Thursday, January 27, 2011

Game #51 Recap: Caps 0 Atlanta 1

In another defense struggle, the Capitals came out on the bottom end of a one goal game. This time the Caps failed to score and lost 1-0. It was the 4th loss to Atlanta on the year and Washington losses the season series 2-4-0. The Capitals offensive whoa can be directly tied to an inefficient power play that again went scoreless with 3 chances against the Thrashers. The power play has gone without a goal in 5 consecutive games and has just 2 goals in the last 11 games. If Washington doesn't figure out the power play they are going to be dead in the water come playoff time. As for the game itself, both teams employed a conservative trap system in the neutral zone that slowed down the play and led to scoring chances that were few and far between. The Caps came out strong and applied good pressure on the Thrashers in the first few minutes of the game but then had trouble gaining entry into the zone and setting up any type of cycling action. The Thrashers scored when a the puck, that  had been bouncing around all night, took a crazy hop over Jeff Schultz's stick and was deposited into the Capitals net midway through the second period. The third period saw the Caps push the pace a bit more but they were unable to get the puck past Ondrej Pavelec who stopped 10 shots in the period. The team now takes a break for the All-Star Game and they resume action on February 2nd against Montreal.

Of Note:
  • Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 of 24 shots in the loss. He has a 8-7-3 record with a 0.927 save percentage and a 2.18 goals against average. The number just don't match the record.
  • The penalty killers once again did the job allowing no goals in 2 Atlanta attempts. The penalty killers have now killed off 52 of the last 54 shorthanded situations they've faced. That's a 96.3% kill rate!
  • Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich had the net dialed in with 8 and 7 shots on goal respectively. 
  • The team put 36 shots on goal with 7 of those coming on the power play. They also had 20 shots blocked and another 10 missed the mark. That's a total of 66 shots with no goals.
  • Get some rest boys. we need you to come back and score some goals.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Game #51 Preview: Washington Capitals at Atlanta Thrashers



Where: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA

When:  January 26, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 10-7-2-0
Caps Game 51 Record: 21-9-4-0
All-Time vs. ATL: 36-21-5-5
All-Time at ATL: 14-13-2-4
Last Season vs. ATL: 6-0-0
Last Meeting: 12/4/10, WAS 1 ATL 3
Season Series: 2-3-0

This Year:
WAS Record: 27-14-9
Standings Points: 63
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 1/24/11, WAS 1 NYR 2 (OT-SO)
Streak: Loss 1

ATL Record: 23-19-9
Standings Points: 55
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 8th    
Last Game: 1/23/11, ATL 1 TAM 7
Streak: Loss 3

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 85 PERRAULT, 22 KNUBLE  
Forward Line 3: 26 HENDRICKS, 90 JOHANSSON, 83 BEAGLE
Forward Line 4: 17 KING, 15 GORDON, 39 STECKEL
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 55 SCHULTZ
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV
Back-up Goalie: 70 HOLTBY

Atlanta
Forward Line 1: 19 MODIN, 47 PEVERLY, 18 BERGFORS
Forward Line 2: 45 CORMIER, 10 LITTLE, 22 STEWART
Forward Line 3: 27 THORBURN, 8 BURMISTROV, 36 BOULTON
Forward Line 4: 15 DAWES, 14 STAPLETON, 80 ANTROPOV
Defense Pair 1: 33 BYFUGLIEN, 29 ODUYA
Defense Pair 2: 4 BOGOSIAN, 6 HAINSEY
Defense Pair 3: 24 MEYER, 3 SOPEL
Goalie: 31 PAVELEC
Back-up Goalie: 34 MANNINO

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR, 28 SEMIN (hip) DTD, 16 FEHR (upper body) DTD, 30 NEUVIRTH (lower body) DTD

NYR – 16 LADD (lower body) DTD, 39 ENSTROM (hand) DTD, 50 MASON (knee) IR, 23 SLATER (concussion) IR

Caps Milestones:
Scott Hannan will play in NHL career game #800.
Jason Chimera needs 5 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Brooks Laich needs 7 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 8 assists to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

