The Washington Capitals bounced back from a somewhat dreary affair Monday night against Buffalo to sparkle in a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Black Hawks.  The Caps are now 3-1-0 in the pre-season.

Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble each had two goals, with Nicklas Backstrom and Tyler Sloan picking up the other markers.

Goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 26 shots in net. The Caps out shot the Hawks 30-28 and went 3-for-6 on the power play.

Knuble was cited by coach Bruce Boudreau for his good play.  His first goal bounced off his leg, and the second one he skated around a defenseman and beat goalie Corey Crawford from the high slot.

"He's a meat-and-potatoes guy," Boudreau said. "Coaches love guys like that. It's an element we haven't seen around Washington in a while."

The team travels to New York tonight to face the Rangers at MSG at 7:00 pm.  The travel squad information was not available at the time of this post.


Thursday, Sept. 24

10:00 a.m.: Morning skate/Practice, Kettler Capitals Iceplex
7:00 p.m.: at New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.
TV: MSG.  Radio:

Friday, Sept. 25
Day Off

Saturday, Sept. 26
10:00 a.m.: Practice, Kettler Capitals Iceplex
9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.: Capitals Convention, Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center

Caps Meet Hawks, Kolzig Retires, Carlson Cut

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | , , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals host the Chicago Black Hawks tonight at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.

According to Capitals Insider, this morning's skate at Kettler was optional, so the line pairings weren't announced, but the Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble line is expected to play.

Other forwards on tonight's roster:  Semin, Laich, B. Gordon, Clark, Laing, Osala, A. Gordon, Perreault, Wilson and Sugden

Defense:  Green, Morrisonn, Pothier, Poti, Jurcina, Sloan

Semyon Varlamov is slated to start with Michael Neuvirth backing him up.

Olaf Kolzig, the long-time face and heart of the Washington Capitals, announced his retirement today after 14 NHL seasons.  He finishes with 719 career games (711 with Washington).  His 303 career wins are 21st all-time, and he posted a 2.71 GAA and .906 save percentage with 35 career shutouts.
"Olie was the face of the Capitals franchise for years, on the ice, in the locker room and around Washington, D.C. He was a great Capital and the organization and our fans will always have fond memories of 'Olie the Goalie.' We wish him and his wonderful family all the best in his retirement." -- Capitals Chairman/Owner Ted Leonsis
It's a matter of short order before Kolzig's No. 37 hangs in the rafters with Yvan Labre's No. 7, Rod Langway's No. 5, Dale Hunter's No. 32 and Mike Gartner's No. 12.  Kolzig and Peter Bondra will complete a formidable "first line" of retired numbers when they are honored soon.
Goaltender Jason Bacashihua, defensemen John Carlson and Patrick McNeill and forwards Francois Bouchard, Andrew Joudrey and Steve Pinizzotto have been reassigned to AHL Hershey, which opened its training camp Monday.

The only mild surprise in the first wave of cuts was Carlson, the 19-year old defenseman.  Coach Bruce Boudreau said Carlson needed more seasoning in the AHL. 

"I just think he needed more time," Boudreau said. "I told him yesterday, 'You're going to be a great NHL player.' Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, all of our young D have spent considerable time in the minors and the formula has worked. There's no need to rush him with the amount of solid NHL defensemen that we have here."

The training camp roster is at 36, with three preseason games in eight days to set the opening night lineup, Oct. 1 in Boston.


Wednesday, Sept. 23

10 a.m.: Morning skate
10:30 a.m.: Practice (non-game players)
7:00 p.m.: vs. Chicago, Verizon Center

Thursday, Sept. 24
10 a.m.: Morning skate
11:15 a.m.: Practice (non-game players)
7 p.m.: at New York Rangers, Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.

Friday, Sept. 25
Day Off

CapsNN Participates in Media Survey

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, September 21, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

Earlier this fall, the fine folks at DC Pro Sports Report asked us to participate in a survey of Media and Internet writers answering seven "easy" questions.  It was an honor to be asked to be part of the group, the best and the brightest covering the Capitals in the electronic media.  Thanks very much to DC Pro Sports Report for putting the survey together and asking me for my opinion.

