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!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Gameday: at NY Rangers, Apr. 30 - Round Two, Game Two

This matchup is key if the Caps are to have a chance.
The Washington Capitals are in New York, New York, this evening to take on the Rangers in game two of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at Madison Square Garden.  The Rangers currently lead the series one game to none, having won game one on Saturday afternoon behind an excellent performance from rookie Chris Kreider.  The game was tied at one heading in to the third period, but the Rangers dominated the final frame to pull out the convincing 3-1 win on home ice.  Today is a huge game for both teams, as the Capitals attempt to steal home ice advantage from the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the Blueshirts attempt to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.  In the last two playoff series the Caps and Rangers have played against one another, they both have a game two win.

Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal for New York after allowing one goal on 18 shots in a nice performance Saturday.  Lundqvist, nominated for both the Vezina and Hart Trophies this season, has a 1.62 GAA, .945 save percentage, and one shutout in these playoffs.  Outside the crease, the Rangers are almost certain to be without center Brandon Dubinsky, who has a hurt leg and was seen on crutches on Sunday in New York.  Center Brian Boyle is questionable with a concussion, though he did skate on Sunday and could return to the lineup for the first time since the middle of the first round.

Dale Hunter seems likely to turn to Braden Holtby once more in goal despite a decidedly poor performance in game one from the rookie goaltender, in which he allowed three goals on 14 shots.  In the playoffs so far, Holtby has a 2.13 GAA and .931 save percentage; he needs to return to those numbers for the Caps to have a chance in this game.  The Caps to not have any disclosed injuries on their team at the moment, and based on practice Sunday, it looks as though the lineup will change a bit.  Expect Jeff Schultz in with Dennis Wideman on the back end, bumping John Erskine to the press box with fellow defenseman Dmitry Orlov. The forwards will probably stay the same, meaning that Mattias Sjogren, Jeff Halpern, and Mathieu Perreault will all be scratched.

Puck drops 7:42-ish.  No recap from me tonight because of school obligations.
As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Practice: Apr. 29

The Washington Capitals were on ice Sunday morning for a practice following their 3-1 loss to the Rangers in game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Saturday afternoon. Some updates from Madison Square Garden:

Alexander Semin was dropped from the first line to the fourth one for this practice, taking his reps with Mike Knuble and Keith Aucoin.  The other lines were Chimera-Backstrom-Johansson, Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Hendricks-Beagle-Ward, and Sjogren-Perreault-Halpern.
The defensive pairings were also changed, with Dale Hunter putting Jeff Schultz back with Dennis Wideman and John Erskine back with Dmitry Orlov on the extra pairing.  Look for that to be the lineup for game two on Monday night.

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

Information from Katie Carrera was used in this post.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Kreid the Lightning

Read my RtR game recap here.

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

It's Go Time



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

Gameday: at NY Rangers, Apr. 28 - Round Two, Game One

Ah, we meet again...
The Washington Capitals are in New York City this afternoon to take on the Rangers inside the world's most famous arena in game one of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. It took both the Capitals and Rangers seven games to beat their first round opponents, the Bruins and Senators, respectively, so both teams are in a rhythm and should be well suited for the start of this series with little rust.  This is the third time in the last four seasons that the Caps and Rangers have met in the first round of the playoffs, with Washington winning both previous series, in the 2009 first round and 2011 first round.  This year, however, the roles are flipped: the Capitals are the low seed who got in to the playoffs late and the Rangers are the top dog in the East who dominated their competition all year.  These two teams split their regular season meetings, with two victories apiece and one victory in the other team's building.

To absolutely no one's surprise, Henrik Lundqvist will get the call in goal this afternoon from head coach John Tortorella.  Lundqvist, regarded by many as the best goalie on the planet, has been nominated for both the Hart and Vezina trophies this year and has carried a 1.70 GAA, .945 save percentage, and one shutout in the playoffs so far.  Outside the crease, the Rangers have several injuries.  Center Brian Boyle has a concussion at the moment and is questionable after skating in practice on Friday, while center Brandon Dubinsky is also questionable with an undisclosed ailment.  Captain and winger Ryan Callahan, though he is technically "day-to-day" with a finger injury, will play.

Dale Hunter will continue to roll with Braden Holtby in goal following his stellar performance in the first round.  Holtby, who was in the AHL most of this year, was instrumental in bouncing the Cup champs in the first round, posting an even 2.00 GAA and .940 save percentage despite being thrown in to the lion's den, so to speak.  The Capitals currently do not have any disclosed injuries to speak of, and are almost certain to keep their lineup intact from Wednesday's game seven win over the Bruins.  That means Jeff Halpern, Mathieu Perreault, and Mattias Sjogren will be scratched among forwards, while John Erskine and Dmitry Orlov will be relegated to the press box among defensemen.

Puck drops 3:13-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Practice: Apr. 27

The Washington Capitals were on ice Friday morning for a practice as they prepare to take on the Rangers in game one of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday afternoon. Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Predictably, the news was that there was little news out of Arlington.  The lines remained the same: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Johansson-Backstrom-Semin, Chimera-Beagle-Hendricks, Knuble-Aucoin-Ward, and Sjogren-Perreault-Halpern.  The defensive pairings remained the same, too, with Jeff Schultz taking reps with Dennis Wideman and Dmitry Orlov and John Erskine on the fourth pair.
One cool note from practice, however, was that winger Joel Ward received a standing ovation from fans and his teammates when he took to the ice.  Ward, who was the victim of an outpouring of racial abuse on Twitter following his goal in seven against the Bruins, has handled the situation with grace and class.  Props to the patrons of Kettler for giving him a hand.

