Caps Fall to Stars in Overtime to Begin Homestand

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michael banner 2CAPITAL ONE ARENA – The Washington Capitals returned home on Saturday night to take on the Dallas Stars. After dropping a heartbreaker in Montreal where they allowed two late goals (not including the empty net), the Caps were hoping some home cooking and a normal hockey schedule would do the trick. They did get a point out of this one but they still fell in overtime 4-3 on a goal by Jason Dickinson. Something about the Stars having the Caps number, which defies logic. Since the 1996-97 season, the Stars are 23-2-6 against the Caps. Imagine how much torture that would be if that was the Cowboys record against the Redskins. At least the Skins won that game a few weeks ago! Okay back to hockey. Continue reading “Caps Fall to Stars in Overtime to Begin Homestand”

Dmitry Orlov, Capitals Defense for the Future

Dmitry Orlov now has six seasons with the Washington Capitals. The last three have been his most solid seasons in the NHL, going with the Caps to the playoffs all three seasons. Orlov, who was drafted by the Capitals in 2009 played his first game in the NHL 21 November 2011 and scored his first NHL goal  January 15, 2012, wearing his original number 81 jersey.    Orlov changed to the number 9 prior to the 2014 season, the number he wore in Russia on the KHL’s  Metallurg Novokuznetsk team.

Continue reading “Dmitry Orlov, Capitals Defense for the Future”

No Shortage of Good Goalies Looking for Contracts, Including Caps Grubauer

The writing is on the wall – it is highly likely that Philipp Grubauer will not return to the Washington Capitals as a back-up goalie.  Brian MacLellan said as much on Wednesday during the media interviews. Grubi wants, and deserves, a starting spot.

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So what are the likely options being touted about? How about replacing Jaroslav Halak of the Islanders. Halak could be on the move which means this might be the best option available for Grubauer. The Isles seem dissatisfied with their backup goalies so we think they won’t be moving them into the starting spot anytime soon.  Continue reading “No Shortage of Good Goalies Looking for Contracts, Including Caps Grubauer”

Inside The Caps Opponent: John Klingberg

With the Capitals in “Big D” tonight they’ll be facing a squad that has one of the more underrated players in the NHL. John Klingberg, of the Dallas Stars, who tied for the defenceman league lead with Tyson Barrie, has 27 points and continues to log heavy minutes (over 23 mns/gm) for the Stars who find themselves in the last wildcard spot in the West. Continue reading “Inside The Caps Opponent: John Klingberg”

Caps Out Shined by Stars

On March 6th, the Dallas Stars came to town and took on our beloved Washington Capitals. The Caps do not have the greatest record against the Stars. However, they did take the first meeting between these two great teams. The Stars are definitely tough to beat and for good reason. Dallas has a lethal combination of speed and scoring. They have some great scorers with the likes of Tyler Seguin and Patrick Sharp. They are also backed by great goalies. Will the Caps keep their momentum going and get their 16th straight win at home? *Fingers crossed*

The Caps must have had a case of the Monday’s because this game was definitely not their best. Dallas scored less than two minutes in. Despite having an amazing save moments before, the Caps couldn’t keep Dallas off the board. Devin Shore was credited with the Stars first goal. The play was reviewed when Barry Trotz challenged the goal due to goaltender interference. However, the refs on the ice and in the Toronto booth thought that Braden Holtby could’ve made the stop even with a Dallas player on top of him. The 20,000 refs in the Verizon Center stands begged to differ. Dallas never let up and made the Caps pay for their lack of offense and sloppy defense. Dallas leads, 1-0.

The second period was not much better than the first. Dallas scored two more goals; one from Radek Faksa and one from Jason Spezza. After the third goal, Trotz pulled Holtby and replaced him with Phillip Grubauer. Grubi wanted to let Dallas know he was not going to be pushed around and instead drew a penalty and then threw Cody Eakin to the ice with his catching glove. The Caps had a few great chances but could not get anything past Kari Lehtonen. That is until Nicklas Backstrom parked in front of the goal and deflected a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk past the Stars net minder. And on Swedish Heritage Night too—how fitting. Caps still down, 1-3.

