The Washington Capitals (33-16-4-70, first in Southeast) face its closest competitor in the division, the Florida Panthers (25-18-8-58), at 7:00 pm from the Verizon Center.

Florida is second in the Southeast Division, but only eighth in the Eastern Conference, clinging to the last playoff spot by a single point over the Carolina Hurricanes, so every game is like a playoff game for the Panthers.

Florida has been playing well of late, going 6-2-2 in its last 10 games. The Panthers aren't going to be confused with Detroit or Boston, as they are just 10th in the conference in scoring. They have just one player with more than 15 goals (winger David Booth, with 20), but they do have seven players with 10 or more, so what they last in panache, they make up in bulk.

Center Steven Weiss is the team's leading scorer with 36 points (9 goals, 27 points, plus-16). Nathan Horton (13-18-31) and Cory Stillman (11-17-28) are counter on to contribute up front.

The Panthers' best all-around player is all-star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. His 28 points are fourth on the team (12-16-28, plus-4), and he is as good a defender as they come. There has been plenty of speculation in south Florida that Bouwmeester may be on the trading block as we approach the trading deadline, with the temperatures in Miami starting to attract golfers and herald the start of spring training baseball games.

Washington is reeling a bit from its 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings Thursday night. Adding injury to insult, the Capitals this week have lost their captain, Chris Clark, to wrist surgery, their veteran backup goalie, Brent Johnson, to impending hip surgery, and a pair of forwards (Viktor Kozlov and Brooks Laich) to nagging day-to-day injuries.

On Friday, the Caps recalled defenseman Karl Alzner and forward Alexandre Giroux from AHL Hershey and signed Staffan Kronwall off waivers from Toronto. They join goalie Michael Neuvirth, who was recalled earlier in the week to back up Jose Theodore, who quietly has been the league best goaltender since Dec. 1.

WAS: PP-4th (23.6%, 53/225); PK-24th (78.8%, 54/255)
FLA: PP-23rd (16.8%, 33/197); PK-16th (81.6%, 38/207)

WAS: RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Viktor Kozlov (Groin-Out); C Brooks Laich (Leg-Questionable); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR)

FLA: D Bryan Allen (Knee-IR); LW Rostislav Olesz (Groin-IR)

Moves and More Moves on an Off-Day Friday

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, February 06, 2009 | , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Bullet Point Style!

  • Washington recalled "King" Karl Alzner from AHL Hershey today, after last night's multiple allergic reactions to the blue line. Expect him to regain his status of one the Caps leaders in minutes from defensemen immediately. Erskine was paired with Brian Pothier at practice today, you can do the math.

  • The Caps claimed stay at home defenseman Staffan Kronwall, 26, off waivers from Toronto. In 52 NHL games in 2005-06 and 2007-08, he had one assist and 21 PIMs. He is in the midst of his best single points season, going 7-18-25-46 for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL this season. Because the Caps picked him up on waivers, they'll only be responsible for half of his league minimum salary. He's basically free!

  • Brent Johnson will have surgery, and according to GM George McPhee, the Caps will not go out looking for a goalie, meaning that some combo of Michael Neuvirth and Simeon Varlamov will back up Jose Theodore, who has very quietly been the best goaltender in the league since Dec. 1. Varlamov has been out with a knee injury at Hershey. The team does not think the injury is serious, but with a goalie they need to be extra cautious with any discomfort in the knee.

  • Brooks Laich joined Viktor Kozlov in the training room today. Laich took a shot off the calf in the second period last night and returned, but he was too sore to practice. He should be able to play tomorrow, but if he can't go, the team will need to recall a forward.

  • Michael Nylander skated with Backstrom and Ovie at practice today. That would be a fun top line tomorrow night. Nylander has points in eight of his last ten games.

Game 53 Review: Caps Have Clinker Against Kings

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, February 06, 2009 | , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Fifteen seconds into the game, the Caps held a 1-0 lead. It would be the last time for the night Washington would be ahead on the scorecard.

