Happy New Year's From Caps News Network

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, January 01, 2011 | , | 0 comments »

To every single living being wearing red at the Hofbrauhaus in Pittsburgh this New Year's Eve, and anyone who counts themselves among the faithful rooting for the Washington Capitals, Happy New Years!

The scene at the Hofbrauhaus was truly amazing and inspiring, and for someone who has been a fan of this team since 1974, it was a remarkable and memorable evening.

Special thanks to J.P. at Japers Rink and Kevin at Hogs Haven for helping organize such an impressive event.

Thanks for making this New Year's Eve something special.  Everyone that was there will never forget it.

Best to you and yours in 2011.

Dave and Cheryl
Caps News Network

Winter Classic Alumni Game Brings Back Memories of Youth

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, December 31, 2010 | 0 comments »

The game between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins alumni at the Winter Classic in Pittsburgh ended in a 5-5 tie, courtesy of the Caps' Peter Bondra blasting a shot from the high slot past Pens' goalie Frank Pietrangelo with less than a minute to play. 

The final result was secondary to the feelings of watching these distinguished NHL veterans lace them up again one more time.

It's hard to argue the Penguins didn't have the star power in this matchup, as Mario Lemiueux called upon all his old buddies to populate his squad.  The Penguins roster read like a Hall of Fame ballot:  Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier, Paul Coffey, Kevin Stevens, Rick Tocchet and Larry Murphy, despite the last playing more games for the Capitals in his long career.

But true to form of the Capitals great teams of the 80's and 90's, hard work in the last few minutes of this "exhibition" game earned the Washington alumni a tie.

Yes, these older gents were a few steps slower and their hands harder with age, but when the seconds were ticking away the level of play definitely stepped up, as if in unison they all realized this might be the last time they stepped onto a rink in this type of atmosphere.  Every player relished the opportunity with the joy of children taking to a pond for shinny.

Bondra saved his best for the final moments, but there were plenty of Caps heroes that took the ice wearing the current red uniforms.

Alan May came to play, as did Sylvain Cote on defense.  Paul Mulvey, who scored a grand total of 30 goals in his NHL career, found the net twice.  Craig Laughlin yukked it up with players on both benches.  Current assistant coach Dean Evason insinuated himself into the action, picking up two helpers.

Michael Pivonka.  Yvan Labre.  John Druce.  Nick Kypreos.  Maybe not NHL legends, but heroes to Washington, DC hockey fans nonetheless.

And Don Beaupre stood tall between the pipes, as he did for six seasons with the late 80's-early 90's Capitals.

Beaupre was one of this writer's favorite players during that era of the Capitals.  His statistics were hardly ever flashy.  Never did he win a coveted award, or really ever come close.  But his steady, veteran play led those teams to five straight playoff appearances during a critical time in this organization's history.

It was a simple joy to watch him don No. 33 and defend his cage again.


As for the spectacle of it all, it was a grand thing. 

Mario Lemieux's importance to the Penguins organization, to this city's prestigious sports history, is well documented.  The fascination with him as player and hero has not diminished with time and his retirement from play.  Every time he was on the ice shouts would go up from various parts of the stadium with requests for another goal from "The Magnificent One".

His faithful would have to be sated by his two assists, secure though in the knowledge that their hero, hockey's savior in Pittsburgh, still "had it."

Friday morning's alumni scrimmage was more than the appetizer for the bountiful buffet that New Year's Day's Winter Classic will provide.  It was a blissful walk down memory lane with many of the players that helped us fall in love with the game in the first place.

Caps Take It Outside (Photos)

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Thursday, December 30, 2010 | , , , , | 3 comments »

The Washington Capitals travel to Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon for this weekend's Fourth Annual NHL Winter Classic.  Before heading up, the Caps had a closed practice outdoors at the Chevy Chase Club rink to prepare for skating outside on Wednesday afternoon.

Most of the Caps have only played outside when they were very young and by the looks on many faces, they were transported back in time while out on the ice.  Mike Knuble had a big grin on his face for most of practice.  Defenseman Karl Alzner said, ""It's a lot of fun. We wish the whole season was played outdoors."

