Tag Archive | "caps"

The Caps play their best hockey of the series in game 7 to advance to the second round.

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Caps Game 7 Win Validates Off Season Moves

Posted on 28 April 2015 by Ed Frankovic

It may not have been dominant on the scoreboard, and it took Evgeny Kuznetsov’s brilliant goal with 7:18 remaining for the Caps to get the game winning tally, but that was an impressive performance by the Washington Capitals in a tough seventh game against a formidable opponent.

The Caps outshot the Islanders, 26-11, and dominated puck possession nearly the entire game to advance to the second round to face the New York Rangers.

Coach Barry Trotz’ team turned in what Brooks Orpik and Nicklas Backstrom called the team’s best game of the series by playing physical and winning the one on one battles all over the ice. Backstrom said afterwards that the team talked about playing “through the battle, instead of going around” and they did just that exhibiting a punishing physical style that wore the smaller Islanders out.

For several years I’ve blogged about my dislike for the depth of the team’s defense, but year after year former GM George McPhee would roll out his standard line of “We like our D.” Fortunately new GM Brian MacLellan and Coach Trotz understood the need to upgrade that part of the hockey team and achieved that with the additions of Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Tim Gleason on the back end.

Also, the move to bring in Trotz gave Washington the system and foundation they needed to be a better defensive hockey club. After all, they don’t say “Defense Wins Championships” for nothing.

The result of the off season course change, which was sorely needed, was a game seven of only 11 shots allowed to one of the most prolific offenses in the NHL. Of those 11 shots, only three came from forwards (h/t @JapersRink)! John Tavares, arguably the league’s MVP, didn’t have a single shot attempt in 20:44 of ice time in the biggest game of his career. In fact, of the 49 shot attempts the Islanders generated, and 29 of them were in period three, 11 came from Johnny Boychuck, alone. That’s some team defense by the Capitals!

Simply put, this series victory validates the entire off season by the Capitals organization. They needed to become a team and they needed to upgrade their coaching and defense. They did all three of those things and the result is a position in the elite 8 of the NHL.

Following the game, the Capitals locker room was happy, but not exactly exuberant. Every player I spoke with was pleased with the win, but each one of them pointed out it is just the first step towards their ultimate goal. They clearly aren’t satisfied with a single series victory and Backstrom was quick to say this core has not been past the second round, yet.

This series was big in a lot of ways because the Capitals won without having to totally rely on Alex Ovechkin (5 points) and Backstrom (6 points) for offense. Kuznetsov (3 goals, 1 assist) stepped up and showed that he can be a second line center in crunch time with his outstanding play. He was poised and controlling with the puck and gave the Islanders defense fits. Andre Burakovsky, who played the last four games of the series, three of which were Capitals victories, showed that he can play both ends of the ice. He was strong on the wall with the puck and played wiser than your typical rookie.

As for the goaltending, Braden Holtby had a superb series despite starting it with a nasty stomach bug that forced him out of game two. Holtbeast won’t be happy with the goal he allowed to Frans Nielsen on Monday night, but he was another reason why Washington is moving on. Braden stopped 157 of 167 (94%) shots in this series.

Perhaps most important is how this Capitals team, who Coach Trotz has been saying is different than past Washington clubs, didn’t panic when they dominated the play but couldn’t score for 30+ minutes. They remained calm when Nielsen tied the game up just 3:13 into the final frame. Past squads might have panicked and deviated from the game plan, but not this crew. The Capitals just came out stronger after the tying tally until Kuznetsov scored on a play that very few others would have the patience and skill to execute.

That goal will go down in Capitals history as one of the great playoff series clinchers along with goals from Dale Hunter (1988), John Druce (1990), Joe Juneau (1998), Sergei Fedorov (2009), and Joel Ward (2012).

As for the Verizon Center crowd, well it was as good as it’s been in years. Every Capitals player spoke of the energy in the building and just before the handshake line following the victory, Coach Trotz made a point to wave and thank the fans, who played a role in this tough series triumph.

There was a lot to like on Monday night and Washington was the better team in a very close series.

Best of all, when the chips were down, they turned in their best performance in a game seven, something they have struggled to do in the playoffs since 2008.

This series win is a big step in the right direction for Capitals hockey.

Notes: Shot attempts were 60-49 for the Caps but were 47-20 through 40 minutes…Washington won the faceoff battle, 32-21. Backstrom was 16-5…Ovechkin had an assist on Joel Ward’s goal feeding Orpik with a brilliant cross ice pass…the Gr8 had seven hits and six shot attempts in 16:52 of ice time…the only penalty was curiously called on John Carlson for roughing with 2:54 remaining. It seemed very weird given everything else had been let go until that point…Niskanen logged 23:05 and Orpik 23:01 to lead Washington in ice time…Nick Leddy (26:19) and Boychuk (25:57) were the work horses for the Islanders…Tavares was 2-9 on faceoffs and looked out of gas in game seven.

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Braden Holtby stops 36 of 37 shots while Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Ovechkin provide the Caps offense in a 2-1, OT victory.

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Backstrom Ends Caps Long Drought in OT on Long Island

Posted on 22 April 2015 by Ed Frankovic

With their backs nearly up against the wall in this playoff series, the Washington Capitals earned a gritty victory in game four on Long Island on Nicklas Backstrom’s goal 11:09 into overtime to even things up at two games apiece.

Alexander Ovechkin had a goal and an assist and Braden Holtby stopped 36 of 37 shots to earn his first win of the series.

Simply put, the Capitals top players showed up in a critical game to end the franchise’s six game road playoff losing streak and also finally get a post season overtime victory at the Nassau Coliseum.

This was a physical game that New York dominated for most of 40 minutes before the Capitals finally started taking over in period three and then the overtime. Islanders defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky suffered an injury when he was cleanly hit by Tom Wilson in period two. The zebras didn’t see it that way and called #43 for charging while Thomas Hickey, who roughed up Wilson after the whistle, went unscathed and served no box time. Visnovsky would not return forcing New York to play the rest of the tilt with only five d-men.

Despite the poor call and the fact that the Islanders had the game’s first four power plays in those 40 minutes, the Capitals and Holtby weathered the storm. Brooks Orpik played the last 51+ minutes with a cut face after John Carlson inadvertently sliced him with his skate. Orpik, who eats rocks for breakfast, came back to play a strong game along with Carlson. Both players were +2 on the night.

