Rocky Mountain High: Caps Travel to Colorado

While the literal circus is in town (Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey is at Verizon Center), the Washington Capitals (54-16-6, 114 points) travel to Colorado (39-4-4, 82 points) where the Avalanche are running out of time and games to catch Minnesota for the final playoff spot.

Tough Loss in Philly

The Capitals come into this game off a tough shootout loss in Philly 2-1. Alex Ovechkin scored the lone goal to notch number 44 with six games remaining. Holtby was solid throughout but the shootout got the best of him. They certainly got outplayed early but kept it close throughout to earn a point out the game. The Flyers answered the bell and kept the pressure on Detroit for the final playoff spot before their showdown next Wednesday.

  • Trotz will most likely rest Holtby during one of the back-to-back road games this weekend. With six games remaining and three wins needed to break Brodeur’s record, will it happen?
  • Alexander Ovechkin is six goals shy of 50 with six games to go. Will he get any rest before the playoffs?

Running Down a Dream

As it stands, the Avalanche sit five points back of the Wild with five games (10 potential points) remaining. The Wild are playing three teams out of playoff contention (Ottawa, Winnipeg and Calgary) while the Avalanche are playing all top-tiered clubs in the Caps, Blues, Predators, Stars and Ducks. It’s going to be a tough hill to climb.

  • Starting goalie Semyon Varlamov has gone 5-4 in his last nine games, allowing less than three goals in three games. He allowed three goals on 27 shots in their loss Vs. the Blues. You might see Calvin Pickard in net if Varly can’t put together consecutive wins down the stretch.
  • Center Matt Duchene has been ruled out of Friday’s game with a knee injury. He leads the team with 29 goals.

Puck drop is at 9 p.m. Eastern on CSN. Rock the Red and GO CAPS!

 

Caps Lose Gritty Game in Philly

The Capitals visited the city of Brotherly Love for the final time in the regular season. The Flyers could be the Capitals’ first round opponent in a few weeks. T.J. Oshie, who was questionable after a lower-body injury, was in the lineup and started on the third line with Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle. There was a lot of talk going into the game about a first round playoff match between the Flyers and Capitals which added to the drama of the game.

First Period: Hard Hitting

The Capitals and the Flyers do not like each other and that showed throughout the game. The Flyers came out strong, mostly due to the fact that they are still battling with the Detroit Red Wings for the last wild card spot in the East. The Capitals returned the heavy hits with some of their own. The teams remained scoreless after 20 minutes. The Flyers outshot the Capitals 13-10.

Second Period: Holy Holtby!

The teams started the second 4-on-4 because of matching roughing penalties to Alex Ovechkin and Nick Schultz. A few minutes into the period, Ovechkin rang the puck off the far post and almost scored. Goaltender Braden Holtby was on his game, absolutely robbing the Flyers from scoring the opening goal. Halfway through the period, the Capitals had three shots on goal in the second and Holtby was stealing the game for them. After two periods, the teams remained scoreless.

Third Period: Well, Ovi Scored.

The Capitals started the period with 1:36 of power play time and Alex Ovechkin scored his 44th of the season (assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams). Tom Wilson and Sam Gagner received matching roughing minors 11:18 into the period so the teams returned to 4-on-4 hockey. That is until Marcus Johansson was called for hooking and the Capitals had to kill off a 4-on-3 power play. The penalty kill was successful for the first penalty but not the second one. Brayden Schenn scored his 25th of the season and the Flyers had tied the game late in the third. There was no penalty given to Schenn when he later dangerously hit Nicklas Backstrom in his numbers (back) from behind and Backstrom went head first into the boards.

Overtime/Shootout: Oh well…

The teams remained tied at the end of regulation and each gained a standings point. 32 seconds into the extra session, the Capitals had a 4-on-3 power play. Nicklas Backstrom hit the left post, nearly ending the game. About 2 minutes later, Sean Courtier crashes into Holtby and Caps were going to have their second OT power play. But they did not because Holtby was given a roughing penalty (served by Justin Williams). The officiating in this game was terrible to say the least. The teams headed to the shootout and the Flyers scored twice and Caps did not, so the Flyers collected the extra point.