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.

Breaking Down Round Two: New York vs. Washington

I want to be a part of it...New York, New York!
As we learned late Thursday night with the result of the Rangers’ game seven, the Washington Capitals will face off against the Blueshirts in the Eastern Conference semifinals.  It will be the third time in the last four seasons that the Caps have played the boys from Broadway in the postseason.  Read on for my breakdown of the series, broken down piece by piece.

Forwards: The rangers have a very deep and balanced forward corps, just like the Bruins.  Lately, however, their best forward, Marian Gaborik, has been struggling on a line with speedy rookie Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards.  If this line continues to play at their decreased level, Washington’s top unit of Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, and Alexander Semin matches up very well.  New York’s second line – Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, and rookie sensation Chris Kreider (who was playing in college three weeks ago), has the edge over Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, and Troy Brouwer.  The Caps have the edge on the third line, however, as Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle, and Matt Hendricks have proved to be a great shutdown unit with some pepper and can control play against Ruslan Fedotenko, Brandon Prust, and a struggling Brandon Dubinsky.  The Caps’ super effective fourth line of Keith Aucoin, Joel Ward, and Mike Knuble also should outclass Mike Rupp, Artem Anisimov, and John Mitchell.  It is important to note that the Rangers are currently missing center Brian Boyle, one of their best players, due to a concussion.  If he returns, things get a lot more interesting, but because of the shutdown ability I saw in the first round, I give the Capitals the advantage here.


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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Empire State of Mind

With the Rangers' win on Thursday in game seven, the Caps and the Blueshirts will meet in the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.  It's the John Tortorella show, once again.  The Rangers are strong, physical, and fast, and they play a style that embodies that of their coach.  Coming off a game seven win over the 8 seed Senators, expect New York to be ready to roll on opening night.
Oh, and that Henrik Lundqvist guy is pretty good, too.  Let's go!
As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Magnificent Seven

Read my RtR game recap here.


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

Inspiration, Dreams, and Our Way of Life

It's game seven tonight.  You knew that.  Want to get pumped up?  I dare you to watch the following videos and tell me it doesn't want you to play hockey right now.  I dare you.

Gameday: at Boston, Apr. 25 - Round One, Game Seven

And so, it will come to a close...
The Washington Capitals are in Boston, Massachusetts, this evening to take on the Stanley Cup champion Bruins and play a seventh and decisive game in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.   The Caps missed a chance to close out the series on home ice Sunday afternoon, falling victim to a Tyler Seguin overtime goal despite tying the game three separate times to force the extra session.  That loss snapped a two game winning streak for Washington, as they had won games four and five after falling behind in the series 2-1 over the first three games.  And this, right here, is why you play the games. It's game seven, for all the marbles, and the right to keep playing for the Stanley Cup for the winner.  For the loser, it's a long summer.

Tim Thomas will get the start in goal from Claude Julien, just as he has for every postseason game for the Bruins over the last two years.  Thomas, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year as playoff MVP, carries a 2.18 GAA, .922 save percentage, and one shutout this postseason in to the game.  Outside the crease, the Bruins will be without forwards Nathan Horton and Marc Savard, both of whom are ruled out for the entire postseason with concussions.  Center Patrice Bergeron (upper body), defenseman Joe Corvo (knee) and defenseman Adam McQuaid (face/head) are all questionable, but Bergeron will probably play, albeit in a limited capacity.

Dale Hunter will continue to roll with rookie Braden Holtby in goal.  Holtby has been a star in these playoffs so far, compiling a 2.17 GAA and .935 save percentage in the six games and winning at least one game for his team.  Outside the crease, the Capitals do not have any injuries.  Based on the lines during practice on Tuesday, it looks as though the forward corps will remain the same, with Mathieu Perreault, Mattias Sjogren, and Jeff Halpern sitting out.  Jeff Schultz also seems likely to return to the lineup in favor of John Erskine, but Dmitry Orlov could also play for Dennis Wideman, who has struggled recently, with Erskine.

Puck drops 7:45-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Under Pressure

"This is our last dance, this is ourselves..."
Wednesday’s game with the Boston Bruins will be another in a long line of game sevens for the Washington Capitals in their history.  Some have ended well.  Others, more recently, have not.

The numbers against the Caps are daunting heading in to the game, and everyone knows it.  Boston won three game sevens last spring, including the final game of the Final, en route to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1972.  They became the first team since the lockout to go seven games in the first round and win the Cup.  They “own” game seven, if you will.

Washington is 1-3 in game sevens in the Alex Ovechkin era, with the lone victory coming in the first round of the 2009 playoffs against the Rangers on home ice.  All three game seven losses came against a lower seed.  And the Capitals have never won a game seven in franchise history when leading a series 3-2 and falling in game six.

But for this incarceration of the Capitals, there are many that feel that this game seven, and this year, could be different.  And for good reason.  Washington matches up very well against this Bruins team, and they have played them very tight.  So tight, in fact, that according to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the first playoff series in NHL history in which the first six games have been decided by one goal. 

Dale Hunter, despite his unorthodox personnel decisions and controversial bench management, has finally gotten his roster to go for what he’s selling.

"Bruce was here 20 games and Dale's been here 60,” said veteran winger Mike Knuble to ESPN’s Scott Burnside earlier this week.  “It's taken every bit of that 60 games to get everybody to buy in."

