Game 8 Preview: Caps at Dallas Stars

Posted by Dave Nichols | Saturday, October 25, 2008 | , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (3-3-1) travel to "Big D" to face the Dallas Stars (3-4-1) at American Airlines Center at 8:00 ET.

The Caps are on the last leg of a three-game western swing, and the third period in Phoenix showed it, especially on defense. Holding a 1-0 lead entering the period, the team committed two costly turnovers leading directly to the Coyotes two third period goals, and the offense could not muster a comeback.

Washington's number one line, featuring LW Alex Ovechkin, captain RW Chris Clark and C Nicklas Backstrom, is struggling the first few weeks of the season. They have seven points between them, four fewer than LW Alexander Semin, leading the team with eleven (6 goals, 5 assists).

The problem was never more pronounced than with about 1:30 left Thursday night. Backstrom found Ovechkin in the slot, all by himself --the result of a well-placed lower back cross-check. Ovie had a modicum of difficulty corralling the pass, then could get no lift on the puck, dumping it squarely into the mid-section of G Mikael Tellqvist. The Caps would get no closer to victory.

G Jose Theodore is playing well, though, behind his struggling skaters. He played his best game of the season in the desert, and hopes to build some much needed consistency off the effort.

Dallas comes home after a three-game road trip of their own, winning two of the three while in the New York metropolitan area. They defeated the N.Y. Rangers 2-1 on October 20, fell in New Jersey two nights later 5-0, and rebounded to out slug the New York Islanders 5-3 Thursday night.

In that game, Mike Ribiero recorded five points, and he paces the Stars in scoring with nine points total. Rookie LW Fabian Brunnstrom leads the squad in goals with four (three coming in his debut), while veterans Brendan Morrow and Mike Modano each have three.

Goalie Marty Turco has struggled a bit this season so far. He's been between the pipes for every game, compiling a 3-4-1 record with a 4.04 GAA and .848 save percentage. The back-up is Tobias Stephan, and he has appeared twice (3.60, .824).

CAPS: LW Alexander Semin (6-5-11, +6); D Mike Green (4-2-6, +4); G Jose Theodore (4 GA, .935 S% in last two games)

STARS: C Mike Ribiero (1-8-9, -4); LW Brenden Morrow (3-5-8, -3); C Mike Modano (3-4-7, +1)


CAPS: D Milan Jurcina (1-0-1, -2), RW Chris Clark (0-1-1, -1)

STARS: D Matt Niskanen (0-1-1, -5); C Sean Avery (0-2-2, -1)


CAPS: D Tom Poti (groin-DTD); D John Erskine (calf-DTD); F Viktor Kozlov (knee-OUT)

STARS: D Sergei Zubov (hip-IR); D Doug Janik (face-OUT); RW Jere Lehtinen (groin-DTD); C Steve Ott (groin-DTD)

Game 7 Review: Caps Left High and Dry in the Desert

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, October 24, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Glendale, AZ -- The Washington Capitals finally got on the scoreboard first, but could not hold a one goal lead as the Phoenix Coyotes scored twice in the third period to take a 2-1 victory, sending the Caps to their third straight loss.

Phoenix back-up G Mikael Tellqvist made 31 saves in his first start of the season, leading the Coyotes to even their record at 3-3-0.

Washington's only tally came on their much-maligned power play, breaking a 1-for-18 slump with a man advantage. Brooks Laich finished a 4-on-2 rush with Phoenix C Olli Jokinen in the box for tripping. It was a nifty give-and-go with Alexander Semin. Laich took a pass at the blue line from Nicklas Backstrom, skated across the offensive zone and left the puck for Semin. Semin collected the puck, made a deft toe drag around a defender, and slid the puck right back to Laich, who found himself uncontested. Laich then buried a sharp wrister past Tellqvist to take a 1-0 lead midway through the second period.

The Caps then seemed to lose their legs on this middle stop of a three-game western swing. The third period was all Phoenix, as they tied the game at 2:29 on a wrist shot by Mikkel Boedker. Recently recalled D Tyler Sloan poorly played a puck up the boards and it ended up on the stick of Jokinen, Phoenix' best playmaker. Jokinen found Boedker alone in the slot, hit him on the tape, and Boedker beat G Jose Theodore easily. The game winner was registered by Peter Mueller, who beat D Shaone Morrisonn to the far post, on a sweet feed across the slot from Martin Hanzel.