The Capitals (33-16-4-70, first in Southeast, second in East) allowed a power play goal, a short-handed goal and a goal with 1:33 remaining to fall to the Los Angeles Kings (22-21-7-51, fifth in Pacific), another non-playoff team, 5-4 before an announced capacity crowd at Verizon Center.

Coach Bruce Boudreau did not mince words in his post-game press conference, "The first period wasn't pretty, but the second period was downright ugly," Boudreau said, adding, "They've beaten us twice and we're a better team than them."

Alex Ovechkin did not want to talk about his 200th career goal after the demoralizing loss to a team that is just two points out of last place in the Western Conference.

"I don't know what's happening with us, but after [Semin's] goal, we just stopped playing," Ovechkin said. "Didn't play our system. We didn't finish checks. We didn't shoot the puck. We didn't play our game."

Washington opened the scoring on the first shift, the first shot of the game. A loose face-off in the left wing circle sent the puck behind the Kings' net, where Brooks Laich wrestled it away from an L.A. defenseman Matt Greene and ushered it behind the net to the other side, drawing three defenders. That left Semin alone in the slot, and Laich hit him right on the tape.

Semin buried it behind Kings goalie Jonathan Quick for his 20th goal of the season. It's the third straight season of 20 goals or more for Semin, and he has 45 points for the season, passing last year's total of 42.

That's pretty much where the highlights ended for DC though. The Caps surrendered the game's next three goals, including two by forward Anze Kopitar. The first Kopitar goal was a power play goal, marking the 13th consecutive game Washington has allowed an extra-man goal.

Kopitar again lit the lights just 13 seconds into the second period, and less than a minute later, forward Michael Handzus kicked in a short-handed goal for L.A., making it back-to-back games the Caps have allowed a shorty.

The game was filled with turnovers for DC, and Boudreau was not happy that the team failed to execute the stated game plan. "The game plan was to get it deep and play it deep in their corners," Boudreau said. "And how many times did we lose the puck by trying to be too cute at the blue line. That part is unacceptable."

Washington played a fairly dominant third period, outshooting L.A. 22-5 and outscoring them 2-1. Mid-way through the period Ovechkin stole an attempted break-out pass and whipped it past Quick for his first career goal against L.A., his 37th of the season, and the 200th of his short, but brilliant, career. It cut the lead to 4-3 with plenty of time remaining.

Quick, however, was up to the task, making several good saves the rest of the way, and when Kyle Calder banged home a pass from Dustin Brown at 18:27, many of the partisan crowd got up to leave. The goal was scored as a by-product of great forechecking, made easier as the Caps had four forwards and one defenseman on the ice at the time, trying to net the equalizer.

Brooks Laich answered 27 seconds later skating six-on-five to reduce the gap to one, but despite a flurry of shots, saves, and offensive zone face-offs in the game's final minute, the Caps couldn't push this one to overtime.

The Capitals host the Florida Panthers Saturday night at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center. The Panthers are in second in the Southeast Division, 12 points behind the Caps. Florida beat the N.Y. Islanders last night 3-2.

15.0 Alexander Semin (20), Slap Shot. Assist: Laich
08:55 Power Play - Anze Kopitar (13), Wrist Shot. Assist: Stoll, Brown

13.0 Anze Kopitar (14), Wrist Shot. Assist: Frolov, O'Donnell
01:02 Short - Michal Handzus (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Frolov
01:43 Power Play - Mike Green (17), Wrist Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Theodore
07:26 Patrick O'Sullivan (12), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kopitar, Quincey

10:32 Alex Ovechkin (37), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.
18:27 Kyle Calder (7), Wrist Shot. Assist: Brown, Stoll
18:54 Brooks Laich (13), Tip-In. Assist: Green, Backstrom

1. A. Kopitar - LA (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)
2. A. Frolov - LA (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)
3. D. Brown - LA (Goals: 0, Assists: 2)

Goalie Brent Johnson will undergo surgery on his painful hip in the very near future, and will miss up to two months, depending on the severity of the surgery...Ovechkin is currently fourth among the players who scored the most goals in their first four years in the NHL, behind only Wayne Gretzky (269), Mike Bossy (241) and Mario Lemieux (215)...Mike Green scored his 17th goal of the season, 13th on the power play. He has set a franchise record for the longest goal streak by a defenseman at five games, which ties his longest personal point streak.

