Poor Play from Oshie and One Reason Why

Editorial by Chris Cleveland

TJ Oshie has not been playing all that well and I think I know what’s up with him. Ever since coming back from his concussion he just hasn’t been right. I was at the game where he got concussed and you could tell it was bad right away. He wasn’t even really moving and for he was down for a long time. Continue reading “Poor Play from Oshie and One Reason Why”

Inside The Caps Opponent : Bruin’s Jake Debrusk

As the Bruins head into DC Thursday,  the Caps take on a Bruins club that hasn’t beaten them since March of 2014. They will be facing an energized team that has won five straight games and 14 of the last 18 (one loss was vs Capitals). Boston has been reaping the benefits of newcomers Charlie McAvoy and 2015 1st round pick Jake Debrusk.

Although Debrusk may not be in the Calder race alongside blue-chip defenceman and teammate McAvoy, he is proving to be a very useful wrench in the B’s toolbox. Even though Jake does not have the physical presence his father Louie who played in EDM, TB, PHO, and CHI, his competitiveness and hard work below the hash marks is a commodity much sought after in today’s NHL. The Edmonton, Alberta native is an effective two-way player who can burn you on the transition and makes great plays in the high traffic areas

The 6′, 183 pound winger, Dubrusk, made quite an impression in his first game as he scored and registered an assist for two points in his debut, with father Louie and family in the stands.  TV cameras showing hulking tough guy Louie with tears in his eyes is one of the NHL’s better moments of the season thus far. With eight goals and 11 Assists in 31 games, he’s been involved in some big goals for the Bruins, including three GWG’s. Though head coach Bruce Cassidy had the young player in the press box on a couple of occasions,  he is not in any doghouse. Think more teaching and watching from a different perspective. I believe more NHL coaches should do that with young players when needed.

Let’s hope the Capitals can contain his energy and look to extend their dominance over the Bruins again.

Go Caps Go

Capitals Set to Visit Beantown to play Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins

The Washington Capitals travel to Boston, Massachusetts to play the Boston Bruins after a towering 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Hopefuls, like Madison Bowey and Jakub Vrana are playing at level everyone has imagined and are producing points. Momentum and confidence are in the boys’ favor, but the Bruins will aim to shut them down.

David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are all imminent threats to the Caps’ defense. Pastrnak knows how to shoot the puck and can put up dirty goals, as well as make plays happen. Last season, he accumulated 70 points in 75 games (34 goals, 36 assists). That earned him a new contract with Boston and has taken the role as a top six forward. Bergeron has always been a presence for the Bruins. He has established an elite, two-way forward reputation throughout the league for years. He has won the Selke Trophy four times (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017) and helped Boston bring home the Stanley Cup in 2011.

There is no doubt in my mind that once Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara leaves the team or retires, Bergeron will become the new captain and wear the ‘C’. Personally, he’s always been one of my idols growing up as a young center. Marchand is infamous for stirring up trouble against his team’s opponents. Though he has a pestering style of play about him, he can sure put up points in the meanwhile. He has 23 point in 19 games so far this season, so the Caps defense needs to make sure they play strong and shut his game down.

For tomorrow, the Caps need to focus on getting good scoring chances, playing solid defensively, and getting traffic in front of Boston’s netminder Tukka Rask. Rask is known to get a hot head when scored on during games, so a few early goals will surely affect his game. Whether Boston starts him or their backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, the Capitals just need to keep shooting and winning those battles.

The Caps play the Bruins tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. eastern time and I will be covering the game via Twitter. Follow me @Jurky88 and @incoldplacesdc for important updates and play-by-plays, go Caps go!

