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, March 31, 2012

Gameday: vs. Montreal, Mar. 31

Your #1 goalie...for now.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Montreal Canadiens to Verizon Center this evening as they play a critical game to try and keep their playoff hopes alive.  The Capitals are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and 39-31-8 overall for 86 standings points in 78 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, four points back of the Panthers, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference; Washington has the same amount of points as the Sabres but hold the tiebreaker for the final playoff spot.  The Canadiens are 4-3-3 in their last ten games and 29-25-14 overall for 72 standings points in 78 games.  They are therefore last in the Northeast Division and last in the East. This is the fourth and final regular season meeting between these two teams this season; the Capitals have won all three contests so far by a combined 10-1 score.

Randy Cunneyworth is expected to roll with backup Peter Budaj in nets after Carey Price lost last night in New York. Budaj is 3-7-3 on the year with a 2.90 GA and .905 save percentage. Outside the crease, the Canadiens are decimated by injuries.  Captain Brian Gionta (pectoral), center Scott Gomez (concussion), winger Mathieu Darche (inner-ear infection), winger Travis Moen (upper body), and defenseman Raphael Diaz (lower body) are all on injured reserve and will not play.  Forward Ryan White (illness), defenseman Yannick Weber (knee), and defenseman Tomas Kaberle (upper body) are all questionable.

Michal Neuvirth will get the call in goal from Dale Hunter after picking up the win in Boston Thursday following Tomas Vokoun's groin injury. Neuvirth is 12-12-5 on the year with a 2.89 GAA, .900 save percentage, and three shutouts; he made 30 saves on 31 shots in a win against the Habs the last time he started against them.  On the injury front, star center Nicklas Backstrom will return to the lineup after a three month absence because of a concussion.  Backstrom will resume his customary spot on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer. Backstrom's return will bump Cody Eakin to the press box as a healthy scratch along with Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward.  John Erskine will remain sidelined with a lower body injury and Jeff Schultz will remain a healthy scratch in back.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Alexander Semin and the Need for a Second Line Center

Regardless of how this season ends for the Washington Capitals, this offseason is going to be a very interesting one.  For the first time in several years, the Caps have a large number of their key, big name players becoming free agents of both the restricted and unrestricted variety.
Among those is winger Alexander Semin, who has spent his entire NHL career with the Capitals and will, barring a contract extension, become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  Semin is a player who has faced a lot of criticism over the last three seasons, some of it undeserved, some of it not.  He doesn’t score enough.  He doesn’t play defense.  He’s not versatile or consistent.  He “doesn’t care.”
But the bottom line is that Semin is a player who does make the Capitals better.  He has been steady, if unspectacular, for the last 40 games he has played this season in terms of point production.  He has the second highest even-strength Corsi rating among Capitals forwards who have played more than 40 games at 5.73, and he is one of only three Capitals forwards that has played 40 or more games to have a Corsi rating above zero at even strength.  In other words, he helps to possess the puck for the Capitals even when he’s not scoring.
Nevertheless, this is not, sadly, a post that is going to rattle off Semin’s valuable contributions to this Capitals team.  For that, read this piece by Neil Greenberg of the Washington Post.
In that post, Greenberg suggests that he would sign Semin this offseason for two years at $6 million per season.  As I noted above, I agree fully that Semin is a valuable player, and his contributions on both sides of the puck cannot be ignored.  However, for a salary capped team with a lot of its space tied up in one player, Alex Ovechkin, is Semin really worth $6 million per year, especially because the Capitals have such a desperate and apparent need for a second premier center?
I don’t believe he is.
Read the rest of this post here.


As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Practice: Mar. 30

The Washington Capitals were on ice Friday for a practice following their heart-stopping 3-2 shootout win over the Bruins on Thursday night. Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Only ten players were on ice for the optional skate: Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth, Nicklas Backstrom, Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, Cody Eakin, Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern, Jeff Schultz, and John Erskine.
Backstrom is continuing to recover from his concussion and looked good, going hard and skating with near full exertion.  He was battling with Jay Beagle along the boards for long stretches, too.  After practice, he said that he has no target date, but it sure seems as though he could be back for Saturday's game against the Canadiens.
Tomas Vokoun did not skate after exiting Thursday's game late in the first period with what is assumed to be an aggravation of his groin injury.  He is day to day.
Jason Chimera will not receive any supplemental discipline from Brendan Shanahan for his hit to Adam McQuaid in Thursday's game, as first reported by Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner.  Chimera was assessed a five minute major and a game misconduct for charging on the play.

That's all for now.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rapid Rewind: The Bear Necessities

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.




Related: Hendricks and Laich can dangle.

Gameday: at Boston, Mar. 29

Five games to go.
The Washington Capitals are in Boston, Massachusetts, this evening to take on the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins as they look to rebound from yet another embarrassing loss on Tuesday at the hands of the Sabres.  The Caps are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and 38-31-8 overall for 84 standings points in 77 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, five points behind the Panthers with one more game played, and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference, two points back of idle Buffalo for the final playoff spot.  The Bruins, winners of three in a row for the first time since January, are 5-5 in their last ten games and 45-28-3 overall for 93 standings points in 76 games.  They therefore lead the Atlantic Division and are second overall in the East.  This is the fourth and final meeting between these two clubs this season; Washington somehow leads the season series 2-1.

Tim Thomas will start in goal for Claude Julien's men after beating the Lightning on Tuesday night.  Thomas, the reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy holder, has struggled a bit this year by his standards after his ridiculous campaign last year, but has still been very solid, with a 33-19-0 record, 2.39 GAA, .920 save percentage, and five shutouts.  Outside the crease, the Bruins have two concussions: winger Nathan Horton, who has missed the last two months with his injury, and star center Marc Savard, who has missed the last two years with his.  After struggling with many day to day injuries for the last month, the Bruins are finally rid of those and will field a strong, healthy lineup for this game.