The Caps got one more power play to try to even the score late, but Tellqvist stopped LW Alex Ovechkin from point blank in the slot to preserve his win.

Jose Theodore played well for the second straight game in defeat, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced.

Photo by AP.

CAPS: Laich (2) from Semin and Backstrom (2-8:18-PP)

COYOTES: Boedker (3) from Jokinen (3-2:29); Mueller (3) from Hanzal and Yandle (3-6:32)

GOOD: Jose Theodore. Theodore looks better and more comfortable every game. He made all the routine stops tonight and several difficult ones as well. He couldn't be faulted on either goal as defensive turnovers led to quality scoring opportunities.

BAD: The Defense. The defense really stopped skating in last night's decisive third period. Sloan's mistake was really poor. He put the puck right on Jokinen's stick --- he should have gotten the second assist. Ont he second goal, Morrisonn was caught out of position and allowed Mueller to get behind him on an even-man attack.

UGLY: Scoring drought for the first line. Wither Alex Ovechkin? He, Clark and Backstrom have completely disappeared from view. Ovie had seven shots, none better than his last, where he knocked a Phoeniz D to the ice and stood alone in the slot. But he had some trouble catching the pass from Backstrom, and then could not get any lift on the puck and put it right into Tellqvist's mid-section. Backstrom and Clark each added three shots, and Clark at least started to show some of the scrap that he has to provide. But the ice is pretty thick right now when this trio is out there.
NEXT GAME: Saturday, October 25 at Dallas Stars at 8:00 pm ET.

RECORD: 3-3-1, three-game losing streak.

NOTES: The road team has won the last five meetings between these two teams.

F Viktor Kozlov and Ds Tom Poti and John Erskine all scratched due to injury.

Erskine signed a contract extension earlier in the day. It was a two-year deal worth $2.5M.

Game 7 Preview: Caps at Phoenix Coyotes

Posted by Dave Nichols | Thursday, October 23, 2008 | , | 0 comments »

Looking to get a struggling power play back on track, the Washington Capitals (3-2-1) face the Phoenix Coyotes (2-3-0) at 10:00 pm ET from Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

The Caps find themselves squarely in the middle of the pack in terms of PP goals scored, with five total, and 18th overall in the NHL at 15.6 percent (5-for-32). But that doesn't tell the story about Tuesday night's match-up in Calgary, as Washington frittered away a nine minute power play, a result of rookie D Tyler Sloan's crunching -- but legal -- hit on F Daymond Langkow, and the retribution faced from Rene Bourque, who received instigator, unsportsmanlike, fighting and misconduct penalties on the play.

Washington's penalty kill ranks 25th in the league at 75.7 (9-for-37).

And the injuries continue to pile up on the Caps in the early going. John Erskine suffered a bruised calf muscle in Calgary, limiting him in yesterday's practice, making his questionable for tonight's game. That adds him to the list of Viktor Kozlov and Tom Poti, still not ready to play from their injuries. If Erskine can't go tonight, Sergei Federov will slide back to the blue line and Eric Fehr will rejoin the line-up.

Jose Theodore (2-1-0, 3.17, .880), fresh off his quality performance Tuesday night, will get the start again in net.

The Phoenix Coyotes enter this one losers of their last three games - all on the road - to Chicago, Ottawa and Montreal. They scored but five goals total on the three-game road trip. Coach Wayne Gretzky must hope that some home cooking will wake his team's scoring from it's early season slumber.

Phoenix ranks 12th in PP% at 19.0 (4-for-21) and 10th in PK% at 85.0 (3-for-20).

The Coyotes are led on offense by RW Shane Doan (4-0-4, -1), C Olli Jokinen (1-5-6, even) and C Steve Reinprecht (0-4-4, +3). The Caps are well familiar with Jokinen, who comes to the desert after playing the previous seven season in south Florida for the Panthers. He's a dangerous goal scorer and should be accounted for whenever he's on the ice.

Backup G Mikael Tellqvist starts tonight for Phoenix in his first action of the young season. Last season he went 9-8-2, 2.75, .908 in 22 games for the Coyotes.