The result has been a team that some expected to miss the playoffs carrying the defending Stanley Cup champions to a seventh and decisive game.  Even when Washington made the playoffs, the conventional wisdom was that the big, deep, talented Bruins would wipe the floor with the Capitals and their rookie goaltender, Braden Holtby.  But that hasn’t been the case.

There are, absolutely, reasons to believe.

However, it’s not because the Capitals are the underdog.

Read the rest of this article here.

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

Practice: Apr. 24

The Washington Capitals were on ice Tuesday morning for a practice as they prepare to face the Bruins in Boston in game seven of their first round series.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Dale Hunter kept the same line sets as he had in previous games for this practice: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Johansson-Backstrom-Semin, Chimera-Beagle-Hendricks, and Knuble-Aucoin-Ward.  Jeff Halpern and Mathieu Perreault worked in as the extra skaters, while Mattias Sjogren was not on the ice.  This was because of an immigration paperwork issue, according to Sky Kerstein of 106.7 the FAN, and he will join the Caps for their flight to Boston this afternoon.
Also worth noting is that Jeff Schultz, who has been scratched for the last three games, was back with Dennis Wideman for practice today, while John Erskine was with Dmitry Orlov, who has not played at all this postseason.  As Wideman has struggled in the last few games, this could mean that Orlov is in for him, but it seems more likely that Schultz will play with Wideman in game seven.

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

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Seguinista

Read my RtR game recap here.






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

Gameday: vs. Boston, Apr. 21 - Round One, Game Six

A golden opportunity awaits the Caps in this one.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Boston Bruins to Verizon Center this afternoon to play game six of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.  The Capitals have won two games in a row after falling behind in the series two games to one, winning 2-1 in Washington Thursday and 4-3 in Boston yesterday.  The Capitals therefore lead the series 3-2, and have a chance to close out the defending Stanley Cup Champions on home ice, a golden opportunity that is not afforded to many teams.  I think very few people saw this coming, but the Caps have been playing well and playing tight defense.  This game is huge, though, because TD Garden will be a madhouse if the Bruins win this game and then have game seven back in Boston.

Tim Thomas is expected to get the call in goal from Claude Julien, just as he has in every playoff game for the Bruins in the last two years.  Thomas, the winner of last year's Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, has looked more mortal recently, as he allowed four goals on 32 shots in Saturday's game. Nevertheless, he has a 2.05 GAA, .933 save percentage, and one shutout in these playoffs. Outside the crease, the Bruins will be without forwards Nathan Horton and Marc Savard, who are out with concussions and will not play at all this postseason.  Center Patrice Bergeron, who took a pair of questionable hits in Saturday's game, is questionable, as is defenseman Adam McQuaid (head/face).

Dale Hunter will continue to roll with Braden Holtby in goal after the rookie came up with another big performance yesterday afternoon, stopping 33 of 36 shots. Holtby has posted a 1.86 GAA and .946 save percentage in these playoffs, his first at the NHL level.  The Capitals do not have any injuries on their roster, but look for Dale Hunter to keep the same lineup for this game that won game five; that means Mathieu Perreault, Mattias Sjogren, Jeff Halpern, Jeff Schultz, and Dmitry Orlov will be the healthy scratches once more.

Puck drops 3:20-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Practice: Apr. 20

The Washington Capitals were on ice Friday for a practice following their 2-1 win over the Bruins in game four of their playoff series on Thursday night.  Some updates from Arlington as the Caps prepare for game four on Saturday afternoon:

Dale Hunter debuted some shiny new lines at the skate.  They were Ovechkin-Backstrom-Laich, Johansson-Aucoin-Semin, Chimera-Perreault-Brouwer, Hendricks-Beagle-Knuble, and Ward-Sjogren-Halpern.  Based on that, it appears as though Joel Ward could be forced out of the lineup when Nicklas Backstrom returns from his suspension Saturday, despite the high level of ice time Ward got on Thursday and his good defensive play.  I guess we'll see, but it does seem curious to me that Keith Aucoin continues to see such an expended role, especially at the expense of some of the team's bigger, more defensively responsible players.  It's unexpected, for sure.
Also of note is that goaltender Dany Sabourin was returned to Hershey of the AHL on Friday morning.  With Michal Neuvirth consistently taking shots and fully participating in practice, it looks as though the young Czech goaltender is finally healthy again and is ready to back up Braden Holtby for the first time in this postseason during game five.

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

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gameday: vs. Boston, Apr. 19 - Round One, Game Four

It's gonna get ugly.
The Washington Capitals will welcome (or at least grudgingly welcome) the Boston Bruins to Verizon Center on Thursday evening as they play game four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.  Boston leads the series two games to one, having won game three late in regulation when Zdeno Chara unloaded a slap shot that was tipped in to the top corner perfectly by Roman Hamrlik.  The Bruins and Capitals split games one and two, respectively, in Boston last week. This is a big game for both teams, as the Bruins look to snatch a commanding 3-1 lead heading in to Boston for game five, and the Capitals look to steal home-ice advantage back from the Bruins after giving it away on Monday.

Tim Thomas will get the start this evening, as he has in every playoff game for the Bruins in the last two seasons.  Thomas is 2-1 on this postseason, allowing six goals in ten-plus periods of action for a 1.47 GAA, .943 GAA, and one shutout; he made 29 shots on 32 saves in game three.  Outside of the crease, the Bruins have a pair of concussions in their forward corps, with both Marc Savard and Nathan Horton out indefinitely with those head injuries.  Defenseman Johnny Boychuk (face/head) is officially day to day, but is not on the trip in Washington and will not play in this evening's game.

