Thursday, March 31, 2011

Game #78 Preview: Columbus Blue Jackets at Washington Capitals



Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  March 31, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 5-5-2-0
Caps Game 78 Record: 15-13-3-3
All-Time vs. CLB: 7-3-1-1
All-Time at home vs. CLB: 2-1-1-1
Last Season vs. CLB: 1-0-1
Last Meeting: 4/3/10, WAS 3 CLB 2
Season Series: 0-0-0

This Year:
WAS Record: 44-22-11
Standings Points: 99
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 2nd
Last Game: 3/29/11, WAS 2 CAR 3 (OT-SO)
Streak: Loss 1

CLB Record: 34-31-11
Standings Points: 79
Division Rank: 4th
Conference Rank: 12th    
Last Game: 3/29/11, CLB 3 FLA 2 (OT-SO)
Streak: Win 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM,
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 44 ARNOTT, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 3: 18 STURM, 90 JOHANSSON, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 6 WIDEMAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Columbus
Forward Line 1: 61 NASH, 16 BRASSARD, 11 CALVERT
Forward Line 2: 18 UMBERGER, 50 VERMETTE, 93 VORACEK
Forward Line 3: UP9 SHALL, 26 PAHLSSON, 15 DORSETT
Forward Line 4: 43 MAYOROV, 24 MACKENZIE, 40 BOLL
Defense Pair 1: 35 HEJDA, 4 LEPISTO
Defense Pair 2: 51 TYUTIN, 3 METHOT
Defense Pair 3: 52 RIVET, 10 RUSSELL
Goalie: 1 MASON
Back-up Goalie: 32 GARON

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

CLB – CLARK (lower body) DTD, HUSELIUS (ankle) DTD, STRALMAN (knee) IR, MURRAY (lower body) DTD

Caps Milestones:
Jason Arnott needs 2 goals to reach 400 in his career.
Jason Chimera needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 goals to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

The Capitals face the Blue Jackets for first time in almost a year as they are the last Western Conference team the Caps will face this regular season. Overall Washington is 7-9-1 in 17 games against the West. Columbus is out of the playoff hunt but would love to knock off the Caps and give the team a late season boost. The Capitals look a little complacent against Carolina on Monday and needs to get back to playing tough hardnosed hockey. I don’t know if it was the first game after a road trip let down or the team getting Alex Ovechkin back and thinking he would carry the play but it’s time to start preparing for the next season. I expect a much more focused Washington team to show up and take this game from the start. Look for a big game from the big name players and I am thinking that the Caps will win by a comfortable margin.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 CLB 1


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Game #77 Recap: Caps 2 Carolina 3 (OT-SO)

The Capitals got a taste of what playoff hockey might be like and ended up on the bad side of a 3-2 shootout decision. The team welcomed back Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott to the lineup but looked less inspired than the Carolina Hurricanes who are fighting for their playoff lives. The Caps gave up the lead early in the second period when they allowed a power play goal. Washington got their own power play but some sloppy play lead to a Carolina penalty shot. Semyon Varlamov made a sweet poke check to foil the attempt but the Caps again failed on the power play. The Caps finally cracked the scoreboard with a wicked goal from Alexander Semin who skated in from the right wing and made one of the most amazing roof shot you will ever see. Cam Ward had every part of the net closed off except for a little spot in the top right corner and Semin hit it to deadlock the game at 1-1. Marcus Johansson gave the Capitals the lead when a broken play gave him a 1-on-1 with Ward. Johansson stashed the puck around the splayed goalie with some filthy deking moves. The Caps looked to have the momentum leading 2-1 going into the third period. However, the Canes came out strong and got the equalizer just 1:46 into the period. With three minutes remaining in regulation Semin took a bad hooking penalty in the neutral zone. The Caps killed of the Canes power play but that was the last ice Semin would see all game as Head Coach Bruce Boudreau sat him for the rest of regulation, overtime and presumably the shootout. The Caps shootout effort was not one of their best as Ovechkin and Backstrom were both unable to score and Varlamov stopped 1 of 3. The Caps should have a good idea what they need to work on as they prepare for Columbus on Thursday.