Dale Hunter's choice in nets for this critical game is will be Tomas Vokoun, who has been limited to three games in the last three weeks because of a groin injury. Vokoun is 25-17-2 on the year with a 2.53 GAA, .917 save percentage, and four shutouts.  On the injury front, star center Nicklas Backstrom, who seems to be just days away from returning, is with the team on the trip but will not play.  Joel Ward, who has been out a week with a foot injury, will remain out, while John Erskine has a lower body ailment and will not dress.  Recent recall Cody Eakin will play in Ward's spot, meaning that the Caps will go with six defensemen for the first time in three games; Jeff Schultz will sit down among defensemen along with Erskine.

Puck drops 7:09-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Practice: Mar. 28

The Washington Capitals were on ice Wednesday for an optional practice following their 5-1 beatdown at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Only four players took to the ice for the skate: Nicklas Backstrom, Joel Ward, Tomas Vokoun, and Jeff Halpern.  It seems a curious message to send; not only have an optional skate but also only have only four players on the ice the day after such a bad loss.  Dale Hunter, however, said it was to "save the legs" because "it's like playoff hockey out there."  Oookay then.  Moving on.
The one piece of good news out of Arlington Wednesday was that Backstrom will accompany his teammates on the trip to Boston for the game Thursday.  He will not, however, play.  The good news remains that he is progressing and a return is getting closer by the day.

That's all for now.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Steve Whyno was used in this post.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Buffalo Wings

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Capitals Sign Cameron Schilling


As per a team release and as first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie, the Washington Capitals have signed college free agent Cameron Schilling to a two year, entry level deal.  As always with signings by the Capitals, the financial terms of the contract are not disclosed at this time.
Schilling, 23, played the last four seasons for the University of Miami (Ohio) Redhawks, collecting 57 points (eight goals) in 144 career games.  He had one goal and 13 assists for 14 points this season as a senior for the Redhawks, who were eliminated this past weekend by UMass-Lowell in the NCAA tournament.  In an interesting tidbit, Miami made the Frozen Four the year it was held at Verizon Center.
Schilling will report to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League this week and play the rest of the year on a tryout basis with the Bears.  His entry-level deal will not kick in until next season.
According to an NCAA scout, Schilling profiles as a physical, smart shutdown defenseman.  He is not regarded as a particularly good puck mover, but can shoot well and seems to be best suited for a more defensive role.  He doesn't have a ton of upside, but he is stable and seems like a typical McPhee signing - depth around the organization.  Perhaps the Karl Alzner to Dmirty Orlov's John Carlson down the road?

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: vs. Buffalo, Mar. 27

Biggest regular season tilly at the Booth since 2008 tonight.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Buffalo Sabres to Verizon Center on Tuesday night as they play their biggest regular season game in four years and close out a three game homestand.  The Capitals, who are 6-2-2 in their last ten games, are 38-30-8 overall for 84 standings points in 76 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, three points back of the Panthers with one more game played, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, tied with these Sabres on points but ahead of them in the standings because of the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker.  Buffalo is 7-1-2 in their last ten and 37-29-10 on the year, also good for 84 standings points in 76 games.  They are therefore third in the Northeast Divison and, as you read earlier, in ninth in the East based only on a tiebreaker.  This is the fourth and final meeting between these two clubs this season; the Sabres lead the season series 2-1 and the home team has won all three contests.

Ryan Miller will start in goal for Lindy Ruff, as Buffalo's coach continues to ride his ace goalie down the stretch.  Miller is 29-18-7 on the year with a 2.48 GAA, .917 save percentage, and six shutouts.  He has been an absolute monster over the last two months after struggling during the first half of the season; compiling a 1.90 GAA and .936 save percentage in February and March.  Outside the crease, the Sabres, who are finally almost fully healthy, will be missing center Jochen Hecht because of a concussion, while wingers Patrick Kaleta and Nathan Gerbe (both upper body) are questionable.

Braden Holtby will start this game in goal after his 28-save shutout performance Sunday against the Wild.  Holtby is 2-1-1 on the year with a 2.22 GAA, .927 save percentage, and one shutout; he lost to the Sabres in overtime the only other time he faced them in his career.  On the injury front, the Capitals are still without center Nicklas Backstrom, who is sidelined with a concussion but has been skating for the last two weeks and was recently cleared to practice fully.  Joel Ward, who has missed the last two games with a lower body ailment, is also out and will not play.  Dale Hunter seems like he will go with seven defensemen again, keeping John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Jeff Schultz all in the lineup over John Erskine, who is also nursing a lower body ailment.  With Ward's injury, that means the Caps will only have 11 forwards active.

Puck drops for this one 7:08-ish.  No recap from me tonight because of school obligations.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Practice: Mar. 26

The Washington Capitals were on ice for a practice Monday morning following their 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild Sunday night.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

The Capitals took their team picture today, which you can see above.  There are always two team pictures for each NHL team, one at the start of the year and one after the trade deadline.  This is obviously the latter.
Nicklas Backstrom, who was cleared for full practice on Saturday, participated in the skate fully, working in as an extra skater while wearing fourth-line white.  Joel Ward also returned to the ice after missing the last two games with a lower body injury that required crutches on Friday.  The lines were as such: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Johansson-Halpern-Aucoin, and Hendricks-Beagle-Knuble-Ward.  All three goalies were on the ice, as Tomas Vokoun continues to rehab his groin injury that has kept him out of action for the last two weeks.
Another note from practice is that John Erskine, who has not played in six full weeks, is day to day with a lower body injury.  Erskine was in the picture but did not stay out with the rest of his teammates.  This is particularly odd because Erskine has been skating during morning skates and practices without issue recently, so he must have hurt himself off the ice.

That's all for now.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Katie Carrera was used in this post.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

ESPN Profiles Alex Ovechkin

Sunday night, ESPN ran a feature on Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, who has come under fire more and more over the last two years as his point production slips and the Capitals continue to struggle.  Check out the video below.

