Sunday, February 27, 2011

Game #63 Recap: Caps 3 Islanders 2

The Capitals failed to show up in the first half of this game. Other than a few shifts, the Islanders dominated and led 2-0 before the Capitals knew they were actually playing. It was so bad that Bruce Boudreau had to call time out just to rip into his team who failed to show up at all the night before in Washington. Then at the half way point of the second period Brooks Laich got Washington on the board with a wrist shot that found its way through the goalie gear and into the net. Following the Laich goal the Caps started skating and in the third they took control. With just over two minutes gone by, Laich made a power move from the right wing side and force fed Mike Knuble who popped the puck in the unguarded side of the net to tie the score. Three minutes later Alexander Semin made a hardworking play at Caps line. He fought for the puck with two Islanders then turned up ice where he and Alex Ovechkin came together before Semin took the puck at the Islander blue line and cut across the middle where he performed his patented curl-and-drag into a wicked wrister move. The shot was perfect, top corner of the goal giving the Capitals the 3-2 edge. The Caps proceeded to shut down the Islanders the rest of the way and the team escaped with the win.

Of Note:
  • Scott Hannan was a force on defense again for the Caps. He was a +2 for the game and blocked a game high 6 shots. 
  • Michal Neuvirth picked up his 19th win of the year by stopping 29 of the 31 shots he faced. The second goal was definitely not his fault as a point shot that looked to be going wide was knocked into the by the Capitals' John Carlson. After the play, Neuvy gave Carlson the evil eye but I think they are friends again.
  • The Capitals failed to connect on 2 power play attempts and the penalty killers were a perfect 4 for 4.
  • With Nicklas Backstrom having a broken finger the Caps used some different guys to take the draws. David Steckel was a beast in the dot, as usual, winning 10 of the 15 draws he took. Brooks Laich, Jay Beagle and Boyd Gordon were 50% or better and the Caps won 30 of the 57 draws overall.
  • John Carlson, Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson, and Brooks Laich each had 1 assist.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Highlights:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Game #63 Preview: Washington Capitals at New York Islanders



Where: Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, NY

When:  February 26, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 10-5-1-0
Caps Game 63 Record: 17-13-3-1
All-Time vs. NYI: 89-79-13-3
All-Time at NYI: 43-46-2-1
Last Season vs. NYI: 3-0-1
Last Meeting: 1/20/11, WAS 2 NYI 1
Season Series: 2-0-0

This Year:
WAS Record: 32-20-10
Standings Points: 74
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 2/25/11, WAS 0 NYR 6
Streak: Loss 1

NYI Record: 23-31-8
Standings Points: 54
Division Rank: 5th
Conference Rank: 15th
Last Game: 2/24/11, NYI 3 PHI 4 (OT)
Streak: Lost 2

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 26 HENDRICKS, 85 PERRAULT, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 4: 39 STECKEL, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 23 HANNAN, 55 SCHULTZ
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3:89 SLOAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV
Back-up Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH

New York
Forward Line 1: 26 MOULSON, 91 TAVARES, 15 PARENTEAU
Forward Line 2: 40 GRABNER, 51 NIELSEN, 21 OKPOSO
Forward Line 3: 57 COMEAU, 12 BAILEY, 44 SCHREMP
Forward Line 4: 17 MARTIN, 28 KONOPKA, 59 HALEY
Defense Pair 1: 47 MACDONALD, 36 HAMONIC
Defense Pair 2: 38 HILLEN, 8 GERVAIS
Defense Pair 3: 71 KATIC, 6 WISHART
Goalie: 35 MONTOYA
Back-up Goalie: 52 LAWSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 16 FEHR (upper body) IR, 52 GREEN (head) DTD

NYI – DIPIETRO (facial fracture) IR, EATON (hip) IR, HUNTER (knee) IR, JURCINA (groin) IR, MARTINEK (lower body) IR, MATTAU (hip) IR, POULIN (knee) IR, STREIT (shoulder) IR, WEIGHT (back) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Chimera needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Brooks Laich needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 assists to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

The Capitals will try to rebound from another blowout loss to the New York Rangers. The team heads to Long Island for the front end of a home-and-home two game set with the Islanders. The Capitals have been trying to put all the pieces together but have been consistently inconsistent for quite a while. The Caps are 14-11-7 in their last 32 games and have just 20 games remaining in the regular season. At some point they are going to need to pick up the pace or they will be left in the dust. The Islanders have just 54 points in the standings but have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games so this is no cakewalk. New York is playing a more aggressive style of play complete with some ol’ time hockey brawlers. Look for this one to be a chippy, physical affair with both teams attempting to keep the other to the outside. The key for the Capitals is to get the first goal and build their confidence. I expect the Caps to come out flying in this one a put up some good offense.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 5 NYI 2


Game #62 Recap: Caps 0 Rangers 6

Washington failed to score for the ninth time this season. For the second time the Rangers blanked the Caps and took the season series 3 wins to 1. The Caps also may have lost Mike Green again. Green took a nasty elbow to the head from the Rangers Derek Stepan in the first period and did not return to the game. In the early going the Capitals were playing well but the Rangers goaltender thwarted a 2-on-1 with Ovechkin pulling the trigger. From there the Rangers scored 2 in the first, 2 in the second and 2 more in the third. Two of the goals against came with the Caps killing penalties. The Caps failed to connect on five power play chances and were outworked at even strength. Even with 35 shots on goal the Caps couldn't find a bounce. The one good thing is they get to play again tomorrow and forget all about this one.

