Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flash Traded to Colorado

Tomas Fleischmann has been traded to Colorado this afternoon in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan.

More as it becomes available.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rapid Rewind: From Russia, With Love

The Capitals blew out the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon by a score of 6-0.  The story of the game was, once again, Alexander Semin, who recorded another had trick, and Semyon Varlamov, who had his first shutout since shutting out...the Lightning, last November.

The Capitals started the scoring early with a John Carlson slapshot from the top of the circles when the game was barely three minutes old.  In the second period, John Erskine continued his run of improbable scoring prowess when he blasted his own 60-footer past a stunned Mike Smith with the period four and half minutes old.  That set the stage for Alexander Semin's performance, who recorded a natural hat trick in just over four minutes, including two on the power play to put the game out of reach for the visitors and ensure the Capitals two crucial division points.  Tom Poti closed out the scoring in the third period with a slapshot goal of his own.  Semyon Varlamov made 17 stops in the victory.


That's more like it.  The Caps shook off a cople of rough performances in the last week and built on their win on Tuesday in every way tonight.  Crisp passes, finishing checks, and killer instinct were on full display for the boys in red.  A marvelous effort in all ways.

Semyon Varlamov is going to make this goalie battle very interesting.  Varly played well and is going to make it hard for Bruce Boudreau to sit him if he keeps playing like this.  And, most importantly, he is showing no ill effects from his groin injury.

The Caps defense continues to play well without Mike Green, who missed his second consecutive game with an "undisclosed" (read: shoulder, as always) upper body injury, clearing the few rebounds Varlamov conceded and blocking shots.  The return of Tom Poti has been huge for this unit.

That's all for now: Next game is scheduled for Sunday at 5 P.M. against Carolina at Verizon Center.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Varly Returns In Style

The Capitals defeated the Hurricanes tonight by a score of 3-2 in Raleigh.  Alex Ovechkin tallied three assists and Nicklas Backstrom scored two goals, but the story of the night was Semyon Varlamov, who was excellent in his return from a groin pull.

The Capitals once again almost found a way to let the game get away from them, however.  Washington opened the scoring in the first period with Nicklas Backstrom cashing an Ovechkin rebound 13 minutes into the frame.  The two superstars hooked up again barely a minute into the second period with Ovechkin dropping a neat pass to Backstrom in the corner who walked out and slid a shot past Carolina goalie Justin Peters.  The remainder of the second period saw furious action and great saves by both goaltenders.  In the third, however, the Capitals were thoroughly outworked for the first half of the frame, first conceding a Joni Pitkanen tip-in goal and then the equalizer off of Eric Staal's stick with the man advantage.  The Capitals were gifted a power play right after Staal's strike and Alex Ovechkin took advantage of a weak clearing attempt to blast the puck towards the net; Brooks Laich re-directed the shot for his first goal in almost a month and the eventual game-winner.  The Hurricanes pulled Peters in another attempt to equalize, but were thwarted by Varlamov repeatedly in the dying moments.


From Russia, with love.  Semyon Varlamov was as advertised tonight, making several stellar stops throughout the game and could not be faulted on either goal he let in.  His reflexes were tremendous and he showed no ill effects of his groin injury.  If only Varly could stay healthy.

Welcome back, Alex Ovechkin.  The Captain had his best game in awhile tonight, finally awakening from his awful slump.  Though he didn't score, he tallied three helpers and finally started shooting, with 10 for the game.  He also had five hits, including a thunderous open-ice knockdown of Chad LaRose in the first.  The goals will come; he's pretty good.

Two days after his best game of the season, Tomas Fleischmann disappeared again tonight.  He had an assist, but did not have any real impact on the play.  Boudreau limited him to 11:20 of ice time, his season low.  Flash has skills, but needs to improve fast, or he could be watching from the press box alot more often.

That's all for now.  Next game is Friday at home against the Lightning and Steven Stamkos, who continues to score at a truly absurd pace.  Game time is scheduled for 5 P.M.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Green Out

Mike Green was a last minute scratch tonight due to his upper body injury.

Gameday: at Carolina, Nov. 24

The Capitals travel to Raleigh tonight to take on the Hurricanes in the teams' second meeting this season.  Michal Neuvirth shut out the Canes in their last meeting, a 3-0 Washington victory.