The Caps had 66 shot attempts in this tilt and Ovechkin (18) and Backstrom (8) had a combined 26 of them. It was clear that neither one of those players wanted to go down 3-1 in the series. The Islanders generated 78 shot attempts but they had eight minutes of power play time to just two minutes for Washington. The Capitals penalty killing efforts were a huge reason why they were able to grind out this win.

So after a pretty lousy effort in game three at the raucous Nassau Coliseum, the Capitals found a way to play better and get a win on the road and regain home ice advantage.

After game two, Caps Coach Barry Trotz stated how important the Capitals fans are to his team’s energy level. Therefore, for game five, the Verizon Center should be rocking. For those who follow me on twitter (@EdFrankovic) you know of the ugly behavior displayed by some of the Islanders fans in games three and four. Orpik, who sustained a facial cut late in period one, was even pelted with a beer in the face after the Caps won on Tuesday night. There was a general lack of decorum shown by some New York fans in these two games on Long Island. Washington fans have a chance to show that they are not only louder, but classier on Thursday night. So Rock your Red, but be respectful of those in Islanders gear.

Regardless of the noise level, and I do expect it to be quite loud and help the Caps, Washington has to come out and dictate the pace of the game and not wait to counter punch any strong Islanders start. New York is very fast and has some serious skill and they are a tough opponent. However, if the Capitals bring their “A” game like they did in game two and in overtime in game four, they will be tough to beat.

Bottom line, it’s all about the effort and how badly the Capitals want to win.

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Caps Play Poorly to Lose Game 1

Posted on 16 April 2015 by Ed Frankovic

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs did not go as planned, at all, for the Washington Capitals as they fell to the New York Islanders, 4-1, at the Verizon Center.

You could sum this game up with the following sentence.

The Islanders played very well while the Capitals did not.

New York, led by John Tavares, looked confident and fast as they came out flying to dominate the first frame. Somehow the Caps were able to keep it 1-1 after 20 minutes but in period two, the Islanders scored directly off of a face off after a lazy icing was whistled on Washington. New York would add another goal just past the midway point and they played solid defense the rest of the way to win in relatively easy fashion.

The Caps struggled with their passing and breakouts all game. They tried to make the long stretch pass far too often and they were ultra sloppy in the neutral zone. Troy Brouwer’s turnover allowed Brock Nelson to skate in alone down the right wing side and he snapped a wrister by Braden Holtby short side for the opening tally. It was not a good goal allowed by #70.

Marcus Johansson tied the game with 57 seconds left in the first period after Brooks Laich outworked two Islanders in the corner and made a nice feed in the slot to a streaking #90. Jojo beat Jaroslav Halak (24 saves) five hole to whip the Verizon Center crowd into a frenzy.

But on this night the Capitals could never get any sustained offense going. They repeatedly made poor passing decisions that led to turnovers allowing New York to excel in their transition game. This was one of the worst games Washington had all season in terms of breaking the puck out of their own zone. On Wednesday night they looked more like the 2013-14 Caps instead of the team that amassed 101 points in 2014-15.

Afterwards the message in the Caps room and from Coach Barry Trotz was consistent. The Islanders deserved part of the credit for winning while the Capitals played poorly and needed to be a lot better. Trotz said he was very disappointed in the performance of many on his team. The Washington bench boss pointed out that there weren’t many scoring chances for either team in this tilt. New York did a good job of clogging the middle of the ice in the neutral zone and in front of their own net. If the Caps want to win they need to get bodies and pucks through to try and rattle Halak, who had a far too easy night.

Fortunately this is just one game and the playoffs are all about adjustments by the players and the coaches. Game one was all New York and now it is on the Capitals to adjust. Will that include lineup changes? Perhaps. Michael Latta only played 5:16 and he lost the draw that led to the Islanders winning goal. Does Tom Wilson get back in or is he still recovering from the puck he took to the head in Detroit on April 5th? Does Jason Chimera, who took a bad penalty at the end of periods two and three, come out for Andre Burakovsky? That’s to be determined.

There’s no need for the Capitals to panic, at this point. They played poorly and lost the series opener to give away home ice. But where the game is played doesn’t matter a whole lot, it’s how you play the game. In the series opener the Islanders played extremely well and they deserved to win. The Caps, on the other hand, have a lot of work to do in order to come out on top in game two on Friday night. They need to pass the puck better and they need to win more of the one on one battles.

Notes: Washington won the face off battle handily, 39-23, but Latta lost that key second period draw to Tavares, who was fabulous in this game, that led to the winning goal…New York out shot the Caps 27-25 and out shot attempted them 65-55, primarily behind a 23-11 first period advantage…both teams were 0 for 2 on the power play…Matt Niskanen was on the ice for all four Islanders goals (the last was an empty net). Brooks Orpik and John Carlson were the only plus players for the Capitals (+1)…Carlson led the Caps in ice time at 23:03. Orpik was second with 21:37…Alex Ovechkin had 12 shot attempts, including eight shots on net…Nicklas Backstrom was 14-6 on draws…Jay Beagle and Eric Fehr returned to the lineup after missing several games due to injury…Travis Hamonic missed the game for New York, but the Islanders defense played well. Johnny Boychuk led the team with 23:05 of ice time.

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Caps getting 18-1 odds to win Stanley Cup

Posted on 14 April 2015 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV)