In their final game before the All-Star break, the Capitals head down to Atlanta to take on the Thrashers in the last meeting of the regular season for the two Southeast Division rivals. Washington needs to win if they want to keep pace with the SE Division leading Tampa Bay. Atlanta has dropped its last three and trail the Caps by 8 points in the Division race. So far this season the Thrashers have had the Capitals number winning 3 of the previous 5 games. Washington will need another hardworking effort if they want to come away with the two points as the team has had major trouble putting up offense. The defense has been very good lately surrendering only 34 goals in the last 18 games. The penalty kill has been exceptional giving up only 6 power play goals against in those same 18 games and 3 of those came with the Caps having only 3 defenders. Look for the Capitals to press the offense a little more as Alex Ovechkin is showing signs of returning to his usual self. He has 6 points in his last 4 games and has scored more goals (30) and points (63) against Atlanta than any other opponent he has faced. I think the Caps will get a good start and an early lead and let the defense take over for the win.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 ATL 2

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Game #50 Recap: Caps 1 New York Rangers 2 (OT-SO)

The Capitals played a hard nosed defensive game and led 1-0 until six minute left in the third period. Then a fluky bounce ends up in the back of their net to tie the game 1-1. The two teams played a scoreless overtime period and went on to the shootout. Braden Holtby play a brilliant 65 minutes in net for the Capitals but was simply outmatched in the shootout. After stopping 28 of 29 shots in the game, the rookie gave up 3 goals on 4 attempts in the after action skills competition. The Capitals went 2 for 4 and came away with their 4th overtime loss in 10 games. The Caps took the lead in the second period when Marcus Johansson hit Matt Hendricks perfectly with a seem pass that Hendricks deflected into roof netting of the goal. The Capitals once again could not generate any sustained offense and the power play woes continued. The Capitals are struggling to get offensive chances due in part to an ineffective second line scoring threat. The Caps may need to made a move to shore up this line prior to the trade deadline that is rapidly approaching. Their are 32 games remaining and Washington needs to get its feet under them or it will be another short summer for the boys.

Of Note:
  • Matt Hendricks scored for the second consecutive game and buried his shootout attempt with another fake, deke move like the one he used on the breakaway goal in Toronto.
  • Alex Ovechkin was all over the ice but just couldn't get the puck to bounce his way. On several occasions he lost the puck in stick handling moves and his shots were right at the goalie for the most part. On the power play he generated momentum and looked to be in the prime scoring area and he chose not to shoot and passed up a golden opportunity. I think he needs to think less and react more.
  • Scott Hannan picked up his first assist as a member of the Capitals. His drop pass to Marcus Johansson allowed the center to pick up Hendricks heading to the net.
  • The power play was 0 for 2 on the night but the penalty kill was 2 for 2 and have moved back up to #2 in the rankings.
  • Braden Holtby deserved better but I do know what he will be working on this off season. In 8 games the rookie is 4-2-2 with a 0.908 save percentage. Not bad.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary
Shootout Summary

Monday, January 24, 2011

Game #50 Preview: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals



Where: Verizon Center, Washington DC

When:  January 24, 2011, 7:30 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 4-9-2-0
Caps Game 50 Record: 15-15-4-0
All-Time vs. NYR: 89-76-18-5
All-Time at Home vs. NYR: 50-32-9-3
Last Season vs. NYR: 3-1-0
Last Meeting: 12/12/10, WAS 0 NYR 7
Season Series: 1-1-0

This Year:
WAS Record: 27-14-8
Standings Points: 62
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 1/22/11, WAS 4 TOR 1
Streak: Won 2

NYR Record: 28-19-3
Standings Points: 59
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 7th    
Last Game: 1/22/11, NYR 3 ATL 2 (OT-SO)
Streak: Won 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 22 KNUBLE  
Forward Line 3: 26 HENDRICKS, 85 PERRAULT, 83 BEAGLE
Forward Line 4: 17 KING, 15 GORDON, 39 STECKEL
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 55 SCHULTZ
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV
Back-up Goalie: 70 HOLTBY

