Tag Archive | "caps"

20 year old Andre Burakovsky takes center stage with two goals in less than five minutes.

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Burakovsky, Holtby Help Caps Take 3-1 Series Lead

Posted on 07 May 2015 by Ed Frankovic

After picking up an assist on Monday night’s game winning goal in game 3, rookie Andre Burakovsky took it to another level on Wednesday night scoring both Washington goals to give the Caps a come from behind 2-1 victory, and more importantly help them take a 3-1 series lead.

Young Burra was the game’s number one star, but Braden Holtby was right behind the 20 year old stopping 28 of 29 shots, including a penalty shot by Carl Hagelin in the third period to earn the second star.

At the other end of the rink, Henrik Lundqvist played stellar saving 28 of 30 shots to get the game’s third star. He also received some help from the post in period three when Joel Ward came very close to making it 3-1 after a good point shot from Brooks Orpik.

The Rangers came out flying in the opening frame, as they’ve done all series, and outshot attempted the Caps, 26-14. When it came to shots on goal, though, it was only 13-8. Coach Barry Trotz commented on his team’s start afterwards stating, “I liked our 1st period better…we didn’t get anything, but they didn’t get anything either.”

Trotz was correct and in the middle frame the Caps were the better team, but they fell behind first by allowing a Rangers rush that Derrick Brassard finished. It was another stretch pass that New York likes to use because of its’ speed and it worked on this play. It also clicked again in the third period when Hagelin broke free and Mike Green had no choice but to hook him leading to Holtby’s penalty shot glove save.

Once it was 1-0 Rangers, the Capitals took over for most of period two, outshot attempting New York, 22-16. Burakovsky’s first goal came as a result of forechecking pressure that led to a turnover by Chris Kreider. The young Swede moved to the center of the slot and with Mark Staal diving to the ice and putting himself out of position, Burakovsky ripped one by Lundqvist.

Shortly thereafter, #65 nearly gave the Caps the lead when he was all alone in front after a great pass from John Carlson, but Lundqvist somehow got his shoulder on the shot. But Burakovsky would make no doubt about things just 24 seconds into period three as he stole the puck at the offensive blue line and went in alone on King Henrik and beat him with a sweet backhander.

At that point the Verizon Center went nuts. The Caps would have some intermittent pressure, but most of the last 19 minutes were spent in the Washington end as the Rangers tried everything to score. They had a penalty shot and also started a post whistle melee that, to no one’s surprise, didn’t lead to a Caps power play. In fact, the Caps ended up losing Tom Wilson to a misconduct for 10 minutes because he pulled down Keith Yandle after #93 hit Willy in the back of the head a couple of times. Coach Trotz said afterwards that referee Brad Watson came over to tell him why only Wilson received the misconduct, but Trotz said he couldn’t make out what “Wats” said because it was just too loud in the Verizon Center.

Loud it was and the Capitals crowd did another super job of giving the Washington players extra energy down the stretch to close the victory out. The Caps did another good job of keeping the Rangers on the perimeter and Holtby only had to stop nine shots on net out of 24 shot attempts in the last 20 minutes. For the game, the Capitals blocked 25 shots, including a huge one from Karl Alzner in the last two minutes.

This was superb goaltending and great team defense once again by the Capitals.

It’s also another victory where someone other than Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom stepped up to be the offensive hero.

So now it’s on to game five on Friday night at Madison Square Garden. The fourth victory is always the hardest to obtain so the Caps have their work cut out for them against the Presidents’ Trophy winners. New York was down three games to one to Pittsburgh in the second round last year before rallying, so this series is far from done.

The Caps will need to weather the storm in the opening frame and stick to their system to try and grind out another hard fought victory like they did in games three and four at the Verizon Center.

Notes: Washington won the face off battle, 38-29. Backstrom was 16-10…Ovechkin only had seven shot attempts but five of them were on goal…the Caps out hit the Rangers, 37-31…Washington had 25 blocked shots to just seven for the Rangers. Orpik blocked a team high six…The Caps played with only 3 defensemen for about a minute in period three in a four on four situation. Gleason and Green were in the box after the big melee and then Orpik was called for holding, but he took Brassard off with him (slashing). Orpik stated that the even up call was correct.

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Braden Holtby records his 2nd career playoff shutout as the Caps take a 2-1 series lead.

