Friday, April 29, 2011

Round 2 Preview Caps vs. Lightning

The Caps will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight for the second ever Southeast division matchup in the NHL playoffs. Washington has had plenty of rest with them winning their game 5 against the Rangers six days ago. Same cannot be said for the Lightning who won game seven vs. the Penguins on Wednesday night. Unfortunately even with the extended rest the Capitals will still be without Mike Knuble and Dennis Wideman. Knuble has been sidelined since game three vs. New York Wideman is still nursing his lower body injury he suffered a month ago.
Let’s focus on the positives though. The Caps lead the season series going 4-1-1 vs. the Lightning. In the two losses the Caps were stonewalled in shutouts twice by Dwayne Roloson. However, Washington triumphed over Tampa in the last two matchups. Michal Neuvirth will be in net tonight after having a spectacular first round series vs. the Rangers. Neuvy has some fond memories of playing Tampa because it is the team he played when he earned his first NHL win on Feb. 14, 2009. Neuvirth is 2-0 all time vs. the Lightning and will no doubt be ready to roll tonight.
5 Keys to the Series
·         PK. This is possibly the most important factor of this series. Tampa owned the Penguins, capitalizing on 8 of the 27 power plays. The Caps have to continue what they did vs. New York, only giving up one PP goal in five games. If we can shut down their set plays and Steven Stamkos we should be on our way to killing many penalties.
·         The Alex’s. Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin were tied for the team lead in goals with 3 in the first round. This has to continue for the young snipers to rattle goaltender Dwayne Roloson. Semin logged 9 points in four games this season vs. the Lightning, with two hat tricks. Ovi was no slacker either earning 6 points vs. the Lightning, also adding a decisive shootout goal in the last meeting between teams.
·         Neuvy. There is no doubt that Neuvirth is a key to the series again, especially after his play in round one. He will hopefully keep the keep the confidence and remain the Caps goaltender throughout the series. Neuvy was second in the NHL in GAA and save percentage after round one. Stay strong Michal!
·         Scott and the crew. Scott Hannan in my opinion was the best defenseman in red vs. New York. He led the Caps in penalty kill minutes and had a +3 ice rating. The surrounding cast has to follow by Hannan’s example in this series because Tampa has more offensive threats than the Rangers. I am fully confident that Carlzner will want to redeem themselves on the plus/minus after a tough series. An interesting fact is that these two were not on the ice for any of the goals vs. the Lightning this year. Dennis Wideman could make a return to the lineup later in the series which could be a big help.
·         The 12th forward. Whoever replaces Mike Knuble whether it’s Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle, or Matthieu Perreault, etc. they need to step up and fill his big impact. He will be deeply missed in this series because of his uncanny way to find the back of the net. I say that Fehr gets the start that only played two games last round but played on the third line that was responsible for the heart of the Game four comeback. Fehr was a +3 in that game and it is only a matter of time before he lights the lamp.
My prediction for this series will be the Caps winning in 5. I do think that Washington could take it in four, so we will see. The Capitals are just too high-powered offensively and well disciplined defensively. The momentum of round one should carry over and rise a little because we are facing a divisional foe. If we can keep an eye on Martin St. Louis, Stamkos, and the boys we should be fine. Alex Ovechkin needs to stay physical along with the rest of the forwards to get the puck deep offensively. Get excited for tonight at Verizon Center and as always Rock the Red!
In Ovi We Trust

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Latest Caps News

General Manager George McPhee announced early today that the Washington Capitals recalled Mathieu Perreault, Steve Pinizzotto and Patrick McNeill from Hershey. These moves were made to expand the options of players because of the early exit of Hershey in the AHL playoffs.
Perreault is the only one of the three Bears who has played in a red sweater this year for the Caps. He suited up for 35 games logging 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists). I don’t think he will get any time unless there is an injury, but he represents a quick and agile center that will be up to the task if called upon. We all remember Perreault’s two goal performance vs. Ottawa in December that helped prevent the Caps losing their ninth straight game.
McNeill, a defenseman for the Bears, has played for the Bears the past four seasons. If he were to be called up it would be his first career NHL game. He was a late round pick in the 2005 draft by Washington and doesn’t have any NHL experience, so this could be his chance to prove something. However, I doubt he will get the call because of Dennis Wideman and Tom Poti are on their way to recovery. Sean Collins and Tyler Sloan are also among other defensemen who have yet to get a game sweater in the post season this year.
Pinizzotto has played for the Bears on and off for four years. He plays right wing and also has never played in a NHL game in his career. Pinizzotto was signed as a free agent in 2007 by Washington. I doubt he will get the call either because the Capitals are so deep at the forward position currently. Jay Beagle and DJ King were healthy scratched as forwards for each one of the first round games. Eric Fehr was scratched for three games and then played the final two. It will be interesting to see who gets the final forward spot when Mike Knuble comes back into the lineup.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Round 1 Recap

