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Jerry’s Collision Center Presents WNST Wizards Hoops Bustrip to D.C. vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (Feb. 20)

Posted on 05 December 2014 by WNST Trips

We’re trying to get more aggressive and do even more WNST trips to Wizards games in D.C. than usual this season but can only do these trips based on demand. If you love the Wizards and the NBA and don’t like the drive before and after games, our trips have an eight-year track record of being easy, fun and affordable. We appreciate you supporting all that we’re doing to grow the hoops  community in Baltimore. If you know of other NBA and Wizards fans in Baltimore, please help us spread the word and fill some buses with hoops fans.

All aboard another Jerry’s Collision Center WNST Wizards Bus to D.C. as Washington takes on Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. Our Gunther Motorcoach will depart from the White Marsh Mall at 4:30 p.m. with a pickup from Catonsville/UMBC I-95 Park N Ride (at Rt. 166) at 5 p.m. All tickets are upper level in the Verizon Center and include a limited supply of cold beer (for those 21-and-over) en route and snacks, soft drinks and fun videos and giveaways.

We will be able to accommodate larger groups upon request and always keep groups together.

We hope you join us for a night of hoops and fun aboard the Jerry’s Collision Center WNST Wizards Bus to D.C. Families and children are welcomed and encouraged to join us! It’s a great night out!

Your PayPal receipt is your ticket and we always throw you an email 48 hours before the game to confirm everything. All you need to do is purchase and we’ll see you at the bus. We bring the game tickets with us. Nice and easy!

If you have any questions, throw me a note: nasty@wnst.net

COST: $125 per person

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Former Terp Johnny Rhodes Named ACC Legend

Posted on 09 February 2012 by WNST Staff

Johnny Rhodes Named An ACC Tournament Legend

Former Maryland guard one of 12 players selected to 2012 class

    GREENSBORO, N.C.— Johnny Rhodes, one of the most versatile players in Atlantic Coast Conference history, who helped lead Maryland back to national prominence in the mid-1990’s, has been selected to the 2012 class of ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament Legends.

    The 12-man class was announced Tuesday by Commissioner John Swofford and includes a member of the ACC’s 50th Anniversary basketball team, a National Player of the Year, three former All-Americas, six former All-ACC selections, ten former NBA Draft selections – including six first-round selections – and eight players who combined for 38 years of NBA experience.

    Rhodes, a native of Washington, D.C., is the ACC’s career steals leader and helped Maryland make three NCAA Tournament appearances in his four-year career. He is the only player in ACC history to score over 1,700 points (1,743) with over 700 rebounds (704), 400 assists (437) and 300 steals (344).

    Joining Rhodes in the class are former Wake Forest All-America Randolph Childress (Washington, D.C.), who led the Deacons to the 1995 ACC Championship, and former North Carolina All-America Kenny Smith (Queens, N.Y.), who led the Tar Heels to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and was named the National Player of the Year by Basketball Times in 1987.

    Also in the class are Boston College’s John Bagley (Stratford, Conn.), who was named a third-team (NABC) All-America in 1982; Clemson’s Sharone Wright (Macon, Ga.), a powerful post player for the Tigers who earned All-ACC honors in 1993 and 1994; Duke’s Kenny Dennard (King, N.C.), one of the key cogs of the Blue Devils 1978 Final Four team who helped lead Duke to ACC titles in 1978 and 1980; Florida State’s James Collins (Jacksonville, Fla), a high-scoring wingman who was a three-time All-ACC selection in 1995, 1996 and 1997; Georgia Tech’s Malcolm Mackey (Chattanooga, Tenn.), a powerful post player who helped lead Georgia Tech to ACC Championships in 1990 and 1993.

    Completing this year’s ACC Legends Class are Miami’s Ron Godfrey (Coral Springs, Fla.), an Honorable Mention All-America forward for the Hurricanes in the 1960’s who also served as head coach for four seasons; NC State’s Todd Fuller (Charlotte, N.C.), a prodigious presence in the paint for the Wolfpack who earned All-ACC honors in 1994, 1995, and 1996; Virginia’s Lee Raker (Louisville, Ky.), a versatile forward who helped lead the Cavaliers to the 1981 NCAA Final Four; and Virginia Tech’s Dale Solomon (Annapolis, Md.), a high-scoring forward who helped lead the Hokies to two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth.

   The Legends will be honored at this year’s ACC’s Men’s Basketball Tournament at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., March 8-11. They will be feted at the annual ACC Legends Brunch, which will be held Saturday, March 10, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel, and, later that day, will be introduced to the Philips Arena crowd at halftime of the first semifinal game. Ticket information for the ACC Legends Brunch is available on the ACC website at theACC.com.

   Rhodes (1992-96), the ACC’s career leader in steals, started four seasons for coach Gary Williams at Maryland, leading the Terrapins back to national prominence. An extremely versatile guard who played point or wing guard, Rhodes is the only player in ACC history to score over 1,700 points (1,743) with over 700 rebounds (704), 400 assists (437) and 300 steals (344). He helped the Terrapins post a 73-49 overall record during his four seasons in College Park, including three straight (1994, 95, 96) appearances in the NCAA Tournament. He was named to the 1993 ACC All-Freshman team, then earned 3rd-team All-ACC honors as a junior and 2nd-team All-ACC accolades as a senior in 1996. He still holds the ACC career record for steals per game (2.82), and his 110 steals and 3.7 steals per game in 1996 are still league standards. He totaled 704 rebounds in his career, the third-best mark by an ACC backcourtman, trailing only Georgia Tech’s Bruce Dalrymple (744) and Florida State’s Bob Sura (714). A native of Washington, D.C., Rhodes owns his own construction firm, Rhodes Construction, in the D.C. area, and is working towards starting the Johnny Rhodes Foundation.

   Bagley (1979-82), one of the top playmaking guards in Boston College history, played three seasons for the Eagles for Coach Dr. Tom Davis and led BC to a 64-27 record and one NIT and two NCAA tournament appearances. The first Eagle to earn Big East Player of the Year honors (1980-81), Bagley was an explosive scorer who averaged nearly 18 points per game and led BC in scoring in each of his three seasons at the Heights. A two-time All-Big East selection, he averaged 20.4 points per game in leading the Eagles to the 1980-81 Big East regular-season championship and the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. The following year, Bagley upped his production to 21.1 points per game and led BC to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight. He was named to the NCAA all-tournament teams for both the 1981 Mideast Regional and the 1982 Midwest Regional. Bagley left BC after his junior season and was the 12th overall pick in the first round by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1982 NBA Draft. He enjoyed an 11-year career in the NBA for the Cavaliers, the New Jersey Nets, the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. Inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995, he currently resides in Stratford, Conn., and is working to reintroduce athletics into the middle school system of his hometown, Bridgeport, Conn.

   Wright (1991-94), a dominating 6-11 presence in the low post for the teams of Coach Cliff Ellis in the early 1990’s, still ranks 5th on the ACC’s career list for blocked shots per game (3.13). An Honorable Mention All-America (AP) in 1994, he was one of 20 nominees for the Naismith Award that year. He led the ACC in blocked shots in 1992 and 1993 and finished 3rd in 1994. He ranked 6th on the Clemson career list for rebounds and 4th in rebounds per game. He still holds the Clemson single-season record for blocked shots (124) and was the only player in the ACC to average in double figures in points and rebounds in both 1994 and 1995. Named a Freshman All-America by Basketball Weekly in 1992, he was named a 3rd-team All-ACC selection in 1993 and 2nd-team honors in 1994. As a member of the U.S. team which participated in the 1993 World Games, he shot 73 percent from the field and averaged 10 points a game in leading the U.S. to the gold medal. He was the first Clemson player to declare early for the NBA Draft and was the 6th overall selection on the first round of the 1994 draft by the Philadelphia 76’ers. He played five seasons in the NBA with Philadelphia and Toronto and was named to the 1994-95 NBA All-Rookie team. His NBA career was cut short by a severe auto accident early in his fifth professional season. Wright currently resides in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., where he is involved in various basketball coaching projects.

