The Washington Capitals defeated the Buffalo Sabres yesterday evening to earn their first victory of the season. After coming from behind to take a lead and hold it for an extended length of time, they capped off the game with a stick salute to fans. Joel Ward went RG3ing after scoring his third goal of the year, John Erskine scored and Alex Ovechkin netted the game winner.
In a sick, fateful twist of timing (really, is there any other?), my fancy new camera arrived from a New York camera shop just a few days after the Washington Capitals 2011-12 season came to an end last week. After taking the initial mandatory cat photos I was looking around the family room for something to shoot using some fancy new features and I saw the bobblehead set on top of a bookcase. Since I won’t be taking any Capitals photos with this camera for a while, I figured, “Why not?” I think my wife laughed at me a little, but that’s okay. I think the result was worth it.
The bobbleheads pictured (Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, John Carlson, Mike Green, and Alex Ovechkin) are part of the gift the Washington Capitals gave their season ticket holders for the 2011-12 NHL season. Tomas Vokoun was also included in the set and would normally be standing to Backstrom’s right, but I left him out for two reasons. The photo didn’t look quite right with him there (I tried) and Vokoun is almost certainly not going to be back next year so the photo might have a longer shelf life without him. For more about the bobbleheads, watch the Capitals unboxing video.
After the game that wouldn’t end finally ended Thursday morning, I wrote something about an “I got this” vibe from the Washington Capitals. Saturday afternoon’s game validated that feeling. The Caps had it and defeated the New York Rangers by a score of 3-2. Thankfully, it was in regulation time, too.
There are three photos I’m especially happy with from yesterday’s game. One is the feature photo in this post of Nicklas Backstrom’s fist pump following his goal. We don’t get that kind of celly from him very often.
While I couldn’t quite tell how the Alex Ovechkin hit on Dan Girardi went down, but it was one of those rare times that I shot an in-focus, not-too-motion-blurred photo of a moment like that.
Then there is the photo of the sombrero on the ice in front of the Chipotle dasher board ad in front of a fan holding a sign reading “Rangers Are in Danger” with the puck sliding by for some Cinco De Mayo spirit.
The Washington Capitals clinched a playoff berth with their 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers last night (and a loss by the Buffalo Sabres to the Philadelphia Flyers). That was good. Really, really good.
The Washington Capitals lost goalie Michal Neuvirth after former Capital Marco Sturm fell on his leg. That was bad. Really, really bad.
The Washington Capitals got goals from both Alexes for the first time since, uh, the last time they played Florida (and Jay Beagle and Brooks Laich knocked in goals of their own, too). That was good.
The Washington Capitals let a 3-0 lead slip to a 3-2 lead in an all too familiar manner. That was bad.
The Washington Capitals scored a fourth goal before the Panthers managed to score a third goal. That was good.
The Washington Capitals power play was not very powerful. Again. That was bad.
The Washington Capitals penalty kill was very successful. That was good.
The Washington Capitals had lots of trouble removing the puck from their zone. Again. That was bad.
The second season begins sometime next week. I wonder if this team has found their identity.
Oh, and what’s this? After missing 80 games with concussion like symptoms, the Capitals Outsider Box Score has returned!
My photos are below and on flickr.
Before the Washington Capitals hosted the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center last night, former Capitals Peter Bondra answered questions from Capitals season ticket holders in a “chalk talk” session. It was pretty lightweight, but enjoyable, which was good, because for Caps fans, everything went downhill after that in a 5-1 beat down from Buffalo.
Braden Holtby gave up 3 goals on 18 shots. In a follow up to his excellent defensive play while on a power play Sunday night, Alex Ovechkin coughed up the puck leading to a Sabres shorthanded goal. Bah. Everyone was talking about how this game was going to be like a game seven in the playoffs. Sadly, they seemed to follow the model of the Eastern Conference Semis game seven in 2009 against the Penguins.
The added salt in the wound heartbreaker of the night was seeing a flag flying (literally) Sabres fan occupying the seat of Capitals super fan, Elliot Segal from DC101′s “Elliot in the Morning” radio show.
I made my own mistakes, too. I kept accidentally changing (and not noticing for a while) a camera setting that led some serious overexposure. Like the Capitals, I’ll hang my mistakes out in public for everyone to see. Except maybe some of these might be kind of cool.
My photos (overexposed and all) are below and on flickr.
The Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals played a pretty high energy game last night at Verizon Center. Perhaps what was most surprising was that there were no fights. The hitting was hard and tempers were definitely flaring, but no one threw down. For a short time I really thought I we might see Roman Hamrlik get into a rare fight by throw down with Setphane Veilleux after Veilleux used some nasty stick express his outrage over Hamrlik flipping him to the ice. But it was not to be.
