Game 10 Preview: Caps at Buffalo Sabres

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, October 31, 2008 | , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (5-3-1-11, 2nd place in the Southeast Division) travel to western New York to face the Buffalo Sabres (6-2-2-14, 2nd place in the Northeast Division) at HSBC Arena at 7:00 pm.

The Capitals come into this contest having won their last two games, including Tuesday night's 4-3 shootout victory over the Nashville Predators. In the game, Alexander Semin continued his hot streak, with a regulation goal and assist, and a shootout tally as well. Michael Nylander also scored in the shootout, and it was his goal, the fourth for the Caps, that made the difference as G Jose Theodore closed the door on Nashville shooter Martin Erat. Theodore saved 23 of 26 shots faced.

Viktor Kozlov returned to the ice for Washington and netted his first goal of the season, while Dave Steckel scored his second shorthanded goal, on a beautiful tape-to-tape pass from Semin.

Washington will find itself, once again, without MVP Alex Ovcehkin, who is in Russia with his ailing grandfather. The Caps expect Ovechkin back next week, but certainly not for this game. The Caps will benefit from the return of D Tom Poti, who has missed much of the early part of the season with a sore groin. He skated at practice both Thursday and Friday, and the team sent D Tyler Sloan back to Hershey in anticipation of Poti's return.

Buffalo started the season on fire, winning their first four games by a combined score of 17-5. They've scrapped a little the week however, falling in succession to Colorado, Ottawa and Tampa Bay, the last two on home ice. The Sabres are a gifted offensive squad, led by Thomas Vanek, the leading goal scorer in the NHL so far. His nine goals are one more than the Caps' Semin.

Their losing streak has coincided with D Craig Rivet's injury, as he's out with a knee injury, and defenders Jaroslav Spacek and Teppo Numinen are veterans left to pick up the slack. G Ryan Miller is one of the league's best though, as his 2.07 GAA and .928 S% would attest. The Sabres currently have the league's best goal differential.

WAS: PP-16th (17.8%, 8/45); PK-20th (78.8%, 11/52)

BUF: PP-8th (21.4%, 12/56); PK-3rd (88.6%, 5/44)

WAS: LW Alexander Semin (tied for league lead in points with 16); C Sergei Federov (points in 7 of 9 games, tied for team +/- lead at +7)

BUF: LW Thomas Vanek (9-3-12, +3); RW Maxim Afinogenov (0-7-7, -1); LW Clarke Macarthur (5-2-7, -2)


WAS: RW Chris Clark (joins Ds Schultz and Morrisonn as only players to have appeared in every game this season without a goal)

BUF: C Derek Roy (1 goal in 10 games); RW Drew Stafford (2 goals on 26 shots); D Andrej Sekera (0-5-5, team low -4)

WAS: D Brain Pothier (concussion-OUT); LW Alex Ovechkin (personal-OUT); D Tom Poti (groin-PROBABLE)

BUF: D Craig Rivet (knee-OUT); C Tim Connolly (back-OUT); LW Jochen Hecht (finger-OUT)

Sloan Sent Back to Hershey

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, October 31, 2008 | | 0 comments »

Haven't seen anything official yet, but Capitals Insider is reporting that the Caps sent D Tyler Sloan back to Hershey today, clearing the way for Tom Poti to return to first pairing defense tomorrow night against Buffalo.

Sloan played fairly well while with the big team, displaying the quality skating skills he was advertised to have. He carries an even plus/minus rating and one goal -- his first NHL goal at that -- in four games back to central PA. He also will probably be forever immortalized in the "big checks" highlight reels for his hit on Daymond Langkow in Calgary.

He's too old to be considered a prospect, but at least the Caps can take comfort knowing that they have a 27-year old in the minors that can come up for a couple weeks and not embarrass himself.

Photo by AP.

Snippets From Coach Boudeau's Daily Media Briefing

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, October 30, 2008 | | 0 comments »

I'm sure the team is enjoying the extra day(s) off, but I'm chomping at the bit a little.

In his post-practice comments today, Coach Bruce Boudreau said a couple things:
  • Poti isn't ready. They "don't want to push [it]" and want it to be a "one-time injury only". He included that the team has missed him "a lot".

  • Federov and Kozlov got the practice off. He declined to elaborate, but joked it was a "Russian Holiday".

