Carlson: Caps Special Weapon

John Carlson has been the defenseman stars of the playoffs since the first game. Carly is back to his old self after missing a total of 26 games during the regular season for lower-body injury. He is often called “the most under-rated” defensemen in the NHL; that is until the playoffs. He has averaged 25 minutes on the ice and racked up three goals. He is a key component to the Caps power play—scoring all three goals on the PP. Carly blocks an average of two shots a game and at 6’3”, 210 pounds, he is a brick wall opponents don’t want to run into.

In seven postseason games he has already surpassed his 204/15 record of five points in 14 games. Every time he steps on the ice, we are pretty sure something is going to happen. He already has 30 shots on goal, just three shy of Alex Ovechkin. He also has a 10 percent save average–the highest of any of the team defensemen. He is a solid special teams player who grits it out on the powerplay or blocking shots to kill off the opponent’s powerplay. Averaging about 25 minutes on the ice every game, you get the feeling that he is always there.

As the Caps keep pushing forward to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins, look for Carly to play a key role in the team’s success.

GO CAPS!!!

 

BB on the Move Again

Bruce Boudreau has once again been released from his duties as an NHL head coach. We’re actually pretty surprised that Anaheim hung in there as long as they did this season.

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General Manager Murray said about BB’s firing: “In no way, shape or form is this pointing a gun at Bruce’s head. Let’s make that perfectly clear. But you’ve got to start somewhere.” Sounds familiar.

When teams fail to thrive quite often there is a disconnect between the coach and the team. For whatever reason, the team may no longer hear or respect the coach and the coach can no longer find the way to reach or encourage the team. It is what happened in Washington and it looks like its what happened in Anaheim. Change has to happen when a team falls short of full success. You can’t exactly fire the full team so the first to go is usually the coach.

Bruce is a talented coach. He is a great guy. He is likable, which is why he still owns a warm spot in Caps’ fans hearts. The rumor mill has already spinning in full gear as the media guesses where he will end up next. Ottawa, Minnesota, and maybe the Islanders. Where ever he lands, we wish him well–unless the Caps are playing against him!

Caps Look to Keep Pressure on the Pens in Game 2

What a first game of the series! T.J. Oshie arrived and showed the D.C. area fans why trading for him was a great choice this past offseason by scoring a hat-trick and overtime winner 4-3. Caps fans were celebrating and had many reasons to be overjoyed with the start of this series.

But in reality, this is nothing new. The Caps are now 8-1 overall in game ones against the Penguins. The Pens have also lost seven straight road game ones since 2001. The play of the Caps was also not their best, especially in periods two and three.

Moving On

The Penguins mindset after game one is simple: move on. The Pens played a fairly decent game even though they lost. Trailing 1-0 in the second, Caps defender Dmitry Orlov clipped fellow defender Nate Schmidt to where Ben Lovejoy took advantage and tied the game. A few minutes later, Evgeni Malkin gave the Pens their first lead 2-1. Nick Bonino tied the game up 3-3 in the third to force overtime.

  • Rookie goaltender Matt Murray saved 31 shots (.886 save percentage) but allowed four in his first NHL playoff loss. You have got to think this is in his head after playing so well in that first round series.
  • Sidney Crosby was held off the scoring sheet and was on the ice for three of the four  Caps goals, giving him a -3 on the night.
  • Evgeny Malkin had one goal on the night and was even.


Consistent Gameplay

The Caps started off a little slow but ramped it up quickly in the first, outshooting the Pens 15-9 and leading 1-0. For the second and third however, the Caps were outshot 30-12 and somehow got two more goals to keep things even. In the extra frame, it was all Washington as the Caps got the extra push they needed and Oshie delivered with the game-winning wrap around. They need more consistent play throughout the entire game.

  • T.J. Oshie registered a hat trick Thursday night and has six goals against the Penguins this season. This was also the first time Oshie had scored and his team won in a playoff game (0-5 previously).
  • Defenseman Orlov was the main reason for the tying goal in the second. After more miscues on his end, Trotz benched him in favor of defense by committee. I for one hope Orlov learned from this and vows to be better from here on out.
  • Alex Ovechkin had an assist and seven hits in a physical game by the Caps.
  • Braden Holtby allowed three goals with 42 saves (.933 save percentage). This was also the Caps first win in 14 games when Holtby has allowed two or more goals in a playoff start.
  • Defenseman Tom Wilson was fined $2,400 for his knee-on-knee hit to Conor Sheary with no penalty being called.

Power Outage: Both teams failed to score on the Power Play after using it so well in their last series. The Cap were 0-4 while the Pens were 0-2.

Your game two goaltenders will be Braden Holtby for the Caps, Matt Murray for the Pens. Puck drop is at 8 p.m. on NBC. ROCK THE RED and GO CAPS!

