Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend Recap

The Caps only played one game this weekend in a game that could be referred to as a power play coming out party for the boys in red. In a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs all four tallies were scored on the extra man. It is hard to believe after the numbers of the past couple of weeks. I loved every minute of it as I’m sure every Caps fan did.
Dennis Wideman was the man of the night getting a point on every goal, finishing with two goals and two assists. The only sad part is that he originally was given a hat trick, but it was taken away the next day because of a tip-in by Brooks Laich. I’m sure Wideman wasn’t too discouraged the next morning. Other than him Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom both had two point games with a goal and assist each. Tomas Vokoun also played a solid game, saving 26 shots for his 12th win of the season.
Washington has a three day break before they take on the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. The Flyers currently sit atop the Eastern Conference, and the Capitals are on their way up. Dale Hunter’s changes are finally being seen in each game, and I see a new team committed to it. I am not lying when I say that Alex Ovechkin has played two of the best games I have seen him play in a long time in the past week. Yes he's only logged one goal and one assist in those two games, but he has skated with that spark that he started his career with. He is changing his offensive game and playing with confidence. The past couple games he could’ve scored five or six goals with the chances he is getting. It is only a matter of time before things click and he takes off. You heard it from the creator of Caps Daily first; Alex Ovechkin will score a goal Tuesday and have a multi-point game.
I mean don’t get me wrong I know we are only on a two game winning streak, but it feels like something is happening. The players as well as the coaches are buying into the new system which means success. The Flyers will be a good test for the Caps and I look forward to it. Tune in Tuesday at 7 for the game. Rock the Red!
FUN FACT OF THE DAY: Dale Hunter beat Coach Ron Wilson on Friday when the Caps beat the Leafs. Wilson used to coach Hunter for the Capitals when he was a captain. Most importantly the two were a part of a Washington Capitals team that made it to the franchise’s only Stanley Cup appearance in 1997-98.
Player of the Weekend: Dennis Wideman (2 goals, 2 assists)
Stat of the Weekend: 4 for 6 (Caps PP)
Unsung Hero: Alex Ovechkin       

Friday, December 9, 2011

Caps top Sens with strong third

Going into the final period two nights ago I had a very similar feeling of disgust, with the Capitals down 2-1. Well the Caps proved me wrong scoring four goals in the third period and pulling off a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Now I'm not going to recap the game thoroughly because the game was two nights ago, but I will share what impressed me most.

ALEX OVECHKIN! I called him out in my last post and apparently The Great 8 follows Caps Daily because he answered. From puck drop to his last shift in the third period, Ovi had great scoring chances and was skating with confidence. Truthfully he could have had three or four goals, but he would come through with one go ahead goal which was enough. The goal he scored was very Oviesque in the way he carried the puck the length of the ice, stopped on a dime, faked a slapper, and beat the goaltender five-hole. It was his ninth goal of the season and left all of us thinking is the real Ovi here to stay with a goal like that. Many will say no, but I disagree and expect a big night out of him tonight vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Now of course there were a few kinks in Washington's defensive game, but I do see some improvements. Let's give the credit to new assistant coach, and defensive specialist, Jim Johnson. My favorite three D-men of the night were John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Karl Alzner. Carlson had his second game in a row with three points. Not to mention him and Alzner had a +3 combined ice rating. Orlov continues to impress me each night, logging his fourth point of the season on the Ovechkin goal. The 20 year old will play his tenth game tonight meaning he has to sign a pro contract. Another positive was Nicklas Backstrom ending the power play drought with a snipe for his 10th goal. The other goal scorers were Carlson, Halpern, and Brouwer.

Alex Semin was back in the lineup Wednesday playing on the top line with Ovi and Nicky. I think if he going to stay on this team he has to stay on this line. Yes he isn't scoring right now, but he is an offensive threat that draws defenders which ultimately helps Ovi's game. So if Dale Hunter is listening, please either trade or keep Semin on the first line. The Caps take on the Maple Leafs tonight at the Verizon Center and I can guarantee that it won’t go the same way  as it did three weeks ago (7-1 loss). Rock the Red!