CAPS GAME NIGHT--Game 53: I'm A Slacker!

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, February 05, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

Sorry, I don't have the time today to properly address tonight's game against Los Angeles. If you haven't read a preview of tonight's game yet, here are some links:

Rock the Red!

I'll be back after the game with an appropriate review. I hate it when real life gets in the way of the blog.

Game 52 Review: Caps Scare the Devils Out of Jersey

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | , , , , , , | 0 comments »

Michael Nylander scored twice as the Washington Capitals snapped the New Jersey Devils winning streak at eight games, winning 5-2 before 14,018 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

The big road victory came over the team next closest to the Caps in the Eastern Conference standings, and Washington extended its lead over the Devils to three points. Washington owns a 33-15-4 record, good for 70 points.

Defenseman Mike Green added a goal and an assist, as his goal-scoring streak reached four games, tying a Capitals record for most consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman. Alex Ovechkin assisted on two goals, and the Caps were successful on three of their four power plays, including both goals in the first period, setting the tone for the game.

Nylander was a difference-maker, scoring the third goal early in the second period on a backhand after Boyd Gordon controlled a bouncing rebound, and after two New Jersey goals, scored an unassisted power play goal at 10:59 of the third to seal the deal.

The Caps' fourth goal was a classic case of "dummy", where the veteran carried the puck along the boards until the defense practically ignored him, then he whipped a shot between goalie Scott Clemmenson's pads.

Nyls now has eight points in his last nine games, perhaps becoming more accustomed to his role on this team.

Jose Theodore made 32 saves for the win.

The game was not all good, however. For the 12th game in a row, Washington surrendered a power play goal, and tonight also allowed a shorthanded goal, to red-hot Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner.

More troubling though was the suddenly alarming injury news. Before the game, the team announced captain Chris Clark will miss the rest of the season due to impending surgery on his injured right wrist. Then, the team scratched goalie Brent Johnson to rest his nagging hip injury, with the possibility that Johnson himself may need surgery.

The kicker was losing Viktor Kozlov during the game with a groin injury. The team said it was just a tweak, but any injury to a top line player is a concern.

Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr also scored for Washington, giving Fehr goals in back-to-back games.

The Capitals play next Thursday evening, hosting the Los Angeles Kings at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.

05:58 Power Play - Mike Green (16), Wrist Shot. Assist: Semin, Ovechkin
08:12 Power Play - Brooks Laich (12), Tip-In. Assist: Ovechkin, Green

02:16 Michael Nylander (6), Backhand Shot. Assist: Gordon, Fehr
08:50 Power Play - Brian Rolston (9), Slap Shot. Assist: Elias, Parise

41.0 Short - Jamie Langenbrunner (15), Slap Shot. Assist: Zajac, Salvador
10:59 Power Play - Michael Nylander (7), Wrist Shot, Unassisted.
18:50 Eric Fehr (5), Empty Net. Assist: Morrisonn, Laich


1. M. Nylander - WAS (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
2. M. Green - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
3. J. Langenbrunner - NJ (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

Photo by Getty Images.

CAPS GAME NIGHT--Game 52: One Night In New Jersey

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (32-15-4-68, first in Southeast, second in East) travel to Newark to face the red-hot New Jersey Devils (32-15-3-67, first in Atlantic, third in East) at 7:00 pm from the Prudential Center.

Fresh off a weekend sweep of Detroit and Ottawa, the Caps will try their luck with one of the league's hottest teams right now. The Devils have won nine of their last ten games, and are within one point of the Caps for second place in the conference.