Odds to win the 2015 Stanley Cup

New York Rangers 11/2

Chicago Blackhawks 8/1

St. Louis Blues 8/1

Anaheim Ducks 9/1

Minnesota Wild 9/1

Montreal Canadiens 9/1

Tampa Bay Lightning 10/1

Nashville Predators 12/1

Pittsburgh Penguins 16/1

Vancouver Canucks 16/1

Detroit Red Wings 18/1

New York Islanders 18/1

Ottawa Senators 18/1

Washington Capitals 18/1

Calgary Flames 20/1

Winnipeg Jets 25/1

Odds to Win the 2015 Eastern Conference

New York Rangers 9/4

Montreal Canadiens 9/2

Tampa Bay Lightning 9/2

New York Islanders 8/1

Pittsburgh Penguins 8/1

Detroit Red Wings 9/1

Ottawa Senators 9/1

Washington Capitals 9/1

Odds to Win the 2015 Western Conference

Chicago Blackhawks 15/4

Anaheim Ducks 4/1

St. Louis Blues 4/1

Minnesota Wild 9/2

Nashville Predators 6/1

Vancouver Canucks 8/1

Calgary Flames 10/1

Winnipeg Jets 12/1

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Exact Matchup

New York Rangers vs Chicago Blackhawks 14/1

New York Rangers vs St. Louis Blues 15/1

New York Rangers vs Anaheim Ducks 15/1

New York Rangers vs Minnesota Wild 16/1

New York Rangers vs Nashville Predators 20/1

New York Rangers vs Vancouver Canucks 28/1

New York Rangers vs Calgary Flames 33/1

New York Rangers vs Winnipeg Jets 40/1

Montreal Canadiens vs Chicago Blackhawks 22/1

Montreal Canadiens vs St. Louis Blues 25/1

Montreal Canadiens vs Anaheim Ducks 25/1

Montreal Canadiens vs Minnesota Wild 28/1

Montreal Canadiens vs Nashville Predators 33/1

Montreal Canadiens vs Vancouver Canucks 45/1

Montreal Canadiens vs Calgary Flames 55/1

Montreal Canadiens vs Winnipeg Jets 66/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Chicago Blackhawks 22/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs St. Louis Blues 25/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Anaheim Ducks 25/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Minnesota Wild 28/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Nashville Predators 33/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Vancouver Canucks 45/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Calgary Flames 55/1

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Winnipeg Jets 66/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Chicago Blackhawks 33/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs St. Louis Blues 40/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Anaheim Ducks 40/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Minnesota Wild 45/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Nashville Predators 55/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Vancouver Canucks 75/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Calgary Flames 90/1

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Winnipeg Jets 100/1

Washington Capitals vs Chicago Blackhawks 40/1

Washington Capitals vs St. Louis Blues 45/1

Washington Capitals vs Anaheim Ducks 45/1

Washington Capitals vs Minnesota Wild 50/1

Washington Capitals vs Nashville Predators 11/1

Washington Capitals vs Vancouver Canucks 75/1

Washington Capitals vs Calgary Flames 100/1

Washington Capitals vs Winnipeg Jets 100/1

New York Islanders vs Chicago Blackhawks 40/1

New York Islanders vs St. Louis Blues 45/1

New York Islanders vs Anaheim Ducks 45/1

New York Islanders vs Minnesota Wild 45/1

New York Islanders vs Nashville Predators 55/1

New York Islanders vs Vancouver Canucks 75/1

New York Islanders vs Calgary Flames 90/1

New York Islanders vs Winnipeg Jets 100/1

Detroit Red Wings vs Chicago Blackhawks 40/1

Detroit Red Wings vs St. Louis Blues 45/1

Detroit Red Wings vs Anaheim Ducks 45/1

Detroit Red Wings vs Minnesota Wild 50/1

Detroit Red Wings vs Nashville Predators 11/1

Detroit Red Wings vs Vancouver Canucks 75/1

Detroit Red Wings vs Calgary Flames 100/1

Detroit Red Wings vs Winnipeg Jets 100/1

Ottawa Senators vs Chicago Blackhawks 40/1

Ottawa Senators vs St. Louis Blues 45/1

Ottawa Senators vs Anaheim Ducks 45/1

Ottawa Senators vs Minnesota Wild 50/1

Ottawa Senators vs Nashville Predators 66/1

Ottawa Senators vs Vancouver Canucks 75/1

Ottawa Senators vs Calgary Flames 100/1

Ottawa Senators vs Winnipeg Jets 100/1

I thought these odds may be of interest to you. They’re courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv, Twitter: @BovadaLV).

Series Prices

Pittsburgh Penguins (Series Prices) 9/5 (+180)

New York Rangers (Series Prices) 5/11 (-220)

Ottawa Senators (Series Prices) 7/5 (+140)

Montreal Canadians (Series Prices) 5/8 (-160)

Detroit Red Wings (Series Prices) 17/10 (+170)

Tampa Bay Ligtning (Series Prices) 1/2 (-200)

New York Islanders (Series Prices) 6/5 (+120)

Washington Capitals (Series Prices) 5/7 (-140)

Winnipeg Jets (Series Prices) 7/5 (+140)

Anaheim Ducks (Series Prices) 5/8 (-160)

Minnesota Wild (Series Prices) 5/4 (+125)

St. Louis Blues (Series Prices) 20/29 (-145)

Chicago Blackhawks (Series Prices) 20/29 (-145)

Nashville Predators (Series Prices) 5/4 (+125)

Calgary Flames (Series Prices) 6/5 (+120)

Vancouver Canucks (Series Prices) 5/7 (-140)

Odds to win 2015 Conn Smythe Trophy as NHL Playoff MVP

Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) 19/2

Devan Dubnyk (MIN) 14/1

Carey Price (MON) 15/1

Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) 16/1

Pekka Rinne (NAS) 18/1

Sidney Crosby (PIT) 20/1

Rick Nash (NYR) 20/1

Brian Elliott (STL) 20/1

Frederik Andersen (ANA) 20/1

Alex Ovechkin (WAS) 25/1

Jonathan Toews (CHI) 25/1

Patrick Kane (CHI) 25/1

Corey Crawford (CHI) 25/1

Ben Bishop (TB) 25/1

Zach Parise (MIN) 25/1

Vladimir Tarasenko (STL) 25/1

Corey Perry (ANA) 25/1

Steven Stamkos (TB) 25/1

Andrew Hammond (OTT) 30/1

John Tavares (NYI) 30/1

Jaroslav Halak (NYI) 30/1

Henrik Sedin (VAN) 30/1

Eddie Lack (VAN) 30/1

Martin St. Louis (NYR) 30/1

Daniel Sedin (VAN) 35/1

Evgeni Malkin (PIT) 35/1

T.J. Oshie (STL) 35/1

Braden Holtby (WAS) 35/1

Alexander Steen (STL) 40/1

P.K. Subban (MON) 40/1

Max Pacioretty (MON) 40/1

Shea Weber (NAS) 40/1

Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT) 40/1

Pavel Datsyuk (DET) 40/1

Petr Mrazek (DET) 40/1

Patrick Sharp (CHI) 40/1

Nicklas Backstrom (WAS) 45/1

Thomas Vanek (MIN) 50/1

Mark Stone (OTT) 50/1

Marian Hossa (CHI) 50/1

Duncan Keith (CHI) 50/1

Jonas Hiller (CAL) 50/1

Henrik Zetterberg (DET) 50/1

Tyler Johnson (TB) 50/1

Ondrej Pavelec (WIN) 50/1

Radim Vrbata (VAN) 50/1

Bobby Ryan (OTT) 60/1

Filip Forsberg (NAS) 65/1

Erik Karlsson (OTT) 65/1

Kyle Okposo (NYI) 75/1

Kyle Turris (OTT) 75/1

Jiri Hudler (CAL) 75/1

Johnny Gaudreau (CAL) 75/1

Andrew Ladd (WIN) 75/1

Blake Wheeler (WIN) 75/1

Dustin Byfuglien (WIN) 75/1

Additional Props

How many games will the Stanley Cup winning team play in the 2015 NHL playoffs?

