The Caps take on the Bruins for their last regular season game

27 Apr

Tonight marks the last regular season game before they take on one of four teams in the first round of the Playoffs. Traditionally, when your team’s in, big players usually sit out or don’t play hard to save themselves for the Playoffs, where it really matters. With the Caps on such a hot streak, completely sending the game down the crapper wouldn’t help with their groove.Especially with the fact the Bruins still haven’t locked their spot in. Meaning, the Caps could have significant influence in where they land. The Caps don’t need to treat this game like the game against the Jets, but wining this game would have it’s advantages.

If the Caps win, hey’ll enter the Playoffs off a win which could likely give them a confidence boost. Another positive to a W is the fact that where Boston lands also affects who the Caps play. Personally speaking; the Caps playing the Islanders or Senators isn’t nearly as appealing as them playing the Leafs or Rangers, in terms of likely hood to make it to the second round.

Who would you like to see the Caps play?

Hold onto your ass Fred, the Caps are playing the Jets

23 Apr

In case you were wondering, that is a reference to a movie. Which one, I have no idea. My mom just says it when she feels particularly adventurous when driving. Moving on, the Caps are playing their most meaningful game of the season tonight. Two teams go in tonight with a shot at the Playoffs, and one leaves in the Playoffs. As of now, the Caps are first place in the Southeast Division and therefore third in the conference. If the Jets were to win, they’d clinch and have enough points to take over the Caps  place as first in the Division and effectively clinch the third spot in the division.

Working my magic with POW (that’s a lie, but I tried), there’s a small chance that the Caps could make the Playoffs if they win their next to and possibly even take the Southeast Division if the jets lose their last game. That’s not to say this game isn’t important, it’d be a lot nicer and easier if they could clinch tonight and not have to battle the last tow games of the season.

Do you think the Caps can clinch tonight?

Ovechkin vs. Crosby, just stop already

20 Apr

While enjoying the absolute blowout by the Caps (they’ve finally found their groove this season) I saw some “Crosby>>>Ovi” business. This has been going on sense they both came into the league and I’m sick of it. Yes, they are two of the most elite players in the league. Is Crosby more so than Ovechkin? That’s up to you to decide, I’m not getting into that. What I am going to get into is the fact these players play two different positions, play on two different teams, and have two different systems. They are therefore not comparable to one another and their individual talent should be respected.

First off, Ovechkin is a winger. He’s played both left and right wing with varying success. Crosby is a center. Yes they’re both top notch scorers but they have different positions thus different jobs. Centers tend to be players who create plays and set up goals while wingers tend to score the goals (some hockey 101 for ya). Is this always the case? Absolutely not. But Crosby is also well known for impressive point streaks, not just goal streaks.

Last I checked, but I may be wrong, Ovechkin plays for the Washington Capitals and Crosby plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Another fun tidbit; they play in different divisions and therefore, against different opponants. Do they play some of the same teams? Yes, they do. But the frequency is completely different. The different division they’re in as well as their team mates can influence goals scored as well as points. A team playing the Panthers, per say, is going to have more scoring opportunities and goals scored than a team playing the Chicago Blackhawks. You feel me?

Finally, the systems are different. This is SO SO SO important and I feel like some nitwits out there don’t get the relation. Let’s take a trip back in time, shall we? Remember Hunters infamous defense first system, the one where games were decided by one goal and those goals were few and far between? Yeah, kinda hard to score 50 goals when the emphasize is on dump’n’chase and defense. Bylsma’s system is completely different and focused on the strengths of the team, which is obviously scoring. While Oates is the Caps head coach now, and he does support a more offense system, I think you see what I’m getting at. When Ovi played under Boudreau, for the most part, his goal tallies were higher than under the more defensive Hunter system.

All I’m getting at is that Ovechkin and Crosby are two completely different players and should be respected as such. So please, for the love of all things hockey, put this stupid “rivalry” aside. It’s pointless and is as useful as comparing apples and oranges.

Caps vs. Habs; every point counts

20 Apr

Puck drop is in less than an hour tonight and for two teams in contention for the Playoffs, every point counts. After the Islanders-Jets game went to OT, while the Jets lost, the margin seperating the two Southeast division rivals is one point. That’s right. One. Uno. Une. Ein. Yksi. I got a little carried away with the Google translate, but my point remains. That’s not a comfortable margin. At all. If the Caps tank this game they tank their chance of making the Playoffs with only three games left against tough rivals.

