Capitals and Fans in Shock

We knew it would be tough against the Penguins, again. We believed the Capitals could take them. We felt confident in two home wins. And we sure had no doubts about Braden Holtby.

And then Thursday happened (3-2 Pens) and we gulped. We made excuses. The players had some strong words themselves. 

And we still believed.

And then Saturday followed Thursday and the unthinkable happened. The Caps went down hard with a 6-2 loss this time. Fans emptied Verizon before the final horn and those pesky Pittsburgh fans did their ‘in your face’ takeover of the Gallery steps.

It’s now Sunday and we have all had a minute to digest what is going on.

The team reportedly had a private meeting to vent and bemoan what happened. Coach Trotz has to answer for pulling Holtby in the third and putting in Philipp Grubauer – he needed a ‘game changer.’ The players were in no mood to talk with the media and no one really wanted to hear what they had to say.

Fans run the gamut of ‘it’s only two games’ to ‘here we go again.’ They are beyond frustrated to see this winning team battling in the playoffs just to be out coached and unable to score. They are battling- there are signs of tenacity. And there are signs of a weakness no one can adequately name.

So what now friends?

Keep wearing your Believe shirts. Keep watching on Monday and Wednesday for a positive outcome that brings the round back to Verizon. Show up at practice and the game on Saturday with your signs and keep being loud!! 

It is not time yet to throw in the towel. It ain’t over yet!! We’ll walk with you. We’ll be there as friends should be, through the bad and the good. Just gotta hang on for the good. 

Caps-Pens: The Challenge of Captains & Goalies

Here we are again friends – Capitals versus Penguins in the second round of the NHL Playoffs. Fans on both sides are betting on their team. Thursday night we had the first glimpse of what lies ahead this series. One thing we know is it’s gonna be physical and there is no telling who will make it through.

The game started with Nick;as Backstrom winning the first faceoff against Pens Captain Sidney Crosby and they were off to battle! First five minutes were fast and furious with the Caps getting the first shot on goal (SOG). The Pens had the first power play when Alex Ovechkin went to the naughty bin for interference. Five became 10 minutes of pass the puck with the Pens out shooting 3-1. (note with 44 seconds on the ice, Brett Connolly was the only Cap with a SOG – yes Connolly) Caps had one really good chance with about four minutes left in the period – T.J. Oshie did his best but couldn’t break past Marc-Andre Fleury. Period ended scoreless.

The second period made us cry–really it MADE US CRY!!!

Crosby would score not once, but twice in 52 seconds!!  That’s all we are going to say about it…. With 1:43 left in the period, the Capitals captain slammed one right over flower and it didn’t get called back!!!  A Verizon Center went N U T S!!!  2-1 Pens at the end of the period. With 18 seconds or so left, we had our first real scrum as the pressure finally let go for both teams.

Third period started with a little four-on-four as a result of the scrum. Just as we were starting to think the Caps wouldn’t score B A M Evegny Kuznetsov with a clever wrist shot ties it up and has an incredible celle as the Weagle Lands!!  The sleeping giant is awake again.

Tie wouldn’t hold long as Nick Bonino dodges a third goal for the Pens in the net 3-2 now. Matt Niskanen would give the Pens another advantage by heading to the penalty box for slashing. At the 2:45 mark there was a strong effort in front of Fleury, the Caps pushed and shoved, they whacked and rolled Fleury over, and still the Caps just couldn’t make it happen.

In the end it was 3-2 in the Pens favor. Thankfully Crosby didn’t get a hat trick.

There were so many close calls and times it looked like the puck would go in and nothing could get past Flower.It felt a lot like last season with Murray. The Caps need to look a the tapes and find out what they can do to improve their success rate. Saturday will surely continue to battle between the captains and become more physical. The trick will be for the Caps to avoid penalties which give the Pens the advantage.

We’ll try to get you some photos later.

