T.J. Oshie Overcomes Injury Adversity to Lead Caps to Big Win Over Penguins

michael banner 2CAPITAL ONE ARENA – On Wednesday night the entire hockey world fixated on Washington D.C. as Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby went head-to-head in the latest chapter of the Capitals vs. Penguins rivalry. This game was epic and the Caps delivered a birthday present I will never forget as T.J. Oshie scored a game-winning goal with 1:14 left to give the Capitals a 2-1 win over their rivals. Speaking of Ovechkin and Crosby, they each had goals of their own but it was Oshie pulling through after two hits that could’ve knocked him out of the game that provided the heroics.  Continue reading “T.J. Oshie Overcomes Injury Adversity to Lead Caps to Big Win Over Penguins”

Caps Road to the Cup, Top 10 Moments from the Playoffs #6: Alex Ovechkin Comes Up Clutch…. In Pittsburgh!

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Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, two names that constantly get compared by hockey fans and media everywhere. After Crosby and the Penguins captured well… you know, Ovechkin looked to the lead the Capitals to the Stanley Cup. This game in particular gave me the belief that this would be a different year. I knew the Caps would defeat the Penguins and get past those demons once and for all. A once house of horrors isn’t the case anymore.  Continue reading “Caps Road to the Cup, Top 10 Moments from the Playoffs #6: Alex Ovechkin Comes Up Clutch…. In Pittsburgh!”

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!!

The History of The Capitals Penguins Rivalry

Tonight we are playing the Pittsburgh Penguins. To most of the NHL the Penguins are infamous for their players and their cup wins. To us they’re infamous for Sidney Crosby and the times we have played against each other in the playoffs. I’m going to dive into the history of the rivalry. This is a different type of article than I usually do. Warning about this article it may hurt a bit.

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins were founded in 1967 and Capitals in 1974. The rivalry however didn’t start until we met for the first time in the playoffs in 1991 in the Patrick Division finals. The Capitals won game 1 but lost the other 4. The Penguins then won their first stanley cup against the Minnesota North Stars in 6 games.

 

The year after the Penguins and the Capitals played in the second series against the penguins. We led the Penguins in a 3-1 however the Penguins won 3 games straight and won the series. The Penguins later went on to win their second Stanley Cup against the Blackhawks in 4 games.

 

In 1994 the 7th seed Capitals played against the 2nd seed Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. We beat the Penguins 4-2. This was first and unfortunately only time we have beaten the Penguins in the playoffs. We however lost the New York Rangers a round later.

 

1n 1995 the Penguins unfortunately took back our pride in the first round of the playoffs. We held a 3-1 lead and then the Penguins scored in overtime to win game 5 and won both game 6 and 7. The Penguins were then taken out by the New Jersey Devils 4-1 the round later.

 

In 1996 we played the Penguins again in the first round. We were leading 2-0 and then the Penguins came back and won the next 4 games. The Penguins later lost in the Conference finals against the Florida Panthers 4-3.

 

We didn’t met the Penguins again til 2000 the 7th seed Penguins played our second seed Capitals in the first round. The beat us in 5 games. The Penguins then were eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 in the second round.

 

ln 2001 we met the Penguins in the first round. We lost to the Penguins in 6 games with an overtime goal. They lost later against the Buffalo Sabres in the conference finals. This was the last time the Penguins had would make it into the playoffs until the 2007 playoffs. We made it into the playoffs after that until the 2004 playoffs.

 

We then got lucky and got the first round pick off 2004 and picked our star Alexander Ovechkin. We were all so excited to see Ovechkin play in the NHL and then a bit of bad news happened, we were locked out. The Stanley Cup wasn’t given to anyone that season nor was the President’s trophy or the Calder trophy. The Penguins got the luck of the draw and picked Sidney Crosby. This made the rivalry grow stronger.
In the 2009 playoffs we faced of against the Penguins for the first time with Ovechkin and Crosby. We won game 1 and then the most legendary playoff game happened. In that game Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby scored a hattrick each. It was an incredible game we beat the Penguins 4-3. We then lost game 3,4 and 5. In game six David Steckel scored an overtime goal taking us back home for game 7. Unfourtunatly we fell to the Penguins 6-2 in game seven and Crosby would win his first Stanley Cup in game 7 against the Detroit Red Wings.
In 2011 we met again in an important setting. Unlike the past games I’ve talked about it wasn’t on the playoff stage it was on New Year’s Day at Heinz Field during the Bridgestone Winter Classic. Former Capital (and current Penguin) Eric Fehr scored 2 goals and we beat them 3-1.

 

We met again in the Playoffs last year in the second round. We took Game one when Oshie scored a hat trick including a goal in overtime. We lost 3 games after that. We then played in game 5. We were down 3-1 and many fans had lost hope. We won the game 5 3-1 and moved elimination off a day. Unfortunately game 6 arose. This was the most intense game of the series. We were down 3-0 until Oshie scored at the end of the second. We then scored another two more goals taking it to overtime. Then this is the painful part (don’t say I didn’t warn you) 6:32 seconds into overtime Nick Bonino lit up the light. The Penguins went on and beat the San Jose Sharks in 6 games.
This is the history now lets move on to the future and win tonight!

