The Origin of Gritty: The Story Behind the NHL’s Newest Mascot

With the Washington Capitals taking on the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena, FiCP takes a look at the fascination behind the NHL’s newest furry friend. Ever since the Flyers have introduced their new mascot Gritty to the entire hockey world in late September, hockey fans worldwide have became obsessed with the big eyed, orange furred phenomenon. Here is the story behind Gritty’s origin.  Continue reading “The Origin of Gritty: The Story Behind the NHL’s Newest Mascot”

Capitals’ Offensive Defensemen Lead to Win Over Flyers

 

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The Philadelphia Flyers returned to the Verizon Center for a lunchtime matchup with the Washington Capitals. These teams last met when the Flyers beat the Capitals in overtime in the first game back after Winter Storm Jonas dumped 2-plus feet of snow on the DC area.

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Capital Tom Wilson played in his 200th career NHL game.

First period: Holtby Stands On His Head.

The time clock in the Verizon Center did not want to work at the beginning of the game. Neither did the shot clock. They probably forgot to have their morning coffee. The clocks came back about five minutes into the first period.

Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner was called for two consecutive penalties in the opening minutes. Braden Holtby continued to show why he is the best goaltender in the league. The officiating was questionable with some missed calls. According to Chuck Gormley, the same referee who ejected Wayne Simmonds from the Flyers game on Saturday against the New York Rangers, refereed this game in Washington. Simmonds tried to start something Tom Wilson, but Willy wasn’t playing.

GOAL:

Michael Del Zotto scored his fourth of the season, assisted by Shayne Gostisbehere and Nick Cousins.

PENALTIES:

flyers alzenerKarl Alzner for hooking and interference; Ryan White for slashing.

SCORE: Caps trail 1-0.

Second Period: Capitals Clicked.

Jason Chimera had a golden chance on the power play but nothing. The power play is now 0-for-17. Holtby made a great stop on a Flyers 3-on-1. and the Capitals started to get better chances on Flyer goaltender Steve Mason. Chimera got a semi-breakaway but fired the puck wide. The Flyers had 53 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, which the Capitals were able to kill off. Then something great happened: two Capitals goals were scored in a 1:09. With the primary assist on the second Caps goal, Andre Burakovsky’s point streak is now at seven games.

GOALS:

Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the season assisted by Karl Alzner.

Dmitry Orlov scored his fifth of the season, assisted by Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

PENALTIES:

Ryan White crosschecked Michael Latta; Tom Wilson for interference; Capitals bench minor for too many men.

SCORE: Caps lead Flyers 2-1.

Third Period: Nisky Business

flyers nisky

Nick Schultz tied the game in the first minute. But 5:24 into the third period, another Capital defenseman would score the game-winning goal. Matt Niskanen skated through the Flyers like they were Swiss cheese. He went blocker side on Mason and it was a beautiful goal. With about four minutes left in regulation, Michael Latta got a big crosscheck to the back. Brooks Laich was not happy about that and some pushing and shoving ensues. The Flyers pulled Mason for the extra attacker but the Capitals would be victorious.

GOALS:

Nick Schultz scored his first of the season assisted by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

Matt Niskanen scored his third of the season, unassisted. Niskanen’s other two goals came in October 2015.

PENALTIES: None

SCORE: Caps win 3-2

The Capitals power play is now 0-for-16 in the last 5 games. Get well soon Marcus Johansson. We miss you and your controlled zone entries. Even though the power play is dried up at the moment, the Capitals still hold the #1 spot in the NHL.

Fun Facts

  • The Capitals (38-9-4, 80 points) now have a 17-point lead on the rest of the Metropolitan division.
  • They are the first team to reach 80 points and the only team to have a single digit in the loss column.
  • Braden Holtby collected his 33rd win of the season, which still leads the league in that category.
  • Our team is good.

What’s Next?

The Capitals will visit three Central division teams (Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars) before returning home to face the Pacific-leading Los Angeles Kings.

Monday, 8 Feb they have the day off.

