Caps-Sabres: Caps Go for Nine in Their Last Home Game of 2015

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Kuzy Chill

 

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.

game sillWarmups 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. game ovi hair

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

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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.

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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.

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Now on to Raleigh…and we’ re     game schmidt

all smiling with Nate!

Caps-Sabres Recap

Some Blood, Some Fighting, & a Shutout  Get the Caps Eight Straight

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This game was the start of a home-and-home for the Capitals and Sabres this week. Before the game would start news hit that John Carlson’s “iron-man” streak ends at 412 games as he sat out this game with a lower-body injury. Connor Carrick would get his first NHL start this season as his replacement.

FIRST PERIOD:

The first period was hard fought by both sides with the shots pretty much even (WSH- 9, BUF-10). The fourth line, Andre Burakovsky, Michael Latta, and Brooks Laich had some nice shifts. Caps went on the powerplay when Mike Weber was sent to the box with an interference call at 5:17 but the Caps failed to score on the opportunity. The period would end scoreless.

SECOND PERIOD:

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The second period began with a bang when Ovi scored just 19 seconds in assisted by line mates Backstrom and Oshie.

 

Justin Williams took a hit from Nicholas Deslauriers, one with a stick to the face that would draw blood but no penalties. In an attempt to even the score, Michael Latta and Deslauriers drop the gloves at the 10:49 mark of the second period. Latta left the ice injured and would not return to the game, he was seen in a sling after the game and Barry Trotz specified it was an injury to his arm. Deslauriers, as he was heading to the penalty box, jubilantly waves his arms and screams to the crowd.

At the 12:55 mark in the second period, Jay Beagle doubles the Caps lead, 2-0. Per Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Caps are 21-0-5 lifetime when Beagle scores.

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THIRD PERIOD:

The Sabres would pull goaltender Linus Ullmark for the extra attacker with 1:30 left in the game. Holtby shows the Sabres why he is the best goalie in the league right now with an unbelievable save on Evander Kane. Caps win 2-0, their eighth straight victory and a shutout for the Holtbeast, just his second this season.

The Caps penalty kill was spotless during the game, including once during the third when Tom Wilson went to the box for an interference call. Sabres would have two disallowed, the second one would be due to contact by Tyler Ennis when he pushed goaltender Braden Holtby into his own net. A slightly winded Holtby had to catch his breath while Caps fans collectively held their breath while the play was challenged by Dan Bylsma.

Well wishes to both Carly and Latts for a speedy recovery!

 

Hockey Fights: The Debate Continues

The NHL seems to be giving their referees more discretion in assessing fights. Rule 46 describes fighting as when “one player punches or attempts to punch an opponent.” This rule may imply that refs have more latitude in stopping fights before they really get started and calling minor penalties before a punch is landed. Additionally, if a player even takes off his helmet in an attempt to instigate a fight a two-minute penalty may be called.

Most of the time…

Washington Capitals fans have been tweeting today about the inconsistent application of this rule and the obvious targeting of one of our key players, Tom Wilson. According to Elliotte Friedman of 30 Thoughts, the NHL Department of Player Safety reportedly has ‘targeted’ several players to keep an eye on as potential repeat offenders. Among them is Caps right wing Wilson, who was allegedly called in to meet with Chris Pronger (a former enforcer himself) who joined the Department last year. Wilson, who spent 172 minutes in the box during the 2014/15 season and has raked up 43 minutes this year—many stemming from fighting, charging, and roughing incidents, will likely be put on notice to clean up his act or face more stringent penalties in the future. It is clear that the NHL intends to exert more control over the aggressive behavior of players in an attempt to protect their opponents from serious injury.

And with each passing game, it appears that Friedman’s article has clearly painted a target on Tom’s back as other teams egg him to fight with them and as refs jump at the chance to load up the penalties against him.

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Additionally, the new NHL concussion protocol was put in place to help with the care and healing of players. The protocol states, “…players suspected of having a concussion will be removed from the game and sent to a quiet place free from distraction… The physician will use the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool test to evaluate the player.” Previously the players would be evaluated on the bench while play was still going on, but now they must be taken somewhere quiet where not only the player can focus, but the physician has greater latitude to evaluate the player’s condition before allowing him to return to the ice. The problem though is that players seem to need this evaluation all too frequently—occasionally as the result of a fight.

We get the concern.

There have always been enforcers or “goons” in hockey—the players whose unofficial job it is to bring energy to the game by fighting. The NHL has had to grapple with two suicides in recent years, which many attribute to the long-term effects of concussions. Former St. Louis Blues enforcer Todd Ewen committed suicide in September 2015 after battling years of depression. In 2011 Derek Boogaard, another enforcer, also took his own life, again after many bouts of depression. Many believe that the repeated traumas to the head were contributing factors in these deaths. Huffington Post reports that there were another five NHL deaths related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), believed to come from repeated head trauma.

fight_concussion     No one disputes the overall effect on players of the hard-hitting aggressive play of hockey. The main causes of concussions during a hockey game are apparent to anyone watching: violent hits and fights. However, fighting is such a huge part of hockey that many fans even joke about “going to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” The way that the players fight may be more responsible for concussions than the act of fighting alone. The head-shots and the act of wrestling another player to the ground are the biggest problems players face when it comes to concussions. When a player is knocked down to the ice, often without his helmet, there is an increased risk of him hitting his head on the ice, which in itself is painful, but the aftermath of an added concussion as a result is even worse.

There is no easy answer as players and fans alike have come to expect a physical game, including fights that often end with at least one player flat on the ice. The symptoms of a concussion can go on longer than many realize, sidelining players for months, if they are lucky, and ending some careers entirely.

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What are your thoughts on fighting in hockey? On the current application of standards? Should it stay or should it go?

Written by Brittney Marcum with contribution from Maggie Marcum

Photos by Brittney Marcum @Friendsincoldplaces (IG) and @bamitsBrittney93 (IG)