Braden Holtby and John Carlson Lead Metropolitan Division to All-Star Game Win

Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman John Carlson were well represented at the NHL All-Star Game in San Jose last week. With coach Todd Reirden at the helm of the Metropolitan Division, the trio contributed to wins over the Atlantic and Central Divisions to win the All-Star Game and split the grand prize of one million dollars. Continue reading “Braden Holtby and John Carlson Lead Metropolitan Division to All-Star Game Win”

The Pregame: Brooks Orpik to Play in 1,000th NHL Game Tonight

When Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik laces his skates, puts on the home red uniform and takes the ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues at Capital One Arena, it would mark doing so for the 1,000th time. Orpik will become the 330th all-time player, 114th defenseman and 22nd active player to play in 1,000 NHL games.  Continue reading “The Pregame: Brooks Orpik to Play in 1,000th NHL Game Tonight”

T.J. Oshie Overcomes Injury Adversity to Lead Caps to Big Win Over Penguins

michael banner 2CAPITAL 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”

Caps Road to the Cup Top 10 Moments from the Playoffs #2: The Demons Are Exorcised

Believe it or not, there was once a time when Washington, D.C. teams just couldn’t get past the second round and it didn’t matter the sport. The 1998 Capitals, who went all the way to the Finals, were the last Caps team to get past the semifinals. Whether it was May or October, there would always be a Washington Post article chronicling the drought and all the missed opportunities Washington teams had to just simply win one game to get to the conference finals in their respective sport.

There was also a generation gap since the 1991 Redskins Super Bowl title. Any D.C. fan born after that was used to the losing, the playoff choking, and the disappointment. Accustomed to it because we all knew that one day, things would go differently and all this suffering would be worth it. That one day came on May 7 in Pittsburgh of all places.  Continue reading “Caps Road to the Cup Top 10 Moments from the Playoffs #2: The Demons Are Exorcised”

Caps Road to the Cup: Top 10 Moments from the Playoffs #8 Jakub Vrana’s Go-Ahead Goal Lifts Capitals to Unfamiliar Territory

Capitals jersey off back Bowey Vrana Chiasson (2018-04-08-1037)

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There was some nervous tension around Capital One Arena on Saturday May 5 after two periods. After Alex Ovechkin scored a game-winning goal in Pittsburgh to put the Capitals in front 2-1, Tom Wilson was suspended for three games for a controversial hit on Zach Aston-Reese. The Caps dropped Game 4 and were trailing the Penguins 3-2 entering the final 20 minutes.  Continue reading “Caps Road to the Cup: Top 10 Moments from the Playoffs #8 Jakub Vrana’s Go-Ahead Goal Lifts Capitals to Unfamiliar Territory”

Carlson Back (Pens Guentzel Didn’t Have a Hearing); Backstrom a Maybe GAME 6

The series between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, one of the most iconic rivalries in the NHL, just got more fuel added to its already big fire. After winning Game Five by 6-3,  Caps fan are anxiously expectant about what will happen in Game Six. But with two injuries during the game to Nick Backstrom and John Carlson, fans were a bit worried at the end of the game.

During the second round series, Tom Wilson involved himself twice in controversial hits. Though in the first occasion he wasn’t called for a hearing with the NHL Player Saftey, he couldn’t manage to escape it after his hit in Game Three. There was much discussion about whether Wilson’s hit was legal or not; it was Zach Aston-Reese who was left with a broken jaw and a concussion. That led to a three-game suspension for Wilson. Even with Willy already missing two games, the Caps are leading the series by 3-2 after beating the Penguins in Game Five.

Although the Caps walked away with a victory, Caps fans were scared after seeing what happened with Carlson and Backstrom. Nicky left the game in the third period going to its final minutes and didn’t return. Barry Trotz later said Backstrom has an upper-body injury.  As of this afternoon, Trotz has said it is a “game-time decison,” and would not comment further.

Carlson took a hard hit from Penguins’ Jake Guentzel, which Trotz called “a headshot” and a “unsuspecting, high hit.” But the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has decided not to call Guentzel for a hearing. Anyway, Carlson is expected to play tonight, since as  the nature of the hit doesn’t indicate that the injury was enough to take Carlson out of Game Six.

“John took a high hit, he was unsuspecting with a minute left. He’s being evaluated. I know the standard’s been set and I’m going to leave it up to the league. It was a headshot, in my opinion. An unsuspecting high hit.”

