Welcome!

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!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Bang Bang

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: at Columbus, Dec. 31

Alex Semin needs to continue his recent hot streak.
The Washington Capitals are in Columbus, Ohio, this evening to take on the Blue Jackets as they try and continue their winning ways following their 3-1 victory last night over the Sabres. The Caps enter tonight's play 6-3-1 over their last ten and 19-15-2 on the year for 40 standings points.  Those 40 points place them third in the Southeast Division, five back of the Panthers with two games in hand, and tenth in the Eastern Conference, one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Columbus, on the other hand, comes into tonight 2-6-2 over their last ten games and 10-22-5 overall.  That record gives them 25 standings points, which places them last in the Central Division and last in the Western Conference.  This is the one and only meeting between these two teams this season.

Columbus coach Scott Arniel will choose to roll with starter Steve Mason against the Caps in goal this evening following his 31-save effort in a 4-1 win over Dallas on Thursday.  Mason, who won the Calder Trophy in 2008-2009 with an amazing year, has struggled over the last two full seasons and the first half of this campaign.  Overall this season, he is 5-15-2 with a 3.29 GAA and .887 save percentage.  Outside the crease, the Blue Jackets will be without several key pieces for tonight's game.  Offseason free agent prize James Wisniewski is out six weeks after breaking his ankle on Thursday, while winger Kristian Huselius will be absent witha  groin muscle tear and defenseman Radek Martinek will not play with a concussion.

Tomas Vokoun will be the choice in goal for Dale Hunter following two excellent performances over his last two starts in which he has stopped 56 of the 58 shots thrown his way.  On the year, Vokoun is 14-8-0 with a 2.60 GAA, .913 save percentage, and one shutout; his numbers are rapidly improving. On the injury front, defenseman Mike Green, who has missed the last seven weeks because of a bad groin muscle, is on the trip with the Caps but is not expected to play. Cody Eakin, who was recalled by the Caps last night, will give Jay Beagle a rest to prevent a possible recurrence of post-concussion symptoms.  That seems to imply Mathieu Perreault has had a setback with his abdominal injury.  Jeff Schultz is expected to be the healthy scratch once more on the back end.

Puck drops 7:09-ish.  Check back later.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Heating Up

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: vs. Buffalo, Dec. 30

Are the boys back in town? Remains to be seen.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Buffalo Sabres to Verizon Center on Friday night as they attempt to build on some of the momentum they collected with their superb win over the Rangers on Wednesday night and in the process, buck their disturbing recent trend of playing very well for a game an then falling apart in their next contest.  The Caps enter tonight's game 5-4-1 in their last ten and 18-15-2 overall for 37 standings points.  Those 37 points place them third in the Southeast Division, seven back of the Panthers, and tenth in the Eastern Conference, one back of the final playoff spot.  The Sabres, who have also struggled recently (except when they play the Caps), are 3-5-2 in their last ten and 17-16-3 overall for 37 standings points.  That total has them in fourth place in the Northeast Division and eleventh in the Eastern Conference.  This is the third meeting between these two clubs this season; the Sabres have won both previous games inside First Niagara Center by a combined score of 9-3.

Lindy Ruff's choice in nets will be Ryan Miller, despite the fact that he has started seven in a row and Buffalo has another game on Saturday at home against the Senators.  On the year, Miller is 9-9-2 with a 3.05 GAA, .902 save percentage, and one shutout.  Outside the crease, the Sabres will be missing several key components to their lineup because of injuries for this evening's contest. Defensemen Andrej Sekera (head) and Tyler Myers (wrist) are both out, as are forwards Ville Leino (lower body) and Nathan Gerbe (concussion).  Winger Tyler Ennis (ankle) is questionable.

Tomas Vokoun has been selected start his second game in a row following a solid performance against New York on Wednesday.  On the year, Vokoun is 13-8-0 with a 2.67 GAA, .911 save percentage, and one shutout.  He most recently faced the Sabres with a relief appearance on Monday, in which he stopped 16 of 17 shots in 47 minutes of action.  On the injury front, defenseman Mike Green is will not play as he continues to work his way back from a groin injury.  He has skated for three practices in a row and said after practice on Thursday he "could" be back tonight, but will wait.  Jeff Schultz and Mathieu Perreault will remain healthy scratches, as Dale Hunter sees no reason to change up a lineup that romped on one of the best teams in the East last time out.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  Check back later.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Practice: Dec. 29

The Washington Capitals were on ice for a practice Thursday morning as they prepare to meet the Sabres Friday night at Verizon Center. Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

The lines were the same as they were for Wednesday night's win over the Rangers: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin, Ward-Laich-Chimera, Johansson-Halpern-Brouwer, and Knuble-Hendricks-Beagle-Perreault.
Mike Green also took his third consecutive full practice as he recovers from a groin injury, taking full rushes with his fellow defensemen and not looking like he was hesitating very much at all.  After skating, green said that he could be back this weekend but a more realistic timeline would be next week, ideally Tuesday against Calgary.

That's all for now.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Top Gun

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: vs. NY Rangers, Dec. 28

Time to pick it up...
The Washington Capitals will welcome the New York Rangers to Verizon Center on Wednesday night as they look to break their two game losing streak and build desperately needed momentum heading into the new year.  Washington enters tonight's game 5-4-1 in their last ten, including Monday's embarrassing loss in Buffalo, and overall is 17-15-2 for 36 standings points.  Those 36 points place them third in the Southeast Division, seven points back of the Panthers, and eleventh overall in the East, three points out of the final playoff spot.  The Rangers, on the other hand, are on fire, compiling a 7-2-1 record over their last ten while being 22-8-4 overall for 48 standings points.  Those 48 points lead both the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.  This is the second of four meetings between these two clubs this season; New York smacked the Caps on the day after Thanksgiving inside Verizon by a score of 6-3.

John Tortorella will go with his backup, Martin Biron, in goal against the Caps tonight.  Though Biron is certainly number two behind Henrik Lundqvist, he has been spectacular this year nonetheless: a 7-1-0 record, 1.84 GAA, .933 save percentage, and one shutout.  He is 11-8-1 against Washington in his career, but has never faced them as a member of the Rangers.  Outside the crease, the Rangers are missing three players to long term injuries: defensemen Michael Sauer and Marc Staal (both have concussions) and winger Wojtek Wolski (groin).

Tomas Vokoun is expected to make his first start for Dale Hunter tonight in more than two weeks.  Vokoun, who appeared in relief of a dreadful Michal Neuvirth on Monday night, is 12-8 on the year with a 2.75 GAA, .907 save percentage, and one shutout.  On the injury front, Mike Green is almost certainly out with a groin injury, though he practiced Tuesday and could be nearing a return.  Jay Beagle will make his return to the lineup after a nearly three month long absence, replacing Mathieu Perreault on the fourth line.  As of now, there is no reason to expect Jeff Schultz to get a sweater over either Roman Hamrlik or John Erskine, though he deserves it.

Gametime tonight is 7:39.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Practice: Dec. 27

The Washington Capitals were on ice Tuesday morning for a practice as they prepare to try and right the ship against the Conference-leading Rangers on Wednesday night.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Mathieu Perreault, who left Monday night's game against the Sabres because of an upper-body injury and stayed in Buffalo overnight for observation, returned to the practice ice on a line with Matt Hendricks, Mike Knuble, and Jay Beagle.  The other lines were changed up too: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin, Johansson-Halpern-Brouwer, and Ward-Laich-Chimera.
Mike Green participated in practice for the duration of the skate for the first time since sustaining his second groin injury.  Previously, Green had been leaving practice when drills began after skating before practice began and with his teammates on ice before drills began.  The defenseman saw time on the power play during the skate.  Afterwards, he indicated that he is feeling much better, but is still day to day.  He seems a long shot to play against the Rangers at this point.

