Thursday, May 5, 2011

Playoff Round 2 Game #4 Recap: Caps 3 Tampa Bay 5

In the end the Capitals just couldn't get it done. The team lost Game #4 5-3 and were swept out of this year's playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Washington had no answer for Tampa's 3rd line line of Sean Bergenheim, Dominic Moore and Steve Downie. The trio combined fro 2 goals and 6 point in Game 4 and gave the Capitals fits all series long. The game started with the Capitals sticking to their game plan and methodically trying to break the Tampa 1-3-1 trap defense but the Lightning scored the first goal with Alex Ovechkin in the box for a charging penalty. Washington responded with a power play goal of their own when Ovechkin's point shot deflected off Jason Arnott and Marco Sturm's shoulder into the net. At the beginning of the second period the Caps started getting sustained pressure in the Tampa zone but couldn't solve the Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson. Then the Lightning counter attacked and in a goal mouth scramble the loose puck found its way onto Bergenheim's stick and he flipped it into the Capitals net for a 2-1 lead. Tampa stretched its lead to 3-2 when Begenheim put back a rebound from a Moore shot. Washington got renewed life a little over a minute later when John Erskine intercepted a clearing attempt and threw a shot at the net that beat a surprised Roloson to bring the Caps back to within one at 3-2. The goal was like a jolt of electricity to the Caps, who's energy level was noticeably raised. This carried over to the third period as the Caps swarmed the net but Sturm was called for goalie interference and the penalty kill went to work. After killing off the first minute of the penalty Tampa retook their two goal lead when a point shot beat a screened Michal Neuvirth who threw up his hands in frustration as the screen was by two of his own teammates. The Caps really began pressing and a turnover led to another Lightning goal. In a last attempt to get back in the game, Washington pulled Neuvirth for an extra attacker and John Carlson scored to bring the Caps back to within two. The Caps battled all the way to the final horn but it was not enough. All was done for this season's Washington Capitals. After all this team was been through this season it seemed like they were destined for much more but such is the way in sports. So, we say goodbye to this year's Washington Capitals but fear not, they will return again next fall to embark upon another marathon journey to claim the elusive Stanley Cup. I would like to add a big thank you to all the readers who have been following this year's team with me, it sure has been a lot of fun.

Of Note:
  • Michal Neuvirth stopped 32 of 37 shots and finished the playoffs with a 4-5 record. He sported a 2.34 GAA and a save percentage of 0.912 in his 9 games. The rookie was solid and seemingly unflappable in net. The Caps have a real winner in this kid.
  • Alex Ovechkin had 1 assist in Game 4 and 2 goals and 4 points in the series. In this year's playoffs he was easily the best player on the Capitals with 5 goals and 5 assists to boost his career playoff totals to 25 goals and 25 assists in 37 games.
  • The Capitals gave up 2 power play goals on 5 attempts in Game 4 and finished the post season with 5 goals against on 38 chances while the power play went 5 for 35 with 1 power play goal in Game 4.
  • Jason Arnott had 2 assists in the game and Brooks Laich had 1. Laich almost had a goal in the first period when he deflected a John Erskine shot square off the left post. 
  • Boyd Gordon won 9 of the 12 face-offs and led the NHL in face-off percentage winning 68.8% of the draws he took.
Official Recap
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Playoff Round 2 Game #4 Preview: Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning



Where: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL

When:  May 4, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. TAM: 0-1
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. TAM: 2-7
Last Meeting: 2003, WAS 2 TAM 4

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

TAM Record: 46-25-11
Standings Points: 103
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 4-1-1
Nov. 11, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 3
Nov. 26, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 0
Jan. 4, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 1 (OT)
Jan. 12, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 3
Feb. 4, 2011 WAS 5 TAM 2
Mar. 7, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 1 (OT-SO)


Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 29, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 4
May 01, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 3 (OT)
May 03, 2011 WAS 3 TAM 4
May 04, 2011 at Tampa
May 07, 2011 at Washington*
May 09, 2011 at Tampa*
May 11, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 44 ARNOTT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 18 STURM, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 52 GREEN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 23 HANNAN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Tampa
Forward Line 1: 6 MALONE, 91 STAMKOS, 9 DOWNIE
Forward Line 2: 16 PURCELL, 4 LECAVALIER, 26 ST. LOUIS
Forward Line 3: 49 B. JONES, 19 MOORE, 10 BERGENHEIM
Forward Line 4: 18 HALL, 44 THOMPSON
Defense Pair 1: 2 BREWER, 5 OHLUND
Defense Pair 2: 7 CLARK, 39 LUNDIN
Defense Pair 3: 8 R. JONES, 77 HEDMAN
Defense Pair 4: 47 BERGERON
Goalie: 35 ROLOSON
Back-up Goalie: 41 SMITH