Despite the shootout loss, fans remain confident that when it comes to the playoffs, the Caps will overtake the Flyers to win the series. However, there is a growing sense that it may take seven games for that win to occur.

What’s Next?

Practice: Morning skate at Pepsi Center in Denver at 11:30am MT on Friday.

Game: 9pm EST on Friday at Pepsi Center against the Colorado Avalanche (who are also fighting for their playoff lives).

 

Playoff Preview? Caps Start Three-Game Road Trip in Philly

Washington Capitals (54-16-5, 113 points, 1st in NHL, Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division)

Philadelphia Flyers (37-25-13, 87 points, 5th in Metropolitan Division, 8th in Eastern Conference)

Puck Drop 8 p.m. on NBC-Sports Network’s Rivalry Wednesday

In case you missed it, the Capitals checked off another season goal on their list Monday night versus Columbus: win the President’s Trophy. After securing the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference, the Caps Justin Williams scored his 22nd in the first en route to a 4-1 victory to lock up the best record in the NHL and total home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

But this means little in the grand scheme of things as the 2009-10 Capitals did the same thing, racking up 121 points. They were upset early in round one by a hot goaltender in Montreal named Jaroslav Halak (who would be a Capital for half of the 2013-14 season). Capitals Coach Barry Trotz should use this as a prime example. Sure, they have accomplished some great team goals but not the ultimate one: win the Stanley Cup.

Keep on Truckin’ to the Playoffs

The Capitals have accomplished all their regular season goals but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop playing. Trotz has made it perfectly clear that unless you’re injured, you are playing and not getting time off. However, I think we will see Holtby and Ovechkin, who seems to have a nagging injury, get some much needed rest over the next seven games.

  • Holtby is three wins shy of breaking New Jersey goaltending legend Martin Brodeur’s single-season win record. Once he’s accomplished that, Grubauer will look to get a lot more playing time.
  • Ovechkin leads the NHL with 43 goals. Will he accomplish 50 with seven games to go? Time will tell but he’ll get really close if he doesn’t.
  • The Caps have a three-game road trip that will take them to Philly, Colorado and Arizona. Their road record is an NHL-best 25-9-3.


Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!

Fighting like their fictional Philly hero Rocky Balboa, the Flyers are entrenched in a battle with the Detroit Red Wings to see who will play the Washington Capitals in round one of the NHL playoffs. With 87 points a piece, the Flyers hold the edge on the Red Wings if they remain tied in points. With the Flyers having a game in hand (seven remaining to the Red Wings six) and a huge head-to-head matchup April 6, all they have to do is keep pace with Detroit and they’re in.

  • Over the last six games since Neuvirth went down to injury, Steve Mason has gone 3-3 with a 2.33 GAA. That’s solid enough to keep them in the playoff hunt.
  • Right Winger Wayne Simmonds leads the team with 26 goals while Center Claude Giroux leads the team with 42 assists.
  • The Flyers have a 20-10-7 home record, good for 7th in the league.

Your goaltenders for this game will be Braden Holtby (46-9-4, 2.19 GAA, .923 save percentage) for the Capitals and Steve Mason (20-17-9, 2.52 GAA, .918 save percentage) for the Flyers.

This could be a preview of the NHL playoffs and the Caps will definitely have their hands full as this team is fighting for their playoff lives. Should be a great rivalry game.

Rock the Red! Go Caps!

 

 

Barry Trotz for President!

Strong Third Period Propels Caps Past Jackets

On Monday, March 28, 2016, the Washington Capitals took on the Columbus Blue Jackets at home in the Verizon Center. After a horrible outing last game against the St. Louis Blues, the Caps needed to bounce back and attack the offensive zone. Braden Holtby got his 61st start in net, opposite Sergei Bobrovsky. TJ Oshie was back in the line-up after being sick. Caps scratches were Taylor Chorney, Mike Weber, Michael Latta and Stanislav Galiev.