That's all for now.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Speared

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: at Buffalo, Dec. 26

Ah, the good olde days of goal scoring...
The Washington Capitals are in Buffalo, New York, this evening to take on the Sabres in a Boxing Day clash as they attempt to gain some momentum heading out of the Christmas break. The Caps come into tonight's game having gone 5-4-1 over their last ten, including their last game, a 4-3 overtime loss against the Devils on Friday.  Overall, they are 17-14-2 on the year for 36 standings points, which places them third in the Southeast Division and tenth in the Eastern Conference.  The Sabres, so far, have had an equally disappointing season as the Caps have, and are 3-5-2 over their last ten and 16-15-3 overall for 37 standings points.  That has them in fourth in the competitive Northeast Division and eleventh in the East, one point behind the Caps.  This is the second meeting between these two clubs this year; the Sabres won the first leg 5-1 in what was Bruce Boudreau's final game behind the Washington bench.

Ryan Miller is expected to earn the nod from Lindy Ruff, despite losing his last three contests.  After a Vezina-winning campaign in 2009-10, Miller fell off a bit last year, and has continued that so far this year.  On the year he is 8-8-2 with a 3.11 GAA, .904 save percentage, and one shutout.  Despite his poor performance this year, he's still Ryan Miller, and he won that Vezina for a reason. Buffalo is also dealing with a rash of injuries, as defenseman Tyler Myers (wrist) and forwards Ville Leino (lower body) and Nathan Gerbe (concussion) are all out indefinitely.  Forwards Thomas Vanek (lower body), Brad Boyes (leg), and Tyler Ennis (ankle) are also all questionable for tonight's game.

Tomas Vokoun should start for Dale Hunter after a four game layoff and Michal Neuvirth's loss against the Devils.  Vokoun has underperformed vastly this year, and on the year is 12-8-0 with a 2.81 GAA .906 save percentage, and one shutout.  He was pulled from his last start, two weeks ago against the Flyers.  On the injury front, both Mike Green and Jay Beagle are out with groin and concussion injuries, respectively, and will not play.  In terms of healthy scratches, as of now there is no indication that Jeff Schultz will reclaim the role in the lineup that is rightfully his over John Erskine or Roman Hamrlik, but of course that could all change.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  Check back later.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

World Juniors Hold Special Meaning for Carlson and Alzner

Karl Alzner was a decorated member of two Canadian WJC teams.
For most of their professional careers, Capitals defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner have been attached at the hip.  Carlson, 21, and Alzner, 23, who were drafted two years apart, began their professional journeys with the Caps' American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, developing alongside current Caps like Michal Neuvirth, Mathieu Perreault, and Jay Beagle.  There, the two of them played together often, and both were huge pieces of the Hershey teams that won back to back Calder Cups in 2009 and 2010.
When they both graduated to full time NHL duty last season, they made the transition very well, playing together for a big part of the season and quickly establishing themselves as the Caps' most consistent and best defensive pairing at the NHL level.  A lot of that, according to Alzner, was based on his familiarity with Carlson from playing with him in Hershey.  "We didn't really start playing that good of a defensive hockey until about halfway through the year," Alzner said in October.  "But we figured it out because we know each other.  There's little miscommunication.  It's nice to play with him, and we're very happy that we're still together."
There is one area, however, in which Carlson and Alzner will always be on opposite sides: international play.  Alzner was born in Burnaby, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver that is a mere 20 miles north of the United States/Canada border.  Carlson, on the other hand, was born in Natick, Massachusetts, a small town south of Boston.
As some of the finest young hockey players from their respective countries in their late teens, they were both selected to play in the IIHF Under-20 World Championships, colloquially known as the World Junior Championships, before they cracked the Capitals' roster.  The World Juniors are one of the most widely viewed and most hotly contested Junior sporting events in the world, especially in Canada.  And even though they never played against one another in the Tournament, it was an incredible experience for both of them as central members of Championship teams.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Rapid Rewind: A Point is a Point

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: at New Jersey, Dec. 23

Zach Parise's Devils have been very hot of late.
The Washington Capitals are in Newark, New Jersey this evening as they try and build on the momentum they picked up with their nice win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. Washington enters tonight's game and even 5-5 in their last ten games while posting a 17-14-1 record overall for 35 standings points.  Those 35 points place them second in the Southeast Division, seven behind the Florida Panthers, and in ninth in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the Senators for the final playoff spot.  New Jersey is coming off a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the Rangers Tuesday but are nonetheless 6-4 in their last ten and 18-14-1 for 37 standings points.  That has them fourth in the highly competitive Atlantic Division but still sixth in the Conference.  This is the second of four meetings between these two teams this season; the Caps won the first leg in October.

Martin Brodeur will get the call in goal from Peter DeBoer despite losing his last start against the Rangers.  The ageless Brodeur, who is probably the greatest goaltender to ever play (though Montreal fans will certainly disagree), has struggled this year to the tune of an 8-9 record, 3.08 GAA, and .885 save percentage.  That said, he is still Marty Brodeur and can turn it on at any time. Outside the crease, the Devils have a few injuries to worry about.  Defensemen Andy Greene will miss the game with a toe injury, while rookie star Adam Larsson will be absent as he returns to Sweden to mourn the loss of his grandmother. Winger David Clarkson (illness) and defenseman Henrik Tallinder (back) are both questionable.

Dale Hunter will give the call in goal to Michal Neuvirth for the fourth consecutive game.  After the starting out the season on a disastrous note, Neuvirth has played well of late, allowing four goals combined over his last three starts, winning two of them.  On the year, he is 5-6-1 with a 3.09 GAA, .893 save percentage, and one shutout.  He has also owned the Devils in his career, going 4-0-1 in five starts with a 1.18 GAA, .960 save percentage, and one shutout.  On the injury front, the Caps will be without Mike Green (groin) and Jay Beagle (concussion). Jeff Schultz seems likely to return to the press box after a one game experiment back in the lineup; John Erskine would return in his place.

Puck drops 7:10-ish.  Check back later.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Practice: Dec. 22

The Washington Capitals were on ice for a practice Thursday afternoon as they prepare to take on the New Jersey Devils Friday night in Newark.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Mike Green skated before practice for about 30 minutes and then remained on ice for about 15 minutes into the practice, taking rushes with the other defensemen.  Green looked good in testing his injured groin muscle, but there is still no timetable for his return.  He did not speak with reporters afterwards.
The lines were as follows: Johansson-Backstrom-Semin, Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Halpern-Ward, and Hendricks-Perreault-Knuble-Beagle. Beagle seemed to be increasing the intensity of his work again following a solid practice Monday, taking a regular rotation in line rushes and taking some hits along the wall.
Dale Hunter confirmed after practice that Michal Neuvirth will start Friday against the Devils.  This will be his fourth consecutive game in net.