   Dennard (1978-81), a versatile 6-8 forward who was effective inside or outside for the Duke teams of Bill Foster and Mike Krzyzewski of the late 1970’s and early ‘80s, helped lead Duke to the 1978 NCAA Final Four and two ACC Championships in 1978 and 1980. Dennard helped the Blue Devils compile a 90-37 record in his four seasons in Durham, including three NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth. He was named to the 1978 ACC All-Tournament second team in his freshman season. Dennard played three seasons for Bill Foster (1978-80) and one for Mike Krzyzewski and was named team captain in his senior season. Drafted in the 4th round of the 1981 NBA Draft by Kansas City, he played three seasons in the NBA for Kansas City (1982-83) and Denver (1984). He finished his career shooting 51.3 percent from the field and is one of seven Duke players who have totaled over 1,000 points (1,057), 650 rebounds (671) and 200 assists (232) in his career. A native of King, N.C., Dennard is the managing partner at Dennard, Rupp, Gray and Lascar, an investor relations firm based in Houston, Texas. He will be a 30-year cancer survivor this coming September and has served on the Coaches vs. Cancer National Council since 1996. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Nadine, for 27 years and they have a son, Mason (17).

    Collins (1993-97), a high-scoring wing guard for the Florida State teams of Pat Kennedy, was a three-time All-ACC honoree. Collins was named 3rd-team All-ACC in 1995 and 1996 and garnered 2nd-team honors as a senior in 1997. That year he led Florida State to a 20-12 record and to the finals of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) where they lost to Michigan. He completed his career as the third leading scorer in school history with 1,793 points. He also still ranks in the FSU all-time Top 10 for field goals (645), field goal attempts, three-point field goals made (255) and three-point field goals attempted (686) and made 37.1 percent of his shots from three-point range. Collins was drafted as the 36th overall pick by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2nd round of the 1997 NBA Draft. He played one season in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers (1998) and spent one year (1999) in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) before playing professionally nine seasons in Europe. A native of Jacksonville, Fla., he currently is the head basketball coach at his high school alma mater, Andrew Jackson High School in Jacksonville.

   Mackey (1990-93), Georgia Tech’s all-time leading rebounder who was a low post force for the Jackets both offensively and defensively, helped lead the Tech to a four-year record of 87-43 which included four NCAA Tournament appearances. Mackey completed his career with 1,205 rebounds, a total which ranks 11th-best in ACC history. He also had 199 career blocked shots, which ranks 26th on the ACC career list.  Mackey was named 2nd-team All-ACC in 1993 and 3rd-team All-ACC  in 1992. An Honorable Mention All-America in 1993 by United Press International, he was also a 2nd-team All-District in 1993 by the NABC. Mackey remains Tech’s career leader in rebounds (1,205), games played (130) and games started (127). He was named to the ACC All-Tournament teams in 1990 (3rd team) and 1992 (2nd team). He is the only Tech player to start for two ACC championship teams (1990,1993). The 27th overall pick in the first-round of the 1993 NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, he played one season in the NBA and 11 seasons professionally in the CBA, Europe, China and Puerto Rico. A native of Chattanooga, Tenn., he currently is the Internet Sales Manager at Hennessey GMC Buick and is also serving as a landlord for several properties in McDonough, Ga.

   Godfrey (1958-61), one of the finest forwards to play at Miami, was an honorable mention All-America as a senior in 1961. He finished his career ranked in the Top Ten in seven career categories in the Miami record book including 7th in points (1,384), 7th in field goals made (518), 6th in free throws made (384) and 7th in rebounds (767). Godfrey’s totals of 159 free throws made and 207 free throws attempted in 1960 still rank 5th and 6th in the Hurricane career lists. His total of 22 made free throws against Oklahoma City in 1960 is still tied with Rick Barry for the most made in a game by a Miami player. For his career, he averaged 17.5 points a game. Playing alongside former Miami All-America Dick Hickox, Godfrey helped lead the Hurricanes to their first-ever NCAA tournament bid in 1960 as the Canes finished with a sparkling 23-4 record. In his senior year, Godfrey led Miami to a 20-7 mark and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament. In his three varsity seasons, Godfrey helped the Hurricanes to a 61-18 record. As a coach, he guided Miami for four seasons, leading the Hurricanes to championships in the 1967 Hurricane Classic and the 1968 Marshall Tournament and was inducted into the Miami Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. A native of Martins Ferry, Ohio, he now resides in Coral Springs, Fla.

   Smith (1983-87), one of the top point guards in North Carolina basketball history, Smith ended his career second in ACC history only to Wake Forest’s Muggsy Bogues in career assists with 768, averaging 6.1 per for each of his 127 career games. His assist total still ranks ninth on the ACC’s career list.  Coached by the legendary Dean Smith, he helped lead North Carolina to a 115-19 record during his four varsity seasons. Smith also helped North Carolina to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the Elite Eight in both 1985 and 1987. He was named the National Player of the Year by Basketball Times in 1987 and also earned consensus first-team All-America honors that year. He was a 2nd-team All-ACC honoree in 1985 and 1986 and earned first-team honors as a senior in 1987. The 6th pick in the first round of the 1987 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings, he played 11 seasons in the NBA for Sacramento, Atlanta, Houston, Detroit, Orlando and Denver. A member of the 1988 NBA All-Rookie team while with Sacramento, he was a part of two NBA Championship squads (1994, 1995) while with the Houston Rockets. He scored 9,397 points (12.9 avg.), grabbed 1,424 rebounds (2.0 avg.) and passed out 4,073 assists (5.5 avg.) during his NBA career. In 1998, he joined Turner Sports and has since served as a basketball TV analyst for Turner Sports, NBA TV and CBS-TV for the NBA and for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. A native of Queens, N.Y. who attended Archbishop Molloy High School, he now resides in Atlanta, Ga.

   Fuller (1992-96), a strong low-post presence for the NC State teams of coach Les Robinson in the mid-1990s, led the ACC in scoring as a senior in 1996, averaging 20.9 points per game. The 6-11 center finished 4th in the ACC in rebounding in 1995 and 5th in 1996. He earned first-team All-ACC honors in as a senior in 1996 and was a third team choice as a sophomore (1994) and a second-team selection as a junior (1995). Also an excellent student, he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from NC State in 1996 in Applied Mathematics. He was named to the All-ACC Academic team in each of his four seasons and he was a two-time first-team Academic All-America, earning that honor in 1995 and 1996. He declined to accept the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship in order to play professional basketball. He was the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors and went on to play five seasons in the NBA with Golden State, Utah, Charlotte and Miami. He also played professionally six seasons in Spain, Poland, Greece and Australia. He sponsors an annual mathematics competition for Raleigh, N.C., area high school students through NC State, called the “Todd Fuller Math Competition.” He also has a scholarship fund arranged through the NC State Physical and Mathematical Sciences college. In 2007, the Wolfpack honored him by hanging his jersey, number 52, from the roof of the RBC Center.

   Raker (1977-81) combined with high school teammate Jeff Lamp and Virginia All-America Ralph Sampson to lead Virginia to two of the most successful seasons in school history in 1980 and 1981 for coach Terry Holland. An excellent shooter, defender and passer, Raker helped lead the Cavaliers to a 24-10 record which included the championship of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 1980. UVa followed that up with a 29-4 record in 1981, including a 13-1 mark in the ACC and first place during the regular season. UVa advanced to the NCAA Final Four, garnering 3rd-place national honors with a win over LSU in the consolation game. At one point, Raker helped the Cavaliers win eight consecutive post-season games, still a school record. Virginia finished the 1981 campaign ranked 5th in the final AP poll and 3rd in UPI. During his four collegiate seasons,  Raker helped lead Virginia to a 92-32 overall record, averaging in double figures in scoring each year, and shooting 50.3 percent from the field for his collegiate career. He completed his career with 1,423 points, which still ranks 20th on Virginia’s career scoring list. He also led the 1979 squad in field goal percentage and was named a 2nd-team All-ACC selection that year. An excellent student, Raker was twice named to the All-ACC Academic Basketball squad (1980, 1981) and earned first-team Academic All-America honors in 1981. He was selected in the 4th round of the 1981 NBA Draft by San Diego. A native of Louisville, Ky., he is now the Head of Investor Relations with Camber Capital Management LLC and lives in the Boston, Mass. area.

   Solomon (1978-82), one of the best basketball players in Virginia Tech history, was a 6-9 center-forward who combined power with a soft shooting touch. He helped the Tech teams of Charlie Moir to a four-year record of 78-41 which included two NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT berth. Solomon led Tech in scoring in each of his four  seasons and ended his career with 2,136 points which still ranks 4th on the Hokies’ career scoring list. Solomon’s career scoring average (18.4) is Tech’s 9th best. His career field goal percentage of .567 is the second best in Tech history and his 856 career rebounds rank 7th. He was named to the first-team All-Metro Conference in each of his four seasons. Solomon was named the Metro Conference Tournament MVP and Freshman of the Year in 1979, leading the Hokies to the Metro Conference championship. Solomon was selected in the 3rd round of the 1982 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers but did not play in the NBA. He did play professionally in Italy for 12 seasons. A native of Annapolis, Md., Solomon is currently living in his hometown.