Of Note:
  • Semin had his second consecutive 1 goal 1 assist game. It was also the fourth consecutive game that he was sent to the penalty box. But that is Semin for you and you just hope the good will outweigh the bad.
  • Both Alex Ovechkin and Jason Arnott returned to the lineup but the power play remained disjointed. Thee team went 0 for 3 and the Canes scored on 1 of 5.
  • Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 of 26 shots and looked much more in control in his second start since returning from injury. However, I think he would like the second goal back as he allowed the puck to squeeze between his arm and his body.
  • John Carlson led all shooters with 8 shots on goal and had 1 assist while teaming up with his defense pair Karl Alzner to block 5 shots apiece for 10 of the team's 18 blocks in the game.
  • Brooks Laich picked up his 26th assist on the season.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary
Shootout Summary

Game Highlights:

Monday, March 28, 2011

Game #77 Preview: Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals




Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  March 29, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 8-2-5-1
Caps Game 77 Record: 16-14-2-2
All-Time vs. CAR: 41-23-7-5
All-Time at home vs. CAR: 23-11-2-1
Last Season vs. CAR: 3-1-2
Last Meeting: 3/11/11, WAS 2 CAR 1
Season Series: 5-0-0

This Year:
WAS Record: 44-22-10
Standings Points: 98
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 2nd
Last Game: 3/26/11, WAS 2 MON 0
Streak: Win 1

CAR Record: 35-30-10
Standings Points: 80
Division Rank: 3rd
Conference Rank: 9th    
Last Game: 3/26/11, CAR 2 TAM 4
Streak: Loss 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 21 LAICH, 19 BACKSTROM, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 90 JOHANSSON, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 83 BEAGLE, 26 HENDRICKS
Forward Line 4: 17 KING, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 6 WIDEMAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Carolina
Forward Line 1: 61 STILLMAN, 12 STAAL, 26 COLE
Forward Line 2: 53 SKINNER, 36 JOKINEN, 15 RUUTU
Forward Line 3: 19 TLUSTY, 16 SUTTER, 59 LAROSE
Forward Line 4: 21 BOWMAN, 39 DWYER, 71 SAMSON
Defense Pair 1: 6 GLEASON, 77 CORVO
Defense Pair 2: 4 MCBAIN, 33 JOSLIN
Defense Pair 3: 5 ALLEN, 44 HARRISON
Goalie: 30 WARD
Back-up Goalie: 60 PETERS

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, (upper body) IR, 52 GREEN (head) IR, 8 OVECHKIN (undisclosed) DTD, 44 ARNOTT (undisclosed) DTD

CAR – PITKANEN (illness) DTD

Caps Milestones:
Jason Arnott needs 2 goals to reach 400 in his career.
Jason Chimera needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 goals to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

After a successful road trip the Capitals head home to face a desperate Carolina team who is currently in the ninth spot in the conference and trail the Buffalo Sabres by 5 points. Washington cannot afford a letdown that often happen when a team finally gets home after a long trip on the road. It is still undetermined if Alex Ovechkin or Jason Arnott will back in the Capitals lineup. The two have been out with injury and the team is being judicious in their approach to bringing them back. I expect this game to be another fast paced game with a playoff type pace. Look for Carolina to try to get the lead early but the Caps have been much better in the defensive zone lately only allowing 16 goals against in their last 10 games. Nicklas Backstrom has been hot since coming off the injury list with 4 points in the last 3 games. Look for him to continue against the Hurricanes and the Caps to pull out another close one.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 CAR 2

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Game #76 Recap: Caps 2 Montreal 0

For the Capitals it was a perfect road game in Montreal. They scored an early goal and played stifling defense to take the crowd out of the game. The Capitals held Montreal to just 3 shots on goal in the first period. Marco Sturm scored his first goal as a member of the Capitals when he put back a rebound from a Nicklas Backstrom shot at the 1:24 mark. The rest of the period saw Washington with 3 power play chances with no resulting goals. In the second period the Caps went on their fourth consecutive power play early but again they failed to score with the extra man advantage. The went back and forth until Washington was called for its first of three penalties. As they have done so well this season, the penalty killers did the job bringing a chorus of boos for the hometown Canadiens. With about four minutes remaining in the contest the Capitals got a break with the Canadiens pressing in the offensive that allowed Backstrom and Alexander Semin in alone on Montreal goalie Carey Price. Backstrom made a perfect pass to Semin who added the insurance goal for a Caps 2-0 lead. It got a little interesting at the end when Marcus Johansson flipped a puck out of the rink in his own end for a delaying game penalty with three minutes remaining in the game. With the Montreal goal empty the penalty killers once again came through and rookie Braden Holtby recorded his second career shutout. The Caps played their system to a tee with and finished their 6-game road trip on a winning note and a 4-2-0 record. The Caps head home to face Carolina on Tuesday.