Jason Chimera mentioned playing outdoors with buddies on weekends that would start in the early morning, then have lunch at the rink and continue to play hockey until dark.  Chimera is from Edmondton, Canada where "there is an outdoor rink in every community" he said. Chimmy is the only current Capitals player that has played outside professionally. He played for the Edmonton Oilers in the 2003 Heritage Classic.

The Caps usually practice in the morning around 10:30 or 11 a.m., however, practiced at 1 p.m. on Wednesday because that is the same time of the Winter Classic on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Playing outside in the afternoon also meant dealing with the bright sunshine and glare off the ice.  Many players experimented with eye black. Some got creative like John Carlson and Matt Hendricks who were sporting a warrior type design on their cheeks. 

Alex Ovechkin was the one that stood out. Not only did he put the eye block under his eyes, but continued over the bridge of his nose to make one long straight line.  The eye black ring around the mouth was the attention getter.  There are a few pictures below because words just can't describe it. Ovi told the media that he just wanted to have fun and it was a joke.  The Great Eight also made it clear that while playing outside was fun, "its practice" with a seriousness in his voice.

The wind in Pittsburgh could have an impact on the game so Coach Boudreau ran the players through sprints at the end of practice to experience difference between indoor and outdoor sprints.  "I wanted to skate them a little bit to see if the wind affects" them, Boudreau said. "It's amazing, going one way against even a two mile per hour wind is a little bit different."

Overall, practice went well and Caps are very excited about the big game.  Boudreau said that Tom Poti, Mathieu Perrault and Marcus Johansson will all be ready to play.

Caps practice at 10:30 a.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex (open to public) on Thursday before flying to Pittsburgh.

Enjoy the photos.  See you in Pittsburgh!

All Photos 2010 © Cheryl Nichols Photography/Capitals News Network.
All Rights Reserved.


Brooks Laich

Varly



Matt Hendricks rocking eye black

John Erskine grew the mustache back - always a good thing.

Laich and Hendricks enjoy practicing outside

No way Jeff Schultz was going to let a broken hand
come between him and the Winter Classic!


Backstrom, Chimera and Boudreau



Captain America John Carlson was also rocking the eye black

Caps Defensemen: Alzner, Poti, Green and Carlson

Ovi after he missed a goal

Neuvy

Knuble and Sloan during scrimmage


Sasha and Ovi

Brooksy

Mathieu Perrault expects to play in WC


Coach Bruce Boudreau

Jay Beagle

DJ King looks like he's ready to beat up a Penguin!

David Steckel

Scott Hannan

Jason Chimera

Mike Knuble smiling like he's remembering days as a kid on the ice

Karl Alzner

Mike Green

Nicklas Backstrom looks focused.

Varly

Eric Fehr

Coach Bob Woods

During a quick meeting at bench. Nicky is thinking about how to score.

Varly

Tom Poti

Ovi got creative with the eye black! Went over his brow and around his mouth.

Tyler Sloan

Captain Ovechkin

Boudreau with press after practice

Knuble walked off rink after practice and gave his gloves to kids

This little guy was very excited to receive a Mike Knuble glove!

View of practice from end of rink as guys walked off.


Caps video of practice.

GAME 39 RE-CAP: Caps Shut Down Habs

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Wednesday, December 29, 2010 | , , , , , , , , | 0 comments »


THE RESULT:  The Washington Capitals shut out the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 in their last game on the 2010 calendar and last home game filmed by HBO.

The Caps faced the Habs on Tuesday night for the first time since the devastating loss in game seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the spring 2010. 

Many of the Caps took this game to heart. "We've had these guys marked on our calendar for a while" said Mike Green after the win. "They [Canadiens] broke our hearts last summer and we all had to live it with it through two to three months and we don't forget that."

This was just one of eighty-two regulation games for the season, however, one Caps player got an opportunity for redemption and played like it was the playoffs.  Semyon Varlamov was the goaltender in game seven losing by one goal and on Tuesday night, completely shut down the Habs.  It appears as though Varly may have earned a start at the Winter Classic.  It should be noted that Jaroslav Halak is now playing for the St. Louis Blues and Varly beat Halak earlier in December.