   Childress (1991-95) turned in one of the spectacular performances in the history of the ACC Tournament in his senior season, as the sharpshooting guard led Wake Forest to the 1995 ACC Championship by averaging 35.7 points and 7 assists per game in the Tournament’s three contests. That year, Childress, playing for coach Dave Odom, saved his best for last, scoring 37 points and passing out 7 assists. In that title game, he connected on the game-winning jump shot with only four seconds remaining in overtime as Wake defeated North Carolina, 82-80. For his efforts, he was named the winner of the Everett Case Award as the 1995 Tournament’s MVP. He also was named the winner of the McKevlin Award as the ACC’s Overall Athlete of the Year for the 1994-95 school year. A second-team All-America selection in 1995, he was named first-team All-ACC in 1994 and 1995 and 2nd-team All-ACC in 1993. He scored 2,208 points during his career, which still ranks 18th on the ACC ‘s career scoring list, and he made 329 three-point field goals, the 5th-highest total in ACC history. He helped lead the Demon Deacons to a four-year record of 85-39 which included four appearances in the NCAA Tournament and two trips to the NCAA Sweet 16. He was twice named to the ACC All-Tournament team in 1994 and 1995. Childress ranked 3rd in scoring in the ACC in 1993 and 1994 and finished 2nd in 1994. Selected as the 19th overall choice of the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft, he played two seasons in the NBA with Detroit and Portland. He then played 14 professional seasons in Turkey, France, Italy and Australia. In 2002, he was named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Basketball Team as one of its Top 50 basketball players. A native of Washington, D.C., he recently returned to Winston-Salem to serve as an Assistant to the Athletic Director of Wake Forest.


   The Legends will be honored at this year’s ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Atlanta at the annual ACC Basketball Legends Brunch, which will be held on Saturday, March 10 beginning at 10 a.m. at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, tickets for the ACC Men’s Basketball Legends Brunch are priced at $35 each and tables of ten are available for $350 each. Information on purchasing tickets may be obtained at the official ACC website—www.theACC.com/ACCtournament.


   Name School Years Position Hometown (Current Hometown)

   John Bagley   Boston College 1979-82 Guard Bridgeport, Conn. (Stratford, Conn.)

   Sharone Wright Clemson 1991-94 Center Macon, Ga.  (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)

   Kenny Dennard Duke 1977-81 Forward King, N.C. (Houston, Texas)

   James Collins Florida State 1993-97 Guard Jacksonville, Fla.. (same) 

   Malcolm Mackey Georgia Tech 1989-93 Forward/Ctr. Chattanooga, Tenn. (McDonough, Ga.)

   Johnny Rhodes Maryland 1992-96 Guard Washington, D.C. (same )

   Ron Godfrey Miami 1958-61 Guard Martins Ferry, Ohio (Coral Springs, Fla.)

   Kenny Smith North Carolina 1983-87 Guard Queens, N.Y. (Atlanta, Ga.)

   Todd Fuller NC State 1992-96 Center Charlotte, N.C.. (same)

   Lee Raker Virginia 1977-81 Forward Louisville, Ky. (Boston, Mass.)

   Dale Solomon Virginia Tech 1978-82 Forward Annapolis, Md. (same)

   Randolph Childress Wake Forest 1991-95 Guard Washington, D.C. (Winston-Salem, N.C.)

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Caps Off to Best Start Ever

Posted on 18 October 2011 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals came in to Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers with a perfect 4-0 record, but they had yet to really play a complete 60 minutes this season. You can cross that off of the list now as the Caps came out and forechecked the Panthers to death in a very solid and dominating 3-0 victory. Washington got an early power play goal from Marcus Johansson, then Alexander Semin rifled one by Jacob Markstrom (29 saves) just 1:49 into the final period, and Jason Chimera hit the empty net to close this one out with 44 seconds left. Tomas Vokoun won his fourth straight game making 20 saves for his first shut out as a Capital. This is the first time in Washington Capitals history that the team has started 5-0.

Here are the quotes, highlights, and analysis of a victory over a team that had pummeled the Tampa Bay Lightning, 7-4, with 5 power play goals,  just one night earlier:

– The Panthers had to fly in late Monday night from Florida but that is how the sports schedule works out sometimes. Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau and his team knew this and jumped all over the Cats early on. Florida didn’t have a shot on goal until after the 10 minute mark of the first period as Washington continuously got pucks deep and used their size to cycle the puck on a soft Panthers defense to generate numerous scoring opportunities. The Caps could have had at least three or four goals in the opening stanza but they either fired wide or the Swede, making his first NHL start, denied them with his large frame.

“I think we tried to do that. They were tired. They played two very emotional games against their cross town rival and had to fly here so we thought this was the perfect advantage for us in the scheduling. I’m sure probably somewhere down the road it will reverse itself. We got a break and if you don’t take advantage of the breaks, shame on us,” said Boudreau on how the NHL slate helped his team on Tuesday.

– It was encouraging to see the Capitals simplify their game and not get caught up in to trying to make the perfect cross ice pass. Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Ovechkin, and Troy Brouwer played smart hockey and were physical on a not so big Panthers defensive unit. Washington seems to play their best hockey when they play as a team and don’t get fancy. Their work ethic was outstanding on Tuesday and the score was much closer than the game actually was because at no point did I ever feel like Florida had a chance to win this contest.

“The first two lines got pucks deep, so that really helped. When we get in trouble we try to play too skilled. When we get pucks deep, it’s hard to contain big bodies like Ovi (Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin), Knubs (Capitals forward Mike Knuble) and Semin (Capitals forward Alexander Semin),” said Chimera on why the Caps were so dominant.

“We were getting it and getting it deep and moving it. I thought for the first time this year we could have had 7 or 8. We were missing nets and their goalie played pretty good. I thought it was a well rounded effort by us,” added Boudreau on the victory.

– Vokoun only had to face two shots in the first period but in the next two stanzas he stopped nine each. There were times when he had to make a solid save to bail out a poor defensive play but overall his team was solid in front of him, which allowed him to challenge shooters. The 35 year old on a $1.5M one year deal, since a shaky opening 60 minutes against Tampa, has been everything the Capitals have needed in goal and more.

“He’s pretty solid and when we did have breakdowns he was there to help us out. That is what you need,” commented Boudreau on his net minder.

– Special teams are so important in NHL games and on this evening the Caps were perfect in that department. They only took two penalties, both on Roman Hamrlik (although I thought the first one was a bogus call), and they stymied a highly skilled and dangerous Cats power play. Washington swarmed the puck and took away any space the Panthers had and on both occassions, they weren’t able to get much of a sniff of the net. The only power play the Caps received was quite effective as Johansson buried the biscuit after some solid zone time. The key to that power play was the work of Ovechkin in the slot, who was flanked by MJ90 and Backstrom with Mike Green and Dennis Wideman at the points. When all three Panthers converged on Ovie, Johansson had a lane to the cage and he slid the puck under Markstrom less than five minutes into the contest. Those who’ve followed this blog know that I much prefer Ovechkin down low (slot or half wall) on a 5 on 4 power play because he can use his size in front for screens or in getting to rebounds. With so many good shots on the point now, to include Green, Wideman, Hamrlik, and John Carlson, it makes much more sense for the Gr8 to be down low. I am okay with Ovechkin getting point time in 5 on 3 or even 4 on 3 situations because in those instances there will be more open lanes for his powerful shot to get through. But overall, putting Alexander the Great down low will likely lead to more power play goals for the Caps and Johansson’s marker tonight drives that point home.

– In summary, this was a total team effort, granted it was against a tired club. But the Panthers have some talent, although they appear low on grit. Just about every Washington player had a good game, but Green was superb despite getting slashed in the lower body region by Jay Garrison at the end of the second period. Semin was excellent as well and he’s been the best forward on the top two lines this season. Backstrom is off to a nice start too and #19 looks to be regaining the form he had in 2009-10. It’s only been five games, but the Caps have 10 points. Boudreau, however, knows you can’t win the Stanley Cup in October and he talked about that after the victory.

“When it comes to April and May I’m not going to be able to sit here and say, ‘Hey we were 5-0, we got that record, isn’t that great.’ It is not going to hold a lot of weight. It is nice, but it is just the process of getting where we want to get. Right now we’re looking toward an opponent like Philadelphia who is 4-0-1,” finished Boudreau, noting that the Capitals next game is the hated Flyers on Thursday night in Philly. That will be a can’t miss contest.

