Monthly Archives: February 2012

Most important Caps home game since…

Masisak tweet

NHL writer/editor and former Washington Times Caps beat reporter Corey Masisak asked on Twitter, referencing tonight’s home game against the Southeast division-leading Florida Panthers, “…pretty much the most important regular-season #Caps game at Verizon Center since the end of the 07-08 season, no?”

Agree or disagree? Use the comments below or reply on Twitter.

And you can check out Corey Masisak’s hockey writing at NHL.com.

Caps Super Bowl Sunday memories

There is not a lot to feel good about in Caps land on this Super Bowl Sunday.  The team left 2 precious points on the table and now we anxiously wait hoping the other shoe doesn’t drop on the Brooks Laich injury watch.  While good news on Laich’s knee and a few wins could quickly turn this empty feeling around, for the moment it’s a lot easier to look back on Caps Super Bowl Sunday’s of the past rather than dwell on what transpired today.  I have a few vivid memories of Super Bowl Sunday Caps games, both distant and more current.  Here are two of my favorites.

Game misconducts to Kevin Stevens, Lemieux and Jagr in this 6-4 Caps win!

I thought the roof was going to blow off Verizon Center 2 years ago.

Okay, now it’s time to go back to worrying about who is going to be taking faceoffs for this team.  For what it’s worth, I’d be happy to volunteer my services to this undersized bunch.

Caps coaching staff and minute management

“Hunter and his staff also deserve some credit for their smooth management of minutes in Saturday’s game. With another big contest looming against the Bruins on home ice in less than 24 hours, the Caps kept all 18 of their skaters to less than 23 minutes… …Defenseman Jeff Schultz, getting a sweater for consecutive contests for the first time in nearly two months, logged 13:53 as Washington’s sixth defenseman. That figure represents the most ice logged by a No. 6 defenseman (determined by ice time) in a Caps game since assistant coach Jim Johnson joined Hunter behind the Washington bench on Nov. 30.”

Dump ‘n’ Chase

Hendricks, Laich, Semin and a gritty Caps goal to like in Montreal

There was a lot to like about the Caps second goal in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Montreal.

First, there was the hard work by Alex Semin, who managed to keep the puck moving along the boards after falling to the ice in the corner. Brooks Laich then followed that up by not wasting time or looking to do anything fancy—he simply took the puck directly to the net. Finally, Matt Hendricks was headed toward the crease and picked up the Laich rebound, hammering it in decisively.

The play was gritty, simple and just what the Caps needed with only a one goal third period lead at the point.

Video: Matt Hendricks from Brooks Laich & Alex Semin vs Montreal, 2/4/12

Breakdown of a breakdown: Florida’s fourth goal vs. the Caps on 2/1/12

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson has been taking some heat for his play lately, and understandably so.

As Adam Vingan of Kings of Leonsis points out, “in the month of January, the Caps allowed 32 total goals against. John Carlson was on the ice for 22 of them.” Looking as far back as the coaching change the Caps made in November, Japers’ Rink notes: “By my count, John Carlson has been on the ice for 42 of the 67 goals allowed under Dale Hunter. That’s staggering.” Carlson was nearly on the ice for another goal in Tuesday night’s overtime loss to Tampa, but Tomas Vokoun came up what some (we) are calling the save of the year.

There’s one goal though—an empty netter by Florida on Wednesday night to put the Panthers up 4-2—that Carlson deserves less blame for than he’s been getting from some Caps fans on Twitter. As the video clip below shows, a poor pass by Marcus Johansson played a large role in allowing the Panthers to score their fourth goal and put the game away.

The video begins as a pass from an unidentifiable Washington player Roman Hamrlik hops over Johannsson’s stick near center ice and, as Johannsson reaches it near the boards, he attempts to knock it back to Carlson. Even if Johansson makes a clean pass there, Carlson would have little time to do much with the puck, given how close the Panthers’ Shawn Matthias is.

Johansson would have likely been better off sending the puck left and off the boards toward the offensive zone, rather than trying to send it back to Carlson. The play also could have turned out better if Carlson had stepped up toward the red line and fired the puck into the offensive zone himself before Johansson got there, though he may have been playing somewhat cautiously knowing the net behind him was empty.

Going back to the unidentifiable Washington player Hamrlik, who made the initial pass to Johansson, a better decision could have been made there on what to do with the puck; other Caps were open and skating with the puck rather than passing it really might have been the best idea for that player. But when Johansson eventually does end up getting to that puck, he needs to make a quick decision that better protects it. His attempt to pass back to Carlson was careless and not a crisp one on top of that.

Improved communication and decision-making all around would have helped on this play. This breakdown is also a reminder that, though Johansson and Carlson play big roles on this Capitals team—particularly with Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom injured—they still have a relatively small number of NHL games played between them (Carlson 154; Johansson, 117). Eventually, with enough experience under their belts, they might act better on instinct in these situations.

On the topic of instinct, it sometimes seems it’s a sports fan’s tendency to quickly fault one player when something goes wrong while they’re in the game. Jeff Schultz and Alex Semin are two with which this happens often for the Caps, and for good reason in some cases. But the things that go wrong in some instances are often more complicated than something a single player did. Though Carlson is struggling right now, on this play from Wednesday night there are other players that deserve blame, Johansson especially. The finger should not always get pointed solely at the easy goat of the moment.

Save of the Year: Tomas Vokoun

The image below is a sick shot of Tomas Vokoun’s overtime save last night on Vincent Lecavalier. You snap thousands of pictures and hope to get one this good every so often.

Photo by Mike Holden, BrooksLaichyear.com

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