A Caps Fan’s Guide to Vegas

A month ago I made the last-minute decision to fly to Vegas for the Caps first ever game against the newly established Vegas Golden Knights. I have to say that I was a little nervous as I had never been to Vegas. So if you are anything like me hopefully this post will help you out if you decide to make the trip (which I would highly recommend for anyone at least once.)

The Airport:

When you get off the plane and head towards the terminal, you immediately know you’re in Vegas. There are slot machines and Liquor stores right there in the baggage area so you can get a head start before you even leave the airport. There are several different areas to exit for taxis etc.

The Hotels: 

I stayed at The Luxor which is towards the very end of the strip, making it a little bit cheaper than other options. Would I recommend it? Not necessarily. It was a nice enough place but the room smelled old and felt a little on the dirty side. For a place with a casino and so many bars you would think the room would have at least a mini-fridge, that was not the case. There was no fridge, no microwave, and a key for me- no late night room service. Me being me I decided to explore the other hotels for myself, which was pretty easy because from the Luxor you can take pedestrian bridges and tunnel type areas to get to neighboring New York New York, Excalibur, or MGM Grand.

There is also a tram that runs up and down the strip but I chose to travel by foot or taxi instead. So my conclusion was that the closer you got to the busier part of the strip, the better the hotels got. My favorite by far was The Bellagio which is about a 20-30 minute walk from my hotel at the other end and a 15 minute stroll to the T-mobile Arena where the Knights play.

The inside was decorated beautifully and the inside didn’t smell of smoke as soon as I walked in which is a huggeee plus for me. They also had several amazing smelling restaurants, and who could forget the iconic Bellagio Fountains out front of the massive hotel? 10/10 from me for sure, and worth the few extra bucks to splurge.

Hockey Stuff: 

The Knight’s practice facility, City National Arena at 1550 S Pavilion Center Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89135 is around 20-30 minutes in a car- or twice that length by bus. The facility itself is absolutely beautiful and gives Kettler a run for its money. Once you get there and go in the main entrance head to the right and the Knight’s rink will be there, along with their team store/ pro shop. One thing you all might be interested to know is that there is a full bar at the top of the practice rink.. the food is delicious and worth the drive alone.  I took my Nikon DSLR in and got some excellent shots of Schmidt and the whole team.

T-Mobile Arena:

The arena is so close to the strip you can walk there after a day of exploring. If you go through New York New York and follow the signs to T-Mobile and The Park you will end up right on the walkway to Toshiba Plaza directly outside the main entrance. The doors open 90 minutes before game time giving you PLENTY of time to explore the new arena and get whatever food you want before puck drop. The seats are comfortable- WAY more so than Capital One Arena..

The Caps or  away team will warm-up in the 9-13 sections end of the arena and ushers are really great about letting you know where you can and cannot stand to watch the warm-ups. We stood all the way in front behind Holts and only had to scoot over when those that owned the seats walked in. Overall a really great arena! You can park in any of the casino lots nearby- New York New York is the closest if you’re looking to be in and out.

 

I hope you enjoyed my guide and let me know if you have any other questions, I will answer them the best I can!!

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

The Many Faces of Nate Schmidt…

As you all know by now, I made the trip to Vegas to see our favorite Nate Schmidt. I met up with the wonderful Caps Road Crew to yesterday to see the Vegas Knights practice, and well, to say it was a success would be a huge understatement… Just take a look at these photos we snapped when he saw us in the stands with the masks of his face on.

The entire practice Nate was all smiles and his teammates were more than happy to give him flack about it.

If you liked these photos- stay tuned for more coming later!

Western Canada Road Trip: All Eyes on Chandler Stephenson

 The Caps have three away games coming up. Chris Cleveland shares his thoughts on what could happen!!!

 Chandler Stephenson- The Caps recently put Andre Burakovksy on the IR after he had thumb surgery and he will be out for six to eight weeks. Stephenson, who has been red hot in Hershey, was the obvious choice be to recalled after registering his first AHL career hat trick. He seems excited to be a part of this trip.  Chandler is from Canada after all, so there is a good chance he will get to play in front of his family and friends. We are not sure when (or if)  he will  play during this road trip but it would seem likely that he could play either in Edmonton or Calgary.