The Capitals will travel to New Jersey this afternoon.  That's all for now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sarge Demoted to Private...Inexplicably

I bet you the Lightning did not score on this play.
Ever since John Erskine had his breakout performance last season, a debate has been going on between Capitals bloggers, fans, and media: when the lineup is fully intact among defensemen, does Erskine or Jeff Schultz deserve to get the call on a nightly basis?  Under Bruce Boudreau, the answer was almost always Schultz.  Boudreau had seen what Schultz could do every night when he played with Mike Green extensively in Hershey, and so when given the choice, he went with Schultz.
Since Dale Hunter took over as head coach almost a month ago, however, Schultz has fallen out of favor spectacularly.  In the six games under Hunter in which a defenseman, presumably Schultz or Erskine, could have been scratched, Schultz has sat five times and Erskine once, this past Tuesday against Nashville.  In the game that they both dressed for, Schultz saw a third of the ice time that Erskine did (3:55 to 12:56).  Which, of course, is silly, because Jeff Schultz is a better defenseman than John Erskine.
Yes.  I said it.  Jeff Schultz is better than John Erskine.
Consider this: among Capitals defensemen who have played in 13 or more games this year, Schultz is second in 5v5 goals against per 60 minutes at 2.18, according to the website BehindTheNet.ca.  That means that at even strength, the team has allowed the second fewest goals against per 60 minutes when Schultz is on the ice, behind only to Karl Alzner.  In fact, Schultz is in second by a wide margin, with rookie Dmitry Orlov the next closest at 2.31 per 60 minutes. Erskine clocks in at fifth, allowing 2.49 per 60 minutes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Vintage

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: vs. Nashville, Dec. 20

Panic time...
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Nashville Predators to Verizon Center this evening as they attempt to shake off another disappointing loss and rebound against a tough team.  The Caps enter tonight's game having lost their last game in Colorado and six of their last ten, and have posted a 16-14-1 record overall.  That record gives them 33 standings points, which places them third in the Southeast Division, nine back of the Panthers, and in eleventh in the Eastern Conference.  The Predators, on the other hand, have been hot recently, winning five in a row and seven of their last ten.  On the year, they're 17-11-4 for 38 standings points, which has them fourth in the Central Division and seventh in the Western Conference. This is the second of two meetings between these two clubs this season; the Predators won 3-1 in the first meeting, which took place in mid-November.

Barry Trotz will roll with his backup netminder, Anders Lindback, in goal tonight. Lindback is one of the most capable backups in the league and on the year is 2-2 with a 2.52 GAA and .902 save percentage.  He's no Pekka Rinne, but he's still good.  Outside the crease, the Predators actually have zero injuries to their team. So one of the best and most consistent teams in the NHL is coming in against one of the least consistent and beat up teams in the NHL.  Oh, and then there's Shea Weber. Could be fun, I guess.

Despite allowing a very poor goal that cost the Caps the game on Saturday night, Michal Neuvirth will make his third consecutive start in goal for Dale Hunter. Neuvirth's numbers are very poor this year: 4-6-1 record, 3.27 GAA, and .889 save percentage, but for some reason Hunter will call him him to right the shift. On the injury front, the Caps are sure to be without both Mike Green and Jay Beagle, who have missed extended periods of time with groin and concussion injuries, respectively.  With Cody Eakin now in Hershey, there will be no forward healthy scratch; Dale Hunter has not indicated that Jeff Schultz will be given a jersey after spending the last week in the press box.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  Check back later.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Practice: Dec. 19

The Washington Capitals were on ice Monday morning at 10:30 as they prepare for Tuesday night's game with the Nashville Predators.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:
Mike Green skated by himself for about 40 minutes before practice began, and left the ice as soon as the rest of his teammates came on for practice.  Dale Hunter would not provide an update on Green after practice, saying only that he "looked good skating."  Okay.
Dale Hunter also took a blowtorch to his lines again, rolling the following units: Johansson-Backstrom-Ovechkin, Brouwer-Halpern-Semin, Chimera-Laich-Ward, and Hendricks-Perreault-Knuble-Beagle.  Midway through the skate, a Capitals spokesperson said that Beagle has indeed been cleared for a full practice, including contact.  Players did hit him during practice, and he said he "felt good" but has absolutely no timetable for a return to game action.


That's all for now.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Error Up Top

Can this forced relationship actually work?
Dale Hunter was the wrong choice to be the head coach of the Washington Capitals.

Now that that is out of the way, let me say first that letting Bruce Boudreau go was the correct call by George McPhee.  Boudreau was, and still is, a fantastic coach who did wonderful things for the Capitals organization and the city of Washington.  But his time had come.  Washington, a team who on paper should crank out 45 wins, were spinning their wheels and getting blown out by mediocre teams like Winnipeg and Buffalo.  In November.
The Capitals had tuned Boudreau out; he had lost the team and they did not believe in his system.  That, in additon to the fact that Boudreau had failed to make it out of the second round of the playoffs over the last three years while having arguably the most talent-laden roster in the league during that time. It was simply over.
Part of that is certainly on the players for being entitled for three and a half years under Boudreau before their head coach attempted to reign them in.  They didn't have killer instinct in the playoffs, letting 3-1 and 2-0 series leads slip away.  And of course, part of it is on Boudreau for not preaching that instinct and letting the inmates run the asylum for three and a half years before trying to regain control through "accountability" with stunningly poor results.
In order attempt to fix the problem, George McPhee brought in franchise icon Hunter from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.  Hunter had an amazing run with the Knights: six division titles, six seasons of over 100 standings points, and a Memorial Cup victory in 2004-05.  And yet, he was still the wrong choice to be the head coach of this team.

Rapid Rewind: Frosted

Read my RtR game recap here.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Gameday: at Colorado, Dec. 17

Captain, my captain...
The Washington Capitals are in Denver, Colorado this evening to take on the Avalanche as they look to build upon their tight win against the Jets Thursday night.  The Caps, who have won four of their last six, are nonetheless 4-6 over their last ten and enter tonight's game with a 16-13-1 record. That gives them 33 standings points, which places them second in the Southeast Division, five points back on the Panthers, and in eighth in the Eastern Conference, holding on to the final playoff spot.  Colorado, on the other hand, have really struggled since their hot start, and are 5-5 in their last ten, including a 5-4 loss to San Jose on Thursday night.  They have a 14-17-1 record, which gives them 29 standings points and places them last in the Northwest Division and thirteenth in the Western Conference.  This is the one and only meeting between these two clubs this season.

It is unknown at this time who the Avalanche will go with in goal, as Joe Sacco did not hold a practice on Friday.  Bothe Avalance goalies have been poor so far this year, but Semyon Varlamov was very bad in Colorado's net on Thursday night, giving up 3 goals in the third period as the Avs let a 4-2 lead slip away.  Will J-S Giguere get the call or will Varly get a chance to prove that George McPhee didn't totally fleece Colorado?  We'll know after the morning skate.  Outside the crease, the Avalanche only have three minor injuries.  Brandon Yip, Ryan Wilson, and Peter Mueller are all on the mend with long-term injuries and will not play. Winger Chuck Kobasew is questionable.

For the Caps, Dale Hunter will give the tap on the pads to Michal Neuvirth following his excellent 26 save shutout of Winnipeg on Thursday.  Even with his shutout, Neuvirth's numbers have been less than stellar so far this year: a 4-5-1 record, 3.38 GAA, .885 save percentage, and the aforementioned shutout.  On the injury front, defenseman Mike Green is expected to miss another game with his groin injury, though he should have joined the team as of this morning.  Matt Hendricks, who missed more than a week with a knee injury, is slated to return, and either Cody Eakin or Mathieu Perreualt will be benched in his place.  Jeff Schultz seems certain to be healthy scratched for the third consecutive game despite the fact that he is much better than Roman Hamrlik.  Oops.  Did I say that out loud?

