Monday, 30 April 2012

Caps From Across the River

Hey Caps fans! My name is Matt Tucker but you can just call me Tucker.  I'll be adding my thoughts to the blog from the states, specifically from right outside the US capital.  I've lived in northern Virginia  all of my life and have been a DC sports fan since I can remember caring about sports.  Trust me I remember when it was the MCI center, the Redskins could make the playoffs, and the Nationals were the Expos from somewhere in the great white north. But I digress.

My perspective on our beloved Capitals will be from someone who sees and hears about them on a daily basis and is surrounded by other Caps fans. I love this team and love this town.

Lets go Caps

Caps from across the..... desert?

Hello fellow caps fans, My name is Ford K. and I'll be contributing to this blog fairly often, thought I might introduce myself.  First even though I live and grew up in Las Vegas, my family decided it would be nice to stick all of the DC sports baggage on me as a little kid, despite growing up 4000 miles from the DMV.  So I'm just as tortured by Joffrey Lupul's OT winner and Carlos Rogers' dropped interceptions as the rest of you; even if I think IN&OUT kicks five guys ass.  
If you read this blog you're used to a unique perspective on the Washington Capitals from about as far from the Verizon Center as you could possibly be.  Well from me it will still be from really far away... just in the opposite direction-- Also a little angrier because I get to legally lose money on the Caps, as well as be emotionally crippled by them.  

oh ps I think GMGM is a moron for not trading Vokoun at the deadline. 

Friday, 27 April 2012

New York, New York... Round 2 Preview

We came. We saw. We conquered. The Washington Capitals, written off by most 'experts', beat the defending champions, the Boston Bruins, in seven games in the first round.
Following the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils' victories in the remaining first round ties, the Caps have landed with New York in the second round. Here is an example of how terrifying and good at hockey they are:


And we beat them the last two times we faced them in the playoffs. This will be easy, right?

It won't be as easy as before. This is the first time since the lockout we've been the regular season underdogs facing them. They've added Brad Richards, a legit first line center since our last encounter, and are generally a more competitive side. Plus, Gaborik scored 41 goals this season, good for third in the league. (By comparison, Ovi came in at 5th with 38 goals.)

There's a key to winning this series. I don't know if you're familiar with this phrase over in the US of A, but we often say 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' Nothing could be more true of these Caps. Their defence oriented play allowed them to shut down one of the league's best and deep offense in the Bruins. Braden Holtby came into the playoffs at the last minute, and played like a true veteran. The guy's been the best goalie in the playoffs this year, period. It's easily been the best playoff performance I've seen out of the Caps (I've been a fan since 2007). The offense seemed to take a back seat, but was still positive. Shooting on one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, everyone except Perreault and Schultz who played a game got at least one point. If Ovi hits 2008 form, Green comes back to his old ways.... let's just say I don't want to jinx it.

Prediction? Caps in Six.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Caps Win Series, Beat Bruins 2-1 (OT)

The Caps did it. It took seven games, an incredible performance from Braden Holtby, back to form play from Ovechkin, Sasha's snipes, but most of all, Joel Ward's clutch overtime goal to seal the win.

This was the first seven game series in which every game was decided by one goal. Both teams deserve credit for all their hard work, and I wish the Bruins success next year. The only people who predicted the Caps to come on top in this series were us, Caps fans. I mean, just look at these 'expert' predictions from

Well, would you look at that. Everyone predicting the Bruins to win. Also notice the Pens, Canucks and Hawks.

So, Game 7. What a thriller. Here's how it went:

- The Bruins outshot the Caps 32-27, and the Caps took three minors. This doesn't sound great, but hey, we won.
- Holtby was outstanding, again. This time he had a .969 save percentage. He's the reason we got this far.
- Matt Hendricks opened the scoring just after ten minutes, on a sneaky deflection off John Carlson's rocket.
- But the Bruins weren't going to give in, especially in front of their home crowd. Tyler Seguin scored a scrappy goal for his second of the series. Kid'll be a star, believe me.
- A scoreless third gave us the most thrilling thing in team sport. Golden Goal, Extra Time, Overtime... whatever you call it - you know it's all or nothing, all on the line. And that's where Joel Ward appeared in the crease, just three minutes in and whacked it in. Signed after his incredible postseason in Nashville last year, he was seen to be a clutch player. And clutch he was. It was over. The Caps won in seven games.

So, onto the Eastern Conference Semi Finals (Let's try not to have a repeat of last year...)
We'll find out tonight who we're playing, but here's the possibilities:

Ottawa beat New York + New Jersey beat Florida =  1) Ottawa vs Philadelphia  
                                                                                   2) Washington vs New Jersey

New York beat Ottawa + New Jersey beat Florida = 1) New York vs Washington
                                                                                  2) New Jersey vs Philadelphia

Ottawa beat New York + Florida beat New Jersey = 1) Florida vs Ottawa
                                                                                  2) Washington vs Philadelphia

New York beat Ottawa + Florida beat New Jersey = 1) New York vs Washington
                                                                                   2) Florida vs Philadelphia

It's wide open!