For me, it's difficult to get a read on this video.  From a fan's standpoint, it is very interesting to see Ovechkin react on a personal level to the criticism that he has faced.  It's no secret if you have read my content this season that I am frustrated with Ovechkin's production, as many Caps fans are.  But when you watch this video, it's very hard not to fall in love with the exuberance and the flair that made Ovechkin the lethal player that toyed with the National Hockey League the first five years he played in it.  He's so genuine, so original, so raw.
You just have a desire to see him succeed, not only as a fan of the team, but almost as a fan of hockey.  It's clear to me that the enormous pressure that comes with being Ovechkin is starting to get to him a little bit, and that is having a profound impact on his game.  He wants it so badly, just like we all do.
But as we all know, wanting it simply is not enough.  You have to go out there and do it.  You still have to win, and get the job done.  Ovechkin knows this; he says it clear as day: "I know I have to win the Cup."
How not only this season, but the next ten years of Ovechkin's contract unfold is going to be highly entertaining to watch.  There is no doubt that the statistics are stacked against him regaining his dominance, but I think that if anyone can break the mold, it's Ovechkin.
Breaking the mold is what Ovechkin does.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Rapid Rewind: Wildfire

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.



Related: Sasha has some sick hands.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gameday: vs. Minnesota, Mar. 25

Expect Holtby to get right back in there Sunday.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Minnesota Wild to Verizon Center this evening as they look to rebound from a very tough overtime loss at the hands of the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.  Washington who have lost two consecutive games in overtime, are 5-2-3 in their last ten games and 37-30-8 overall for 82 standings points in 75 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, four points behind the Panthers with one more game played, and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Sabres for the final playoff spot with one game in hand.  The Wild, who started hot but have plummeted back to Earth over the second half of the season, are 3-7-0 in their last ten and 31-33-10 overall for 72 standings points in 74 games.  That has them fourth in the Northwest Division and thirteenth overall in the Western Conference. This is the one and only meeting between these two clubs this season.

Matt Hackett is the tentative starter for the Wild in goal this evening after Josh Harding lost last night in Buffalo.  Hackett, who has spent most of the year in the AHL, is 3-5-0 on the campaign with a 2.30 GAA, .927 save percentage, and zero shutouts; he has a .943 save percentage away from the XCel Energy Center this year.  Outside the crease, the Wild have several injuries.  Defenseman Jared Spurgeron (concussion), winger Guillame Latendresse (concussion), and forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) are all out.  Other than that; Minnesota is healthy.

After Michal Neuvirth lost on Friday, I would expect Braden Holtby to get the call from Dale Hunter.  Holbty has only made three starts this year and is 1-1-1 with a 2.94 GAA, .906 save percentage, and zero shutouts.  He has never faced the Wild in his career.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without center Nicklas Backstrom, who is not playing because of a concussion but has resumed practicing in recent weeks.  Joel Ward, who was on crutches Friday but is now reportedly off them, is almost certain not to play.  That means that there will be no healthy scratch barring a call up Sunday morning.  On defense, I would expect Dmitry Orlov to return to the lineup after being scratched for the previous weeks games, meaning that Jeff Schultz and John Erskine would be healthy scratches.

Puck drops 5:09-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Practice: Mar. 24

The Washington Capitals were on ice Saturday morning for a practice following their very disappointing 4-3 loss against the Jets Friday night.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

The biggest news of the day was unquestionably that Nicklas Backstrom was cleared to practice "with no restrictions."  That means contact and full participation in drills.  After participating in the session, which was optional, Backstrom says that he "absolutely" hopes to be back by the end of the regular season, but continually reiterated that he needs to be cautious and not push things.  He's right; and while this news is nothing short of spectacular, one must realize that Sidney Crosby practiced with contact for an extended period without returning. You just never know with concussions, and rushing him back is a terrible idea.
Joel Ward, who was on crutches last night, obviously did not practice with what is being called a "lower body injury."  Dale Hunter said that he is off crutches today, however, which indicates improvement.
Other than Backstrom, the Caps to practice were Aucoin, Orlov, Alzner, Carlson, Schultz, Perreault, Halpern, Chimera, Neuvirth, Vokoun, Holtby, Johansson, and Beagle.  I'm going to hold my tongue here regarding the status of a certain player not practicing.

That's all for now.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Sky Kerstein was used in this post.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gameday: vs. Winnipeg, Mar. 23

"This is going to be biggest game of the year for us." - 8
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Winnipeg Jets to Verizon Center this evening as they return home for their first home game in nearly two weeks because of a five game road trip.  Washington, who lost in a shootout last night in Philadelphia, are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and 37-30-7 overall for 81 standings points in 74 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, four points back of the Panthers with one more game played, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, one point clear of the Sabres for the last playoff spot in the East.  The Jets, who were hammered 8-4 in their last game by the Penguins and have lost two in a row, are 4-5-1 in their last ten and 34-31-8 overall for 76 standings points in 73 games.  They are therefore third in the Southeast and tenth overall in the East.  This is the sixth and final regular season meeting between these two clubs this season; the Caps are 2-2-1 in the first five.

Ondrej Pavelec should start in goal for Claude Noel, his tenth consecutive start in the Winnipeg crease.  Pavelec was pulled in his last start after allowing five goals on 24 shots to a superhuman Pittsburgh team, but overall on the year has a 27-25-7 record, 2.84 GAA, .909 save percentage, and four shutouts; he beat the Caps the last time he faced them.  Outside the crease, the Jets only have two injuries: enforcing winger Chris Thorburn is out indefinitely with a lower body injury, while forward Nik Antropov is questionable with a lower body ailment of his own.

Despite a strong performance from Braden Holtby in Philadelphia last night, I expect Michal Neuvirth to get the call in goal because Washington lost and Dale Hunter has shown an unwillingness to go with the same goalie on back to back days even after wins.  Neuvirth is 11-12-4 on the year with a 2.85 GAA, .900 save percentage, and three shutouts; he shut out the Jets the last time he faced them.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom, who is recuperating from a concussion currently.  Winger Alexander Semin, who missed Thursday night's game with a lower body injury, has to be considered questionable at best; if he does play, though, the healthy scratch among forwards is anyone's guess.  On defense, I would wager that Dmitry Orlov will return to the lineup in the stead of Jeff Schultz, while John Erskine would remain in the press box.