Neurvirth will not start tonights contest, however.  That honor goes to Semyon Varlamov, who makes his return to active duty tonight after almost five weeks missed with another groin injury.

Mike Green is working his way through another undisclosed injury, but stated at the morning skate that he will play tonight.  Crisis averted...for now.

Mike Knuble is not expected to rejoin the lineup tonight.  That means that both Boyd Gordon and Dave Steckel will receive jerseys.

Puck drops 7:07ish.  Check back later.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Practice: Nov. 23

Today is Nicklas Backstrom's 23rd birthday.  A very happy birthday to Nick, although I highly doubt that anything he ingested last night is still in his system after today's practice.

Tom Poti and Mike Knuble both skated and are considered questionable for tomorrow's game.

More later on the goaltending situation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Caps Blasted by Devils; Green Hurt

The Capitals fell to the New Jersey Devils tonight by a score of 5-0, the second time in three games they have been blanked by that score.

The Devils started fast and took full advantage of a Brooks Laich holding call to score on the power play only six minutes into the contest, with Patrik Elias tipping a point drive past Braden Holtby.  Holtby was announced as the starter after Michal Neuvirth re-aggravated a lower body injury during the morning skate.  Jason Arnott scored a goal on a wraparound that caught Braden Holtby way out of position halfway through the frame before Devils rookie Mattias Tedenby was hauled down on a breakaway by John Erskine.  Tedenby converted the ensuing penalty shot easily to put his team up by 3 heading into the break.  The beginning of the second period saw the Caps apply excellent pressure before conceding another goal to Arnott; again catching the rookie goalie Holtby way out of position, effectively putting the game out of reach.  Dainius Zubrus closed out the scoring with a shot from the slot eight minutes into the second.  The final frame was uneventful, as the Devils locked down to get Johan Hedberg a shutout.


YUCK.  I don't think I've ever been this disgusted with a Caps performance in a long time.  Other games the Capitals have lost this season have been against good teams, like the Bruins and Flyers, and okay teams like the Thrashers.  The Devils are the worst team in the league, without the best goalie of all time and best player, and the Caps were nothing short of awful.  Bag skate them tomorrow.

The Caps may have given up four even strength goals, but the top line was not on the ice for one.  That's a nice change of scenery.  At least they didn't give up when the Caps were down big.

Mike Green left the bench halfway through the third period and did not return.  Uh-oh.

Semyon Varlamov was on the bench backing up Holtby tonight; his presence likely means that Holtby will be sent down to Hershey (where he belongs) tomorrow.  Thank god.

Caps face Carolina in Raleigh on Wednesday.  Gonna have to be a big improvement if they have any prayer of slowing down the red hot Eric Staal and Hurricanes.  Game time is scheduled for 7 P.M.

Holtby In

Braden Holtby has been announced as the starter for tonights game.  It was thought after the morning skate that Neuvirth would start.

Gameday: at New Jersey, Nov. 22

The Capitals journey to Newark today to take on the New Jersey Devils, who have plummeted to the bottom of the Eastern Conference due to their awful start.  The Capitals already beat the Devils 7-2 this season, at the home opener at Verizon Center.

Tonights game at The Rock will feature Michal Neuvirth in nets for the Caps.  The Devils will likely counter with Johan Hedberg, as Martin Brodeur is out with an elbow injury.

Mike Knuble and Tom Poti are both still out for the Caps, as of now.  No lineup changes are expected since the last game.

Puck drops 7:07ish.  Check back later.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gameday: at Atlanta, Nov. 19

The Capitals journey to Atlanta tonight to take on the Thrashers for the second time in under a week.  The Caps won last week in DC by a 6-4 count.

Boyd Gordon and DJ King will sit out tonight as healthy scratches.

Tomas Fleischmann will make his return after being a healthy scratch last game.

The Marcus Johansson with Alex Ovechkin experiment has ended.  Ovie will be re-united with Nick Backstrom and Mike Knuble tonight.  It is still unclear as of now who will play with the second line; Johansson or Fleischmann.

Braden Holtby gets the start for the Caps tonight is goal.  Atlanta will counter with Ondrej Pavelec.

