Worried about Kuzy?  Not Us.

At the end of the first round of the NHL Playoffs there was a lot of discussion about Evgeny Kuznetsov and his seemingly lack of play during the playoffs. Some sportscasters expressed extreme worry–others said it highlights his inexperience.

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Ok – so lets look at the numbers.

In six games he scored one goal on a power play.

In six games he did not record one assist.

In six games he had 20 shots on goal (SOG).

He has a -2.

All this from the guy who at the end of the regular season ranked third in the NHL for  assists and ninth in overall points

In his last six regular season games Kuzy averaged 19 SOG with three assists. In that same timeframe he averaged 17 minutes on the ice compared to an average of 16 minutes on the ice during the first round.

To put it in perspective, Evgeny ranks third on the team for SOG  during the playoffs. Alex Ovechkin has 29 and John Carlson has 25. He is one of four players with one goal; two others have two goals and two players have three (Ovi and Backstrom).  25635389551_84443ac444_o

We think it is way too early to think that Evgeny has lost the Kuzy-Magic. This was a tough series. He was in the thick of it. Like most of the players, they were shooting the puck and trying their best to score, but in at least two of those games there was this little problem named Michal Neuvirth.

Playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kuzy has been pretty average. He has one goal and one assist in four games and averaged two shots per game. About what everyone did in those games. Like everyone, he will need to increase his physical presence and create as much activity in front of the Pens net as possible. Everyone will need to crash the net–repeatedly.

We have faith in Kuzy. He will get his groove. We will see the magic again.

26440339432_535448cacd_o    Carry on…

Neuvy Goes all Holtbeast on Caps

So, the Caps had a little surprise when former teammate Michal Neuvirth stepped in between the posts. We thought we knew this guy, based on his years with the Hershey Bears and the Washington Capitals.

We were wrong. He has matured into a true NHL lead goaltender, like his old friend Braden Holtby.

In the two playoff games (4 and 5), Neuvy was not the old ‘shaky’ goalie bloggers and sportscasters talked about when he was in Washington.

He ended the regular season with a respectable 9.24 percent save average, a 2.27 goals against average (GAA), and three shutouts.

Braden sits slightly behind Michal with a 9.22 save percentage, a slightly higher GAA at 2.20, and he had three shutouts as well.

When you consider the body of work from the regular season, they are pretty evenly matched.

Flip over to the playoffs and it is a bit of a different story. Neuvy leads the league with a 9.87 save percentage–Hotlby follows with a 9.61 SV%. Neuvy also leads the league with a .50 GAA compared to Holtby’s 1.01. They both have one shutout which in the playoffs is pretty phenomenal. Frederick Anderson of the Anaheim Ducks holds the second place between these gifted goalies.

Any way you slice it, today’s win, and the Round 1 win will come down to how these two old friends play. There is a lot of history between these two Calder Cup winning netminders who want to hoist the big CUP for their team and their fans. Michal Neuvirth may have something more to prove to the team that chose Holtby over him though. Its’ gonna be one heck of a end to the series!

 

Caps Hope to Solve Neuvy in Game 6

Puck drops at high Noon on NBC for Game 6.

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Here we go again.

We were hoping this team was nothing like past Capitals’ teams that had commanding leads in the series only to blow them. They can still prove us right by stealing Game 6 in Philly Sunday.

You can’t fault the Caps for their game play. After peppering Michal Neuvirth with 31 shots in Game four, Washington turned it up to 44 in Game 5 but still got stonewalled by the former Capitals netminder. The game winner was a trash goal from rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere  that ricocheted off Taylor Chorney to give the Flyers the lead for good.

How to Solve Neuvy

The Caps outshot Philly 44-11 and still lost the game. There is no secret as to why: Michal Neuvirth. The former Caps goalie has stoned them, allowing one goal in 75 shots.The other problem: penalties. The Caps took way too many penalties, including Justin Williams garnering eight minutes in the box. Every time the Caps would try and get in a rhythm, the penalties would halt them.