  • He hasn't spoken to Ovechkin, referring questions about the situation to GM George McPhee, but he expects to not have Ovechkin Saturday night in Buffalo.

  • He expects to back Green's minutes down a little when Poti returns.

  • He complimented Semin's two-way play and his improvement on the PK.

  • He thinks Clark has played much better the last three games and he just needs a breakout game to get him where the team wants him to be. He said Clark's speed is about 85%, but that his pace on forechecking the last couple games has been much better.

  • He playfully bristled at the notion that the team is having trouble in the third periods, referencing one of the paper's headlines about blowing a one-goal third period lead.

Photo courtesy of

Washington -- The Washington Capitals defeated the visiting Nashville Predators in a shoot out, 4-3, missing their MVP and leader Alex Ovechkin, who was en route to Russia to be with his ailing grandfather.

The Caps took a 3-2 lead against Nashville less than two minutes into the third period, on a power play goal by their new scoring leader Alexander Semin. It was Semin's eighth goal of the season. They then surrendered the tying goal with less than seven minutes to play, but held on to the tie despite being outshot (15-3) and outplayed in the third period to force overtime. Overtime was uneventful, and the Caps went to their second shootout of the season.

But even the shootout went to overtime, as three shots apiece found the teams still tied. Semin and Ville Koistinen each tallied on their shootout attempt, and the teams were forced to send out extra skaters. But Michael Nylander beat goalie Dan Ellis with a nifty backhand and Jose Theodore denied Martin Erat to secure the victory.

The Caps opened the scoring with a goal from Viktor Kozlov, his first of the season, and got a short-handed marker from David Steckel, who finished a breakaway on a feed by Semin. Nashville got two goals ferom Jason Arnott and one from Koistinen.

Washington was jumping in the first period, outshooting Nashville 19-4 in the frame. But as well played as the first period was, it was equally as bad in the third, as the Caps allowed 15 shots and the game tying goal to Arnott. The Caps also took three consecutive penalties in the third, making their jobs considerably more difficult. They were beaten to pucks, stopped skating on defense, and generally were outworked in the last period, something that as to stick in the craw of coach Bruce Boudreau.

But his team secured the victory regardless, even without its marquee player. Ovechkin's timetable for return remains uncertain. The Caps, however, are off until Saturday when they face Buffalo in upstate New York.

Jose Theodore was the winning goalie (4-2-0, 3.20, .886). He stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced, including 14 of 15 in the third period.

Photos (c) Cheryl Nichols 2008.

WAS: Kozlov (1) from Green (1-12:13); Steckel (2) from Semin (1-15:38-SH); Semin (8) from Backstrom and Federov (3-1:58-PP); SO: Semin; Nylander

NSH: Koistinen (1) from Dumont and Erat (1-13:59-PP); Arnott (4) from Dumont and Hornqvist (2-11:21); Arnott (5) from Suter and Dumont (3-13:24); SO: Koistinen

GOOD: David Steckel. He played his most complete game of the season last night. Was +1 with short-handed goal. Recorded three hits. Was third in short-handed ice time behind Schultz and Semin. Voted #3 star by attending media.

BAD: Penalties in the third period. Brooks Laich and Nylander each got hooking calls and Shaone Morrisonn took an interference at 15:51. The stripes seemed a little uneven anyway last night, but to give them a reason to blow thier whistles in the third period makes everyone's job tougher.

UGLY: Nashville's shooting. Through the first two periods, the Predators had missed as many shots (11) as it had put on goal.
NEXT GAME: Saturday, November 1 against the Buffalo Sabres from HSBC Arena at 7:00 pm

RECORD: 5-3-1, 11 points, first place in Southeast Division. Two-game winning streak

NOTES: The team honored Sergei Federov and Tyler Sloan with video messages on their accomplishments while on the three-game road trip. Federov became the all-time leading scorer among Russian-bron players, and Sloan scored his frist NHL goal.

Ovechkin's streak of 203 consecutive games played was broken.

Semin's power play goal was his first of the season. His previous seven goals were all even strength. Semin currently leads the NHL in scoring with 19 points, one ahead of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.

Game 9 Preview: Caps v. Nashville Predators

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (4-3-1) return from their three-game western swing to face the Nashville Predators (4-4-0) at 7:00 pm from the Verizon Center.