Well Caps fans we are through to the second round in less than 7 games for the first time since the 97-98 season. The Capitals triumphed over the Rangers Saturday 3-1 to complete the series in five games. Washington outplayed New York for all three periods with Michal Neuvirth having another stellar performance. Neuvy saved 26 of 27 shots and let only one squeeze by in the final minute of the game. I think we finally have our goalie for the playoffs!
Mike Green started the scoring on the power play when he jammed the puck past Lundqvist for his first goal of the series. Unfortunately he left the game later on after taking a shot to the face on a shot block. Greener would return to the bench, but would not play again in the game. Then in the second period, the life was taken out of the Rangers with a stunning Oviesque goal by none other than Alex Ovechkin. Ovi held off Marc Staal only to bury a backhander in for a 2-0 lead. Alex Semin would put the cap on the first round series with a nice onetime goal from Marcus Johansson.
Now let’s go to the 5 keys to the series that I stated were vital in winning the series. Also your very own Caps Daily predicted that the Caps would take the series in five. PROPS!!!!!!
1.      Ovi. The best player in the universe displayed his talents in round one logging a series leading 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists). His hitting and speed played a key role in opening up the New York defense for several goals. Alex is definitely up for the task of Lord Stanley and is off to a great start.
2.      Goaltending. After the five games of the series rookie goaltender, Neuvirth is second in the NHL in save percentage (.946) and GAA (1.38). He kept the Caps in the series with some monumental saves every game. We won two games with only scoring two goals. Thank you Neuvy!
3.      Veterans. Of course the seasoned vets helped out in this series. Scott Hannan continues to get better and lead the way on the penalty kill. He also had a +3 ice rating and logged one assist in the series. Jason Arnott and Jason Chimera also scored game changing points for the Caps using their experience to advantage. Chimmy had two goals in the series both of them being game winners for Washington.
4.      Carlzner. If you look at their plus/minus than you probably think these two had a bead series. Despite a few mistakes they played pretty well against the Rangers, but hey they’re rookies. Carlson and Alzner could be thanked for shutting down Gaborik and New York’s other starts who they matched up against for most of the series.
5.      Garbage goals. Possible the most important of the five keys was garbage goals. List of memorable GG’s
·         Game 1- Ovi ties it late in the third to keep game alive.
·         Game 4- Semin starts the comeback
·         Game 4- Johansson scores off Carlson shot by crashing the net. Ties the game.
·         Game 4- Finally Chimera’s winner in OT doesn’t get more garbage-can like.
The Capitals now look on to round two as they wait for their opponent to finish, whoever that may be. They will have plenty of rest because their soonest possible game will be this Friday. Hopefully this time off will give guys time to heal such as: Mike Knuble (missed Game 4, 5), Tom Poti (missed series, should return), Mike Green (left game 5 early), Dennis Wideman (could make return earlier than expected). I am sure the Caps are already finished celebrating and are focusing on the task at hand. Right now it’s not about who we play, but it is how we take that momentum from round one and use it to our advantage whenever round two begins. Yesterday I couldn’t have been happier with my team while I was rocking the red and smiling, but I am not satisfied. Saturday was a just a taste of the experience we crave which is the Stanley Cup. Congrats on the first round and let’s move on boys. Rock the Red!
In Ovi We Trust

Friday, April 22, 2011

Playoff Edition Who's Hot, Who's Not

-          Mike Green: Greener came back from his lengthy injury with something to prove in the playoffs. He has been criticized in the past for his lack of defensive play in the postseason, but not this year. In the four games vs. the Rangers Green’s logged 4 assists and has a +3 ice rating. This year he has learned his role and is contributing offensively and defensively for the Caps.