Both Backstrom and Carlson are important players to the Caps roster. Carlson has become the most productive defenseman during this season and a huge presence in the playoffs and this series as well. The team, which is already missing key players with the suspended Wilson and the injured Andre Burakovsky, had fans worried for a few moments about Backstrom and Carlson.

Backstrom did travel with the Caps to Pittsburgh — Burky did not.

The Caps are going to Pittsburgh for Game Six, at 7:00 PM and they’re just one game away for classifying to the Eastern Conference Final they don’t see in 20 years. As Trotz has asked; WE ARE 100% BEHIND THE CAPS!!

 

Caps and Pens Rivalry is Back

Ok Caps fans, it’s time to meet our Pittsburgh foes again. The Pens are fired up after a White House celebration of their 2016/17 Championship win. The Capitals have a score to settle and it starts tonight!

One slight change for tonight from the previous two lines; Christian Djoos is paired with Aaron Ness and Taylor Chorney will take a seat with Tom Wilson to watch the game. This is Djoos’ premier to the NHL and we understand his folks will be watching from the stands. 


The Pens lines from today’s morning skate, according to @PensInsideScoop: 


Forward Patric Hornqvist is a game-time decision. Defenseman Kris Letang is 1 point shy of the 300th of his career.  

Caps, Preds, and Mutual Disdain for Penguins

Preds Loss is Like Losing All Over Again

The Penguins had a celebration parade today after the Nashville Predators had to suffer through the Pittsburgh Penguins hoisting the Stanley Cup in their own arena. We felt their pain after watching the Washington Capitals lose to the Pens in game seven in our home. People we have talked with said they felt sick after the final round–mostly because there was a sense that the NHL handed the Pens the Cup by overlooking penalties and unfairly penalizing opponent teams.

Maybe its sour grapes here in Washington. Maybe we are jealous of the Pens ability to outplay the Caps. Maybe we want to believe our players are better then the Pens players and we would never stoop to their tactics to win. And maybe we are tired of the Ovechkin-Crosby comparison that the NHL and NBC use to boost ratings and hype a sport that doesn’t bring in the money that football does. 

Simply put, the NHL Playoffs left a nasty taste with almost every hockey fan that isn’t following the Pens. There is no underestimating the physical game that the Pens play. They are brutal on the ice as they move with speed from one end to the other, plowing through anyone in their way. This brutality is frequently called ‘dirty’ by anyone not from Pittsburgh and fair play by anyone who loves the Pens. And you can’t overlook its three primary players: Sidney Crosby, Evegni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

Unfortunately, most of the playoffs focused on Sidney Crosby, in positive and negative terms. His behavior detracted from the skills of Pens’ players and their coach. The NHL loves its Canadian-born player and have elevated him to near sainthood. NBC and its affiliate sportscasters, seem to drool over just the mention of his name. Every game starts with a discussion of his greatness and no matter who else is on the ice, their first shots are always of Sid the Kid skating onto the ice. No other player in the league is more adored by the NHL and NBC, which leaves most of the rest of the hockey fan base a bit nauseous. From what the rest of us hear, Sid can do no wrong and even if he does, well…he is the best don’t ya know?

It seems Crosby, and maybe even the Penguins, have their favorite targeted players. That person who the Pens want to undermine and get out of the game. Crosby personally seems to have a rival or some level of animosity with every team and that was pretty apparent during the playoffs. It includes Brandon Dubinsky, Alex Ovechkin, Erik Karlsson, and PK Subban.

In round one it took the Pens five games to eliminate the Blue Jackets. Brandon Dubinsky has been known to “get under the skin” of Crosby who is known to retaliate or take the first stab but we didn’t see as much of that in this round. Instead, much of the post- round analysis focused more on coaching style and the inability of Sergei Bobrovsky to stop the puck. In the final game of the round, a game-tying goal by the Jackets was waived off and they were instead given a penalty for interference. This caused some ire with CBJ fans as Sidney Crosby would go on and score thus leading the team to a 5-2 finish over Columbus. The playoffs; however, came down to one goalie outstaying the other and one team outplaying the other–in this case it happened to be the Pens.

