GAME 22 REVIEW: Caps Last Chance Rings Post, Not Bell

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, November 21, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

John Carlson making his NHL Debut
Photo © 2009 Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.

With 19 seconds remaining in the game and trailing by one, Mike Green hit the right post flush and the puck gently came to rest underneath Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, and the Washington Capitals best chance to tie up a game they struggled in was whistled dead. 

Two ensuing faceoffs provided no more help, and the Caps (13-5-4) fell 3-2 before a capacity crowd at the Verizon Center Friday night.

Washington played the final 1:52 on a power play, and much of the time played with a six-to-four man advantage.

"There was a lot of red out there," Price said about the last two minutes to the media after the game.  "Especially when I lost my stick. I've got six players against four with no stick. That makes it pretty tough."

Tough, but obviously not impossible.

The Capitals found themselves down 3-1 midway through the third period due to an uneven, sometimes sloppy performance.

With several players wearing jerseys numbers in the 70s and 80s, Washington resembled a traveling pre-season squad.

Missing from the lineup were such regulars as Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Boyd Gordon, Quintin Laing, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn and Jose Theodore.  In were 21-year old Michal Neuvirth, 19-year old John Carlson and others that started the season in AHL Hershey, such as Mathieu Perrault, Jay Beagle.

Michal Neuvirth started at Goalie.  Photo © 2009 Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.

It's no wonder the Capitals looked like a different team in the first period of the game.  They are a different team.

"It's easy to rip on your players when you lose to a team that's below you in the standings," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said, "but I thought Montreal played a strong game. The biggest thing was I didn't think we were ready at the start of the game. "

Regardless, you have to play with what you have, and tonight the Caps just weren't ready out of the gate, despite taking the early lead.

"We got the sense of urgency in the last two periods," he added. "Sometimes it's too late when the other goalie is on top of his game."

Eric Fehr struck with the only goal in the first period.  After good forechecking by Perrault and David Steckel, Fehr beat Price with a rising wrist shot as Steckel skated right in front of the Montreal goaltender.

But Les Habitents registered the next three tallies, including two goals in 2:47 in the second period.  There was a deflection and a bounce off a Capitals player, so youngster Neuvirth (19 saves) can't really be faulted too hard one either.

"He did what a starting pitcher is supposed to do," Boudreau said of the goalie, making his first start of the season.  ""He kept us in the game. And we didn't take advantage of it."

The Canadiens' last goal was a rocket by Mike Cammilleri on a questionable power play midway through the third period.

It was at that time the Caps woke up, but it was too little, too late.

Washington got it's second goal off a terrific shot-pass from Green to Brendan Morrison, who then beat Price with a backhander as he skated through the crease, setting up the final two-minute flurry.

Despite the onslaught, the Caps never did get the equalizer.

There is no rest for the weary, though.  The team loaded up for their charter immediately after the game for a 7:00 pm road faceoff with the woeful Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow.

Hopefully they find their legs earlier Saturday evening than they did Friday.

NOTES:  Carlson made his N.H.L. debut and acquitted himself well.  He led the team in hits and rang a shot off the post in the first period in a bid for his first goal.  "I thought [he] played well," Boudreau commented.  "He's going to be a good player in this league for a long time."

D Tom Poti left in the second period with an undisclosed upper body injury.  He is listed day-to-day, and Boudreau indicated the team will call up another player for Saturday's game, implying that Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina and Poti all will be unavailable.

GAME 21 REVIEW: Bradley Leads Caps Past Rangers 4-2

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, November 18, 2009 | , , | 1 comments »

Matt Bradley was in the the right place twice last night in the Washington Capitals 4-2 win over the New York Rangers, and he made the right plays both times.

First, he took on Rangers tough guy Aaron Voros, trading wild right hand punches that left the smaller Bradley bloodied about his left eye, requiring six stiches.  Later, he gathered in a loose puck, shielded rookie defenseman Matt Gilroy, and beat Henrik Lundqvist high to the glove side to break a 2-2 tie in the third period.

Bradley, one of the team's unsung heroes, was typically nonchalant about the fight, which seemed to spark the entire Capitals team.  "It didn't bother me. I could feel the blood coming, but there is no pain or anything. It's just one of those things that is more annoying than anything. You have to go in and get stitches and you have to miss five minutes."

The game marked the return of Alex Ovechkin to Washington's line-up.  The two-time Hart Trophy winner had missed the previous six games with an upper body injury, and he returned with a flourish, banging home a one-timer from the point on a power play in the first period for his 15th goal of the season. 

Ovechkin also doled out several hits, so it appears the injury will not keep him from playing the physical game he is accustomed to.

Semyon Varlamov made 18 saves on 20 shots to earn the win, and joins a small group of goalies to win 12 of their first 14 NHL decisions.

And Bruce Boudreau hit the 100 win mark for his career, the fourth fastest in NHL history to reach the century mark.

But the game Tuesday night belonged to Bradley, the scrappy fourth line winger.  His fourth goal of the season lifted his team in the waning moments of a close hockey game, and kept them on top of the standings in the Eastern Conference.