Of note:
  • Alex Ovechkin put in a good effort with 8 shots on goal, 6 hits and 1 blocked shot. He even took 3 face-offs for Nicklas Backstrom who is playing with a broken thumb.
  • Michal Neuvirth took the loss stopping 22 of the 28 shots he faced and got no run support whatsoever.
  • Backstrom led the team with 3 blocked shots and had 5 shots on goal. 
  • Scott Hannan had another steady game on the blue line. He showed his veteran experience when he deftly broke up a Rangers 3-on-1 rush. He finished with 4 shots on goal, 1 hit and 1 takeaway.
  • Brooks Laich had a tough luck game. The Caps forward was stellar in the face-off dot winning 8 of the 10 draws he took but was whistled for a double minor when he inadvertently hi sticked a Rangers defenseman while the Caps had the power play in the third period which effectively killed any momentum the Caps had left in the game.
  • The Caps look to rebound in Long Island tomorrow.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Game Highlights:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Game #62 Preview: New York Rangers at Washington Capitals


Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  February 25, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 5-9-2-0
Caps Game 62 Record: 13-16-3-2
All-Time vs. NYR: 89-76-18-6
All-Time at home vs. NYR: 50-32-9-4
Last Season vs. NYR: 3-1-0
Last Meeting: 1/24/11, WAS 1 NYR 2 (OT-SO)
Season Series: 1-1-1

This Year:
WAS Record: 32-19-10
Standings Points: 74
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 2/21/11, WAS 1 PIT 0
Streak: Win 2

NYR Record: 32-26-4
Standings Points: 68
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 7th
Last Game: 2/22/11, NYR 4 CAR 3 (OT-SO)
Streak: Win 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 26 HENDRICKS, 85 PERRAULT, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 4: 39 STECKEL, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 23 HANNAN, 55 SCHULTZ
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3:89 SLOAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV
Back-up Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH

New York
Forward Line 1: 17 DUBINSKY, 42 ANISIMOV, 24 CALLAHAN
Forward Line 2: 20 PROSPAL, 26 CHRISTENSEN, 22 BOYLE
Forward Line 3: 86 WOLOSKI, 21 STEPAN, 36 ZUCCARELLO
Forward Line 4: 16 AVERY, 45 NEWBURY, 8 PRUST
Defense Pair 1: 18 STAAL, 5 GIRARDI
Defense Pair 2: 27 MCDONAGH, 38 SAUER
Defense Pair 3: 4 DEL ZOTTO, 97 GILROY
Goalie: 30 LUNDQVIST
Back-up Goalie: 43 BIRON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 16 FEHR (upper body) IR, 52 GREEN (inner ear) DTD

NYR – BOOGAARD (concussion) IR, DRURY (knee) IR, GABORIK (concussion) IR, FEDOTENKO (shoulder) IR, FROLOV (knee) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Chimera needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Brooks Laich needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 assists to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

They the hardest game for a team after a big road trip is the first game, whoever “they” are. For Washington, however, there should be no reason to show up unprepared as they meet the Rangers for the fourth and final time of the season. The last two matchups between these two teams has seen the Caps get blown away 7-0 and then they blew a 1-goal lead in the third period and lost in the shootout. In the final two games of the road trip the Capitals allowed 1 goal against and appear to be getting back their top line scoring. Alex Ovechkin has 4 goals and 7 points in the last 6 games. We will have to see if the broken thumb Nicklas Backstrom suffered in Pittsburgh will have any effect on the number one line. The Rangers sit in the 7th spot in the East with 4 teams within 8 points of them in the standings. The Rangers lost Marian Gaborik to a concussion last week so this one should be a low scoring affair. The Ranger will play a hardworking game against the Capitals and try to keep them to the outsides of the ice. The key for Washington will be their work ethic and special teams. If they can keep the effort high they can draw penalties and they will need to convert on the power play. The extra man attack has goals in three consecutive games and this trend will have to continue. I expect a very physical, grid it out sort of game with the Caps pulling it out late.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 NYR 1



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Game #61 Recap: Caps 1 Pittsburgh 0