PERIOD 1- You gotta start somewhere…

Caps came out ready to play tonight! They were playing hard and fast with a few chances early in the period. You could definitely see a change in them vs. their other recent games which lacked pretty much anything. The period was still pretty uneventful, until the last few minutes. After a good offensive zone attack, fan fave Justin Williams got the Caps on the board with a great garbage goal. However, Columbus tied it before Wes Johnson could finish announcing the Caps goal.

PENALTIES- Tom Wilson called for tripping.

GOALS- Justin Williams scored his 22nd goal of the season, assisted by John Carlson, Cam Atkinson scored, assisted by Gregory Campbell.

SCORE- Caps and Jackets tied, 1-1

PERIOD 2- All’s quiet on the home front

Caps almost netted another one early in the second as Marcus Johansson split defenders. Jay Beagle drew a penalty on another drive to the net on a great pass from Jason Chimera. Barry Trotz started rolling some different defensive pairs in the hopes that something would stick and keeps the Caps strong in their own zone.

PENALTIES- Cody Goloubef called for tripping, Tom Wilson called for boarding, Boone Jenner called for slashing.

 GOALS- No goals.

SCORE- Still tied, 1-1

PERIOD 3- This is how we do it…

Caps got a power play pretty early in the third but could not get anything going in the offensive zone. After a broken stick allowed Dan Winnik to corral a soft shot, the Caps headed down the ice. Bobrovsky gave up a soft rebound and Tom Wilson made him pay with some snazzy stick work. It was Tom Wilson’s first goal since March 1st.  Brooks Orpik shoved Brandon Dubinsky into the net after Dubinsky elbowed Braden Holtby in the head.  An empty net goal by Nicklas Backstrom was the nail in the coffin for a Columbus comeback. This was also a very appropriate moment since it was Swedish Heritage Night.

PENALTIES- Boone Jenner called for holding, Scott Hartnell called for slashing, Nicklas Backstrom called for unsportsmanlike conduct, Brandon Dubinsky called for goaltender interference,

GOALS- Tom Wilson scored his 7th goal of the season, assisted by Mike Richards, TJ Oshie scored his 24th goal of the season, assisted by Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Backstrom scored his 20th goal of the season, assisted by Matt Niskanen.

SCORE- Caps win, 4-1!!

With their victory tonight, the Caps are 54-16-5. They have 113 points and clinch the #1 seed in the playoffs. They also win the President’s trophy, which is the second in the team’s history. As awesome as all that is, let’s not lose focus. We all know there is a bigger goal for this team, franchise and fan base. This was also the 46th victory for Braden Holtby, putting him that much closer to catching Martin Brodeur. He is now three wins away from breaking the single season wins record.

The Caps next game is Wednesday, March 30th, at 8pm. They play the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. See ya there, Caps fans!

Caps look to lock up the Presidents Trophy Vs. Blue Jackets

Washington Capitals (53-16-5, 111 points)
Columbus Blue Jackets (30-37-8, 68 points)
Puck Drop: 7 p.m.

Well that game on Saturday was embarrassing. The Capitals were shut out for the first time since November in a 4-0 drubbing by the St. Louis Blues (see post-game article for more.) The team played flat and with no life, looking like a team that had no drive after accomplishing two of their three goals for the regular season. Ovechkin tried to fire the team up late but it was not enough.

That’s Why They Call It The Blues

The Blue Jackets are only three points better than the dead-last Toronto Maple Leafs (65 points). John Tortorella has definitely not been enough for a team that once looked like a playoff contender with all their talent. They come into Verizon Center Monday just looking to earn enough points to not be the worst in the NHL.