Pre-series analysis will be up tomorrow.
Here's the radio call of that great moment.


Monday, 23 April 2012

Caps Lose Game 6 to Bruins 4-3 (OT), Game 7 Forced

The Washington Capitals lost their chance to close out the series in six last night. In overtime, too. Just one shot, and this post could be in an entirely different tone. Instead, we're back in Boston on Wednesday night to win it in seven. Not trying to put a downer on things here, but:
2008- Caps lose to Flyers in 7, first round
2009- Caps win first round vs Rangers  in 7, but lose to Pens in semis in 7
2010- Caps lose first round to Montreal in 7
2011- Caps beat Rangers in 6.

We aren't great in game sevens, and have lost every single one played on the road in recent years.

This has to turn around if we even want to see the Conference Semi Finals this year. Here was how the game went:
- The Bruins got the first goal, just after five minutes when Rich Peverley getting a sneaky tip in.
- It didn't take too long, just four minutes in fact, when Mike Green whacked a slapper past Thomas. It was his first goal of the Dale Hunter regime.
- However, the lead wouldn't last. David Krejci scored to make it 2-1 to the Bruins.
- But again, the Caps replied, late on in the second with Chimera grabbing on to even it up.
- The Bruins kept the back and forth going, with Ference scoring with just over ten minutes to go.
- It wasn't over yet. Ovi smashed one in to make it 3-3 with less than five minutes on the clock.

But it wasn't to be. The Bruins dominated overtime, and Seguin scored after just three minutes. A game seven was now set.


The Caps can draw some positives from this game. Every time the Bruins scored, they snatched it back. Thomas was, to his credit, great in goal, stopping 36 of the 39 shots. 39 shots is a great offensive performance.

Can we win this? To put it in Tim Thomas' favourite man's words: YES WE CAN!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Caps Beat Bruins 4-3, Can Close Out Series Today

The Caps celebrate the win
This game was everything we ever wanted, a win in Boston. The Caps need one more win to advance to the semi finals, most likely to face the Rangers or the winner of the Flyers - Pens series. Having won the last two games (the only time a side in this series has won two in a row), the Caps have a lot of momentum on their side. Plus, the Bruins were 6-8-2 in regular season matinee games (3 of those coming in shootout.)

- Coming into Game 6, Holtby has stopped 175 of 185 shots, for a save percentage of .946. Despite giving up three goals in the game, he still stopped 34 shots, whilst Thomas had a save percentage of .875.
- There was no scoring in the first, mainly because of some great saves at both ends.
- The lamp was lit for the first time midway through the second period by Semin, whacking it in from the crease.
- It only took the Caps a couple more minutes to go 2-0 up, with Beagle scoring on a soft shot that Thomas failed to control.
At this point, I arrived back home having been out at an Indian restaurant. My tweets will show you what happened next...

- Yep, the Bruins scored twice to tie it. Seidenberg and Marchand scored within thirty seconds. The game was tied at the second intermission.
- I don't know what Dale Hunter said in the locker room, but it worked. Freed Knuble scored three minutes in on a great team play.
- But it only took five minutes for Johnny Boychuck to tie it with a, to his credit, great slapshot. (True story, I almost bought one of his used sticks for $100).
- The game looked like it was heading to OT, until Benoit Pouliot slashed Backstrom with just minutes to go. Enter Troy Brouwer.

So the Caps now have a huge advantage coming into Game 6 at the Verizon Centre today.
 Let's prove those analysts wrong!
 Let's unleash the fury!
 Let's win the series at home!



Friday, 20 April 2012

Winning Without Nicky - Caps Beat Bruins 2-1

The Caps truly were on the ropes before this game. Defense in the Game 3 shamble that was decided by an offside call was substandard, Holtby didn't play too great and Backstrom was shanabanned for Game 4, a must win game for the Caps. Let's be honest, the Caps aren't known as a clutch team who win when it matters (2008, 2009, 2010 were all bad game 7 losses), so lots of people thought their series would be effectively over once they inevitably lost Game 4. But this Washington Capitals side isn't like that. They won 2-1 in regulation instead. Here's why:
- The Holtbeast stopped 44 of 45 shots, over double Thomas' effort of 19 of 21 shots. Not a bad performance for an 'AHL Goaltender'.
- When the game was barely a minute old, Marcus Johansson scored a wicked snapper.
- After Rich Peverley had scored later on in the first, the game remained tied until 77 seconds to go                   in the second, when Sasha struck, sniping on the powerplay. This turned out to be the game winning goal.
-Knuble was in, and his veteran leadership may have really helped behind the scenes.
-Caps were disciplined! Holtby faced zero powerplay shots from the Bruins. Let's keep this up!