1. A. Ovechkin - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2. M. Gaborik - NYR (Goals: 2, Assists: 0)
3. M. Bradley - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

Quentin Laing suffered a broken jaw blocking a shot with his face in the third period.  It's unknown how long the injury will keep him siddelined, but preliminary reports say it could be "weeks" before he can play again.

Tomas Fleischmann assisted on Ovechkin's goal, pushing his scoring streak to nine games, tying Mike Green for the longest such streak this season.

The Caps' power play went 2-for-4, and has scored at least one goal in all but four games this season. It's now up to 25.6 percent and is ranked third in the league.

Theodore Out for Tonight's Game with Rangers

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, November 17, 2009 | , , , , , | 0 comments »

According to Capitals Insider, goalie Jose Theodore has left the team and retuned to Washington for "personal reasons".  The Caps recalled Michael Neuvirth to back up Semyon Varlamov tonight against the New York Rangers.

Also, Jay Beagle was recalled in case David Steckel can't go.  Steckel took a puck off the foot in yesterday's practice and was limping around afterward.

More details about Theodore's situation as they become available.

Photo © 2009 Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.

GAME 20 REVIEW: Devils Over Caps 5-2

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Sunday, November 15, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

Jose Theodore had a rough night in New Jersey.

Photo © 2009 Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.

The Caps are taking the day off in NYC tomorrow before returning to Prudential Center for practice on Monday and then game Tuesday night at Madison Square Gardens against Rangers.


04:15 WAS - [Power Play] T. Fleischmann (7), Slap Shot. Assist: Morrison, Green
05:02 WAS - M. Perreault (20), Wrist Shot. Assist: Green, Bradley
09:47 NJ - C. White (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Langenbrunner, Zubrus

05:44 NJ - [Power Play] J. Langenbrunner (4), Slap Shot. Assist: Murphy, Bergfors
14:40 NJ - Z. Parise (10), Wrist Shot. Assist: Zajac
19:04 NJ - M. Halischuk (1), Wrist Shot. Assist: Bergfors, Sestito

03:23 NJ - C. Murphy (2), Tip-In. Assist: Zajac


1. Z. Parise - NJ (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2. J. Langenbrunner - NJ (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
3. M. Halischuk - NJ (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

GAME 19 REVIEW: Into the Wild, Knuble Breaks Finger

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Sunday, November 15, 2009 | , , , | 0 comments »

Posted by Anthony Amobi, Special Contributor of Caps News Network

WASHINGTON – Despite not having Alex Ovechkin on the ice, the Washington Capitals aren’t suffering – in fact, they’re rolling. They made the most of their opportunities on Friday night, and in the end, the Capitals defeated the Minnesota Wild, 3-1.

The game was competitive from start to finish and Washington finally broke a 1-1 tie in the third period as Brian Pothier scored his second goal of the season at the two minute mark. The Capitals went up 3-1 in the final minute as Brooks Laich got his eighth goal of the season with an empty-netter.

Despite an excellent showing by the Wild’s Josh Harding – who stopped 38 of 40 shots on goal – he was overwhelmed in the third quarter and Minnesota could not get anything going.

Meanwhile, Washington’s Semyon Varlamov was superb, only allowing one goal – Cal Clutterbuck’s shot with a minute into the second period that gave Minnesota an early 1-0 lead. Overall, Varlamov had 29 saves against 30 shots on goal.

The Capitals got on the four minutes later as they had a power play and Mike Green took advantage. Minnesota covered Washington as tight as they could during the power play; however, the Capitals saw an opening, and Mike Green – with an assist from a Tomas Fleischman pass – scored his 4th goal of the season sending a shot past the legs of Harding to tie the game at one.

Washington may have won the game; however, they may have lost yet another teammate to injury.

Mike Knuble had to leave the game in the first period, as he fell over Harding in the Wild’s goal and crashed into the net, thanks to a push by Minnesota’s Marek Zidlicky. It looks as if his finger is broken and will more than likely need surgery.

Photos © 2009 Cheryl Nichols. All Rights Reserved.
In other news, it looks like Alex Ovechkin may be on his way back to the ice. He’s not played since November 1st with a upper-body issue; however, he’s been practicing with the team this week and may return over within the week.

The timetable for Ovechkin’s return is undetermined.


01:31 NJ - C. Clutterbuck (4), Slap Shot.  Assists: B. Burns and K. Brodziak.
5:39 WAS - [Power play] M. Green (3), Slap Shot.  Assists: T. Fleischmann and B. Morrison.

02:00 WAS Brian Pothier (2), Snap Shot.  Assists: M. Perreault and E. Fehr.
19:23 WAS [Empty Net] Brooks Laich  (8), Wrist Shot.  Unassisted.

1. J. Harding - MIN (Saves: 38, Save Pct.: .950)
2. B. Pothier - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
3. T. Fleischmann - WAS (Goals: 0, Assists: 1)