This is the third of four games the teams will play this season, and they have split the pair of games so far, both in DC. New Jersey won the first meeting back in October, 4-3, as Zack Parise scored the lone goal in a shootout. The Caps took the second game Nov. 14, with Jose Theodore making 32 saves in a 3-1 win.

The Devils are led up front by Parise (29-29-58, plus-22) and Patrik Elias (22-34-56, plus-14). Johnny Oduya (4-16-20, plus-12) and Colin White (1-11-12, plus-17) are their top defenders.

Captain Jamie Langenbrunner had three multiple goal games to finish the month of January for New Jersey, and he has 17 goals for the season.

Scott Clemmensen has been extraordinary in goal, replacing the injured future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. Clemmensen is 22-9-2, with a 2.29 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Brodeur started skating recently to get back in shape following biceps surgery, but is still expected to be out until the first of March.

Washington is paced, as always, by the Russian Machine, Alex Ovechkin. He had five goals in the pair of wins over the weekend, including a hat trick against Ottawa on Sunday. His 36 goals lead the league, and his next tally will be the 200th of his short career. Coach Bruce Boudreau described reaching 200 as, "a minuscule milestone in [Ovechkin's] career."

The Caps learned yesterday they will play the remainder of the season without their captain, Chris Clark, who will be undergoing surgery to repair his injured right wrist. Clark originally hurt the wrist in training camp, and has already spent time on the injured list this season with it. But General Manager George McPhee announced Monday that Clark needs the surgery and will be out the rest of the year.

Jose Theodore will get the start tonight. Washington recalled goalie Michael Neuvirth to back up Theodore, as Brent Johnson is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, speculated to be the nagging hip injury that has bothered him much of the season.

WAS: PP-7th (22.6%, 49/217); PK-24th (78.9%, 52/246)
NJ: PP-15th (19.0%, 33/174); PK-10th (82.6%, 34/195)

WAS: RW Chris Clark (Wrist-Out) C Dave Steckel (Lower body-Questionable); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR); G Brent Johnson (undisclosed-DTD)

NJ: G Martin Brodeur (Biceps-IR)

Alex Ovechkin scored three times in the first two periods, leading his Washington Capitals past the struggling Ottawa Senators, 7-4, before another sellout crowd at the Verizon Center.

The "Great Eight" increased his league-leading goals total to 36, after scoring five goals in the two afternoon games over the weekend. For a player that notoriously dislikes the early games, even Ovechkin himself can not argue with the results.

After the statement win over Detroit Saturday, the Caps could have been in for a let down against Ottawa, disappointingly mired in the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

But coach Bruce Boudreau's charges came out from the first face-off, playing with determination and brilliance, to quell any thoughts the Senators had of pulling off the upset, despite allowing Sens' captain Daniel Alfredsson to open the scoring just over three minutes into the game.

Washington (32-15-4-68, first in Southeast, second in East) followed that goal with two of their own in the first, both in spectacular fashion on the power play.

Defenseman Mike Green (15) blasted a slap shot past goalie Brian Elliott just seconds after an Ottawa hooking penalty. Less than a minute later, with another Ottawa player in the box, Green found Ovechkin in the left wing dot, who made no mistake with the puck.

The two plays took a total of seven seconds. Credit goes to Niklas Backstrom and Sergei Fedorov for winning the offensive zone face-offs, who each drew their face-offs directly back to Green at the point.

The Caps scored four times in the second period, including a breakaway from Alexander Semin, who made a nifty move on replacement goaltender Alex Auld, faking him to the forehand and then lifting the backhand past him once Auld was on the ice. The play was set up by Green, who lobbed a long pass to a breaking Semin.

Boudreau called the play a "Hail Mary" in honor of Super Bowl Sunday.

"A highlight pass," Boudreau said. "That was a sick pass by Mike Green."

Eric Fehr added his fourth goal of the season for Washington.