-          Alex Semin: Semin hot in the playoffs? Yes folks Sasha has returned to the stat sheet for the Capitals. He started off the postseason with a bang when he scored the overtime winner in game one. Semin’s hardworking performance in game four added to his stats giving him 2 goals and 1 assist in the series with a +3 ice rating. If he can eliminate his stupid minor penalties Alex will help out the Capitals in a big way.
-          Nicklas Backstrom: Nicky B hasn’t played terrible in this series, but you haven’t heard his name a lot which isn’t a good thing. Last year Nicky logged 5 goals and 4 assists in the seven game series vs. the Habs. Hopefully we will see that Backstrom for the remainder of the playoffs. He simply needs to find the net and setup his line mate Alex the Great to improve his only 1 point, -1 ice rating.
Many people and fans are probably shocked to see Greener and Semin succeeding so much in this year’s postseason. I heard a hockey analyst on the radio yesterday stating that Semin has no heart, and Green hasn’t improved his defensive game. What series are you watching buddy? Obviously not the Caps Rangers! Those two players have made the Caps Daily hot list and have more than proven themselves. As for Nicklas Backtrom, he remains one of the elite players in the NHL and will be back to tearing up the stat sheet in not time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chimera completes the comeback in 2 OT

Last night’s game in New York was the definition of playoff hockey. Madison Square Garden was a mad house halfway through the second period when Brandon Dubinsky put away the Rangers’ third goal of the game. “The Caps are choking again,” were probably the words coming out of many Washington fans after the brutal second they had experience. That’s the great thing about the playoffs; the game isn’t over until it’s over. That is the mentality the Capitals had during the second intermission and heading into the final period.
Alex Semin didn’t waste any time in the comeback charge when he stayed with a shot and stashed one past Lundqvist. No later than 57 seconds from the first goal, Brooks Laich found Marcus Johansson for his first career playoff goal. This made the score 3-2, and Mojo wasn’t finished yet. With less than eight minutes remaining Johansson evened things up with a John Carlson shot deflecting off him. Just like that Mojo was fist pumping on one knee and the Caps had proven all the haters wrong.
In the first over time the Capitals had most of the scoring chances, the most memorable being Alex Ovechkin’s breakaway chance where Henrik stoned him. Ovi didn’t play his best game with a -2 ice rating, but some games the rest of the team has to carry the captain. In the second overtime Jason Chimera would put the W on the board and defy the odds. It was Chimmy’s second goal of the playoffs and a well-deserved one for the way he skates every night.
Michal Neuvirth played very well after the three goal hiccup in the middle period. He logged 36 saves for the night and made some ten bell stops late in the game to preserve the tie. I would like to give Scott Hanna and John Erskine for their stellar play on defense last night. Hannan led the team with seven shorthanded minutes which aided the Caps in killing all seven penalties. Also Eric Fehr in his first playoff appearance of the series had a +3 ice rating. Overall the third line of Chimmy, Mojo, and Fehrsy played an outstanding game.
As I said before the game this game was possibly the most important and especially in the way it played out. Game five will be played at the Verizon Center where the Capitals will hopefully take their run to the second round. After that double overtime win Washington definitely has the momentum going into Saturday. Keep the faith and Rock the Red!
Player of the Game: Marcus Johansson (2 goals)
Stat of the Game: 3 goals +5 ice rating (3rd line)
Unsung Hero: Scott Hannan

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Game 4 Preview

Tomorrow night the most important game of the series will be played at MSG. The Caps have to come out physical and shooting the puck like they did in game 1 and 2. This game could give Washington a 3 to 1 series lead heading back to DC for game 5. The Capitals have scored two goals in each of the first three games. They need to start finishing the 2 on 1's and other golden opportunities. Alex Ovechkin has logged 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) in the first three games of the series. He needs to continue to lead by example if the Caps are going to be successful. 
Michal Neuvirth and the Washington defense have only allowed five goals which is ranked second best among other playoff teams. They have been blocking shots and clearing the zone very well and must continue it in game four. Another positive about the defense is that Dennis Wideman is recovering quicker than expected and is skating with the team. This would be big for the Caps in later rounds
I expect to see forward Eric Fehr put back in the lineup tomorrow. He has been healthy scratched in the first three games, but who will sit out in his place? The choices are Jason Chimera, Matt Bradley, Marco Sturm, and Matt Hendricks. In my opinion Chimera's speed cannot be replaced. Brads and Hendricks could be the choice, but their grinder line is making a big impact and they’re more physical than others. My choice would be to scratch Sturm. In game three he didn't show me much and had many giveaways. Anyway that's why Bruce makes the final decision so we will see.
This goes out to all the fans who said, “here we go again" when we lost game three. This year's team is different in every way possible from the team who got beat by the Canadiens. The Caps are going to take it to the Rangers tomorrow night; mark my words! Keep the faith and believe in the cup Capitals' fans. I know Ovi and the boys have forgotten about the loss and remain confident. Rock the Red!
In Ovi We Trust