1)  Will the Caps three-peat as SE Division Champs?
2)  Will the Caps make it to the finals?
3)  If and when will Semyon Varlamov wrestle the starting goalie position from Jose Theodore?
4)  Each year there seems to be a surprise offensive player.  Who could that be this season?
5)  What player -- or type of player -- do the Caps need to win the Cup?
6)  What impact will 2008 1st round pick John Carlson make on the Caps this season?
7)  Rank the SE Division standings.

Here are my answers.  I was fairly direct in my answers on the survey, so I'll elaborate a bit here.

1)  Yes.  Carolina has to be considered a challenge, but this Caps team is built to win this division and go deep in the playoffs.  With the addition of Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison, the team is tougher, stronger and better balanced across the three scoring lines.

2)  No.  The Caps are slowly progressing by round in the playoffs, and the natural progression of growth is good for the team; they are getting better but still have more to strive for.

3)  Christmas.  I think coach Bruce Boudreau is going to have Theodore on a long leash this fall, but eventually Theo will play his way out and Varlamov will play his way into the No. 1 spot. 

For all his talent, Varly still hasn't played a full season in the AHL or NHL.  He needs to learn how to channel his energy in playing two or three games a week instead of laying all out once a week.  We saw how his talent dulled a bit as the grind of the playoffs took it's toll. 

The regular season doesn't have the emotional strain of the playoffs, obviously, but playing more often will help him control his energy -- and emotion.

4)  As for surprise palyers up front, I just don't see it.  The door is open for someone to step up with Fehr and Fleischmann out during preseason at least.  Someone like Alexandre Giroux or Andrew Gordon will have an opportunity to impress. 

But for the most part, the Caps are set up front with dependable veterans.  And another budding superstar in Alexander Semin, who needs only to stay healthy to advance to be an elite scorer in the NHL.

5)  The biggest glaring need for the Capitals to advance to the Stanley Cup finals is a big, strong, tough, nasty defenseman whose only care is keeping his goalie's crease and doorsteps clean.  Whether they find that player internally or from another club, if they want to take "the next step", it begins with finding that player.

You can win 50 games in the regular season, but the rink gets shorter in the playoffs, especially as you get closer to the finals.

6)  I stated that there would have to be a ton of injuries for John Carlson to make a real impact.  That's not an indication of Carlson's talent -- that's unquestioned.  But the Caps have a ton of defensemen under contract, and as they showed last season with Alzner, and with Green before him, GM George McPhee is willing to be patient with this top defensive prospects.

7)  Washington, Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Atlanta.

Almost all my collegues agreed that Washington and Carolina -- in that order -- are the cream of the division.  I'm a little surprised that several of the survey results have Atlanta higher in the standings, but the bottom three in the division won't be a factor in the playoff discussion regardless, unless something completely wacky happens.

Caps Nip Hawks in OT, Face Sabres at Verizon Tonight

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, September 21, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

After the Caps minor leaguers and players returning from injury beat the regular Chicago Black Hawks Saturday night, the home crowd tonight will get to see the pre-season debut of Washington's top line.

According to Capitals Insider, Alex Ovechkin will team with Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble on the No. 1 line tonight as the Caps host the Buffalo Sabres, a team they beat last week in both squad's pre-season openers.

Missing from the lineup for the third straight game will be center Michael Nylander, the subject of trade rumors since last season's all-star break. Nylander is in the last year of an inflated contract, and neither he nor the team is happy carrying him on the bench, as he was most of the playoffs last season.

Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischman both will watch as well, still recovering from injuries.

Jose Theodore will start in goal, his first pre-season game action. "We'll see how Theo plays tonight," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's practiced really well. I'm hoping he has a great game."

In the win over the Hawks, Chris Clark and Kyle Wilson both had a goal and an assist, and Mathieu Perrault scored at 4:48 of overtime to send the Caps home with a 2-0-0 pre-season record.

Washington out shot Chicago's regulars 30-26.

Michael Neuvirth went the distance in goal, registering 24 saves.
Monday, Sept. 21
10 a.m.: Morning skate
11:15 a.m.: Practice (non-game players)
7 p.m.: vs. Buffalo, Verizon Center
Radio: Caps Radio 1500 and 820 AM,

Tuesday, Sept. 22
10:30 a.m.: Practice, Kettler Capitals Iceplex

Wednesday, Sept. 23
10 a.m.: Morning skate
11:15 a.m.: Practice (non-game players)
7 p.m.: vs. Chicago, Verizon Center