For Michal Neuvirth, nothing is more satisfying. After watching Pittsburgh's head coach denigrate the young goalie on the HBO 24/7 Series the Caps net minder notched his second consecutive shutout against the rival Pens. Neuvirth stopped all 39 shots sent his way and kept his team in the game during the first period when he was peppered with 18 shots. He robbed Jordon Staal with a remarkable glove save just as he had done earlier in the season to his brother Eric. Washington was outworked in the first leading to 3 power plays for the Pens who failed to connect but kept the Capitals pinned in there own end for most of the frame. In the second period Matt Bradley got the Caps fired up by laying the body and was called for a phantom charging penalty when he leveled Matt Cooke in some payback for the knee on knee hit he gave Alex Ovechkin in the two teams last game. Bradley then administered a nice beat down to the Pen Ryan Craig who wanted some revenge for the hit on Cooke. With 5 minute remaining in the second period the Caps went to the power play. After some ineffective play the Caps' Mike Knuble took the puck down the right wing and fired a low shot on net. The goalie made the save but offered up a rebound that went high in the air and was gloved down by Marcus Johansson. The young Swedish center made a quick pass back to Ovechkin who one-timed an absolute missile into the top left corner of the net. The Pens goalie had no chance and the Caps led 1-0. It would be all the offense they needed as the Caps shut down the Pens the rest of the way with Neuvirth making 14 stops in the third to seal the shutout. The Capitals completed their 5-game road trip with a 3-2-0 record and will next face the New York Rangers at home on Friday.

Of Note:
  • Alex Ovechkin scored his 24th goal of the season and has goals in 4 of his last 6 games. The goal was his 8th game-winning goal of the season which ties him for the league lead in that category. It was his first game-winner against the Pens and the 293rd goal in his career.
  • Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble got the assist on the Ovechkin power play goal. For Johansson it was his first power play assist and his first assist on an Ovechkin goal.
  • The Capitals went 1 for 3 on the power play and have connected for a power play goal in each of the last three games. The penalty killers did all their work in the first period and were a perfect 3 for 3.
  • For the 8th time this season the Capitals blocked 20 or shots. Karl Alzner and Tyler Sloan led the team with 4 blocks apiece.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Highlights:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Game #61 Preview: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins



Where: CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA

When:  February 21, 2011, 7:30 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 5-6-2-1
Caps Game 61 Record: 14-14-4-2
All-Time vs. PIT: 85-86-16-5
All-Time at PIT: 35-51-7-1
Last Season vs. PIT: 4-0-0
Last Meeting: 2/6/11, WAS 3 PIT 0
Season Series: 2-0-1

This Year:
WAS Record: 31-19-10
Standings Points: 72
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th
Last Game: 2/20/11, WAS 2 BUF 1
Streak: Win 1

PIT Record: 36-19-5
Standings Points: 77
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 4th    
Last Game: 2/20/11, PIT 2 CHI 3 (OT-SO)
Streak: Loss 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 90 JOHANSSON, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 26 HENDRICKS, 85 PERRAULT, 25 CHIMERA
Forward Line 4: 39 STECKEL, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 23 HANNAN, 55 SCHULTZ
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3:89 SLOAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV
Back-up Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH

Pittsburgh
Forward Line 1: 12 STERLING, 11 STAAL, 23 CRAIG
Forward Line 2: 24 COOKE, 25 TALBOT, 9 DUPUIS
Forward Line 3: 18 CONNER, 27 ADAMS, 48 KENNEDY
Forward Line 4: 17 RUPP, 46 VITALE, 22 WALLACE
Defense Pair 1: 7 MARTIN, 4 MICHALEK
Defense Pair 2: 3 GOLIGOSKI, 5 ENGELLAND
Defense Pair 3: 44 ORPIK, 58 LETANG
Goalie: 29 FLEURY
Back-up Goalie: 1 JOHNSON

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 16 FEHR (upper body) IR, 52 GREEN (inner ear) DTD

PIT – CROSBY (concussion) IR, MALKIN (knee) IR, TANGRADI (concussion) IR, JEFFREY (upper body) IR, KUNITZ (lower body) IR, ASHAM (upper body) IR, LETESTU (lower body) IR, COMRIE (hip) IR, GRANT (wrist, neck) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Chimera needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Brooks Laich needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 assists to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

In the final game of the Capitals five game road trip the Capitals will take on the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens have been devastated by injury but continue to hold the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference. Washington is looking to come off of their road trip with a winning record after splitting the first four games. The Capitals appear to be coming around on the power play as they have connected in two consecutive games. This game should be a grinding physical affair with the Pens trying to slow the offense of the Capitals, which doesn’t have all that much pop recently, and keep the scoring chances to minimum. The Caps will need to exploit the experience gap between the two squads and they will need to connect with the man advantage. The Capitals have been playing a better all-around game lately but they still need work on their finishing. The team has allowed the opposition to dictate play in the final period and ended up on the losing end more times than is acceptable. I expect the Caps will push the offense early and try to break out in the first period. Look for a big game from Alex Ovechkin who is getting back on his normal scoring track.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 PIT 1

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