The Caps history against the Habs is rocky at best with mostly losses in the clubs early years. The Caps have’t fared too much better as the years have progressed. 2010, anyone? *shudder* Playoff series out of a horror movie aside, the Caps are 1-1 against the Canadiens this season, but here’s hoping the Caps of late (selectively forgetting Sens game Thursday  can get the two points and pull away from Winnipeg.

Braden Holtby; the future of the franchise?

16 Apr

Ever since I’ve been following the Caps, there has been some kind of goalie drama. Theodore or Varlamov in the Playoffs? Varlamov or Neuvirth as starter? Who are we keeping and who are we trading? Enough already! Luckily, this season they seem to have finally gotten their panties out of a wad and settled on the dynamic duo Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth. The next Batman and Robin? Not quite, but dependable netminders who can help the Caps achieve Playoff success? The results so far are promising.

At the start of the season, Oates made it clear neither goalie was a starter and that whomever could win would play. Admittedly, the start of the season was rough for fans and the team who stayed in the bottom 10 for weeks. As the season progressed and the team started to come together and string points together, the goalies got into a rhythm themselves.

Holtby

Holtby, who had a Playoff season no one would’ve expected, got off to a rocky start which caused some to question to letting Vokoun go. Was Holtby’s success just a flash in a pan? Does he need more time in the AHL? This talk was laid to rest quickly when the Caps started winning at the hands of Holtby’s saves.

Holtby’s stats are impressive being a rookie in the NHL faring only worse than some of the most experienced goalies in the NHL like Henrik Lundvquist. What does this say about our rookie goaltender? He’s one to keep, that’s for sure. Not only is he in the top 10 f0r goals against, saves, shootouts, and wins but his other stats don’t lag to far behind either.

As I always say, stats aren’t everything. This holds true for every player in every position, but Holtby’s stats support his talent and ability to play behind a team that’s had quite a rocky season. In the end, I see Holtby staying with the Caps for a long time. Will he be a franchise player like Brodeur with hall of fame career? Who knows, but if he keeps playing like this there’s nothing stopping him.

Caps are in the Playoffs…for now

11 Apr

If you’ve been following the Caps these season, you know all to well the uphill battle they’re fighting to get enough points to get in the Playoff race. Let me back up a little and explain how the playoffs are organized and all this point business.

In the NHL, you get two points for winning a game. Pretty simple, right? Well, if your team goes to overtime (also referred to as OT) because you’re tied both teams are awarded one point and the team that wins gets another point effectively winning two points.

Now, there are two divisions in the NHL; the Eastern division nnd the Western division. These are divided into multiple divisions, which I won’t get into because it can get a little confusing, but eight teams per division make the Playoffs.

This is due to the accumulation of points. the top three teams per division are ranked in the top three (that’s a good thing because you play inter-divsion until the Finals and it goes one-eight, two-seven, three-six, and so on) so if you win your division you’re assured a Playoff spot.

Luckily for the Caps, they play in the worst division in the league. While they may have less points than the team in eight, they have more points than anyone in their division therefore effectively making the Playoffs in a good place. That make sense?

As I was saying before, the Caps have been fighting an uphill battle to make the Playoffs this year. But they’ve been fortunate to be placed in a division with the likes of the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, making them the winners (so far!) but there are two weeks left int he season meaning the Caps have enough time to screw things up royally with teams like Lightening, Bruins, Senators, and Canadiens coming up.

If they go on a tail spin like they were on much of this season, the Jets (who are only two points or one game away from them in the standings) could easily win the division and effectively make the Playoffs. With things so close in the Eastern Conference, there’s no way the Caps can make the Playoffs except by winning their division.

 

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That being said, the Caps “top guns” have finally been showing up and producing like they’re paid to do. Ovi? He’s the gold star of the week on NHL Net. And for good reason, he’s had 7 goals in the past three games! He, really the whole team, have been showing they’re serious business this season. Let’s hope they can keep it up. Once you make the Playoffs, anything can happen! The LA Kings are prime examples being the first team int he eighth spot in the Playoffs to win a Cup.