 Caps in Vancouver- This is the one arena the Caps never seem to win in. They always struggle there and for some reason, it is a hard place for them to win. The Canucks are just that good at home. Even though it’s a tough place to play, it is a beautiful city. I think the Caps will come out slow, like they usually do when they have so many injuries and the lines so juggled. It is going to be an interesting first period.

 Prediction: I’ve got the Canucks up 2-1 after the first with goals from the Sedin line and Jakub Vrana scoring for the Caps on the second period. The Caps will get an early power play chance in the second and capitalize on it to tie the game but will give up a goal later in the period and be down 3-2. The third will be interesting too. I have the Capitals knotting it at 3-3 but the Canucks once again taking the lead and then finishing it off with an empty net goal for the 5-3 win.

 Caps In McDavid’s House– Rogers Place will be rocking for this high-powered offensive lineup. The amount of goals the Caps score in Edmonton seems to be endless. Look for Chandler Stephenson to be in for Nathan Walker this game on the fourth line. The Caps will come out strong in the first, getting a few early power plays, with goals from Oshie and Djoos. The Capitals take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission. The second period is going to be the fun one with goals left and right. I’ve got Oshie scoring again and Carlson getting his first of the year. Caps lead 4-3 after two. McDavid will tie it early in the third with a beauty of a breakaway goal to tie the game. The Caps will eventually retake the lead with around seven minutes left I see Oshie getting his hat trick! The Caps will add another empty net goal from Lars Eller and seal the win 6-4.

 The game of Grubi– Grubi definitely gets the start in Calgary with Holtby playing the previous night vs the Oilers. This is going to be another very interesting game for sure. The Flames always seem to be the wild game of the road trip and you never really know which way it will go. I think this is going to be a tight defensive game for the most part, with the Caps eventually breaking through midway of the game. Chandler Stephenson will get some more time on the power play late in the second and really capitalize on it netting his first career NHL goal. The Caps  will add another goal late in the third and then an empty netter for good measure and with steller play from Grubi will end up with a 3-0 win and a very happy flight back to D.C.

So there you have Chris’ projections!! What do you think??

Caps: Photo Shoot, Practice, and Getting Ready for the Road Trip

The Washington Capitals started the morning with the annual photo shoot. There was a lot of twitter buzz over “who wears it best” between Justin Williams and Andre Burkovsky. Now we know why Burky was letting the curls run wild!! We’ve always said JWill had a strong influence on the younger guys, we just didn’t know it extended to their hair!!

 

After the photo the team made their way over to the Arlington rink for some drills before heading off on for five games away from home. Holtby is likely to see a fair amount of time in front of the net as the team goes down the final stretch to the playoffs. Philipp Grubauer is looking fit too. The Caps are fortunate to have two talented goalies. to carry them through to the last round of games and into the playoffs.

The Caps have a lot to celebrate as they board the plane for their first stop in Minnesota. Ovi with his 12th 30 goal game and the team with some well-fought wins to their credit set the stage for them to tally more points before returning home.

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The schedule for the remainder of the regular season:

28 March    Minnesota Wild   8 pm est on

29 March     Colorado Avalanche  10 pm est

31 March      Arizona Coyotes  10 pm est

2 April          Columbus Blue Jackets  6 pm est

4 April          Toronto Maple Leafs  7:30 pm est

5 April          NY Rangers at home 8 pm est

8 April          Boston Bruins (away) 3 pm est

9 April         Florida Panther – final home game 7 pm est

We’ll be ready to release the balloons to celebrate a great season!!

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At the End of the Road, Caps beat the Stars and Break a Taboo Since 2008

In three games on the road, the Caps have collected five of six points. Differently compared to that nine-win streak, two of these three games were really tough. The Caps were able to remain the only team in the league with single digit in losses (nine).

The first game on the road, a wild one against it’s greatest rival, the Penguins, the Caps would manage to tie the game in Pennsylvania, but lost in overtime by 8-7. Anyway, the Caps got a point and it was important to continue a point streak, with 13 games. In all these three games, the Capitals couldn’t count on an important piece: defenseman John Carlson.