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Holtby Stones the Rangers in Game 3

Posted on 05 May 2015 by Ed Frankovic

Well, they don’t call him “Holtbeast” for nothing.

On Monday night at the Verizon Center Braden Holtby was an absolute beast in net stopping all 30 shots he faced allowing Jay Beagle’s second period marker to stand up for a 1-0 Caps victory.

Washington now leads the best of seven series, 2-1, with game four on Wednesday at the Verizon Center (7:30 pm).

This was an exciting hockey game to watch. There was end to end action that had fans on the edge of their seats. New York played one of their better games of the post season and did a solid job of hemming the Capitals in their own end on several occasions, especially at the beginning of the first period and for good chunks of the third period.

On the flip side, the Caps had portions of this tilt where they carried the play, particularly in the middle frame. Through 40 minutes the shot attempt totals were 41-36 in favor of New York before the Rangers threw the kitchen sink at the Caps in the last 20 minutes, outshot attempting them, 28-13.

Many of those 28 shots were from the perimeter as the Capitals defense did an excellent job of clogging the shooting lanes and protecting the front of the net. Holtby faced only 10 shots on net despite the 28 attempts.

On the back end, Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner were absolutely fabulous in 25:56 and 21:00, respectively. I thought it was both players best game of the post season and they were dominant on the ice.

Home ice was huge in this contest for three primary reasons.

First, the Verizon Center crowd provided energy to the players. Andre Burakovsky told me afterwards that Unleash the Fury is his favorite part of the in game segments because it makes the fans go crazy and it provides the team with energy. Washington’s crowd was outstanding, once again.

Second, it allowed Coach Barry Trotz to get the on ice matchups he desired. All four Capitals lines skated fairly well and Tom Wilson, playing with Curtis Glencross and Brooks Laich, had his best playoff game ever. “Willy” was particularly strong on the wall and with the puck in period two.

Third, the Capitals players are able to place their stick down second on face offs and as a result, Washington went 40-18 on draws. Coach Trotz particularly noticed the face off wins and praised both Jay Beagle (10-2) and Nicklas Backstrom (15-5).

This was a more physical game for the Rangers and they doled out 31 hits, including six from Chris Kreider. New York is a talented and fast team so it was a bit surprising to see them play the more heavy style, at times, but this is the playoffs. Washington had 39 hits and it should have been 40. Wilson was whistled for boarding James Sheppard shortly after nearly the same type of hit was used by Rick Nash on Brooks Orpik and, of course, not called.

The Capitals received two early power plays but they didn’t connect. They had some good chances but Nicklas Backstrom noted that the ice made things tough. Given the mid 80’s temperatures, it was no surprise that the sheet was not good. On the PK, the Caps were fantastic in only allowing three shots on net in two Blueshirts man advantage situations.

As for the referees, they were better calling each team for the two penalties. I didn’t like the way the boarding “no call then call” sequence went, but overall they let the players decide the game.

So the Capitals, behind the stellar goaltending of Holtby, now have a chance to take a 3-1 lead on the Rangers if they win on Wednesday.

Coach Trotz has not liked any of the first periods that the Caps have played in this series. With the Rangers facing the prospect of going down three games to one, you can bet they’ll be flying on Wednesday.

It’s up to the Caps to answer the bell and not provide the Rangers with any momentum.

Notes: Beagle scored his goal at 27:31 from below the goal line. He banked the puck off of Keith Yandle and Henrik Lundqvist (21 saves)…Alex Ovechkin had eight shots attempts and five hits…Niskanen blocked seven shots…Troy Brouwer was awarded the team’s Honest Abe award for his work that led to the only goal of the game.

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The Rangers start fast and get a trio of 1st period power plays to win game two.

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Poor Start, Rangers Intimidation of Officials Dooms Caps in Game Two

Posted on 02 May 2015 by Ed Frankovic

After a big win in game one, the Washington Capitals needed to be prepared for a Rangers onslaught to start game two.

They weren’t.

Just 38 seconds into the contest the Rangers buzzed the Caps net and Chris Kreider ultimately put the biscuit past Braden Holtby after a couple of rebounds. It was an ugly start and something Coach Barry Trotz was hoping to avoid in an unfriendly early start time.