Offense Abounds as Caps Beat Bruins

On the first day of February, the Boston Bruins came to town and we had a Wednesday Night Rivalry. It was also Chinese Heritage Night at the Verizon Center, as they welcomed a Beijing youth hockey team and ushered in the Chinese New Year. In their second game back from the All-Star break, the Capitals and the Bruins both had their All Star netminders starting the game; Braden Holtby was backing the Caps and Tuukka Rask started for Boston. No Justin Williams or Taylor Chorney for the Caps. Luckily for us, the game was on NBC, which we all know is our favorite way to view our beloved Caps… *Insert eye roll here*

This game started out hard and fast. You can see the storied history that causes these teams to play each other with such fervor. Three minutes into the game, TJ Oshie got the Caps on the board first, going 5-hole on Rask. Nicklas Backstrom got the primary assist from a beautiful breakaway pass. The Bruins had a little defensive mishap that allowed Oshie to go one-on-one with Rask and give the Caps the lead. Backstrom also gave the Caps their second goal, putting a Matt Niskanen rebound in past Rask. The Caps were called for the games first penalty when Brett Connolly took out Riley Nash. Brad Marchand got the Bruins on the scoreboard on the ensuing power play. The Caps had a pretty good first period. They headed to the locker room with a 2-1 lead.

The Caps seemed a bit sleepy and slow this period. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for a weak penalty when his stick hit the back of David Krejci’s leg. Marchand got another goal from a great passing play from Ryan Spooner. The power play goal was Marchand’s second of the game and leveled the playing field. Marchand was also called for Boston’s first penalty, giving the Caps their first power play of the game. Unfortunately, the Caps did not convert and the game stayed tied at two. Brandon Carlo was called for holding against Marcus Johansson and the Caps went to their second power play of the night. Backstrom almost bent the twine but caught the top of Rask’s glove. Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps back the lead with a snipe from his office. It was goal #550 for Ovi, putting him in front of Wayne Gretzky and tying Joe Sakic for all-time NHL power play goals. Caps end the second up on the Bruins, 3-2.

The Caps were on the power play early in the third when Carlo was called for high-sticking John Carlson. Patrice Bergeron took a direct shot to the inside of his right knee from Niskanen and was in some immense pain leaving the ice. He went directly to the Bruins locker room. Hopefully he is ok and can return to the game. The Caps did not score on the power play, but did a few seconds after it expired. Connolly had some pretty sweet moves against his former club as he faked a shot to fool Rask and walked right in and around the tendy to put the puck in the net. Kuznetsov got the primary apple. During a scramble in front of Holtby, Niskanen was called for hooking and the Caps were back on the PK. The Bruins could not put the biscuit in the basket and the Caps were still up 4-2. Marchand almost got a hattrick, and would have had it had the puck been flat on his stick. I gotta admit, I may hate the guy, but Brad Marchand is a heck of a hockey player! With 4:07 left in the game, Tom Wilson made a great save at the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone, passed to Kuzy, who put the puck in the net. Wilson had the primary assist on the goal, and also ended up in the net himself. The Bruins got a loose puck in past Holtby as it trickled from Holtby’s pads. With 1:22 left in the game, the Bruins pulled Rask for the extra skater. However, it was to no avail. The Caps won, 5-3.

This was definitely a thriller despite the Caps winning 5-3. When Boston comes to town, you always see the fire these two teams have and can play with. The Caps had a subpar second period, which allowed Boston to inch closer. The Bruins are not a team you want to give too many chances to. They have too many guys who can score and are good at it! 

The Caps are now 34-11-6, and lead the league in points with 74. Their next game is Saturday, February 4th at 1pm in Montreal against the Canadiens. This is an early game, so don’t forget to tune in! See ya then, Caps faithful!

Caps Dig Themselves Out for OT Win Over Bruins

We knew this was going to be a goalie match with the likes of Tuuka Rask in one end for the Bruins and Braden Holtby at the other end for the Caps. Oh and T.J. Oshie returned to the line-up tonight, although he took a puck to the shin and was seen limping off at the end of the first period. He stayed in but fans were a little worried.  The Caps determined early n the first period that they were going to control the ice and the scoring. Then they took a break during the second. They did even worse in the third allowing the Bruins to tie it up. But they pulled it out in OT which is all that matters right???

By the end of the game the Caps would be down a defenseman and showing some real vulnerabilities in defense, shooting, and scoring. Yes, we are concerned now.

