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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!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Rapid Rewind: Captain America to the Rescue

Carlson celebrates his game winner. (AP)
The Washington Capitals busted out of their losing streak this afternoon at Verizon Center, beating the Ottawa Senators by a final tally of 3-1.  With the win, the Caps move into a tie for first in the Southeast Division with the Lightning, although Tampa Bay does hold a game in hand.

Washington got off to another dreadful start in this one when they conceded the opening tally barely a minute into the game when Mike Fisher snapped a shot past Michal Neuvirth at the 1:12 mark, a goal that Nuevy probably would like to have back.  The referees immediately awarded the Caps a power play after the goal, but the home side was unable to convert on the man advantage, continuing (at least up until then) their sloppy play a man to the good.  Throughout the rest of the frame, both teams were able to mount small amounts of offensive pressure on the opposing goaltenders, but neither side could break through.  Michal Neuvirth redeemed himself with a couple of nice saves during that period as well.  In the second, the game turned into a total snoozer, as lazy zone play and passes quickly killed any tempo that had developed over the course of the contest.  The Senators were awarded a power play about halfway through the frame that had the Caps on their heels a bit, as the away side spent the first minute and 40 seconds in the attacking zone.  Neuvirth also had to make a stellar save on Mike Fisher in close late in the frame in order to keep the Caps down by only 1, but the teams did indeed head to their dressing rooms with the Senators up 1-0.  In the third, it looked for a while as though the Capitals were going to go quietly, generating little offensive pressure and letting the Senators come at them full tilt.  But then the Caps came alive at the 7:15 mark when Brooks Laich scored an unassisted goal to bring to crowd to life and equalize for a team that really needed it.  Milan Michalek took a bad cross checking penalty soon after, and Nicklas Backstrom drew the faceoff right back to John Carlson, who leaned into a bomb that found the back of Brian Elliott's cage for a power play marker that put the Caps up 2-1.  Alive and full of energy, Washington began to press the Ottawa cage like crazy, and Jason Chimera was rewarded for his efforts five minutes later when he banked a goal in off of Elliott's shoulder for a critical insurance marker.  Although the Senators tried to come back, the Caps had too much momentum by that point, and Michal Neuvirth stood tall late to preserve the victory.

Observations:

Where is Alex Ovechkin?  The Russian spy has disappeared again, and has now gone three consecutive games without a point to his name, making this the latest point during the season in his career where he has had fewer points than games played.  That's a testament to how good he's been in the past, but also how bad he is now.  He's not involved, he's fighting the puck, and he looks lost.  He's too good to keep this up, but we've been saying that for two months now.

Nicklas Backstrom has now gone 20 consecutive games without a goal.  20!  What the hell?  He scored 30 plus last season, and he, like his linemates, has simply not been good this year, at all.  He has the occasional flash of brilliance, but his lack of production is extremely discouraging.

John Carlson played hero.  A huge goal for 74 and for the team, he gets better and better every game and has made me extremely happy with his play.  He's confident is his own zone, blocks shots, hits people, and he keeps coming up with clutch plays as he has his entire career at every level.  He's a special talent, Caps fans.  Be happy he's ours.

The Capitals will practice tomorrow at Kettler before jetting to Philly to take on the Flyers in a HUGE game Tuesday night.  That one is scheduled for 7 P.M.

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