Puck drops 7:37ish.  I have a game of my own tonight so I may not be back in time to watch the beginning of the game.  As a result, the Rapid Rewind may be delayed a bit.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Caps Pull It Out vs. Sabres

The Capitals tonight once again almost managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but pumped the brakes fast enough to pull out a victory at Verizon Center.

Once again, the Capitals tallied the first goal of the game as Nicklas Backstrom took a beautiful pass from Alex Semin on a 5-on-3 man advantage and buried it backdoor on Ryan Miller to put the Caps up at the 13 minute mark.  The Capitals continued to press and dominated the Sabres in every facet of the game for the remainder of the period, and Matt Bradley was rewarded with another tally at the 17 minute mark, giving the Caps a 2-0 lead heading into the break.  At the  beginning of the 2nd period, Dave Steckel continued his recent stellar play and scored bar-down on Miller, extending the advantage to 3-0.  Then the wheels came off for the Caps, as they allowed two goals in just under a minute, first on a Derek Roy power play strike and then a Jordan Leopold tally that was a product of an atrocious defensive breakdown by the Caps.  With the capacity crowd at Verizon Center quieted, the Sabres blitzed the Caps for the rest of the 2nd period, with Michal Neuvirth having to come up with multiple huge stops to keep his team in the lead.  In the third, the Caps rebounded nicely, and controlled the clock with crisp passing and good forechecks.  Alex Semin closed out the scoring with a 180 foot empty netter with about 1.3 seconds left.


Marcus Johnansson was benched for the latter part of the third period, although Bruce Boudreau was pleased with his play.  It is likely that Boudreau wanted to keep his faceoff specialists in the game, getting them minutes with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble.  Boudreau would not comment as to who would pivot the top line next game.

Although he was held pointless, Ovechkin played much better this game.  He looked rested and refreshed and finished his checks with authority.  His feet were always moving, a nice change from the last couple of games.  A solid game for the Great 8.

Karl Alzner is sneakily becoming really good.  On a blue line full of offensive stars such as Mike Green and John Carlson, Alzner has stepped up his defensive play, using his size very well and blocking shots.  He has also picked up three points over the last week.  Maybe he can live up to his billing, after all.

Next game is in Atlanta on Friday.  Game time is scheduled for 7:30 P.M.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gameday: vs. Buffalo, Nov. 17

The Capitals welcome the Sabres to Verizon Center tonight for a rematch of last Saturday's game, which the Sabres took in OT, 3-2.

Coach Bruce Boudreau has shaken up his lines bigtime for the contest.  Nick Backstrom will skate with Alex Semin and Brooks Laich on the second line, while Marcus Johansson moves to the top spot with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble.  Tomas Fleischmann will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.  Ouch.

The Caps are expected to start Michal Neuvirth once again in goal.  The Sabres will counter with Ryan Miller.

Puck drop is 7:07-ish.  Check back later.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Caps Find a Way vs. Thrash

The Capitals pulled out a very wild victory tonight over the Atlanta Thrashers by a score of 6-4 in a game characterized by sloppy play by both teams and crazy bounces.  With the win, the Caps extended their home win streak against Atlanta to nine consecutive contests, dating back to the 2008-2009 season.

Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring for the home side with a wrist shot just 1:30 into the opening frame that Atlanta goalie Chris Mason stopped initially, but then batted in to his own cage.  Mike Green scored next for the Caps on a power play, firing a shot past Mason to extend the lead to two.  But the Thrashers continued to press, and scored a power play goal of their own off the stick of Rich Peverley to cut the deficit to one.  The Caps came right back, with Ovechkin roaring down the left wing and firing a gorgeous saucer pass across the seam to Alex Semin, who made no mistake with the puck, deking Mason out of the goal before depositing the easy backhand tally.  The teams headed for the their respective dressing rooms with Washington up 3-1.  The second period caught the Caps on their heels, as Andrew Ladd scored from a seemingly impossible angle with the period barely a minute old.  Once again, however, Washington countered immediately, with Matt Hendricks burying a Mike Green rebound and chasing Mason from the Atlanta net.  This time it was the Thrashers' turn to answer, and they did so with a Bryan Little goal less than a minute later.  After an epic fight between Eric Boulton and John Erskine, for which Boulton took an extra roughing minor, the Caps had a power play chance and an opportunity to put distance between them and their opponents.  But Andrew Ladd stole the puck from Alex Ovechkin during a neutral zone regroup and walked in alone on Neuvirth, who made the initial stop, but conceded the equalizer after the puck bounced off his helmet and fell to Little, who pushed it in on his backhand.  The Caps fell apart after that marker, constantly turning the puck over in their own zone, and were lucky to make it to the second intermission tied.  After a tense beginning to the third period, John Erskine took advantage of a failed Atlanta clearing attempt to blast home a 65 foot slapshot that proved to be the game winner at the 13:11 mark.  Dave Steckel closed out the scoring with an empty-netter from center ice at 19:23.