Caps seemed to be finally playing with some fire. They were on the power play very early in the third. Despite some great attempts, the Caps could not convert on the PP. They were close to scoring, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. After the PP, Caps had 14 shots on goal during their power plays. Dallas had 18 SOG for the game. TJ Oshie decided he wanted to get on the score sheet, so he bent the twine and got the Caps to within one. With 1:55 left in the game, Trotz pulled Grubi for the extra skater. Patrick Sharp would be the one to score though. He sealed the victory for Dallas with an ENG practically from his own goal. Caps lose to Dallas, 4-2. Caps home victory streak ends at 15. Womp womp.

I don’t know what it is about Dallas that the Caps just cannot overcome. They have great speed and great goal scorers. So do the Caps. Why can the Caps NOT beat Dallas? Braden Holtby still has yet to beat the Stars. Dallas is the ONLY team in the NHL Holts does not have a W against. WHAT IS IT ABOUT DALLAS?! The Caps are 44-14-7, with 95 points. Their next game is Thursday, March 9th. That begins the dreaded West Coast road trip. The game starts at 10:30 on the East Coast. Good luck to all fans that can stay awake and actually watch that! Keep the coffee close by! Hopefully the Caps can get back into their groove and win a few games out there.

LET’S GO CAPS!!

Caps Practice: Oh Those Faces!

Some people go to practice/morning skate for the hockey. Some bloggers cover practice to get a glimpse of lines for the upcoming game.

We go to practice to capture the faces of the players and today they were in rare form!!

The strange faces started with Andre Burakovsky who was skating this morning before the rest of the team took to the ice. He seems to be healing nicely. He may go west with the team and start participating more in team skating. We sure hope so.

We may have been a bit more focused on Nate Schmidt since he complimented us on our photos last week:

Our Russian players never disappoint us. Kuzy and Dima tied for best expressions!

The rest of the gang was having a good Monday.

Oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Daniel Winnik!! 

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Kuzy had a moment with Jakub Varana, who we are all watching to see how long the Caps keep him up here.

All stretched out and ready for a 16th home win tonight. Maybe even Ovi will score!!

There will be a goalie in the net tonight – Braden Holtby most likely. He apparently has yet to have a win against the Dallas Stars, according to Washington Post bear reporter Jesse Dougherty.

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And it looks like Schmidt, Chorney, and Carey will be the healthy scratches tonight.

At the End of the Road, Caps beat the Stars and Break a Taboo Since 2008

In three games on the road, the Caps have collected five of six points. Differently compared to that nine-win streak, two of these three games were really tough. The Caps were able to remain the only team in the league with single digit in losses (nine).

The first game on the road, a wild one against it’s greatest rival, the Penguins, the Caps would manage to tie the game in Pennsylvania, but lost in overtime by 8-7. Anyway, the Caps got a point and it was important to continue a point streak, with 13 games. In all these three games, the Capitals couldn’t count on an important piece: defenseman John Carlson.

The second game was easier, beating the Blues, T.J. Oshie’s former team, by 7-3. Seven different Caps scored and all the 12 forwards got a least one point. And also, the team scored seven goals for the second straight game. It was the first time since Feb. 11-13, 1993 the Capitals scored at least seven goals in back-to-back games. Then it was a 10-6 win over the same Blues and a 10-3 win over the Kings.

Against the Stars, the Caps had the pressure to break a big curse (or as we say in Brazil “break a taboo”): the last time they defeated the Stars was in Oct. 28, 2008. Although it was the league leader against a 27th place team, but it was hard for the Caps to garner the victory in The Lone Star State. Andre Burakovsky wrote his name in franchise history, as the player with most scored-opener in consecutive games with four goals. The Caps saw the Stars turn the score in their favor, 3-1, but they were able to tie it with two PPGs, by Ovi and Oshie. Jay Beagle needed 19 seconds in overtime to get the OTGWG and extend his point streak to 15 games. The last time the Caps defeated the Stars in Dallas, during the regulation, Burakovsky was just a few months old– in 1995.