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Fleury Pranks Orpik and FiCP gets Caught in the Crosshairs

Ok, we admit it. We are a little fanatical when it comes to standing up for our Boyz. We always ask our followers to respect the players and their vehicles–don’t stalk them to their cars and respect their privacy.

So when we saw a Penguins bag of unknown origin – we figured it was a disgruntled Pens fan reminding Brooks Oprik of his Pittsburgh roots.Well we were kind of right. It was actually Marc-Andre Fleury sending a special message to his old pal. Hockey friendships run deep…


On a positive note: it was good to see Fleury on this ice at practice today. As Caps fans we don’t actually want to have to face him in the net, but as hockey fans, we are glad that to see him recovering from concussion symptoms.

Our apology to Pens fans who were upset with our previous tweet.

GO CAPS!!

O what a Night-Oshie and the Caps take Down Pens in OT

The night started with lightups and loud, and we mean, LOUD fans. And thankfully the house was pretty red–hardly a Pens jersey could be seen! Well done friends!!!!

The game started like we expected, physical and fast.  Andre Burakovsky got things going with a little help from is friends Jason Chimera and John Carlson put the Caps on the board. The first period ended 1-0 Caps.

The second period started so slow we weren’t sure the were really playing. Fans thought there were lots of missed calls against Pens– probably right.

It was all good until the Pens (Ben Lovejoy) got one over on Holtby. Fans stayed loud and like the players, we weren’t giving up.

There was a lot of back and forth scoring; first Evgeni Malkin scored and then TJ Oshie got one past goaltender Matt Murry to even things out by the end of the second period. TJ came back in the third period, followed by Nick Bonino.

By the end of the third we were tied up again forcing the game into overtime.

The crowd could barely contain themselves.

OT started with a flurry of red nightsticks and horn blowing from Sam to get everyone one ready. Both teams clearly wanted the win, but it was Oshie who scored the game winning goal and the hats flew onto the ice!!!

The Pens challenged but nah- it was the Caps night.

We kind Of like this team a lot.

See ya Saturday for Game 2. Go CAPS.

Optional practice Friday at 12:15 at Kettler which means a handful of the tired players will be there. Pens will also be at Kettler for anyone interested…(be classy Caps fans)

Morning skate is scheduled for 10:15 Saturday followed by Game 2 at 8 pm.

Round Two Stimga: Caps Keep Coming Back

Yea, we all know the Caps history.

We use the appearance of their star player Alex Ovechkin in 2005 as a starting milestone since many of our friends think the team’s success rests on the shoulders of Ovi. So, here’s where they stand:

They have made it to round 3 conference finals, oh never…

They have made it to round 2 four times, including this season.

They have made it to round 1  three times, including this season.

They totally missed the playoffs in the 2005/06, 2006/07, or 2013/14.

They haven’t made it to the Stanley Cup Final since the 1997/98; they have made it to the playoffs 26 times since 1974

We understand the cautious optimism that borders on a lack of expectation. However, we have all said, over and over, that THIS Capitals team is different. We believe this to be true and while we are on the cautiously optimistic side of the fence, we are holding our breath with everyone.

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This team has real depth. We have Stanley Cup winners who know what it takes to keep coming back.  In the course of six games, all but seven of the active roster players recorded a point, including goaltender Braden Holtby. One of those without a point was Brooks Orpik who was out for four games. Every player, with the exception of Mike Weber had at least one shot on goal during the series. Eight players scored at least one goal.

How do the Caps compare with the other teams that moved forward to round two? We find that for many of the teams more than nine players scored goals in Round 1. For all but three teams, every player has a shot on goal. On average, only five players on a team did not record a point. In the grand scheme of things, we are slightly under-performing when compared against the other league leaders. Slightly.

As the team starts round two against the Pens on Thursday we think the Caps will need to increase their shots across the board. Every player will need to be more intentional about creating opportunities in front of the net. And against the Pens – stay out of the box and watch your defense. As Coach Trotz said today, it will take the entire team.

We think THIS team is ready to play like a team. We think they are fully invested in getting to the final round, one game at a time. And we plan to be along for the ride!!

GO CAPS!!!

 

 

 

Finally, Holtby Named Vezina Finalist

We knew it was coming but it sure is great news that Capitals goalie Braden Holtby has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy. The Trophy is awarded to the player who the NHL managers vote as :the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position.”

Also nominated are Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning)  and Jonathan Quick (LA Kings) .