Why The Caps Are Perfectly Capable of Beating the Pens in 5 Games

An opinion piece by Chris Cleveland

We all know the playoffs have never been good to the Capitals but this year is different. The Caps survived a really tough test in the first round from a young Maple Leafs team that really pushed the Caps with our speed. The Penguins first round series was a complete cake walk vs Columbus. The Blue Jackets really slept their way into the playoffs. It seems like once they lost the battle for home ice they really didn’t play with a sense of urgency against Pittsburgh at all.

I was looking at the rosters for the Caps and Pens and I was really surprised that the Penguins roster really only has four or five core guys. The rest of them seem just kind of meh . I know they have some young kids who are having a good season; however, I just don’t see them doing that well. Can they compete against a much more complete Caps team with three elite defense pairings?

The Caps, on the other hand, have the most complete roster in the NHL. From, top to bottom, from Alex Ovechkin to the grit guys that do the dirty work, like Brett Connolly and Lars Eller. The other huge advantage the Caps have this round is their defense which is a lot more complete.  I have really enjoyed watching this newly formed Caps top defense pair of John Carlson and Nate Schmidt.  I think those two guys are going to drive Pittsburgh nuts. They looked so good against the Leafs and I don’t see them slowing down.

So here is my breakdown of the series. I think as long as a much more complete Caps team can defend their home ice and take a 2-0 series lead.  I do think they could go into Pittsburgh for games three and four and split it 1-1 their. Then they can bring the series back here and close out the series in front of the Verizon center faithful and rest up for the winner of the Senators and Rangers. Also I love that Marc Andre Fleury is in the net this series instead of Matt Murray.  The Caps love to light up Flower and I think the Caps will get to him real early in this series.

 

Keys to Beating the Penguins

Opinion Piece by Chris Cleveland

Now that the Caps have survived the Maple Leafs and are on to the Round Two, it’s time to tackle what it is they need to do to finally get over that second round hump–for the first time in a long time. Lets look at what’s ahead.

watermarked362016-11-17-0815First, the Penguins don’t have their best defenseman Kris Letang and that really hurts Pitt but is great for us. Not having to worry about Letang will be a huge help this series for the Caps since he is one of the best all around D-men in the NHL.  I don’t think the Pens were really tested that much playing the Blue Jackets and it wasn’t as obvious that they were missing Letang. The Caps really need to throw as much pressure as possible on this short handed defense lineup. We are a much better team then Columbus and I think we can really expose the hole in the Penguins defense without one of their best weapons.

Another key factor to this series is the Caps power play. It has been up and down all season but I really do think this is going to be the most important aspect for the Caps this series. Their power play struggled a bit against the Leafs. Watching Game Four the other day and seeing them not score on the 5 on 3 they had for two minus drove me absolutely crazy!! Coach Trotz needs to have them at Kettler for the next few days getting the power play right.  I’ve been to a few practices during the playoffs and I don’t think they spend enough time working on the power play. Even if it takes up half of practice go for it. Not to mention the power play was also 0/4 in Game Five. That’s when you know it really needs work. If the Caps can get the power play going early in the series Pittsburgh might be in for a long ride. When our PP gets going there is no stopping it.

The last big key to beating the Penguins in the Round Two will be the 5 on 5 play. The Caps looked to be struggling at times in this series. I actually don’t blame them too much. The Maple Leafs are a young team with blazing fast speed so I wasn’t all that surprised this series was a cat and mouse game. Speed is a really concern as we look at the Caps overall this past round. If the Caps can improve their 5 on 5 play against the Pens, I really do think this series will be good for them.

The best advantage that the Caps have this series is home ice. I think they really need to jump on Pittsburgh early in this series. They need to get the best defensive pairs out there when Crosby and Malkin are on the ice. Winning the first two games of this series is totally crucial for the Caps, especially on their home ice.

With all that said, if the Capitals can come out firing the first two games of the series and play like we know they can,  I really do believe they can win this in five games. They are perfectly capable of winning at home then going up to Pittsburgh and at worst, splitting 1-1 there. Then they can bring the round back home and it in a triple OT game five thriller in front of the noisy Verizon center crowd!!