Puck drops 7:09-ish.  I will be in the press box tonight; as always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Rapid Rewind: Salvaged

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.



Related: Matt Hendricks, do the damn thing.

Gameday: at Philadelphia, Mar. 22

Can the Caps keep it up against an elite Eastern club?
The Washington Capitals are in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this evening to take on the Flyers as they play the final contest of their season long five-game road swing.  The Caps are 5-4-1 in their last ten games and 37-30-6 overall for 80 standings points in 73 games.  They are therefore second in the Southeast Division, five points back of the Panthers, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, tied with the Sabres in points but in the final playoff spot because they have played fewer games and hold the Regulation and Overtime Wins tiebreaker.  The Flyers, who lost their last game, are 7-2-1 in their last ten and 42-23-8 overall for 92 standings points in 73 games.  Their 92 points place them third in the highly competitive Atlantic Division and fifth overall in the East.  This is the fourth and final regular season meeting between these two clubs this season; Philadelphia has won two of the first three, including the last two.

Ilya Bryzgalov will start for Peter Laviolette's men, his sixth consecutive appearance in the Philadelphia crease.  Bryzgalov, who had struggled for most of the year, has been on fire of late, and on the campaign is 30-14-7 with a 2.48 GAA, .910 save percentage, and six shutouts; four of those shutouts have come in the last three weeks.  Outside the crease, the Flyers are suffering from several key injuries: defenseman and captain Chris Pronger, out with severe post concussion syndrome; winger James van Riemsdyk, sidelined because of foot surgery; and defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who recently had a bad disc removed from his lower back.

After he won in Detroit with a nice performance, I would expect Braden Holtby to get the call in goal this evening.  Holtby has only played in two games this year, allowing eight goals on 78 shots, and is 1-1.   On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom, sidelined with a concussion, though he has skated for seven of the last eight says and is improving.  Winger Alexander Semin missed practice Wednesday and is expected to play, but he has to be considered questionable as he missed the last eight minutes of Monday's win.  If Semin does not play, Joel Ward will return to the lineup in his stead.  If he does play, expect Dale Hunter to keep the same lineup that won in Detroit, which means Ward out along with Dmitry Orlov and John Erskine.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  And, as always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Practice: Mar. 21

The Washington Capitals were on ice Wednesday morning for a practice as they prepare for a back to back set of games Thursday and Friday against the Flyers and Jets, respectively.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

For the 8th time in 9 days, injured center Nicklas Backstrom skated in a private session for about 35 minutes with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish before his teammates took to the ice.  Backstrom was skating around in laps, skating harder in between the blue lines, and seemed to be pushing himself more as he continues to work back from his concussion.  Backstrom also was doing agility drills, including tight turns, and shooting a good deal of pucks.  He looked in good spirits throughout.  He did not speak with the media, but Dale Hunter said he is doing better and will start doing "more" next week.
Tomas Vokoun was absent from practice again, as he has a groin injury that has rendered him unable to even dress for the Caps' last two games.  That means that Braden Holtby practiced with the team again.
Alexander Semin was also absent from practice because of a "maintenance day," according to a Capitals spokesman.  However, Semin did not take a shift after the 12:25 mark of the third period of Monday's game, so he may be nursing an injury. As such, the lines were as follows: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Johansson-Aucoin-Knuble, Ward-Perreault-Chimera, and Hendricks-Halpern-Beagle.

That's all for now.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Big(ish) Red Machine

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: at Detroit, Mar. 19

Better days were here in October.  Feels like a lifetime ago.
The Washington Capitals are in Detroit, Michigan, this evening to take on the Red Wings as they play the fourth game of their season-long five game road trip. The Caps, losers of two in a row, are 5-4-1 in their last ten games and 36-30-6 overall for 78 standings points in 72 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, five points back of the Panthers with one more game played, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, two points clear of the Jets for the final playoff spot in the Conference.  The Red Wings, on the other hand, lost in overtime their last time out, and 3-6-1 in their last ten, and 44-24-4 overall for 92 standings points in 72 games.  That places them third in the highly competitive Central Division and fifth overall in the Western Conference.  Detroit is also 28-4-2 at home this year.  This is the second and final meeting between these two clubs this year; the Caps won the first leg, 7-1, in October.

Jimmy Howard should start for Mike Babcock's men despite getting lit up for four goals in his last start.  After a mediocre sophomore campaign, Howard has rebounded this year with a stellar season: a 33-14-3 record, 2.11 GAA, .922 save percentage, and six shutouts.  Outside the crease, the Wings have several injuries, none more notable than that of captain and seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.  Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and forward Jakub Klindl (upper body) are also out. Winger Johan Franzen (back) and center Darren Helm (upper body) are questionable.

Because Michal Neuvirth started last night and lost, the Caps could turn to Braden Holtby in nets for only his second start of the year this evening.  Holtby, who has spent basically the whole year in AHL Hershey, made 30 saves on 35 shots in his only NHL action this year, a game against the Sharks in which he took the loss.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom because of a concussion, though the Swede has skated at Kettler Capitals Icplex for the last six consecutive days.  After such a disastrous game Sunday, expect Dale Hunter to make some changes to his lineup, probably along the lines of Roman Hamrlik returning to action.  But, as always, it's anyone's guess after a loss until the morning skate.