Over/Under 23.5

How many games will go to overtime in the 2015 NHL Playoffs?

Over/Under 20.5

Will any game go to triple overtime in the 2015 NHL Playoffs?

Yes -140 (5/7)

No EVEN (1/1)

How Many First Round Series will be decided in 7 games in the 2015 NHL Playoffs?

Over/Under 2.5

How Many First Round Series will be decided in 4 games in the 2015 NHL Playoffs?

Over 1.5 +150 (3/2)

Under 1.5 -200 (1/2)

How many goals will be scored by the goal scoring leader in the 2014 NHL Playoffs?

Over/Under 12.5

How many points will be scored by the point scoring leader in the 2014 NHL Playoffs?

Over/Under 26.5

What will be the most individual penalty minutes accumulated in the 2014 NHL playoffs?

Over/Under 43.5

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins (Series Prices) 9/5 (+180)

New York Rangers (Series Prices) 5/11 (-220)

Exact Result

Pittsburgh Penguins win 4-0 13/1

Pittsburgh Penguins win 4-1 9/1

Pittsburgh Penguins win 4-2 7/1

Pittsburgh Penguins win 4-3 13/2

New York Rangers win 4-0 13/2

New York Rangers win 4-1 7/2

New York Rangers win 4-2 4/1

New York Rangers win 4-3 7/2

Number of Games

4 17/4

5 11/5

6 2/1

7 9/5

Sidney Crosby 1st Round Points

Over/Under 6

Evgeni Malkin 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5½

Patric Hornqvist 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

David Perron 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3

Rick Nash 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Derick Brassard 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Derek Stepan 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Martin St. Louis 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadians

Ottawa Senators (Series Prices) 7/5 (+140)

Montreal Canadians (Series Prices) 5/8 (-160)

Exact Result

Ottawa Senators win 4-0 12/1

Ottawa Senators win 4-1 8/1

Ottawa Senators win 4-2 5/1

Ottawa Senators win 4-3 5/1

Montreal Canadiens win 4-0 15/2

Montreal Canadiens win 4-1 9/2

Montreal Canadiens win 4-2 4/1

Montreal Canadiens win 4-3 9/2

Number of Games

4 9/2

5 9/4

6 9/5

7 7/4

Erik Karlsson 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

Kyle Turris 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Mark Stone 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

Bobby Ryan 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Tomas Plekanec 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

P.K. Subban 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Andrei Markov 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

David Desharnais 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Detroit Red Wings vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Detroit Red Wings (Series Prices) 17/10 (+170)

Tampa Bay Lightning (Series Prices) 1/2 (-200)

Exact Result

Detroit Red Wings win 4-0 14/1

Detroit Red Wings win 4-1 19/2

Detroit Red Wings win 4-2 6/1

Detroit Red Wings win 4-3 6/1

Tampa Bay Lightning win 4-0 13/2

Tampa Bay Lightning win 4-1 7/2

Tampa Bay Lightning win 4-2 4/1

Tampa Bay Lightning win 4-3 4/1

Number of Games

4 9/2

5 11/5

6 9/5

7 9/5

Henrik Zetterberg 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

Pavel Datsyuk 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Tomas Tatar 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Gustav Nyquist 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Steven Stamkos 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5½

Tyler Johnson 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Nikita Kucherov 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Ondrej Palat 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals

New York Islanders (Series Prices) 6/5 (+120)

Washington Capitals (Series Prices) 5/7 (-140)

Exact Result

New York Islanders win 4-0 12/1

New York Islanders win 4-1 15/2

New York Islanders win 4-2 9/2

New York Islanders win 4-3 5/1

Washington Capitals win 4-0 9/1

Washington Capitals win 4-1 9/2

Washington Capitals win 4-2 9/2

Washington Capitals win 4-3 4/1

Number of Games

4 19/4

5 9/4

6 7/4

7 7/4

John Tavares 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5½

Kyle Okposo 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

Ryan Strome 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Josh Bailey 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Alex Ovechkin 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5½

Nicklas Backstrom 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

John Carlson 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Marcus Johansson 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Winnipeg Jets vs. Anaheim Ducks

Winnipeg Jets (Series Prices) 7/5 (+140)

Anaheim Ducks (Series Prices) 5/8 (-160)

Exact Result

Winnipeg Jets win 4-0 131

Winnipeg Jets win 4-1 15/2

Winnipeg Jets win 4-2 5/1

Winnipeg Jets win 4-3 11/2

Anaheim Ducks win 4-0 15/2

Anaheim Ducks win 4-1 4/1

Anaheim Ducks win 4-2 9/2

Anaheim Ducks win 4-3 4/1

Number of Games

4 19/4

5 9/4

6 9/5

7 7/4

Andrew Ladd 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Blake Wheeler 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Bryan Little 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Dustin Byfuglien 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Ryan Getzlaf 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5½

Corey Perry 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Ryan Kesler 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues

Minnesota Wild (Series Prices) 5/4 (+125)

St. Louis Blues (Series Prices) 20/29 (-145)

Exact Result

Minnesota Wild win 4-0 12/1

Minnesota Wild win 4-1 7/1

Minnesota Wild win 4-2 5/1

Minnesota Wild win 4-3 11/2

St. Louis Blues win 4-0 9/1

St. Louis Blues win 4-1 9/2

St. Louis Blues win 4-2 9/2

St. Louis Blues win 4-3 7/2

Number of Games

4 19/4

5 9/4

6 9/5

7 7/4

Zach Parise 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

Jason Pominville 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Thomas Vanek 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Mikko Koivu 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Vladimir Tarasenko 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Alexander Steen 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

David Backes 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

T.J. Oshie 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators

Chicago Blackhawks (Series Prices) 20/29 (-145)

Nashville Predators (Series Prices) 5/4 (+125)