The second game was easier, beating the Blues, T.J. Oshie’s former team, by 7-3. Seven different Caps scored and all the 12 forwards got a least one point. And also, the team scored seven goals for the second straight game. It was the first time since Feb. 11-13, 1993 the Capitals scored at least seven goals in back-to-back games. Then it was a 10-6 win over the same Blues and a 10-3 win over the Kings.

Against the Stars, the Caps had the pressure to break a big curse (or as we say in Brazil “break a taboo”): the last time they defeated the Stars was in Oct. 28, 2008. Although it was the league leader against a 27th place team, but it was hard for the Caps to garner the victory in The Lone Star State. Andre Burakovsky wrote his name in franchise history, as the player with most scored-opener in consecutive games with four goals. The Caps saw the Stars turn the score in their favor, 3-1, but they were able to tie it with two PPGs, by Ovi and Oshie. Jay Beagle needed 19 seconds in overtime to get the OTGWG and extend his point streak to 15 games. The last time the Caps defeated the Stars in Dallas, during the regulation, Burakovsky was just a few months old– in 1995.

The road trip did show us some important things about the team and individuals:

  • the team was able to manage to tie a tough game against a strong foe, in their home, in order to get a point in OT;
  • seven different Caps scored and all the 12 were able to note at least one point in St. Luis, Missouri;
  • Burkie wrote his name in franchise history;
  • Ovechkin tied with Wayne Gretzky for 15th in career power play goals, from the Ovi-spot;
  • the team were able to tie a tough game again, ending a drought against them almost 10 years with an heroic OT win by Beags, who has now a 15-game point streak;

To close out the trip, the Caps remain the only team in this regular season with a single digit loss, at nine; and the Caps are tied for first in the NHL with Columbus for goals-against, with 100; and leads the league with 68 points and Goal Differential, +48.

All-in-all; this road trip (with the dads and mentors) has been pretty successful!

Trotz’s Take: NYR Post-game comments, 3/4/2016

Following Friday night’s loss to the NY Rangers, Coach Trotz had these comments about the game:

About the Performance:

I thought we played pretty well, actually.”

“I thought we came out with a pretty good game plan.”

“I didn’t think the first was too bad.”

“I thought in the second period that we dominated that period.”

“I thought in the third we had a pretty good push on but they did a really good job defending.”

“I thought they had a couple of key saves.”

“We couldn’t’ get it tied up.”

You don’t want to give a goal up the end of the period—you don’t want to give up a goal the first two minutes the start of a period.”

Beagle, Richards, Winnik were outstanding—I would not want to play that line a lot—they were good.”

“We played the right way”

Trotz said he told the guys after the game: “I’ll take that game any day of the week

There are hockey gods and the way we played against the Leafs I think that was their way of going, you gotta give us one back for that effort.”

Road Trip

The Caps head off on a four-game road trip which after Boston takes them to the west coast and play against the Anaheim Ducks, the LA Kings, and the San Jose Sharks. Coach is looking forward to the trip, saying: “Great for us to get on the road a little bit, we’ve been home for a long time we may be a little stale. Get on the road and see if we can pull the game a little back together”

Bruins: “We are gonna get marked up by all the teams that we’re playing, Boston is playing very very well right now who knows what happens. They might be a first round opponent. Still a lot of hockey to be played they’re gonna come out ready to go tomorrow night”

Ducks: “…and then we head to Anaheim that’s five games seven nights that will be a tough one. Anaheim’s has won 10 or 11 in a row right now They’re playing real good hockey right now, they’re in first place and they are gonna want to mark us up and see what we’ve got to offer from this side “

Kings: “…and then we go to LA and they are fighting for first place and we’ve seen them once”

Sharks: “…and then we go to San Jose, who played us in game two.”

I think they are all fighting for first place within a point or two of each other and they are sort of peaking at the right time.”

Ovi, Ovi, Ovi… Caps Wild Postgame

The Minnesota Wild had lost six straight games and had not won at home since the turn of the calendar. The Capitals had not won in the last eight games at Xcel Energy Center. Birthday boy Mike Richards was a game decision but he was in the lineup.

First period: Penalties Galore

Braden Holtby continued to be the best goaltender in the league. The Capitals killed off a slashing penalty to Justin Williams early in the first. Alex Ovechkin draws the first Wild penalty and the Capitals went on the power play. The teams had 53 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey after a penalty negated the power play. With 6:02 left, the Wild had 9 seconds for 5-on-3 and another power play. The Capitals penalty kill was perfect during the period. With six seconds left, Wild Folin took a penalty and the Capitals went on the power play.

