CAPITAL ONE ARENA – Me and my friend Allie have had some memorable birthdays from high school through our Radford days but not even our 21st could top what happened on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. The Capitals came through and defeated the Penguins 2-1 thanks to T.J. Oshie‘s heroics but it was also a total team win with Alex Ovechkin getting a power play strike and Braden Holtby practically standing on his head. The whole day was incredible. Continue reading “The Capitals Gave Me and Allie a Birthday We’ll Never Forget”
CAPITAL 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”
NHL Insider Greg Wysynski has reported that the NHL Department of Player Safety will not suspend Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin for his shoulder-to-head hit on T.J. Oshie. The injury sent Oshie to concussion protocol but he would remain in the game and score the eventual game-winning goal with 1:14 to go. Continue reading “Evgeni Malkin Will Not Be Suspended for Hit on T.J. Oshie, Per Report”
The NHL season didn’t end so well for the Capital’s Russian players Evgeny Kuznesov and Dmitry Orlov. As another year ended at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins and fellow countryman Evgeny Malkin, Kuzy and Dima made plans to join Team Russia for the IIHF Worlds in Germany and France.
And boy oh boy did they shine. In their first game against Czech Republic, Orlov, wearing his old 81 sweater, scored the game winning goal of the game. Kuznetsov earned three points in the three games he played (one goal and two assists) to help the team take home the Bronze. He had five shots in nine games. Orlov had seven shots in his five games. Kuzy played with the finesse we are used to seeing while Dima was a speed demon and really lit up the ice when he was on.
The pair of 25 year-old players are both restricted free agents this summer. It is highly likely that the Caps will sign both players. It goes without saying that the KHL has an interest in both players. No doubt the Caps kept an eye on their players and how they performed in different circumstances. They have to balance that against their performance this season.
In his third full year of playing with the Caps, Kuznetsov dropped from a previous high overall points recorded of 77 to 59. While his goal scoring was pretty static (20 dropping to 19), his assist number dropped 57 to 40. His plus/minus dropped from 27 to 18. His power play production dropped, as did his shots indicating that he has not been contributing as much to the teams scoring chances. And yet we believe that the best is yet to come from Kuzy. Maybe World’s was what he needed to shake off the rust of the season past.
Orlov had a rather uneven year. Fans were either all praise or all trade him. This was his second full season after returning from a wrist injury. His overall performance was slightly improved over the 2015/16 season going from 21 to 27 points. Most notable he improved his plus/minus from eight to 30, meaning he was on the ice when a lot of Caps goals were scored. Then again, his save percentage dropped from 8.9 to 4.8. When it comes to the playoffs–which is really where the team needs to focus, Orlov was a shooting machine who had three assists to help the team.
Going forward it will take a little bit of $$ and some longer contracts to keep these two on the roster. The last time Orlov negotiated a contract, it went down to the wire and it wasn’t clear if the two sides would come to agreement. Given the uneven performance, the Caps might decide to go with another one- or a two-year contract to see how he improves. For Kuznetsov, the team again is highly likely to sign him to a multi-year deal Many have believed that the long-term future of the Caps rests on the shoulders of younger players and none more than Kuzy.
The watch continues as the boys and their families head off to vacation and spend time catching up with family and friends.
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
Michael Corleone, The Godfather Part III
Yes Caps fans, they’ve done it again. Just when a lot of our friends were accepting the end, the Capitals rose up and took Game 5 off Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams goals en route to a 3-1 win. They’re right back in the series and can tie it up with another win Tuesday night, potentially setting up a Game 7 at Verizon Center Thursday.
Don’t Stop Believing
The Capitals are ready to believe. They looked like the Caps that dominated the regular season on Saturday. The one-game-at-a-time approach with the experience of Justin Williams and Mike Richards, are keeping the Caps from falling over the edge. If they can continue to play the way they did in Game 5, they’ll send this series back to D.C.
The only thing they need to tweak is letting up so many shots. When they had the two goal lead, Trotz changed to defensive style hockey resulting in a ton of shots from the Pens on Holtby. The Caps need to keep the crowd muted in Pittsburgh and just play their game. Scoring first always helps as well.
- Power Surge! The Capitals netted two power play goals from Ovechkin and Oshie to go two for five in the game.
- The Caps played their best second period of the series, netting two goals on Saturday.
- Alex Ovechkin amped his game up and scored a goal and an assist.
- Braden Holtby-went to another level, saving 30 shots for a .968 save percentage. They’ll need more of the same in Game 6.
- Brooks Orpik will be back in the lineup Tuesday after serving a three-game suspension. He will definitely boost the Caps lineup and bring stability on the backside.
- Based on Monday’s practice it looks like Trotz may go with Taylor Chorney instead of Nate Schmidt for Game 6 meaning Schmidt will sit out, and
- Kuzy and Backstrom remain on Saturday’s lines, Kuzy on the top line, Backstrom second line.
Goalie Change? Not a Chance
The Penguins were being rumored by many media outlets, including ESPN, that a goalie change may be on the way for game 6. Not a chance, according to Pens coach Mike Sullivan. Murray has started eight straight playoff games, going 6-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average. Fleury will continue to be the back up. He hasn’t played since suffering a concussion on March 31. To win game six the Pens will need urgency, something they did not have on Saturday.
- Olli Maatta was included in the morning skate Monday and will be a game time decision according to Coach Sullivan.
- Sidney Crosby continues to struggle in this series with only two assists–could this be his breakout game?
- Evgeny Malkin has also been very quiet with a goal and assist .
Starting goaltenders will be…Braden Holtby Vs. Matt Murray. Puck drop is at 8 p.m.
ROCK THE RED and bring the series back to Verizon Center!
Monday the Washington Capitals will fly into Pittsburgh for the last leg of their road trip before returning home to face The Senators. It has been a bumpy trip so far and it’s anyone’s guess who they’ll face in the “City of Champions,” but it isn’t likely to be the team we have seen in seasons past.
- They fired Coach Mike Johnston on Friday and replaced him with AHL coach Mike Sullivan. They also fired assistant coach Gary Agnew.
- They have slipped in the rankings. At 15-10-3 they are 5th in the Metropolitan Division and outside of contention at this point even as a Wild Card.
- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are well below their personal best this year. Crosby has 6 goals in 28 games and a -6. Malkin has about twice that with 13 goals in 28 games and leads the team in total points. Marc-Andre Fleury seems to be off his game with a .927 save percentage.
- They are struggling with their defense and with their powerplay (27th in the league) –once strong areas for them.
But change can be good.
Remember when we lost the lovable Bruce Broudreau? Remember the coaches that dragged the team down? Remember the Ovi slump?
We bounced back with the right coach and the right inspiration. It might seem too late for the Pens this season, but they are a fiercely competitive club and we should expect the unexpected on Monday.
Maybe having their favorite rivals in the house—ones who are having their own problems of late—might be just what they need to send the puck into our net. Either way, look for Monday to be a great game as two teams step it up to claim their place at the top of the leader board.