Puck drops for this one 9:09-ish.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gameday: at Winnipeg, Dec. 15

"Our work ethic needs to skyrocket."
The Washington Capitals are in Winnipeg, Manitoba this evening as they attempt to shake off another hammering and get a win to open their brief two game road trip.  The Caps enter tonight's game with a 4-6 record over their last ten, and are 15-13-1 overall for 31 standings points.  Their record places them third in the Southeast Division, seven back of leaders Florida, and in twelfth in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Conference.  The Jets, on the other hand, are coming off a huge win over the NHL-leading Minnesota Wild and are 6-3-1 over their last ten and 14-12-4 overall. That record gives them 32 standings points, which has them second in t he Southeast and tenth in the East. This is the third of six meetings between these two clubs this season; they have split the season series so far.

Claude Noel is almost certain to call on Ondrej Pavelec against the Caps tonight. Pavelec's numbers don't look spectacular, but he still has posted an 11-10-4 record on the year, including that win over the Wild, in which he stopped 34 of 35 shots.  On the year, he has a 3.11 GAA, .902 save percentage, and two shutouts.  Outside the crease, the Jets will definitely be without two defensemen: Derek Meech, who is on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, and power play quarterback Tobias Enstrom, who is also on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Forwards Alex Burmistrov (undisclosed) and Nik Antropov (foot) are both questionable; neither of them player on Wednesday.

Michal Neuvirth seems likely to start for Dale Hunter after being solid in relief on Tuesday night.  After a promising rookie year, the sophomore Czech goalie has crashed and burned magnificently this year, posting a 3-5-1 record, 3.73 GAA, and .875 save percentage.  On the injury front, Washington will be without Mike Green (groin), who is believed to be in Vancouver seeing a specialist about his injury, and Jay Beagle (concussion).  Matt Hendricks, who has now missed more than a week, is questionable.  If he were to return to the lineup, it remains to be seen who would be scratched; my money is on Cody Eakin.  Jeff Schultz could return to the lineup also after being healthy scratched for the last two contests.

Puck drops 8:38-ish.  It's 4 degrees in Winnipeg.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Practice: Dec. 14

The Washington Capitals were on ice on Wednesday morning as they attempt to regroup following another hammering at the hands of a contender.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Every Cap, except Mike Green, was on the ice and accounted for at the skate.  Green is still visiting a groin specialist in Canada, and is expected to join the team on the road.  The lines for practice remained the same as they have for most recent games: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin, Brouwer-Johansson-Halpern, Ward-Laich-Chimera, and Knuble-Perreault-Eakin. Matt Hendricks also took some line rushes with the fourth line; he is still day to day with a knee injury and will travel with the team to Winnipeg.  As will Jay Beagle, who is not expected to play but is improving enough to fly and continue skating with his teammates.

That's all for now.  It's 8 degrees in Winnipeg.  Fun.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gameday: vs. Philadelphia, Dec. 13

Go go gadget...power play!
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to Verizon Center tonight as they look to continue their recent run of modest success.  The Caps, winners of two in a row and three of their last four, enter tonight's action with a 15-12-1 record in 28 games for 31 standings points.  Those 31 standings points place Washington six points adrift of the first-place Panthers in the Southeast Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference.  The Flyers, on the other hand, are hot, winners of seven of their last ten.  Their 18-7-3 record gives them 39 standings points in 18 games and they lead the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference with that point total.  This is the second of four meetings between these two clubs this year; the Caps won the first leg 5-2 in late October.

Huge offseason free-agent prize Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start for Peter Laviolette's Flyers.  Despite the fact that he has been winning games to the tune of a 13-5-2 record, Bryz has not had a stellar season otherwise, with a 2.83 GAA and .897 save percentage so far.  He gave up five goals the last time these two teams met.  Elsewhere, the Flyers will be without three of their top players for this game.  Their leading scorer Claude Giroux, up and coming center Brayden Schenn, and star defenseman and captain Chris Pronger will be absent with concussion symptoms, though Pronger is also sidelined with a knee injury. Tough break for the Flyers to be without some of their best players; the Caps must take advantage.

Dale Hunter will give the call to Tomas Vokoun in goal for the third consecutive game.  Vokoun has won his last two starts, and on the year is 12-7-0 with a 2.70 GAA, .910 save percentage, and one shutout.  He was brilliant the first time he faced the Flyers, stopping 40 of 42 in that 5-2 win in October.  On the injury front, the Caps will be without Mike Green (groin), who is on injured reserve and travelled to see a groin specialist in Vancouver over the weekend.  He has not skated in four days.  Jay Beagle is also out with a concussion, while Matt Hendricks will miss another game with a knee injury.  Jeff Schultz will be the healthy scratch among the defensemen for the second game in a row.

Puck drops for this one 7:09-ish.  Check back later.

Practice: Dec. 12

The Washington Capitals were on ice for practice Monday morning as they prepare to take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

The entire team, except Mike Green, was present for the skate.  This included Jay Beagle, who is working his way back from a concussion, and Matt Hendricks, who missed most of last week with a knee injury.  The fact that Green missed another practice, and has now not skated for four days in a row, officially indicates that he has had a setback in my book, regardless of what Dale Hunter or the team feels like revealing.
The lines remained the same as they were Friday night: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin, Brouwer-Johansson-Halpern, Chimera-Laich-Ward, and Hendricks-Eakin-Knuble-Perreault.  Poor Knuble, someone get him out of the dungeons. Please.

That's all for now.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gameday: vs. Toronto, Dec. 9

Crash the net. Crash it, I say!
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs to Verizon Center this evening as they try to continue some of the momentum picked up in their wild 5-3 win over the Senators on Wednesday night. The Caps, who even with their win Wednesday are 4-6 in their last ten games, enter tonight's game at 14-12-1, which gives them 29 standings points in 27 games.  Those 29 points place them second in the Southeast Division, seven off the pace of leaders Florida, and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.  Toronto, who got off to a blazing start, have slowed down a bit recently, but are still at .500 over their last ten and 15-10-3 overall.  They have 33 points, which gives them sole possession of second place in the Northeast Division and fifth place in the Eastern Conference.  This is the second of four meetings between these two clubs this season; the Leafs put up a touchdown on the Caps in the first game, winning 7-1.

Former Caps coach and current Maple Leafs boss Ron Wilson is likely to give the call in goal to his number one man, James Reimer.  Reimer has missed most of the year with a concussion, but nonetheless a very good goaltender even though his current numbers may not support it: a 4-1-2 record, 2.81 GAA, .902 save percentage, and one shutout.  Toronto will also get a boost tonight as winger Colby Armstrong will return from an ankle injury, but the Leafs are still without Mike Komisarek, Matthew Lombardi, and Mike Brown.  They are near full strength, and own two of the NHL's top five points scorers in Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel.

Tomas Vokoun will get the start in nets from Dale Hunter, his second consecutive start.  Vokoun made 31 saves on 34 shots in his last outing, that win against the Senators on Wednesday, and is 11-7-0 on the year with a 2.74 GAA, .909 save percentage, and one shutout.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without Mike Green (groin) and Jay Beagle (concussion), who are out long term.  Matt Hendricks will miss tonight's game with a knee injury, which means that Mathieu Perreault will keep his place in the lineup.  Roman Hamrlik will feature in the lineup for the first time in a little over a week, which means that Jeff Schultz will be scratched.