Notes: Washington lost the faceoff battle 24-22 but Jeff Halpern was 8-1. MJ90 was a dismal 1-6 from the dot…Matt Hendricks had a game leading six hits…Semin was +2 and had 4 shots on goal in 16:03 of ice time…Mathieu Perreault returned to the lineup and played 9:53 (even, 0 points)…Dany Sabourin was recalled from Hershey to be the back up goalie as Michal Neuvirth continues to struggle with a lower body injury…Jay Beagle is not practicing right now and DJ King was the other scratch at forward.

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Caps Blanked in Baltimore Hockey Classic

Posted on 21 September 2011 by Ed Frankovic

The streets of Charm City were filled with fans decked out in red and the energy in 1st Mariner Arena was super, but unfortunately the Washington Capitals were unable to score any goals in the inaugural Baltimore Hockey Classic and lost, 2-0, to the Nashville Predators. An announced sellout crowd of over 11,000 witnessed the first professional hockey game at the arena since the Baltimore Bandits left for Cincinnati in 1997. It was a super event for the city of Baltimore and something that Caps Owner Ted Leonsis and General Manager George McPhee felt was a good idea to do given the growing Capitals fan base just 30+ miles up the BW Parkway.

“We’re thrilled to bring Washington Capitals hockey to the Baltimore market. Tuesday’s game will pump revenue into the local economy and serve as a great public-private partnership between the city and the Capitals,” said McPhee of the event.

There is no doubt the local businesses in the area received a spike from this game and despite the fact that the ice conditions weren’t exactly stellar – I don’t think anyone is going to confuse that surface with Rexall Place – it was indeed a great night to be a part of.

Now onto the game itself and the all important quotes and analysis from what was a pretty sloppy game due to the heat and humidity in the building.

– When the ice is the way it was on Tuesday, the team that simplifies and minimizes their mistakes usually wins. Nashville did that as their two tallies came as a result of Washington defensive zone turnovers, something that plagued them in their series loss to Tampa Bay last spring. On each goal scored by the Predators there was a turnover by a forward and the defense was unable to cover up for the mistake.

“On the first goal, [assistant coach] Bob [Woods] said it was the winger. On the second, Michal [Neuvirth] said it was a two on one and the guy tried to pass it and it hit our guy and came right back to him so it was an easy play. The first one I do know that we made a bad change and that’s what left [Shea] Weber so alone in front of the net to be able to make that play,” said Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau on Nashville’s two goals.

“They just didn’t get the building cold enough, but it is what it is. There was less water in Florida [last night], but they had the building colder…the conditions were what they were, a hot building so you’ve really got to be mentally tough. We talked about let’s keep it simple, we can’t control the humidity and the heat and all of that…and it worked for us,” said Nashville coach Barry Trotz on how his club approached the way the game would have to be played.

“It’s hard to handle the puck out there. The conditions made a difference but both teams were playing on it. You see how wet the ice is, so sometimes you get the puck and kind of worry about if you handle it is it going to get stuck in the water? So I just tried to focus on moving the puck quick and getting it off of my stick,” added Caps defensemen Sean Collins on what he tried to do when he was on the ice.

– The best player for Washington on this night, in my book, was goalie Michal Neuvirth. #30 faced a lot of rubber, many of which came on quality chances due to Washington turnovers in their own zone. Both tallies were not the fault of the goaltender, he pretty much had no chance on either goal.

“It is usually the younger players, the hungrier players, that you see take over in games like this and I thought this was the case in this game tonight. The younger players were probably the better players or shined brighter, if there was anyone shining. I thought Michal Neuvirth is still pretty young and I thought he was a guy that played very steady for us tonight,” said Boudreau on the play of his young netminder.

– The 3rd and 4th lines for Washington provided the most effort and in particular Stanislav Galiev, Jay Beagle, and DJ King stood out for me.

“DJ King I thought had a pretty good game, guys that are fighting for jobs. Beagle, working really hard out there like he always does. Those were the guys that shined,” said Boudreau, who also praised Galiev’s ability to generate scoring chances.

“I think our line, right off the hop, we had a couple of good scoring opportunities we couldn’t bury. Obviously I’d like that one goal back, the puck bobbed on me and they ended up burying it. You have to play your role and play your game. I think they outworked us and that is what it came down to. We got to get it deep. You saw that when we got it deep we had it in there for the whole shift that we were out. You get the puck deep, you grind it out, and you take it to the net. Give it to the D, they had a couple of shots with tips and deflections. The puck just wasn’t going our way, but I think our line once we got it deep and got it going we played well,” said Beagle on what he thought of his line which included King and Garrett Mitchell.

– As for Washington’s more established players and stars, there wasn’t a lot of quality performances with Alexander Ovechkin having some nice shifts but many of the others not really playing well or hard.

“It’s hard for the skill [in this type of preseason game], but at the same time it is always easy to judge effort…you can tell the effort that is given and the effort that is received,” commented Boudreau, who felt that his younger guys were the ones who worked harder.

– On the special teams front, the Capitals power play only received two opportunities. On the first one, the initial unit featured Mike Green and Chris Bourque on the point with Ovechkin, Marucs Johansson, and Mike Knuble up front. Washington’s other power play came late in the game and the coach was able to try a few different combinations since he is in “try out” mode.

“Just experimenting, seeing what clicks, what didn’t click, trying to find fits. It’s one of these things for the next 17 days we’ll experiment with probably, a lot. I’d like to see something click and stay with it for a long period of time. This was the first real chance we had to see it. But what did we have, 2 chances? The last one I thought we had a couple of good opportunities at the end but when you get that sense of urgency on the 6 on 4, that was maybe our best opportunity,” stated Boudreau on what he is trying to do with his once deadly power play unit.

– Nashville didn’t play top six forwards David Legwand or Mike Fisher, but they did play their top defensive pair, and that duo made a difference in this game.

“Weber and [Ryan] Suter, they’re one of the best D pairings in the league, in the world. I know they were playing them quite a bit so I’m sure it was good for our forwards to really get a gauge of where they have to be. There are so many good defensemen here, it was nice for guys like me and Patty [Pat McNeill] to watch and learn from a Suter, a Weber, also Alzner, Green, so it was a learning experience,” added Collins on the benefit of playing a club like Nashville to open the preseason slate.

– Two of McPhee’s off-season additions, goaltender Tomas Vokoun and forward Joel Ward, played for the Predators and afterwards we had a chance to get the opinion of the Nashville bench boss on those Capital acquisitions.

“Tomas Vokoun is a helluva goaltender, they got a really, really good two way player in Joel Ward that was a Mr. Fix it for us. You can use him in a lot of different areas. He plays a little bit of a different game than a lot of guys for the Caps. He used to be a guy that stabilized lines for us, probably very similiar to Brooks Laich. He’s sort of whatever line you put him he puts stability to it, that is what Joel does and he is a great person. They got a good player in Joel. We’ve got some players scattered all over the place,” said Trotz, pretty much noting at the end that the small market nature of Nashville prevents them from keeping their good players from moving on for more money.

– In closing, this was a big night for Baltimore with the return of hockey and the city did a good job of supporting the Capitals, as Boudreau thought would happen based on his experience from his playing days in the AHL.

“I didn’t know what to expect but I do know that when I played here the Baltimore fans were great. So I expected if they’re still following hockey or their children are still following hockey, that they would be rowdy and be good just waiting for us to do something. Unfortunately we didn’t score any goals,” finished Boudreau.

Notes: Boudreau noted that his top guys will get more games this preseason, “Our main guys will probably play more games in this preseason than they’ve played in the past. Four, five, six games rather than the three or four that they’ve played maximum in the past to get ready for the season.”…Trotz added that he was impressed with the renovations in the downtown Baltimore area and also praised the Caps marketing efforts, “The Caps are doing a fantastic job of creating fans in this whole Baltimore Washington DC area and that it is really good, there is a lot of red out here.”…5 foot 9 Ryan Ellis tried to line up Ovechkin for a big hit, at one point, but bounced off of the Great 8 like he was hitting a brick wall…former team Capitals team captain and the man known as the Secretary of Defense, Rod Langway, dropped the ceremonial first puck…the Caps play preseason game number two in Columbus on Wednesday night.

