Game 16 Review: Jose, Jose, Jose.....

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Saturday, November 15, 2008 | , , , | 0 comments »


The Washington Capitals handed the New Jersey Devils their fourth straight loss. The RED HOT Caps beat the Devils 3-1 with Jose Theodore protecting the net in his first start in nearly two weeks. Jose had a great night and the only puck to get by him against his 32 saves was a late breakaway goal in the third period. Alexander Semin left the game late in the second period with an
undisclosed injury. The team said his status is day-to-day.

The Caps scored first and lead all night. Brooks Laich scored his fourth goal with a power play tip-in goal in the first period assisted by Ovechkin and Green. The last three goals of the night were the fifth goal of the season for each player.

Thomas Fleischmann scored with a snap shot goal assisted by Kozlov and Green in the second period. The other two goals came in the third period with the first of the two by the Devils with a wrist shot goal by Patrik Elias assisted by Gionta and Oduya.

The Caps closed out the night with Alex Ovechkin adding an empty-net goal in the final 20 seconds of the game assisted by Backstrom and Laich.

There were only a total of 6 minutes of penalties for the entire game. Fleischmann got 2 minutes for holding, Kozlov got 2 minutes for high-sticking and Vrana from the Devils had 2 minutes for too many men on the ice. There were no penalties in the third period.

Kozlov's assist on Fleischmann's goal was his 500th career point.

1. T. Fleischmann - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)
2. J. Theodore - WAS (Saves: 32, Save Pct: .970)
3. P. Elias - NJ (Goals: 1, Assists: 0)

Saturday, November 15th against the very same NJ Devils in NJ which will be the only time this season Washington plays the same opponent in back-to-back games.

Game 16 Preview: Capitals Host Devils

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Friday, November 14, 2008 | , , , | 0 comments »

My apologies - I wanted to get this up much earlier, however, work kept me busy today. This will be much shorter than planned, but wanted to post a brief review in Dave's absence.

The Washington Capitals (9-4-2-20) host the New Jersey Devils (7-6-2-16) at the Verizon Center at 7:00 PM. Tonight is the Caps' eighth home game and 16th overall and hold a two-point edge in the Southwest Division standings entering tonight's game. The Devils stand in third in the Northeast Division after three straight losses. Tonight marks NJ's lone road game in a stretch of six games.

Both teams will be without their starting goalies. Caps goalie Brent Johnson was voted as the number three star of the week for his performances Nov. 3-9 with Stats: 2 W, 1.63 GAA, .953 SV%. Johnson left the game on Wednesday in Carolina with an injury and is day-to-day and may be able to back-up Jose Theodore tonight.

The Devils will be without their All-Star Goalie Martin Brodeur who underwent surgery last Thursday to repair the distal bicep in his left elbow. "According to the doctors, his surgery was 100 percent successful," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. "The timetable for his return remains three to four months."

TONIGHT IS COACH BRUCE BOUDREAU BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT! They will go to the first 15,000 fans in attendance and feature coach holding the Jack Adams Award as the 2007-08 NHL coach of the year.

WAS: D Brian Potheir (Out indefinitely); D Shaone Morrisonn (groin/DTD/OUT); C/D Sergei Federov (DTD/OUT); G Brent Johnson (DTD)

NJD: G Martin Brodeur (elbow); D Andy Greene (hand); C Bobby Holik (pinky); LW Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (cracked orbital bone); D Paul Marti; C Brian Rolston (ankle)

CAPS NOTES - The Capitals signed 2008 first-round draft John Carlson (D) to a three-year, entry-level contract Thursday. The 18-year-old Carlson was the 27th overall pick. He is in his first season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.

2009 NHL All-Star Game Voting - Polls Are Now Open

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Friday, November 14, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Help send Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green to the NHL All-Star Game! To vote, visit or Don't see your favorite Caps player on the ballot? Write them in online or text their last name to 81812. Vote as many times as you like and help the Caps Rock the Red in Montreal on January 25th, 2009.

Friday Fun Post - "The Face Painter" from Seinfeld

Posted by Cheryl Nichols | Friday, November 14, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

Since Dave is unavailable and said I could post whatever I'd like, I am going to do a fun post. The Caps play the NJ Devils tonight at home and one of my absolute favorite Seinfeld episodes is "The Face Painter." This makes me laugh every single time I see it and since we are playing the Devils.....

Enjoy. Happy Friday and Let's Go Caps!