The Caps take on their arch rival for the second time within a week

6 Feb

The Caps look to take on their rival the Pittsburh Penguins for the second time within a week with hopes this time around won’t be so disastorious. The last time the Caps met the Peguins was on Superbowl Sunday, after Pittsburgh had given New Jersey a solid thrashing.

Seeing what the Pens offense had done to last seasons Eastern Conference Champs, I was concerned for the Caps shakey and sometimes non-existence defense and equally lacking and de-energized offense. My concern wasn’t too far misplaced as the Penguins won the game 6-1.

Fastforward to tomorrow; the Caps are on a downward spiral, and honestly have been since the start of the season, facing a team that’s arguably one of the best in the league. Anyone else crapping their pants?

The Caps are everything the Cas aren’t; consistent, play smart (no dumb penalties!), have effective, and at times deadly, PK and PP units, but most importantly, they play as a team for the full game.

The Caps HAVE, I can not stress it enough, play a full game as a team getting pucks in front of the net to create scoring chance because eventually, one is going to butter the buscuit. When you start scoring, you start winning. When you start winning, you make the Playoffs and then anything could happen.

Basically; the Caps need to play sixty minutes (plus overtime if it comes to it) of hard, energized, consistent hockey and they’ll see things turn around.

A disappointing loss holds a twinkle of hope

6 Feb

There’s not much to say about the game that took place in the Phone Booth last night. The Caps played with very little energy and drive for the first two periods, this created many scoring chances for Toronto on which they utilized creating a 3-1 lead after the second. The Caps didn’t get their act together until the last 14 minutes of the game, which was due to Center Mike Riberio’s goal.

To be honest, their drive for the last fourteen minutes was the only notable and half way decent thing about the game for the Caps. They played sloppy and gave up way to many good opportunities for Toronto to capitalize on, which they did.

As I stressed in my pregame, the caps have to play a full game with energy. If they keep playing with this lack of focus and drive, they’re going to stay at the bottom of the league and they have way to much talent on their team to be 30th.

While what I said is true, not all players on the team aren’t playing hard. Last night, Mike Riberio, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, and Jason Chimera played hard and while their efforts might not necessarily have made an impact on the stat sheet, it did on the ice.

Some players, on the other hand, under preformed. Again, the not so great 8 was nearly invisible with a few rushes on net and a near goal. But his power play presence was abysmal and his play with less than 20 seconds left in the game did not impress. Honestly, I think Jeff Schultz had a better game than Ovechkin and that’s saying a lot.

Until the Caps can figure out how to play a full game with the intensity they had at the end of last night’s game, they’re going to continue to lose and stay at the bottom of the league. I’m not even going to talk about the Playoffs at this point.

Caps vs. Leafs; round 2

5 Feb

Tonight the Caps take on the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second time on this shortened season. The last match up between these two was a doosey with the Caps losing 3-2. While they gained momentum with an early lead via Joel Ward, they were unable to keep the pressure for the full game which the Leafs capitalized on earning them two points in the standings. While the Leafshave great young talent, the Caps inability to play a full game is what’s plagued them throughout the start of this shortened season and has cost them many games in the third (think Ottawa and New Jersey).

Playing a full game is vital if the Caps want to amount to anything and even make the Playoffs, which is seeming less and less likely with each passing game. To even have a chance at winning this game, the Caps have to be able to keep offensive pressure on the Leafs and get pucks in front of the net, one’s gonna tickle the twine sometime.

This boils down to individual player responsibility. the so touted “big guns” need to actually show up. Ovechkin? He has half as many goals as Joel Ward and his points aren’t anything to talk about either. Backstrom? Other than the game against Philly, he’s been pretty invisible with only a handful of assists and points. I think I’ve made my point.

If the Caps want to be a true Cup contender or even a team that’s halfway decent, everyone needs to come out and play every shift, every game. Let’s hope they can pull it together tonight in the Phone Booth and secure another W in the standings.

Capital Connection is back and better than ever!

5 Feb

After  a long hiatus, I’m very pleased to say I’m back and better than ever. I’ll be doing game previews, post games, player profiles, and more of the same old. Enjoy!

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