Washington rests until Tuesday night, when they travel to New Jersey to face the Devils at 7:00 pm. The Caps hold a one point advantage over New Jersey for second place in the Eastern Conference. The Devils have won eight in a row and nine of their last 10 games.

Photos (c) C. Nichols 2009.

03:31 Daniel Alfredsson (13), Wrist Shot. Assist: Heatley, Spezza
09:43 Power Play - Mike Green (15), Slap Shot. Assist: Backstrom
10:32 Power Play - Alex Ovechkin (34), Snap Shot. Assist: Green, Fedorov

46.0 Eric Fehr (4), Slap Shot. Assist: Backstrom, Schultz
02:15 Alex Ovechkin (35), Wrist Shot. Assist: Fedorov, Kozlov
05:01 Daniel Alfredsson (14), Slap Shot. Assist: Volchenkov, Phillips
13:07 Alexander Semin (19), Backhand Shot. Assist: Green, Laich
15:31 Alex Ovechkin (36), Wrist Shot. Assist: Fedorov

07:56 Antoine Vermette (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Kelly, Fisher
11:28 Power Play - Dany Heatley (22), Tip-In, Unassisted.
19:36 Nicklas Backstrom (13), Empty Net. Assist: Green

1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 3, Assists: 0)
2. M. Green - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 3)
3. S. Fedorov - WAS (Goals: 0, Assists: 3)

Green's 15 goals lead all defensemen...The game was the 14th sell out of Verizon Center this season and seventh straight, one game short of the Caps all-time record...It was Ovechkin's seventh career hat trick...The Game was delayed twice in the second period to adjust the Plexiglas panels behind the Ottawa goal after checks by Doanld Brashear.

Capitals Host Hockey 'n Heels on Saturday, Feb. 21

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Monday, February 02, 2009 | , | 0 comments »

Female fans can learn more about hockey, meet Hall of Famer Rod Langway and meet other female fans. Buy your tickets soon as they sold out quickly last year.

For more information, see the Press Release from the Capitals Website:

Capitals Host Hockey 'n Heels on Saturday, Feb. 21
Third-annual event introduces hockey to female audience at Kettler Capitals Iceplex Washington Capitals

Feb 2, 2009, 9:56 AM EST
ARLINGTON, VA. – The Washington Capitals have teamed up with MIX 107.3 to host Hockey ’n Heels from 12:45-4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. MIX 107.3 radio personality Chilli Amar will host the festivities. The third-annual event features instructional lessons and on-ice demonstrations targeted toward the Capitals’ female audience. Last year’s Hockey ’n Heels sold out in eight days, with more than 300 women participating.

The afternoon will be divided into five 25-minute sessions. The first session will be an on-ice demonstration on how to pass the puck and how to shoot a slapshot. The second session will show how hockey equipment is put on and what goes into cleaning the equipment and keeping it in playing condition. Capitals’ website producer and practice goalie Brett Leonhardt will discuss goalie equipment and will also talk about his recent experience serving as the team’s backup goalie against Ottawa on Dec. 12.

The third session includes a Hockey 101 “Chalk Talk” discussing rules and a short question-and-answer session with Capitals alum Rod Langway and Comcast SportsNet’s Lisa Hillary, while in session four Head Coach Bruce Boudreau will help the women understand how to dissect and analyze different aspects of a game. This session will demonstrate what the coaches and players do to get ready for their next opponent by breaking down film. The fifth and final session will consist of another on-ice demonstration.

Members of the coaching staff, players and broadcast team will also be in attendance.

Female fans interested in attending Hockey ’n Heels may purchase tickets by visiting the team’s website at ( beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2. Tickets for this year’s event are $65 including a ticket to watch the Capitals play Carolina March 3rd and $45 for just the event and no game ticket. There will be a cocktail party held on Feb. 25 from 6-8 p.m. where the Hockey ‘n Heels attendees will be able to attend for the discounted price of $15.