HOLY CRAP WILLIAMS!  Sorry  but that was what everyone was saying (or something like that) when Justin “Stick” Williams took advantage of some Russian play from Ovechkin and Kuznetsov to tip in the puck 23 seconds YES 23 SECONDS into the first period. And with 12.02 left in the period, WILLIAMS sneaks once past Rask making it 2-0 Williams Caps! This Ovi Kuzy Stick thing is working pretty good so far. Lars Eller was called for a hooking penalty but while in the box Patrice Bergeron SLAMS Matt Niskanen into the boards, snapping his neck back. Nisky went off the ice for evaluation and BadBoy Bergeron gets a boarding penalty. Lets hope this is looked at more carefully tomorrow. Period ends with the Caps leading in shots on goal (SOG) 13-10 and 2-0 in goals.

On a side note – there was lots of justified griping outside of Verizon as fans struggled to get in the building with many missing that first goal. This is NOT a good thing.

Second period started pretty slow…three SOG between the two teams until Daniel Winnik, with a little help from Jay Beagle, makes it 3-0. Caps go on another power play with about 13 minutes left in the period,but no luck. Boston goes to the power play next but is unable to get one past Holtby. With just over three minutes left, Dominic Moore gets a sneaky goal off the face-off. And two and a half minutes later they light the lamp  again at the hands of David Pastrnak; 3-2 Caps. This would end the 3rd period scoring with the Caps only getting off two SOG compared to the 11 from the Bruins.

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Third period we heard that Nisky would be out for the remainder of the game and be further evaluated on Thursday.  With that the Caps apparently quit playing. Bruins kept the second period momentum going. Another scrum after Tom hit Blidh and ended up with an interference penalty on Wilson and a roughing call for Jay Beagle matching with Dominic Moore of the Bruins.  Colin Miller would tie it up on the PP.

Finally with 7:34 Caps get a SOG–hadn’t done that since the second period. With six minutes left Rask sends the puck out and over the glass for a delay of game penalty. Oh but wait, the Bruins challenged the call because basically the Caps were credited a SOG and you can’t have both, so they withdrew the penalty.  And down in front of Holtby the teams went into fight mode again. They were pretty good with that this period! Karl Alzner would take a shot off his leg and headed down the tunnel but whew, he returned.  And we go to OT as the Caps end the period with a sad four SOG. That’s a total of 34 for the Bruins and 19 for the Caps in regulation. Unimpressive.

OT goes three on three for five minutes. Verizon stayed loud sending energy down to the Caps. And with a smooth transition down the ice Backstrom did what he said fans have been yelling at him: he shot and scored ending the game with two points for the Caps.

Perfect ending for an awful game. 4-3 Caps.

 

 

 

Bruins Heading to Caps Territory

The Boston Bruins media are buzzing about David Pastmark The 20 year-old winger has 15 goals and 6 assists as of Tuesday afternoon. They talk about his speed, his possession prowess, and the fight to win. The other most positive thing they have going for them is Tukka Rask and a strong defense.

CBS Boston writes about some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Bruins, but mostly the surprise they are this year.

Sports Chat reports: “Bruins are 1-5 in the last 6 meetings in Washington while the under is 3-1-1 in the last 5 meetings in Washington.”

Boston has won its last three games and will be looking to extend their lead. boston.com Rumor is Zdeno Chara could return to the lineup for Wednesday.

So where does that leave the Capitals? Waiting to see if T.J. Oshie is ready for starters. Local outlet think he is in for the game. CSN  He certainly looked good at practice today.

Isabelle Khushudyan , Washington Post, took at shot at the possible lines for Wednesday, but chances are they could change following morning skate. Of course Jakub Vranna is still here, just in case…

Check back tomorrow and we’ll update as we get closer.

 

Washington Capitals Road Trip Battles

The Washington Capitals started their longest road trip (four games in nine days) of the season in Boston. We had our concerns about the teams they would meet–especially the top three in the Pacific Division. Boston was not a bad game. Coach Trotz said he was pleased with the team’s ability to battle through adversity and take the win. The Caps recorded 100 points on the trip and according to the Washington Capitals “This season marks the fastest the Capitals have reached 100 points in franchise history (65 GP) and Washington became the 10th team in NHL history to reach the 100-point plateau in 65 games or less” They headed for the west coast on a high.