FUN FACT OF THE DAY: Did you know that Troy Brouwer recorded his second career Gordie Howe hat trick Wednesday night vs. the Senators. It was the first of the season for the Caps and Brouwer was a big contributor in the win.

Player of the Game: Troy Brouwer (1 goal, 1 assist, fight)

Stat of the Game: 1 goal, 2 assists, +1 (John Carlson)

Unsung Hero: Tomas Vokoun

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Caps fall short in Florida

The Capitals suffered their fifth straight road loss tonight to the Florida Panthers. Washington would score three consecutive goals, but it would not be enough falling 5-4 in the end. It was penalties that killed the Caps. The Panthers were successful three out of six times on the extra man. Two of those PPG’s occurred in the 1st period, leaving the score 3-1 at the first intermission. Other than the third period, the Caps were outplayed and out hustled. Michal Neuvirth made several big saves, but also made mistakes on two big goals in the game. I’m not sure what is wrong with Neuvy, but he needs to step up or I see Braden Holtby coming up for some starts.
The goals were scored by Mike Knuble, Cody Eakin, Brooks Laich, and Jason Chimera for the Capitals. Every forward line was +1 or better except for the first line. The third line was an offensive force again being responsible for two of the goals tonight. They continue to produce results for this team as I stated in the “3rd line Special”. I’d also like to congratulate Johnny Erskine on his 2nd fight in three games. This time he instigated the fight and made Bracken Kearns his b*tch. Even though he was given the 10 minute misconduct it was worth to see and I’m sure Dale Hunter enjoyed it after we killed the penalty.
The Alex’s
Alex Semin was scratched again for a “shoulder injury”. I think that Sasha could be in the works for a trade if you ask me. Alex Ovechkin logged more ice time than he’s had all year with 22:02, but him, Nicklas Backstrom, and Troy Brouwer all earned -2 ice ratings.  Ovi has to find the net! He has to be better if this team is going to succeed. It is very frustrating to watch such a talented player suffer these kinds of slumps and criticism this early in his career. In the past 12 games, Ovi has logged only one goal, four assists, and has a -7 ice rating. I’m his biggest fan and I hate to criticize him but we need him now more than ever because at this rate I don’t even see him making the all-star game. The Great Eight is our captain and I won’t lose faith, but we need him to start playing like one.
Whose fault was it?
·         The first goal was dumb luck because of the unfortunate deflection.

·         Neuvy was definitely at fault for the second goal letting the puck go through his seven hole just 13 seconds after the first tally.

·         The blame goes to Neuvy again with letting in a stoppable slap shot on the power play from the point.

·         Three times a charm so why not put the fault to the goalie for not covering the puck, allowing a wrap job to occur.

·         Alright Neuvy I’ll cut you some slack on this one. Ovi and the rest of the Caps on the ice stood watching as the Panthers slotted the fifth goal in a wide open net.

Player of the Game: John Carlson (3 assists, +3 ice rating)
Stat of the Game: 17 penalty minutes (John Erskine)
Unsung Hero: Dmitry Orlov

Monday, December 5, 2011

3rd Line Special

Although the Washington Capitals this year have struggled through the first quarter of the season, three players are achieving much success each night. These three men have played on the 3rd forward line together for the majority of the season and have been more than effective on both ends of the ice. Yes, I am talking about the combo of Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, and Joel Ward. This line is responsible for four game winning goals in the Caps’ 13 wins this season (Chimera-2, Laich-2). Not to mention, this line is given the challenge in most games to shut down the opponent’s top line. Each one of the three brings something unique to the game which is why they are so successful. Laich’s OT winner on Saturday from Chimera is the most recent example.