Caps Beat Senators 7-4; Ovi Records 7th Career Hat Trick

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Monday, February 02, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

Dave will post a review in the morning. It was quite a weekend!

Just a quick congratulations to Ovechkin on this 7th career hat trick!

Photo (c) C. Nichols 2009

CAPS GAME DAY--Game 51: Caps Host Ottawa Senators

Posted by Dave Nichols | Sunday, February 01, 2009 | | 0 comments »


Chris Neil took a run at Semin in the slot and Semin stepped out of it and Neil ended up taking out Alexandre Picard, who went straight to the dressing room.

Jurcina took a soft hold at 2:52. Semin joined him with 0:23 for a trip. Both calls were fairly questionable. The 5-on-3 expired without incident. Green sacrificed the body to make a save on an open net. Ottawa didn't get a single shot on during the PP.

Back to 5-on-5, Chris Kelly found Antoine Vermette in the slot for an easy goal. Feds was backchecking as Jurcina and Erskine were caught out of position, and Johnson had no chance on Vermette's shot. 6-3 Caps.

Caps get called for too many men at 11:25. Fluky goal on the face-off. The puck came off Poti's stick and Heatley was able to get just enough of it to slip it past Johnson.

Green took a slash on a breakaway just moments later. Boudreau isn't going to be happy the way the Caps are trying to let the Sens back into this one. Caps killed the penalty without incident.

Senators pull the goalie with just under 2:00 left. Johnson made a nice kick save during the 6-on-4.

Caps get empty netter with 23.9 left, Backstrom from his own crease.

Final score 7-4.

Total SOG: WAS-29, OTT-38


I missed the first two Caps goals as I was stuck waiting for an elevator. Fehr and Ovechkin with the tallies.

Alfie lit the lamp again on a slap shot from the top of the circle off a cross-ice pass from Volchenkov. It's Alfie's 14th. He just kills the Caps. 4-2 Caps.

Spezza took interference call to give Caps a 5-on-3. Backstrom fanned on nice crossing pass from Semin.

Gordon gets two for holding the stick at 9:24. Johnson made a nice kick save on Alfie on the first shot of the PP. Sens get two shots on goal total.

Green hit Semin with a terrific lob pass and Semin beat Elliot with beautiful backhand at 13:07 to make it 5-2.

Ovie completed the hat trick with a wrister off a long pass from Feds, earning everyone in attendance free wings with the sixth goal. It's his 36th of the season. Time of the goal 15:31. The cheer for the announcement was, well, really loud.

Twice in the period the glass behind the Senators goal was knocked loose, the second time on a big hit from Brash on Chris Phillips.

Shots: WAS-12;OTT-17
Penalties: WAS-1; OTT-2


Good first shift by Nyls, Semin and Feds undone by defensive zone turnover and Daniel Alfredsson's goal, a wrist shot from the top of the circle that Johnson never saw, screened by Morissonn.

Gordon had two of the Caps first three shots.

Johnny made a nice save on Alfie at 9:33

With Heatley off for a hook at 9:40, Backstrom won the draw straight back to Green, who unleashed a bomb from the point. Wes didn't even have time to announce the penalty.

Another PP goal, this time Feds won the draw back to Green, who went cross ice to Ovie at the left dot, who one-timed it past Elliot.

Chris Kelly took a hook at 17:33.

Shots: WAS-12; OTT-9
Penalties: WAS-0; OTT-3
Some pre-game notes from Verizon Center to get you ready for the Super Bowl Sunday matinee. I'll be updating this space with news, notes and observations between periods today.

  • Brent Johnson gets the start today between the pipes. Theodore gets the day off after seven straight starts (since Jan. 1 Theo's 6-3-1, 2.20, .919)
  • Brian Elliot will start for Ottawa. He got the win in the Sens 3-2 win over the Caps right before the all-star break
  • Today's scratches are captain Chris Clark and center David Steckel
  • Ottawa is scratching D Brendan Bell and LW Nick Foligno
    • ______________