Of Note:
  • With the win Braden Holtby got his 10th win of the season. He stopped all 18 shots he faced. After a bit of an up and down beginning he now has a 10-2-2 record with 1.79 GAA and a 0.932 save percentage. Oh and he's just 21 years old.
  • The line of Strum-Backstrom-Semin combined for all 6 Capitals points in the game. Sturm and Semin with 1 goal and 1 assist each and 2 assists for Nicklas Backstrom.
  • After getting destroyed in the face-off circle in Ottawa the previous night, the Caps fared much better in Montreal winning 35 of the 65 draws. Brooks Laich led the way winning 11 of the 17 draws he took.
  • The Caps only allowed 18 shots on goal in the game and they blocked another 15 Montreal attempts.
  • Scott Hannan was +1.
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Game Highlights:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Game #76 Preview: Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens



Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec

When:  March 26, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 5-8-1-0
Caps Game 76 Record: 15-10-8-1
All-Time vs. MON: 55-67-17-3
All-Time at MON: 22-39-8-2
Last Season vs. MON: 2-1-1
Last Meeting: 3/15/11, WAS 4 MON 2
Season Series: 2-0-1

This Year:
WAS Record: 43-22-10
Standings Points: 96
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 2nd
Last Game: 3/25/11, WAS 0 OTT 2
Streak: Loss 1

MON Record: 40-28-7
Standings Points: 87
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 6th    
Last Game: 3/24/11, MON 0 BOS 7
Streak: Loss 2

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 21 LAICH, 19 BACKSTROM, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 90 JOHANSSON, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 83 BEAGLE, 26 HENDRICKS
Forward Line 4: 17 KING, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 6 WIDEMAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Montreal
Forward Line 1: 32 MOEN, 11 GOMEZ, 21 GIONTA
Forward Line 2: 13 CAMMALLERI, 14 PLEKANEC, 15 HALPERN
Forward Line 3: 46 KOSTITSYN, 81 ELLER, 52 DARCHE
Forward Line 4: 53 WHITE, 58 DESHARNAIS, 57 POULIOT
Defense Pair 1: 44 HAMRLIK, 20 WISNIEWSKI
Defense Pair 2: 75 GILL, 76 SUBBAN
Defense Pair 3: 22 MARA, SOPEL
Goalie: 31 PRICE
Back-up Goalie: 35 AULD

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, (upper body) IR, 52 GREEN (head) IR, 8 OVECHKIN (undisclosed) DTD, 44 ARNOTT (undisclosed) DTD

MON – PACIORETTY (concussion, broken neck) IR, MARKOV (knee) IR, GORGES (knee) IR, SPACEK (knee) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Arnott needs 2 goals to reach 400 in his career.
Jason Chimera needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 goals to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

The Capitals will look to rebound against a not so great an effort in Ottawa last night. A Saturday night game in Montreal may be just the thing to get the Caps back on the winning track. The team is looking for a bit of identity with the absence of the superstar Alex Ovechkin. I expect that you’ll see Nicklas Backstrom pick up his game tonight. The big question for the Caps is who will start in goal. Michal Neuvirth was too sick to play yesterday and it was the first game back from a knee injury for Semyon Varlamov so I don’t think they want start him in back to backs. The third option is Braden Holtby as a call up from Hershey. We’ll see what happens. I expect another grinding type game with a lot of energy. The Caps better be prepared to match the energy level of the Canadians. In the end I think the Caps come away with a close hard fought victory.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 MON 1

Game #75 Recap: Caps 0 Ottawa 2

Things just didn't in Washington's favor at all on Friday. To begin with, Michal Neuvirth was scheduled to start in goal but got sick and couldn't go so Semyon Varlamov got his first start and action since coming off the injured list. The rust was evident on Varlamov as gave gave up a few too many rebounds but he played well enough. In the first period the Capitals thought they were going to get an extended power play when Matt Hendricks had his face cut open by an Ottawa high stick but apparently the officials didn't see what really happened as the Senators' player was sent to the box only to be pulled out and no call was made on the play. Throughout the game the Capitals just looked off. I don't know if too many things were going against them but they just couldn't connect. One of the things going against them was Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson. He was definitely hot as the Caps had some really good scoring chances, especially on the power play, only to be foiled by Anderson. The second period saw another call go against the Caps. A centering pass in front of Varlamov appeared to be kicked towards the net. Varly made the initial save but the Ottawa player continued into the crease and the puck again struck his skate as he crashed into Varlamov with the puck landing inside the net. It took 3 minutes of review time but the goal stood and the Caps were down 1-0. After that point the Caps really couldn't get anything going. The Sens went up 2-0 early in the third and went into lock down mode. The Caps put 12 shots on net in the third period but no real quality chances. Late in the third Matt Bradley made what looked to be a good open ice hit in the Ottawa zone. His shoulder on shoulder hit sent the Ottawa player hard into the boards and Bradley was given an inexplicable boarding call. On top of that, Zack Smith instigated a fight with Bradley which ended with Bradley's head being cut open as the two players fell to the ice. In the end the Caps pulled the goalie but couldn't dent the twine on this night. Good thing for them they get a chance to rebound tonight with a game in Montreal.