And then the real battle began. The Ducks proved to be tough opponents. The Caps barely walked away with the win. The LA Kings highlighted the chinks in the Capitals defensive armor and their “comeback” team reputation was tarnished. It was even worse when they played the San Jose Sharks resulting in a 5-2 loss. It is apparent that the coaching staff needs to consider some adjustments it they hope to lead the team back to a final run, which might include one of these teams.

Is it time to panic? It seems that many have been waiting for the signal to start the wringing of hands. We think not. This has been a learning week. It comes at a good time when the Capitals are in a good position to secure their spot in the playoff berth. This gives them some latitude to improve The Caps are now 49-14-5 with 103 points. They end their road trip 2-2.  In addition, the Capitals’ 103 points already mark the fifth-most points in franchise history. We aren’t worried yet, but we think there is room for improvement. Some things to consider:

  • How can they improve the first period and gain more control over the game.
  • Do they need to bring back some of the fourth-line players to  stir things up?  Michael Latta and Stanislav Galiev were scratches the whole series,
  • They are still giving their opponents to many opportunities to score with all the penalties.
  • Alex Ovechkin isn’t scoring right now. He has had three assists in the last five games. We can’t help but ask what distracted him during this road trip?
  • TJ Oshie is back to scoring and doing what he does best in the shootout. He has three goals in the last five–all power-play goals.
  • Andre Burakovsky showed real promise. He had a goal and two assists. Evgeny Kuznetsov and he are creating openings to score. Kuzy had three assists in four games.

 

Bottom line: NO it is NOT time to panic. It is time to learn, correct, and succeed.

Caps Hit 100 points with a  2-1 over Boston

Even though the Caps gave up the first goal in the first period, this was an improved first period. During the second period  the Capitals penalty kill would be successful, thanks to goaltender Philipp Grubauer and his iron friend, defenseman Karl Alzner, who tied the game. The score was tied when the final buzzer sounded, forcing the game into overtime with the Caps and Bruins tied 3-on-3. The OT was active and eventful. Matt Niskanen, set up by Andre Burakovsky, blasted one past Tuukka Rask and the Capitals finally collect both points in Beantown. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer had a great night in net for the Capitals. at this point in the season, the Caps still have not lost two consecutive games in regulation.

Caps over Ducks

Monday night in Anaheim, the first of three California games this week, the Caps discovered just how difficult this road trip could be.  Braden Holtby squared off against John Gibson between the pipes. The Caps would again trail in the first period with a  1-0 at the end of 20 minutes. The Capitals started the second significantly better than the firstbut not by much. After 40 minutes, Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin did not have a shot on goal yet and the second ended with no goals. Thankfully in the third, Andre Burakovksy tied the game with a beautiful pass by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Mike Richards almost scored the game-winner with less than a minute left in regulation; however, it was OT time. 

The Russian connection almost ended the game. Matt Niskanen almost scored another game winner. There were too many Ducks with 1:40 left in the extra session but 15 seconds later T.J. Oshie was called for closing his hand on the puck. Braden Holtby made some great saves on the Ducks. No goals were scored in the extra session so the game needed the shootout to decide a winner. T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom secured the win for the Capitals in the shootout.

LA Kings Crowned Pacific Leaders

There was some emotion before the game as Justin  Williams and Mike Richards entered the Staples Center to old friends and fans, who honored both Stanley Cup winners with standing ovations.  Holtby got the start again for the Caps and Jonathan Quick got the start for the Kings. Yet again, the Caps were in the hole early by allowing the opposing team to score first. They also seem now to enjoy their trips to the penalty box. The Caps picked up the pace early in the second period; however, LA had some very impressive and extensive offensive zone time which zapped the energy out of the Caps. They managed to add a goal to tie the game late in the third and force an overtime.

After knocking Drew Doughty down with his power shot, Ovi almost ends it about 40 seconds into OT but is stopped by Quick who was deep in his crease. LA tried the same but was denied by Holtby. There was a lot of very fast back and forth, up and down the ice before Jeff Carter went top shelf on a sprawling Holtby to give the Kings the victory. The Caps erased a three goal deficit to force overtime, and then gain a point. With this win, the Kings reclaimed the Pacific Division lead.