Tuesday, 9 Feb, morning skate at Bridgestone Arena

Tuesday , 9 Feb, Nashville 8pm  ET (CSN and 106.7)

Wednesday, 10 Feb, Practice, 1 pm CT at Xcel Energy Center

Thursday, 11 Feb, Wild, 8 pm ET (CSN and 106.7)

By Renee Garces

Photos by Mel Abernethy and Brittney Marcum

Capitals and Flyers Game Line Projections

 

DON’T FORGET: It’s a 12 PM puck drop today. Watch on NBC and listen 106.7

The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers played on Saturday—both games ending in an OT shootout. Only difference is the Caps won their game with a magic shot by Alex Ovechkin while the Flyers goalie Steve Mason let a shot through to lose the game.

The Caps gave up an OT goal to fall to the Flyers in January. Michael Neuvirth, who was in the net then, injured himself during practice on 2 February and won’t return to cause problems for the Caps. Given the run they had in NY, we can expect Philadelphia to fire hard on Holtby to get that first goal of the day.

  • We still have no Marcus Johansson, Jay Beagle, or Brooks Orpik.
  • Andre Burakovsky is a scoring machine!
  • We think it’s time for a Kuzy bomb for his 100th game!!
  • Paul Carey (Hershey) in for Marcus again.
  • Connor Carrick is up from Hershey as ‘just in case” D.

Caps Forward Lines

Ovechkin (8) Backstrom (19) Oshie (77)

Burakovsky (65) Kuznetsov (92) Williams (14)

Chimera (25) Richards (10) Wilson (43)

Laich (21) Carey* (28) Latta (46)

*Could be Galiev, we will know for sure in the morning.

Defensemen Parings

Alzner (28) Niskanen (2)

Schmidt (88) Carlson (74)

Orlov (9) Chorney (4)

Goalies

Braden Holtby (70)** Philipp Grubauer (31)

** Expected in the net tonight.

Healthy Scratch: *Stan Galiev

*Will update when available

Injury List

Marcus Johansson (4 missed); Brooks Orpik (36 missed); Jay Beagle (14 missed)

 Reachable Milestones:

Tom Wilson plays his 200th NHL game on Sunday,

Evgeny Kuznetsov only needs two points to reach 100 NHL/Caps career points.

Nicky Backstrom one goal away from a new Caps franchise milestone: (162) for 12th place.

Karl Alzner needs two points for 100 NHL and Caps career points.

 The Flyers Projected Lineup

Forwards

Voracek (93) Giroux (28) Simmonds (17)

Gagner (89) Laughton (21) Schenn (10)

VandeVelde (76) Bellemare (78) White (25)

Raffi (12) Cousins (52) Read (24)

Defensive Pairings

DelZotto (15) Gostisbehere (53)

Schultz (55) Streit (32)

Medvedev (82) Gudas (3)

Goalies

**Mason (35) Stolarz (65)

** Expected in the net.

Injury List

Michal Neuvirth (30) Sean Couturier (14)

Captain America Return: John Carlson Finally Back

Defenseman John Carlson hit his 200th NHL point this year and from that point on continued to keep the Washington Capitals in the game. Often herald as one of the most underrated D’s in the league, John has been one of the most consistent Caps players. Before his injury he set a personal best in consecutive games playing 412 in a row.

Carlson was drafted by the Capitals in 2008 and with buddies Karl Alzner and Jay Beagle was a member of the 2008/09 Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears. He played his first game with the Caps in November 2009 recording six points in 22 games and scoring his first NHL goal against the Carolina Hurricanes in March 2010.

  
Earlier this year we suggested that Carlson is on track to meet or beat the 55 points he tallied during the 2014/15 season; however, his injury has most likely interrupted that projection, but there is no doubt that Carly will jump right back on the scoring train.

Thanks to everyone who filled in during his absence. 

Welcome back John. We sure did miss you!!

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.

IMG_7354
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.

IMG_7360
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

neuvy caps
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:

holby grubauer

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