Of Note:
  • Brooks Laich was all over the place in the game. He recorded 7 shots on goal along with 3 hits and 1 blocked shot.
  • The Capitals were obliterated in the face-off dot. They won only 19 draws while losing 32. Boyd Gordon was the only bright spot winning 8 of 15 while Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson combined to win only 8 of 30.
  • Varlamov took his 9th loss of the season stopping 21 of 23 shots but did appear to get better as the game went along with several acrobatic saves.
  • The Caps penalty killer continued their string of excellent work as they killed off all three Ottawa extra-man advantages. The power play, however, failed to score on their three attempts.
  • The Caps are still playing without the services of Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, Jason Arnott, and Tom Poti. 
Official Recap
Game Summary
Event Summary

Game Highlights:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Game #75 Preview: Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators



Where: Scotiabank Place, Ottawa Ontario

When:  March 25, 2011, 7:30 PM

History:           
Caps Record on this Date: 12-4-2-1
Caps Game 74 Record: 14-16-2-2
All-Time vs. OTT: 34-28-5-3
All-Time at OTT: 14-17-1-2
Last Season vs. OTT: 1-1-2
Last Meeting: 1/18/11, WAS 2 PHI 3 (OT)
Season Series: 3-0-0

This Year:
WAS Record: 43-21-10
Standings Points: 96
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 2nd
Last Game: 3/22/11, WAS 5 PHI 4 (OT-SO)
Streak: Won 2

OTT Record: 28-37-9
Standings Points: 65
Division Rank: 5th
Conference Rank: 15th    
Last Game: 3/24/11, OTT 2 NYR 1 (OT-SO)
Streak: Won 1

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 21 LAICH, 19 BACKSTROM, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 90 JOHANSSON, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 83 BEAGLE, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 6 WIDEMAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 23 HANNAN, 4 ERSKINE
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Ottawa
Forward Line 1: 52 GREENING, 19 SPEZZA, 16 BUTLER
Forward Line 2: 38 CONDRA, 26 SHANNON, 10 SVATOS
Forward Line 3: 71 FOLIGNO, 15 SMITH, 25 NEIL
Forward Line 4: 49 LESSARD, 18 WINCHESTER, 43 WICK
Defense Pair 1: 4 PHILLIPS, 5 LEE
Defense Pair 2: 17 KUBA, 46 WIERCIOCH
Defense Pair 3: 36 HALE, 65 KARLSSON
Goalie: 41 ANDERSON
Back-up Goalie: 31 MCELHINNEY

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, (upper body) IR, 52 GREEN (head) IR, 8 OVECHKIN (undisclosed) DTD, 44 ARNOTT (undisclosed) DTD

OTT – LECLAIRE (lowing body) IR, MICHALEK (broken foot) IR, GONCHAR (concussion) IR, REGIN (shoulder) IR, ALFREDSSON (back) IR, CARKNER (knee) IR

Caps Milestones:
Jason Arnott needs 2 goals to reach 400 in his career.
Jason Chimera needs 4 goals to reach 100 in his career.
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 goals to reach 300 in his career.

Preview:

With a shootout victory over the first place Philadelphia Flyer the Capitals captured a spot in the post season for the fourth consecutive season. With several of their top players on the injured list the Caps are looking for the rest of the team to step up. And one player that has been doing just that has been Mike Knuble. He’s definitely not flashy but the big winger has racked up 6 points in the last 2 games. In Ottawa they will face a team that has absolutely nothing to lose and have been pulling of upsets left and right. They are a young bunch and the key for the Capitals is to get on the scoreboard early and make the Sens realize they are playing the number two team in the Eastern Conference. Look for a very fast pace early with lots of physical play. Watch for Alexander Semin to exert his presents in this game. His shootout winner in Philly was a thing of beauty and I see him building confidence off of it. I think the Caps will pull away in the second period and cruise to a win.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 5 OTT 2

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