Player of the game: Dave Steckel.  The fact that he was not selected for a star is embarrassing.  Stecks was 14 for 17 on faceoffs and was the Caps' best penalty killer.  He was blocking shots and created very well on the offensive side of the puck.  It will be hard for Bruce Boudeau to pull him from the lineup after Boyd Gordon returns if he continues to play like this.

Overall, another lackluster performance from the Great 8.  Ovie was held by his coach to under 18 minutes of ice time for the third consecutive game, the first time that has happened in over three years.  His goal was pure luck, and although his assist was very nice, Ovechkin has had a bad couple of games, lacking responsibility in his own zone and giving up on the play too early.

Michal Neuvirth may be hitting the proverbial rookie wall.  The young Czech has been terrific all season, and still has tremendous potential, but now has not allowed fewer than three goals in two weeks. He still picked up the win, and had some nice saves, but he would definitely like some goals back.  The return of Semyon Varlamov will help him.

A final note unrelated to today's game - Semyon Varlamov started for Hershey today and picked up the victory.  It is expected that he will rejoin his teammates tomorrow and may start Wednesday.

The Caps will most likely enjoy a day off tomorrow before returning to practice on Tuesday.  Next game is scheduled for Wednesday, when the Sabres come to town.  Game time is scheduled for 7 P.M.

Gameday: vs. Atalnta, Nov. 14

The Caps welcome the Thrashers to Verizon Center today for their second of three consecutive Sunday afternoon matinees.

The only exepected change for the Caps in their lineup is Michal Neuvirth in goal, as Bruce Boudreau changed his plan yesterday afternoon as to last night's starter in Buffalo.

Puck drops 5:07-ish.  Check back later.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Sabres End Streak

The Capitals were lucky to get out of HSBC Arena tonight with a point, as the Sabres defeated Washington 3-2 in overtime on a Thomas Vanek goal.

The Caps opened the scoring with a bomb off the stick of Karl Alzner after Alexander Semin collected a flubbed clearing attempt by the Sabres and dished it to the wide-open rookie on the point.  The Sabres would find their equalizer of the stick of Steve Montador halfway through the second frame off a similar play, as the top line failed to clear the puck and suffered the consequences.  The Sabres took the lead five minutes later on a power play goal by Thomas Vanek after Tom Fleischmann was sent off for one of three double minors the Caps would take on the night.  The visitors battled hard in the third period, but were continually denied by Ryan Miller, who made his return after missing six games.  But the Caps were eventually rewarded, as Jason Chimera found Nick Backstrom alone in the slot, who ripped a shot bar down on Miller to equalize for the Capitals.  After Backstrom took another high sticking double minor, the Caps were able to kill off the ensuing power play into overtime; however, Vanek struck again with exactly one minute left in the extra frame as he dangled through the entire Washington defense and deposited a backhander into the cage for the game-winner.


A really lackluster game by the Caps.  They lacked production from their top line and looked out of sorts all night.  Better get the ship righted quickly, with a contest tomorrow afternoon.

Braden Holtby was great.  The rookie was the reason the Caps were able to salvage a point out of the contest.  Holtby looked calm and made several spectacular glove saves throughout the game to keep his team in it.

Caps are right back at it tomorrow in DC as they welcome the Thrashers to Verizon Center.  Game time is scheduled for 5 P.M.

