The Washington Capitals posed for Daniel Winnik’s wife Taylor today for the annual Canine Calendar. We’ve seen some of Taylor’s photos on Instagram and think it is great that they are keeping the event in the family!
The Washington Capitals are finishing up the regular season in less than stellar fashion. In the last six games before the Islanders, the Caps were shut out in three regulation games and have averaged 1.67 goals-for per game. Washington has just four five-on-five goals in those six games. The ‘snake-bitten’ Caps have also hit the crossbar more and more the last few games (2 in Philly, 5 in Colorado and 2 in Arizona). So what can this be attributed to?
“Sometimes, we might over-pass a little bit,” Caps Coach Barry Trotz said. “A good example was the [Evgeny Kuznetsov] one where [Arizona] came down and scored after that. My first reaction is that he should have probably shot it, then I watched it on film and went, ‘Well, he didn’t have a really good shot.’ He could’ve played the puck as an indirect pass off the goalie type of thing, but really, I don’t think he had much to shoot at.”
Injuries and Rest
This season the Caps has been VERY fortunate with injuries. Recently however, Niklas Backstrom, their star center, has been plagued with an upper body injury. Luckily it seems he will be fine for the playoffs but without him in the lineup lately, the Caps are winless. Once he’s back, the Caps will show marked improvement.
Ovechkin and Holtby continue to play despite already capturing the President’s Trophy, Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division. Holtby because he’s going after Brodeur’s win record (48) and Ovechkin wants 50 goals (sits at 47 with three games left.) Trotz seems to be accounting for this by giving the team some days off during these last four games.
Pressure on Holtby
No goaltender in the game has as much pressure on him right now than Braden Holtby. What looked to be the tying of Broduer’s record quickly evaporated in the 3rd as the Caps gave up a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3 in OT. He has two legit chances left as I don’t see him doing back to back in St. Louis then coming back here to play the Ducks.
The Caps have had to endure the toughest four-game stretch to end the season: the Islanders, Penguins, Blues and Ducks. All have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs and are still fighting for positioning.
The Islanders clinched their playoff spot with their win last night. They are looking to play Florida in round one.
The Penguins are the hottest team in the NHL and sit in second behind the Caps with 102 points. They are 13-1 in their last 14 games and have been without their star goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for nearly a week as he’s out with a concussion. Young phenom Matt Murray (8-2-1) has taken the reins and has posted a 3-0 record with a shutout and a 1.66 GAA.
The St. Louis Blues sit at 105 points and are tied with the Dallas Stars for the top seed in the West. Each have two games remaining.
The Ducks have clinched their playoff spot and really don’t have much to play for. This game will most likely see both sides resting players unless Holtby is going for the wins record.
Should fans be panicking? Absolutely not. The games that count are in the playoffs. Trotz has pointed out that these next four games are a chance to iron out mistakes and get ready for what we hope is a long run to their first Stanley Cup.
ROCK THE RED! GO CAPS!
The Washington Capitals now have nine wins in a row, a bunch of guys hurt, and a winning attitude. Justin Williams said it best: “We’re just going about our business, and our business right now is winning.” (CSN) They played against a physical team and a goalie who must have been channeling Holtby because it was darn near impossible to get past him.
Warmups started with the disappointing realization that defenseman John Carlson would not skate tonight despite our hopes. Michael Latta also scratched and remains day-to-day. Zach Sill made his first NHL appearance this season—in for Latta.
The big twitter buzz was all about Alex Ovechkin who got an end-of-the year trim. The team was sporting their fashionable third jersey tonight.
First Period: The Johnson Period
Braden Holtby was in the net for the Caps and Chad Johnson for the Sabres. Ovechkin was called for roughing at 19.33 (.27) and the Sabres were on a powerplay. On a rush to the net, Jack Eichel passes one over to Brian Gionta to score first. 0-1 Sabres. Caps on the powerplay (PP) after a hardhit and trip by Tyler Ennis against Marcus Johansson. Goalie Chad Johnson had three good saves which prevented the Caps from scoring on the opportunity. And then the scuffle broke out: Tom Wilson taking on Sabres Captain Gionta. Tom Wilson gets a double minor and Zach Bogosian two-minutes for roughing. Caps on the penalty kill (PK) again. No score. Period ends 0-1 Sabres
Second Period: The Injury Period
The period started with an Ovi chance that failed to connect with the net. Eichel remained hot in the second period, keeping the defense on guard. The Caps went on the PP when Johan Larsson hooks Evgeny Kuznetsov. The crowd brought some energy to the play but the players couldn’t break through Johnson’s wall.