This is reminiscent of performances by opposing goaltenders the Caps would like to forget. In 2010, the Montreal Canadiens and Jaroslav Halak frustrated the President Trophy winning Caps to a first round exit after being down early in the series. The Caps are trying to make sure history does not repeat itself.

In Game 6 Washington need to continue to put traffic and shots in front of Neuvy and raise the shots up where he can’t grab them. In short, it’s going to be a down and dirty game.

  • Braden Holtby is playing elite hockey. Even with the last two losses, he’s only allowed two goals and his overall GAA is 1.01 with a .961 save percentage.
  • The Caps Power Play has been stiffled the last two games, going 0-5 after a 5-9 Game 3.

More of the Same

The Flyers are back to playing their best hockey of the season after faltering out of the gate. After replacing Steve Mason, they’ve found ways to win games with outstanding goaltending by Neuvy. They also have controlled the Caps blue line play, disrupting the flow of play between the two zones. Look for more of the same in Game 6.

  • Michal Neuvirth has a .50 GAA and .987 save percentage in two games after relieving Mason who had given up 12 goals in three games.
  • The Flyers only had 11 shots on goal in Game 5, becoming the first team to win a playoff game with that many  shots since 1988.

Your starting goaltender once again will be Braden Holtby Vs. Michal Neuvirth in Philly.

 ROCK THE RED! GO CAPS!

No Brooms Tonight- Caps Lose to Flyers

The Washington Capitals looked to end the Philadelphia Flyers’ season with a fourth consecutive win in Philadelphia–no such luck. Defenseman Brooks Oprik did not play due to an upper-body injury and Taylor Chorney came into the lineup. On the other side, former Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth was in net for the Flyers. Neuvy seemed to be the change the Flyers needed.

First Period: Scary Hit

The Flyers finally got a power play goal, thanks to Shayne “GhostBear” Gostisbehere and they took a 1-0 lead. With less than four minute left in the period, John Carlson and Scott Laughton battled for puck and Laughton lost an edge and went hard into the boards. Laughton did not move after the hit and was taken off the ice on a stretcher. He was later transported to the hospital. Preliminary reports indicate that he is doing well and hopefully his injury is not serious. The Capitals ended the period with some quality shots on former teammate Neuvirth. Through one period, the Capitals trailed the Flyers, 1-0.

Second Period: Too Much Passing

Andrew MacDonald doubled the Flyers lead, 2-0 at the beginning of the second period. The Capitals would get their first chance on the man advantage with five and half minutes left in the period, but could not produce anything. Nicklas Backstrom was sent to the box for holding with a little over two minutes left in the period. 28 seconds later, Jakub Voracek went to the box so the teams skated 4-on-4 for 1:32. The Capitals had some chances but were being outshot 21-19 and outscored 2-0 after two periods.

Third Period: Almost…

The Capitals needed a big third period to get back in the game. T.J. Oshie scored his first of the playoffs at 2:38 minutes into the period. The road team had come out determined to score on their former teammate. Michal Neuvrith was solid in net for the Flyers, stopping everything that came his way after the Oshie goal. There would be no sweep in this series as the Flyers hung on to win, 2-1, even though they were outshot 13-4 in the third period.

What’s Next?

Practice: At the time this is being written, no practice has been scheduled for Thursday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. There should be a morning skate Friday at 10:15.

Game: Game Five on Friday at Verizon Center at 7pm. Rock the Red and be loud.

Capitals and Flyers Lineup Projection: The Carlson Return?

The Caps will be aiming to wow fans again with its 13th consecutive win at home tonight. They have the longest home winning streak in the NHL and with 13 wins will tie the franchise record set during the 2009/10 season, according to Caps Today.

The first place Washington Capitals meet the struggling Flyers for the second time this season. Puck Drop is 8pm tonight at Verizon Center. Watch the match on NBCSN or listen on 106.7 or the Caps Radio.

Print this out and take it with you to the game for a quick reference!