The road trip did show us some important things about the team and individuals:

  • the team was able to manage to tie a tough game against a strong foe, in their home, in order to get a point in OT;
  • seven different Caps scored and all the 12 were able to note at least one point in St. Luis, Missouri;
  • Burkie wrote his name in franchise history;
  • Ovechkin tied with Wayne Gretzky for 15th in career power play goals, from the Ovi-spot;
  • the team were able to tie a tough game again, ending a drought against them almost 10 years with an heroic OT win by Beags, who has now a 15-game point streak;

To close out the trip, the Caps remain the only team in this regular season with a single digit loss, at nine; and the Caps are tied for first in the NHL with Columbus for goals-against, with 100; and leads the league with 68 points and Goal Differential, +48.

All-in-all; this road trip (with the dads and mentors) has been pretty successful!

Caps-Stars: What did they learn to prepare for the LA Kings?

What’s the big take-away from Saturday’s loss to the Stars?  If we have to face Dallas in our final run for the cup, it isn’t going to be pretty. The second period showed some chinks in their game. The Dallas Stars have had an amazing season so far and have some of the best players in the league on their team.Jaime Benn is second on the charts with overall points and has held that spot most of the season. Tyler Seguin is consistently in the top five as points earner. Both of these players are also top goal earners in the league. So they have, and will have, the scoring power.

The question for the future is how solid will their goalie be and can the Caps get around whoever they put in the net?

Although the Caps have only lost 10 games now, this was one from which they can probably learn the most as they move closer to the playoffs. If they want to beat the Dallas Stars next time, they will need to play the way they did in the third period right from the start. But really, as they work their one-game at a time philosophy, they have to keep an eye on the Western Conference and which team will present the greatest challenge to get to the final match.

Which brings us to the LA Kings, the Caps next opponent.

LA has found its way back to the top of the Pacific Division with a 30-16-3 record. From a scoring perspective, they don’t have a player in the top ten for points or goals. That said, Anze Kopitar always has a little surprise, like scoring three goals on the NY Rangers in his last game. The Kings are a shooting machine – they are the leader in Corsi shot attempts percentage (58.0) and second only to the Caps in power play percentage. The Caps will need to get out of the gate first and do all they can to have their goalies’ back.

  • Their not so secret weapon against the Caps will be Jonathan Quick, if he is healthy. He currently ranks third in the league with wins (28) and has had three shutouts so far this season. He is the player often credited with leading the Kings to two Stanley Cup wins.
  • Oh, but the Caps do have a slight advantage now that two of the Kings  winning players (Richards and Williams) have moved to Washington and can give the coach some insight into what to expect.

We’ll be watching at practice this week to see what the coaches do, but we probably won’t report too much. Don’t want to give things away to the Kings!! Watch for pictures and our report following the game on Tuesday.

Stars Send the Caps Home with 10th Loss

We predicted that this would be one of the toughest matches for the Washington Capitals, and we weren’t wrong. Before the game Tom Wilson told Alan May that the Caps had to match the Stars  intensity to win and get two points. Unfortunately the real intensity didn’t show up until the third period and was too little too late. Although a goalie swap in the third seemed to fuel the team, they just couldn’t pull out of the hole they were in. The Stars have now beat the Caps for the ninth time since 2008.

First Period: Fast Pace on Choppy Ice

Swift feet during the first period as both teams flew to the crease. Stan Galiev, playing the fourth line tonight had a great shooting opportunity—no goal though. The first penalty of the night was called against the Caps because they can’t count—this is becoming a bad habit. Dallas power play went without a goal. Nate Schmidt’s snap shot hit the crossbar on the Caps third shot on goal; Stars had six by then. Stars kept the puck in the Holtbeast zone for most of the period while the Caps played catch up with 5 SOG to 8 by the Stars.

Goals: None

Penalties: Burakovsky served the Caps penalty for too many men on the ice.

Score: 0-0

Second Period: Shooting Stars

Two minutes in and Dallas scores: Janmark with a wrist shot past Justin Williams and Holtby. Holtby then goes all acrobatic to protect the net from another intrusion. Holbty even robbed Cody Eakin on a snowy shot, which we always like to see. And at 1312 the Stars did it again. Caps go on the power play with a slash on Dmitry Orlov but to no avail. The Caps turned the puck over to the Stars too many times, giving Dallas control of the ice. The Stars weren’t finished. They would go up one more on the Caps before the end of the period. As if it couldn’t get any worse, Tom Wilson was called for interference with a little less than two minutes in the period. Brooks Laich figured he would add to the woes and join Willy in the box with a high stick. And of course the Stars scored one at 19.23 and they still have PP time to go. Caps had 6 SOG but the Stars fired off 13, three of which hit the mark.