LETS GO CAPS!!

Caps Head Back to Toronto after OT Win at Home

One more overtime win and the Caps have taken the lead in the round 3-2. And Friday night was as tough as the previous four games.

watermarked1(2017-04-22-1210)The night started off well enough with Oshie warming up the puck and then shooting on a power play to put the Caps up 1-0.

And of course there was the matter of a ‘hit’ on Caps captain Alex Ovechkin which sent him off the ice in pain. Nazem Kadri would become a high target after the taking a ‘tripping’ penalty. The jury is still making its mind up: dirty or clean hit? Knee-to-knee or hip check? We know what the fans think.

The Leaf’s shinny star, Auston Matthews scored in the second period to tie it up. And more importantly, Ovi came back after a break in the locker room with his fav beverage, a Coke.  The puzzling thing at this point was the low number of shots on goal (SOG) between the two teams: Caps with 15 and the Leafs with 14. Shows how evenly matched they are in reality.

Not much happened in the third although the two teams did get their shots numbers up.

OT went quickly as the man known for his playoff scoring, Justin Williams, brought it in for the Caps a little more than a minute into the period.

img_8617Soooo the Caps continue to be plagued with the penalty bug, and Tom Wilson has a big target on his back. Connor Carrick, who we used to love, keeps trying to start something with his old friends, which really upset Wilson when they both ended up in the sin bin.

Which brings us to Tom Wilson. He has been full of surprises with three goals to his credit in Round One –  but he also had eight penalty minutes and a reduced time on the ice as a result of his actions (10:16). Something needs to change come Sunday.

Dmitry Orlov has been a ball of fire, as has Nate Schmidt. No telling what we might see from them back in Toronto. The defensemen are all in for this round.

Toronto is ready to win the next game and Coach Babcock has insinuated that they will be back for a game seven. Lets hope the Caps come out strong from the first drop of the puck. Lets pray they don’t come home with any injuries and lets be cheering so loud the neighbors know we are winning!!

Chandler Stephenson: Back in the NHL

We were all very freaked out to hear that Chandler Stephenson was called up from Hershey due to the fact we assumed that a center was injured. Barry Trotz has confirmed the call-up and he has also made it clear that no center was injured. 

77th pick overall, Chandler Stephenson is just there as a backup. 

Stephenson has played 13 regular season games with the Caps; four during this past season and the last one the loss against Florida to close out our season. He hasn’t gotten a point yet in the Majors; however, he is a pretty decent point scorer with 38 points this season down in Hershey. 

This year he has gotten 10 goals and 28 assists, more than any other season in the AHL. In the 2015-2016 season, he played only 46 games and got 28 points with 7 goals and 21 assists. This past season wasn’t his most point scoring one in all the leagues. He played in the WHL for a few years with the Regina Pats and on his last season with them, he played 69 games and got 89 points. He scored 30 goals and got 59 assists. 

Points aren’t the only thing he gets a decent amount of. He has gotten 212 penalty minutes in total. This season he servesd 42 penalty minutes with Hershey. He also has two penalty minutes with the Caps last season. 

Let’s hope that if he plays he will get more points and fewer penalty minutes. Welcome back Chandler. 

Should We Give up on the Caps?

An opinion piece by Lily Rosenberg

Frustration and the playoffs go together like peanut butter and jelly. Stress, frustration, distrust, and scared describes so many Caps fans during the playoffs. Every year I look on the Caps Facebook groups and I see how many fans don’t believe. We can be down three games to one, or even be down two games to one; it doesn’t even matter.

Look this is so frustrating. We shouldn’t give up when times get tough. Did we do that at the beginning of the season? No, we didn’t, so why should we do it now?   Continue reading “Should We Give up on the Caps?”

The J-Will and Willy Show

There were three bright points in the Washington Capitals game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The first was Justin Williams aka J-Will aka The Stick and his two goals.