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Caps Clinch #1 Seed in Eastern Conference

Posted on 08 April 2011 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals didn’t have a game on Friday night, but by virtue of a Philadelphia Flyers loss in overtime to the Buffalo Sabres, the Caps have clinched the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the Stanley Cup playoffs, which will start on Wednesday, April 13th. The Capitals will play either the Carolina Hurricanes or the New York Rangers in the first round. The Rangers play the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at 1230 pm and if they lose in regulation then Carolina is the 8th seed. The Canes play the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 pm in Raleigh on Saturday night so by 10 pm tomorrow, at the latest, Caps General Manager George McPhee and Coach Bruce Boudreau will know their first round opponent.

All of this makes Saturday night’s Capitals contest against the Florida Panthers fairly meaningless. The key to the game is to not sustain any injuries and Mike Green is slated to see his first NHL action since February 25th when he suffered a concussion on a hit from the Rangers Derek Stepan. I would expect that McPhee and Boudreau will now sit Alexander Ovechkin, Jason Arnott, and Alexander Semin so that they don’t risk re-aggravating the nagging injuries that caused them to miss some recent games. Another skater who could sit if one of 8, 44, or 28 does play is Nicklas Backstrom, who seems totally healed from a fractured thumb but is a another “can’t lose” player for the post season.

One player you will likely see a lot of is DJ King, who has played only 16 games this season (30 PIMs, 2 assists, -3). This is likely #17’s most important game as a Washington Capital and it is his job to make it clear that no Panthers are to take any liberties with the Caps this close to the post season, particularly #52. As for Green, it is necessary for him to get some game action in preparation for next week’s playoffs. Instead of the usual 25+ minutes he normally logs, however, I would venture to guess that #52’s ice time will be in the 15 to 18 minute range on Saturday against Florida. (SATURDAY UPDATE: According to Mike Vogel of WashingtonCaps.com, Green will not play on Saturday night, he did not make the trip.)

Notes: Tom Poti skated today at Kettler Ice Plex before the team flew to Florida for Saturday’s game. In fact, all Capitals except Dennis Wideman took part in the practice (h/t @SkyKerstein of DC’s 106.7 The FAN)…The Caps will be holding a press conference on Monday at 330 pm at the First Mariner Arena to announce a September 20th preseason game against the Nashville Predators in Baltimore. WNST will be on the scene to bring you more details from that session….Down on the farm, the Hershey Bears are headed for a first round date with Carolina’s AHL team, the Charlotte Checkers. Game 1 will be on Thursday, April 14th at the Giant Center at 7 pm. The Bears knocked off the despised Wilkes-Barre Penguins, 2-1, on Friday night with Braden Holtby stopping 24 of 25 shots. Andrew Kozek had both Hershey goals. The bad news from the contest was that Mathieu Perreault left the game late in the third period favoring one of his legs and according to Tim Leone (@TimLeone) and @Sweetesthockey (who tweets the Hershey games for the website Russian Machine Never Breaks) appeared to suffer a knee injury. Hershey Director of Communications, John Walton, tweeted after the game that Perreault is day to day with a lower body injury.

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Wings End Caps Win Streak at 9

Posted on 16 March 2011 by Ed Frankovic

For nearly 50 minutes, the Washington Capitals played a very solid road game in pursuit of their 10th straight victory. But then Mike Knuble took a bad penalty in the offensive zone and Henrik Zetterberg scored shortside on Michal Neuvirth from a bad angle and Detroit went on to win, 3-2. The Capitals once again dressed a depleted lineup without their top two injured centers in Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Arnott as well as their top defenseman, Mike Green. With Eric Fehr also out of the lineup due to an upper body injury suffered the previous night in Montreal, DJ King dressed for Washington. The loss drops the Caps record to 41-21-10.

Here are the highlights and analysis of a game in which the Caps had a good chance to steal at least a point up until the infraction by Knuble:

– After a dominant performance in Montreal on Tuesday night it was clear the Caps were extremely tired in Motown. The Wings routinely beat them to the puck and that translated into Detroit dominance on the shot board (35-28). Detroit took advantage of a fatigued Caps club on the rush all night by backing the Washington defenseman up and then finding the late guy in the slot for quality chances. The Capitals forwards did not back check nor apply pressure well and the Wings made them pay. Both of the first two Detroit tallies were the result of players being found in the slot for shots or a via a tip in.

– Neuvirth (32 saves) had a mixed bag of a game but a lot of that was on the guys in front of him who didn’t allow him to see the puck a whole lot in this tilt. Detroit did a great job of getting traffic and if they could have hit the net more this game might have been more lopsided on the scoreboard. For most of the contest #30 did not give up many rebounds and he froze the biscuit often in an attempt to slow the game down and his give club some rest. However, on the game winner by Zetterberg (2 goals), he went down too soon, gave up the near post and the crafty Swedish veteran made the young goalie pay. So the combination of a really bad and lazy penalty by #22 and a goaltending mistake cost Washington success in the Motor city.

– In order for Washington to win they were going to need their star players and their goalie to deliver big performances. Neuvirth did his job for nearly 50 minutes but the Great #8 (26:01 of ice time) and Semin didn’t get it done, especially #28. Ovechkin did have a nice goal after a decent feed from Semin, but the team did not get enough rubber on Jimmy Howard (26 saves), who is not known as one of the better goalies in the league, because he is not. Semin only had two shots on net and he has not looked good now in two straight games with #44 out of the lineup. He was a definite passenger on Wednesday night despite hitting the post very late in the contest. Ovechkin ended with seven shots on goal but he had 0 until his 29th goal of the season came over 25 minutes into the game.

– With Arnott and Green out, the Capitals power play looked more anemic than usual. Ovechkin saw more time at the point and he was awful. In his defense, none of the other power play guys were any good either. Every Cap held onto the biscuit too long, didn’t move enough, and failed to shoot the puck. In four man advantage attempts, the Capitals only had five shots on net, that is downright terrible.

– In summary, you could see this loss coming given all of the injuries but Washington had a chance in the third period in a tie game to keep things rolling but a couple of mental mistakes cost them. Next up are the red hot New Jersey Devils on Friday night on the third game of this grueling road trip with likely the same depleted lineup, that one will be a tough win as well.

Notes: Brian Rafalski (3 assists, +2) was the best player on the ice tonight. The Detroit d-man is really good…the Wings smoked the Caps on face-offs 35-21 with Brooks Laich going 4-15…Dennis Wideman led the Caps in ice time with 27:54. #6 got hit with the puck at least twice and also was shoved in the back of the head behind the Washington net by a Red Wing early on. That guy is as tough as advertised…Matt Hendricks was -2 and was one of the forwards who really struggled with coverage in the Caps zone.

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Caps Rally To Defeat Islanders, 3-2

Posted on 26 February 2011 by Ed Frankovic

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times. Okay, I am exaggerating quite a bit here but that is what tonight’s Capitals game against the Islanders had to feel like to Washington fans. Following up on Friday night’s pile of garbage effort in which they were buried 6-0 by the Rangers, the Caps came out and looked disorganized and uninterested for the first 22 minutes of the game falling behind New York, 2-0. At that point, it seemed like this team was unraveling, but the typical sacrificial Matt Hendricks fight, a Bruce Boudreau timeout in which he likely out dB’d the local air traffic coming in to LaGuardia airport, and then most importantly, a change in the top two line combinations jump started this Capitals club and they scored the last three goals to win, 3-2. The victory improves Washington to 33-20-10 (76 points) and they pull within three points of Southeast Division leading Tampa, who will face the Rangers on Sunday at 1pm at Madison Square Garden.

Here are the highlights and analysis of a game Washington needed to have if they want to stay in the division race:

– Sometimes in hockey players perform poorly because they aren’t playing with the right guys. This leads to that disorganized look I mentioned above, then frustration sets in, and finally the effort goes out the window because the players tend to give up. To me, that is what was happening for the first period or so for this Washington team, especially the top two Capitals lines. Alexander Ovechkin, who was all over the ice on Friday night, was shifted away from his regular centerman, Nicklas Backstrom, and put with rookie Marcus Johansson for the first period plus of Saturday’s game. It was a DISASTER! The Great #8 had 0 shots on net with MJ90 as his pivot (h/t former Capital Alan May). I like the young rookie, who will eventually be a really good player in this league but will never be a #1 center, but to align him with Ovechkin is asking too much of a 20 year old who is a very good skater but doesn’t know where the Great #8 wants and needs the puck. Simply put, asking Johansson to center Ovie is putting way TOO MUCH pressure on the kid. Thankfully, the coaches figured it out and shuffled the top two forward lines a few shifts after the Boudreau bench rant at 5:35 of period two. Whoever was involved in the decision to get 8 and 19 back together and put MJ90 with Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble is the star of the game, in my opinion. The whole team was way better and more confident after that configuration change.

