GAME 28 REVIEW: Capitals Tame Toothless Panthers, 6-2

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, December 04, 2009 | , , , | 2 comments »

Washington, D.C. -- The Washington Capitals received six goals from five different players, and goalie Semyon Varlamov was not dented until well after the outcome had been decided, as the Caps cruised to a 6-2 win over a very tired Florida Panthers team, before not quite a capacity crowd at Verizon Center.

Florida was playing its third game in four nights, beating Colorado in overtime last night at home, and it really showed. 

The Panthers never really had their legs, and it got worse as the night went on, as they took penalty after penalty, cumulating with rookie Mike Duco taking seven minutes worth of major penalty time for instigating and fighting (plus a misconduct and game misconduct) after he jumped Alexandre Giroux solely because Giroux had the temerity to finish a heavy check behind the Panther goal.

Coach Bruce Boudeau was pointed on his assessment of Duco's play, on which the Caps scored twice, putting the game out of reach.  "You get a good hit, and not a hard hit, and you take exception to a hit?" he said.  "It's stupid.  It's a dumb thing and [Duco] took their team totally out of a chance to win the game."

As for the Caps scoring, it was early, often, and varied.  Alexander Semin, returning from a seven game absence with a wrist injury, scored twice, the first on a wicked wrist shot to start the festivities, and later on the seven minute power play.

"[Semin] didn't miss a beat at all," Brendan Morrison (power play goal, two assists) said. "He got us going with an early goal, a beautiful goal -- a toe drag and a great shot. Not too many guys can do that. It got us going on the bench."

Asked about the performance of the "other" Alex, Boudreau quipped, "He was well-rested.  He should have had a lot of energy."

The Caps got three power plays goals in twelve chances, something they have been struggling with in recent games.  And Matt Bradley added a short-handed marker -- a "change-up" as he described it -- the first for Washington this season.

Washington out shot Florida 44-28, a testament to the complete domination of a very tired team. 

"They could have been a little tired," Morrison said.  "We talked about getting on them early."

"I like the way we followed the game plan in the beginning [because] we thought they would be tired," Boudreau said of the Panthers, who got into D.C. around 3:00 am. "[If] we attacked them early and got them down early, they wouldn't have the strength to come back. It worked well."

Captain Chris Clark talked about the defensive effort being triggered by the good puck movement on offense.  "Our good defense came from us having the puck in the offensive zone."

"We had a lot of chances at the net and we just kept piling on down low and not turning the puck over on the blue lines or up high where they could get an odd-man rush."

Varlamov made 26 saves on 28 shots, and made just one mistake -- allowing a big rebound to Steven Weiss, who followed his own shot and beat the young netminder to get Florida on the board.  The Panthers got another one just a few moments later on a puck the looked like it was redirected twice.

The win was the Capitals' fourth straight overall and it improved their record against the Southeast Division to 6-0-0.

It's also the third win in three games against Florida, all without Alex Ovechkin.  The Great Eight missed the first two contests with his shoulder injury and tonight's affair due to his two-game suspension for a kneeing game misconduct again Carolina Monday night.

The Caps play without Ovechkin again Saturday night against a reeling Philadelphia Flyers squad, who lost 3-0 to Vancouver this evening.

1. A. Semin - WAS (Goals: 2, Assists: 2)
2. B. Morrison - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 2)
3. S. Varlamov - WAS (Saves: 26, Save Pct: .929)

According to (of all places), and confirmed by Captials Insider, Alex Ovechkin has been suspended for two games follwing his second game misconduct ejection in three games for the kneeing major he was assessed in last night's 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I regret that this has happened," Ovechkin said in a statement released by the league. "I'm glad that Tim [Gleason] wasn't injured because I never ever want to see anyone get hurt. I am disappointed to miss these games and I can't wait to get back on the ice next week to help my team."

Ovechkin skated before practice today for a couple of minutes, and was listed as "day-to-day" with a sore right knee.  The diagnosis is much better than the original fears from watching the 235 pound winger collide with Hurricanes defenseman Gleason and writhe on the ice for several moments before being helped from the ice by Capitals trainer Greg Smith and center Nicklas Backstrom.

GAME 27 REVIEW: Caps Win Game, Lose Ovechkin

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, November 30, 2009 | , , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals got two goals from Nicklas Backstrom and 35 saves from Jose Theodore, making his first start in over two weeks to beat Southeast Division foe Carolina on the road, 3-1.

But more importantly to the Capitals (16-5-6) was an injury to their two-time reigning Hart Trophy winner, Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin, trying to check Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason, sustained an apparent right knee injury when the two collided knee-to-knee in the first period.

The team released a statement to say that Ovechkin will not have an MRI tonight, but rather wait until the swelling goes down to get a better assessment of the injury.  The rugged left winger was observed by members of the press walking, apparently without crutches or a brace, on his way to the team bus after the game.

After Backstrom was wiped out by a big hit moments earlier, Ovechkin lined up Gleason for a hard check.  Gleason managed to move his upper body to avoid the hit high, but their lower bodies collided, with Ovechkin taking the brunt of the contact.  Gleason returned to the ice just a couple of shifts later.

Ovechkin was assessed a kneeing major penalty and game misconduct on the play, and the team managed to kill off the five-minute major.  Coming on the heels of his recent boarding penalty against Buffalo last week, the league will have to review the hit and consider disciplinary action.

This type of play will only go to further reinforce some people's opinion that Ovechkin plays with a reckless, irresponsible abandon.  And as far as intention from the type of play that it was, much more can be read into this one than the hit against Buffalo, where he hit the player shoulder-to-shoulder.

What we do know about Ovechkin's style of play is that he is relentless, willing, and relishes the opportunity to throw his body around in a rough, tough, aggressive manner.  And there are even those that say that Ovechkin plays "dirty".

Regardless of opinion, this is his second game misconduct in less than two weeks, prompting an automatic review and possible suspension.

But the disciplinary measures are secondary right now compared to the concerns about Ovechkin's health.

Meanwhile, Theodore played a magnificent game, especially early.  Carolina got 13 shots on goal in the game's first six minutes, and the veteran goalie, who had not played since Nov. 14, was equal to the task.

Backstrom had a big game as well, netting two goals.  He tipped in a nice feed from Ovechkin before the injury, and had a nice backhander to beat Michael Leighton, who was badly out of position.

Eric Fehr buried his seventh goals of the season as well, completing a two-on-one with Backstrom.

So the Washington Capitals organization and faithful will hold their collective breath overnight as everyone awaits Ovechkin's date with the team orthopedist tomorrow morning.  It's impossible to speculate at this point what the extent of the injury is until the results of his examination are released. 

But Ovechkin, one of the toughest players in the NHL pound-for-pound, was delicately assisted from the ice, clearly hanging his right leg limp, unable to put any of his weight on the leg.

Ovechkin's injury, and the circumstances surrounding it, are matters that go beyond the Capitals community.  The two-time MVP is one of the faces on the NHL, and expected to carry the torch for the Russian Olympic team in Vancouver in February.  His absence for an extended period of time would hurt the league and put a serious dent in Russia's Olympic hopes.

It's safe to say that the world's hockey community will anxiously await the Capitals' team doctor's diagnosis.