Game 15 Review: Capitals Dominate Hurricanes 5-1

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | , , , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals dominated their Southeast Division rival Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 in every facet of the game, finally putting together another "60 minute game" as Caps' coach Bruce Boudreau is often fond of saying. League leading scorer Alexander Semin had a five point night (two goals, three assists), and the line of Semin, Ovechkin, and Backstrom were on the ice for all five goals.

The Caps (9-4-2-20) pushed past the Hurricanes for first place in the division, now leading the Southeast by two points.

The trio was unstoppable, as Ovechkin had a goal and two assists and center Nicklas Backstrom netted his first goal of the season and added three helpers in his breakout game.

There was a negative, however, with all the offensive fireworks. Goalie Brent Johnson, last week's number three star of the week in the NHL, left after the first period with a hip injury. He injured his hip making a stop in the final seconds of the period killing off a Carolina 5-on-3 power play. Jose Theodore, acquired in the off-season as a free agent only to have a poor early season showing, came in after the injury and stopped all 13 shots he faced.

After the game, Johnson indicated that he didn't think the injury was too bad. "It felt pretty bad out there, but it's tough to tell right now," Johnson said. "It's pretty sore. I felt a lot of pain. We'll see how it feels tomorrow, but it's not looking like it will be a long time."

Washington got on the scoresheet early in the first, with Alex Ovechkin notching his fourth goal of the season on a feed from Semin. Semin stole a crossing pass and he and Ovechkin came in clean on a two-on-one, with Ovie burying the puck past 'Canes backup goalie Michael Leighton.

Five minutes later, Semin scored his first of two in the game. Backstrom won an offensive draw, Mike Green shot wide, but the puck came off the back boards almost like it was planned and Semin knocked it into an open net. Later in the period, Semin found Green for a big slap shot from the point, with Brooks Laich camping in the slot screening Leighton. The power play marker was Green's sixth of the season.

Semin tallied again in the second period. Carolina could not clear its zone, with Ovechkin and Backstrom teaming to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Ovechkin then found his countryman in the opposite face-off circle, who one-timed it past the beleaguered goalie.

Backstrom finally put the "biscuit in the basket" as he corralled a rebound of an Ovechkin shot and slid it past Leighton, capping the scoring. The trio accounted for nine shots on goal and each were +4 on the night.

Washington, on a four-game winning streak, has a home-and-home with the New Jersey Devils this weekend. They play Friday at Verizon Center at 7:00 PM and Saturday at 7:00 PM from the Prudential Center.

Game 15 Preview: Caps at Carolina

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, November 12, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

QUICK PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be on vacation Nov. 13-23. Staff photographer and fellow season ticket holder (and my wife) Cheryl Nichols will be providing previews and reviews in my absence. Hopefully she'll give me my job back when I return. On to the preview...

The Washington Capitals (8-4-2-18, tied for first in Southeast Division) travel to Carolina for an early season first place showdown with the Hurricanes (8-5-2-18, tied for first in Southeast Division) at 7:00 PM from the RBC Center.

The Caps enter tonight's match-up on a three-game win streak and have points in their last four games. Most recently, they jumped all over the Tampa Bay Lightning Monday night, scoring on their first two shots on goal against long-time Caps great Olie Kolzig en route to a 4-2 victory.

Goalie Brent Johnson, voted as the number three star of the week for his performances last week, has stopped 102 of 107 shots against since taking over playing time from Jose Theodore, coinciding with the Caps recent stretch of good play. Coach Bruce Boudreau has been quick to push aside talk of goaltending controversy, but the numbers of the two netminders speak for themselves.

Johnson will indeed make his fifth straight start for the Caps, while Boudreau hopes to get Theodore sharp over the weekend and ready for the long road trip.

Offensively, the team is paced, as it has been all season, by Alexander Semin. His 22 points (on 11 goals and 11 assists) and +13 rating place him second in scoring and atop the plus/minus standings in the NHL. His linemate, Alex Ovechkin, had a goal and assist against Tampa Bay, and seems to be finding his legs and some open ice skating with Semin and center Nicklas Backstrom, who took over for Sergei Federov when he was injured.

The team will be without Federov and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn as neither travelled with the team. Viktor Kozlov will return however, bolstering the Capitals attack, and should skate with C Michael Nylander and LW Tomas Fleischmann.

Carolina has a balanced attack, with six players with four or more goals. They have been struggling with injuries, but plan on getting Matt Cullen, Brandon Sutter and Joni Pitkanen back for tonight's game.

