Caps Drop Leafs 3-2; Holtby Heats Up

TLDR; The Washington Capitals win 3-2 on the road, and goals by Alex Ovechkin, Brett Connolly, and Toronto-native Tom Wilson keep the Caps within a single point of the Metro division-leading New York Islanders.

As to be expected when these two face-off, the first period was fast and crisp. Two massive saves early-on by Caps netminder Braden Holtby kept the score 0-0. The Capitals did a great job playing of keep-away, and successfully seemed to ‘bother’ the Leafs, as they gave them very little room to operate. Both teams registered a number of high-quality scoring chances, but it was the Capitals who had the better of the two. Due to a lack of coverage and a scrambling Frederik Andersen in the crease, the Caps had two empty-net opportunities, but were unable to pot the puck. Capitals forward Jakub Vrana is truly beginning to develop and mature as a player, and is now creating his own opportunities in front of the net. Although neither team scored in the first period, the first frame was neither slow, nor boring. No power plays to speak of either, but the Capitals registered 12 hits and 9 blocked shots. Both Holtby and Andersen appeared confident and comfortable, blocking all 21 shots faced between the two. Tonight, for whomever scores first, the luck will be ever in their favor.

Four minutes into the second period, The Capitals were awarded the first power play of the night, as Morgan Rielly received a two-minute minor penalty for holding. It did not take long for captain Alex Ovechkin to score his 43rd goal of the season, giving the good guys a 1-0 lead. Shortly thereafter, the Capitals returned to the power play, as Nikita Zaitsev received a two-minute penalty for interference, but did not score. For a team that leads the league in fewest penalty minutes, the Toronto Maple Leafs have landed in the penalty box eight times and have drawn too-many-men penalties twice in the last 4 games (Toronto Maple Leafs). Halfway through the period, the Capitals faced their first penalty kill, as defenseman Michal Kempny went to the box for tripping. After successfully keeping Toronto off the board during the penalty, Brett Connolly snagged his 15th goal of the season, and the Leafs suddenly found themselves down 2 goals to nil (Washington Capitals). Per Capitals analyst Alan May, the Caps lead the league in second period goals with 80 tallies through 60 games.

Pictured: Brett Connolly donning the Washington Capitals 2018-19 alternate jerseys

With just under 30 seconds remaining in the second, tempers flared, and both Andre Burakovsky of the Caps and Connor Brown of the Leafs were sent to the penalty box with matching two-minute penalties for crosschecking and hooking, respectively. The teams will start the third period playing four-on-four for another 90 seconds.

While neither team scored on the remainder of a 4v4 stint from the second it did not take long for Toronto to cut a two-goal deficit to one. A deflection off of a failed wrap-around attempt by Andreas Johnsson gave the Leafs some life in Scotiabank Arena, and eliminated the chance of a shutout by Holtby. The Capitals need to improve on their face-offs, and perhaps another acquisition prior to the trade deadline could help the team in that category. Moments later, Caps defenseman John Carlson was called for hooking, and the Caps went back on the penalty kill. Much to the dismay of Leafs fans, Tom Wilson, shorthanded, scored his 16th goal of the season, and re-established Washingtons’ 2-goal lead. In a flurry of goals and penalties, the Capitals received another power play, as Jake Muzzin was called for slashing, but did not convert. With about 30 seconds remaining in the game, John Tavares tipped up the Leafs 3-2, but the Capitals were able to sneak out of Toronto with a win. Braden Holtby stopped 40 of 42 shots faced, but he could not have done it without the Capitals’ defense.

FiCP Three Takeaways of the Game:

  1. The Capitals defense was exactly what we needed it to be; strong to the puck, blocking passing and shooting lanes, and protecting Holtby when compromised.
  2. The Caps special teams are improving; the Power Play units are scoring, and the Penalty Kill units are keeping opponents off the board.
  3. Braden Holtby has reached his mid-season form.

theScore. (2019). Washington Capitals Roster. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15/roster.

theScore. (2019). Toronto Maple Leafs Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/5/stats.

