We’ll keep this short: Team Europe managed to get around goalie Jonathan Quick. Team USA, with 35 shots on goal, couldn’t break through the Wall of Halak.
Some have said USA seemed to lack a sense of urgency or desire to win. We think their shots show the opposite. We actually think it may be more of a coach issue. John Tortorella has something to prove with this team; however, he doesn’t seem to have created a cohesive system or even a team the can read one another.
We won’t totally blame Torts. The guys need to take this loss and find a way to return energized against the dynamic and cohesiveness of Team Canada on Tuesday if they hope to advance.
We remain cautiously hopeful and have faith in Quick!!
This Thursday the 41-10-4 Washington Capitals face off against 30-19-6 New York Islanders in Brooklyn. The two Eastern Conference rivals found themselves grinding through a tough seven=game playoff series in which the Capitals came out on top to advance to the second round. The key to beating a tough Islanders team is beating none other than the guy who was public enemy number one for a Caps team that struggled in the 2010 playoffs vs the Montreal Canadians, Jaroslav Halak.
The Islanders are now facing what teams hate the most, a goaltending controversy. Jaroslav Halak has not had a season to remember having a record of 13-12-4 and a GAA of 2.42, but the big story emerging from Brooklyn, is Thomas Greiss who has an impressive 16-6-2 record this season with a GAA of 2.16. Fortunately for the Washington Capitals it is set in stone who the franchise goalie is and who the backup is. Braden Holtby looks to further his dominate success this season Thursday evening in Brooklyn against the Islanders. Holtby is 2-0 against the Islanders this season.
When it comes down to the season so far, the Caps are a better team, not only because of the standings, that’s obvious, but the Capitals are just a dangerous team all around. Not many people are going to have stories come seasons-end about crushing the Capitals.
Keys to the game: Washington capitals.
Don’t give the Islanders any power plays; they are sixth in goals per game.
Get in the zone and move the puck around, work the D and goalie. They’ll get tired and take a penalty or better, score and the number one team in the NHL knows a thing or two about scoring.
Watch for John Tavares 21 goals 25 assists and Brock Nelson 21 goals 12 assists, they both average close to 20 minutes of ice time this season so there’s the threat of breakaway, they’ll be watching for any bad turnovers.
Keys to the game for the New York Islanders:
DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE. The Capitals have the number one offense with the number one scorer, Alex Ovechkin
Protect the crease; Capitals are a team that capitalizes on any loose pucks in the crease.
Don’t take any penalties. With players like Kuznetsov, Backstrom, Ovechkin, its almost guaranteed that they will score on any power play. If they don’t, they will move the puck in the offensive zone and make any offense tired.
The New York Islanders made their first regular season trip to Verizon Center since being eliminated by the Capitals in round 1 of the playoffs last season. It was Military Night and Lance Corporal Josh Misiewicz, USMC, of the USA National sled hockey team, participated in the ceremonial puck drop. Also, the Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin returned to the lineup, as did Taylor Chorney after battling the flu.
First Period: Gritty Start
The Caps had a slower start and had trouble clearing the zone. The Islanders scored in the opening minutes of the game. The Capitals have now surrendered the first goal in the last six games, going 2-2-1 in the previous five. Nice passing from Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie blasted one past Halak. Thomas Hickey showed that the Islanders still have some ill will against Tom Wilson when he made a dirty hit on the Capital winger.
· Mikhail Grabovski scored his ninth of the season, assisted by Josh Bailey and Travis Hamonic.
· T.J. Oshie scored his 16th of the season assisted by Nicklas Backstrom.
· Thomas Hickey for elbowing Tom Wilson.
SCORE: Game tied 1-1.
Second Period: Swede Scoring Streak
The second period started with a bunch of missed and blocked shots. Halfway through the period, both teams combined for one shot on goal. Then, Michael Latta got a breakaway but Islander goaltender Jaroslav Halak denied him. Halak also denied Latta on two following quality-scoring chances. The teams exchanged hard hits and chances at both ends.
· Andre Burakovsky scored his ninth of the season, assisted by Jason Chimera and Dmitry Orlov. Burakovsky now has a four-game scoring streak.