Michael Leighton is scheduled to start in goal tonight for Carolina. The 27-year old goaltender is 4-1 with a .921 save percentage and 2.37 goals against average this season and has never faced the Capitals in his career. It will be Leighton's second start in three games in place of No. 1 goalie Cam Ward, who's 4-4-2 with a 2.86 goals against and .910 save percentage.

WAS: PP-24th (14.8%, 9-61); PK-19th (80.0%, 15/75)
CAR: PP-21st (15.9%, 11/69); PK-14th (81.5%, 12/65)

WAS: LW Alexander Semin (11-11-22, +13); G Brent Johnson (NHL 3RD STAR OF THE WEEK; 4-1-2, 2.11, .931)
CAR: C Eric Staal (5-4-9, +5); RW Tuomo Ruutu (5-5-10, +2)


WAS: RW Matt Bradley (1-0-1, -1); Milan Jurcina (1-0-1, -3)
CAR: C Rob Brind'Amour (league worst -13)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (concussion-OUT); D Shaone Morrisonn (groin-DTD/OUT); C/D Sergei Federov (undisclosed-DTD/OUT)
CAR: D Frantisek Kaberle (leg,-OUT); D David Tanabe (concussion-OUT); RW Patrick Eaves (undisclosed-OUT); RW Justin Willimas (achilles-OUT)

Washington -- Brent Johnson made 34 saves, Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist, and the Washington Capitals defeated Olaf Kolzig and the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 before an announced 17,932 at Verizon Center. Washington is now 6-0-1 at home in the 2008-09 campaign.

Kolzig received a warm reception from the fans during the player introductions, the National Anthem, and in a video tribute in the first television timeout. But his former teammates treated him rudely, scoring on their first two shots of the game, though neither could really be attributed to the veteran goalie.

"After the game, I told the guys, 'Why try when you are down 3-0? Why do it then?"' Lightning coach Barry Melrose said. "It was very disappointing to play like that in front of Olie in Washington. ... Probably the biggest game he's played in years and they show up and do that for him. Those guys should all be hiding their eyes when they walk by Olie Kolzig tonight."

Tampa Bay played poorly in the first period, but the Caps were definitely taking it to them. D Tom Poti scored on the first shot of the game, on a perfect cross-ice pass from tough guy Donald Brashear. Brashear carried the puck into the offensive zone, pulled up at the short boards, then slid the puck though to Poti, who deposited the puck top shelf against Kolzig from point blank range.

Less than two minutes later, Ovechkin found Mike Green pinching in and Green blasted it glove side against "Olie the Goalie." Eric Fehr finished out the first period scoring with a slap shot from the top of the face off circle on a pass from Brooks Laich. Coach Bruce Boudreau, in his post-game comments, said his "North America Line" of Fehr, Laich and Steckel were "by far the best line we had," on this night.

Boudreau continued, "I don't want to diss a win," but then did, expressing concern with his team's "fancy" play, notably LW Alexander Semin passing on a shot when he was alone in the slot in order to pass to linemate Nicklas Backstrom. "I think this team has an awful lot more to give."

The coach had nothing but praise for his goalie though. Johnson, making his fourth consecutive start, was excellent once again. He gave up just two power play goals to veteran winger Gary Roberts, one with 26 seconds remaining in the game. He was clearly the first star of the game with a save percentage of 94.4%. When asked the last time he's had a four game stretch such as this, Johnson chuckled, "It's been a while." Earlier in the day, Johnson was named the NHL Third Star of the Week for his play last week, and he's off to a good start for next week.

About the possibility of starting Wednesday in Carolina, Johnson again laughed it off, knowing he was being baited, "I'm just going to do whatever Coach wants me to do. If I go on Wednesday, I go on Wednesday. If not, that's it."

The Caps' fourth goal was late in the third period, on a tip in from Alex Ovechkin standing in the crease. Alexander Semin gathered a pass from defenseman Jeff Schultz, wheeled at the face off circle and put the puck right on Ovechkin's stick. Ovechkin even commented afterwards that the puck skipped just at the last and went in off the shaft instead of the blade. Maybe the bounces are returning for last year's MVP, this being his first goal in nine games.

Photos (c) C. Nichols 2008.