Gameday: at Buffalo, Nov. 13

The Caps are in Buffalo tonight to take on the Sabres, who are winless at home so far this season.

Michal Neuvirth will start for the Caps and coach Bruce Boudreau.  Neuvirth stopped 38 shots last time out against Tampa Bay.

Boyd Gordon is out after suffering a leg injury on Thursday.  He will be replaced in the lineup by Dave Steckel.

The Sabres will counter in goal with Ryan Miller, who makes his return after a six game absence due to an unspecified lower-body injury.

Puck drops 7:07-ish.  Check back later.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Caps Blast Bolts

The Caps again rode stellar play by Alexander Semin to a victory over the Lightning tonight, recording a 6-3 decision.  Semin had five points, including the game winner among his third period hat trick.

Once again, the Caps fell behind early and conceded the first goal of the game to Teddy Purcell, who drove the net and cashed a rebound halfway through the first frame.  Early in the second, Tom Poti, playing in his first contest in over two weeks, potted a Semin rebound to tie the score before Mike Knuble scored again, this time on a nifty backhand from behind the goal line, and the second period ended with the Caps up 2-1.  But the Lightning would not go away, finding their equalizer on a power play off the stick of Ryan Malone.  The Caps continued to press, and scored sixteen seconds into their only power play of the game, as Backstrom found Semin alone in the slot, who calmly ripped a wrister top corner on Dan Ellis.  Semin struck again four minutes later, again found alone in the slot by Nicklas Backstrom, ripping a one-timer past Ellis.  Two minutes later, the inevitable happened, as superstar Steven Stamkos tucked a snapshot under Michal Neuvirth's crossbar to cut the deficit to one.  Just three minutes later however, Alex Ovechkin collected took a feed from Semin and scored a goal of his own on a low wrist shot to all but secure the victory for the Caps.  With Ellis pulled, Semin scored a ninety foot goal to net his hat-trick late in the contest, closing the scoring.


Bruce Boudreau decided to re-unite the super line of Ovie, Sasha, and Backy about halfway through the second period, and man did it pay off.  Mike Knuble is also showing good chemistry with Brooks Laich and Tom Fleischmann, so look for these lines to stick for at least the next couple of games.

Boyd Gordon only skated 1:27 and did not return after the first period, apparently injuring his foot or ankle during an icing race.  Tough blow for Gordo and the Caps, who will now rely on David Steckel as their top faceoff man.  No knock on Stecks, but Gordon is key to the Caps' success in the circle just as much, if not more.

Nick Backstrom had another great game.  Four assists, two blocks, almost two minutes of shorthanded ice time.  He is really starting to find his groove and is putting his name into the top four or five overall players in the NHL with his continued defensive improvement along with his gaudy offensive stats.

That's all for now.  Next game is Saturday in Buffalo against the struggling Sabres, who are still without Vezina winner Ryan Miller.  Game time is scheduled for 7 P.M.

Gameday: vs. Tampa Bay, Nov. 11

The Capitals welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to Verizon Center tonight for the first of sex meetings between the division rivals this season.  The Lightning are in second place in the division, riding the impressive play of Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.

Michal Neuvirth gets the start in goal for the Caps coming off his victory in New York Tuesday.  The Lightning will counter with Dan Ellis, coming off a shutout in his last outing.

Tom Poti took the morning skate and is considered "probable" for the Caps tonight, according to Bruce Boudreau.  If Poti plays, look for Tyler Sloan to sit.

DJ King is expected to remain in the lineup for tonights game, which means Dave Steckel will be a healthy scratch once more.

Puck drops 7:07-ish.  Check back later.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Caps Outlast Blueshirts

The Capitals defeated the Rangers tonight in a tense back-and-forth game that saw the lead exchange three times before the Capitals pulled ahead halfway through the third period.  Brooks Laich, returning from an upper body injury, had two goals and an assist for the Caps.