Goals: Mattias Janmark assisted by Ales Hemsky (Stars); Jamie Benn assisted by Patrick Eaves and Patrik Nemeth; Tyler Seguin, unassisted. Tyler Seguin assisted by John Klingberg and Patrick Sharp.

Penalties: Cody Eakin in the box for slashing Orlov. Tom Wilson for interference against John Klingberg. Brooks Laich high sticking agains t John Klingberg.

Score: 4-0 Stars

Third Period: Nail-Biter Attempt

The Caps started the period with 51 seconds left on the PK and a new goalie in the net as Phillip Grubauer steps in for Holtby. Thankfully, the Stars didn’t score again on their PP. Caps got their power play at 17.10. The man advantage give Ovechkin just what he needed to do what he does—score on his second shot of the game and the period. Some fancy footwork, a sweet wrist shot, and J-Will gets one in the back of the net (4-2 Stars). The Caps would have another fruitless attempt with their second PP of the period but Burkovsky wasn’t content with that and fired one in with a little help from his friends. 4-3 Stars. Burkie tried to get one more in but Lehtonen was too much of a brick wall to crack through. The Caps tried as hard as they could—Wilson with a shot on the post—but couldn’t tie it up.

Goals: Alex Ovechkin assisted by John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom; Justin Williams unassisted. Andre Burakovsky assited by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.

Penalties: Jordie Benn interference against Jason Chimera. Evgeny Kuznetsov holding against Johnny Oduya.

Final Score: 4-3

What’s the big take-away from tonight? If we have to face Dallas in our final run for the cup, it isn’t going to be pretty. The second period showed some cracks in the armor. Although the Caps have only lost 10 games now, this was one from which they will probably learn the most as the move closer to the playoffs. If they want to beat the Dallas Stars they will need to play the way they did in the third period right from the start.

Coming Up

Sunday: Day off

Monday, 15 Feb, Practice 1030 at Kettler Ice Plex

Tuesday 16 Feb, Morning Skate 1015 at Kettler Ice Plex

Tuesday 16 Feb, LA Kings at Verizon Center, 7 pm. Watch CSN and listen on 106.7

 

 

Capitals and Stars Pregame Update & Line Projections

The Battle Between the Best and the Wanna be Best

GAME TIME IS 8pm ET

Washington Capitals: 40-9-4

Dallas Stars 35-15-5

Watch on CSN+ and listen 106.7

This is the Washington Capitals last game on the road for this stint. One more win and it’s a sweep. Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars are in resurgence mode as they make the push to reclaim first place in the Western Conference.

Kuzy is in– no concussion after taking a high-stick on Thursday.

Stars Jason Spezza, who had the game winning goal against the Caps in November is out with an upper-body injury. His absence will leave a gap that team members will need to fill.

Caps Forward Lines

Ovechkin (8) Backstrom (19) Oshie (77)

Burakovsky (65) Kuznetsov (92) Williams (14)

Chimera (25) Johansson (90) Wilson (43)

Laich (21) Richards (10) Galiev (49)

Defensemen Parings

Alzner (28) Niskanen (2)

Schmidt (88) Carlson (74)

Orlov (9) Chorney (4)

Goalies

Braden Holtby (70)** Philipp Grubauer (31)

** Expected in the net tonight.

Injury List

Still: Brooks Orpik and Jay Beagle.

Reachable Milestones:

Nicky Backstrom one goal away from a new Caps franchise milestone: (162) for 12th place.

Dallas Stars

Forwards

Benn (14) Seguin (91) Eaves (18)

Roussel (21) Eakin (20) Sharp (10)

Nichushkin (43) Janmark (13) Hemsky (83)

Fiddler (38) Faksa (12) Sceviour (22)

Defensive Pairings

Goligoski (33) Klingberg (3)

Oduya (47) Demers (4)

Oleksiak (5)  (Jokipakka (2)

Goalies

Niemi (31) Lehtonen** (32)

** Expected in the net.

Injury List

Jason Spezza