Caps Winless Drought Extends to Seven Games Entering Break

The Washington Capitals were expected by many experts to have a Stanley Cup hangover of some sorts after winning the Cup and enduring the shortest, quickest offseason for the entire roster. Things were kind of 50/50 at the start of the season, then the team got hot to close out the 2018 calendar year. When that calendar flipped to 2019, that hangover talk resurfaced. The team is having a hard time moving on from the past.  Continue reading “Caps Winless Drought Extends to Seven Games Entering Break”

Caps Have Up-and-Down Week, Defeat Vegas Before Falling to New Jersey and Toronto

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Folks don’t blink. We’re back and the Washington Capitals are already charging forward into the 2018-19 season! This past week was an interesting one that began with a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights, a Stanley Cup rematch. Then the Caps quickly turned around to head up to New Jersey to take on the Devils in another back-to-back for the second week in a row (thanks schedule makers!) before coming back home to host Auston Matthews and the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs offense who made the biggest splash in the summer by acquiring John Tavares. FiCP takes a look back at these games as we await for more Caps action to come on Wednesday night against the New York Rangers. Continue reading “Caps Have Up-and-Down Week, Defeat Vegas Before Falling to New Jersey and Toronto”

Connor and Lexi Tie the Knot

This is a love story with the sweetest ending!

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Connor Carrick (former Hershey Bear & current Maple Leaf) and his love Lexi Solofra were married in Chicago on Friday July 20. The couple was in preschool together, although their memories are a bit foggy about it. They grew up in Orland Park, Illinois and have been a couple for about five years. We’ve been waiting for the day to wish them a long happy life together!!

The couple became engaged in July 2017.

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Their wedding day began with a bit of rain but nothing would stop this wedding!

Lexi’s sister Alyssa was her maid of honor.

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And yes there was dancing!!

Many fans in Hershey gave a big shoutout to the couple who were well-known in Hershey and also in DC where Lexi worked as a much demanded hair stylist at Immortal Beloved in Washington DC.

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In attendance at the wedding were good friends from home and around the NHL and AHL including Miles Koules, and Bears roommates Liam O’Brien and Eric Burgdoerfer.

Guests joining the wedding party in Chicago received special baskets of goodies in their rooms.

Lexi, with her family and friends prepared for the wedding in late June with her wedding shower at the Crystal Tree Golf Club in Orland Park.

They will be off to Hawaii to celebrate their nuptials. Congrats you love birds!!!

Updates:

Capitals Thursday Practice

Coverage by Chris Cleveland

After a day off and a respectable 3-2 win over the Senators, the Caps were back on the ice at Kettler for practice. They have two more days before the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series on Saturday. Our Twitter King, Chris Cleveland was there to catch some highlights for us.

Continue reading “Capitals Thursday Practice”

Nylander and Backstrom Reunited…Sort of 

The Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs are playing opposite ends of the ice tonight.

Monday night, old pals William Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom we’re sharing a bowl of guacamole at Rosa Mexicano. We aren’t sure what they were doing sitting across from Capital One Arena – whatever it was, they were having fun.

Continue reading “Nylander and Backstrom Reunited…Sort of “

Veteran Capitals Brace for Leafs – Game Preview

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The Capitals take the ice Tuesday night at the Capital One Arena against Atlantic Division’s leader the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Capitals last met the Leafs during a hard fought first round playoff series where the Capitals bested the Leafs in four of six games with only Game 4 finalized during regulation play. During the series, the Leafs repeatedly demonstrated their speed, agility and ability to score – without intimidation by seasoned veteran teams like the Capitals.

Tuesday night’s game is the first of three match ups between the rivals and both teams have scores to settle. The advantages and challenges the Capitals face to win this game. Continue reading “Veteran Capitals Brace for Leafs – Game Preview”

Keys to Beating the Penguins

Opinion Piece by Chris Cleveland

Now that the Caps have survived the Maple Leafs and are on to the Round Two, it’s time to tackle what it is they need to do to finally get over that second round hump–for the first time in a long time. Lets look at what’s ahead.

watermarked362016-11-17-0815First, the Penguins don’t have their best defenseman Kris Letang and that really hurts Pitt but is great for us. Not having to worry about Letang will be a huge help this series for the Caps since he is one of the best all around D-men in the NHL.  I don’t think the Pens were really tested that much playing the Blue Jackets and it wasn’t as obvious that they were missing Letang. The Caps really need to throw as much pressure as possible on this short handed defense lineup. We are a much better team then Columbus and I think we can really expose the hole in the Penguins defense without one of their best weapons.