Exact Result

Chicago Blackhawks win 4-0 17/2

Chicago Blackhawks win 4-1 5/1

Chicago Blackhawks win 4-2 4/1

Chicago Blackhawks win 4-3 9/2

Nashville Predators win 4-0 12/1

Nashville Predators win 4-1 6/1

Nashville Predators win 4-2 11/2

Nashville Predators win 4-3 9/2

Number of Games

4 19/4

5 9/4

6 7/4

7 7/4

Jonathan Toews 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Patrick Kane 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5½

Marian Hossa 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Duncan Keith 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Filip Forsberg 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Mike Ribeiro 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Roman Josi 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3

Shea Weber 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks

Calgary Flames (Series Prices) 6/5 (+120)

Vancouver Canucks (Series Prices) 5/7 (-140)

Exact Result

Calgary Flames win 4-0 12/1

Calgary Flames win 4-1 7/1

Calgary Flames win 4-2 9/2

Calgary Flames win 4-3 5/1

Vancouver Canucks win 4-0 19/2

Vancouver Canucks win 4-1 9/2

Vancouver Canucks win 4-2 5/1

Vancouver Canucks win 4-3 15/4

Number of Games

4 19/4

5 9/4

6 7/4

7 7/4

Jiri Hudler 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Johnny Gaudreau 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

Sean Monahan 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4

Dennis Wideman 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3½

Daniel Sedin 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Henrik Sedin 1st Round Points

Over/Under 5

Radim Vrbata 1st Round Points

Over/Under 4½

Nick Bonino 1st Round Points

Over/Under 3

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Ovechkin Nets 50th Goal in Caps 4-2 Victory

Posted on 01 April 2015 by Ed Frankovic

Alex Ovechkin notched his NHL leading 50th tally and added an assist, Braden Holtby made 23 saves, and Mike Green had a goal, an assist and was +3 in a Washington Capitals 4-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. The win moves the Caps to 42-25-10 (94 points) with just five games to go and kept them three and six points ahead of the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, respectively, after both of those clubs won too. It was a much needed victory against a speedy and pesky Canes club that had drilled Washington, 3-0, in Raleigh on February 27th.

Brooks Laich, who had one of his best games of the season with a goal, six hits, and 1:40 worth of great penalty killing time, said the team had discussed that loss in their Tuesday morning meeting and noted that Carolina always plays the Caps tough. As a result, Laich said the team wanted to have a good start.

They did just that scoring on a deflected pass (Green’s goal) and then the Gr8 buried his biscuit at 11:12 after a nice feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Caps carried the majority of the early play, but then in the second period they got away from their game and allowed Carolina to generate numerous odd man rushes. The Canes would tie things up on Eric Staal’s tap in just past the midway point of the game and things looked shaky for the Capitals.

But then the Caps upped their effort and scored twice in 82 seconds to grab a 4-2 lead that they held rather easily in period three.

In that final frame, Washington went to their strengths by forechecking hard and taking the body in an attempt to wear out the Canes players. It’s a recipe they used successfully in New York on Sunday. On Tuesday, after the “loose” middle frame, they refocused and shut the game down in the final period with their pressure.

“If we can pressure them and hem them in there for more than 10 seconds, 15 seconds it really slows down their game. Their D won’t join as much. Their center gets tired because he’s boxing guys out and has to work to get the puck back. It really sets our game up well. It fits our strength as a team well if we can grind there. When they do get the puck out, all they have energy for is to chip it out. Then we get a change and we’re coming right back at them with speed, that’s kind of our identity, I think,” said Matt Niskanen on how the Caps want to throttle the opposition.

Carolina, like the Rangers, have a lot of speed. So will the Capitals upcoming opponents, the Montreal Canadiens (Thursday) and the Senators (Saturday). Thwarting that speed starts by keeping the puck in the offensive zone and being responsible. Washington got away from that in the second period and if not for some good saves from Holtby, the Canes may have seized the lead. But once the Caps got back to a strong forecheck, and the line of Laich, Eric Fehr, and Jason Chimera was a big part of that, they achieved what Coach Barry Trotz calls “managing the game.”

“Good dumps, coming out clean out of your zone and then puck placement in the offensive zone. Then running proper routes. First guy has to go do a straight line, make contact, then the strong side winger down the wall and the offside winger looking for that D to D behind the net. If it is not there, coming across over their center men in the middle of the ice. If we execute properly there is nowhere for them to go. Jason, Eric, and I have been able to do that,” said Laich on the strategy of a proper forecheck, that the Caps have been executing well the last couple of games.

That line, newly cobbled together for the Rangers game, has certainly been successful and the Capitals have dominated when they up the effort and execute the plan Laich described.

Now the Caps go on the road for three games in four nights, with the last tilt coming on Sunday in Motown. Washington has not beaten Montreal all season, they’ve lost in a shootout and then in overtime, but have dominated puck possession in each of those contests. Canadiens goalie Carey Price is likely the only thing standing between Ovechkin and his fourth Hart Trophy, at this point.

But individual trophies are not what the Gr8 cares about, at this juncture in his career. It’s all about the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Caps need three more wins to qualify without worrying about what their opponents are doing, so a strong road trip is paramount. Keeping up their effort and forecheck are the keys to victory on this upcoming trip.

Notes: Carolina out shot attempted the Caps 45-42. It was 11-7 in period three, but the Canes had the games only two power plays in that final frame…shots on goal in the 3rd period were 5-1 for Carolina…the Caps PK has been successful on its’ last 14 attempts…Washington won the face off battle, 29-24. Nicklas Backstrom was 9-5…Tim Gleason was +3 in 16:51 of ice time and had a strong effort against his former teammates…Ovechkin only played 15:13. That’s down due to the lack of power plays.






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Holtby Blanks Boston in Key Caps Victory

Posted on 15 March 2015 by Ed Frankovic

After Friday night’s debacle to the Dallas Stars, things were not good in Washington Capitals land. They lacked effort and intensity in arguably their worst performance of the season and were 1-3 on a five game home stand. Following the loss their head coach, Barry Trotz, told the team to “fix it.”

On Sunday night against the Boston Bruins, who had tied them with 82 standings points following their blanking of the Penguins on Saturday afternoon, the Caps gave one of their best efforts of the campaign. Braden Holtby, who was pulled in the loss on Friday, was superb in net stopping all 32 shots he faced and frustrated a chippy Beantown club en route to a 2-0 victory.