Rangers
Forward Line 1: 16 AVERY, 42 ANISIMOV, 10 GABORIK
Forward Line 2: 86 WOLSKI, 21 STEPAN, 36 ZUCCARELLO
Forward Line 3: 25 KOLARIK, 22 BOYLE, 8 PRUST
Forward Line 4: 39 DUPONT, 45 NEWBURY, 23 DRURY
Defense Pair 1: 18 STAAL, 5 GIRARDI
Defense Pair 2: 38 SAUER, 44 EMINGER
Defense Pair 3: 97 GILROY, 27 MCDONAGH
Goalie: 30 LUNDQVIST
Back-up Goalie: 43 BIRON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR, 28 SEMIN (hip) DTD, 16 FEHR (upper body) DTD, 30 NEUVIRTH (lower body) DTD

NYR – 17 DUBINSKY (fractured leg) IR, 31 FROLOV (knee) IR, 94 BOOGAARD (shoulder, head) IR, 26 CHRISTENSEN (knee) IR, 24 CALLAHAN (broken hand) IR, 20 PROSPAL (knee) IR, 19 FEDOTENKO (shoulder) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Chimera needs 5 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Brooks Laich needs 7 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 8 assists to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

During the Capitals December 8-game losing streak the worst beating came at the hands of the New York Rangers. The 7-0 blowout of the Capitals led to the change in philosophy that has seen the team respond by giving up 3 or more goals only 5 times in 17 games since. The Capitals picked up 5 of a possible 6 point on a three game road trip and will try to continue their success at home against the Rangers. The Caps have scored the first goal in their last two games and have been able to control the pace of play in both of those contests. The one area I would like to see improvement is team discipline.  Washington has taken more penalties than the opposition 7 times in the last 10 games. Tonight’s game should be another close game for the Capitals. The Rangers have been killed by injury but this is a very hardworking team that will not lie over. I expect the Capitals number one line to play a big game tonight. Alex Ovechkin is coming off a hat trick performance in Toronto and has 6 points in his last three games. He is starting to look like the Alex we all know and love. The Caps will need some help from the other lines and look for a goal from the third or fourth lines. It should be physical and I would expect some fisticuffs early on to set the tone but the Capitals will outlast the Rangers in the end.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 NYR 1


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Game #49 Recap: Caps 4 Toronto 1

For the first time since October 30th, Alex Ovechkin had a multi-point game. And for the first time since December 21st, the Capitals scored more than 3 goals in a game. Ovechkin completed the 10th hat trick of his career and Matt Hendricks scored a breakaway goal with an unbelievable finish to give the Caps a 2-0-1 record on the three game road trip. The Caps got on the board in the first period when Jeff Schultz fired a slap shot from the point and Ovechkin tipped the shot in front of the Toronto net minder. The Caps were held in the game with superb play from rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. The 21-year old stopped several odd man rushes and made a spectacular glove save to win his second consecutive start. Washington and Toronto played scorless in the second period but the Caps took a two goal lead at the beginning of the third when Ovechkin gathered a rebound at the top of the crease and put the puck under the goalie for a two goal lead. The lead was cut in half a little over a minute later when Toronto got a point drive deflection in front. The puck changed direction and Holtby couldn't react in time. Washington got their two goal cushion back as Matt Hendricks stole the puck at the Capitals blue line and raced in all alone. Hendricks faked a shot, then deked  the goalie out of his jock strap and then placed the puck deftly into the net. The Caps then put up the defensive front and stifled the leafs the rest of the way. Toronto tried to get close by pulling the goalie with over two minute remaining but the Capitals held firm and got the final goal when Ovechkin finished the hat trick into an empty net.The Caps head back home for a rematch with the New York Rangers who beat the Caps 7-0 the last time the two teams met.