After that though, the Capitals settled down and played decently getting a great look by Alex Ovechkin on Henrik Lundqvist and a couple of others before the referees took over. Zebras Dan O’Rourke and Dan O’Halloran would call three consecutive penalties on the Caps and New York would grab a 2-0 lead after period one.

What’s upsetting is that I predicted this in my blog after game 1 and on the radio on Friday morning on WNST. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault, a noted whiner who has a history of getting his team to dive all over the ice to garner penalty calls, singled out Nicklas Backstrom’s clean hit on Dan Boyle in game one as dirty and for some reason, probably because insufferable NY Post writer Larry Brooks keeps writing about it, Ovechkin’s hit on Thomas Hickey from the Islanders series. Vigneault whined incessantly on Friday about a “standard” being set by the league on hits from behind.

Well, far be it for anyone to even fictitiously impact the NHL’s darlings, so naturally the calls were going to go the Rangers way in game two, early and often. The interference penalty on Karl Alzner in the neutral zone was an absolute joke, especially when the Rangers, who constantly interfered with the Penguins in round one, got away with a couple of those that were far worse than what Alzner supposedly did in the first eight minutes.

Shortly thereafter, “Goalie Injurer” Kreider put the Gr8 in a serious headlock in a post whistle scrum and was whistled for absolutely nothing. What a joke.

The Caps would kill off the Alzner phantom call, but then Carl Hagelin went down like he was hit by sniper fire behind the Capitals net when Joel Ward put his stick on him and power play number two arrived for New York. The Caps might have killed off their 18th straight power play of the playoffs if not for O’Halloran getting in the way of Troy Brouwer’s clear, which allowed Boyle to keep the puck in the zone and eventually score.

Tom Wilson would be called for charging Ryan McDonagh and that was actually a good call because #43 came up off of his skates before contact.

So that’s three calls for the Rangers when there should have been only one or possibly two and none for the Caps when there were at least three New York infractions.

But, when you play in New York and the media will make up whatever they can to support the crying coach in the paper, then the officials and the NHL are easily intimidated and end up against the Rangers opponents.

Starting in period two, the Capitals would dominate the majority of play. They stormed back furiously in that middle frame but only scored on a put back by Evgeny Kuznetsov after a good shot by Jason Chimera. The Caps fired 16 shots on the Rangers in that stanza, but somehow weren’t awarded a single power play.

In period three, Washington started strong and finally got their first power play when interference was called on Derrick Brassard, who instantly whined to the referees that it was a bad call. The Caps would get several good looks, but Lundqvist stood tall and then when the penalty expired the Capitals had a major defensive breakdown allowing Brassard to make it 3-1 from the doorstep.

Ovechkin would then score one of his highlight reel goals to make it 3-2. It’s interesting because the Gr8 was clearly tripped on the play and scored while falling to the ice. On replay, the referee closest to the play doesn’t even raise his arm to call the tripping infraction, so it’s a good thing the Gr8 scored because surely the Capitals would not have gotten a second straight power play.

Washington would press more in the final period, but then the Vigneault dive academy paid off again when Keith Yandle went down like he was shot from the blue seats when Brouwer’s stick hit him in the upper chest area. The intimidated zebras fell for it again calling high sticking while also failing to signal #93 for blatant embellishment. Sure Brouwer can be more careful with his stick, but that was nowhere close to being a penalty as the spear to the neck by Tanner Glass in game one on Holtby. Wasn’t a “standard” set on that play??!!

Again, what a joke, and at that point I started wondering if Oliver Stone was in the building making a movie on the Rangers.

The Caps would kill that off and not quit. For the last two minutes they put massive pressure on the Rangers, but somehow failed to get the equalizer.

New York was literally saved by the bell plus the officials, and has knotted this series up heading back to DC for games three and four.

Overall, the Caps have themselves to blame for the poor first few shifts, but Vigneault and the New York media really should take great joy in how they managed to intimidate the league and its’ officials to gain three opening frame power plays. For the game, it was four power plays to one for the Rangers. So chalk this victory up to the whine of the Rangers bench boss and the New York media.

It’s amazing Vigneault and the NY papers were allowed to get away with this given the numerous missed infractions on the Rangers in game one, to include Glass’ spearing of Holtby, Dominic Moore boarding Curtis Glencross from behind in period one (Vigneault conveniently left that one out of his “standard”), and Kreider sticking out his knee in an attempt to injure Holtby. But the NHL treats the Rangers like choir boys and gives them the “kid glove” treatment.