– The player of the game, and deservedly so, was Laich. #21 made two strong plays with the puck that led to tallies, one for himself when he beat Islanders goalie Al Montoya (19 saves) on an in close bad angled goal to seemingly wake up the entire Capitals team, and the second of which was another strong move with puck in front of the New York cage that allowed Knuble to bang home the biscuit and knot this affair at 2-2 just 2:24 into period three. Laich found chemistry with Johansson (1 assist), who was fantastic after the line juggling, and #22 providing Boudreau with one of those rare contests when he had two lines generating offensive chances.

– The winning goal came from Alexander Semin, whose picture was only seen on a milk carton for the first 30 plus minutes of this tilt, but once #28 was put with his young gun mates #8 and #19 he was a totally different player. Semin started competing on the boards and his laser in the slot at 5:41 of the final stanza was the difference. When you see Semin play like that it really has to make the entire Washington organization think that if they could get him a real center he would play at an elite level more often. Kind of like he did when Sergei Fedorov came over in 2008.

– Michal Neuvirth (29 saves) is the other big reason the Capitals had even an iota of a chance of pulling out a victory on Saturday night. The Isles threw 14 shots on the young Caps goalie when the “Bad and Disorganized” Washington team took the ice in the first period. #30 only gave up Kyle Okposo’s quality shot in the slot when John Carlson got caught pinching too deep in the offensive zone and then Karl Alzner did a poor job of closing the gap on #21 in the defensive zone. The only other marker allowed by Neuvy came after a #74 giveaway on Travis “Diver” Hamonic’s deflected slap shot just 33 seconds into the middle frame. Neuvirth, who had to be ready to sue for non support at that point, has become a rock for the Capitals and he was forced to play again when Semyon Varlamov came up with yet another injury during the morning skate (and Todd Ford, he of the ECHL to start the season, was recalled from Hershey to be the back up goalie with Braden Holtby and Dany Sabourin on the shelf in Hershey). I am not sure where the Caps are this season without Neuvirth.

– Alzner and Carlson had their struggles early, likely because bad line combos don’t help d-men out either, but as the game went on that duo got stronger and stronger. Carlson even made the play in the neutral zone that sprung Laich for his first goal. #’s 27 and 74 logged 23:03 and 20:31, respectively and came back to -1 after being on for the first two goals against. The defensive player of the night, however, was Scott Hannan (+2). #23 was super solid on the back end and if you want to see just how great he is defensively, go back and watch the last 2:08 of the game. Hannan was on the ice the entire time and made numeous strong plays to preserve the Capitals victory.

– In closing, this game was headed for disaster yet the Washington players and coaches found a way to battle through it and gut out a victory. The effort, which had been gone for over four periods came back, and the Caps got a much needed two points. There are still issues with this team, primarily the hole at second line center and a power play that continues to be pitiful, but there is still hope given that the NHL trade deadline could still yield some assistance in the talent department. We will all know that story come 3:00pm this Monday afternoon after Capitals GM George McPhee attempts to work his magic.

Notes: I sure hope Hendricks (signed to a 2 year contract extension by the Caps this week) recieved or was considered for the hard hat for his fight tonight. He got hammered by Zenon Konopka but the message received on the Washington bench was what mattered. #26 is all heart…Michal Grabner missed the ocean from the beach when it appeared he had an empty net that would have given the Islanders a 3-0 lead in period two. Hannan helped to thwart that chance as well…Backstrom only took two faceoffs. The Caps won that battle again, 30-27…The Caps claimed forward Marco Sturm off of waivers from the Los Angeles Kings today. Sturm played for Boston last season but blew out his knee in the playoffs. He has struggled to regain his health and the Kings, who are hoping to make some trade deadline acquisitions, valued the vacant roster spot more than Sturm’s services so McPhee gets a second line winger at a discount price…forward/tough guy/typical scratch DJ King was waived today and Mathieu Perreault was sent to Hershey, however #85 apparently is not going to play for the Bears this weekend…Jay Beagle was recalled from Hershey and he played physical and well in 10:27 of ice time…Mike Green did not play and traveled to Calgary to attend his grandmother’s funeral…Hershey won 4-3 getting four assists from Keith Aucoin on Saturday night. 2009 Caps 2nd round draft pick, d-man Dmitri Orlov (1 assist) made his AHL debut for the Bears. Congrats to Jared DeMichiel (27 saves) for his first AHL victory at home! Orlov’s assist came on one of the two Hershey power play tallies.

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Caps Rally, Defeat Sens, 3-1

Posted on 16 January 2011 by Ed Frankovic

With 20 minutes to go in Sunday’s contest against the Ottawa Senators, the Washington Capitals were trailing 1-0, and were staring at the possibility of their seventh shutout loss of the season. However, the Caps ramped up their intensity big time, became more physical, and played arguably their best 20 minutes in a long time, scoring three goals, including John Carlson’s game winning goal on the power play, en route to a much needed 3-1 victory. The win halted a three game losing streak and vaulted the Capitals (25-14-7) back into a tie for first place in the Southeast Division with the Tampa Bay Lightning (26-15-5). Both teams have 57 points.

Here are the highlights, quotes, and analysis from the victory, the Capitals league leading 13th win of the season after allowing the first goal to their opponent:

– Carlson was voted the number one star of the game, but my top performer was Michal Neuvirth (22 saves). #30 was one of the few players to show up when the puck was dropped and the only tally he allowed, to Mike Fisher in a goal mouth scramble after Mike Green failed to clear the biscuit from the door step just 1:12 into the game, was not his fault. With the Senators carrying the play in the first period, they outshot Washington 9-5, Neuvirth shut the door on Ottawa giving his club a chance to regroup for period two and get their legs going. But the second period was a struggle early on again for the Capitals and in that stanza the two time AHL Calder Cup winning goalie made the save of the game on Filip Kuba. Kuba pinched down into the slot and he took a perfect centering feed on his forehand and fired it towards the top left corner of the cage. The calm and collected Neuvirth quickly lifted his blocker and deflected the puck to the corner to thwart what would have been a seemingly insurmountable two goal hole for Washington. You’ve heard me say this many times this year and I will say it again:  the Capitals do not need another goalie because Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov have been outstanding this season. Varly is 8-6-2 with a .926 save percentage while Neuvy has gone 15-6-4 with a .912 save percentage. Those are some fantastic numbers.

“Our defense did a good job clearing pucks after that (the first Ottawa goal), not giving any second opportunities and Neuvy (Michal Neuvirth) held the fort,” commented Brooks Laich on how his team was able to stay in the game until they could break things open in the third period.


– The third period effort is something that many fans expected to see more of from Washington this season. The Caps skated hard and their aggressive forechecking in the offensive zone was back. In fact, the first goal was set up by a big check on Erik Karlsson by Alexander Ovechkin behind the Sens net. Karlsson, while being hit, sent a wobbly pass to Chris Phillips on the other side of the cage, but with Marcus Johansson bearing down on him he tried to hit Daniel Alfredsson up the middle of the ice. However #4’s pass missed #11 and went right to Laich in the slot and #21 buried it top shelf, far post to tie the game up. That goal, Laich’s first in 13 games, really energized the Capitals and their fans as the building started rocking again.

– Just 43 seconds later Milan Michalek cross checked Karl Alzner in the back in the Caps zone sending #27 flying head first into the boards. It was an extremely cheap and dangerous play and Alzner stayed down for an extended period, then went down the tunnel after being helped to the bench. Clearly the call should have been a five minute major for boarding but the zebras, Ghislain Hebert and Bill McCreary, only gave Michalek two minutes for cross checking. Washington’s struggling power play then finally found a  way to connect as Nicklas Backstrom won the faceoff back to Carlson and #74 blasted it by Elliott (23 saves). The goal, which only took two seconds of time, came just 45 seconds after Laich had tied things up. The Caps would then add an insurance goal with 6:29 left when Jason Chimera scored from the goal line by banking the puck off the back of Elliott, who went down too soon on the right post. That tally involved a lucky bounce but the hard work of Alzner on the boards provided #25 with the opportunity to send the puck on goal.

“Sometimes you try to bank it off them (the goalie) and that time I did and fortunately it went in. Nine times out of ten, it doesn’t go in. Fortunately it worked out,” said Chimera on his sixth goal of the season.


– Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau once again mixed up his lines with Eric Fehr out of the lineup due to a shoulder injury (likely 3-4 weeks) and Andrew Gordon recalled from Hershey. Boudreau put Johansson with Ovechkin and Laich and that line played fairly well, especially in the third period. Johansson was +1 in a career high 22:16 of ice time. He had a couple of golden opportunities, including a perfect set up from Ovechkin in the slot, but he couldn’t connect. MJ90 is getting better along the boards, he actually was credited with two hits in this tilt, but the one thing he needs to really work on is his shot. We need to see more of it and the shots need to be quicker, harder, and on target.