The Rangers opened the scoring early, as Brian Boyle ripped a shot high glove past Michal Neuvirth off a faceoff about four minutes in.  The Caps were able to sustain offensive pressure, but were continually stymied by Henrik Lundqvist, until Laich redirected an Alex Semin shot on the power play to tie the score.  Boyle scored again three minutes later, this time on the power play, and the teams went to the dressing room with the Rangers up 2-1.  The Caps found their equalizer off the stick of John Erskine, who crushed a slapshot top corner on Lundqvist early in the middle frame.  Not to be outdone, Derek Boogaard, (yes, him), who had not scored a goal in 234 games, dangled Tyler Sloan on a botched keep-in attempt and blasted his own slapshot past Neuvirth on an odd-man rush to put the Rangers up less than a minute later.  Around the nine minute mark, Mike Knuble finally got off the schneid with a beautiful finish off a spectacular end-to-end performance by Alex Ovechkin to tie the game, and the frame ended in a tie.  Halfway through the third period, Matt Bradley dug out a loose puck behind the net and fed it in front to a diving Matt Hendricks, who buried it for the eventual game-winning tally.  The Rangers buzzed Neuvirth's cage for the remaining minutes, but the Czech rookie stood tall once more before Brooks Laich iced the game with an empty netter.


Mike Green continues to prove his all-around game is rapidly improving.  No. 52 was outstanding all night, making smart passes, solid hits, and blocking shots.  Greener gets better and better with every game and is once again solidifying his status as perhaps the NHL's best rearguard.

Mike Knuble scoring is huge.  With his confidence back, Bruce Boudreau will likely move Knuble back to the top like with Ovie and Backstrom, breaking up the super line and balancing the Caps' attack more with Semin on the second line.

Michal Neuvirth is gonna be really, really good.  Like, awesome.  The rookie could not be faulted on any goal he allowed, and rebounded brilliantly after yielding goals each time.  He also made several spectacular saves in the dying moments of the game.  Outdueling Henrik Lundqvist is no small feat.  Props to Neuvy.

Next game is Thursday night against Tampa Bay and Steven Stamkos.  Game time is 7 P.M.

Gameday: at New York Rangers, Nov. 9

From the morning skate:

Michal Neuvirth will start for the Caps in nets after receiving a night off against the Flyers on Sunday.  Neuvirth will be opposed, to no one's surprise, by Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.

Brooks Laich will play after missing practice yesterday and the third period of Sunday's game.  Laich will return to his normal spot on the second line.

Tom Poti is being called a game time decision at this point for tonight.  Bruce Boudreau said he will not know until likely after warmup whether Poti will be able to go.

On the Rangers side, star winger Marian Gaborik will not play tonight.  There was some thought that he would return from a separated shoulder, but he has not recovered significantly enough.  Good news for the Caps.

Puck drops 7:40-ish.  Check back later.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Practice Update: Nov. 8

Brooks Laich suffered an upper body injury in yesterday's game and did not play in the third period, nor did he practice with his teammates today.  However, the forward is expected to make the trip to New York and may play against the Rangers tomorrow night.  The injury is not considered serious.

Tom Poti practiced with the team and looks like about "an 80% shot" to play tomorrow.  He will go on the trip.

Semyon Varlamov took shots during practice and worked extra after practice on the ice as he continues to rehab his perpetually wonky groin.  Varly may go on a conditioning stint soon to Hershey, and hopes to be back in net for the Caps sometime in the next week to ten days.

That's all for now.  Check back tomorrow.

Practice: Nov. 8th

The Caps will be on the ice for practice this morning at 11 before heading to New York this afternoon in preparation for tomorrow night's game with the Rangers.

Updates on the conditions of Semyon Varlamov, Tom Poti, and others to come after practice.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Caps Ride Special Teams to Victory

The Caps defeated the Flyers tonight in a game marked by excellent goaltending at both ends of the ice.  Flyers rookie Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 stops as his bid failed to become the first Flyers goalie since 1970 to win seven consecutive starts. At the other end of the ice, Braden Holtby was solid for the Caps in his first NHL start, making key saves when he needed to.