Puck drops for this one 7:09-ish.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gameday: at Ottawa, Dec. 7

Oh look, how it feels to win a hockey game.

The Washington Capitals are in Ottawa, Ontario, this evening to take on the Senators as they look to shake off their month long string of poor performances and get some momentum.  The Caps, losers of seven of their last ten and 11 of their last 15, enter tonight's game 13-12-1 following a loss in Florida Monday night. They have 27 standings points in 26 games, which places them second in the Southeast, seven points behind the Panthers, and ninth in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Senators for the eighth and final playoff spot.  Ottawa, winners of six of their last ten, have 29 standings points in 27 games, having won their last game over the Lightning on Monday night.  This is the third of four meetings between these two clubs this season; the Capitals have won both, including a 3-2 overtime win last Saturday.

Craig Anderson will get the call in goal once more from Paul MacLean following his strong performance against the Bolts, in which he turned aside 31 of 33 shots. On the year, the veteran goaltender is 12-8-2 with a 3.36 GAA and .896 save percentage, but still has the ability to steal a game.  The Senators are not expected to be affected by injuries much for this game, either.  Defenseman Flilip Kuba is day to day with an upper body injury and may not play, but other than that, only fourth line center Peter Regin is on IR and will not play.  Swell.

Dale Hunter will go with Tomas Vokoun in nets following another exceptionally poor performance by Michal Neuvirth on Monday in Florida.  Vokoun made 33 on 35 shots saves in his last outing, a loss last Tuesday in Pittsburgh, and on the year is 10-7-0 with a 2.72 GAA, .909 save percentage, and one shutout. Washington needs a huge performance from him not only tonight, but for the rest of the year if they are going to get back on the horse and get some wins.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without Mike Green (groin), and Jay Beagle (concussion), as those players are on IR.  Roman Hamrlik (upper-body), who has missed the last three games, and Alexander Semin (shoulder), who has missed the last two games, are both questionable.

Puck drops for this one 7:08-ish.  Check back later.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Practice: Dec. 6

The Washington Capitals were on ice Tuesday morning as they work towards building consistency following another poor showing Monday night against the Panthers.  Some updates from BankAtlantic Center:

Matt Hendricks missed practice with an undisclosed lower-body injury.  Per a team spokesman, he is day-to-day; he only played 4:22 last night and did not see the ice at all in the third period.  As such, Dale Hunter had to shake up his lines: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin, Brouwer-Johannson-Halpern, Chimera-Laich-Ward, and Eakin-Perreault-Knuble.
Roman Hamrlik skated again; he has missed the last three games with a lower body injury.  No word on whether or not he will be able to play Wednesday night in Ottawa.

That's all for now.
Information from Steve Whyno was used in this post.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Gameday: at Florida, Dec. 5

Time to build a little momentum...
The Washington Capitals are in Sunrise, Florida, this evening to take on the first-place Panthers as they look to continue their momentum from Saturday night's shaky but exciting 3-2 overtime win against Ottawa.  The Caps enter tonight's game with a 13-11-1 record, having won their last game, but are still 3-7-0 in their last ten games and have played poorly for more than a month now.  Their record gives them 27 standings points, which places them second in the Southeast Division, five behind Florida, and in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers, who won in San Jose on Saturday night, are 14-8-4 and winners of six of their last ten.  Their 32 standings points slot them first in the Southeast and third in the East by virtue of their status as Division leaders.  This is the second of six meetings between these two clubs this season; the Caps won behind a Tomas Vokoun shutout in the first game in mid October.

Former Capital Jose Theodore will get the call in goal from coach Kevin Dineen after yielding his last start to Scott Clemmensen.  Theo made 24 saves on 26 shots in his last outing, a loss in Los Angeles, and on the year is 10-5-3 with a 2.28 GAA, .924 save percentage, and one shutout.  He did not play during the first game between Florida and the Caps.  Elsewhere, Matt Bradley (upper body), Scottie Upshall (hip), and Mikael Samuelsson (hernia), are all on injured reserve and have not played in over two weeks.  Samuelsson and Bradley, however, are not considered locks to miss the contest and may return to the lineup.  It is not known who would sit should they play.

Dale Hunter seems likely to give the nod to Michal Neuvirth in nets following his nice performance Saturday against the Senators.  Neuvy stopped 32 of 34 in that game for only his third win of the season, and on the year is 3-4-1 with a 3.60 GAA and .878 save percentage.  On the injury front, Mike Green (groin) and Jay Beagle (concussion) are both out and will not play, while Alexander Semin (shoulder) and Roman Hamrlik (lower body) were questionable heading up to the morning skate but will not play because of their ailments.  That means that Dmitry Orlov and Cody Eakin will keep their respective spots in the lineup.

Late start tonight...puck drops for this one 7:37-ish.   Check back later.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Filibuster

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: vs. Ottawa, Dec. 3

Can Ovi and the boys finally bounce back?
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Ottawa Senators to Verizon Center this evening as they look to rebound from their 2-1 loss at the hands of the Penguins on Thursday night and get their first win under Dale Hunter.  The Caps, losers of four in a row and eight of their last ten, come into tonight's game 10-9-1, which gives them 25 standings points.  Those 25 standings points place them second in the Southeast Division, five points behind the Florida Panthers, and tenth in the Eastern Conference, one point out of a playoff spot.  The Senators, who got off to a very poor start, have rebounded a bit, and are now 12-11-2 with a .500 record over their last ten games.  They have 26 standings points, which places them fourth in the highly competitive Northeast Division and in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.  This is the second of four meetings between these two teams this season; the Caps won the first leg in mid October.

Senators coach Paul MacLean is expected to go with Craig Anderson in goal. The 30 year old journeyman goalie has had a below average season so far, with an 11-8-1 record, 3.45 GAA, and .893 save percentage to his name.  He made 29 saves on 32 shots in his last start, a 3-1 loss in Dallas on Thursday.  Ottawa is not expected to be significantly hindered by injuries for this contest, with only two regulars currently on the mend.  Puck moving defenseman Filip Kuba was injured earlier this week and missed Thursday night's loss against the Stars, and is questionable for this game.  Tough guy Chris Neil will return to the lineup after missing an extensive period of time with a bum ankle.

Michal Neuvirth will get the call in goal for the first time in eight days and the first time under Dale Hunter.  The sophomore Czech goalie has had a disastrous campaign so far, posting a 2-4-1 record, a 3.81 GAA, .868 save percentage, and zero shutouts.  He allowed six goals on 33 shots in his last start, a loss to the Rangers a week ago Friday.  On the injury front, the Caps will be without Mike Green (groin), Alexander Semin (upper body), and Jay Beagle (concussion), while Roman Hamrlik is questionable with what is being called a lower body injury.  Because Semin is hurt, the Caps have zero healthy scratches from the forward corps.

Puck drops for this one 7:10-ish.

Friday, December 2, 2011

What Has Become of Alex the Great?

Remember when Alex Ovechkin used to do this?  With regularity?

Where is the burst?  Where is the utter joy, the boundless determination, that sheer drive that made him the best player in the world less than three years ago? Ovechkin has gone from the most exciting player in hockey to a struggling sniper, a fizzling star that plays little defense and has a cap hit over $9.5 million.
Man, do I miss those days.

