Bleep dat bleep up
Bleep dat bleep up
Photo credit: Gregory Shamus
After a year of build-up and three glorious episodes of HBO’s 24/7, the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins finally met at Heinz Field in front of 68,111 loud, screaming fans to compete in the 2011 Winter Classic. Much like the 39 games before and the 42 games to follow, this game counted the exact same amount in the standings: two points.
But both you and I know it meant waaaaaay more than that. You could see it in how the Caps played, celebrated and spoke after the game. This was the biggest game they had ever played in their NHL careers. And it showed.
At 8:17pm the first puck dropped. It would then take over twenty-two compelling game minutes to see the 2011 Classic’s first goal. In the second period, Marc-Andre Fleury made a routine stick save along the ice on Alex Ovechkin. Kris Letang then took the rebound and alertly flung the puck up ice where he found a streaking Evgeny Malkin. The Capitals’ defense, caught on a bad change, allowed Malkin to go in all alone on Semyon Varlamov. Malkin went five-hole and the the Penguins took a 1-0 lead.
We swear the puck went in.
There was certainly a special buzz in the air today. With most schools shutdown and most work-places deserted for the upcoming Christmas holiday, Caps fans traveled in droves to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to cheer on their hometown team during their pre-game skate. Why? Because the Pittsburgh Penguins were in town.
The energy the Caps felt in the morning certainly translated to the game as one minute in, Alex Ovechkin laid out frenemy, Evgeny Malkin, with one of his biggest hits of the season. The crowd went wild. The Penguins lost their composure. And seconds later, as Evgeny Malkin looked for retribution, he took a two minute interference call. The Capitals get a powerplay!
Unfortunately for our heroes, there was too much standing around, and there wasn’t enough crashing of the net in their ensuing man advantage. The Penguins savvily killed off the powerplay and seized back momentum immediately on a beautiful deflection goal by Sidney Crosby at 3:21.
Thirty-one game minutes later, the Capitals tied it up at the tail end of a 5-on-3 powerplay. Mike Green, who had pinched-in to the top of the face-off circle, riffled a slapshot to the top corner of the net. The game stayed tied 1-1, until the beginning of the third, when Sidney Crosby challenged three Capitals players, flicked the puck towards the net, and found Chris Kunitz who backhanded a shot home.
Things looked dicey until team leader Mike Knuble converted on a crazy 2-on-1 goal while the Caps were shorthanded. The two teams then went to Overtime. Despite what looked to be another goal by Mike Green, the extra five minutes of 4-on-4 hockey could not decide a victor. After an exciting shootout, Pascal Dupuis scored at the bottom of the 7th round. Pens beat Caps 3-2 (SO).
Sure. Tuesday was a fun night. Andrew Gordon scored his first NHL Goal, Marcus Johansson got his first NHL kiss, and the Capitals offense exploded in a 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. But not everything was rainbows and butterflies. Just ask former Capital and current Vesus analyst Keith Jones, who had this to say about Alex Semin’s play against the Devils on Versus’ post-game show.
Photo credit: BridgetDS
Seven straight losses is not where anyone thought the Caps would be heading into HBO’s 24/7 special. The intensity is there. The scoring chances are there. Just not the goals, and– as a result– not the wins either.
Bruce Boudreau was happy to have a break after a tough loss, saying, ”I think it is important for us to have 2 days before our next game.” Is two days enough?
By 13 years ago
The Caps blew out Tampa Bay 6 to nothing, and– just when we thought sitting Fleischmann was the answer the lines were clicking– we got more change. Admit it: you thought line combos were chosen using random ping pong ball selection. How else can you explain the constant Changing Of The Linemates?
This week we’ll take a quick look at how the top 6 line combos and blueline pairings are doing at even strength and how the goalies are doing overall, with respect to scoring chances. In the following weeks (as I get more comfortable with SQL) I will add goals scored for and against. For now it’s just scoring chances. I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online.
By 13 years ago
The Washington Capitals hosted the Carolina Hurricanes in a pleasant matinee of stick’n’puck and HOLY WOW I SAW THE CAPS WIN IN PERSON FOR THE FIRST TIME EVAR!!!
Marcus Johansson got it started early with a crease-borne knock-in set up by Eric Fehr. A 2-on-1 breakway by the Alexes led to a picturesque second tally (Minor scored, Major gets the assist). Erik Cole made the Caps pay for not clearing the zone and put the Canes on the board early in the second period. There the score sat until only 2.2 seconds remained in regulation. With Cam Ward on the bench and an extra attacker up in our face, Eric Staal tied the game, earned the Canes a well deserved point in the standings, and sent us all the way to the shootout. Where Ovi and Varly totally dominated. Caps beat Canes 3-2 (SO).
Nicky calmly celebrates his second period goal while Ovi spazzes out. (Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck)
Unquestionably, the Washington Capitals came into tonight’s tilt against Carolina facing adversity for the first time all year. They had lost three consecutive games, two of which pathetically, and had generally looked careless and sloppy throughout each. After Monday’s 5-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils, their jolly Captain faced questions about his leadership after showing a lack of tact during Bruce Boudreau’s press conference with Caps media.
The Caps also came into tonight’s game a bit bruised up. They would be forced to pick themselves off the mat without early-season standouts Michal Neuvirth and Mike Green, who were nursing lower-body and upper-body injuries respectively.
So in came the recently-rehabbin’ Semyon Varlamov, Tom Poti, and a reinvigorated Russian Machine.
Tonight, it only took two minutes to realize that our beloved Caps came to play. Alex Ovechkin laid out Chad LaRose with a fiery open ice check. Unequivocally, that hit set the tone of the game.
Nicklas Backstrom then decided to celebrate his birthday in fashion – albeit a day late – scoring in both the first and second periods. Semyon Varlamov made all the big stops when needed and our heroes dug deep and prevailed despite third period momentum-changing tallies by Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal. Thanks to Brooks Laich, the Caps beat Carolina 3-2. LOSING STREAK OVAHHH!
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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