Roads are still a bit iffy but Metro should be running.

Your Washington Capitals Projected Lineup for Tonight

Forward Lines
Ovechkin (8) Backstrom (19) Oshie (77)
Burakovsky (65) Kuznetsov (92) Williams (14)
Chimera (25) Johansson (90) Wilson (43)
Laich (21) Richards (10) Latta (46)
Defensemen Parings
Alzner (28) Niskanen (2)
Schmidt (88) CARLSON. (POSSIBLE) (74)
Orlov (9)  Chorney (4)
Goalies
Braden Holtby (70) Philipp Grubauer (31)

Healthy Scratch: Stan Galiev

Kuznetsov and Backstrom lead the team in overall points at 48 and 44 points, respectively.

    
  Ovechkin leads the team with 28 goals and sits behind Kuzy and Backy with 42 points. Williams follows with 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points. Williams had the game-winning goal in the last game against the Flyers.

Injury Report and Team Scratches

Everyone is holding their breath in anticipation that John Carlson could play tonight. He has missed 12 games with an upper-body injury and has skated with the team during practice for the past week.

 
Brooks Orpik continues to skate before the team practice and is working with trainers to prepare for his return. Coach Trotz had hoped Brooks would be back before the All Stars but it looks more likely that he will return after the break. He has missed 32 games.

Jay Beagle’s recovery is coming along. It could be another three weeks before he returns to the game following hand surgery. He too is skating with the trainers before team practice. He has missed 10 games.

The Flyers Projected Lineup

Forward Lines
Voracek (93) Giroux (28) Simmonds (17)
Raffi (12) Gagner (89) Schenn (10)
Read (24) Laughton (21) Weal (19)
VandeVelde (76) Bellemare (78) White (25)
Defensemen Pairings
Del Zotto (15) Gudas (3)
Schultz (55) Streit (32)
Gostisbehere (53) Manning (23)
Goalies
Neuvirth (30)
In the net
Jason Labarbera 

Sean Couturier is out and listed day-to-day.

Labarbera- called up from AHL Phantoms to back up Neuvy

Jordan Weal played his first Flyers game on Monday. He had one shot and two minutes in the penalty box.

 

Flyers and Caps Back After the Blizzard

PUCK-DROP IS 8:00 PM TONIGHT!!!

The Washington Capitals return to the ice after being snowed out of two games (Anaheim and Pittsburgh)  this weekend. The Flyers missed their game against the Islanders and then proceeded to lose to the Bruins on Monday.  The Caps have won their last two games while the Flyers have lost their last three. This is the last game for both teams before the All-Star break.

The Caps remain in the solid lead for the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. With 46 games played they have 73 points, technically three points ahead of the Blackhawks with 70 points. The Hawks have played 52 games so the Caps have a lock on first place going into the break.

Michal Neuvirth is the projected goalie for this match, the second this season between Washington and Philadelphia. Read our column from January 25 about Neuvy and his journey from DC to Philly. He was reportedly moving slowly after the Monday game but has said he is fine at practice on Tuesday. Steve Mason missed his second day of practice following “maintenance day” on Monday.

Injury Report

Everyone is holding their breath in anticipation that John Carlson could play on Wednesday.  He has missed 12 games with an upper-body injury and has skated with the team during practice for the past week.

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John Carlson looked solid this morning

Brooks Orpik continues to skate before the team practice and is working with trainers to prepare for his return. Coach Trotz had hoped Brooks would be back before the All Stars but it looks more likely that he will return after the break. He has missed 32 games.

Jay Beagle’s recovery is coming along. It could be another three weeks before he returns to the game following hand surgery. He too is skating with the trainers before team practice. He has missed 10 games.

Caps Roll Call

Braden Holtby, who leads the league in wins (30), is expected to be defending the crease on Wednesday. His 2.01 goals against average ranks third in the league. Backing him up in the net is Philipp Grubauer who is a strong goaltender and someone in whom the coach has great confidence. He has had to step in for Holtby in recent games.