Dale Hunter is expected to roll in goal with Braden Holtby despite a sub par game three performance that saw the rookie netminder allow four goals on 29 shots. He has started all three games in this postseason, compiling a 1.77 GAA and .942 save percentage.  The Capitals do not have any injuries on their roster currently, but will be without Nicklas Backstrom for this game, as he was suspended one game for the match penalty he received at the end of game three. In order to compensate for Backstrom's loss, Mike Knuble will return to the lineup and play on the fourth line, meaning that Mattias Sjogren and Jeff Halpern will be the healthy scratches.  On defense, John Erskine will be in the lineup for the first time in over two months, meaning Jeff Schultz will be a healthy scratch on the back end along with Dmitry Orlov.

Puck drops 7:42-ish.  No recap from me tonight because of school obligations. As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Practice: Apr. 18

The Washington Capitals were on ice Wednesday morning for a practice after a day off Tuesday and a loss Monday night in game three.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Michal Neuvirth was once again present for the duration of practice, taking an extensive amount of shots during the session while Dany Sabourin, who has backed up the first three games of the series, watched from the bench.  Tomas Vokoun joined his teammates late in practice, taking shots from his fellow Capitals for the first time in three weeks.  However, he also revealed after practice that he has a significant tear to his groin and that there is no timetable for him returning to game action.
To prepare for the absence of Nicklas Backstrom, who will serve a one game suspension in Thursday's game four, the Capitals juggled their lines.  The new units were Ovechkin-Laich-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Brouwer, and Knuble-Aucoin-Ward.  Backstrom skated with Mattias Sjogren, Cody Eakin, and Jeff Halpern as the extras, wearing baby blue jerseys. Also of note is that the Caps debuted two new defensive pairings - John Erskine with Dennis Wideman and Dmitry Orlov with Jeff Schultz.  Whether this means Erskine is in for Schultz or Orlov is in for Wideman remains to be seen, but my money would be on the former.

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Nicklas Backstrom Suspended One Game

Backstrom and Brad Marchand exchange pleasantries Monday evening.
As first reported by TSN's Bob McKenzie, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will serve a one-game suspension on Thursday night in game four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals as a result of the match penalty he earned as the end of game three Monday night.  Backstrom was assessed the penalty for cross-checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley in the shield.
In accordance with NHL policy, Backstrom's match penalty was reviewed by the commissioner's office and the Department of Player Safety, led by Brendan Shanahan.  Rule 21.2 in the NHL rule book states: "In addition to the match penalty, the player shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue."  Backstrom had a hearing with the League on Tuesday afternoon in order to plead his case, but the match penalty was not rescinded, resulting in his suspension.

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

Back to Basics

Bruins fans have a saying.

Whether it’s Jack Edwards on NESN, Mike from Walpole or Jack from Dedham on 98.5 The Sports Hub, or the countless people I know from going to school in New England the last six years of my life, it always comes up when the Bruins play.

“You don’t poke the bear.”

Or, more accurately, “Yah don’t wanna poke the beahh, dood.”

The Washington Capitals poked the bear on Monday night inside Verizon Center. And they probably lost the game because of it.

In games one and two, the Caps refused to bite on the extracurricular activities that the Bruins feed off of. Boston plays on the edge. They always have and always will. One of the reasons that makes them so tough to play against and such a good team is that they are able goad players on the other team in to that kind of stuff.

You saw it on several instances. When Tim Thomas blatantly attempted to kick Troy Brouwer at the top of his crease in game two, Brouwer just stood there. He didn’t turn around and shove Thomas. He didn’t try and start a fight. He took the high road and he skated away.

When Thomas blockered Nicklas Backstrom in the head after a net mouth scramble in game two, and then Backstrom was taken down by David Krejci, there wasn’t a fight. Harsh words, maybe, but very little physicality. Very little response by the Capitals.

The Caps, as we know, won game two, and they could have won game one, because they didn’t bite in to the extra stuff, and they frustrated players like Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic whose job it is to play on the edge. Boston was annoyed by it, and they said so to the media. Everyone knew what was going on. The Caps kept their composure, they stayed to their game plan, and they were able to grind out some goals and a playoff game.

Thomas noticed it, too.

Read the rest of this article here.

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Bad Bounce

Read my RtR game recap here.






Caps players:

Dale Hunter:

Claude Julien (who is complaining about HIS players being cross checked in the head. The ironing is delicious once again, Claude):


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

Gameday: vs. Boston, Apr. 16 - Round One, Game Three

And we have a series.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Boston Bruins to Verizon Center on Monday Night as they continue their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Stanley Cup Champions.  The series is currently tied one game to one, with both teams claiming a victory past regulation; the Capitals claimed game two with a goal from Nicklas Backstrom in the second overtime period on Saturday, which was backed by another magnificent performance from third-string goaltender Braden Holtby.  Now that the Capitals have salvaged a split on the road, winning this game is critical for maintaining that advantage and giving them a chance to make a statement against a very tough and playoff-tested team.

Tim Thomas will start in goal for Claude Julien's men, his 28th consecutive playoff start for the black and gold.  Thomas has allowed three goals in seven-plus periods this postseason for a 0.83 GAA and .964 save percentage; he also recorded a shutout in game one of this series.  Outside the crease, the Bruins will be without winger Nathan Horton (concussion), center Marc Savard (concussion) and defenseman Adam McQuaid (face/head), who is not even on the road trip and is not expected to be able to play during this series.