The Pens went on to face the Capitals in round two. The Pens knocked the Caps out of the playoffs the previous season so revenge was already in the air. We all know how much the Pens dislike Alex Ovechkin and his flamboyant style of play, but in this round the contempt was even more heightened. There was a point when it felt as if the Caps and Pens were back at the Winter Classic when an on-ice collision ultimately led to a concussion diagnosis for Crosby.  This time in a freak play in front of the net, Crosby fell and as Crosby went lower, Nisky’s stick wound up hitting Crosby in the head. Niskanen was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the ‘cross check.’ There were reports that Crosby suffered another concussion, his second in the season. Things got pretty nasty with Marc-Andre Fleury taping over former Pens’ Niskanen’s name on his helmet. The names were those that Fleury considered his favorite teammates.  Crosby returned to practice four days later and five days later for game five. Many wondered if he was back too soon or if he had actually suffered a concussion.  People watching were genuinely concerned that it was  and as a result there was a sense from the NHL and NBC that Crosby needed to be treated with kid gloves because of his frail condition. Every time Crosby landed on the ice NBC sports went into crisis mode that he might be injured again.

There were strange calls—like early whistles—against the Caps which gave the impression of favoritism. And let us not forget the infamous Nick Bonino dive which led to a high stick call against TJ Oshie. Even though the refs got it wrong, this time folks like Don Cherry called Bonino out for “faking” and questioned what was going on with the officiating.  The ensuing power play ensured a game four win for the Pens. In the end, the Caps suffered a second round two defeat at the hands of the Pens leaving the fans stunned and bitter. At this point, Caps fans became fans of #anyonebutthePens

Round three and fan hope turned to the Senators. Caps fans were ready for retribution and thought for sure the Sens would bring it. Crosby was in the midst of a scoring drought and the series was overshadowed with continual talk about Crosby’s frail nature. We kept wondering why he was playing if the Pens were really afraid he would be hurt or if this was just a mental game they were playing with the Sens. Erik Karlsson brought some comic relief when he mocked Crosby’s whining at the refs and his incessant whispering on the ice.

Matt Murray found his way back to the net when Fleury was pulled after game two, which changed much of the dynamics to the game as he stopped 123 of 130 shots. The Kessel, Crosby, Malkin threesome was in full force for this round but let’s face it; we were rooting for Craig Anderson to hold them back. He did stop 206 of 220 shots but sadly it wasn’t enough. The Sens fell to the Pens in game seven. Oddly, the NHL reportedly ‘censored’ a video of Karlsson telling Crosby he hoped he was healthy–after all we were all wondering at this point if he was playing injured and if the Pens were ignoring potential concussion symptoms. (YardBarker)

And then everything seemed to shift and become all about Crosby. The Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford complained that Crosby was receiving abuse at the hands of opponents. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was forced to address the charges and the allegation that the NHL allowed Crosby to play even though he had a concussion. Bettman pretty much blew it off, but not NBC sports. 

PK Subban became the player to hate by the Pens in the final round. He too is an equally tough, and sometimes considered ‘dirty’ player. He will do what it takes to score, and like Ovechkin, he does it with flare which drives the Pens nuts. In the first game, the Preds held off the Pens from shooting for 37 minutes of play (The Score). Caps fans were pretty excited and impressed and oh so hopeful that this signaled the end of the the Pens run.It was not to be, but it did give us another view of Crosby and the Penguins’ culture.

There were questionable calls that led to the refs calling back goals–which pretty much no one agreed with.

By game five things got pretty disgusting with regards to Crosby and the pass he seemed to have been given. First we had the slamming of Subban’s head into the ice. Any other player would clearly have been ejected and likely been suspended. Not Crosby–he got two minutes:

And then he threw a water bottle on the ice. He claimed it slipped out of his hand and went into his Mr. Innocent act. He got a pass while again, any other player would have received a poor sportsmanship penalty.

In the end, many believe that the playoffs were ruined by the behavior of the NHL’s ‘Golden Boy,” Sidney Crosby. He may well have extraordinary skill but his on-ice attitude leaves much to be desired. He is frequently viewed as a dirty player who gets away with things that would lead to the ejection of other players. He is unapologetic for his own behavior while frequently whining about his own treatment to the refs during the game and pouting after. He feigns innocence and gets away with it. We’re pretty sure every team in the league has some nasty Crosby story. Above all else, Crosby is the reason that no one outside of Pittsburgh is celebrating the Penguins second championship.