WAS: Poti (2) from Brashear and Erskine (1-8:20); Green (5) from Ovechkin and Backstrom (1-9:55); Fehr (1) from Laich and Steckel (1-16:24); Ovechkin (3) from Semin and Schultz (3-15:44)
TBY: Roberts (1) from Recchi and St. Louis (2-16:30-PP); Roberts (2) from Eminger and Jokinen (3-19:34-PP)

GOOD: Once again, Brent Johnson. Ladies and gentlemen, here's the Caps Number One Goalie, at least for the foreseeable future. He was the NHL's Third Star of the Week last week, where Numbers One and Two were goalies as well. He's been almost perfect, and coaches are loathe to give a hot goalie a night off. Johnson's manner in the locker room can't be better either, and his teammates are really rallying around him.

BAD: Not too much here, other than, as the Coach pointed out during the post-game presser, all the fancy passing. Both Ovechkin AND Semin passed on shots in the first period when they were open. Hard to imagine anyone needing to implore Ovie and Semin to shoot, but there you have it.

UGLY: Tampa Bay in the first period and Barry Melrose post-game. Tampa was TERRIBLE in the first period, and it's only because the Caps were passing on shot that it could have been worse. Melrose was visibly red-faced and angry after he addressed the media after the game, frustration for a miserable performance. His team just never caught up from the lousy start.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday, November 12 at Carolina Hurricanes at 7:00 pm.

RECORD: 8-4-2-18, tied with Carolina for first in the Southeast Division. Three-game winning streak.

NOTES: Semin's assist on Ovechkin's goal gave him 22 points, tying him with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin for the league lead.

Three players on the Lightning roster -- Kolzig, C Jeff Halpern and L Matt Pettinger -- have played more games with Washington than anyone currently with the Capitals. Kolzig holds the franchise record with 711 games played in a Washington uniform.

RW Viktor Kozlov, D Shaone Morrison and C/D Sergei Federov all sat with lingering injuries.

Game 14 Preview: Capitals Host Kolzig, Lightning

Posted by Dave Nichols | Monday, November 10, 2008 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (7-4-2-16, second in the Southeast Division) host the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-4-4-14, third in the Southeast Division) at 7:00 pm from Verizon Center.

Homecoming. It has many connotations, but in this instance it means that the man that was the face of the Washington Capitals for 16 years returns to the place he called home for so long to face his former team and teammates for the first time wearing different colors. Olaf Kolzig, Olie The Goalie, Godzilla himself, is scheduled to be in net tonight as his current squad, the Tampa Bay Lightning, try to gain two points at the top of the tight Southeast Division.

Kolzig is relegated to backup status now, having played in just three of Tampa Bay's first 13 games. His numbers are good (1-1-1, 2.67, .925), evidence to his assertion that he can still play this game and be a contributing factor to a team's success. The way his tenure ended in DC surely still tastes bitter to him though, forgotten down the Capitals extremely impressive stretch run last year, then completely ignored in the seven game playoff series against Philadelphia.

What had to especially hurt was that media and fans all called for him to start later in the series due to the Flyers physical style of play in front of the net and the liberties they took with then-goalie Christobal Huet. A goalie, noted here, who was discarded almost as quickly as Kolzig was once the season was over. But no, Coach Bruce Boudreau stuck with Huet throughout the playoffs while Kolzig sat, preparing himself for the chance that never came while at the same time bracing himself for what he knew would be the end of his tenure in the only place he'd called home in his NHL career.

Boudreau needed no excuse -- Huet had played his way into the situation. GM George McPhee acquired him at the trade deadline for the job, and he was stellar helping the Capitals reach the playoffs on the last day of the season and stretching the series with the Flyers to seven games. So playing the hot hand and Kolzig missing the opportunity to help his team in the playoffs is certainly defensible. It remains, though, disappointing. Both to the legions of fans that would chant his name after a big save, and to the man himself.

WAS: PP-22th (15.5%, 9/58); PK-14th (81.4, 13/70)
TBY: PP-26th (14.5%, 8/55); PK-21st (79.7%, 15/74)

WAS: LW Alexander Semin (11-10-21, +11); G Brent Johnson (NHL 3RD STAR OF THE WEEK; 3-1-2, 2.12, .929)
TBY: C Vincent Lecavalier (6-5-11, +5); C Vaclav Prospal (3-7-10, +6)


WAS: C Nicklas Backstrom (0-5-5, +1); RW Matt Bradley (1-0-1, -2)
TBY: C Chris Gratton (0-2-2, even); LW Gary Roberts (0-1-1, -3)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (concussion-OUT); D Shaone Morrisonn (groin-DTD/OUT); C/D Sergei Federov (undisclosed-DTD/OUT); Viktor Kozlov (undisclosed-OUT)
TBY: C Jeff Halpern (knee-OUT); RW Evgeny Artyukhin (groin-QUE)