Dale Hunter will continue to roll with the hot hand in nets, confirming to reporters on Sunday that Braden Holtby will start in goal for the third consecutive game and is also the man in goal for his team.  Holtby has been magnificent in these playoffs so far, allowing two goals in seven plus periods for a 0.83 GAA and .974 save percentage.  On the injury front, both John Erskine and Jeff Halpern are not expected to play with what are being termed lower body injuries, though they have both skated extensively over the last two weeks.  Look for the lineup to remain the same as in games one and two, meaning Jeff Schultz in over Dmitry Orlov and Keith Aucoin in over Mike Knuble, Mattias Sjogren, and Cody Eakin.

Puck drops 7:42-ish.  No recap from me tonight because of school obligations. As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Practice: Apr. 15

The Washington Capitals were on ice Sunday morning for a very optional practice following their 2-1 double overtime win over the Boston Bruins in game two of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series Saturday afternoon.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Michal Neuvirth was once again present to skate with his teammates as he continues to work his way back from a leg injury that has sidelined him since the penultimate game of the regular season.  Despite the fact that Neuvirth continues to rehab and looks good, Dale Hunter would not concede whether he would be ready to back up any time soon.  Regardless, Braden Holtby, who has allowed two goals total in just over seven periods of hockey, is the team's starter for the foreseeable future, according to Hunter.  The head coach also noted that Tomas Vokoun is not skating.  Barring a miracle, it sure seems as though he has played his last game as a Capital, which is a shame.
The only players who took part in the skate were Neuvirth, Dany Sabourin, Dmitry Orlov, Cody Eakin, Mike Knuble, Jeff Halpern, John Erskine, and Jason Chimera.  It sure seems as though Hunter has his lineup locked in; nothing is going to change, nor should it.  This series is ready to be a dog fight down to the finish.

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

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Gameday: at Boston, Apr. 14 - Round One, Game Two

I can has clutch playoff performance?
The Washington Capitals are in Boston, Massachusetts, this afternoon to take on the Bruins in game two of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.  The Bruins lead the series 1-0, having won game one on Thursday night in overtime courtesy of a long goal from Chris Kelly.  This afternoon's game, being played on the 100th anniversary of the RMS Titanic hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic, is a huge contest for both teams, as the Capitals look to steal home ice advantage heading home to the Verizon Center and the Bruins look to place a stranglehold on the series.  Perhaps the Capitals can be the iceberg that is the Black and Gold Titanic, hmm?  A little history lesson?

Claude Julien will roll with Tim Thomas in nets after he shut out the Capitals by stopping all 17 shots he saw during Thursday's game one victory.  Thomas leads all playoff goaltenders in GAA (0.00), save percentage (1.000), and shutouts (1), and played on Thursday exactly like he played all of last spring when he led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup and won a Conn Smythe Trophy to go with it.  Outside the crease, center David Krejci is questionable after a pane of glass fell on his head during the Bruins' celebration on Thursday, while forwards Marc Savard and Nathan Horton have concussions and are out.  Defenseman Adam McQuaid (face/head) is questionable as well.

After his very good performance in game one, Braden Holtby is expected to start in goal for the Capitals in this game.  Holtby carried the Capitals on Thursday, making several brilliant saves and keeping his team in the game, but eventually was beaten by a long slapshot that was tipped by Dennis Wideman and fluttered through his seven hole.  He stopped 29 of 30 shots in that game, allowing one goal in 61:18.  On the injury front, both John Erskine and Jeff Halpern are not expected to play with what are being termed lower body injuries, though they have both skated extensively over the last two weeks.  Look for the lineup to remain the same as in game one, meaning Jeff Schultz in over Dmitry Orlov and Keith Aucoin in over Mike Knuble, Mattias Sjogren, and Cody Eakin.

Puck drops 3:09-ish.  No recap from me today.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Practice: Apr. 13

The Washington Capitals were on ice Friday afternoon in Boston as they prepare for game two of their first-round series with the Bruins after losing game one in overtime.  Some updates from TD Garden:

Once again, Michal Neuvirth did not participate fully in practice, but took to the ice later in the session and took some shots from Associate Goaltending Coach Olie Kolzig.  At this rate, I say we could see him in game three or four, should that suit Dale Hunter's prerogative.
The forward lines were the same as they were for game one: Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Backstrom-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Johansson, Aucoin-Perreault-Ward, and Knuble-Halpern-Eakin-Sjogren.  All eight defensemen were on ice for Washington, and the practice was very status quo.
Also of note is that Bruins center David Krejci did not skate today after a pane of glass fell on him during the Bruins' post game celebration on Thursday night (video below).  Krejci is expected to play on Staurday, but Jordan Caron took his spot on the second line with Rich Peverley and Milan Lucic during practice.


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.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Kelly Ruins Holtby's Night

Read my RtR game recap here.



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It's Go Time



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Gameday: at Boston, Apr. 12: Round One, Game One

And so it begins...
The Washington Capitals are in Boston, Massachusetts, this evening to take on the Bruins in game one of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.  The Capitals, who won their last game 4-1 over the Rangers in New York, finished the year 6-2-2 over their final ten games 42-32-8 for 92 standings points. They missed winning their fifth consecutive Southeast Division by two points, but nevertheless finished seventh in the Conference.  The Bruins won their last game against the Sabres in a shootout, and closed the year on a 7-2-1 run; they were 49-29-4 overall for 102 points.  That was good enough for their second consecutive Northeast Division crown and the second overall seed in the Eastern Conference.  The Capitals somehow managed to win three of the four games they played against Boston this season, taking the season series.