CAPS: LW Alexander Semin (6-4-10, +7); D Mike Green (4-2-6, +4), C Sergei Federov (1-4-5, +7)

COYOTES: RW Shane Doan (4-0-4, -1); C Olli Jokinen (1-5-6, even); C Steve Reinprect (0-4-4, +3)


CAPS: RW Chris Clark (0-1-1, -1); C Nicklas Backstrom (0-1-1, +1), LW Dave Steckel (1-1-2, -1)

COYOTES: D David Hale (0-1-1, -5); D Keith Yandle (1-2-3, -5); C Daniel Winnik (0-0-0, -4)


CAPS: D John Erskine (calf-DTD), LW Viktor Kozlov (knee-OUT), D Tom Poti (Groin-DTD)

COYOTES: D Jonas Ahnelov (hand-IR), C Joel Perrault (concussion-OUT), LW Daniel Carcillo (Suspension)

Calgary, Alberta -- Despite a wealth of opportunities on the power play, the Washington Capitals could not muster more than one goal for the game and fell to the Calgary Flames for the first time in Calgary in over ten years, 2-1, before a sell-out crowd of 19,289 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. In a homecoming game for many western Canadians on the Caps, the team played tentatively and unfocused, especially on a nine minute power play in the first period where they registered just three shots on goal.

Already leading 1-0 on the strength of Sergei Federov's first goal of the season, a deft back-handed redirect of Jeff Schultz' centering pass from the point, the Caps were awarded an extremely rare nine minute power play. Rookie defenseman Tyler Sloan, a Calgary native making his NHL debut, laid out Flames center Daymond Langkow with a clean - but hard - body check, the stuff highlight reels are full of. But Flames winger Rene Bourque took exception, and immediately ran Sloan, decking him up high, then swinging punches even after Bourque had Sloan on the ice.

Referees Chris Lee and Bill McCreary conferred, then leveled the book at Bourque: 2:00 Instigator, 2:00 Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 5:00 Fighting and 10:00 Misconduct. Sloan went unscathed. But instead of returning to the effectiveness of pounding shots from the point and banging home rebounds, the Caps continued their recent struggles on the power play, playing indecisively, looking for the perfect pass, and ending up frustrated. The nine minute advantage expired with only one solid scoring threat, and three measly shots on goal.

Calgary G Miikka Kiprusoff, much maligned at the start of this season, recorded 30 saves with a save percentage of .968, but was rarely tested heavily. To his credit, he did not give the Caps many second opportunities, as he played probably his most effective game this season. Washington G Jose Theodore was solid as well, allowing just two goals on 28 shots, a .929 save percentage.

Jarome Iginla scored with a bomb on the power play from the high slot, a shot Theodore got a piece of, but not quite enough. The second Calgary goal, a slap shot from C Matthew Lombardi, was uncontested by the Caps and simply beat Theodore.

After the nine minute power play, Washington was whistled for eight straight penalties, including David Steckel's throwing the stick penalty, resulting in Iginla's goal. Theodore lost his stick in a scrum, and after the clear Steckel tossed his to his goalie. But rules dictate that skaters may hand their sticks to a goalie, not toss, and Steckel was tossed for his infraction.

Photo by AP.

WAS: Fedorov (1) from Schultz and Ovechkin (1-4:21).

CAL: Iginla (2) unassisted (2-1:00-PP); Lombardi (1) from Boyd and Moss (2-2:42)

GOOD: Jose Theodore. He finally played the kind of game that Caps fans have been waiting for. The second goal was a little soft but Iginla's goal he was just flat beaten, despite getting a piece of it. He controlled the rebounds and made a couple of really nifty catches.

BAD: Alex Ovechkin. You don't figure to see his name in here very often, but Ovie had a poor game. Defenses are really keying on him, and last night was not exception, but he's not making space, holding the puck too much and looks frustrated.

UGLY: Power play. NINE MINUTES? Are you kidding me? It only goes in the books as 0-for-5, but encompassing 13 minutes. That was some of the worst man-advantage hockey we've seen here in quite a while. Then, to complicate things, the rest of the first and most of the second periods the Caps decided to play a man down. Good thing Calgary's PP was just as inept or this would have been a laugher in what was an important game for so many Caps returning home. Half the Caps blue line and their captain all hail from Calgary.
NEXT GAME: Thursday, October 23 at Phoenix Coyotes at 10:00 pm EST.

RECORD: 3-2-1. Two-game losing streak.

NOTES: Kiprusoff broke a personal eight game losing streak to Washington.