Puck drops 7:40-ish.  Check back later.  And, as always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Irene

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: at Chicago, Mar. 18

Anarchy! Road trips! St. Patrick's Day!
The Washington Capitals are in Chicago, Illinois, this evening to take on the Blackhawks as they play the third game of a season-long five game road swing.  Washington, 6-3-1 in their last ten games, are 36-29-6 overall for 78 standings points in 71 games.  Those 78 points place them second in the Southeast Division, five points back of the Panthers, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, two points clear of the Jets for the final playoff spot in the conference.  Chicago, the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions, have won two in a row, are 6-3-1 in their last ten, and 39-35-8 overall for 86 standings points in 72 games.  That places them fourth in the highly competitive Central Division and sixth overall in the Western Conference.  This will be the one and only meeting between these two teams this season.

Corey Crawford is almost certain to start for Joel Quenneville's men after stopping 21 of 22 against the Stars in his last time out, a game that Chicago won 4-1.  Crawford has struggled a bit this season after his banner campaign of 2010-11, and is 24-16-5 on the year with a 2.85 GAA and .902 save percentage. Outside the crease, the Hawks have a huge hole in their lineup, as captain Jonathan Toews, one of the top three or four players in hockey, is out with a concussion and will not play.  Chicago will also be missing winger Daniel Carcillo (ACL surgery) and defenseman Steve Montador (concussion), though those injuries are not as inhibiting as Toews' is.

Because Tomas Vokoun lost his last start and is also battling a nagging injury that has forced a Braden Holtby recall, expect Michal Neuvirth to get the call in goal from Dale Hunter.  Neuvirth is 11-11-4 on the year with a 2.81 GAA, .902 save percentage, and three shutouts on the year; he has never faced the Blackhawks in his career.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom because of his concussion, though the Swede did skate in Washington on Saturday for the fifth consecutive day and continues to work his way back.  In terms of the lineup, expect Hunter to keep Jeff Halpern a healthy scratch up front and Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine up in the press box on defense.

Puck drops 7:10-ish from the Windy City.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Where is the Love for Alex Pietrangelo?

Check out my latest for Crash the Net, in which I discuss 22 year old Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.  Pietrangelo has somehow managed to fly under everyone's radar this season despite being one of the best the NHL has to offer at his position by almost every way to measure all-around ability.  You can read the article below.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Wake Up Call

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: at Winnipeg, Mar. 16

Crash the net.
The Washington Capitals are in Winnipeg, Manitoba, this evening to take on the Jets as they play the second game of their season-long five game road trip.  The Caps, who have won four in a row, are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and 36-28-6 overall for 78 points in 70 games.  They are therefore second in the Southeast Division, three points behind the Panthers, and eighth overall in the East, three points clear of the Sabres for that final playoff spot with one game in hand.  The Jets are 5-3-2 in their last ten 33-29-8 overall for 74 standings points in 70 games.  This is the fifth meeting between these two clubs this season; the Caps are 2-1-1 in those games, with the last contest resulting in a shootout loss.

Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for Claude Noel's men after stopping 28 of 30 shots in a win over the Stars his last time out.  Pavelec is 26-23-7 on the year with a 2.77 GAA, .911 save percentage, and four shutouts; he made 32 saves in a win the last time he faced the Capitals.  Outside the crease, Winnipeg has two injuries: forward Chris Thorburn, out three weeks with a lower body injury, and defenseman Zach Bogosian, who is questionable with a hand injury.

Tomas Vokoun will get the call in goal this evening after yielding the last two games to Michal Neuvirth.    Vokoun is 25-16-2 on the year with a 2.51 GAA, .917 save percentage, and four shutouts; he stopped 25 of 27 shots in a shootout loss during his last outing against Winnipeg.  The Capitals will welcome back defenseman Mike Green to the lineup this evening, as Green had missed the last three games because of a suspension; his return will bump Roman Hamrlik to the press box.  On the injury front, Nicklas Backstrom is still absent because of his concussion, though he is skating now.  Captain Alex Ovechkin was considered questionable after leaving practice Thursday because of a collision with Mike Knuble, but will play, meaning that Jeff Halpern will remain a healthy scratch with Hamrlik and John Erskine.

Puck drops 8:38-ish.  Check back later.  And, as always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Practice: Mar. 15

The Washington Capitals were on ice Thursday for a practice as they prepare to take on the Jets Friday night in Winnipeg.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Nicklas Backstrom skated for the third consecutive day, starting his session around 9:15 AM and skating for around 30 minutes.  After his skate, he spoke with the media and was in great spirits, speaking of how he feels much better and is improving.  He noted, however, that he will not rush back, though the temptation is immense.
The lines were Ovechkin-Laich-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer, and Knuble-Aucoin-Halpern-Ward.  However, early in the skate, Ovechkin collided with Mike Knuble during a drill and was down on the ice for about two minutes.  The Caps' captain then moved to the bench and, eventually, the locker room, on his own power.  After practice, Dale Hunter told the media that Ovechkin simply had the wind knocked out of him, is "fine," and will go on the trip.

That's all for now.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Sky Kerstein was used in this post.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

VIDEO: Matt Hendricks' Disgusting Shootout Goal

In case you missed it Tuesday night, check out this video of Matt Hendricks' game winning shootout goal against the Islanders.

More moves than a barrel of monkeys, indeed.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Nicklas Backstrom Returns to the Ice

The good news keeps coming.
After another inspiring win on Tuesday night, the Caps and their fans continued to get more good news on Wednesday.  Capitals senior writer Mike Vogel reported from Kettler Capitals Iceplex, via Twitter, that star center Nicklas Backstrom was skating in full pads for the second consecutive day, as he skated on Tuesday as well.  On Wednesday, Backstrom skated for 20 minutes, and did not speak to the general media.
Backstrom, who has been out since taking an elbow to the head on January 3rd from then Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque, had skated for a total of five minutes prior to the last two days since suffering his injury.  The 24 year old is the Capitals' third leading scorer, with 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points, despite the fact that he has missed the last two and a half months.
It is important to note, despite this news, that Backstrom is probably still a long way off from a return to the lineup.  Concussions are tricky, as we all know, and any setback would immediately force the Caps to slow Nicky down.  Hopefully they don't rush him back.
Though Backstrom did not speak with the general media, he was asked questions by Vogel after his session.  Video of that interview can be found below.