What was to be was Braden Holtby pitching a shutout, supported with goals by Jason Chimera, Mathieu Perreault, and Alex Ovechkin (who is hungry for more, although I always seem to miss or mangle the focus on the “feed me” gesture). Without Holtby heroics in the first period, he may have just been holding on late. Getting out of the first period 0-0 was the best thing that happened to the Capitals all night, and they have Holtby to thank for that.
Way back when in ought-eight, ought-nine, when the Washington Capitals trailed by a couple goals, there was never any worry about whether they’d come back, only about who was going to be credited with the goal…and who are we kidding? It was almost always Alex Ovechkin unless it was overtime, in which case it would be Mike “Game Over” Green. It always worked out. Until April or May, at least. This season, though, and much of last season, holding a two goal lead is stressful as the wonder is focused on if they’re going to hold it, blow it, and how close it will be.
Last night was more of the latter, but a little of the former. The Capitals had to win in this game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. They had the lead, they fell behind and Ovechkin won it in overtime. Of course, this was in a game against a goalie making his first NHL career start and suffering from what sounds like a pretty nasty case of dehydration. He was visibly off late in the third period and overtime, most noticeably during stops in play where it looked like he was holding onto the goal for support to keep standing. But whatever it takes, a win is a win. Unfortunately, it may be game over for green for a little while after the hit he laid on Brett Connolly, but that’s beside the point.
The theme of the night seems to have been yelling. Coach Dale Hunter yelled at the Capitals in the second intermission. Green was yelling from the bench, Dennis Wideman was yelling when shooting, and Ovi was yelling after he scored. And when was the last time we saw him jump into the glass like that after scoring? Personally, I’ve missed seeing that.
You know where to go to really read about the game, and it ain’t here. It’s over at places like Ed Frankovic, On Frozen Blog, Russian Machine, Japer’s Rink, District Sports Page and such. I have some photos below and on flickr.
Before last night’s game I realized that the warmup music they were playing was what they used to play back in the go-go days 2009. Through Twitter, Jordan Greenberg (the guy that plays the music), told me they’ve been playing it all along. If this is true, I must be getting older and forgetting stuff. Hope I remember that can be a useful skill.
The game itself against the New York Islanders went through a number of phases. The phase where the Capitals were pretty much dominating, winning every battle for every puck, getting off lots of shots and giving up almost none, yet managing to end the period not he wrong end of of an 0-1 score. Second period was kind of the same…still winning almost all the battles, but it took eight minutes or so for the Capitals to register their first shot of the period. Um. In the third period, it felt a little bit like the game in Carolina last week.
Then the Islanders went up by another goal. A few more minutes passed and some fans started heading for the exits when Matt Hendricks took a penalty with about 7 minutes left. After that, though, the earth spun backwards and everything was right again. Troy Brouwer scored twice in the final few minutes to tie the game at two and I saw something I hadn’t seen at Verizon Center in quite a while…The fans didn’t sit back down after Brouwer’s first goal. The ones that were left. Or, at least, a bunch of them.
Overtime. Does anyone remember a game a year ago almost to the day? When Alex Ovechkin just couldn’t pretend he’s not a total, bitchin’ rock star from Mars and rolled out the magic in overtime against the Islanders? Well, it was kinda like that, but different. The result was right.
So, where was everyone last night? Y’all missed out. I know it was the Florida Panthers, it’s hard to get up for those games and all, but, hey, your loss.
They were partying like it was 2009 in Verizon Center as the Washington Capitals pounced fast and never let up until after the final buzzer sounded on their 4-0 win over the Panthers. Brooks Laich played…and played well despite his knee injury just two days earlier. Tomas Vokoun stopped 42 shots against his former team (consisting of oh so many former Capitals) and Alex Ovechkin scored 2 goals. I guess if you need a negative for the night, it was that Ovechkin couldn’t finish the trick despite plenty of time and chances. Boo hoo.
I took some pictures and you can see them below or on flickr.
Alex Ovechkin broke his stick at the end of warm ups. When I heard and saw it, my first thought was of Slapshot falling at center ice just before the game against the Flyers in December, which happened to be the last game the Washington Capitals lost at Verizon Center. I hoped I was just doing the silly fan thing of drawing connections where they don’t exist (if not being more irrational), but that’s kind of the way the game went.
The Capitals played poorly and lost to the New York Islanders. It wasn’t like they were phoning it in (like some of the final games of the Bruce Boudreau era), but more like they just plain forgot how to play at the NHL level. Bad passes, a bit too much watching instead of doing, and when doing, everyone doing something different. Oh, well. It’s hard to get mad as a fan over this one.
The Russian Machine, Japer’s Rink and District Sports Page recaps are the regular good quality recaps that you expect form them, but On Frozen Blog focused on Karl Alzner in a good way and Ed Frankovic takes a look at the coach, Dale Hunter. All good stuff.
My photos are below and on flickr.