The Caps got an overtime goal from leading scorer Alexander Semin to salvage a win on the road trip in Dallas, 6-5. It was an unusually high-scoring affair with the Stars, normally one of the stingier teams in the league. Sergei Federov and Tomas Fleischmann scored twice each, and Tyler Sloan got his first NHL goal in his third career game.

Federov became the leading Russian-born goal scorer in the NHL, passing Alexander Mogilny for most goals. He had previously set the mark for assists and points.

Washington enters this contest without one of its most important players, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin left the team Monday to travel to Russia to be with his ailing grandfather. GM George McPhee said Ovechkin will probably miss Saturday's contest as well, but set no official time timetable for last year's Hart Trophy winner. Brooks Laich will move up to the first line with Nicklas Backstrom and Viktor Kozlov.

Goalie Brent Johnson (1-1-1, 2.71, .885) gets the start in net against the Predators.

Coach Barry Trotz' Nashville team comes into this game fairly well rested, having played just twice in the last nine games. They defeated the L.A. Kings 5-4 Saturday night and dropped a 5-3 decision to Calgary Thursday. Both contests were in Nashville.

The Predators are led up front by C Jason Arnott, RW Martin Erat and RW J.P. Dumont. Blue liners of note are Shea Weber, who is tied with Dumont with 9 points to pace the Preds, and Ryan Suter.

Dan Ellis is Nashville's primary goalie, having started seven of their eight games. His record is 4-4-0 with a 3.35 GAA and .867 S%.

WAS: PP-16th (17.5%, 7/40); PK-20th (77.8%, 10/45)

NSH: PP-17th (17.1%, 7/41); PK-26th (75.6%, 10/41)

WAS: LW Alexander Semin (7-7-14, +6); C Michael Nylander (2-6-8, +3); C/D Sergei Federov (3-4-7, +7)

NSH: RW J.P. Dumont (2-7-9, -1); D Shea Weber (3-6-9, +3); C Jason Arnott (3-4-7, -2)


WAS: RW Chris Clark (0-1-1, even); C Nicklas Backstrom (0-3-3, +1); LW Dave Steckel (1-1-2, -2)

NSH: C Vernon Fiddler (0-0-0, -3); D Dan Hamhuis (0-2-2, -5); C Radek Bonk (1-1-2, -1)

WAS: D Tom Poti (groin-DTD); D Brian Pothier (concussion-OUT); LW Alex Ovechkin (personal-OUT)

NSH: LW Martin Gelinas (knee-DTD); RW Steve Sullivan (back-doubtful); RW Jed Ortmeyer (knee-OUT)

Caps in the Community

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, October 27, 2008 | | 0 comments »

Caps Present Fall Puck Surprise

Stop by the community relations table behind section 104 at the Caps game on Tuesday, Oct. 28, for a Fall Puck Surprise. For $35 you can buy a package that includes an autographed puck with Hershey’s Kisses. What’s the surprise? Almost every puck is autographed by a Caps player. If the puck you select is not autographed, Capitals alternate captain and former Hart Trophy winner Sergei Fedorov will sign it for you personally after the game!

The Washington Capitals, with the help of the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, are offering Maryland drivers the unique opportunity to bid on official Caps license plates, each displaying a number between 0001 and 0100. To bid on a Caps license plate you must be a registered driver in the state of Maryland and possess a vehicle with a valid Maryland registration. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Washington Capitals Charities. Fans can also download an application for Maryland and Virginia Caps license plates at the Caps website.

Unleash the Red Video Contest

The Caps want you to show your support in the form of a video in the Unleash the Red contest. Prizes will be awarded to the top 3 videos submitted. The Grand prize winner will win a suite to a game and get to invite 17 of their closest friends to attend as well and watch their video on the HD Big Screen in Verizon Center.

For your chance to show your skills and Caps pride, create your video and upload it using the form on the Caps web site prior to Dec. 4, 2008.

Ovechkin Out Against Nashville Tomorrow

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, October 27, 2008 | | 0 comments »

According to Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Caps LW Alex Ovechkin has returned to Russia to be with his ill grandfather. How long Ovechkin will be out is unknown at this time.

The team's web page has pretty much the same story.

At today's practice, Coach Bruce Boudreau had Brooks Laich skating in Ovie's spot with Nicklas Backstrom and Viktor Kozlov. The other lines were Fehr-Fedorov-Semin, Fleischmann-Nylander-Clark and Brashear-Gordon-Bradley, with David Steckel possibly moving into Federov's spot if Feds is forced to the blue line for tomorrow's match-up.