As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gameday: at NY Islanders, Mar. 13

Ohh! America, are you serious?
The Washington Capitals are in Long Island, New York, this evening to take on the Islanders as they begin a season-long five game road trip.  The Capitals, who have won three in a row, are 6-3-1 in their last ten games and 35-28-6 overall for 76 standings points in 69 games.  That places the Caps second in the Southeast Division, one point behind the Panthers with one more game played, and eighth in the Eastern Conference, four points clear of the Jets for the final playoff spot.  The Islanders lost in overtime their last time out and are 3-5-2 in their last ten games and 28-31-10 overall for 66 standings points in 69 games. They are therefore last in the Atlantic Division and fourteenth in the East.  This is the fourth and final meeting between these two teams this season; the Isles lead the season series 2-1.

Evgeni Nabokov seems likely to get the call in goal from Jack Capuano despite allowing four goals on 36 shots in an overtime loss on Sunday.  Nabokov is 16-17-2 on the year with a 2.53 GAA, .915 save percentage, and two shutouts.  He has dominated the Caps in his career, however, only losing once to them in regulation and stopping over 93 percent of the shots he has seen thrown his way. Outside the crease, the Isles are not missing anyone long term, but defenseman Mark Eaton (back) and forwards Casey Cizikas (flu) and Matt Martin (flu) are all questionable.

After his shutout against the Leafs Sunday, Michal Neuvirth is poised to make his second consecutive start in goal.  Neuvirth is 10-11-4 on the year with a 2.78 GAA, .903 save percentage, and three shutouts.  He beat the Isles the last time he faced them, stopping 22 of 24 shots.  On the injury front, the Caps will be without Nicklas Backstrom, as they have been for the last nine weeks, as the superstar Swede recovers from a concussion.  He's not even in the country at the moment; he's back home visiting family.  In addition, Mike Green will be absent from the lineup as he serves the third and final game of a three-game suspension for his actions in last Thursday's game.  With the Caps "rolling," per se, expect the lineup to remain the same; that means Jeff Halpern and John Erskine will remain healthy scratches.

Puck drops 7:09-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.  No recap tonight because of school obligations.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Road Warriors?

What does it mean?
Read my latest for RtR, in which I examine another win that the Capitals play well against a poor team.  Imagine if the Maple Leafs made the playoffs.  You can read the article here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: vs. Toronto, Mar. 11

It's a big one for the Caps this afternoon.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs to Verizon Center this afternoon as they look to extend their modest two-game winning streak.  The Capitals are 5-4-1 in their last ten games and 34-28-6 overall for 74 standings points in 68 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, one point behind the Panthers with one more game played, and eighth in the Eastern Conference, two points clear of the Jets with one game in hand.  The Leafs are 2-6-2 in their last ten and 31-30-8 overall for 70 standings points in 69 games.  That places them fourth in the Northeast Division and eleventh overall in the East.  This is the fourth and final meeting between these two clubs this season; the Caps lead the season series 2-1.

Randy Carlyle is expected to go with Jonas Gustavsson in goal after he shut out the Flyers Saturday night but still took the loss in the shootout.  Gustavsson is 17-15-3 on the year in 38 starts, and has posted a 2.83 GAA, .906 save percentage, and four shutouts.  Outside the crease, the Leafs will be without one of their biggest guns, winger Joffrey Lupul, who is out for four weeks with a shoulder injury.  Wingers Mike Brown (thigh contusion) and Colby Armstrong (face) are questionable, but neither played in last night's contest.

Tomas Vokoun seems almost certain to earn the call from Dale Hunter after stopping 30 of 33 yesterday in Boston.  Vokoun is 25-16-2 on the year with a 2.51 GAA, .917 save percentage, and four shutouts.  He beat the Leafs the last time he faced them, too, stopping 26 of 28 shots.  On the injury front, the Caps will be without Nicklas Backstrom, as they have been for the last nine weeks, as the superstar Swede recovers from a concussion.  He's not even in the country at the moment; he's back home visiting family.  In addition, Mike Green will be absent from the lineup as he serves the second game of a three-game suspension for his actions in Thursday's game.  After the win against a team as good as Boston, I would expect Dale Hunter to keep the lineup the same, meaning Erskine out and Halpern out with Hamrlik and Knuble in.

Puck drops 5:09-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.  No recap tonight because of school obligations.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rapid Rewind: More Than a Feeling

HEYYYY NOWWW, BEAGSSSSSSS.
Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: at Boston, Mar. 10

It's a tall order against the Cup champs.
The Washington Capitals are in Boston, Massachusetts this afternoon to take on the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins as they attempt to pick up some momentum from a come from behind win against the Lightning on Thursday night.  The Capitals are 4-5-1 in their last ten games and 33-28-6 overall for 72 standings points in 67 games.  Those 72 points place them second in the Southeast Division, three points behind the Panthers, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference with a two game lead over the Jets for the final playoff spot in the Conference.  The Bruins, who have won two in a row, are 5-4-1 in their last ten games and 40-23-3 overall for 83 standings points in 66 games.  They are therefore first in the Northeast Division and second overall in the East.  This is the third of four meetings between these two clubs this season; they have split the previous two games, which both occurred at Verizon Center.

Marty Turco is likely to make his first start in a Bruins uniform this afternoon, as Tim Thomas has played in seven consecutive games and the Bruins have a high-profile game against the Penguins on Sunday.  Turco has not played a game in the NHL this season, but before joining the Bruins, was playing with EC Red Bull Salzburg of the Austrian League, with whom he had a 2.88 GAA and .928 save percentage in four starts.  Outside the crease, the Bruins have several injuries. Most importantly, they are missing forwards Rich Peverley (knee) and Nathan Horton (concussion), and both are out for sure.  Forward Daniel Paille (upper body) and defenseman Andrew Ference (lower body) are both questionable. Center Marc Savard, is also missing from Boston's lineup because of a concussion that has kept him out for two years now.

Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for Dale Hunter following a very nice 24-save win on Thursday night.  Vokoun is 24-16-2 so far on the year with a 2.50 GAA, .917 save percentage, and four shutouts; he allowed three goals on 29 shots the last time he faced the Bruins.  On the injury front, the Caps will be without Nicklas Backstrom, as they have been for the last nine weeks, as the superstar Swede recovers from a concussion.  He's not even in the country at the moment; he's back home visiting family.  In addition, Mike Green will be absent from the lineup as he serves the first game of a three-game suspension for his actions in Thursday's game.  Roman Hamrlik will take his place, keeping John Erskine in the press box, and Keith Aucoin also staying in the lineup over Mike Knuble.

Puck drops 1:09-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mike Green Suspended Three Games

As first reported by Chris Johnston, Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green has been suspended three games without pay for a high hit during Thursday's night's victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Green targeted the head with his forearm/elbow on the play against a defenseless Brett Connolly. See video of the hit below.

As you can see, it is hard to blame Brendan Shanahan for taking this course of action.  Green has had issues with the supplementary discipline system before, having been banned three games in January of 2010 for an elbow on then Florida Panthers forward Michael Frolik.  Below is another video issued by the League, as Shanahan, the VP of Player Safety, explains his decision.

Green's absence will certainly hurt the Caps as they drive for a playoff spot.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Practice: Mar. 9

The Washington Capitals were on ice Friday morning for a practice following their come from behind win over the Lightning on Thursday. Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

All of the healthy forwards were on ice for the skate, certainly an improvement over the last week or so in which a lot of players have been taking options.  The lines were as follows: Johansson-Laich-Ovechkin, Chimera-Perreault-Aucoin, Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer, and Knuble-Halpern-Semin-Ward.  Yes, that's Alex Semin on the fourth line so that KEITH AUCOIN can play on the "second" unit.  Madness, I say.
Mike Green was not available to speak to reporters prior to his 1 PM disciplinary hearing with the League for his hit on Brett Connolly on Thursday.  Dale Hunter would not comment on the play, either.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Katie Carrera was used in this post.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Shocked

Read my RtR game recap here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: vs. Tampa Bay, Mar. 8

And the plot thickens...
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to Verizon Center on Thursday evening as they attempt to break the throes of a three game losing streak that has seen them slip farther back from playoff contention.  The Capitals are 4-5-1 in their last ten games and 32-28-6 overall for 70 standings points in 66 games.  That places them third in the Southeast Division, two points behind the Jets with a game in hand and four points behind the Panthers with one more game played.  The Bolts, who have charged hard in the last two weeks, are 7-3 in their last ten and 31-29-6 overall for 68 points in 66 games.  They are therefore third in the Southeast and eleventh in the East.  This is the fifth of six meetings between these two clubs this year; the Caps are 2-1-1 in the previous four games.

Rookie Dustin Tokarski is expected to make his first career NHL start this evening for Guy Boucher's men.  Tokarski, who's callup was only necessary because of an injury to Mathieu Garon, is 27-11 in the AHL so far with year with a 2.34 GAA, .907 save percentage, and four shutouts.  He has played 44 minutes at the NHL level in relief, however, allowing three goals on 16 shots in that limited action.  Outside the crease, Tampa has several injuries, none more significant than the absence of captain Vincent Lecavalier, who has a broken hand. Defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron (back surgery) and Mattias Ohlund (knee), as well as forward Dana Tyrell (undisclosed) will also not play.

Tomas Vokoun will start in goal for the Capitals, as Michal Neuvirth has been in the net for three consecutive losses, though they were no fault of his own. Vokoun, who has not played in over two weeks, is 23-16-2 on the year with a 2.52 GAA, .917 save percentage, and four shutouts.  He allowed two goals on 23 shots in a 2-1 loss the last time he faced the Bolts.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without Nicklas Backstrom because of a concussion; he is not even in the country right now as he is visiting family in his native Sweden.  In addition, despite the three consecutive losses, Hunter will keep his lineup intact, which means that John Erskine, Mike Knuble, and Roman Hamrlik will remain scratched.

Puck drops 7:09-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Practice: Mar. 7

The Washington Capitals were on ice Wednesday morning for a practice following another loss Tuesday night at home, their third in a row.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Jason Chimera was the only Capital absent from practice because of a maintenance day.  As a result, the lines were as follows: Ovechkin-Laich-Johansson, Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer, and Knuble-Aucoin-Halpern-Ward.
That's pretty much all there is from a very slow day in Arlington.  The Caps close out their season-long five game homestand Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Sky Kerstein was used in this post.

Change We Can Believe In...Or Can We?


Check out my latest for RtR, in which I examine another bad loss by the Capitals and what it could mean for the team if they actually do fail to miss the playoffs, something that was utterly unthinkable at the start of this season.  You can read the article by clicking here.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gameday: vs. Carolina, Mar. 6

There's been a lot of this recently in Caps land.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to Verizon Center on Tuesday night as they attempt to break a two-game losing streak that has included two shutouts.  The Caps are are 4-6-0 in their last ten games and 32-28-5 overall for 69 standings points in 65 games.  That places them third in the Southeast Division, three points back of the Jets with two games in hand and five back of the Panthers, and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference.  The Hurricanes, on the other hand, are 4-2-4 in their last ten games and 24-27-14 overall for 62 standings points in 65 games.  They are therefore last in the Southeast Division and fourteenth overall in the East.  This is the sixth and final meeting between these two teams this season; the Caps lead the season series 3-2 but have not scored a single goal in their last two games against the Canes while giving up eight in a pair of blowout losses.

Cam Ward will start for Kirk Muller's men despite allowing four goals on 23 shots in a overtime loss against Tampa Bay in his last start.  Ward, who has been the Hurricanes' workhorse for the last six years, is 22-19-11 on the year with a 2.84 GAA, .909 save percentage, and three shutouts, including a 23-save blanking the last time of Washington the last time he faced the Capitals.  Outside the crease, the Hurricanes will be without two of their key players: defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who is out with a knee injury and concussion that has caused him to miss 40 games, and forward Tuomo Ruutu, who has an upper-body ailment that has kept him sidelined for almost three weeks now.