– In addition to the forward line juggling, two of the defensive pairs were switched with Jeff Schultz going back with Green and Scott Hannan played the right side while John Erskine was flanked to his left. Hannan had another strong game in 17:32 of ice time. The 52-55 pair looked like it was headed for a disastrous night after allowing that first goal just 72 seconds into the game but they steadied themselves as the contest went on. The best defensive pair was once again the Carlson-Alzner duo. #74 was +1 in 21:07 and had the game winning goal while King Karl was +2 and had an assist in 19 minutes and 50 seconds of ice time. Alzner, who was shaken up a bit from the dirty hit by Michalek, did come back in the game missing at most one shift.

– One thing Washington did well the entire contest was win faceoffs. The Caps, who are ranked third in the NHL from the dot at a 52.8% success rate, won 43 of the 62 draws in this game. Boyd Gordon was an amazing 8-0 and Backstrom went 13-6. Faceoffs played a huge role in the outcome and the Senators bench boss took notice.

“They [face-offs] are huge. Both [third period] goals were off of a lost face off,” said Ottawa Coach Cory Clouston.

– So a bad week for the Caps, one in which they went 1-2-1, ends up on a high note. They still are not scoring many goals and this was the 16th time in the last 17 games that they have failed to notch more than three tallies but over the last 14 games they’ve only given up 28 goals (just two per game). There are 43 days left before the trade deadline for GM George McPhee to set his roster up for a long playoff run. Based on what I’ve seen over the first 46 games, I think the team is solid in goal and on defense but the forward crew needs upgrading in order to get two lines scoring, something you absolutely have to have to advance in the post season.

Notes: Along with Fehr being out, Alex Semin, Matt Bradley, Tom Poti, and DJ King were also out of the lineup due to injury while d-man Tyler Sloan is in Hershey for a conditioning stint…Green led the team with five hits but he also got rocked hard by Nick Foligno into the back boards right before he took an interference penalty with 33 seconds remaining. Hopefully #52 didn’t reinjure his shoulder on that hit…the Caps now embark on a three game road trip with the first stop in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. I will be covering the game in person and will bring you quotes, highlights, and analysis from a battle against the team with the best record in the Eastern Conference…by the way, please check out Japers Rink Radio, I was on with hosts Stephen Pepper and Russell Waxman for the last 25 minutes of this past Saturday’s show. We touched on all things Caps hockey.

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Caps Shutout in 4th Straight Loss

Posted on 10 December 2010 by Ed Frankovic

The Washington Capitals clearly have a motivation and confidence problem right now. Against the Florida Panthers, a team that Washington defeated all six times last season, the Caps came out strong in period one drawing five power plays and fired 18 shots on Cats goalie Tomas Vokoun but they couldn’t get the puck by him. As a result the team got frustrated and started doing too many individual things and when Florida scored with one second left in the second period to snatch a 1-0 lead, the currently mentally fragile Capitals crumbled in the final stanza en route to a 3-0 defeat. The loss drops the Caps to 18-9-3 overall and they still have a  six point lead over both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers in the Southeast Division, but both teams now have two games in hand.

Here is tonight’s recap including quotes and analysis from a tilt that was played in front of the quietest Verizon Center crowd in recent memory:

– The biggest problem on Thursday night was Washington’s power play. For the evening it went 0 for 8, including not converting on two 5 on 3 opportunities, one of which was for 1:53 midway through the first period. Early on the Caps were trying to swing the puck down low in an attempt to beat Vokoun in close. Eric Fehr, who had 6 shots on goal in 11:43 of ice time, had numerous chances to get one by #29 but couldn’t convert. After the first few power plays the Caps then started getting too cute and pass happy instead of firing the puck from the top of the slot with traffic in front. By the 7th and 8th iterations the man advantage units had totally deteriorated into an individual event where one Capital after another tried to skate through the Panthers defense on his own, without any success. Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau discussed the problems on the power play after the game.

“The intentions were good at the beginning, then when you don’t score on the power play when you have the opportunity, you could see at the end of the first period that we started to do things as individuals instead of collectively.  When that happens, it’s tough, it’s no excuse,” started Boudreau on his usually potent power play crew, “Just stand in front of the net and shoot the puck was the message and then we still get too cute. There were so many times we had good opportunities to shoot with guys in front of the net and we are trying to make the play and the play’s not there,” finished the 2007-08 Jack Adams trophy winning coach on why things went bad with the manpower advantage.

– As bad as Washington’s power play was, their penalty killing was super in period two when the Caps had to kill off three infractions, including a 1:18 five on three against. Brooks Laich, Boyd Gordon, and Tom Poti did outstanding work and it appeared that the effort on the PK might spur the team to the first goal. However, with one second left in period two the Cats scored after Karl Alzner and Nicklas Backstrom were beaten badly down low on the right wing boards. A wild goal mouth scramble ensued and Steve Reinprecht buried one from the slot with four Caps around him. That type of goal just can’t happen. First #27 and #19 need to be smarter that late in the period and not over commit going for the steal. At that point in time, they should have been focusing on keeping the Panthers on the perimeter, because a takeaway wouldn’t have given them any time to go the other way to score. This was simply a case of two young players not paying attention to the game situation and then a collective lack of effort in front of Semyon Varlamov (29 saves) on the rebounds.

“It was obviously a huge goal because it gave them light. After the first period we were talking about how often a team outshoots one 18-6 and it is five power plays to none, the other team comes out and they are going to get power plays in the second period and it usually turns. I thought we did a really good job of holding them off on the 5 on 3 and the penalty, but you’ve got four guys down there and nobody touching anybody, they are going to score. Once they believe that, at the start of the third period, they dug in their heels pretty good and they hadn’t beaten us in awhile and they were a determined group. We were looking like we were feeling sorry for ourselves,” added Boudreau on the Caps solid penalty killing and then how the late second period tally impacted his team’s mindset.

– Washington, after blowing a three goal third period lead in their shootout loss to Toronto on Monday, came out strong in period one but as the game wore on they seemed to lack interest and lose confidence. For those of you who follow my blogs or my tweets on Twitter (@Emfrank123), you are aware that in the notes section of the Leafs summary blog I wrote that this team needed a challenge game against the Pittsburgh Penguins to get themselves dialed in for 60 minutes. Then on Thursday morning I predicted that the Caps would not be 100% focused against Florida. The result of this tilt furthers my case, but what is now happening is that the loss of confidence is causing the players to mope and feel sorry for themselves instead of getting them to fight back strong.

“We could call it snake bitten, we could call it you’re facing adversity and not being able to handle the adversity, not fighting through it. Feeling sorry for yourself. I came in between periods, 2nd and 3rd, everybody was hanging their head and we were down 1-0. My job at that time was not to give them crap but to let them know they’re good and don’t feel sorry for yourself. Dig your heels in and come back and it’s one shot…once it was 2-0 you could see the shoulders sagging on the bench and they just didn’t believe they were going to come back tonight,” said Boudreau on his team’s frail mental state during this recent four game slide.

“I liked the beginning of the game, I liked our energy, the way we played. We were going to the net hard, we were working hard. You don’t get that many power plays without working and effort but the puck is not going in the net right now and we’re gripping the sticks tight. We are getting down on ourselves. It is just part of the game. It is almost like a slump in some sort of way, not scoring on the opportunities we are getting,” said forward Matt Hendricks on what transpired on Thursday night and why the team is not converting.

– Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green all had one of their worst games of the season on Thursday and the Caps simply can’t win when those guys aren’t going. Boudreau tried moving Alexander Ovechkin around and he switched up his lines in the third period to try and jump start the offense, to no avail.

“Our top six forwards weren’t very good. But our bottom six forwards were working their hardest and getting opportunities so I wanted to get at least one of those guys on with the other guys and maybe it would rub off and the energy would rub off. But quite frankly if your best players aren’t your best players, we’ve been shut out three times in the last 11 games, which has never happened, you are not going to have success. We have one goal or less in five of the last 11 games. You have to get production out of your best players and it is not happening right now,” stated Boudreau on the reason for lack of offensive production.