We’re kind of partial to the Holtbeast but these other guys are pretty good too! Her’s some of our favorite shots from this season:

Caps-Pens Renew Playoff Rivalry in Game 1

Alex Ovechkin has one simple request for fans and the media: don’t make this about Alex Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby. The Caps face off against their arch rivals from Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the first time since 2009, when both Sid and Alex scored hat tricks in Game 2 of the series. Caps friends will remember having a 2-0 lead only to see the Pens win three straight. On the verge of getting knocked out, Washington took game six to overtime where they won 5-4 to force a game seven. That game the Caps were never in the building as the Penguins crushed them at Verizon Center 6-2 to win the series and, eventually, the Stanley Cup.

Play Your Game

OK Caps fans. Breathe. We reached the second round after a tough first round series with Philly. The positives you take away from that series are the play of Braden Holtby and how Alex Ovechkin was in beast mode. They’ll need this and more as they take on a team that easily dismantled Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers four games to one with their speed and efficiency on the Power Play.

  • The Capitals Power Play is 29.6% and penalty kill is a league best 95.8% for the playoffs.
  • Braden Holtby has played Vezina Award winning hockey throughout the playoffs. Thus far he is 4-2 with a 0.84 GAA, .968 save percentage and two shutouts.
  • Players that need to boost their play in this series: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky.
  • The Capitals are 1-7 all-time in Stanley Cup Playoff series (19-30 overall) against the Penguins. The last time they beat them in a playoff series was 1994 when the Caps won four games to two.
  • Injuries: Defenseman Brooks Orpik is listed day-to-day but is looking likely to start the series.

No Fleury, No Problem

The Penguins have had to deal with a lot of injury issues. First, Evgeny Malkin was deemed out for the first part of the Rangers series. He has since made a triumphant return with two goals in Game 4. Then Marc-André Fleury has been battling concussion symptoms for more than a month, leaving rookie Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff as the Pens only options. Murray has been stellar in his rookie season, coming into the Ranger series and winning three straight games while allowing four goals.

  • The Penguin Power Play is a phenomenal 38.1%, tops in the league for the playoffs. Their penalty kill is 89.5%.
  • Rookie netminder Matt Murray is 3-0 with a 1.33 GAA, .955 save percentage and a shutout.
  • Sidney Crosby leads the team with three goals, five assists.
  • Injuries: Goaltender Marc-André Fleury (concussion, day-to-day); Forward Beau Bennett (undisclosed, day-to-day); Forward Scott Wilson (lower body, IR); and Kevin Porter (ankle, IR)

Your starting goaltenders will be Braden Holtby for the Caps and Matt Murray for the Pens.

Puck drop is 8 p.m. on CSN.

ROCK THE RED and GO CAPS!

Caps NHL Playoffs Round2 Practice in Photos

The Washington Capitals hit the ice again in front of a crowd of excited fans on Tuesday.

We had a lot of fun capturing the best players the league:

Tom Wilson was all coy skating by himself on the ice while he waited for his teammates to join him.

Evgeny Kuznetsov thought it was hilarious to shoot his puck at the camera while Wilson egged him on.

Coach Trotz was getting in some shots today as well as carting around a net that looked strangely like our little icon!

 

The Caps Fan Club hung signs to celebrate the Caps success in Round 1 and outside the Capitals prepared for excited fans to meet their favorite players.

We captured a bit of it on video for your viewing pleasure:

Caps practice again Wednesday at 1030. Morning skate on Thursday likely, and then it’s on to Round 2.

Worried about Kuzy?  Not Us.

At the end of the first round of the NHL Playoffs there was a lot of discussion about Evgeny Kuznetsov and his seemingly lack of play during the playoffs. Some sportscasters expressed extreme worry–others said it highlights his inexperience.

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Ok – so lets look at the numbers.

In six games he scored one goal on a power play.

In six games he did not record one assist.

In six games he had 20 shots on goal (SOG).

He has a -2.

All this from the guy who at the end of the regular season ranked third in the NHL for  assists and ninth in overall points

In his last six regular season games Kuzy averaged 19 SOG with three assists. In that same timeframe he averaged 17 minutes on the ice compared to an average of 16 minutes on the ice during the first round.

To put it in perspective, Evgeny ranks third on the team for SOG  during the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin has 29 and John Carlson has 25. He is one of four players with one goal; two others have two goals and two players have three (Ovi and Backstrom).  25635389551_84443ac444_o

We think it is way too early to think that Evgeny has lost the Kuzy-Magic. This was a tough series. He was in the thick of it. Like most of the players, they were shooting the puck and trying their best to score, but in at least two of those games there was this little problem named Michal Neuvirth.

Playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kuzy has been pretty average. He has one goal and one assist in four games and averaged two shots per game. About what everyone did in those games. Like everyone, he will need to increase his physical presence and create as much activity in front of the Pens net as possible. Everyone will need to crash the net–repeatedly.

We have faith in Kuzy. He will get his groove. We will see the magic again.

26440339432_535448cacd_o    Carry on…