Sloan, 27, made his debut after 406 games in the minors.

Donald Brashear made his return to the line-up after missing two games with a hand injury.

Eric Fehr was a healthy scratch. Tom Poti and Viktor Kozlov did not dress, but the team thinks both are getting close to a return.

Fedorov's goal was the 473rd of his distinguished career, tying Alexander Mogilny's NHL reocrd for Russian-born players.

Game 6 Preview: Caps at Calgary Flames

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, October 20, 2008 | , , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (3-1-1) start an old-fashioned, three-game west coast swing Tuesday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome against coach Darryl Sutter's Calgary Flames (1-3-1) at 9:30 pm EST.

Five games into the 2008-2009 campaign, the Caps have been equal parts juggernaut and enigma. They have looked dominant at times (Vancouver, third period at Pittsburgh), and have looked lethargic at times (Atlanta, New Jersey). Sitting at 3-1-1 with seven points in the Southeast Division is a solid start, but coach Bruce Boudreau has to be looking to a little more overall consistency and better scoring opportunities for MVP Alex Ovechkin, who has just three points in five games.

LW Alexander Semin continues his torrid start though, adding two more goals against New Jersey to raise his team leading scoring to 10 points. D Mike Green kicked one in on a 5-on-3 power play as well, and he's second on the team with 6 points and a +5.

The team hopes to get Donald Brasher back for the Calgary game, as he and D Tom Poti, who's been nursing a strained groin, both made the road trip. The team also recalled D Tyler Sloan from Hershey to make his NHL debut. Sloan, 27, is a slick skating 6'3" blue-liner that made effort and result his calling card in Hershey.

Coach Bruce Boudreau will have Jose Theodore between the pipes against the Flames.

Calgary has had its troubles so far this season, having won just one of their first five games, and enter this one having lost its last two. The Flames have been outscored 14-22. G Mikka Kiprusoff, embattled much of last season, began a new six-year, $35 million deal this season and has been between the pipes for all four Flames losses this season, to the tune of a 4.37 goals against average and save percentage of just .851.

On offense, RW Todd Bertuzzi has five of the team's 14 goals and C Daymond Langkow is the only skater for Calgary with a positive plus/minus rating through five games. Perennial all-star Jarome Iginla has had a rough start, going 1-2-3 with a -5 in five games.


CAPS: LW Alexander Semin (6-4-10, +6); D Mike Green (4-2-6, +5); C Michael Nylander (2-4-6, +3)

FLAMES: C Daymond Langkow (1-5-6, +1); RW Todd Bertuzzi (5-0-5, -3); LW Michael Cammalleri (1-4-5, -2)


CAPS: LW Alex Ovechkin (2-1-3, +3); C Nicklas Backstrom (0-1-1, +1); RW Chris Clark (0-1-1, -1)

FLAMES: RW Jarome Iginla (1-2-3, -5); D Adrian Aucoin (1-0-1, -5); G Mikka Kiprusoff (1-3-1, 4.37, .851)


CAPS: D Tom Poti (groin-DTD); LW Donald Brashear (hand-DTD); LW Viktor Kozlov (knee-OUT)

FLAMES: D Rhett Warriner (shoulder-IR)

Comings, Goings, Line Changes

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, October 20, 2008 | , , , , , , | 0 comments »

It's time to go notebook style for the first time here at Caps News Network for roster changes, line shifts and minor league news!
  • Tyler Sloan was recalled and has joined the Caps on the road trip. Sloan is 6'3" and a good skater on the blue line. He's also 27 and his next NHL game will be his first. The team needed another defenseman, with Poti's injury lingering, and the cap is just too tight to add Karl Alzner at this point. Sloan will pair with Jeff Schultz, leaving Morrisonn with Green and Erskine with Jurcina.
  • Coach Boudreau shook up the front lines too. Federov moves back up front, teams with Ovie and Clark. Backstrom will center Laich and Semin. Nylander gets Fleischmann and Bradley, with Steckel working with Brashear (back from his hand injury) and Gordon or Fehr.
  • Jose Theodore will get the start for Tuesday's game at Calgary.
  • The Caps signed their 2008 4th round draft pick, G Braden Holtby, to a three-year entry level deal. He is currently 6-3-0 with a 2.23 GAA and .922 Save Percentage for Saskatoon of the WHL this season.