  • Center Boone Jenner leads the team with 28 goals and 17 assists
  • Columbus is last in the Metropolitan, trailing the Devils by 12 points and the Capitals by 43 points.

Surviving Complacency

The Capitals hopefully had a wake up call on Saturday. Even with Grubauer in net, they played flat and if they do that at any point in the playoffs, they will be knocked out fast. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a clean slate no matter what your seeding and teams will be hungry to knock them off. Hopefully we will see a different team Monday night.

  • The 1st Period woes continue for the Caps as they failed to score once again. They have been outscored 10-3 in their last 12 games in the 1st.
  • Braden Holtby is three wins shy of tying Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record (48). He’s coming off a shut out Friday Vs. the Devils and will most likely be the starter Monday after getting Saturday to rest.

 

 

 

Caps Need To Capitalize

Brandon’s Predictions

The Capitals face an interesting week as they play half of their final eight games with three of them being on the road.

First up Columbus Blue Jackets: Monday, March 28, 7:00 pm EDT

Columbus has always played the Caps tough and I would expect nothing different on Monday. Something to watch for is the possible return of TJ Oshie who missed the last two games with the flu. In those two games, the Caps scored zero 5×5 goals culminating in the 4-0 loss to the Blues on Saturday.

Second, Philadelphia Flyers: Wednesday, March 30 8:00 EDT

The Caps head to Philadelphia to face the Flyers who are fighting for not only their playoff lives, but even playoff positioning. In what is a very likely first round playoff series, I would hope the Caps come out  strong to make a statement.

Next Up, Colorado Avalanche: 9:00 pm EDT

Much like the Flyers, the Avalanche are fighting for their postseason lives. In what is game one, of a back to back, expect the Caps to roll all four lines regardless of the score. If Holtby wins the games against the Flyers and Blue Jackets, then a win in this game would tie the NHL record for wins in a single season.

Last up, Arizona Coyotes: 9:00 pm EDT

Arizona is a very young and talented team. The Caps will need to come out of the gates strong or they could be down big early. Expect Phillup Grubauer to get this start as he looks to rebound after a rough performance on Saturday.

The last couple of road trips haven’t gone that well. Lets hope this week is better!

 

Caps Week in Review: The Tumultuous Battle

Capitals’ head coach Barry Trotz often talks about the battle the Caps are in and the need to manage the puck. When the team struggled during their Western Conference road trip, he spoke about fighting through adversity. It seems this week the Caps are back in that spot with two tough losses in four games played since Sunday, March 20.

Pittsburgh Energy

The slide started with a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was the team’s first of three away games. Although Washington looked strong when they took to the ice at Consol Energy, the Pens zapped their energy and quickly took control of the game. Pittsburgh outshot the Caps 31 to 18. It was also a night in which the Caps spent a good bit of the game fighting back Pens power plays. Coach would later say, “There’s no excuse for sloppy play.”

Ottawa Clinch

The Caps managed to clinch their spot as the number one team going into the Stanley Cup playoffs as well as the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference as the top scoring team in both. Coach Trotz shifted Justin Williams up to the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in the hopes that it might spark back some of the energy left in Pittsburgh. The Caps scored quickly in the first period with a great goal by Mike Richards. The remainder of the game was pretty smooth skating; however, Ottawa outshot Washington 30 to 22. There were fewer penalties this game, but the tripping by Dmitry Orlov stood out with fans who continue to question Orlov’s inconsistency. On a high note-it was Holtby’s 44th win of the season bringing him a little closer to Martin Brodeur’s record of most wins (48) in a season. Caps win 4 -2.

Devils OT

The Caps were back to fighting for an edge in Newark on Friday night. The game was probably one of the slowest games we have seen in a long time. Scott Wedgewood was in for Corey Schneider and boy was he ever a wall. John Carlson returned to the defense lines and TJ Oshie stayed home sick so Stan Galiev was given the chance to play. It took until the last five minutes of the third period before we really saw any enthusiasm on the ice and even that wasn’t enough to score. It would take until overtime and a slap shot (assisted by Marcus Johansson and Jason Chimera) by the much improved John Carlson to give the Caps the win and two points.  Caps barely outshot the Devils 26-22.