Tim Thomas will start in goal for Claude Juilen's men, to absolutely nobody's surprise.  The reigning Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner was 35-19-1 this past regular season with a 2.36 GAA, .920 save percentage, and five shutouts.  He was 1-1-1 against the Caps this year, allowing seven goals in three games.  Outside the crease, the Bruins have two concussion injuries: winger Nathan Horton, who is not expected back this year, and center Marc Savard, who has missed most of the last two seasons because of his head injury. Defenseman Adam McQuaid will also be absent because of a head/eye injury that he suffered when Jason Chimera charged him two weeks ago in Boston.

Dale Hunter has been forced to roll with third string goalie Braden Holtby for game one because of injuries to both Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun.  Holtby, who has never played a minute in the postseason at the NHL level, finished the year 4-2-1 for the Capitals with a 2.50 GAA, .922 save percentage, and one shutout; he has faced the Bruins once in his career and picked up a win against them with a relief appearance last year.  On the injury front, defenseman John Erskine will not play because of a lower body injury.  In terms of lineup, look for Jeff Schultz to return with Dennis Wideman at even strength, pushing Dmitry Orlov to the press box.  Also, expect Cody Eakin, Jeff Halpern, Mike Knuble, and Mattias Sjogren to be healthy scratches, meaning that Keith Aucoin, Joel Ward, and Mathieu Perreault will match up with Boston's big, physical fourth line.

Puck drops 7:40-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Practice: Apr. 11

The Washington Capitals were on ice for a practice Wednesday morning in preparation for Thursday night's opening playoff game with the Boston Bruins.  Some notes from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Michal Neuvirth, who practiced on Tuesday for the first time since sustaining an injury in the penultimate game of the Capitals' season, was not on the ice at all.  According to coach Dale Hunter, he did not have a setback, and he will go on the trip to Boston.  Tomas Vokoun did skate for 20 minutes before practice, but is nowhere close to returning; he will not make the trip.  Braden Holtby seems to be locked in as the playoff starter for the foreseeable future at this point, and will start Thursday's game.
Mattias Sjogren, who was recalled on Tuesday from the Swedish Elite League, joined his team for practice, skating on the bottom conglomerate line.  The units at practice were Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Backstrom-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Johansson, Aucoin-Perreault-Ward, Knuble-Halpern-Eakin-Sjogren. All eight defensemen were on the ice for the skate, as has been the case for the last week or so.  As of now, it still looks like Jeff Schultz will be back in the lineup over Dmitry Orlov for game one, skating with Dennis Wideman.

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.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Capitals to Pick 11th Overall in June's NHL Entry Draft

As a result of Tuesday evening's draft lottery, the Washington Capitals will select 11th overall in June's NHL Entry Draft, to be held at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The Capitals hold this selection as a result of the trade that they made on July 1st of last year, dealing goaltender Semyon Varlamov to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for this pick and a second-round selection in either this draft or the 2013 draft.  Washington will be preceded in the draft order by Edmonton, Columbus, Montreal, the Islanders, Toronto, Anaheim, Minnesota, Carolina, Winnipeg, and Tampa Bay.
From research that I have done, there are a few players that the Capitals could pick with this selection that could be available when their number is called that I feel would be great for them.  One is Jacob Trouba, a big, physical defenseman who models his game after Shea Weber and is playing for the United States Under-18 team.  Another is Zemgus Girgensons, a center from Dubuque of the United States Hockey League.  Girgensons is described as a "super talented player who competes on every shift.  He's a top power play guy and a complete player with few holes," according to a USHL coach. Brendan Gaunce, a center from Belleville of the Ontario Hockey League, is the player I want to see picked by the Capitals the most; he is a highly intelligent, responsible, center who possesses great leadership qualities and is said by scouts to have all of the intangibles you want in a player.
More on this as we move closer to draft day, but the Avalanche really did the Caps a favor.

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Practice: Apr. 10

The Washington Capitals were on ice Tuesday morning for a practice as they continue to prepare to meet the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Michal Neuvirth returned to the ice as a participant in practice, skating both before the session and during it.  Despite being able to practice, Neuvirth does not believe that he will be ready to play on Thursday, but hopes to be able to be back by the end of the series.  Tomas Vokoun also skated before practice, attempting to work out his wonky groin, but was not pleased with the results of his test.  It is looking less and less likely that Vokoun will be ready to play anytime soon.
Alexander Semin, who took a "maintenance day" on Monday, returned to the ice for practice.  As such, the lines were Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Backstrom-Semin, Hendricks-Beagle-Johansson, Aucoin-Perreault-Ward, Knuble-Halpern-Eakin.  Also of note is that defenseman Jeff Schultz has been skating with Dennis Wideman the last two days, with Dmitry Orlov down on the last pairing with John Erskine.  This would seem to indicate that Schultz will be in the lineup for game one.