Going forward, the NHL really needs to review its officiating and determine how they can ensure more consistency between the regular season and the playoffs. They must do something give the fans the sense that the final round hasn’t been decided as soon as the playoff teams are announced. Clearly the NHL needs a superstar for promotion of the league. Perhaps it is time to find someone of Wayne Gretzky’s caliber who is above suspicion for his play and has the complete respect of the league.

The NHL Network has already decided that the Penguins will be the best team for season 2017/18 and are predicting a third cup in the row for them—with or without Crosby. The worst part of the next year will be that every team will be compared to the Pens and every captain or lead player will be compared to Crosby. And the Caps will constantly face a barrage of questions about playing the Pens and have their two-time loss thrown in their faces. This can go two ways for the Caps—it can demoralize them and beat them down. Or, if folks like Justin Williams and Nick Backstrom have any say in it, call propel them to play harder and develop a winning strategy over the Pens. Either way, it’s gonna be ugly for Caps fans every time we watch those playoff reals, watch Sid lift the cup, and live with the constant reminder that the Pens won the Stanley Cup.

 

 

Caps Playoffs: The Ovechkin Factor

Year after year we hear the complaint about the Caps first line, especially their star player Alex Ovechkin. Today Coach Trotz did what none have dared do before and moved the underperforming captain to the third line. 

Typically Ovechkin bombs in the playoffs. Typically he scores five goals before the series ends for the Caps. Of course there was the one year he only scored one goal (2012-13) and the one year he scored 11 (2008/09). This year the Caps need the high-scoring Ovi; however, as much as he talks the talk, we aren’t seeing it in his production.

This seems in some respects to be a bit of an off year for him. It is another year of adjusting his game for yet another new coach. There is no doubt that the coach and captain have a mutual respect for each other. But for some reason, it isn’t translating to playoff goals. 

Ovi was ever the diplomat after today’s switch in lines. Trotz said, “The bottom line is we need him to be really good.” To which Ovi said, “Whatever it takes.” 

Don’t count him out yet. Something needs to change. Moving the lines around and going in with 11 forwards and seven defensemen is a real change from the norm. 

Will it work? We hope so.

Will Ovi score? We hope so. 

Will they figure out Fleury before Murray steps in again? Gosh they sure better!

Hang in their friends, it’s gonna be a stressful week ahead! 

Sidney Crosby’s Injury: Negatives and Positives

An opinion article by Lily Rosenberg.

On Monday night we beat the Penguins 3-2 in overtime, thanks to a beautiful goal by Kevin Shattenkirk. That was one of many important moments in the game. The other one happened 5:24 minutes into the first. Sidney Crosby was hit by Alexander Ovechkin’s hockey stick, which sent him flying into Matt Niskanen, who held his stick up to protect himself. Meanwhile Crosby was knocked out by the hockey stick and fell on the ice, hitting his head and sustaining a concussion. It was announced yesterday that he won’t play tonight.

Crosby has recorded 11 points (four goals and seven assists) in the eight games the Penguins have played in the Playoffs. He has four points (two goals and two assists) this round. He has then helped out with four of the 11 goals they’ve scored against the Caps. In the regular season “Sid the Kid” has scored 44 goals and gotten 45 assists adding up to 89 points.

For the Caps, it goes without saying that the Pens playing without Crosby could benefit them. In his NHL career, Crosby has scored 20 goals and 40 assists against the Capitals in the regular season. In addition, he has scored 11 goals and eight assists in the playoffs.

However, it could also really be bad for the Caps. This could be “kicking the hornet’s nest.” No doubt the Penguins are very angry and are likely to be much more damaging towards the Caps–meaning this will be a physical game. Although the Niskanen hit wasn’t intentional and he was trying to protect himself, he will still have a retribution target on his back. And then there is Evgeni Malkin who will step up and take Crosby’s role. The Pens have played 117 games without Crosby, with only one of them in the postseason. During those games Malkin recorded 66 goals and 88 assists.

And lets not forget Phil Kessel with four goals and eight assists in the playoffs so far. Or Marc-Andre Fleury who has been a real block against Caps scoring.

So there are the positives and the negatives for the Caps. We don’t wish ill will on Crosby and hope he will be back to himself soon. That said, all and all I think it will help the Caps not to have him in the game tonight. It is probably going to make them a bit easier to beat and bring the series back to DC.