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD

TAM – 12 GAGNE (undisclosed) DTD, 13 KUBINA (undisclosed) DTD

Preview:

Its do or die time for the Capitals. They are in a 0-3 hole and must win the next 4 games to advance to the next round. It’s a daunting task but if it’s going to happen it starts tonight. The Capitals need to tighten up on their systems and play with what Tampa is giving them. They had a tremendous second period last night but followed it with a terrible third. Look for the Capitals to come out strong in the first period tonight and play an aggressive forecheck and funnel everything to the net. I expect a more even effort and the Caps will need contributions from its third and fourth lines. Alex Ovechkin has been good in this series but he is going to have to take his play to another level. It all starts here in Game 4. The Caps need a win and I think they get it.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 4 TAM 1



Playoff Round 2 Game #3 Recap: Caps 3 Tampa Bay Lightning 4

Washington wanted to start this game off right but ended up down 1-0 after the first period. The Caps put 13 shots on goal in the period but many were from long range and Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson was looking large in the net. The second period saw Washington breakout with goals from Mike Knuble, John Carlson, and Alex Ovechkin. Kunble stuffed home an Ovechkin rebound to tie the score at 1-1 less than a minute into the period. The Caps went up 2-1 on a perfectly placed point shot from Carlson. Tampa tied the score 4 minutes later on a stuff in goal from Vinny Lecavalier. The Capitals would take a 3-2 lead when they finally scored on the power play. With two men in the box for Tampa, Mike Green's shot from the point was saved but the puck squirted out to the high crease area where Ovechkin pounced on it and beat Roloson over the glove. The Capitals should have been flying at that point but the third period was an utter disaster. Tampa came out strong and had the Capitals on the ropes. Five minutes in, they scored two goals in 24 seconds to take the lead and continued the pressure. Halfway through the period the Caps were being out shot 13-1. Washington would manage only 5 shots in the final frame. The game ended with Ovechkin losing the puck on a last gasp rush up ice. The 4-3 victory puts the Lightning firmly in control with a 3-0 in the series and Washington must win 4 in row to advance. Its a tough road to hoe but the teams return tomorrow for Game #4.

Of Note:
  • Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth kept the game close making some spectacular saves in the third period. In the game he stopped 26 of 30 shots which, unfortunately, wasn't good enough and he took his third consecutive loss.
  • Alex Ovechkin was huge in the second period with a goal and an assist. In the series he has 2 goals, 3 points and 14 hits. He will need to come up big to spark his team in Game #4.
  • John Carlson scored his first goal of the playoffs and was the only + player on the Caps but the defense was not up to par with the team combining for a total of 8 blocked shots on the night. The Capitals were averaging 20 blocks per game coming in to Game #3.
  • Mike Knuble scored his second goal of the playoffs while Jason Chimera, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Marcus Johansson each had an assist. 
  • The Caps went 1 for 5 on the power play and killed off all 4 Tampa attempts.
Official Recap
Game Summary
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Game Highlights:

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Playoff Round 2 Game #3 Preview: Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning



Where: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL

When:  May 3, 2011, 6:30 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. TAM: 0-1
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. TAM: 2-6
Last Meeting: 2003, WAS 2 TAM 4

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

TAM Record: 46-25-11
Standings Points: 103
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 4-1-1
Nov. 11, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 3
Nov. 26, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 0
Jan. 4, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 1 (OT)
Jan. 12, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 3
Feb. 4, 2011 WAS 5 TAM 2
Mar. 7, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 1 (OT-SO)


Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 29, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 4
May 01, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 3 (OT)
May 03, 2011 at Tampa
May 04, 2011 at Tampa
May 07, 2011 at Washington*
May 09, 2011 at Tampa*
May 11, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 90 JOHANSSON, 22 KNUBLE
Forward Line 2: 21 LAICH, 19 BACKSTROM, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 44 ARNOTT, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 18 STURM, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 52 GREEN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 23 HANNAN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Tampa
Forward Line 1: 6 MALONE, 91 STAMKOS, 9 DOWNIE
Forward Line 2: 16 PURCELL, 4 LECAVALIER, 26 ST. LOUIS
Forward Line 3: 49 B. JONES, 19 MOORE, 10 BERGENHEIM
Forward Line 4: 18 HALL, 44 THOMPSON
Defense Pair 1: 2 BREWER, 5 OHLUND
Defense Pair 2: 7 CLARK, 39 LUNDIN
Defense Pair 3: 8 R. JONES, 77 HEDMAN
Defense Pair 4: 47 BERGERON
Goalie: 35 ROLOSON
Back-up Goalie: 41 SMITH