And then there was the ever delightful Tom Wilson and his OT game winning goal.

And of course there is always Braden Holtby.

GO C A P S

The Morning After: Caps Hockey Hangover

Thursday night the Caps played their first Stanley Cup Playoff game at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was not always a pretty game, and it went into overtime, which means the early-working ladies of FiCP didn’t get a game recap out in time. So here are some of the highlights of the game, as captured by Mel.

Warm up were great. You could tell the players were jazzed to be there. The crowd was ‘lit’ with glow torches, and there was an air of winning throughout the phone booth. John Carlson was back and paired up with Karl Alzner again.

 

And then the first period happened…

Toronto surprised, and silenced, the crowd with a 2-0 lead. Leafs Mitchell Marner scored his first NHL playoff goal and Jake Gardiner came in behind him to give them the two-goal lead. The second goal was initially waved off but after a review prompted by a Coach Babcock challenge, the goal was reinstated.

Coming back to the second period it wasn’t clear if the Caps were ready for this playoff game or not. Fans were moaning a bit, just as three-time Cup winner Justin Williams scored the first Caps goal of the night. He came back with a second goal right though Leaf’s goalie Craig Anderson’s legs to tie it up. We can’t help but keep watching that one.

Meanwhile – Caps fans were getting a kick out of seeing former Hersey Bear Connor Carick taking on some of his old pals. Lots of love taps, and then a few scrums to show he was no longer one of us. Oh and Happy Birthday Connor, who turned 23 Thursday.

Back to the game and the third period.  Pretty much nothing happened there. The Caps out shot the Leafs. There were no penalties. By the end of the period we were off to overtime. And what an overtime it was!!

You may recall this statement earlier in the week…

We don’t expect to hear Babcock trash talk any more Caps players because it was Tom Wilson who brought it  home with his first (unassisted) goal in the NHL Playoffs, and he is the “first Capitals player to scored his first playoff goal in overtime.” (NHL) We couldn’t be more excited for Wilson!!

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For all the concerns expressed about Auston Matthews (34), he was relatively quite Thursday with one SOG.

So now we wait until Saturday at 7 pm EST to do it again. Caps have morning skae at 10:30 Saturday at Kettler.

More Caps Jerseys Off Their Backs Photos

Photos by Mel Abernethy and Brittney Marcum

Following the end of Sunday nights last regular season game, Caps players continued  long-standing hockey tradition of giving their jersey to select fans. The guys always have such a good time and the fans are thrilled for the personalized sweater and photo. Here are some of our favorite moments of the night.

Kuzy had a little fun with Slapshot while he waited. And he made faces and waved at Jonas too!!

Schmidty was pretty excited to give his jersey away to a young man. But then when isn’t Nate excited???

Everyone was getting ready for the main event but Burkie seemed to be having a wardrobe issue, so Ovi and fellow Swede, Jojo came to the rescue

Karl Alzner was once again in shorts for the presentation. And he took some extra time to sign autographs for fans who stayed after the game, as did some of the other guys, including Jay Beagle.

 

TJ Oshie was a healthy scratch but that didn’t stop him from exuberantly hopping on the ice to present his jersey to one of the Verizon Center staff, Charles.

 

Other scratches, John Carlson and Justin Williams were looking pretty as they presented their jerseys.

Players continued to watch the jumbo screen while they waited for their number to come up.

 

One lucky lady walked away with an Alex Ovechkin jersey, a hug, and a picture!! You could see how happy she was!

Our great goalies Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer got in on the fun too. Each spent a little extra time talking with the winners.

 

Kuzy finally heard his name and with a big smile made his way over to a young man who we are sure what thrilled to meet the adorable Russian.

Of course the best moment of the night was with Garrett Mitchell who the Caps called up from Hershey to play in his first NHL Game. We loved it so much we devoted an entire post to Mitchy’s great night. Click here to see for more.

It was a memorable night for all the players and fans, even the ones who waited on the sideline for autographs.

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