Blues – Yes the Caps were Blue for Sure

This one is hard to write about. The Caps came home Saturday to play the then number one team in the Central Division. Philipp Grubauer was in the net, giving Holtby a bit of a rest. Oshie was still out sick and his absence was felt. The Caps made it through the first period but the second was disastrous. Orlov got the blame again for keeping the puck out of the zone and by the end of the period St. Louis was up 3-0. The third period only got worse. Jake Alan was solid and blocked 32 shots from the Caps. Caps outshot the Blues 32 to 29 but lost the battle 4-0.

In Conclusion

 Having Carlson back is a good thing and helped to turn things around in his hometown of Newark. The Caps have been  pretty confident winning against Eastern Conference teams but even those games have been a bit shaky of late. And there is a growing concern about them playing against Western Conference teams –one that they will have to face if they make it all the way to the finals. Check our look ahead to see how we think this week is likely to unfold.

 

Caps lose, Blues Get Fourth Straight Shutout.

This was a bad one friends. The Caps played well but just could get one in the net. T.J. Oshie missed his second consecutive game due to illness. It should help to have him return. Formen Cap’s player Troy Brouwer returned to the Verizon Center for the first time since being traded to St. Louis and was honored by the organization for his positive attitude while playing in Washington. 

First Period: Solid Start 

It was a pretty nice Good start for the Capitals. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer made some great saves early and the game was already more exciting than the Devils game from the night before. Even though neither team scored in the first, the game moved at a nice pace. The Capitals were the better team and outshot the Blues 10-8 at the end of the first period.

Score: 0-0

Second Period: Singing the Blues

  The Capitals were 21-6-2 when tied after one period. Unfortunately, the guests from the Gateway City would dominate the second period. Just 4:45 into the period, Kyle Brodziak opened the scoring after Dmitry Orlov failed to get the puck away from the Blues. Colton Parayko added his eighth of the season later in the period. The goal would be challenged for offside but was deemed a good goal. Less than two minutes later, Vlamdir Tarasenko added his 35th of the season and the Capitals were down 3-0 by the end of the period.

Score: Capitals trail 3-0

Third Period: Allen Remained Unbreakable

A frustrating theme in this game was that the Capitals were not shooting the puck as much as they should have. Goaltender Jake Allen was able to see the puck and was able to collect the puck after every try from the Caps. With less than 10 left in the third, there was a big scrum at the Blues net. Alex Ovechkin danced a little with former Cap Troy Brouwer. Patrik Berglund added a fourth goal to seal the deal. The Capitals fellto the Blues 4-0. 

This game was the Blues’ fourth straight shutout (a streak of 240:18 without allowing a goal). 

Score: Capitals lose 4-0

What’s Next?

Caps have Sunday off and morning skate of Monday at 10:15am at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

On Monday, the Caps host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Swedish Heritage Night at Verizon Center at 7pm. 

 

Battle of the Exes

The Washington Capitals faceoff with the St. Louis Blues for the first time this season. They will meet again April 9th in St. Louis. Both teams played games last night. Washington won a snoozer of a game in OT against the NJ Devils and are first in the league and the Metro Division, and St. Louis shutout the Canucks 4-0 and are also first in their division. When asked about who would be in net for Washington Coach Trotz said, “Both goalies are on the plane to DC.”

This will also be Troy Brouwer’s first game back at Verizon Center as well as TJ Oshie’s first game facing his old team since the trade (if he’s healthy).

The Blues are sure to give the Caps a hard time tonight. They are 3-2 in their last five games, and currently hold a 44-22-9 record. Should he play tonight, Brian Elliot will pose a threat to the Caps offense, leading the league with a Save percentage of .934 and a GAA of 1.95. The 24 year old Vladimir Tarasenko is sixth in the league in goals with trailing Lightning’s Stamkos with 35. With 62 PIM on the season, former Cap Troy Brouwer is likely to play hard against his former teammates in their first meeting.