Nikolai Zherdev opened the scoring for the visitors when he ripped a shot past Holtby from the high slot after a nifty pass from Andreas Nodl ten minutes in to the first period.  The Caps responded with an Eric Fehr tally late in the frame to send the teams to their locker rooms tied up at one.  In the second, the Flyers took the lead again on a Ville Leino goal.  Leino was then sent off for a high stick, and it took the Caps only 24 seconds on the ensuing man advantage to strike, as Alexander Semin extended his goal-scoring streak with a power play marker.  The rest of the second period and third period were scoreless, and both offenses were robbed by timely stops by the goaltenders.  The Capitals were also successful on both of their penalty kills during that time frame.  Late in the third period, Flyers stalwart Chris Pronger took a double-minor for high sticking, but the Caps were unsuccessful on their four-minute power play.  However, right at the end of regulation, the Flyers took another penalty, and thirty seconds into overtime, Mike Green skated calmly to the top of the circles and picked the top corner for the game-winner.


Nick Backstrom is starting to heat up.  The Swedish pivot has had a rough start to the season, but is finding his groove on the Caps' high powered top line.  Backstrom posted a two-assist game tonight, and many more are sure on the horizon.

The Capitals have an embarrassment of wealth at the goaltending position.  Braden Holtby was excellent in his first career NHL start, and proved to Caps fans that if Michal Neuvirth or Semyon Varlamov gets traded, there will be a solid goalie between the pipes for the Caps for awhile.  The Caps have three young, good goalies, and few (if any) teams in the NHL can say as such.

As goes Mike Green, so go the Caps.  Since the blueliner returned to the lineup, the team in 6-1, and the power play has finally started to click with him back as the quarterback.  Green continues to prove that he is the best defenseman in the NHL, and hopefully the Norris Trophy voters will notice it this year.

Next game is in New York on Tuesday night against the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist at the World's Most Famous Arena.  Game time is scheduled for 7 P.M.

Gameday: vs. Philadelphia, November 7th

The Capitals continue their homestand today with an afternoon game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

It is expected that Braden Holtby will receive his first NHL start as to relieve Michal Neuvirth, who has played in all of the Caps' games this year, and looked tired last time out.

Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky will start for Philadelphia.  Bobrovsky has won six straight starts and is the main reason for the Flyers' strong start.

Marcus Johansson has recovered from his injury and been returned to Hershey.

Puck drop is 5:07-ish.  Check back later.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Caps Almost Blow It (Again)

In an extremely odd game tonight at Verizon Center tonight, the Capitals escaped an embarrassing loss with a 5-3 win over the Bruins after once again watching a multiple-goal lead slip away in the third period.

Tyler Sloan opened the scoring for the Caps a minute in to the 2nd period, closely followed by Mike Green, who scored a goal for the third consecutive game.  Alexander Semin continued his torrid start with a shorthanded goal to make it 3-0 at the 2nd intermission, and once again, the Capitals had an extended power play to enter the third period, and had chased Tim Thomas from the Bruins' cage.  And once again, they fired blanks, and let the Bruins back into the game.  Michael Ryder and Nathan Horton scored 55 seconds apart on consecutive power plays to bring the B's within one before Shawn Thornton took advantage of another long shift by Alex Ovechkin to tie the score at 3.  In response, Bruce Boudreau yanked Michal Neuvirth and replaced him with fellow rookie Braden Holtby, who had yet to see NHL game action.  With six minutes left, rookie defenseman John Carlson played hero again, scoring the eventual game-winning goal on a slapshot from the top of the circle off a faceoff win, taking new Bruins tender Tuukka Rask totally off guard.  Alex Ovechkin closed out the scoring after Boston had pulled Rask for his eighth goal of the year, and the Caps pulled out a key win.


Mike Knuble is getting close.  Knuble was plus-two on the night and played well in the corners, and was a physical presence in front of the net, which is when he is his best.  The breakout game is coming soon.

Alex Ovechkin has got to shorten his shifts.  Most nights, his average shift length is over a minute, and tonight was no exception.  That, quite frankly, is way too long for someone to be out on the ice, especially at the ridiculously high pace Ovechkin plays at.  It's beginning to cost the team goals, as was the case tonight.

John Carlson has been a real find, eh?  Captain America was a force all night, playing strong defensively, blocking shots, and scoring the big goal for his team when they needed it.  A real solid game from Carlson, and it is sure to be one of many in the years to come in Washington for him.

That's all for tonight.  Next game is Sunday at home against the Flyers and Chris Pronger.  Game time is 5:00 PM.