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Caps Weekend Recap

The Capitals started off their weekend in DC for game two vs. the Rangers. They prevailed over New York with a 2-0 shutout win. Michal Neuvirth had to make only 19 saves to record his first shutout in his second career playoff game. Jason Chimera and Jason Arnott tallied for the Caps in the second period within two minutes of each other. The entire squad did their role in shutting the Rangers out and blocking shots. Washington could’ve made it three or even four to nothing, but they missed some good opportunities.
Both teams then made the trip to New York to play at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The Caps wanted to make it 3-0 but failed when they couldn’t keep the puck out of the net in the final period. I don’t really want to go in depth about the scoring details in this game. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble scored the two goals for the Capitals. In this game the Caps never had the lead and unfortunately Neuvirth didn’t see the puck well. The first goal scored by the Rangers he was caught cheating and was roofed by Erik Christensen. The other goals could be questionable on blaming him but regardless he didn’t see the puck well in game three. The winning goal scored by Brandon Dubinsky on a four on four was a complete let down from the defense letting him get to the net.
The Capitals were called for eight; yes I said eight penalties on Sunday. If you ask me the refs were making too many soft calls that determined the game. This is hockey! Also I can’t even count how many calls the refs missed that happened on the Caps. Alex Ovechkin was tripped twice on the play that he scored and they were not called. Two out of the three goals that New York scored came on penalized situations.
Things to Improve on from Game 3:
·    Stay out of the box. No team can win a game when they are sent to the box eight times. Yes the refs made some iffy calls, but we have to clean up our game and be smarter. The Caps play a better 5 on 5 game than the Rangers, so let’s keep the PK out.
·    Neuvirth. After winning his first two games Neuvy showed his first sign of weakness in today’s game. He cannot let this game get to him and he has to erase it from his mind. If he cleans up the rebounds and stays confident he will be back to winning games.
·    Goals? Yes the Caps have won 2 out of 3, but they have also scored only two goals in each contest. They have to throw more shots on net and bother Henrik because Neuvy can’t have that pressure every game. Let’s get one early on Wednesday Caps!
·    Defense. The defense had some disappointing breakdowns today that resulted in goals. We have to clear the zone to help Neuvy and prevent the Rangers from getting inside position. Stay physical and keep the physical edge on New York.
Bruce and the boys cannot let this loss ruin the party. It is only one game and now we can win the series at home. A lot of cheap and strange things had to happen today for the Caps to fall. I don’t think we will see that again and they will hopefully come pumped in Game four. The team has an optional practice tomorrow because of their two day break between games. There have been no goals scored in the first period by either team in the series, so I would like to see the Capitals set the tone with an early goal on Wednesday. Finally, don’t lose the faith Caps fans and as always Rock the Red!
In Ovi We Trust

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Semin and Caps take game 1 in OT