Caps-Pens Rivalry Night in Photos

After a sluggish few games where Caps fans were asking “what the heck is going on?” the Caps bounced back against the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The 7-1 game sent a message across the league that the Washington Capitals should still be considered a threat to opponents.

Mel Abernethy caught some great moments from the game that we just have to share with you–because there can never be enough photos of the Caps beating the Pens!

The Caps were in a great mood before the game and the fans were really into it too.

When Caleb Green’s mic went out, the fans stepped it up to sing the national anthem. We’d love to see this every game!

Warming up to score:

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The Pens were there; we have proof:

Matt Murray took a stick to the face from his own man (Evgeni Malkin) and was replaced by Marc Andre-Fleury. Neither goaltender had the power to stop the onslaught of shots on goal (39) from the Caps.

In the end, it was all about the way the Caps played: they played like a team committed to winning. Fans at Verizon were excited beyond belief as the team scored short and then kept on scoring. THESE are the Caps we were looking for.

Our two favorite shots of the night? Pierre McGuire drooling over TJ Oshie and Sidney Crosby being Sidney Crosby…

Capitals Demolish Penguins in 7-1 Win

Photos by Mel Abernethy

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It was like something out of a dream. It was almost effortless. The Capitals beat the Penguins 7-1. After last night’s loss, this almost seemed unreal.

img_6146 The first period exceeded any Capitals fan’s wildest expectations. The boys were skating fast, taking shots, and doing absolutely everything to stay on top of the Pens. The energy was through the roof and the Caps were playing a phenomenal game. Brett Connolly was the first to get a penalty, going to the box for cross-checking. That mattered not to Jay Beagle and TJ Oshie, who quickly managed a breakaway and led to Oshie scoring a gorgeous short-handed goal.

The defense was strong, and of course they wouldn’t allow a goal. The Penguins must’ve been getting frustrated though, because a goal that they thought they’d scored was rescinded when officials noticed that Evgeni Malkin had kicked the puck in. The Caps didn’t hold back at all, and Nicklas Backstrom was the next to score, which led to a little scuffle that sent both Marcus Johansson and Phil Kessel to the box for roughing.

Minutes later, chaos ensued when Malkin picked a fight with Karl Alzner that would img_6149eventually lead to the Penguin hitting Matt Murray in the face with his stick. Murray was sent off, Marc-Andre Fluery was put in, Malkin went to the box with four minutes for roughing, and Alzner got two minutes for roughing as well. With seconds left in the period, Oshie scored again and gave us a 3-0 lead.

The second period was only slightly calmer. The Caps held onto their high energy and continued to play a fast-paced game, as well as continuing to get penalties. Justin Williams was the first to go to the box, with two minutes for hooking. That didn’t slow the boys down, though, since their penalty kill has been phenomenal lately. Dmitry Orlov quickly decided he wanted to get in on the scoring, with a goal about five minutes in. Other than Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who got a penalty for high sticking, it was the Pens that were constantly in the sin bin, having a total of ten penalty minutes in the second period alone. Overall, the game continued to favor the Caps in the second twenty minutes.

The third period simply served to seal the Penguins’ fate, which began with Sestito serving a ten minute game misconduct. Not soon into the period, Letang joined him in the box with a delay of game call. Oh, but that’s not all. Only minutes later, Dumoulin got a delay of game call for himself.img_6152

It was simply effortless for Williams to score a goal. Roughly five minutes passed and Ovechkin joined the scoring list as well. Kessel seemed to think he could manage to save his team, scoring a goal that would be the only one for the Pens. Backstrom answered it, though, scoring his second of the game and solidifying the 7-1 score.

This is Capitals hockey.

This is what we want to see every game.

Caps Not Done Yet, Back to Pittsburgh 

The Capitals brought the second round back to DC and extended the series to a sixth game with a great win! 
Head coach Barry Trotz shuffled up the forward lines: Evgeny Kuznetsov moved up to the first line with Alex Ovechkin and T.J.Oshie (a.k.a TKO line); Andre Burakovsky, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson formed the All-Swede second line; and Justin Williams started on the third line with Jason Chimera and Mike Richards.
And it worked! 
The first period was powerful as the Capitals and the Penguins came out flying. Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals had come to show they are not done yet. Ovechkin only needed eight seconds on the Capitals’ first power play and the first shot to score the first goal of the night. When scoring first, the Capitals are 4-1. 
Nicklas Backstrom took an interference penalty open in the door for Chris Kunitz to score on the rebound on the following Penguins power play. It was not just Ovechkin who got scoring chances, the rest of the guys in red were peppering Matt Murray with shots. The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period.
The Capitals started the second firing- literally Ovechkin almost had his second of the night in the opening seconds of the period. Ian Cole went to the box and T.J. Oshie hit the crossbar but he collected the rebound of an Ovechkin shot and gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead. 
About halfway through the period, Justin Williams took advantage of a Penguins mistake and he put one right in Murray’s five-hole, 3-1 Caps. The“Holtbeast” made some incredible super human saves late in the second to keep the 3-1 lead. 
The Caps maintained their two-goal lead throughout the third period despite the Pens pulling goaltender Matt Murray with over three minutes left in the period. The Caps held the Penguins from even getting a shot on goal and secured the win to force a game 6 back in Pittsburgh. 
Game 7, should the Caps have success in Pittsburgh will be in DC on Thursday. Caps should hold practice Monday at Kettler. We’ll keep you posted. 
Three Stars of the night: Holtby, Ovi, and Oshie. Go Caps!