Of Note:
  • The Capitals killed off all 3 Toronto plays and have allowed only 1 power play goal against in the last 5 games. The Washington power play is still sputtering going 0 for 2 in the contest.
  • Braden Holtby took the #1 Star honors with 34 saves on 35 shots and really frustrating the Leaf shooters.
  • The Capitals blocked a season high 27 shots. Mike Green and John Erskine lead the team with 4 each. Alex Ovechkin tyed a career high with 3 blocked shots including laying out in front of Dione Phaneuf in the closing minutes of the game.
  • The defensive tandem of Green and Jeff Schultz did pretty well on the night with 1 assist and a +3 rating each.
  • Nicklas Backstrom had assists on two of the Ovechkin goals and Jason Chimera and John Carlson each had 1 assist.
  • Interesting note: the Capitals as a team are shooting at 8.8% which is the second lowest in team history. In the 1998-1999 season the team shot a franchise low 8.4% and even in their inaugural year when the won just 8 games, they still shot 9.8%.
  • The Capitals remain 1 standings point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Southeast Division lead.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Friday, January 21, 2011

Game #49 Preview: Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs


Where: Air Canada Center, Toronto, ON

When:  January 22, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 4-4-1-0
Caps Game 49 Record: 17-15-1-1
All-Time vs. TOR: 56-49-10-5
All-Time at TOR: 20-28-6-3
Last Season vs. TOR: 2-1-1
Last Meeting: 12/6/10, WAS 3 TOR 4 (OT-SO)

This Year:
WAS Record: 26-14-8
Standings Points: 60
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 1/20/11, WAS 2 NYI 1
Streak: Won 1

TOR Record: 19-22-5
Standings Points: 43
Division Rank: 4th
Conference Rank: 12th    
Last Game: 1/20/11, TOR 5 ANA 2
Streak: Won 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 22 KNUBLE  
Forward Line 3: 26 HENDRICKS, 85 PERRAULT, 83 BEAGLE
Forward Line 4: 17 KING, 15 GORDON, 39 STECKEL
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 55 SCHULTZ
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV
Back-up Goalie: 70 HOLTBY

Toronto
Forward Line 1: 16 MACARTHUR, 84 GRABOVSKI, 41 KULEMIN
Forward Line 2: 46 CRABB, 42 BOZAK, 81 KESSEL
Forward Line 3: 32 VERSTEEG, 47 BOYCE, 9 ARMSTRONG
Forward Line 4: 45 MUELLER, 37 BRENT, 28 ORR
Defense Pair 1: 3 PHANEUF, 22 BEAUCHEMIN
Defense Pair 2: 2 SCHENN, 15 KABERLE
Defense Pair 3: 8 KOMISAREK, 36 GUNNARSSON
Goalie: 35 GIGUERE
Back-up Goalie: 50 GUSTAVSSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR, 28 SEMIN (hip) DTD, 16 FEHR (upper body) DTD, 30 NEUVIRTH (lower body) DTD

TOR – MITCHELL (knee) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Chimera needs 5 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Brooks Laich needs 7 goals to reach 100 in his career.

Preview:

The Capitals finish off this three game road trip in Toronto. The Caps lost in overtime 3-2 to the first place Flyers and beat the second to last place Islanders 2-1. Both one goal games but the level of competition is nowhere close to the same. The battle for consistency continues against a Toronto team that has been just as inconsistent with a 7-0 loss to the Ranger followed up the next day with a 5-2 win over the Ducks. For Washington, the top line is the key and they haven’t been producing. They took a step in the right direction against the Isles, scoring both goals but Ovechkin and Backstrom spent time in the penalty box. The Caps had to kill off 6 power plays and will need to be more disciplined going forward. The Leafs always seem to present a challenge to the Caps so look for another close game. I would like to see the top line take control of the game and get back on track. I expect this game to be physical early and if the Capitals can get the early lead, a big if, they will win.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 TOR 2



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Game #48 Recap: Caps 2 New York Islanders 1

Well they finally did it! A goal by Jason Chimera gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead after one period of play. Chimera converted a nice passing play from Alex Ovechkin took a drop pass from Nicklas Backstrom and hit Chimera at the front of the net. The Caps scored again at the beginning of the second period when Backstrom passed to Ovechkin who drove the net from the left wing. Ovechkin was denied but the rebound sat in the crease and Backstrom put the puck into the empty net for a 2-0 lead. It was Backstrom's first goal in 21 games. Nice to have you back Nicky. The Isles responded shortly thereafter when John Carlson misplayed the puck allowing a breakaway that rookie goaltender Braden Holtby couldn't stop. Holtby was recalled yesterday after Michal Nuevirth suffered a lower body injury in the Tuesday's game against the Flyers. The rookie played well stopping 24 of 25 shots in the victory. The Caps held off the Islanders the rest of the game including killing off 6 New York power plays. The road continues for the Caps who now head to Toronto for a Saturday game with the Leafs.