And then at 5:52 Justin Williams caught Johnson off guard and bam—we’re all tied up’ Tyler Ennis went down the tunnel after a hit by Ovi and then Beagle would leave after a “whack” from the Sabres. Sabres would take the lead before the end of the third with a wrist shot by by Zemgus Girgensons. 1-2 Sabres at the end of the period.
Third Period: The Penalty Period
After a brief delay the third period began without Jay Beagle who “sustained and upper body injury” (Caps PR). Ovechkin tied it up at 18:36 with one heck of a backhand shot off Kuzy and Oshie. Six more goals to 500! 2-2 now. Nicky Backstrom went off the ice as well with Sill stepping up to the first line. Marcus Johansson to the box for boarding despite the complaints of the fans. In the midst of the PK, Wilson was tripped by Kane and the Caps get a bit of a PP. And then Ovi gets called for two minutes on a high stick. And one more penalty—again on Kane for hooking Ovi just as he comes out of the box. As Mike Vogel said it was a regular whistle fest.
Finally at 1128 Mojo would break past all the nonsense and score one off a sneaky pass from Kuzy and Matt Niskanen. Kane looking none too happy as he exits the box!
Things got even better at the 10.04 mark as Andre Burakovsky finishes off sweet pass from Marcus. 4-2 Caps. Buffalo pulls their goalie and Ovi takes advantage of the empty net at 1:13 for one more goal. Now it’s 5 to 500 for the GR8! Game ends 5-2 CAPS CAPS CAPS
The team has begun to join the ranks of teams with injured players. Michael Latta hopes to be back on the ice playing against the Carolina Hurricanes. No word on Carlson, Backstorm, or Beags. Despite losing all these players at once, the team came together and played like the winners they are. We hardly noticed the missing players which is something we haven’t seen with the Caps in a very long time.
And a salute to our military. Thank you for your service.
Now on to Raleigh…and we’ re
all smiling with Nate!
Don’t forget game time is late tonight: 7:30 puck drop.
Karl Alzner and Marcus Johansson both took take practice today so it looks like Alzner will continue his consecutive game-playing streak. Although it was only a “morning skate” the team was working hard on their drills in prep for tonight’s match-up. Players were in good moods as some of the dads watched from the balcony. The boys always seem a bit more inspired when their dads are in town. Let’s hope they bring us a win.
Caps Driving Forward
The Washington Caps hope to get back in the win column tonight and will be energetic and powerful as they face each other for the third time this season. Both teams are in second place in their division with the Caps leading the Wings in overall regulation wins. We can expect another hard hitting game that probably will come down to goalie stamina.
What Detroit Brings
Center Brad Richards has returned from back surgery and finally broke a scoring drought against Nashville on Saturday. They’ve been 6-0-2 since his return so scoring or not, he seems to be bringing some charm to the team.
Former Caps player and community leader, Mike Green returns to the phone book tonight. Don’t look for the 52 on his sweater though; his new number is 25. Clever eh? Read our article on Greenie Here .
Henrick Zetterberg (40) leads the Red Wings in points with 49 assists and 17 goals.
Never underestimate what Pavel Datsyuk (13) brings to the game. Even though he was hanging out with this Russian countrymen yesterday, he will be all about winning the game once he laces up. He comes into the game with 26 goals and 39 assists (65 points), scoring 2 goals and 3 assists in the last 10 days.
Don’t forget to check us out on Instagram (friendsincoldplaces) for more pictures from this morning.
What to Watch for Tonight:
Justin Williams: One point to go to reach 600 career HNL points.
John Carlson: One goal away from 50 career NHL goals.
Marcus Johansson: One point away from 200 total NHL points.