Nicklas Backstrom added two helpers to take over the franchise all time assist lead and Alex Ovechkin, despite having no points, was on the ice and a factor in both Washington tallies. In addition to the Caps stars showing up, the lunch pail guys brought their game with a vengeance, including second year man Tom Wilson who was physical on the puck and had the Bruins going after him all night. In fact it was Willie’s big hit on Ryan Spooner that angered Brad “the Rat” Marchand, who promptly jumped #43 and took a two minute minor that should have been at least four minutes (bad zebras, once again).

John Carlson would laser a point shot by Tuukka Rask, who is now 0-4-2 in his career at the Verizon Center, on the resulting power play to give the Capitals a key 1-0 lead. Boston, who has been red hot lately, had scored the first goal in their last 11 contests.

The Caps would dominate the first two periods and Nate Schmidt would post the only other marker in the middle frame on a point blast that hit Greg Campbell and went in. It was a lucky bounce, but usually in sports the team that works harder gets the bounces. The Capitals were the harder working club on Sunday, something that was not the case in their previous two losses.

This game probably should’ve been over after 40 minutes but Rask was very good and kept his club alive for a potential third period push. Despite two power plays and pulling their goalie late, the Bruins just couldn’t get the biscuit past Holtby. Boston tried everything, including having Milan Lucic slash him and do whatever he could to rattle #70, but Holtbeast simply ignored #17 and stoned the Bruins attempts with solid positioning and a super glove hand. The Caps, who were missing Brooks Orpik on the blue line for the third straight tilt, did a good job of keeping the Bruins to the outside and only allowed nine shots on the cage in the final frame. For the night, the Capitals frustrated Boston by blocking 26 shot attempts.

This was a huge victory because Washington now moves back into the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference standings and they are seven points up on the streaking Ottawa Senators (11-1-1 in their last 13 games), who are in 9th place behind Boston. The Caps are just four and six points behind the Penguins and Islanders, respectively, in the Metropolitan Division. A victory on Monday night in Buffalo would get the Capitals even closer to those teams and more importantly, closer to clinching a playoff spot. The Caps have 12 games remaining so a win against the Sabres would put them at 86 points and 95 should be enough to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So, just 48 hours after a dismal performance and the potential for doom and gloom, the Capitals went out and beat a strong Boston Bruins club in a heavy and physical contest. It was a super team performance backed by stellar goaltending from Holtby, who earned his 8th shutout of the season.

The club only earned two points for the victory, but this one seems bigger and sets the team up well to get to the playoff dance that they so badly want to make and then excel in.

Notes: The Caps outshot the Bruins 38-32 but Boston won the shot attempt battle, 70-63. The Bruins had four power plays to just one for the Caps, which doesn’t add up based on the Caps dominating much of the play. Unblocked shot attempts had the Caps up 53-44…the Capitals lost the faceoff battle, 36-27. Patrice Bergeron is the best draw man in the NHL and he went 18-7…Matt Niskanen led Washington in ice time with 25:00.



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Caps Lose Game & Season Series to the Flyers

Posted on 22 February 2015 by Ed Frankovic


That is the Capitals final 2014-15 record against the Philadelphia Flyers following Sunday’s 3-2 defeat in Filthy.

That is unacceptable to Capitals fans, plain and simple.

The good news is despite the lousy and very lackluster efforts the Caps exhibited versus their despised rivals from up I-95, Washington will return to the post season this spring while Claude Giroux and company will most likely start slapping Titleist’s around once the regular season ends.

Still, Sunday’s effort was terrible, especially the first period. Perhaps the fact that some crazy Flyers fan pulled the fire alarm at the team hotel at 1:30 am messed the Capitals up today and caused them to play a sleepy game? Or maybe the Flyers match up well with the Caps? Or perhaps the line up that Coach Barry Trotz iced today caused the team to be out of sync?

I’ll go with questions number one and number three from above.

The Flyers are not a good team and their defense is weak. The Capitals should cream these guys assuming they stay out of the box.

There’s one big problem from Sunday, the Caps took too many early penalties and as a result the Flyers scored their first two goals on the power play, the second of which was on a five on three, to take a 2-0 lead.

As for the Washington power play, well it stunk to high heaven on Sunday going 0 for 5 against the 28th ranked PK unit in the league.  Assistant coach Blaine Forsythe has some work to do with that group because too many pucks were being forced to Alex Ovechkin when there were other openings. The team also needs to learn to just simplify and shoot with traffic. The 6 on 4 at the end of the game was absolutely putrid.

It also helps if you have your line up in sync and the one Trotz put out there on Sunday smelled like the city they were playing in. Out was Andre Burakovsky and in went Michael Latta. A top line that dominated on Saturday against the Islanders until the coaches stopped playing them late in regulation was transformed into one that started with Jay Beagle on right wing, but he took a penalty on the opening shift. Marcus Johansson, who was subpar on line number two on Saturday, then moved to the top unit thereafter and didn’t play well there either.

In addition, Cameron Schilling was put in on the third defensive pairing while Jack Hillen was scratched. Trotz told the media afterwards that they are evaluating depth options on defense in preparation for next Monday’s trade deadline (March 2nd). So I’m okay with that one, but the Burakovsky move and subsequent domino effect is a head scratcher.

In the last seven games that #65 has played the Capitals are 7-0-0 and he is a +8, with no minus games. Burakovsky has been strong on the puck and has the high end talent to play with the highly skilled Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The analytics seem to support the value Burakovsky provides to the team’s puck possession statistics, as well. On the contrary, when Jason Chimera has been in the lineup the last six times the Caps are 3-3 and he is -2 with no plus games. Still, there we were late in the Flyers game down a goal and Chimera is out on the power play while Burakovsky is up eating nachos in the press box. In addition, Chimera had 1:27 of man advantage time while Eric Fehr received none. Makes little sense to me.

Thankfully there are only eight days until the trade deadline and then after that the Capitals hopefully finalize their roster and stop with this revolving door of a lineup. Washington needs to build some continuity and confidence over the last month plus of the season so they are ready for the playoffs in a wide open Eastern Conference.

On Sunday, they did nothing of the sort and Michael Del Zotto, who was key in the Rangers playoffs series wins over the Caps in 2012 and 2013, scored the game winner to send Washington with their tails between their legs on the train back to DC.

Trotz has done a lot of good things with this team in bringing them together, getting them to commit to the new system, getting Braden Holtby back on track, and solidifying the blue line, but when it comes to lineup choices and stability as well as late game decision making, that’s where he and his staff need to improve if the Capitals want to go deep in the post season.