· Ryan Strome for hooking and Alex Ovechkin for Slashing.
SCORE: Caps lead Islanders 2-1.
Third Period: Ovi Time!
The third period was more of the second. There was big hits and quality scoring chances. The Capitals also blocked 33 shots and the Islanders 15. It is known that the goaltender is the best penalty killer. This was true in the final minutes when Braden Holtby denied the Islander game-tying goal in the final minutes of regulation.
· Josh Bailey scored his eighth of the season, assisted by Marek Zidlicky and Brock Nelson
· Alex Ovechkin scored his 29th of the season, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.
· John Carlson for delay of game.
FINAL: Caps win 3-2.
Good hard battle for two divisional points. Maintaining the lead of the bunched up Metropolitan teams (At the time this is being written, teams 2-5 are separated by 4 points) The Capitals return to a normal-ish schedule. No more extended breaks.
Practice: 11:30am on Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex
Game: 1pm on Saturday at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Written by: Renee Garces
The Washington Capitals traveled from Boston down to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Their first regular season meeting since the Caps ousted the New York Islanders in the playoffs last year, tensions were high for both sides. This game had the feel of the playoffs, for sure! Michael Latta was back on the ice on the fourth line along with Stan Galiev, in the lineup for the Caps with Zach Sill out on a two game suspension. With Braden Holtby in net for Washington, Jaroslav Halak backing New York, and Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares slinging pucks, this promised to be a good game.
First Period: Taking an Early Lead
In the first period, Jason Chimera got the Caps on the board first with a sharp angle shot that banked in past Halak. Marcus Johansson got the primary assist on Chimera’s 12th goal of the season.
The Caps were also the first team to be called for a penalty. Marcus Johansson was called for an illegal hit to the head on Thomas Hickey. The PK unit successfully went to work and killed the penalty. Later in the period, Alex Ovechkin put the Caps up 2-0 with a laser shot from the faceoff dot. Karl Alzner got the primary assist on Ovechkin’s 22nd goal of the season. This was also Alex’s 497th goal of his career. Edging ever closer to another milestone, chase to 500 continues…
Second Period: Can’t Catch Us
In the second period, the Islanders got on the board with a goal from Brock Nelson. Using the advantage of Matt Niskanen screening Holtby, Islanders cut the Caps lead in half. A few minutes later, the teams go to four on four with both teams getting a penalty. The Isles Matt Kulemin was charged with interference, and Ovechkin being charged with unsportsmanlike conduct. Other than causing tensions to rise further, nothing amounted during the ensuing penalties. Later, the Isles Kyle Okposo was called for high-sticking—Caps to the power play! However, they could not convert on the PP and Okposo was released from the box. With whistle happy refs, you know it won’t be long before the Caps get caught, and Tom Wilson was the guilty party this time. Called for unsportsmanlike conduct, Caps were back on the PK. Luckily, Isles could not convert and Wilson is released from the box. Seconds later, Nate Schmidt puts the Caps up 3-1 with a snipe that goes seven hole on Halak’s right side. Nicklas Backstrom gets the primary assist.
Third Period: All-Star Nicky Gets Empty Net
In the third period, things started get really chippy! Lots of feistiness between these two teams. Ovechkin and Lee exchange forceful hugs during a stoppage in play, Wilson and Martin chortle at each other in front of their respective benches, and later Wilson is up-ended by a hip-check pinch from deHann. Marcus Johansson almost makes it 4-1 with a beautiful play at the front of the net but Halak got a pad down and in the way. With 3:05 remaining in the game, Halak is pulled for the extra skater and Isles get away with a penalty as they had 7 men on the ice.Despite the 2 extra Isles on the ice, Backstrom puts his 12th goal of the season in the empty net to make it 4-1 in the Caps favor.
With the decisive victory, the Caps are now 30-7-3 and have a 14-point lead with 63 points. Up next, the Caps travel about 8 miles from Brooklyn to Madison Square Garden. Playing a very well-known foe, the Caps take on the New York Rangers on Saturday at 1pm.