What a start to the NHL playoffs for the Washington Capitals. I attended the game last night at the Verizon center and needless to say the atmosphere was unlike anything I had ever seen. The game one story would start and end with the spectacular play of both goaltenders. Henrik Lundqvist and Michal Neuvirth made the task of scoring quite difficult for the offenses.
The Caps would top the Rangers 2-1 in overtime to take the first game in the series. Alexander Semin would cause the crowd to erupt with just a few minutes left in extra time with the winning goal. This ended his 14 game goal drought in the playoffs. Thank God!!!! The Rangers started the scoring in the series with a Matt Gilroy goal early in the third period. New York simply caught the Washington defense sleeping when Gilroy put away the puck.
Neuvy would not allow another goal in his first playoff appearance. He logged 24 saves and kept the Caps in this game with some great saves, the biggest one on Marian Gaborik in the second period. Although Lundqvist played very well, he couldn’t keep the Capitals from finding ways to score. Alex Ovechkin scored Washington’s first goal and gave the Verizon Center hope when he tied it. When I saw Ovi jam the puck in the net my first thought that came to mind was, “Is that Knuble”? He obviously showed Ovi some pointers at practice the past few days.
Now let’s touch base with my five keys to the series that all were a factor in the win.
1.      Ovi? He definitely led by example tonight when he tied the game with his determination. Alex also threw three or four bone-jarring hits (he almost killed Brandon Dubinsky).
2.      Neuvy? The Caps goaltender was near perfect tonight besides one defensive slip up. He made the big saves when he needed to and you never would’ve guessed it was his 1st playoff game.
3.      Veterans? Scott Hannan played a big role in killing two penalties and was 2nd on the team in ice time. Jason Arnott doesn’t hesitate to impress. He assisted on Semin’s winning goal last night when he found him in the slot for a one timer.
4.      Carlzner? You didn’t hear much about these two in the highlights. This is because they shut down the Rangers top offensive line and played extremely well all night.
5.      Garbage goals? Uh yeah, did anyone see Ovi’s tying goal. Yes, it was a garbage goal that came right out of the book of Mike Knuble. Keep crashing that net boys!
So as you can see the Capitals touched on all five keys and will hopefully continue to throughout the series. One thing I think the Caps could improve on would be finishing. Yes Henrik played outstanding, but some chances should’ve been finished regardless. If they are going to continue to be successful they will have to take advantage of the opportunities they are given. I’m talking about the breakaways, two on ones, and shots between the circles. Other than that I cannot really complain about game one because it was thrilling and entertaining. I loved the physicality of all the Capitals players especially Nicklas Backstrom and Ovi. Everyone was throwing their body around which I think helped with the win.
Shout out to Mike Green on his first game back! It looked like he hasn’t missed a beat and played 26:30 last night. He also assisted on Ovechkin’s first goal. The Caps and Rangers will play game two on Friday at the Verizon Center. Support the Caps in any way that you can and as always Rock the Red!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Playoffs Are Here

Well the time has come for the Washington Capitals and the rest of the NHL teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This time last year when the Caps owned the number one record in the league I had no doubt that they would make it far. As everyone knows they fell to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games after holding a 3-1 series lead. This season was a struggle at some points, but in the end I think our team has grown offensively, defensively, and mentally. With the addition of Jason Arnott, Marco Sturm, and Dennis Wideman at the trade deadline, the Capitals portray a smarter more developed team.

Earlier this season all of the fans in Washington were throwing their Stanley Cup hopes in the trash during the nine game losing streak. Since then Bruce Boudreau and his team have matured because of the diversity and struggles they have faced. The nine game struggle though hard to watch, might have been the best medicine for a Capitals team who craves Lord Stanley. I would like to personally give a shout out to Arnott who has been a boost of experience and knowledge for the squad. Michal Neuvirth will be getting the nod tonight in goal for his first playoff start in his NHL career. Let's not forget Neuvy has been the backbone of the Hershey Bears' past two Calder Cup championships in the AHL.  

This 2011 playoff series with the Rangers will hopefully be the beginning of something beautiful and memorable for the Caps. I can definitely say that I am more confident that this year’s team is more well-rounded and overall a better team. The Rangers clinched the eighth place spot on the last day of the regular season because of a Carolina Hurricanes loss. This will be the second time in three years that the Caps and Rangers have faced each other in the first round. In 2009, Washington prevailed over New York in seven games. We all remember Sergei Fedorov lighting the lamp with less than five minutes to play to take the series. The rangers lead the season series 3-1 vs. the Caps, two of the wins being shutouts. These two embarrassing losses of course happened before the trade deadline pick-ups.

5 Keys to the Series
  • Alex Ovechkin. The best player in the world, has to lead by example and hit the statsheet hard for the Caps.
  • Caps goal tending. Whoever may be in net has to be consistent for Washington. Michal Neuvirth will start Game 1, so hopefully he will play well tonight avoiding early goalie changes like the past two years.
  • Veterans must lead the way. Arnott, Knuble, Poti (if he plays), Hannan, and other seasoned vets have to calm the younger players and lead by example in this series.
  • Carlzner. Yes the defensive combo of John Carlson and Karl Alzner will be vital in shutting down the Rangers' top offensive lines. With both of them being in their second year, I have the utmost confidence in these two because of what they proved in the regular season.
  • Garbage goals. Knuble and the boys have to get pucks to the net and crash to get on the scoreboard. Playoff goals don't have to be pretty and everyone counts just the same. That extra poke-check or push could be the difference in the game.
The Caps will be missing Tom Poti for an undisclosed amount of games in this series, but he should return at some point. Mike Green is also expected to return in this series, possibly tonight. Finally, Dennis Wideman was released from the hospital for leg hematoma and is expected to return sooner than expected, but is out for the first round. These three blue-liners will be vital in the playoffs for Washington. The Rangers will be missing Ryan Callahan who is out for the season with a broken leg.