Gameday: vs. Boston, November 5th

It looks like Michal Neuvirth will make his 12th start of the season tonight as the Boston Bruins pay a visit to Verizon Center.  The Bruins, to no ones surprise, will start Tim Thomas, who has allowed a ridiculous 5 goals in 7 starts (all wins).

Tom Poti will remain out, as will goaltender Semyon Varlamov, leaving Braden Holtby with the back-up duties for the Caps.  Brian Fahey's demotion to the AHL yesterday means it is likely that Tyler Sloan will return to the lineup after a two-game absence.  Marcus Johansson (hip flexor) will be a game-time decision.

Puck drops at 7:07-ish.  Check back later.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rapid Rewind: Washington 5, Toronto 4 (SO)

Alexander Semin was the hero for the Capitals tonight, scoring the tying goal late in regulation and the clinching goal for the Capitals in the shootout, as they defeated the Maple Leafs, 5-4.

The Caps conceded the early lead on a goal by Nikolai Kulemin, but stormed back to take a 3-1 lead on goals by Mike Green, Jason Chimera and Tomas Fleischmann.  Heading into the third period, the Caps had the two goal lead and a minute and fifty seconds of power play time, but, like so many times so far on this young season, could not find the killer instinct that became a hallmark of theirs last season.  In response, Toronto silenced the raucous Verizon Center crowd with three goals in just over three minutes to take the 4-3 lead.  the Caps were gifted a power play on an awful call in front of the goal that sent Brett Lebda off, and Semin notched the equalizer on a brilliant display of stickwork.  In overtime, the Capitals hit two posts and were denied repeatedly by Jonas Gustavsson (29 saves) on a power play.  With the extra period completed with no further scoring, Alex Ovechkin and and Alexander Semin converted in the shootout, and Michal Neuvirth stopped both shots he faced, to send the Capitals to their second consecutive victory.

Some observations from tonights game:

Mike Knuble continued to struggle.  Big number 22 looked out of place once again and struggled to convert on his many chances.  Knuble is shooting alot, a good sign, but has remained snakebit in the goal category, having not scored since the first game of the season.

Alexander Semin has a set of magic hands.  Seriously.  His stickwork to secure the tying goal was incredible, he was active all night around the boards and in the corners, and his clinching shootout goal put a hole in the net twine.  One of his best all around games in awhile.  Kudos to Sasha.

Michal Neuvirth continues to impress.  Semyon Varlamov may not be out much longer than a week, but at this rate, it might not matter.  The newly crowned NHL rookie of the month could not be faulted on any of the goals and stood tall in the shootout and late in the third after the Caps had tied the game.

Next game is Friday at home against the always tough Bruins and Tim Thomas, who, in a miraculous turn of events, actually gave up a goal tonight (TWO!).

God night hockey fans.  Check back tomorrow afternoon for updates from practice.

Fahey Recalled

Brian Fahey has been recalled from Hershey (AHL) to fill the void left by injuries to Tom Poti and Tyler Sloan.  He will dress tonight and will presumably skate alongside John Erskine on the 3rd pairing.

Gameday: vs. Toronto, November 3rd

The Capitals will start Michal Neuvirth in nets tonight at home vs. the Maple Leafs.

Tom Poti and Tyler Sloan are still both out, leaving coach Bruce Boudreau with only five healthy defensemen (Green, Schultz, Alzner, Carlson, and Erskine).  Look for a call-up to be made before game time.

Puck drops at 7:07-ish.  Check back later.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 2nd

Little to report from practice today other than it looks like Alexander Semin will return to the second line for wednesday's game with the Maple Leafs.  He should play on the right side, centered by Tomas Fleischmann and Brooks Laich on the left wing.  It also looks like Eric Fehr will return to his traditional spot on the third line after being a healthy scratch last game.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Practice Update

Both Brian Fahey and Mathieu Perrault have been re-assigned to Hershey of the AHL before today's practice.
Coach Bruce Boudreau was noncommittal on the status of defenseman Tom Poti; however Fahey's demotion could be a signal that Poti is ready to return for Wednesday's tilt with the Maple Leafs.

Monday, November 1st

The Caps will be on ice for a practice this morning at 10:30.  Updates on the conditions of Varlamov and Poti will come later in the day.