the offensive zone but couldn't get the puck in the net. This included a 5-on-3 power play advantage. In the second period, the Capitals finally broke through with a goal. On another 5-on-3, Alexander Semin and Mike Green passed the puck back and forth til Green finally ripped a wrist shot to tie the game at 1-1. Neuvirth made several outstanding stops in the period including a penalty shot from Malkin and a breakaway from Crosby. 14 seconds into the third the Penguins went up 2-1 on a broken play in front of the Washington net. The Caps then proceeded to march their way to the penalty box with three consecutive penalties against. On the final Pittsburgh power play, Brooks Laich took a puck fumbled away by the Pens defenseman and made a nice pass to Mike Knuble who beat the goalie 5-hole to tie the game at 2-2. With no goals in the overtime they went to the shootout where Washington decided to go first. Alex Ovechkin scored with a backhand deek but the Pens responded with a goal on their first attempt. Then no one would score again until the 7th round when a perfectly placed shot beat Neuvirth. The Caps picked up 1 standings point but were pushed to second place in the division as Tampa won a shootout against the Rangers.

Of Note:
  • Mike Green got his 6th goal of the season and played a game high 34 minutes 3 seconds. He was targeted by the Pens and responded with the goal, 6 shots, 8 hits and 5 blocks.
  • The penalty killers did well killing all 5 power plays they faced and Mike Knuble got the game tying goal shorthanded.
  • Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Brooks Laich collected 1 assist each.
  • The Pens blocked 23 Capitals shots and the Caps blocked 21 shot from Pittsburgh shooters.
  • David Steckel was masterful in the face-off dot. He won 13 of his 17 draws. The team was less as effective winning 34 and losing 37.
  • Michael Nuevirth stopped 25 of 27 shots in the game and 5 of 7 in the shootout.
  • Great set up for the Winter Classic when the two team rematch outdoors in Pittsburgh.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary
Shootout Summary

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Game #37 Preview: Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals



Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  December 23, 2010 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 13-6-4-0
Caps Game 37 Record: 13-15-6-1
All-Time vs. PIT: 83-86-16-4
All-Time at home vs. PIT: 49-35-9-3
Last Season vs. PIT: 4-0-0
Last Meeting: 5/6/10, WAS 6 PIT 3

This Year:
WAS Record: 20-12-4
Standings Points: 44
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 2nd
Last Game: 12/21/10, WAS 5 NJ 1
Streak: Win 2

PIT Record: 23-10-2
Standings Points: 48
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 4th    
Last Game: 12/22/10, PIT 5 FLA 2
Streak: Win 2

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 85 PERRAULT, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 63 GORDON
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 39 STECKEL, 83 BEAGLE
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 3 POTI, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Pittsburgh
Forward Line 1: 14 KUNITZ, 87 CROSBY, 9 DUPUIS
Forward Line 2: 25 TALBOT, 71 MALKIN, 24 COOKE
Forward Line 3: 18 CONNER, 10 LETESTU, 48 KENNEDY
Forward Line 4: 17 RUPP, 27 ADAMS, 45 ASHAM
Defense Pair 1: ORPIK, 58 LETANG
Defense Pair 2: 7 MARTIN, 4 MICHALEK
Defense Pair 3: 3 GOLIGOSKI, 5 ENGELLAND
Goalie: 29 FLEURY
Back-up Goalie: 1 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 55 SCHULTZ (broken thumb) IR, 89 SLOAN (hip flexor) IR, 15 GORDON (lower body) IR, 17 KING (undisclosed) IR, 16 FEHR (personal reasons) DTD, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR

PIT – COMRIE (lower body) IR, GRANT (wrist, neck) IR, STAAL (foot< hand) IR

Caps Milestones:
Mike Knuble needs 3 points to reach 500 in his career.
Nicklas Backstrom needs 8 points to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

After a win over the lowly Devils, the Capitals play host to the red hot Pittsburgh Penguins. This will be a huge test for this Caps team that just came out of a tough losing streak and will look to record their third consecutive win. In the last game, Washington was hit once again by the injury bug when Matt Bradley sustained a broken finger and will be out for at least a few weeks. It will be interesting if Head Coach Bruce Boudreau will employ his line matching strategy against the number one line of the Penguins as he did to great effect against the Ducks big line a week ago. For the Caps, they are going to need another big night from their grinding forwards. The big guns for Washington have been silent for most of December and need to get back to crashing the net for goals. I expect both teams to be fired up and it should be an incredibly fast paced game with the Capitals pulling the upset.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 PIT 3



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