So onto the next one. Backy's with us again, and we have the momentum. The Caps won at TD garden earlier this series, so why can't they do it again? Holtby's on fire, Sasha cares, and Ovi's all ovi-the-place.

By the way, any Ovi haters out there, he leads the series in points with 4. Just saying.

Beat 'em in Beantown on Saturday, and use this momentum to take it in 6 at the Verizon Centre on Sunday. It's possible!

I'll be live tweeting during the games 5 and 6!

Let's go Caps!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Bruins Beat Caps 4-3, It's Not The End Of The World (Yet)

Boston now lead the series 2-1, and both teams now have (assuming the series goes to seven) two home games. So what went wrong? Well, the Caps had offense... if you told anyone before this game that a team would score three goals, it would be very likely they'd say that team would have won. The Caps took more shots than the Bruins as well, 32-29. Ovi had six shots, more than the last two games combined, and got himself a goal as well - Sasha also notched a powerplay goal, and Laich got  goal too.

Holtby was decent, but nothing special. He stopped 25 of 29 shots, for a save percentage of .862. Nothing compared to his .977 in Game 2, so obviously this was a factor in the loss. To his credit, the GWG was a tough deflection but it lost us the game and it didn't look impossible to save. The question is, why was Chara given so much free space with his slapshot? Defensive lapse. Had the goal not gone in, this could have been a much more positive post. Besides, it was offside. Here's photographic proof: image credit  

What could be more worrying is Nick Backstrom. He received a match penalty for completely pointless crosscheck at the end of the game on Peverley. Does he deserve to get Shanabanned? Video below:

As the title says, this result is not the end of world. Yet. The Caps can still snatch this in six if everything goes according to plan, but for the rest of the series, they can only lose one game. That's one game out of four to still have a shot at winning. Game 4 is a must, because can you honestly see the Caps winning three in a row in this series? This is why Thursday's game is so important.

And now for something unrelated:

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Caps Beat Boston 2-1 (OT), Series 1-1

It took a while, but we got there. Predictably, this game did not have many goals and was forced into overtime again - but this time, Holtby had learnt his lessons for overtime. The Caps did what they needed to do, they played physical, and shot. A lot.
They outhit the Bruins 41-36, with Ovi flattening Krejci for his second big hit of the series. The offense came back as well, with 39 shots, and improvement on 17 in game 1. They were still unable to match the Bruins total of 44 shots, but it's the ones that go in that count, right?
-The Caps got the first goal, with Troy Brouwer putting in a scrappy pass from Ovi that was loose in                 the crease. Old man Thomas' weak spot is definitely in this sort of area.

- It wasn't going to be easy, though with   Benoit Pouliot scoring a goal levelling the score, and then crashed into Holtby's head. The goal stood, and Pouliot didn't even get a minor.

- The game continued into a nail-biting overtime (with unbelievable hockey by Semin), and then into a second overtime. A couple of minutes in, the Bruins won a defensive zone faceoff so I grabbed my phone and worked out Holtby's save percentage, assuming nothing was happening. But then, the Bruins coughed up the puck to Marcus Johansson, who fed it back to Nick Backstrom on the faceoff dot. Nicky ripped a wrister past Thomas. This was my reaction on twitter, with a math fail on the first tweet:

-Thomas ran back to the locker room. Either to cry or to go to the bathroom (it was a long night to be fair.)

The real hero of this game didn't even get into the three stars, and unjustly in most peoples' opinions. Braden Holtby. In his second playoff game, he conceded one goal, and had a save percentage of .977, saving 43 of 44 shots and getting the 'Beanton Beatdown' treatment all through the game.

So, the series has now swung in the Caps favour. The series is tied, and the Caps now have more home games than Boston, and whilst regular season stats aren't much to go by, the fact remains that the Caps were 16-21-4 on the road and 26-11-4 at home. It's fairly obvious where the advantage lies. With a bit of luck, the next two games may be the only times the Caps play at home this series.

Monday night. It's going down in Chinatown.

By the way, I won't be live tweeting that game. It's on at 12:30 AM UK time and I'll have hockey practice anyway.
                                                                   Go Caps!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Boston Bruins Game 2 Preview: The Most Important Game Ever

I've mentioned it before, game 2 is often where the series is won or lost. A win today would mean a real advantage in the series, effectively turning it into a 5 game series with a Caps home advantage.