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That is one happy Holtbeast

Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov were the stars of the game against the Blue Jackets. Nicky had three shots that brought two goals for the team while Kuzy had four assists that contributed to the team’s 6-3 win. We can expect more WOW moments from both these guys on Wednesday.

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Nicky zeroed in on the bench before practice

It’s hard to single out potential stars for Wednesday when this is a team in which everyone contributes to its success. Keep an eye on Jason Chimera, simply because…he is amazing!

Extra Photos from practice:

Upcoming Milestones

Karl Alzner, the Iron Man, is three points away from 100 NHL points and with this game passes Bob Carpenter (422) for the longest consecutive games played in franchise history.

Nicklas Backstrom with three goals will pass Kelly Miller (162) for the 12th place of Capitals goals scored

Flyers Watch

Claude Giroux leads the Flyers in overall points (37) with 14 goals and 23 assists. He was scoreless against Boston on Monday; however, he has tallied two goals and two assist in his last five games.

Jakub Voracek has been leading the team in the past five games in points (5) with one goals and four assists.

Wayne Simmonds was the first star of the game against Boston, despite the loss. He had nine shots with the two goals scored by the Flyers. Keep a watch on him in the scoring zone.

Coming Up:

Jan 27  Morning Skate at 10:15 am

Jan 27  Philadelphia at 8 pm at the Verizon Center on NBCSN

Feb 2   Panthers at 7:30 pm at the Verizon Center on NBCSN

Feb 4   NY Islanders at 7:30 pm at the Verizon Center on NBCSN

Photos by Brittney Marcum

Bringing Neuvy Back: Caps and Flyers Goalie Matchup

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Michael Neuvirth as a Caps goalie.

One-time Caps and Hershey Bear’s goalie, Michal Neuvrith may finally be in the net against his former teammates on Wednesday. Michal started his pro career with the Caps and when he left had a .910 save percentage. He now has a .934 save percentage and often leads the league in that category. Unfortunately, he also has a history of injuries that have probably prevented him from earning the starting position he keeps seeking.

Since leaving the Caps in a trade to the Buffalo Sabres in March 2014 (for Jaroslav Halak), Neuvy has continued to struggle with injuries that sideline him as well as an inconsistent playing record. Nearly a year later to the date, the Sabres traded him to the Islanders for Chad Johnson, which has worked out pretty well for the Sabres so far. In 27 games with the Sabres he left with a .918 save percentage. In a weird set of circumstances, hp,aged as  back-up to Halak during his brief stint. After only playing  in five games, Neuvirth continued his quest to find a starting position which landed him with the Flyers in July 2015 on a two-year back-up goalie deal.

The Flyers have the benefit of a dynamic duo for goalies. Neuvy is having one of his best years. Although Mason has lost his last three games, the Flyers organization seems to have more faith in him, despite the stats that Neuvirth keeps posting when he is defending the crease. Neuvirth lost in their match against Boston Monday leaving the Flyers with their fourth consecutive loss.

  • The Bear’s Calder Cup winner has only had one showing against the Caps since leaving in the playoff round of Islanders in 2014. Mostly he has been injured or watching the game from the bench. No word yet if he gets the net nod for Wednesday, but clearly he will be in the building.

How do our goalies compare? Glad you asked, we have highlighted the categories in which each goalie leads in this comparison:

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GAA Save Percentage Games Played Games Won Shutouts
Holtby 2.01 .930 38 30 2
Grubauer 2.12 .925 11 5 0
Mason 2.72 .914 29 10 3
Neuvirth 2.05 .934 20 10 3

No word yet on who will be in the net for either team on Wednesday. Mason is the most likely candidate for Wednesday. Expect to see Holtby in as well. Check with us on Wednesday for the final line-up and net minder selection.

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Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth Flyers Photo by CBSphilly.com

Steve Mason Photo by Bleacherreport.com

Michael Neuvirth Caps, Holbty, & Grubauer Photos by Brittney Marcum