Losing Their Way in San Jose 

Washington Capital sand San Jose Sharks met for the Caps last game of their west coast trip. . Philip Grubauer got the start in net for the good guys while Martin Jones was in for the Sharks. Even though the Sharks got on the board first, the Caps had nine shots on goal to the 11 by San Jose. Jay Beagle orchestrated an almost goal that led to some scrapping after the whistle.Twenty seconds into the second, the Sharks were called for another penalty, giving the Caps a 5 on 3 power play, which the Caps took advantage of. However, the Sharks had a 2 on 0 breakaway and scored a shorthanded goal, giving them back the lead.  Caps and Sharks tied, 2-2  The third period looked like a bad version of the  “comeback Caps” we are unfortunately used to seeing lately. Bad passing, turnovers and sloppy play gave way to two San Jose goals before the period was three minutes old. The Caps spent way too much time in their own zone. But alas, our boys could not pull off the victory. Hard to do with only 4 shots on goal all period.

 

 

Defensive Scoring and Penalty Killing Help in Capitals Win Over Bruins

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The Washington Capitals started their longest road trip (four games in nine days) of the season tonight in Boston against the Bruins. Nate Schmidt returned to the lineup after a two-absence. Washington previously defeated the Bruins in five consecutive games.

First Period: Improvements

The Capitals have had problems with their first periods the past few games. Bruin Patrice Bergeron scored 7:11 into the game to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead. The Bruins have the most first period goals in the league and the Capitals have allowed the first goal in 10 of their last 12 games.  The fourth line of Winnik-Beagle-Richards continued to play well and so did the second line. Tom Wilson and Adam McQuaid dropped the gloves in the final minutes of the period, sending them both off with five-minute penalties. Even though the Caps gave up the first goal, this was an improved first period.

GOALS: Patrice Bergeron scored his 26th of the season (assists: Brad Marchand and Lee Stempniak)

PENALTIES: Tom Wilson (fighting); Adam McQuaid (fighting).

SCORE: Caps trail 1-0.

Second Period: Penalty Kill Specialists

The Capitals got the first power play of the game but could not convert. Bruin Torey Krug believed he scored but Caps head coach Barry Trotz was successful in his offside challenge. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin hit Kevan Miller into the boards and was  assessed a five-minute major and Brad Marchand collected a two-minute roughing penalty for going after Ovi. There would be a three-minute Bruins power play but it would become 1:50 of a 5-on-3 after Tom Wilson joined Ovechkin in the box. The Capitals penalty kill would be successful, thanks to goaltender Philipp Grubauer and his iron friend, defenseman Karl Alzner, who tied the game at the 13:08 mark.

GOALS: Karl Alzner scored his fourth of the season (assists: Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin)

PENALTIES: David Pastrnak (boarding); Alex Ovechkin (5 minute major-boarding); Brad Marchand (roughing); Tom Wilson (interference); Too many men served by Marcus Johansson.

SCORE: Tied 1-1

Third Period: Rough and Tough

The “Big Bad Bruins” and the Capitals traded hits and some not-so-nice words through out the period. Dmitry Orlov laid a big legal hit on a Bruin in the front of the Capitals bench. The Capitals penalty kill continued to be successful and the power play actually got some chances as well. T.J. Oshie had a great shorthanded chance during a penalty kill. Zheno Chara hit Ovechkin in the face with his stick late in the period. Then Brooks Orpik got his face cut after getting hit on the boards. The score was tied when the buzzer sounded, forcing the game into overtime.

GOALS: None

PENALTIES: Jay Beagle (tripping); John-Michael Liles (hooking); Zdeno Chara (roughing); T.J. Oshie (interference)

SCORE: Tied 1-1

Overtime: Nis-cannon GWG again!

The Capitals and Bruins head to 3-on-3 overtime. The OT was active and eventful. Matt Niskanen, set up by Andre Burakovsky, blasted one past Tuukka Rask and the Capitals collect both points in Beantown.