– As I alluded to above, I think a big part of the problem is a motivational one that is out of Boudreau’s control. All season long the Caps players have been hearing that it doesn’t matter what they do in the regular season, because they will only be judged by their success, or lack of it, in the post season. As a result, I believe that the Capitals are not focused, except when they feel challenged. Some of their best games this season were the two battles with the Flyers and the 6-0 white washing of Tampa when the Bolts came in on fire with a five game winning streak. Honestly, tilts against the Thrashers, Leafs, and Panthers aren’t going to get the blood of the Capitals players boiling. However, with each lackadaisical effort, the opportunity for a Lightning or Atlanta squad to hang around in the division race becomes greater, something the Caps bench boss is keenly aware of.

“We are in a dogfight in the conference and the division. It is not going to be a cakewalk and every team that plays us in the division is ready for us. Every team knows that they’ve got to check this guy and check that guy and we have to as individuals change a little bit of the way we play. That is why I was putting Alex from left wing to right wing because they had [Mike] Weaver out there every time against him. We have to find a way to get around that,” commented on Boudreau on what his club needs to do to defend their Southeast title for the fourth straight season.

– Going forward I am not sure a tilt against the Avalanche on Saturday will be the silver bullet this club needs and the Penguins aren’t on the slate until December 23rd. However the Caps are reminded of that by the fact that HBO cameras are currently following them everywhere, so next week’s first episode of 24/7 ought to be akin to a Washington funeral the way Boudreau’s squad is playing. But the former Slap Shot extra has a plan to try and turns things around and it starts with Friday’s practice.

“I gave them crap after the Leafs game. So you can’t just keep going and beating a dead horse. Tomorrow, I think obvioulsy we’ll practice the power play and penalty killing. Other than that we’ll have our individual meetings, maybe there is something there that I am missing right now and we’ll get to the bottom of it and we’ll get out of it. When we get out of it hopefully we’ll have learned by it,” finished Boudreau on his plan going forward for the Capitals.

Notes: Washington won the faceoff battle, 34-27, on Thursday night…Matt Bradley and DJ King were the forward scratches while Jeff Schultz and Tyler Sloan are on injured reserve…John Erskine and Fehr were my choices for top Caps of the evening as both worked extremely hard despite the loss…Washington outshot Florida 36-32 but the Panthers had a 26-18 advantage after the opening frame.

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Caps Collapse, Lose in Shootout to Leafs

Posted on 07 December 2010 by Ed Frankovic

For 40 minutes on Monday the Washington Capitals looked a lot like the team that dominated the NHL en route to the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy as they raced out to a 4-1 lead sparked by the recall of Mathieu Perreault (2 goals, +2) from Hershey and Alexander Ovechkin’s second goal in two games. But then the Caps forgot that they had to come out and play the third period and resembled the team that started flat in the first 10 minutes of game five in last season’s playoffs versus Montreal and allowed three goals to let the Toronto Maple Leafs tie the game and send it to ovetime. After a scoreless extra five minute frame, the teams went into a shootout and Mikhail Grabovski scored the only gimmick goal on a spinorama to give the Leafs an amazing come from behind 5-4 victory. The loss drops the Caps to 18-8-3 but they did register a point. However, the streaking Atlanta Thrashers won again on Monday knocking off the Nashville Predators in overtime and trail Washington by only six points in the Southeast Division and they have a game in hand. The Tampa Bay Lightning are also the same number of points behind but have played two less games than the Capitals.

Let’s get to the highlights, quotes and analysis of Washington’s second straight loss on home ice:

– The glass half full people will point out that the Caps should be excused for the third period collapse because they weren’t motivated against a Toronto team that is among the worst in the league in the standings and lack talent. They will be optimistic about the play of Perreault, who centered the second line with Alexander Semin (assist, +1) and Brooks Laich (assist, +1), for bringing energy and giving Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau some balanced scoring. In addition, they will talk about how the team took Boudeau’s message from Saturday about going to the net and potted four goals, the first three of which came because of traffic in front of Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson (32 saves). Laich did the screen job on the first two tallies while Semin went hard to the paint on Perreault’s second marker of the night and paid for it with a hit to the head from Leafs d-man Mike Komisarek. Finally, they will be happy because the Great #8 scored on a laser to make it 4-1 and immediately went by the penalty box and thanked tough guy DJ King for standing up to heavyweight Colton Orr in a fight. Orr had cheap shotted Ovechkin on an earlier second period shift and King, as he should do, took exception and motivated his club with the bout, which was pretty much a draw.

– The glass half empty crew, though, are likely to have as much to say. They will point out the Capitals poor defensive zone coverage in the third period and state that Washington didn’t really take Boudreau’s message about working hard to heart because after the first period they failed to draw a Toronto penalty, despite earning three in the first 20 minutes. The detractors will mention the numerous defensive zone giveaways, including Karl Alzner’s that led to the Leafs first tally. In addition, they will criticize the team’s inability to compose themselves in the last three minutes of this tilt, a stretch that saw Toronto score twice to tie the game up. Finally, they will preach about the Capitals lack of killer instinct and point out that a team that is this inconsistent in the regular season simply can’t turn it on and be strong enough throughout two months of the post season to capture a Stanley Cup.

– The bottom line is there is some truth to both arguments and Boudreau and GM George McPhee need to figure out where they need to address issues and areas where they shouldn’t over-react. After all, McPhee did tell many of us on media day that he doesn’t care a lot about the Presidents’ Trophy, and is only focused on a long playoff run so, in a way, those words give his players an out when they “mail it in” for portions of contests. It is only December but sometimes a little adversity is not a bad thing for a hockey club, in the long run. Last season the Capitals rarely faced it, although they did have a couple of three game losing streaks similar to this one. The team did go harder to the net for most of the first 40 minutes and that is when they were nearly impossible to deny, but the problem becomes how do they keep that desire and compete level up for a full 60 minutes? Much of the defensive breakdowns were not being out of position or caught up ice, in fact, on most Leafs goals Capitals players were all back in the general vicinity of where they needed to be, however, they quit skating.

– Now that you’ve heard my take on the loss, let’s hear what the coaches and some of the players had to say on a commendable effort by Ron Wilson’s club.

“Washington got a little sloppy towards the end.  I think they thought the game was over but kept on playing and [we] took advantage of some of their miscues in their end.  It’s great for our team,” said the Leafs coach and former Capitals bench boss on his teams comeback.


“We quit playing in our zone. We just wanted to play safe. You can’t just allow a team to come into our zone all night long. When they were in our zone, our positioning, by both defensemen and forwards, was really bad,” commented Boudreau on how his team imploded in the third period.


”I don’t know what happened [in] the last 10 minutes. It started with our line when [Mikhail] Grabovski scored. 4-to-1 lead after two periods is pretty big. Losing a game like this is pretty bad for us. It’s a lesson and it’s good we have another game soon,” added team captain Ovechkin.


“When we do what he tells us to do, we succeed. When we don’t, that’s what happens in the third. We set out a game plan. We did it really well in the first two periods. The third period – shame on us,” said d-man Tom Poti, who had three assists but was on the ice for the game tying goal by Clarke MacArthur, which came with “The Monster” on the bench for the sixth attacker.


“He brought great energy tonight, like we thought. He made plays, like we thought. If some of the other forwards had played with as much energy as him, we wouldn’t have been in the situation we were in,” finished Boudreau when asked about Perreault and why his club lost in the shootout, despite a three goal lead after two periods.


“Every time I get called up it seems like the first game I’m flying. Now it’s just a matter of doing it every night. I felt good tonight. It’s just unfortunate that we came out with a loss here. I thought we played good for the first two periods and in the third we got away from our game and it cost us,” said #85, who was easily the star of the night for Washington.


Notes: Perreault was recalled today from Chocolatetown…Eric Fehr was scratched, supposedly a healthy one according to Mike Vogel of WashingtonCaps.com, along with Dave Steckel and d-man John Erskine. Tyler Sloan went on injured reserve to free up a roster spot for #85…however, Jeff Schultz took a shot off of his hand in the second period and fractured his thumb and will miss 4 to 6 weeks. Sarge played 10:32 before the injury ended his evening…Michal Neuvirth (24 saves) started and was a mixed bag, just like his teammates. He was really good early in the second period when the Leafs pressed for the tying tally, but in the third period he probably should have had Grabovski’s goal that started the rally…Washington won the face-off battle, 33-25, with Boyd Gordon going 12-3 and Nicklas Backstrom (2 assists, -2) winning 12 of 18 draws…next up for the Capitals are the Florida Panthers at 7pm on Thursday night. It is not the type of opponent the Caps will get up for and they could really use a game against someone like the Pittsburgh Penguins to get their blood flowing and focus back. Unfortunately the hated Pens are not on the schedule until December 23rd.

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