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.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Practice: Apr. 9

The Washington Capitals were on ice for a practice Monday morning as they prepared for their opening playoff game Thursday night in Boston.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Michal Neuvirth skated for about 15 minutes well before practice with goaltending coach Dave Pryor, but was not able to practice. He is still officially day to day with a lower body injury, but I would say that the possibility that he plays on Thursday is approaching "zero" quickly.  Dany Sabourin is still in Washington and is the backup goalie right now.  Tomas Vokoun will try skating on Tuesday, however.
Alexander Semin was also absent from practice because of a "maintenance day." As such, the lines were Ovechkin-Laich-Brouwer, Chimera-Backstrom-Knuble, Hendricks-Beagle-Johansson, and Aucoin-Perreault-Ward; Cody Eakin and Jeff Halpern were skating as extras.  Far be it from be to suggest that Nicklas Backstrom play with who he was drafted to play with, but Nicklas Backstrom should really be on the same line as Ovechkin.

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

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Breaking Down Round One: Boston vs. Washington

Ovie's coming for ya, Boston.
As you know by now, the Washington Capitals have drawn the defending Stanley Cup Champions in the first round of this year’s playoffs.  It’s a very tough matchup for the Capitals, both because of their continued playoff demons and because of the quality of the team across the rink from them.  Read on for my take on this series, broken down piece by piece.

Forwards: The Bruins have a fearsome corps of forwards, constructed with playoff hockey in mind.  No team in the NHL except Pittsburgh has the depth at center that the Bruins do, and their top line of Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron is smart and possesses the puck extremely well.  They don’t have the star power that the Caps’ top line does, but it’s still a very good top unit.  David Krejci, who led last year’s playoffs in goals, centers the second line with Jordan Caron and tough guy Milan Lucic.  Rich Peverley, one of the most underrated acquisitions for any playoff team in recent memory, is a very good two-way forward who is fast, offensively skilled, and responsible defensively; he is the straw the stirs the Bruins’ drink.  He drives their third line along with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot, which gives you an idea of just how deep the Bruins are up front.  Daniel Paille, Greg Campbell, and Shawn Thornton make up one of the NHL’s best fourth lines, too.  Also of note is that the Bruins are the NHL’s best faceoff team, winning 54.5% of all draws, while the Caps are 17th, winning an even 50%.  Washington has firepower, namely Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin, but Boston’s three scoring lines and crazy depth give them the clear advantage here.

Read the rest of this article here.

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

Karl Alzner and John Carlson Still Run Show

Check out the latest episode of Capitals roommates with John Carlson and Karl Alzner - in which someone thinks Mathieu Perreault is PA Parenteau, Carlson reads, and Winnipeg does not have any snow on the ground.
How on earth do professional hockey players walk down the street in Chicago without being recognized?

Carly and Alzner are the best.

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

Saturday, April 7, 2012

We're Shipping Up to Boston

Oofa.
Because of the results of Saturday night's games, the Washington Capitals have picked up the seventh seed in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.  The Caps will draw the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins, in the first round, likely starting Thursday at TD Garden.
It's the worst possible matchup.

Cue the music!

NOT IN THIS GAHDEN.

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Gameday: at NY Rangers, Apr. 7

A familiar foe for April as the Caps close out their 82.
The Washington Capitals are in New York City this evening to play the final game of their regular season against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The Capitals, who are 5-3-2 in the last ten games, are 41-32-8 on the year for 90 standings points in 81 games.  As such, they are second in the Southeast Division, two points behind the Panthers, and eighth in the Eastern Conference, having clinched a playoff berth on Thursday.  Depending on the results of today's game, the Capitals could either win the Southeast, finish seventh, or remain in the eighth spot.  The Rangers, who were smoked by the Penguins in their last game, are 7-3-0 in their last ten games 51-23-7 overall for 109 points in 81 games.  That places them first in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, as well as the entire NHL in terms of points.  This is the fourth and final regular season meeting between these two clubs this season; the Rangers lead the season series 2-1.

Henrik Lundqvist seems likely to get the call from Jon Tortorella after being rested in the Rangers' last game because of a minor hand injury.  Lundqvist, who is the favorite to walk away with the Vezina Trophy this evening, is 39-17-5 on the year with a 1.93 GAA, .931 save percentage, and eight shutouts; he beat the Capitals the last time he faced them by stopping 24 of 26 shots.  Outside the crease, center Derek Stepan is questionable with a knee injury suffered on Thursday, but other than that, the Rangers have no injuries.  Whether Tortorella decides to rest a few of his stars, however, is up in the air.

Dale Hunter has been forced to go with Braden Holtby for this game, as both of his top two goalies are injured.  Holtby earned the win in Washington's last game, making 12 saves on 14 shots, and is 3-2-1 on the year with a 2.79 GAA, .910 save percentage, and one shutout.  On the injury front, both defenseman Mike Green (illness) and Troy Brouwer (undisclosed) have to be considered questionable after both missing practice on Friday and nothing for the Capitals to play for.  Depending on the status of those two players, Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern, or Cody Eakin could get a chance up front, as could Jeff Schultz in back. Regardless, expect John Erskine to not play.

Puck drops 6:38-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Practice: Apr. 6

The Washington Capitals were on ice Friday for a practice following clinching a playoff berth during their game against the Panthers Thursday night.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex as the Caps prepare for Saturday's game at Madison Square Garden:

Michal Neuvirth, who suffered a lower body injury in the second period of Thursday's win, was not on the ice for practice.  According to Brian McNally of the Washington Examiner, who cited a league source, Neuvirth will have an MRI on Friday afternoon, at which time more will be known about his status for the playoffs.  As a result of his injury, PR director Sergey Kocharov served as the Caps' second goalie along with Braden Holtby.  Dale Hunter also provided an update on Tomas Vokoun, noting that he is still day to day and will not try skating for the forseeable future.
Troy Brouwer also missed his second consecutive practice with what was termed a "maintenance day," but it is obvious at this point that he is nursing an injury.  Mike Green was also absent because of an illness.  For now, both players are expected to play in New York Saturday.  The lines were as follows: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Beagle, Aucoin-Halpern-Knuble, and Ward-Eakin.