In my opinion, this series will be competitive, but will not take seven games for a Capitals victory. My prediction is the Caps top the Rangers in 5 with the main factor being goaltending for both teams. The Caps defense has to keep Gaborik and the boys in check. Keep the faith Caps fans the time is here and were not going to back down this year. Tune into tonight at 7:30 to watch Game 1 Caps vs. Rangers. Rock the Red!

In Ovi We Trust

Monday, April 11, 2011

Latest Caps News

This Monday morning has been an active one for the Washington Capitals organization and the playoffs don't start until Wednesday. Right winger Mike Knuble was signed to a one year contract extension. Knuble will celebrate his 39th birthday in the off season and will hopefully have an early present of a Stanley Cup. He logged 24 goals and 16 assists this season making it his 8th straight season with 20 or more goals. We our honored to have him rocking red for another season and George McPhee has made yet another smart move for the organization.

In other news forward Matt Hendricks has earned himself a Masterton nomination. In his first year in Washington Hendricks scored 9 goals and dropped the gloves 14 times. Three of his nine goals have been decisive game winners for the Capitals. Let's not forget his hard work and determination also earned him a two year contract deal with the Caps, signed earlier this season.

Overall both Knuble and Hendricks have been rewarded for they're nonstop competing night after night. We are lucky to have them in red and I have no doubt they're momentum will carry us through to Lord Stanley. Awards and contract extensions are great but the most gratifying accomplishment in any hockey player's eyes is raising the Stanley Cup in June with your teammates and fans. Rock the Red!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ovi gets #300 in shootout win over the Leafs

The Capitals entered the game vs. the Maple Leafs with first place looming in the back of their heads. They did not know that by the end of the night they would gain first in the east and clinch the Southeast division title. This makes it four years in a row that the Capitals are champions of the Southeast. It is getting a little old, but I will definitely take a top three spot in the playoffs.
Toronto is already out of the playoff race so they had one thing in mind, and that was to spoil the Caps’ standings situation. Nikolai Kulemin started the attempt of spoiler on the extra man when he beat Michal Neuvirth with a wrist shot. Six minutes later the Capitals were on a 5 on 3 power play for 20 seconds. Alex Ovechkin didn’t waste any time logging his 300th career goal off a onetime slapper from a Brooks Laich pass. Ovi had numerous scoring chances that were robbed by goaltender James Reimer in this game.
One thing that I would like to take note on was the Caps power play last night where they had a 1 for 4 success rate. In each extra man opportunity Washington moved the puck well and had many good scoring chances. If it were not for Reimer making some miraculous saves, the Caps could’ve notched a few more PP goals.
In the second period, Joffrey Lupul made Jeff Schultz pay with a back door tip-in goal from Phil Kessel. It was simply a breakdown of the Caps’ defense and could’ve been avoided if Schultz had picked his head up. The Caps would not hesitate to answer back with a bizarre goal from John Erskine which tied it 2-2. He hit a slap shot that deflected off a Toronto defender for Erskine’s fourth goal of the season. That would be the last goal of the game and Washington would go to a familiar fourth straight over time game.
There were only two total shots stopped by the goaltenders in extra time. Michal Neuvirth played well stopping 18 of 20 shots and all of the shootout attempts. Mike Knuble would be the only one to tickle the twine in the shootout in the fourth round. He continues to be a force for the Caps this late in the season. After this 3-2 SO win the Capitals headed straight home for a home game vs. the Florida Panthers tonight. Tune in to watch the puck drop at 7. Rock the Red!
Player of the Game: Alex Ovechkin (1 goal)
Stat of the Game: 300th career goal (Alex Ovechkin)
Unsung Hero: Mike Knuble