Practice: Dec. 2

The Washington Capitals were on ice for practice Friday morning as they prepare to try and actually win a hockey game Saturday night against the Senators.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Mike Green, once again, skated for about 30 minutes before regular practice with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish.  Green left the ice when his teammates began to do drills, and there is still no timetable on his potential return to game action.
The lines were a bit different from last night, with Mike Knuble finally moving off the fourth line to skate with Marcus Johansson and Alexander Semin on the second unit.  The other three lines stayed the same: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Brouwer, Chimera-Laich-Ward, and Hendricks-Perreault-Halpern.
Roman Hamrlik was also absent from the skate with what is being called another lower body "day-to-day" injury.  Maybe a not so healthy scratch, after all.  Not that I'm complaining...

That's all for now.  Check back later for a game preview.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Free Fallin'

Check out my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: vs. Pittsburgh, Dec. 1

Here comes super Sid...with no Mike Green.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins to Verizon Center tonight as they attempt to shake off their disastrous November and earn their first win under new head coach Dale Hunter.  The Capitals, losers of three in a row and seven of their last nine, enter tonight's game 12-10-1 for 25 standings points.  Those 25 points place them second in the Southeast Division, five points behind Florida with a game in hand, but tenth in the Eastern Conference, one point out of a playoff spot.  The Penguins, on the other hand, despite struggling a bit recently, are still flying high atop the NHL, Eastern Conference, and Atlantic Division standings.  Their record is 14-7-4, which equates to 32 standings points, and they're very good.  This is the second of four regular season meetings between these two teams this season; the Capitals won the first leg, 3-2, in overtime in mid October.

Disco Dan Bylsma will call on Marc-Andre Fleury to mind the cage for tonight's game.  Flower has been outstanding this year, posting a 13-4-2 record, 2.17 GAA, .922 save percentage, and two shutouts to help fuel Pittsburgh's dominant start.  He made 26 saves on 30 shots in his last outing, a 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night.  For the first time in awhile, the Penguins will be almost at full strength for tonight's game, with Sidney Crosby back in the lineup and producing points at an insane clip: two goals and nine assists in five games.  Norris Trophy frontrunner Kris Letang, however, will miss tonight's game with facial injuries that he suffered last Saturday during a win in Montreal.  Fellow blueliner Zbynek Michalek also will not play with an undisclosed injury; he missed that game Tuesday night in New York as well.

Tomas Vokoun seems likely to get the call in goal from Dale Hunter following his solid, if unspectacular, performance on Tuesday that saw him make 28 saves in a 2-1 losing effort.  On the year, Vokoun is 10-5-0 with a 2.77 GAA, .906 save percentage, and one shutout.  On the injury front, the Capitals will be without both Mike Green, who has missed over two weeks with another groin injury, and Jay Beagle, who has missed almost two full months with a concussion.  With no day-to-day injuries, the decision on who to scratch was probably more difficult than usual, but Mathieu Perreault will remain in the press box for tonight's game, as he was against the Blues.  It seems likely that Jeff Schultz will return to the lineup in the place of Dmitri Orlov, who would experience his first pro healthy scratch tonight if that were indeed the case.

Puck drops for this one 7:08-ish.  Check back later.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hitler Reacts to Bruce Boudreau's Firing

For all you non history buffs out there, there is a German movie about World War II called "Der Untergang."  It means "The Downfall," and, as you can probably predict, chronicles Hitler's final days inside his Berlin bunker at the end of the War.
Long story short, there is a scene in the movie in which Hitler is informed by his head lieutenants that the city is doomed and will fall to Allied forces.  The Fuhrer, predictably, flies off the handle. This video has been spoofed many times with Hitler's rage falling on many things, such as the result of the 2011 Winter Classic (by PuckBuddys), the Montreal Canadiens trading Jaroslav Halak, and the Heat losing the NBA Finals this past year to the Mavericks.  Now, it's the Caps' turn. My dad found this one about the firing of Bruce Boudreau.  Have a watch.  A bit of NSFW language.

Very nicely done.

Editors note: this post and video is meant solely for entertainment purposes and is not in any way an endorsement of Nazi Germany or Adolf Hitler.  If you are offended by the video, please let me know.

Practice: Nov. 30

The Washington Capitals were on ice Wednesday morning as they prepared for Thursday night's huge clash with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Mike Green was put through his paces by head strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish on the ice for about 30 minutes before the rest of his teammates took the ice for practice.  Despite the fact that he has now skated for four consecutive days, there is no timetable for his return to the lineup, even though he is "feeling better."  Sigh.
As for the actual practice, the lines remained the same as they were for Tuesday night's loss to the Blues: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Brouwer, Semin-Johansson-Eakin, Ward-Laich-Chimera, and Hendricks-Halpern-Knuble, with Mathieu Perreault taking rushes with the fourth line.  Why Mike Knuble continues to be banished to the fourth line on a regular basis despite his excellent play, even with a new coach, makes no sense to me.  Ho-hum.  On to the next one.

That's all for now.  Check back later.
Information from Adam Vingan was used in this post.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Capitals Name Jim Johnson Assistant Coach

Per a team release, the Washington Capitals have named Jim Johnson an assistaint coach, replacing Bob Woods. Johnson was the head coach of the Norfolk Admirals of the American Hockey League in 2009-10, and had spent time as an assistaint coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning that same year.  He is expected to work with the defense and penalty kill, Woods' roles with the team.

Gameday: vs. St. Louis, Nov. 29

Welcome to the thunderdome.  Win or go home.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the St. Louis Blues to Verizon Center Tuesday night as they attempt to rebound from their poor November so far under brand new head coach Dale Hunter.  The Capitals enter tonight's game losers of two in a row with 12-9-1 record, which gives them 25 standings points.  Those 25 points are good for second in the Southeast Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference.  The Blues, who made a head coaching change of their own earlier this season after a poor start, are now 13-8-2, are 7-2-1 in their last ten games, and have won three in a row under Ken Hitchcock.  They have 28 standings points, which places them third in the highly competitive Central Division and fifth in the Western Conference.  This is the one and only meeting between these two teams this season.

The Blues will start Jaroslav Halak in goal, leaving the NHL's best goalie in terms of winning percentage, save percentage, and goals against average (Brian Elliott) on the bench.  We all know why Halak is infamous to Caps fans, but on the year the Slovak netminder is 3-7-2 with a 2.57 GAA, .895 save percentage, and one shutout.  He made 25 saves his last time out, a 3-2 loss to the Kings on November 2nd.  St. Louis will be missing two of their top forwards for this game, as David Perron and Andy McDonald are both still out with concussions that have kept them from game action for a long period. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo will also be absent because of a hamstring injury, while fellow blueliner Kent Huskins is out with an ankle injury that required surgery earlier this season.

With a new man in charge, speculating on a starting goalie for the Capitals is pointless, though it seems that Tomas Vokoun will earn the nod.  Both goaltenders have been very poor over the last month.  Vokoun let in five goals on 28 shots in his last outing, a loss in Buffalo, while Michal Neuvirth allowed six goals on 33 shots in his last outing, a 6-3 loss to the Rangers inside Verizon Center.  Both have season GAAs above 2.8 and save percentages below .906, and it remains to be seen who Hunter will call upon to right the ship.  Mike Green, who skated Monday for the second time since getting hurt (again) on November 11th, is out, as is Jay Beagle, who has missed the last six weeks with a concussion.  John Erskine, who had missed the last week or so with a shoulder injury, will return to the lineup, meaning Jeff Schultz is scratched. Cody Eakin, who was the healthy scratch among the forwards last game, will return to the lineup in the place of Mathieu Perreault.