Make no mistake about this, the Capitals are an infinitely better team than they were a season ago under the horrible Adam Oates experiment that was made worse by some terrible personnel moves by the departed George McPhee. Trotz and GM Brian MacLellan have done a super job of turning things around. Kudos to them for what they’ve done and the high expectations the fan base has are a result of their immediate success.

However, everyone can improve and there are still no Stanley Cup banners hanging from the Verizon Center ceiling. This team has the potential to make a run at the Cup but they have to properly use their assets. The coaching staff has done a lot of good things, but they can still be better. Hopefully they are learning what doesn’t work when leading, like shortening the bench and not playing Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin, who are top puck possessors. In addition, icing the best possible lineup is something that can be improved upon, which means putting skill players like Burakovsky in the top six and slotting the bottom six guys where they belong.

1-2-1 against the Flyers. I don’t like it at all.

But Wednesday they have a chance to go 4-0 against the Penguins. Doing that would make the fan base feel a lot better about their despicable performance against the Flyers this season.

Still, it’s all about the playoffs and that’s where the coaches need to be focused and improve in the aforementioned areas.

Notes: The Caps fall to 33-18-10 and back to 4th place in the Metropolitan Division…Ovechkin led the Caps in ice time with 23:46, but he and Backstrom were held pointless…Holtby made 25 saves and appeared to be interfered with on the game winning goal, but that was set up by a terrible Capitals line change that gave Del Zotto far too much room…shot attempts were even at 54 for this one but the Flyers had more on net, 28-23.

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Caps Smell Up the Joint in Loss to Flyers

Posted on 08 February 2015 by Ed Frankovic

All season long I’ve praised the Washington Capitals from the coaching staff to the players, and rightly so.

They’ve done a lot of good things to turn what was a train wreck following the 2013-14 season into a year that should translate back into playoff hockey again in these parts.

Having said that, this team is going nowhere in the post season if Sunday is any indication of the way they will coach and play come April.

Starting with Coach Barry Trotz to his assistants to the players themselves, they were downright AWFUL on Sunday against the Flyers.

Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers, the most despised team in Washington Capitals history.

To top it off, they not only turned in their worst performance of the season against their arch rivals, they did it on Smokin’ Al Koken day, who has put in a stellar 30 years of covering this franchise.


It started with lousy lineup decisions, continued with lackluster play, and finished with poor in game adjustments and player deployments.

It was so bad and terrible that I don’t know where to start, but losing to those punks from up I-95 means more than just two points lost, in my book.

In addition, a chance to bury the Flyers for good and catch the Penguins in the standings went by the wayside.

So to Barry and the boys: You Really Stunk on Sunday!

Do you understand what this match up means to the fan base?

If so, you sure as heck didn’t play like it.

I’m still scratching my head.

Seriously, what was that lineup? I understand why Andre Burakovsky, who was playing extremely well on the second line, was scratched Friday (so goalie Philipp Grubauer could come up and start), but to sit him today and keep Jason Chimera on the second line was mind boggling. To top it off, Chimera received 4:06 of power play time while better players named Brooks Laich and Eric Fehr received hardly any. That’s just bad player deployment.

Chimera is exactly what he is, a bottom six forward. Burakovsky has the potential to be a star in this league and has been gradually improving. Given the lack of assets that will likely be available at the NHL trade deadline, now is the time to be developing #65, not sitting him while trying to showcase a guy who everyone in the league already knows is a bottom six forward.

Burakovsky helped set up both of the first goals for Washington in the Kings and Senators games, but what did that get him? Two straight scratches! What are these coaches thinking? Play the man!

There was ZERO reason to have both Chimera and Michael Latta in over Burakovsky, end of story.

As for the guys who dressed, they probably didn’t need to shower afterwards given the lack of effort. The Caps had only 14 shots on net and they had SIX power plays (the zebras seemed to be in the Caps corner for once, perhaps trying to help Smokin’ Al get his due on his day?). That shot total is just AWFUL.

It was clear that the Flyers were well prepared for the Caps. They blocked the typical zone entries on the power play and took away the usual passing lanes. The Caps coaching staff made no good in game adjustments. In addition to having Chimera on for too much PP time, they also had Tom Wilson on in the final stages of the game. So what did he do with the game still within reach? He took a stupid boarding penalty. #43 has been regressing lately so why are you playing him over Burakovsky, as well?

Bottom line, all of the coaches and the entire team should endure a massive bag skate tomorrow before they get ready to head for the West Coast.

They probably also should give the fans who attended the game and paid money to watch that garbage performance some kind of a future discount or some pay back for the bad hockey.

Being prepared and bringing it against a team that you despise is a prerequisite for a franchise that wants to win their division and go deep in the playoffs.

On Sunday, the Capitals showed us that they maybe aren’t the team we thought they were by losing to a bad hockey team in the Flyers.

It was ugly, pitiful hockey and coaching and they all should FEEL SHAME!

Notes: Flyers goalie Steve Mason was injured mid game and replaced by Ray Emery. The Caps failed to take advantage of that…Alex Ovechkin had the only Caps goal, on the PP, his 33rd of the season..the ice at the Verizon Center was worse than usual…Washington heads out west for three games in California and then a stop in Pittsburgh on the way back…Matt Niskanen fought and beat up Scott Laughton. The Flyer felt he needed some retribution for skating with his head down and getting his clock cleaned in the game on January 14th. It’s a stupid modern day hockey code that clean hits apparently have to be answered by a fight. It makes me sick, puke, blah…very much like today’s game.


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Kuznetsov Shines in Caps Shootout Victory

Posted on 06 February 2015 by Ed Frankovic

Caps fans have been waiting a long time for Evgeny Kuznetsov to deliver on the promise that so many hockey fans saw when he carried Team Russia on his back to win the 2012 Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships. Lately, that skill, ability, and desire to dominate has begun to show up on a more regular basis.

On Friday, against the team with the best record in the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks, #92 set up both Capitals goals with amazing passes and he also notched a marker in the shootout to lead his squad to a 3-2 win over Bruce Boudreau’s boys. It was a big win for Washington after playing in Ottawa on Thursday night and they improve to 28-15-10 (66 points). For the Capitals this was their third win in a row and they take on “you know who” on Sunday to try and gain a four game winning streak for the first time this season. But more on those punks from up I-95 in a few paragraphs.