GOALS: Matt Niskanen scored his fifth of the season (assists: Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson)

FINAL SCORE: Caps win 2-1.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer had a great night in net for the Capitals. The Caps still have not lost two consecutive games in regulation. Also, the Caps are the first team to 100 points this season. With this, the team heads to Southern California to challenge Western Conference teams, one which they might face in the final run for the Cup.

What’s Next?

Caps are off Sunday as they soak in the sun before facing the first place Anaheim Ducks.

Practice: Morning skate on Monday, 11:30 a.m. PST, at the Honda Center.

Game: Monday night at 10pm EST at Honda Center against the Anaheim Ducks.

Caps Start Road Trip in Boston

GAME TIME IS 7 pm ET on CSN

Washington Capitals: 47-13-4

Boston Bruins: 36-23-6

The Washington Capitals are in Boston Saturday for the first game on a four-game road trip. Coach Trotz said he is looking forward to the road trip; however, he had this to say about Boston: ” Boston is playing very very well right now; who knows what happens. They might be a first round opponent. Still a lot of hockey to be played…they’re gonna come out ready to go tomorrow night”

 Playing against the NY Rangers on Friday, the Caps found themselves down a goal from which they could never recover. Many of their recent games have come down to the wire. The Bruins sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and just two points behind the Florida Panthers. For them, every point is needed to keep them in the run for the playoffs.

The Caps Forward Momentum

The Washington Capitals keep moving forward, even with the recent loss. They still lead the league in power plays (24.1 percent) and goals per game (2.65 average). The Caps did not hold morning skate today but this is what we can expect.

  • Fourth Line Power: the newly configured fourth line with Beagle, Richards, and Winnik, to quote the Coach, is “outstanding.” Look for them to bring more scoring chances to the game.
  • The Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom are among the league’s best assist masters, setting up goals.
  • Nate Schmidt could be back in the line-up tonight. He participated in practice and pre-skate on Friday but did not play. He would pair up with Taylor Chorney. Final decision likely after warmups.
  • Philipp Grubauer is expected in the net tonight playing against the Bruins for the first time in his career, according to Mike Vogel. He has a 1.68 GAA and a /943 save percentage.

Boston Looking For Two

Boston narrowly defeated the Calgary Flames on March 1st when Patrice Bergeron scored the tie-breaking power-play goal with minutes to spare. Players today talked about coming our strong and hoping to create offense and find success scoring.

  • Patrice Bergeron notched his 24th goal against the Flames, the third goal in his last five games. He also has three assists during that time making him one of the key players for the Caps to tie up.
  • Ryan Spooner has recorded nearly a point every game for the last five, missing a point only against Tampa Bay. He has 32 assists this season and is one for creating scoring changes.
  • Goalie Tukka Rask is always fun to watch, expect when he is playing against the Capitals. He has 26 wins in 50 games and a GAA of 2.52.

Coming Up

Daniel Winnik is two points away from 200 NHL points.

The players will be off on Sunday as they travel to southern California and settle in before playing the Ducks on Monday.

 

 

 

Let’s Talk About MoJo

Marcus Johansson is a key member of this 2015-2016 Caps team. Let’s get that out of the way right now. We at FiCP have been rooting for Marcus even when some have thrown him under the bus. Those saying he needs to be traded clearly haven’t looked at his stats as of late. Last night against the Bruins, Johansson knocked in the game winning goal (GWG) bringing his goal total for the season into double digits (10), the 7th Cap to do so this season. His number of GWG’s on the season now ranks sixth in the league and is second to only Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks.
Marcus has been such a flexible player for the Caps, most recently moving in to play center in the absence of Center Jay Beagle. In several interviews he was asked about the face-offs he now has to take (normally Jay Beagle’s job) and said that it is something you have to practice. He has put his all into being the best player possible as the Caps struggle with missing players.

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The Numbers:
Marcus has 10 goals on the season, three of which have come in the last five games. Two out of those three goals were GWGs. His number of assists sits at 15 making his point total 25. Marcus has a current shot percentage of 13.5 with a total of 74 shots so far this season.
We will keep you updated on new stats for #90 as the season goes on.

Written By and Photos By: Brittney Marcum