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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Caps Get Chippy and Lose it in Pittsburgh

The Washington Capitals started their three-game road trip with a visit to Consol Energy Center to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Caps could have clinched the top-seed in the Metropolitan division and the Eastern Conference with any type of win over the Penguins.

First Period: Good Start, Bad Finish.

This game was incredibly fast from opening puck drop. No slow start for the Capitals as they were constantly shooting the puck at Penguins goaltender Marc Andre Fleury.That blistering start for the Caps would only last for the first few minutes as the Bryan Rust would open the scoring for the Penguins. Trevor Daley added another shortly after and the Caps were down by two at the end of the first period. 

GOALS: Bryan Rust scored his fourth of the season (assists: Tom Kuhnhackl and Ian Cole); Trevor Daley scored his sixth of the season (assists: Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist)

PENALTIES: Daniel Winnik (interference); T.J. Oshie (tripping)

SCORE: Caps trail 2-0.

Second Period: A Mess

1:18 into the second, Jason Chimera scored using his head (literally!) to put the Capitals on the board. The Caps only had six shots on goal during this period, the fact that they spent most of the period shorthanded probably had something to do with that. This period proved that the bad blood and rivalry between the Capitals and Penguins is alive and well. Andre Burakovsky had a beautiful breakaway and fired one past Fleury to the tie the game for the Capitals. Unfortunately, the Penguins would score the eventual game winner less than a minute later.

GOALS: Jason Chimera scored his 18th of the season (assists: Justin Williams and Dmitry Orlov); Andre Burakovsky scored his 16th of the season (assist: Jay Beagle); Tom Kuhnhackl scored his third of the season (assists: Matt Cullen and Trevor Daley) 

 PENALTIES: Ian Cole (holding the stick); Mike Weber (roughing double minor); Bryan Rust (roughing); T. J. Oshie (roughing); Karl Alzner (roughing); Patric Hornqvist (slashing); Patric Hornqvist (roughing); Justin Williams (hi-sticking)

SCORE: Caps trail 3-2

Third Period: Well That’s Not Good…

The Capitals had a 30+ goal differential in the third period (meaning they outscore their opponent by a lot in the last 20 minutes of play). Unfortunately, those 3rd period Caps were not on the ice in Pittsburgh. Braden Holtby had a night to forget and Philipp Grubauer came in relief after the Pens’ fifth goal. The Penguins would score once more on the three-minute power play (thanks to a bad hit by Mike Weber).

GOALS: Matt Cullen scored his 12th of the season (assist: None); Chris Kunitz scored his 16th of the season (assists: Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang); Justin Schultz scored his fourth of the season (assist: None)

PENALTIES: Mike Weber (boarding); Mike Weber (game misconduct); Tom Kuhnhackl (roughing); Tom Kuhnhackl (game misconduct); Carl Hagelin (interference); Daniel Winnik (elbowing); Daniel Winnik (game misconduct)

SCORE: Caps lose 6-2

So the Capitals did not clinch the top spot in the Metro or the East. They still have a 19-point lead over the now-second place Penguins in the division.

What’s Next?

PRACTICE: The Caps have Monday off and are scheduled to have a morning skate at 11:30am on Tuesday at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

GAME: 7:30pm game against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre.

 

Hockey and the Concussion Protocol

Once again the debate about the concussion protocol in hockey is up for discussion. Following a tussle between Montreal Canadiens defenseman Nathan Beaulie and Columbus Blue Jackets left winger and captain Nick Foligno on December 1, 2015, many questioned whether Beaulie, who suffered a glaring blow to the jaw, should have been sent to the box or off for medical evaluation. On the heels of the Brandon Dubinsky (Blue Jackets) suspension brought on by a back-side cross-check to Penguins Captain Sidney Crosby, and in preparation of the NHL Board of Governors meeting next week, it might be a good time to talk about concussions and the impact they have on players. This discussion normally begins with a reference to Crosby and his concussion history.

Let’s journey back to New Year’s Day 2011 in Pittsburgh. The air was cold as thousands of hockey fans gathered at Heinz field; a stadium usually known for its other tenants, The Pittsburgh Steelers. Today the football field was transformed into an NHL regulation size rink. Quite possibly the biggest events for hockey fans, with the exception of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Winter Classic is played once a year on New Year’s Day. In 2011 the game was between rival teams, the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, arguably two of the best players in the NHL, were on opposite sides this night so it was inevitable that the game would be competitive. But no one could have imagined what would happen. Continue reading “Hockey and the Concussion Protocol”