Puck drops for this one 7:08-ish.  Um, check back later.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Practice: Nov. 28

The Washington Capitals were on ice Monday at 12 noon for a practice as they prepare for Tuesday night's game with the St. Louis Blues with newly minted head coach Dale Hunter. Some updates from a crazy Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Mike Green skated before any of his teammates for about thirty minutes in full pads.  There is no word on his availability for Tuesday's game, but it is likely in significant doubt.  There is no timetable on his return to game action, per General Manger George McPhee.
Every other Capitals player besides Jay Beagle was present for the skate; Beagle watched most of the practice in a jumpsuit from the bench.  There were no new lines to report, as Hunter spent most of the skate beginning to implement his new systems and such with a game coming up so quickly.

That's all for now.  Check back later for a game preview.

Capitals Fire Bruce Boudreau

Per a team release, the Washington Capitals have parted ways with head coach Bruce Boudreau.  Boudreau had been the head coach of the Capitals for just over four calendar years, winning over 68 percent of his regular season games to go along with four Southeast Division champsionships and a Presidents' Trophy. However, Boudreau failed to lead the Capitals to any postseason success, winning a total of 17 playoff games and blowing series leads of 3-1 and 2-0 during his tenure.
Dale Hunter, who had been coaching the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, has been named his replacement.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Blasted In Buffalo

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: at Buffalo, Nov. 26

Time to get back on that horse, boys...
The Washington Capitals are in Buffalo, New York, this evening to take on the Sabres as they look to rebound following their pathetic showing against the Rangers Friday night at Verizon Center. Washington enters tonight's contest with a 12-8-1 record, which gives them 25 standings points and places them second in the Southeast Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres, on the other hand, enter the game at 12-9-1, also with 25 points. Their 25 points have them third in the Northeast Division and ninth in the Conference.  Buffalo has lost three in a row, coming off a 5-1 waxing at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night.  This is the first of four meetings between these two teams this season.

Lindy Ruff is likely to call on regular backup Jhonas Enroth to start tonight because all-world starter Ryan Miller is out with a concussion.  Enroth has carried the mail for Ruff recently, playing almost every minute since Miller went down two weeks ago, and has a 7-3-1 record on the year with 2.40 GAA, .922 save percentage, and one shutout.  Buffalo also has a multitude of injuries to deal with besides Miller.  Defenseman Tyler Myers and winger Tyler Ennis are both out with long-term injuries, while winger Brad Boyes, tough guy Patrick Kaleta, and defenseman Robyn Regehr are all questionable with minor injuries that have caused them to miss time over the last week.

Tomas Vokoun will start for Washington tonight following Michal Neuvirth's poor performance against the Rangers on Friday night.  Vokoun made 22 saves in his last start, a 4-3 win over Winnipeg on Wednesday, and on the year he owns a 2.66 GAA, .910 save percentage, and a shutout to go along with a 10-4-0 record. The Caps need him to have a huge game and right the ship following their flat game on Friday.  On the injury front, the Caps are without Mike Green (groin) and Jay Beagle (face/head), while John Erskine is questionable with a shoulder injury. Cody Eakin will be the healthy scratch, allowing Mathieu Perreault a chance to re-enter the lineup and make some noise.

Puck drops for this one 7:09-ish.  Check back later.  Roll tide.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Video: The Baby Penguins Can't Handle Holtby

Check out this video of Braden Holtby's great celebrations from last night's Hershey Bears/Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins game.  Spoiler alert: the Penguins didnt like it, and the Bears won the game.

Holtby was assessed a misconduct penalty for his awesome cellie.  Typical Penguins organization baloney.

Credit to Ian Oland and Kyle Mace of Sweetest Hockey on Earth for the video.

Rapid Rewind: Rude Awakening

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: vs. NY Rangers, Nov. 25

Coming off his best game of the year, can Sasha keep it up?
The Washington Capitals will welcome the New York Rangers to Verizon Center Friday afternoon as they look to continue momentum picked up from their two wins this week.  The Caps enter tonight's game 12-7-1, which gives them 25 standings points and places them second in the Southeast Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  Washington won their last game 4-3 in overtime over the Jets on Wednesday night.  The Rangers, who have been one of the league's best teams after a poor start, are 10-5-3 on the year for 23 standings points which has them third in the Atlantic Division and eighth in the Conference. The Blueshirts have won seven of their last 10 games, but fell to the Panthers 2-1 on Wednesday.  This is the first of four meetings between these two teams this season.

John Tortorella will go with his rock, Henrik Lundqvist, in nets for the second consecutive game.  Lundqvist, consistently among the league's best in every single goaltending category, made 36 saves in a 2-1 losing effort on Tuesday and has his usual outstanding peripherals as well: the Swede has a 7-4-3 record, 2.12 GAA, .935 save percentage and a shutout to his name this season.  The Rangers will be without several key players for today's game.  Defenseman Marc Staal has yet to play a game this season with a concussion that he suffered last year on a hit from brother Eric, while winger Wojtek Wolski has a sports hernia and center Mike Rupp has a bum knee.  All of New Yorks' big guns, however, including shiny new acquisition Brad Richards and newly minted captain Ryan Callahan, are healthy and will play.

Tomas Vokoun is expected to start in goal for Bruce Boudreau following his win on Wednesday, in which he made 22 saves.  Vokoun has started three consecutive games for the Caps and on the year he owns a 2.66 GAA, .910 save percentage, and a shutout to go along with a 10-4-0 record.  On the injury front, Mike Green (groin) and Jay Beagle (face/concussion) are both out with long-term injuries and are not even skating at the moment.  John Erskine is considered questionable with a shoulder injury, but even if he is healthy, it seems unlikely that he would crack the lineup with how well Dmitry Orlov has been playing well in his stead.  The healthy scratch among the forward corps is anyone's guess, as Joel Ward is likely to re-enter the lineup after being benched Wednesday for missing a meeting.

Puck drops for this one 7:08-ish.  Check back later.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Chimera Does It Again

Read my RtR game recap here.

Gameday: vs. Winnipeg, Nov. 23

"No, Sasha, shots vodka got you benched."
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Winnipeg Jets to Verizon Center Wednesday night for a Thanksgiving eve contest as they attempt to build a winning streak after their 4-3 win over the Coyotes on Monday.  The Caps enter tonight's contest 11-7-1 for 23 points, which places them second in the Eastern Conference and eighth in the Eastern Conference.  Winnipeg, on the other hand, are 8-9-3 for 19 points, and have won three games in a row including a 6-4 defeat of the Flyers on Saturday night.  The Jets' 19 points have them fourth in the Southeast and twelfth in the East.  This is the second of six meetings between these two teams this season; the Jets lead the series 1-0 after smoking the Caps 4-1 inside MTS Centre last week.

Ondrej Pavelec will earn the start in goal for head coach Claude Noel.  Pavelec's overall numbers this season look supbar at 7-7-3 with a 3.17 GAA and .898 save percentage, but Pavelec is certified Cap killer, shutting them out twice last year and already owning a 31 save masterpiece in last week's game.  Washington's sputtering offense has a tough task ahead.  The Jets are missing their second-best defenseman in puck mover and power play quarterback Tobias Enstrom, but are otherwise fully healthy for this important Divisonal clash.