But what do we need to win? First of all, the offense actually needs to be, you know, an offense. Seventeen shots is not good enough in the playoffs, especially against a strong goalie like Tim Thomas. That being said, Braden Holtby was on fire in Game 1, and if he can continue with this our offense can get away with being mediocre at best - it's one thing to build a team from the goalie out (Holtby had a .967 save percentage),  but we need some offense to go with it. Not mentioning any names... Ovi.

                                                     We've got to see this more often!

Something for the Caps to build on from game 1 was physicality. Despite being out hit 40-29, the Caps were able to keep this guy at bay (for the most part)

  The Caps didn't let the Bruins bully them around, and having been at TD Garden myself (I saw an incredible Bruins-Habs game there back in November) it's easier said than done. They play tough, and the crowd is brutal to the road team.

So to win.....
                      - Holtby must keep up his performance from game 1
                      - Ovi needs to keep playing physical and crash the net
                      - The Caps need to take shots from the close range - this is Thomas' weak spot.
                      - The home crowd must be silenced with an early goal
                      - Chances must be taken - there were too many near misses in game 1.

Friday, 13 April 2012

NHL's New Playoff Promo feat.Ovi

I do like this new promo, it's memorable, and it shows how much the playoffs mean to all the players, and how much they put on the line for the cup - you hardly ever hear of a hockey player calling it in, especially in the playoffs. However, it's not as good as the history will be made campaign from the last couple of years:
Plus, it was easily parodied:

Hockey in the UK - An Explanation

So I'm from and live in the UK, (apart from a couple of years in Germany and Washington DC.) My name is Cam, I'm 16 and live just north of London. There's more about me in the first post on this blog, anyway.

So, hockey in the UK. We won the won the Olympic Gold in 1936, and since then have been spectacularly awful. We're currently ranked 21st in the world and play in the Division 1 of the World Championship, and have had two players drafted to the NHL - Tony Hand (Edmonton 252nd, 1986) and Colin Shields (Philadelphia 195th 2000). As you can see, it's not a popular game here. In my town of 20,000 people, there are just two hockey players. My team plays over 30 miles away. The league I'm in (Under 19 South Divison 1) is actually the highest someone can get at junior hockey. But that's not much considering there's only two leagues in the south. We have a total of 37 Under 19 teams in the country. Not great.
Here's half of my team... I'm second to the right on the front if you're wondering!

Professionally, our top league is the ELITE League. The standard is slightly worse than the ECHL and has a total salary cap of around £8,000 a week. The best player in this league ever was Theo Fluery, after he left the NHL.The highest attendance we get is around 10,000 people. However, the majority of players in this league are actually foreign.

                                      The 2012 Champions - Nottingham Panthers

Below this, we have three leagues of lower standard than this, where foreign players are limited to maintain the British game. Of these leagues, only players in the EPL are paid.  

There's talk of the KHL expanding into Western Europe, and I hope we could get at least one team here. I find when people are exposed to the sport they love it, but it just hardly gets any media coverage here. British hockey is on satellite and NHL is pay per view.

The key to making the sport popular is simply exposing it more to the general public. If we put it on TV more, and taught kids it as part of PE (this is starting in some parts of the country) it would be far more watched and played. The government needs to subsidise more rinks - the Olympics is coming to London this summer, so lots are being invested in British sport, so why not hockey? We need more than the current 30 or so rinks in the entire country if we want to make it popular. Bringing the KHL to the UK would make it be a great way of promoting the sport, and maybe someday we'll have a player in the big show.

We may not have the level of support other countries have, but the British hockey fan base is one of the most dedicated in all of sport. If you're ever here, catch a game for a great atmosphere!

The Hiatus Is Over!

I'm back everyone. My season's over, our team didn't make the playoffs this year, but at least the Caps have.
So, the Caps.... Having got the 7th seed in the East, they picked up a difficult draw against defending champions Boston. In my humble opinion, we should have tanked it and got 8th seed - we've got the Rangers'  number and have beaten them in the playoffs multiple times in the last few years.
So with Vokoun and Neuvirth both injured, we're relying on this guy for now....
Braden Holtby. The guy's been solid down in Hershey for most of the season and has several NHL starts to his name, but not a second of playoff experience until last night

To be honest, he did spectacularly well, stopping 29 of 30 shots, finally conceding to Chris Kelly quickly in overtime. The reason why the Caps lost was their pathetic offence in the first two periods, although this picked up in the 3rd, this needs to be addressed urgently.

Game 2 is so important. In my view, if the Caps lose, then the series is done. They'd have to win four games our of five, which is not impossible, but very unlikely nonetheless. if they win, then they have the advantage. The series would be tied with the Caps having the majority of the home games - and the Caps have been far better at home than on the road this season.

 By the way, if you're new to this blog, I'm a 16 year old British Caps fan. I've been doing blogs for a while, but I took a break a few months ago to focus on my schoolwork, but I'm back for good now.

Let's go Caps!