Another key factor to this series is the Caps power play. It has been up and down all season but I really do think this is going to be the most important aspect for the Caps this series. Their power play struggled a bit against the Leafs. Watching Game Four the other day and seeing them not score on the 5 on 3 they had for two minus drove me absolutely crazy!! Coach Trotz needs to have them at Kettler for the next few days getting the power play right.  I’ve been to a few practices during the playoffs and I don’t think they spend enough time working on the power play. Even if it takes up half of practice go for it. Not to mention the power play was also 0/4 in Game Five. That’s when you know it really needs work. If the Caps can get the power play going early in the series Pittsburgh might be in for a long ride. When our PP gets going there is no stopping it.

The last big key to beating the Penguins in the Round Two will be the 5 on 5 play. The Caps looked to be struggling at times in this series. I actually don’t blame them too much. The Maple Leafs are a young team with blazing fast speed so I wasn’t all that surprised this series was a cat and mouse game. Speed is a really concern as we look at the Caps overall this past round. If the Caps can improve their 5 on 5 play against the Pens, I really do think this series will be good for them.

The best advantage that the Caps have this series is home ice. I think they really need to jump on Pittsburgh early in this series. They need to get the best defensive pairs out there when Crosby and Malkin are on the ice. Winning the first two games of this series is totally crucial for the Caps, especially on their home ice.

With all that said, if the Capitals can come out firing the first two games of the series and play like we know they can,  I really do believe they can win this in five games. They are perfectly capable of winning at home then going up to Pittsburgh and at worst, splitting 1-1 there. Then they can bring the round back home and it in a triple OT game five thriller in front of the noisy Verizon center crowd!!

LETS GO CAPS!!

Should We Give up on the Caps?

An opinion piece by Lily Rosenberg

Frustration and the playoffs go together like peanut butter and jelly. Stress, frustration, distrust, and scared describes so many Caps fans during the playoffs. Every year I look on the Caps Facebook groups and I see how many fans don’t believe. We can be down three games to one, or even be down two games to one; it doesn’t even matter.

Look this is so frustrating. We shouldn’t give up when times get tough. Did we do that at the beginning of the season? No, we didn’t, so why should we do it now?   Continue reading “Should We Give up on the Caps?”

The Morning After: Caps Hockey Hangover

Thursday night the Caps played their first Stanley Cup Playoff game at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was not always a pretty game, and it went into overtime, which means the early-working ladies of FiCP didn’t get a game recap out in time. So here are some of the highlights of the game, as captured by Mel.

Warm up were great. You could tell the players were jazzed to be there. The crowd was ‘lit’ with glow torches, and there was an air of winning throughout the phone booth. John Carlson was back and paired up with Karl Alzner again.

 

And then the first period happened…

Toronto surprised, and silenced, the crowd with a 2-0 lead. Leafs Mitchell Marner scored his first NHL playoff goal and Jake Gardiner came in behind him to give them the two-goal lead. The second goal was initially waved off but after a review prompted by a Coach Babcock challenge, the goal was reinstated.

Coming back to the second period it wasn’t clear if the Caps were ready for this playoff game or not. Fans were moaning a bit, just as three-time Cup winner Justin Williams scored the first Caps goal of the night. He came back with a second goal right though Leaf’s goalie Craig Anderson’s legs to tie it up. We can’t help but keep watching that one.

Meanwhile – Caps fans were getting a kick out of seeing former Hersey Bear Connor Carick taking on some of his old pals. Lots of love taps, and then a few scrums to show he was no longer one of us. Oh and Happy Birthday Connor, who turned 23 Thursday.

Back to the game and the third period.  Pretty much nothing happened there. The Caps out shot the Leafs. There were no penalties. By the end of the period we were off to overtime. And what an overtime it was!!

You may recall this statement earlier in the week…

We don’t expect to hear Babcock trash talk any more Caps players because it was Tom Wilson who brought it  home with his first (unassisted) goal in the NHL Playoffs, and he is the “first Capitals player to scored his first playoff goal in overtime.” (NHL) We couldn’t be more excited for Wilson!!

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For all the concerns expressed about Auston Matthews (34), he was relatively quite Thursday with one SOG.

So now we wait until Saturday at 7 pm EST to do it again. Caps have morning skae at 10:30 Saturday at Kettler.