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD, 22 KNUBLE (hand) DTD

TAM – 12 GAGNE (undisclosed) DTD, 13 KUBINA (undisclosed) DTD

Preview:

The Capitals head to Tampa for a must win in Game #3. Tampa leads the series 2-0 and the Capitals have yet to come through on the power play. They have gone 0 for 11 in the first two games and this has been the difference as the Bolts have converted one power play in each game. The Lightning have played a conservative trapping game and depended on strong goaltending to eke out two wins in Washington. I expect a much better game from the Capitals in Game #3. They need to settle down on the penalties and focus on retrieving the puck. This will be another tight low scoring game but look at the battles along the boards as an indicator of how this one will end up. Look for the Caps to convert on their power play chances and play a much cleaner day. With their backs against the wall I think Alex Ovechkin is due for a breakout game.

Joe’s prediction: Caps 2 TAM 1


Monday, May 2, 2011

Playoff Round 2 Game #2 Recap: Caps 2 Tampa Bay 3 (OT)

The Washington Capitals have dug themselves a deep hole with an overtime loss in Game #2. The Lightning scored at 6:19 of the extra session to take a 3-2 win and a 2-0 lead in the series. The Capitals will have to win 4 of the next 5 games to advance to the next round with Games 3 and 4 in Tampa this Tuesday and Wednesday.

The game opened with a back and forth first period that saw the Capitals and Lightning trading power play chances the Caps went 0 for 3 and Lightning struck on their second chance with less than a minute remaining in the period. The play in the second period was controlled by Washington and the home team finally broke through with a goal from Brooks Laich who crashed the net and knocked a rebound into the net to tie the game at 1-1. This followed 3 more failed power play attempts from the Capitals. In the frame Washington put 16 shots on goal but came away with only 1 goal. Tampa retook the lead mid-way through the third period after the Lightning got the Capitals defense scrambling around their own zone and a centering pass deflected off Mike Green's skate into the net. The Capitals fought back in the final ten minutes and, with the goalie pulled, Alex Ovechkin score the tying goal with 1:08 remaining in regulation.

In the overtime session the Capitals came out strong but failed to connect on several scoring opportunities. They out shot Tampa 5-3 in the extra period but a bad line change led to a 2-on-1 chance that doomed the boys in red. The Capitals showed they have the heart and the ability to win these games but their Achilles heel has been their power play performance. So far in the series the Caps are 0 for 11. If they have any hopes to advance they need to improve this area of their game. If Tampa is going to give us 5.5 chances they need to pay. This will be the difference in Game #3.

Of Note:
  • For the second game in a row, Michal Neuvirth stopped 20 of 23 shots and took the loss. I don't think either loss was a product of his play. It will be interesting to see if Head Coach Bruce Boudreau will make ay changes in the net with the back-to-back games in Tampa.
  • Alex Ovechkin was kept pretty much in check for most of the game but scored the big goal when it mattered. After a failed clear from the Tampa defense, Ovechkin went to the front of the net and and was in perfect position to tie the game with regulation time running out.
  • The defense blocked 21 Tampa shots with 5 Capitals defenders blocking 3 each. The Caps have averaged 20 blocked shots in the 7 playoff games played.
  • Brooks Laich got his first goal of the post season to with his 5 assists. His 6 points are good for second on the team in these playoffs.
  • The Capitals out shot the Lightning 37 to 23 and lead the series 35 to 47. Unfortunately, they have scored 2 of fewer goals in 5 of the 7 games they have played in the post season.
  • John Erskine, Brooks Laich, Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Arnott each had an assist for the Caps.
Official Recap
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

Playoff Round 2 Game #2 Preview: Tampa Bay Lightning at Washington Capitals



Where: Verizon Center, Washington, DC

When:  May 1, 2011, 7:00 PM

History:           
All-Time Playoff Series Record vs. TAM: 0-1
All-Time Playoff Game Record vs. TAM: 2-5
Last Meeting: 2003, WAS 2 TAM 4

This Year:
WAS Record: 48-22-11
Standings Points: 107
Division Rank: 1st
Conference Rank: 1st

TAM Record: 46-25-11
Standings Points: 103
Division Rank: 2nd
Conference Rank: 5th    

2010-2011 Regular Season Series: 4-1-1
Nov. 11, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 3
Nov. 26, 2010 WAS 6 TAM 0
Jan. 4, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 1 (OT)
Jan. 12, 2011 WAS 0 TAM 3
Feb. 4, 2011 WAS 5 TAM 2
Mar. 7, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 1 (OT-SO)


Playoff Series Schedule and Results:
Apr. 29, 2011 WAS 2 TAM 4
May 01, 2011 at Washington
May 03, 2011 at Tampa
May 04, 2011 at Tampa
May 07, 2011 at Washington*
May 09, 2011 at Tampa*
May 11, 2011 at Washington*
*If required