Philip Grubauer was recalled to face the Ducks after the Caps had to travel from the Great White North late last night. #31 was very solid in net and the team played well in front of him. Sure, the 2nd goal he allowed was weak, but overall Gru did what this squad needed, stop enough pucks so they could finally win a game without Braden Holtby in net. Grubauer has been excellent in Hershey this year playing lots of minutes and Coach Barry Trotz stated that he’ll head back there tonight. The rationale for waiting so long to give Gru a game appears to be that Washington is trying to save as many recalls as possible for after the trade deadline, at least that is what Trotzy alluded to after the game.

Anyways, the schedule gets better going forward for Washington and as Caps ace beat writer Mike Vogel pointed out, the Caps played two recent stretches of 7 games in 11 nights and went 4-2-1 in each set. That is some very good hockey there.

Speaking of good hockey, Troy Brouwer had another outstanding game making the diving keep in of the night to allow Kuznetsov to set up Jason Chimera for an easy 1st goal. Then #20’s screen in front on Ilya “Humongous” Bryzgalov allowed John Carlson to score what should’ve been the game winner in regulation.

But Corey Perry got a cheapie on Grubauer, he’s a great goal scorer so you expect #10 to get the bounces, and he did on that play (Grubauer needed to have the post covered better too). That forced overtime and then “the gimmick.”

The Caps were 1-4 in the shootout and the Ducks 7-4 coming in so, go figure, Washington won this one.

Overall, this was a slower than normal game as both teams showed the wear and tear of playing Thursday. Both were missing superstars as the Ducks were without Ryan Getzlaf and the Capitals scratched Mike Green very late, presumably due to complications from the ugly knee-to-knee hit he took from Chris Phillips the night before. The referees didn’t call that one and they only whistled the clubs for three infractions on Friday, and you probably can guess who had fewer power plays (starts with C and rhymes with Saps).

Speaking of saps, the Philadelphia Flyers come to town on Sunday afternoon. The club formerly known as the Broad Street Bullies is on a recent hot streak, going 6-3-1 over their last 10 tilts. Their best players are Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and both give the Capitals fits. Wayne Simmonds is the Flyers chief punk these days and Philadelphia may be looking for retribution after Matt Niskanen put Flyers forward Scott Laughton into March with a clean, open ice hit back on January 14th. It’s no secret that the Flyers are the Capitals longest and most despised rival so these games, no matter the records of the teams, always carry a little extra meaning. Most Caps fans, in a voice like Newman from Seinfeld lore, would say, “I deeespise the Flyers!” Who can forget those old brawls at the Capital Centre where the arena had to call in extra security to police all of the drunken fights in the stands? Ah, memories.

Anyways, this is a chance for Washington to really bury their long time rivals in the standings. Philly lost last time in Washington, 1-0, but the Capitals hung on for dear life in that one. You can bet there will be a buzz in the air on Sunday and hopefully there won’t be too much orange in the crowd. There’s a good chance they’ll be some scraps on the ice too, particularly since the Flyers tend to play dirty, especially when they are losing.

It should be a great game and it’s also a celebration on television for long time Caps announcer Smokin’ Al Koken. Smokin’ is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and I’ve known him since he came to town 30 years ago. Koken will spend a period in each of the different broadcasting roles on Sunday: play by play, analyst, and rink reporter. Al is a super guy and I know he’d like nothing more than for Washington to defeat their biggest rival on his special day.

Game time is 3 pm on Sunday, so go ahead and start your tailgating right away.

Notes: Washington dominated the shot attempt battle, 64-51…the Caps also out shot the Ducks, 34-25…Kuznetsov had two assists and was +2 in 18:30 of ice time…Niskanen played 28:51 to lead all players in ice time…Washington won the face off battle, 34-30. Eric Fehr went 9-3…Nicklas Backstrom didn’t have one of his better games but he notched the shootout winner…after starting 1-14-6, the Caps have now won two games in a row when allowing the first goal of the game…Andre Burakovsky was sent to Hershey due to the Grubauer recall since he is able to go down to the AHL without requiring waivers. #65 will return on Saturday and play on Sunday against the Flyers..Cam Schilling played on D for Green and was +1 in 13:42 of ice time.



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Hey Barry, More Mike Green Please

Posted on 21 January 2015 by Ed Frankovic

As improved as the Washington Capitals have been this season under Coach Barry Trotz, the Caps ability to play with a lead and close out games has remained quite a question mark. Witness Tuesday night’s despicable shootout loss to the lowly Edmonton Oilers.

In that game, the Capitals led, 4-2, with five minutes remaining. The Caps had dominated the game and appeared in good position to get a nice victory heading into the All Star Break.

But the coach shortened the bench, like Trotz has done on numerous occasions this season, in an attempt to put what he thought were his best defensive players on the ice in order to close out the game. Part of that strategy included not playing Mike Green (and his defensive partner) over the last the five minutes in regulation.

Green is the best skater, passer, and puck possession defensemen on the roster. So why was he not on the ice when it seems you’d want a guy like that out there?

In fact, #52 has “sat the pine” in each of the three previous games in which the Caps had a slim lead late, as evidenced by the data below:

1 shift for only 12 seconds in the last 6 minutes versus Philly (1-0 lead)

1 shift for 44 seconds in the last 7 minutes versus Colorado (2-1 lead)

0 shifts in last 5 minutes versus Detroit (3-1 lead)

In each of those three games the Capitals were heavily out shot late and just hung on to win. Trotz went to that well, not playing Green, again last night and failed miserably.

It’s often stated in sports “that the best defense is a good offense.”

Trotz has called Green the Caps “X-Factor” for a reason. When he’s on his game, and he’s pretty much mostly been that way all season, he can carry a team. Former Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t call him “The One Man Breakout” for nothing.

I can understand not wanting to put the 6th defensemen (Jack Hillen) on the ice late in games. But not playing Hillen doesn’t also mean you have to sit a player of Green’s calibre too.

Why not go to a five defensemen rotation late in games? After all, playing just four D for the last five minutes has to wear out the guys who are playing and decrease their probability of getting the puck out of the zone, right?

If Green’s on the ice, chances are greater that the puck will be in the offensive end of the rink. He’s faster than the other four D so isn’t he more likely to get to the dump-ins and loose pucks than Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, and Karl Alzner?

Green has four goals and 23 assists this season including a goal and 14 assists in his last 16 games.

Bottom line, the Capitals are a better team with Mike Green on the ice, it’s a part of the reason the club is getting the lead in so many games.

Sure he’s prone to a big turnover every now and then, or “The Big Mistake”, as our friends over at Japers Rink call it.

But to me the Big Mistake is not having Green on the ice late in games. Get him out there more often and the Caps should find it much easier to close out more victories.


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