Let’s start with Jason Chimera. “Chim-dog”, which is the name some teammates know him by, is arguably the fastest skater in the NHL. His speed changes the game in the way he accelerates down the wing with or without the puck. On numerous occasions this season I have seen his speed draw penalties, beat out icing calls, and ultimately give him goal opportunities in which he’s capitalized on. Chimera has already matched his last season total in goals with 10, which leads the team, and also has six assists. He is the only player on the team with a short-handed goal which proves his stellar play on the penalty kill. Finally, he is second on the team with a +8 ice rating. Chim-dog is the biggest contributor to the 3rd line and we are lucky to have him.

Centering this productive line is none other than Brooks Laich. This past offseason Laich signed a six year contract extension for $27 million. Some would argue that is too much to pay the 28 year old, but perhaps he is earning his paycheck this season. Brooksie has tallied five goals and 15 points this season. With these five goals he has two game winners and three power play goals which is tied for the team lead. The only downfall is his -4 ice rating, but we will let it slide for now. His leadership is shown each night with his communication and emotion on and off the ice. Hopefully #21 can keep playing like he deserves the money in his bank account.

Finally, we are lucky to have, the newest addition to the team, Joel Ward. He has been very successful this season because of his physicality and strong board play. Ward, in my opinion, is one of those players who is rewarded for his effort night in and night out. Yes he only has four goals and nine points this season, but he does much more that is not seen on a stat sheet. Ward is solid on the penalty kill and is always throwing shots and crashing the net. Also he has a +4 ice rating this season. Keep doing your thing #42, you are a vital part to the 3rd line and the Washington Capitals organization.

I can only hope Dale Hunter keeps this combo together for the remainder of the season. The Caps take on division rival, the Florida Panthers, tonight. I wouldn’t’ doubt that the 3rd line will be checking against the Panthers top line of Weiss, Fleischmann, and Versteeg. They are one of the most productive forward lines in the NHL, so it should be an interesting matchup. Tune in tonight at 7:30. Rock the Red!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Weekend Recap

Let me recap the past couple days for the Capitals. On Thursday, the Caps scoring issue continued as they suffered a heart-breaker to their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby who are usually featured in this matchup were both held pointless in this 2-1 loss for Washington. Jason Chimera was the only Cap to tickle the twine for his 10th goal of the year which seems to be a trend as of late. Tomas Vokoun played well most of the game, but allowed another shaky second goal which eventually cost them.
The most exciting point of the game for me was the fight between John Erskine and Arron Asham. Erskine was definitely paying Asham back for his actions after he knocked out forward Jay Beagle earlier in the season. Both of the tough guys landed punches, but I’ll give the upper hand to #4 in red. Other than that the only thing Washington seemed to beat Pittsburgh in was hits, which was nice to see, but not when your amount of shots gets doubled 35-17. This would make Thursday the second game in a row with less than 20 shots.
The last game of the Capitals three game home stand was vs. the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Dale Hunter would prevail and earn his first win in OT for a 3-2 win! Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer tallied the two goals in regulation for the Caps. The combo of Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich would seal the deal 12 seconds into overtime to give Laich the game winner in his 500th career NHL game. Michal Neuvirth might have played his best game of the season with 32 saves and a win. Neuvy needs to stay solid like this if the Caps are going to be successful.
It was nice to see Dale get his first win and hopefully it will be the first of many. One thing I have noticed since the coaching change is that the Caps are playing a much more physical game and the fore-check has improved. I’m excited to see what other changes in strategy the new coach has in store for us. The next matchup is very important because the Florida Panthers are currently on top the Southeast Division, so it would be nice to gain a few points on them. Tune in tomorrow for a special “3rd Line” feature. Rock the Red!
FUN FACT OF THE DAY: Did you know that Dale Hunter has fought both of his assistant coaches, Jim Johnson and Dean Evason, when he was a player. Believe it or not, Hunter and Evason fought three times in the same period when they faced each other as players. It is nice to know Dale Hunter is comfortable with the guys next to him on the bench.
Player of the Weekend: Jason Chimera (1 goal, 1 assist)
Stat of the Weekend: 5 points, +3 ice rating (3rd forward line- Chimera, Laich, Ward)
Unsung Hero: John Erskine