Currently the Blues have four players on their injured list:

Jay Bouwmeester- Upper Body

Carl Gunnarsson- Undisclosed

Steve Ott- Hamstring

Alexander Steen- Arm

By now you all know the Washington Capitals are good, so we will just take a minute to remind you just HOW good they are. The Caps have already clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and not just any spot but first seed which means they will have home ice advantage throughout the entirety of their run in the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals with 43 and Evgeny Kuzentsov is also fourth in the league with 53 assists on the season. Perhaps the Caps greatest treasure is in Braden Holtby who has 45 wins so far this season. Holtby is just three wins away from passing Martin Brodeur’s record of 48 wins in asingle season.

The Caps only questionable player at time of publishing is TJ Oshie who is out day-to-day with an illness.

 Puck-Drop is 7:00 pm on CSN

Snoozer Game but Caps Win with a Bang in OT

For only the second time this season, the Washington Capitals met the New Jersey Devils, this time in Newark. Caps took the game with a narrow 4-3 win.

The Devils were missing Corey Schneider and Scott Wedgewood was in the net. The best hope for the Caps was to draw penalties,  crush the Devils weak penalty kill, and score early. The Caps welcomed John Carlson back and shifted Stan Galiev into the lineup to fill in for an ailing TJ Oshie. And Karl Alzner played his 500th NHL game tonight.

The Caps showed that they still know how to work the walls and their communication was certainly much improved over the past few games.

First Period: Matt Hides the Puck (yea that’s all we’ve got)

Each team had a power play opportunity but neither team scored on the advantage. Karl Alzner was called on a high stick about five minutes into the game and the Caps were able to hold the Devils back.  After a great opportunity in front of the Devil’s net, the Devils’ Vojtech Mozik was called for tripping Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was on his way to scoring. With the Caps on the power play Carlson showed that while a little rusty he is ready to play. Matt Niskanen tried to hide the puck up his pant leg which was the only highlight of the scoreless period.

Score: 0 – 0

Second Period: We’re all falling asleep here…

With the start of the period the Caps were leading 10-4 in shots on goal. Justin Williams handed the Devils a power play with a slashing call four minutes into the period. The period was rhythmic and slow until we finally had a little scrum in front of the net, led by Justin Williams. Even Backstrtom piled on top of a Devil’s player and wound up in the box with Joseph Blandisi for matching two-minute penalties. The players were looking pretty frustrated with their inability to convert all those shots into points. Back on the five-on-five both teams picked up the speed for the last five minutes of the period. With a minute left in the oh so slow period there was a little shoving with Beagle and Wilson…no penalty just good hockey fun!!

Score: Still 0 – 0

Third Period:  Five Minutes of Hockey

The third period started off just as slow as the previous 40 minutes with only two SOG by the Devils in the first five minutes. Ovi took exception to a tripping call but wound up in the box for two minutes anyway. No worries–still 0-0. And once again as Kuzy was closing in to score but the Devils got in the way and with an interference call and the Caps were on a power play with under three minutes left in the period. The Caps were unable to do anything with the PP even as Wedgewood lost his stick for the third time stopped the Caps from scoring. End of the period and each team takes a point. Off to OT.

Overtime: JC is 100 percent this time around.

We saw a higher level of energy in OT than during most of regulation And then CARLY CARLY CARLY celebrates his return with his seventh goal and the WIN!!!

Score: 1-0 Caps

Coming up:

The Washington Capitals return to the Verizon Center to play the St. Louis Blues at 7 pm, It’s Fan Appreciation Night with lots of activities around the arena.

No morning skate is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday is a day off. The team will hold  morning skate at Kettler on Monday at 10:15 before taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7 pm.