Defense was key to the Caps win.  It was no coincidence that Jeff Schultz returned to the ice the same night that the Caps get a shutout.  Schultz broke his finger on December 6 and has been working very hard to get back on the ice. He doesn't want to miss the Winter Classic and his defensive skills were greatly missed.  Welcome back Mr. Nasty.  “We missed him. He’s so consistent. He hasn’t played in however many games and he comes back and he’s solid just like he always is" said teammate Mike Green. "You have to admire that.” 



Kudos to all of the recent call-ups from Hershey.  Jay Beagle played in his seventh game since being recalled from Hershey. "There's a guy who is making a great case to stay here." Coach Boudreau continued, "It's his fourth year professionally (his first in the NHL), and his work ethic is second to none."


Beagle scored his second goal of the season and the first of the night in the first period.  “I throw a lot of backhand, but I don’t think shelf like that." Beagle said of his "Ovechkin-esque" goal. "I knew that [Carey] Price was a big goalie and I just wanted to put it on net and try to get it up." "I’m trying to [make an impact in the NHL]. I’m working hard. When you work hard, good things are going to happen. It’s fun playing with Chimmer [Jason Chimera] and Fehrsie [Eric Fehr]. They make it easy."


Check out Beagle's pretty goal at around 50 seconds.

Caps recalled Keith Aucoin from Hershey to take Marcus Johansson's spot.  After the game, Andrew Gordon tweeted that he was heading back to AHL. He has played well for the Caps and will hopefully get callled up again soon.

Photos 2010 © Cheryl Nichols Photography/
Caps News Network. All Rights Reserved.

The Caps continued their strong play on the penalty kill, killing all five penalties.  The same cannot be said about the 0-for-8 Power Play.  Coach Boudreau said in post-game presser, "They’re doing really well [on the penalty kill]. I think the power play is a little different – we are not scoring goals, but we must have had seven or eight really good chances.”

It should be mentioned that the Caps dominated in face-off 36 to16. Nicklas Backstrom may not be scoring goals, however, he won 10 out of 12 of his face-offs and David Steckel went 15-for-22.

The win gives the Caps 49 points (22-12-5) through 39 games to take over first in the Southeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference behind Pittsburgh. "We played a solid game," Green said, "We played our system to a tee and when we do that, we're usually sucessful no matter who we play."

"It was more important for us to protect the lead and not be too aggressive and play a solid game. And we did that tonight," said Mike Green.

It was a solid effort for the Caps and they should be ready for the weekend in Pittsburgh. Mike Green spoke about the momentum building for this weekend's Winter Classic, "Yep, yep, but we can't get too high now, we have to feel like we have over the last week where we keep building and building and building."

When Coach Boudreau was questioned about Winter Classic roster decisions, he said, "There's a lot of guys trying to make their case and I am trying to not think about playing somebody just because he is who he is. I am just going to put the best lineup that there is to win that night."  Is Bruce excited about the Winter Classic? "I just want to get it over with and I hope it doesn't rain." 

THE GOOD: Jay Beagle. Congrats on his first hard hat!

THE BAD: Habs' P.K. Subban. He tried very hard to get into a fight, however, the Caps didn't bite. He was after Chimera and Hendricks most of the night. 

THE UGLY: Power Play. 0-for-7. Ouch. 

THE STATS: Jay Beagle (2) from Eric Fehr (8); Matt Hendricks (7) at 16:20 of 1st.  Mike Green (7) from Nicklas Backstrom (25) at 19:22 of 1st.  Alex Ovechkin (14) empty net from Karl Alzner (4) at 19:28 of 3nd.

NEXT GAME: Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 1:00 pm vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA for the Fourth Annual NHL Winter Classic.

CAPS NEWS NETWORK THREE STARS

3. Mike Green. Another strong defensive game and goal.\
2. Jay Beagle.  Scored his second goal of season with "Ovi-esque" style and earned first hard hat.
1. Semyon Varlamov.  Shutout with 25 saves.