Frankly, it’s quite sickening, but with the league centered in New York, you can bet they’ll just keep on taking care of their “little darlings.”

So the Capitals will not only have to beat New York, but the guys in stripes too.

Notes: Shot attempts were 63-60 for New York, but they had three more power play opportunities. Shots on net were 35-32 for the Rangers…Ovechkin had 11 shots attempts, nine hits, and his goal in 19:49 of ice time…the Caps won the face off battle, 31-27. Brooks Laich went 5-1…no player on either team logged over 23 minutes. These are two clubs that play four lines and three defensive pairs nearly the entire game.

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The Caps score with 1.3 seconds remaining to grab a 1-0 series lead over the Rangers

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Alex Ovechkin Delivers in Caps Game 1 Victory

Posted on 30 April 2015 by Ed Frankovic

All hail Alexander Ovechkin!

The Gr8, after scoring the Caps first goal on the power play on a laser of shot that was so hard you had to watch the replay to see it go in, set up Joel Ward’s game winning tally from behind the Rangers net with 1.3 seconds remaining to give Washington a 2-1 victory and a 1-0 series lead.

The pass by Ovechkin came after he was hauled down by Dan Boyle, which allowed Boyle to gain possession of the puck in the corner. Boyle tried to run the clock out but was hit hard and clean by Nicklas Backstrom to jar the puck loose to Ovi. Ovechkin skated behing the net and then centered a sweet pass into the slot where Ward, who had hit the post earlier from the doorstep, shot it by Henrik Lundqvist (27 saves). Game over.

Wow, what a hockey game!

The Rangers won the Presidents’ Trophy this season for obvious reasons and they have a fast skating team, but also some players with good size too.

Braden Holtby (31 saves) kept Washington in it early until the Caps finally got their legs going around the eight minute mark of period one.

Ovechkin’s power play marker at 18:13 of the first period looked like it might hold up as the game winner, but Washington struggled for long stretches in the final frame before Jesper Fast deflected Kevin Hayes shot by Holtby with 4:39 remaining.

The Caps did generate 11 shots on net in the final frame but they were not able to get a consistent forecheck going and that allowed the Rangers to use their speed and get the Washington defense on their heels. Sitting back is not a strategy the Capitals want to employ and Coach Barry Trotz commented afterwards that he didn’t think the Caps played well on Thursday (h/t @alexprewitt).

But Holtby was super in net and the Caps did a good job of keeping New York to the outside.

To beat the Rangers, the Capitals will need big performances from their star players and Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Holtby more than delivered in game one. Brooks Orpik and John Carlson were strong on the back end too.

Up front, the line of Brooks Laich, Curtis Glencross, and Tom Wilson did a solid job of putting pressure on the New York defense. Wilson (5 hits in 10:07), especially, had an excellent game.

Afterwards, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was incensed thinking Backstrom should have been whistled for a penalty on Boyle. Perhaps he should be more upset at Boyle for not moving the puck quicker? I’ve watched the replay several times and I’ve yet to see a penalty. Backstrom glides into Boyle, who turns and ducks his head, keeps his elbow down and hits Boyle on the right shoulder. But Vigneault has a history of whining to the officials and I’m sure the NY Post, who has already gone out of their way to “vilify” Tom Wilson and the Caps as dirty players, will likely have a field day Friday trying to help their home town team influence the NHL and the referees.

Hopefully the referees are smart enough to ignore the complaining that no doubt will come from the NHL’s “darlings.”

But back to hockey, as Trotz noted, the Capitals have a higher level they can get to in their play. They will need to do that on Saturday if they want to win game two. The biggest thing is to get their legs moving more and generate pressure on the New York defense. When the Caps buried the Rangers in their only regular season victory, they did so with a relentless forecheck.

Relentless are what the Capitals will have to be on a consistent basis to defeat a very fast and talented team.

Notes: Shot attempts were 65-60 for New York…Ovechkin had 12 shot attempts, Backstrom had five and Ward four as the Capitals top line was dominant…the Rangers won the face off battle, 34-27…Carlson led the Caps in ice time at 23:10 and Orpik logged 22:54.

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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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