Following his win over Phoenix on Monday, Tomas Vokoun seems the logical goaltender for Bruce Boudreau to go with for tonight's game.  Vokoun has played his way to a 9-4-0 record this season, along with a 2.64 GAA and .912 save percentage; he made 20 saves in that 4-3 win over the Coyotes.  On the injury front, Mike Green (knee/groin) and John Erskine (shoulder) are both out, which means that Dmitry Orlov will remain in the lineup.  The healthy scratch among the forward corps will be Joel Ward, as he slept in and missed a team meeting earlier in the week.  A weird guy to be on the chopping block.

That's all for now.  Check back later.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Practice: Nov. 22

The Washington Capitals were on ice Tuesday morning for a practice coming off their 4-3 win over the Coyotes on Monday night.  Some notes from Kettler Capitals Iceplex as DC prepares to take on Winnipeg Wednesday night:

Today was a very optional skate, with several of the Caps' regulars missing out.  The only players that skated were Alexander Semin, Tomas Vokoun, Michal Neuvirth, John Carlson, Mathieu Perreault, Jeff Schultz, Cody Eakin, John Erskine, and Dmitry Orlov.
Alexander Semin, who was a healthy scratch for Monday night's win, was testy after practice and did not want to speak extensively with the media.  Bruce Boudreau indicated that he has not decided what the lineup will look like Wednesday night against the Winnipeg Jets.

That's all for now.  Check back later.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Practice: Nov. 20

The Washington Capitals were on ice Sunday afternoon at 12:30 for a practice following their 7-1 hammering at the hands of the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.  Some notes from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Bruce Boudreau: taking blowtorches to lines since 2007.  The Caps' coach debuted more fancy trios at the skate: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Brouwer, Chimera-Laich-Knuble, Eakin-Johansson-Ward, and Hendricks-Perreault-Halpern-Semin.  Yes, you read that right.  Alexander Semin, on the fourth line.
The recently recalled Dmitry Orlov took part in practice as well, rotating in with Jeff Schultz on a pairing with Karl Alzner.  Roman Hamrlik was paired with Dennis Wideman and John Carlson with John Erskine.  Okay then.
Mike Green was absent from practice again and is clearly nowhere near being healthy enough to play in a game again.  Man, that stinks.

That's all for now.  Check back later for a game preview of Monday's tilt with the surging Coyotes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gameday: at Toronto, Nov. 19

Time to start winning again...
The Washington Capitals are in Toronto, Ontario, this evening to take on the Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada.  The Capitals, losers of three straight, enter tonight's game at 10-6-1 for 21 points following their 4-1 thrashing at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.  Those 21 points place the Capitals first in the Southeastern Conference and third in the East; however they are only third in the East because of their Division standing and there are several teams below them in the standings with more points.  The Maple Leafs, who, like the Caps, got off to a hot start but have slowed down since, come into tonight at 10-7-2 for 22 points. Those 22 points place them second in the Northeast Division and sixth in the East coming off a 4-1 loss to Nashville Thursday.  This is the first of four meetings between these two teams this season.

Rookie Ben Scrivens is likely to earn the nod from Toronto coach Ron Wilson for the eighth game in a row as regular starter James Reimer is out with a concussion.  Scrivens is 2-3-1 on the year with a 2.95 GAA and .899 save percentage, and made 18 stops on 21 shots in his last outing, that 4-1 loss to the Predators.  Toronto's forward corps is decimated by injuries at the moment, and Wilson will be without Mikhail Grabovski (leg), Clarke MacArthur (upper body), and Matthew Lombardi (hand) for tonight's game.  Pylon Defenseman Mike Komisarek will also be missing from the lineup with an upper body injury.

Tomas Vokoun will be called upon to right the ship for Bruce Boudreau's men following Thursday night's atrocity from Michal Neuvirth.  Vokoun is 8-3 on the year with 2.36 GAA, .922 save percentage, and one shutout.  He made 28 saves in his last outing, a 3-1 loss to Nashville on Tuesday.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without Mike Green, who has a pulled right groin injury and has still not even skated since getting hurt last Saturday.  Mathieu Perreault seems likely to be the healthy scratch once more, though Jeff Halpern or Matt Hendricks could also get sat.

Puck drops around 7:11 because of Canada and their second national anthem and because Don Cherry will probably light the set on fire with his suit.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Waste of Talent

I've been silent for the most part over the past week as I dig through a mile of schoolwork and other commitments in the final moments before Thanksgiving break at school.  No postgame writings, so I haven't had a chance to discuss the Caps after every night like I normally do.  So here it goes: Caps hockey analysis, comin' in hot!

Man, what is wrong with this team?  The Capitals started the year on fire, winners of seven consecutive games out of the gates.  They had everyone talking for the right reasons: Tomas Vokoun was being a rock, the offense had, for the most part, returned, and DC was also managing to play some sound defense.  They were a complete hockey team, or at least it appeared so.
Since then, however, your Washington Capitals have looked disoriented and just downright bad at times, compiling a 3-6-1 record since their 7-0 start.  This came to a head Thursday night in Winnipeg when the Capitals suffered a humiliating 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Jets, who are and will continue to be one of the worst teams in the league.
Mike Green's absence hurts and there is no doubt about that.  Green is one of the Caps' best players and their best defenseman; not having him in the lineup is a tough hole to plug.  But it's not an excuse.  The Capitals want to be considered a team of champions, and champions don't let injuries get to their team.  Champions man up and go out and win without that star.  Like the Penguins are doing.
Alex Ovechkin - (expletive).  You're the captain of this team and you are the highest paid player in the league, as you will continue to be for the next nine years.  Play like it.  14 points in 17 games is not where you need to be.  Adapt your game, and stop cutting to the middle on the rush.  It hasn't worked for the last year, it's not going to magically start working again just because Russian machine says so.  And play defense.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gameday: at Winnipeg, Nov. 17

Oh, hey, those uniforms are different!
The Washington Capitals will be in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Thursday night as they attempt to shake their two game losing streak against the newly minted Jets.  The Capitals enter tonight's action 10-5-1, which gives them 21 standings points coming off a 3-1 loss to the Predators on Tuesday.  With those 21 points, the Caps lead the Southeast Division based only on winning percentage, and are third in the Eastern Conference solely because of the fact that they are winning the Division.  Winnipeg comes into tonight's game at 6-9-3 for 15 standings points following a 5-2 trouncing of the Lightning on Monday night.  The Jets stand last in the Southeast and fourteenth in the Conference with those 15 points.  This will be the first of six meetings between these two teams this season.

Ondrej Pavelec is expected to get the call in nets from Claude Noel, his eleventh consecutive start.  Pavelec has struggled so far for Winnipeg to the tune of a 5-7-3 record, 3.26 GAA, and .895 save percentage, though he does have a shutout this year.  Pavelec also dominated the Caps last year, shutting them out twice, and is sure to be a tough test despite his subpar numbers so far on the campaign. The Jets will be without star puck-moving defenseman Tobias Enstrom (shoulder) and former Cap Eric Fehr (shoulder) in terms of injuries, and have yet to field their full lineup so far this year.

Michal Neuvirth will get the tap on the pads from Bruce Boudreau for the first time since last Saturday.  On the year Neuvy is 2-2-1 with a 3.14 GAA and .891 save percentage, and made 17 saves in his last outing, a 3-2 shootout loss to New Jersey.  On the injury front, Mike Green is still out with a right groin strain and is not even on the trip; in fact, Green has not skated since he injured himself last week.  Here we go again.  Mathieu Perreault should be the healthy scratch for Washington for the second game in a row.

Puck drops for this one 8:07-ish.  Check back later.