Michal Neuvirth is expected to start in goal for the sixth consecutive game despite losing his last two contests.  Neuvirth is 9-11-3 on the year with a 2.85 GAA, .900 save percentage, and two shutouts; he made 30 saves on 33 shots in his last game against the Hurricanes, a relief appearance two weeks ago.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom, who is not even in the country, as he is visiting family in Sweden as he tries to recuperate from a concussion.  In terms of lineup changes, Dale Hunter will keep his defense intact, with Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine remaining benched.  He will, however, change his forward corps, with Mike Knuble being benched for Keith Aucoin.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Garrett Haar Named to CCHA All-Rookie Team

Haar skates at Development Camp this past July.
On Monday, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, or CCHA, announced it's All-Rookie team for the 2011-12 season.  Among those honored on the first team was Capitals prospect Garrett Haar, who spent this past season playing for the University of Western Michigan Broncos.
Haar, 18, was Washington's 7th round selection, 207th overall, in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.  The native of Huntington Beach, California, notched one goal, six assists, and 22 penalty minutes in 31 games for the Broncos this year.  One of the things that is particularly impressive about this selection is that the CCHA contains some real powerhouse schools, including Michigan, Ohio State, and Miami Ohio.
Congratulations to Haar, who is expected to attend Capitals Development Camp this July, just like he did last summer.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Practice: Mar. 5

The Washington Capitals were on ice Monday for a practice following another depressing loss Sunday evening against the Flyers.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Tomas Vokoun returned to the ice after missing the last two practices and one game (sitting on the bench, at least) because of a lower-body injury.  He skated for about 20 minutes in full pads before practice began and then took part in the session.  He was joined by both Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, who was recalled Sunday.  At 2 PM, Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington reported that Holtby was headed back to Hershey, which is obviously good news regarding Vokoun's health.
The lines were as follows: Ovechkin-Laich-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer, and Kunble-Aucoin-Halpern-Ward.  All eight defenseman were on ice.  In addition, it was revealed that Nicklas Backstrom is in Sweden to spend time with his family, as he has been for almost a week.  He is not expected back until Sunday as he attempts to recover from a concussion.


That's all for now.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Katie Carrera was used in this post.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ovechkin, Capitals Out of Excuses


Read my latest for RtR in which I examine another demoralizing loss and another substandard game from the ten million dollar man.  Click here to read the article.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

If You Can Play, You Can Play

Check out this video that was recently released by "You Can Play," a movement that has been launched by Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke and his family in honor of the late Brendan Burke.  Brendan was the student manager of the University of Miami (Ohio) men's ice hockey team and was one of the first to be openly gay and involved with a college hockey team.

Burke made headlines for his groundbreaking3 advocacy of equal rights for LGBT athletes not only in hockey, but across all of professional sports before his tragic death in an automobile accident in February of 2010.  Nevertheless, his legacy and the memory of his advocacy has lived on.
This video was made with the endorsement of NHL stars such as Duncan Keith, Henrik Lundqvist, and Glaude Giroux.

As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Gameday: vs. Philadelphia, Mar. 4

You could call this a big game.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Philadelphia Flyers to Verizon Center this evening as they look to get back on the horse following a humiliating 5-0 loss to the Devils on Friday night.  The Caps are 4-6 in their last ten games and 32-27-5 overall for 69 standings points in 64 games.  As a result, they are third in the Southeast Division, one point behind the Jets with two games in hand and three points behind the Panthers, and ninth in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers, on the other hand, are 5-5 in their last ten and 35-21-7 overall for 77 standings points in 63 games.  That places them third in the Atlantic Division and fifth overall in the East.  This is the third of four regular season meetings between these two clubs; they have split their two meetings so far with each team taking a win in dominating fashion inside the other's building.

Ilya Bryzgalov is likely to earn the start in Peter Laviolette's goal this evening after winning his last time out.  Bryzgalov, who signed a massive free agent deal this offseason, is 23-16-6 on the year with a 2.79 GAA, .898 save percentage, and two shutouts on the year.  He made 31 saves the last time he faced the Caps in a dominant win for his team, and is 2-2 against Washington in his career. Philadelphia has two major injuries to deal with in preparing for this game: left winger James van Riemsdyk is out because of foot surgery, while defenseman and captain Chris Pronger will be absent, as he has been since mid December, with severe post-concussion symptoms.

Dale Hunter will be forced to turn to Michal Neuvirth in nets tonight despite the fact that he was lit up for five goals on fifteen shots in his last outing because Tomas Vokoun is currently nursing a lower body injury.  Neuvirth is 9-10-3 on the year with a 2.92 GAA, .898 save percentage, and two shutouts, and made 11 saves on 12 shots in a relief appearance against the Flyers the last time these two teams met.  On the injury front, the Caps are still missing star centerman Nicklas Backstrom, who has a concussion and has not played in two months. After that debacle on Friday, Hunter has inserted Mike Knuble back into the lineup over Keith Aucoin.  Hunter has also, however, kept his defense intact, meaning Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine will again be scratched.

Puck drops 7:09-ish. As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Practice: Mar. 3

The Washington Capitals were on ice Saturday morning following their 5-0 humiliation at the hands of the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Tomas Vokoun, who has not played in the last four games, was absent because of a lower body injury, meaning the PR director Sergey Kocharov was in goal for the skate. This helps explain why Neuvirth was left in despite allowing five goals on Friday. No recalls of a goaltender are planned at this time, but that could obviously change before Sunday night's game.
Brooks Laich also did not practice, taking a maintenance day.  The lines were as follows: Ovechkin-Johansson-Brouwer, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Knuble-Aucoin-Hendricks, and Beagle-Halpern-Ward.

That's all for now.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.
Information from Sky Kerstein was used in this post.