GOALS: None

PENALTIES: Justin Williams (slashing); Nate Prosser (roughing); Oshie (interference); Matt Niskanen (hooking) and Christian Folin (holding).

SCORE: 0-0

Second Period: Ovi hat trick!

The Capitals started the second period with 1:52 of power play. Unfortunately, they did not score on that power play but Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin would score his first of the game shortly after. Early in the period, Tom Wilson spent a few seconds in the Wild bench (none of the Wild players helped him out, a linesman did though). The Caps power play is scoring again! Ovechkin scored his second of the night and is now the NHL’s leading scorer (33) passing Chicago’s Patrick Kane. But Ovechkin wasn’t finished, he would score again to complete his 14th career hat trick. The Wild would challenge for offsides but would end up losing not only the challenge but their time out as well.

GOALS: Alex OvechIMG_9289kin scored his 32nd (Assists: T.J. Oshie & Nicklas Backstrom), his 33rd (Assists: John Carlson & Nicklas Backstrom) and his 34th of the season (Assist: Nicklas Backstrom).

Charlie Coyle scored his 15th of the season, assisted by Miko Koivu and Zach Parise

PENALTIES: Thomas Vanek (slashing); Dmitry Orlov (slashing) and Charlie Coyle (Tripping)

SCORE: Caps lead 3-1

Third Period: Out of Control Wild

Michael Latta and Zach Parise exchanged pleasantries early in the third. The Wild decided to start roughing up the Capitals younger players. Matt Dumba crunched Andre Burakovsky into the boards and a scrum ensued with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams. Williams would be the only one in the penalty box. Ryan Suter would score for the Wild on the following power play. Then Mikael Granlund injured Kuznetsov by hitting him in the face/head area with the butt end of his stick. Kuzy would head to the locker room and Capitals PR later announced that he would not return to the game. Jason Chimera, the Ice Cheetah, scored an empty netter in the final minute of regulation. With three seconds left in the game, Granlund scored and Braden Holtby was visibly furious. There was clear goaltender interference as Zach Parise had his glove on Holtby’s pad. But the refs, as they were all night, missed the call and the goal was deemed good. The Caps were victorious, 4-3.

GOALS: Ryan Suter scored his seventh of the season. Assisted by Matt Dumba and Zach Parise. Jason Chimera scored an empty net goal, his 15th of the season. Assisted by Tom Wilson. Mikael Granlund scored his fifth of the season, assisted by Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek.

PENALTIES: Justin Williams (cross checking) and Jarret Stoll (tripping).

SCORE: Caps won 4-3.

The Capitals now have 40 wins and 84 points. Alex Ovechkin got a hat trick and they leave Minnesota with 2 points. Unfortunately, Andre Burakovsky’s point streak ended at eight games. Let’s hope Kuznetsov is healthy and everything is going to be okay.

What’s Next?

Practice: The Capitals have Friday, February 12, off.

Game: The Capitals will visit the American Airlines Center to play the Dallas Stars on Saturday, February 13 at 8:00 .

Visiting Tampa Bay Amalie Arena, Home of the Lightning

 

What does one do when they are on vacation and away from their favorite hockey team? You visit rivals in their stadiums and make comparisons! This is our first article in a series about NHL stadiums/arenas that we will write about as we visit them.

tampa paviion

tmps boardThe Atmospherics

Amalie Arena is electric—from the outside in. No, really. It is ELECTRIC! There are actual lightning bolts coming down from the ceiling. And the fan energy was pretty impressive too. The pump-up begins before the fans even walk through the doors. There is a bar which serves just about anything you could want to drink and a couple of food trucks with plentiful options in the outdoor pavillion. Get a drink and then roam around the outside promenade (Note: you CAN also bring your drink from outside into the arena with you.) The night we attended a Kings-Bolts game there was a championship winning high school band performing and then the Lightning Girls put on a show to piped in music. When it was time to open the doors there was a big countdown which was rather exciting! Continue reading “Visiting Tampa Bay Amalie Arena, Home of the Lightning”