Probable Line-Ups:     
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 OVECHKIN, 19 BACKSTROM, 21 LAICH
Forward Line 2: 18 STURM, 44 ARNOTT, 28 SEMIN
Forward Line 3: 25 CHIMERA, 90 JOHANSSON, 16 FEHR
Forward Line 4: 26 HENDRICKS, 15 GORDON, 10 BRADLEY
Defense Pair 1: 55 SCHULTZ, 23 HANNAN
Defense Pair 2: 27 ALZNER, 74 CARLSON
Defense Pair 3: 4 ERSKINE, 52 GREEN
Goalie: 30 NEUVIRTH
Back-up Goalie: 1 VARLAMOV

Tampa
Forward Line 1: 12 GAGNE, 91 STAMKOS, 9 DOWNIE
Forward Line 2: 16 PURCELL, 4 LECAVALIER, 26 ST. LOUIS
Forward Line 3: 6 MALONE, 19 MOORE, 10 BERGENHEIM
Forward Line 4: 18 HALL, 44 THOMPSON, 42 TYRELL
Defense Pair 1: 2 BREWER, 39 LUNDIN
Defense Pair 2: 7 CLARK, 5 OHLUND
Defense Pair 3: 13 KUBINA, 77 HEDMAN
Goalie: 35 ROLOSON
Back-up Goalie: 41 SMITH

Injuries:
Washington – 3 POTI (upper body) IR, 6 WIDEMAN (lower body) DTD, 22 KNUBLE (hand) DTD

TAM – None

Preview:

Nobody said this would be an easy journey and it’s clear the Tampa has come to play. The Capitals took a while to get back in the flow of things and they will need a full 60 minute effort to prevail in Game #2. Look for significant pushback from Washington as they let Tampa force the action in Game #1. The Caps need to get back to what they did well in round 1 which was tenacious puck retrieval and solid systems play. The other thing that would be nice would be finishing when they get the open look. Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin each had golden opportunities to put the game out of reach but failed to convert. Watch for a much steadier team in Game #2. There will be some subtle changes made now that they know the matchups they are facing. The key for the Capitals will be the special teams. They need to convert on the power play and keep out of the box themselves. I am expecting a big game from Alex Ovechkin so watch for a more physical game with another tight score.  

Joe’s prediction: Caps 3 TAM 2


Playoff Round 2 Game #1 Recap: Caps 2 Tampa Bay Lightning 4

The Capitals looked out of sorts in the first five minutes of Game #1 and it led to the first opening period goal against in this year's playoffs. The six day layoff showed as the Lightning took the play to the Caps but Washington clawed back and got their legs back in the second ten minutes of the game. Alexander Semin evened the score when Marco Sturm deflected an outlet pass in the Tampa zone. Semin gathered the puck and fired a wicked wrister between Tampa goalie Dewayne Roloson's pads for a 1-1 score that would hold up until intermission. The Capitals were more steady coming out in the second and took the lead on an Eric Fehr score. Off a face-off in the Tampa zone Jason Chimera beat the defenseman off the boards and fed the puck to the slot where Fehr roofed it before Roloson could react. From there the Capitals went to the penalty box 3 times and lost their momentum. The Lightning saterted winning the board battles and tied the score when an attempted pass deflected off of Scott Hannan's stick and into the net. Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth had no chance on the play. On the final power play of the period for Tampa Bay, Neuvirth made the initial stop but the rebound was put back giving Tampa a 1-goal advantage with 32-seconds remaining in the period. The third period saw the Capitals frustrated by the Tampa 1-3-1 trap and Washington's inability to capitalize on two power play attempts. Tampa put the game away with an empty net goal in the game's final minute. Game #2 is Sunday in Washington.

Of Note:
  • Michal Neuvirth stopped 20 of 23 shots he faced for his second playoff loss. The young goalie held the Caps in the game in the fist ten minutes and seems to make all the key saves when needed. The offense owes him a better effort in Game #2.
  • Alexander Semin has goals in 3 consecutive games. Semin is battling well but needs to get more rubber to the net. He is shooting at over 18% and can help lift some of the pressure on the team.
  • John Carlson was shaken up at the beginning of the third period and only played 14:39. Hopefully it is nothing major and will return to the lineup for Game #2.
  • The Caps out shot the Lightning 28-24 but allowed the only power play goal in the game. The Bolts went 1 for 4 while the Caps were 0 for 5 with the extra man.
  • In addition to the goals scored by Semin and Fehr, Jason Chimera, Marcus Johansson and Marco Sturm were each credited with one assist.
Official Recap
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