Ovechkin has been mired in a slump the first few weeks of the season, and this could very well be a contributing factor, although I'm sure the Russian sniper would not admit to such. Hopefully when Ovechkin does make his return, he'll be able to resume his normal shifts and return to his Hart Trophy winning form from last season.

Caps News Network wishes to extend best thoughts to Ovechkin and his family.

Dallas -- After his wrist shot sailed over Dallas goalie Marty Turco's shoulder and into the top corner of the net, Alexander Semin's teammates mobbed him on the ice, the joy and relief of notching two points on a previously pointless three-game road trip evident. Semin's winner at 2:18 of overtime sealed a 6-5 win for the struggling Washington Capitals and brings them home feeling a little better about the road trip, which saw earlier losses to Calgary and Phoenix.

Semin's goal put an exclamation point on a big night for the Caps all around. Sergei Federov netted two goals, setting the NHL record for goals scored by a Russian-born player, Tomas Fleischmann also had a two-goal game, and Tyler Sloan scored his first career NHL goal of his career.

Federov scored twice, his 474th and 475th of his distinguished career, breaking a tie with Alexander Mogilny. Federov already owned the career record for assists and points by a Russian-born player, with 678 and 1,153.

Fleischmann, 24, put his second goal of the season past Turco with a wrist shot at 16:58 of the first, giving the Caps a 2-1 lead. He tallied again at 15:16 of the second to extend the lead to 4-2. The lead would be short-lived, as Brandon Crombeen scored just 39 seconds later to reduce the lead to one, and Dallas tied it 56 seconds into the third period, with Loui Eriksson beating Caps G Jose Theodore.

Tyler Sloan gave the Caps the lead back again at 2:22 of the third, tapping in a cross-slot pass from Viktor Kozlov, making his return after missing four games with a knee injury. But Stars captain Mike Modano punched one in at the post with just 57 seconds remaining in regulation, forcing the extra period.

Jose Theodore (3-2-0) stopped 26 of the 31 shots he faced, but it was enough for the win.

The Caps celebrate Alexander Semin's game-winning goal. (Photo by AP.)

WAS: Federov (2) from Semin and Backstrom (1-12:38-PP); Fleischmann (2) from Nylander (1-16:58); Federov (3) from Semin and Laich (2-11:23); Fleischmann (3) from Nylander (2-15:16); Sloan (1) from Kozlov and Ovechkin (3-2:22); Semin (7) from Gordon and Green (OT-2:17)

DAL: Avery (1) from Crombeen and Modano (1-10:19); Brunnstrom (5) from Avery and Robidas (1-19:50-PP); Crombeen (1) from Daley and Modano (2-15:55); Eriksson (4) from Ribeiro and Morrow (2-0:56); Modano (4) from Morrow and Erikkson (3-19:03)

GOOD: The Scoresheet! Six goals, bask in the glory. OK, that might be a little strong. But after scoring just once in losses against Phoenix and Calgary, it was about time for the Caps to bust out. Special congrats to Federov, for becoming the all-time NHL Russian-born goals, assists and points leader, and to Tyler Sloan, at 27 scoring his first career NHL goal in his third game.

BAD: The Defense. What defense? Modano sat on the doorstep and was uncontested banging home the game tying goal with less than a minute to go. Green and Morrisson were both -1 for the game. This team really needs to get Poti back.

UGLY: Marty Turco. What's happened to him? He used to be one of the best goalies in the league, but he's been absolutely miserable this year. He came in with a 4.70 GAA and it'll only go up after allowing six tonight.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday, October 28 against the Nashville Predators at 7:00 pm at Verizon Center.

RECORD: 4-3-1, one-game winning streak.

NOTES: The Stars were previously undefeated in eleven games against Washington in Dallas. The teams did not meet last season.

Tom Poti sat once again, nursing his sore groin. Eric Fehr and Dave Steckel were healthy scratches. Coach Bruce Boudreau hoped the night off would inspire and refocus Steckel, who has been struggling on offense and on face-offs, a critical part of his job.

Federov (2 goals), Modano (goal, two assists) and Semin (goal, two assists) were the three stars, as voted by attending media.

Attendance at American Airlines Center was 18,532.