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.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Playoffs


Read my RtR game recap here.

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

Gameday: vs. Florida, Apr. 5

Two games to go.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Florida Panthers to Verizon Center on Thursday night as they continue their desperate search for a playoff spot. The Capitals, who lost a heartbreaker the last time out against the Lightning, are 4-4-2 in their last ten games and 40-32-8 overall for 88 standings points in 80 games.  They are therefore four points back of the Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the Sabres for the final playoff spot based only on a tiebreaker. The Panthers, who lost in overtime to the Jets in their last game, are 3-2-5 in their last ten games and 37-25-18 overall for 92 standings points in 80 games.  As a result, they are in third in the East and lead the Southeast Division; they clinch their first Division title in franchise history with a point.  This is the sixth and final regular season meeting between these two teams this season; the Capitals lead the series 3-2.

Former Capital Jose Theodore is expected to get the call in goal from Kevin Dineen despite losing his last effort and allowing five goals in the process. Theodore is 22-15-11 on the year with a 2.43 GAA, .918 save percentage, and three shutouts; he made 39 saves on 41 shots in a loss the last time he faced his former mates.  Outside the crease, the Panthers only have two injuries, and they are both to grinders; former Cap Matt Bradley (upper body) and winger Jack Skille (shoulder) have both been out long term.

Dale Hunter confirmed Michal Neuvrth as his starter Wednesday, so look for the Czech rookie to receive his fourth consecutive start in the Washington nets. Neuvirth is 13-13-5 on the year with a 2.86 GAA, .901 save percentage, and three shutouts; he is 0-2 against the Panthers this season.  On the injury front, defenseman John Erskine is on injured reserve because of a lower body injury and will not play.  Winger Troy Brouwer, who was absent from practice on Wednesday, is questionable but is still expected to play.  Expect Dale Hunter to keep the lineup intact, which means Jeff Schultz the healthy scratch among defensemen and Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern, and Cody Eakin all up in the pressbox among forwards.

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

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Practice: Apr. 4

The Washington Capitals were on ice Wednesday for a practice as they prepare for a critical matchup with the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at Verizon Center.  Some updates from Kettler Capitals Iceplex:

Troy Brouwer was absent from practice because of a maintenance day, but is expected to play Thursday for now. Brouwer has been taking a beating of late, and this seems like an actual maintenance day.  With his absence, the lines were as follows: Ovechkin-Backstrom-Johansson, Chimera-Perreault-Semin, Hendricks-Laich-Beagle, Aucoin-Halpern-Knuble, and Ward-Eakin.
Also of note, John Erskine, who is suffering from a lower body injury, returned to the ice after missing about a week of practice.  Erskine is on injured reserve and I think it's safe to say he won't play in a game the rest of the regular season.
In a shocking turn of events, Dale Hunter also actually revealed his starting goaltender for Thursday's game as Michal Neuvirth, saying it's "Michal's show."

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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Rapid Rewind: Stammer Time

Read my RtR game recap here.

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

Gameday: at Tampa Bay, Apr. 2

Three games to go.
The Washington Capitals are in Tampa, Florida, this evening to take on the Lightning as they continue to make their push for a playoff spot.  The Capitals, winners of two in a row, are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and 40-31-8 overall for 88 standings points in 79 games.  They are therefore second in the Southeast Division, three points behind the Panthers, and eighth overall in the East, two points up on the Sabres for the final postseason birth in the Conference.  The Lightning, on the other hand, are an even 5-5 in their last ten and 36-35-7 overall for 79 standings points in 78 games.  That places them fourth in the Southeast Division and eleventh overall in the Eastern Conference.  This is the sixth and final regular season meeting between these two clubs this season; the Capitals are 3-1-1 in the first five games.

Dwayne Rolson will get the call in goal from Guy Boucher for this evening's contest despite being lit up for six goals the last time he played in a game. Roloson is 11-16-2 on the year with a 3.76 GAA, .884 save percentage, and one shutout; he lost the last time he faced the Capitals but has been a thorn in their side since he became a member of the Lightning.  Outside the crease, the Lightning will be without defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron (back) and Mattias Ohlund (knee), while also having center Dana Tyrell out of commission because of an upper body injury.

Michal Neuvirth will start in goal this evening after an exceptional 39-save shootout win against the Canadiens on Saturday night.  Neuvirth is 13-12-5 on the year with a 2.85 GAA, .902 save percentage, and three shutouts this season; he has yet to face the Lightning this season.  On the injury front, defenseman John Erskine is on injured reserve because of a lower body injury and will not play.  Expect Dale Hunter to keep the same lineup that won Saturday's game intact, which means Jeff Schultz the healthy scratch among defensemen and Joel Ward, Jeff Halpern, and Cody Eakin all up in the pressbox among forwards.

Puck drops 7:38-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Man, These Teams Really Don't Like Each Other

So, this afternoon, the Penguins and Flyers played each other on national TV. And, at the end of a 6-4 Flyers win, well, this happened.


HEY, NOW! Hey to the now.

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