Of Note:
  • The Capitals have scored 3 or fewer goals in 12 consecutive games. They have a 6-2-4 record over those 12 games.
  • Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin were the 1st and 2nd Stars of the game. Its good to see them leading the action again. Backstrom had 1 goal and 1 assist while Ovechkin had two assists.
  • The Capitals dominated the face-off dot winning 34 and losing 21 draws. Boyd Gorden went 12-2 and Backstrom was 10-4. No Islander was above 47%.
  • Mike Green led all players in ice time, 27:40, and blocked shots, 7.
  • The Capitals stopped all 6 power plays they faced but could not covert on 2 of their own power plays.
  • John Carlson picked up a secondary assist on the Backstrom goal.
  • Scott Hannan was +1.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Game #48 Preview: Washington Capitals at New York Islanders



Where: Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, NY

When:  January 20, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 4-5-1-0
Caps Game 48 Record: 17-16-2-0
All-Time vs. NYI: 88-79-13-3
All-Time at NYI: 42-46-2-1
Last Season vs. NYI: 3-0-1
Last Meeting: 10/13/10, WAS 2 NYI 1

This Year:
WAS Record: 25-14-8
Standings Points: 58
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 1/18/11, WAS 2 PHI 3 (OT)
Streak: Loss 1

NYI Record: 14-23-7
Standings Points: 35
Division Rank: 4th
Conference Rank: 14th    
Last Game: 1/17/11, NYI 2 NJ 5
Streak: Loss 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 22 KNUBLE  
Forward Line 3: 26 HENDRICKS, 85 PERRAULT, 83 BEAGLE
Forward Line 4: 17 KING, 15 GORDON, 39 STECKEL
Defense Pair 1: 52 GREEN, 55 SCHULTZ
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV
Back-up Goalie: 70 HOLTBY

Islanders
Forward Line 1: 26 MOULSON, 91 TAVARES, 15 PARENTEAU
Forward Line 2: 12 BAILEY, 44 SCHREMP, 57 COMEAU
Forward Line 3: 40 GRABNER, 37 COLLITON, 14 GILLIES
Forward Line 4: 17 MARTIN, 28 KONOPKA, 8 GERVAIS
Defense Pair 1: 47 MACDONALD, 36 HAMONIC
Defense Pair 2: 38 HILLEN, 27 JURCINA
Defense Pair 3: 42 REESE, 24 MARTINEK
Goalie: 60 POULIN
Back-up Goalie: 39 DIPIETRO

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 10 BRADLEY (broken finger) IR, 28 SEMIN (hip) DTD, 16 FEHR (upper body) DTD, 30 NEUVIRTH (lower body) DTD

NYI – EATON (hip) IR, HUNTER (knee) IR, MOTTAU (hip) IR, NIELSEN (groin) IR, OKPOSO (shoulder) IR, STREIT (shoulder) IR, WEIGHT (back) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Chimera needs 6 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Brooks Laich needs 7 goals to reach 100 in his career.

Preview:

After a disappointing 3-2 overtime loss in Philly, the Capitals head to Long Island to take on the 14th place Islanders. But the Capitals better not kid themselves; the Isles have been playing some good hockey lately and always seem to give the Caps a tough game. Washington is looking to be more consistent but lost Michal Nuevirth to a lower body injury midway through last game and had to recall Braden Holtby from Hershey. I am expecting another tight contest between these two teams. The Caps scoring outage has shown no signs of letting up and the team has only scored 1 first period goal in its last 8 games. Watch for Nicklas Backstrom in this game as he has been putting together some good efforts the last week and looks poised to break out. I think the Caps will control much of the action in this game but the scoring will be low making for another nail biter for the Capitals.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 NYI 2



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