Monday, April 4, 2011

Player Profile: Mike Knuble

In 1991 a forward not like any other emerged in the NHL. His name……………Mike Knuble! He was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1991 in the NHL Entry Draft. Mike took his next four years of hockey to Ann Arbor to play for the University of Michigan. As a Wolverine he logged over 170 points in his tenure and scored as many as 38 goals in a season. In 1995, his senior year, Knuble earned NCAA West All-American Team honors. His next three years after graduating from Michigan took place in the AHL where he played for the Adirondack Red Wings which at the time was Detroit’s farm team.
Mike Knuble made his NHL debut on March 26, 1997 and would play nine games for the Detroit Red Wings that season. Detroit would later win the Stanley Cup that season, but unfortunately Mike would not get his name engraved on the Stanley Cup because he didn’t play enough games. However the following season the Red Wings repeated as Cup champions and Mike got his name on the Stanley Cup. ­­Since then he has played for a bunch of teams and scored tons of goals. Before reaching the Washington Knuble played for the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, and the Philadelphia Flyers.
In July 1, 2009 he signed a two year deal for $2.8 million with the Washington Capitals. The team signed him for obvious reasons such as him being a veteran, his uncanny way to score goals, and finally they probably were sick of playing against him.  After watching him for the last two seasons I have never seen anyone able to find the net like Mike “The Garbage man” Knuble. Whether he is scoring from the crease or poke checking the puck past the goaltender, teams simply cannot keep him of the scoreboard.
Since coming to Washington he has paired mostly with stars Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin which has probably added to their success as well. He logged 29 goals and 24 assists in his first season and was a huge contributor to the team’s offense and leadership. His leadership made him an obvious choice for an alternative captain which he has served as for the majority of the last 2 seasons. He is a vital piece to this franchise in possibly winning a Stanley Cup this year. Each game you can see younger teammates taking pointers and advice from him. Mike Knuble is neither the fastest player nor does he have the best shot but he finds a way to score night after night.
I will always be a Mike Knuble fan because he is one player that never hangs up his jersey no matter the score. Remembering back to the 24/7 HBO series for the Caps, Mike Knuble was key in coming out of the mid-season rut they were in. He stood up and insisted he would not be embarrassed anymore during one of the intermissions of the losses they suffered in the show. Even if this is his last season in a red sweater I hope he is rewarded with what he started his career with, a Stanley Cup! God bless you Mike Knuble and keep scoring goals for the Capitals! Rock the Red!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Ovi dances through the Sabres

There is one thing certain about veteran, forward Mike Knuble, and that’s his uncanny way to put the puck in the net. Tonight vs. the Sabres it took him only 37 seconds to score his 22nd goal of the season. Of course Jhonas Enroth was replacing Ryan Miller in net for Buffalo, so they weren’t as well supported in net. Alex Semin would make the rookie goalie pay off a juicy rebound to up the lead to 2-0 early in the first period.
Buffalo then decided it was their turn to take the offensive when they also scored two quick ones to tie the game. All four of these goals were scored in the first 10 minutes of the first. The two rookie goalies would then step in and prevent another tally until the third period. None of us knew that the flood gates were going to open down the home stretch of the third period.
Paul Gaustad of the Sabres would start it all in the third period when he took the lead with a one on one with Neuvy. Knuble would answer on the power play to tie the game at three with his second goal of the game. Things started to get away from the Caps when Scott Hannan took a bad penalty. This resulted in a Sabre’s power play goal shortly after taking the lead 4-3 with just three minutes to play.
The Caps got their second extra man chance of the game in the closing minutes and pulled the goalie for a 6 on 4 chance. Jason Arnott would tie the game when he easily put away a rebound off Alex Ovechkin’s shot. This would send the game to extra time for the third straight time for the Capitals. In, OT with no surprise Ovi dazzled and scored the winning goal when it deflected off two Buffalo defenseman. However in my opinion the highlight of the night was not his winning goal but his classic dance after he scored. Words cannot explain the dance so check it out on the highlight reel; it is a treat!
Side Notes: Hershey defenseman, Sean Collins, played his first game of the season replacing the injured John Erskine. The Caps are hoping for a Mike Green return to the ice before the playoffs because of the recent leg injury of Dennis Wideman. Wideman could be out a couple of weeks. John Carlson had another good offensive game with two assists.
Despite the exciting end to the game, the Caps did not play a great game defensively. Without Wideman and the others missing the team will need to strap down on D and clean up the mistakes come playoff time. The Capitals will travel to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs on Tuesday. Tune in at 7 and as always Rock the Red!
Player of the Game: Alex Ovechkin (1 goal, 2 assists)
Stat of the Game: 2 goals (Mike Knuble)
Unsung Hero: Jason Arnott