Saturday, September 25, 2010

PK Shines As Caps Down Nashville

Capitals 2 - Predators 1
Game Summary

In the second preseason test for the Capitals, it would be their penalty kill that would come up big. The Caps would take 6 straight penalties but would survive them all included a penalty in the waning moments in the game to win their second straight preseason game.

Mike Green scored an early power play tally just 3:21 into the game. Nick Backstrom fed him a sweet pass to set up Green's slap shot. Green would finish with a goal and an assist. Jay Beagle would score the game winner off of a Keith Aucoin pass and the Caps would down the Predators.

The Caps would be plagued with penalties all game long after taking the early 1-0 lead. But the penalty kill would come up big killing every Predator's power play chance. The Caps are a perfect 10 for 10 in the preseason killing off penalties (Columbus Blue Jackets were 0-4 on the PP).

The preseason tilt included a pair of fights with Steve Pinizzotto taking on Kelsey Wilson after Pinizzotto hit Wilson cleanly and Wilson took exception with the clean check. The second bout was between two heavy weights in Grant McNeill and Wade Belak. Belak got in a few punches but McNeill stood strong, lasting until the linesmen broke it up.

Cody Eakin continues to impress even though he did not score tonight. His speed led to a couple negated icings and a spectacular collision with Preds' goaltender Anders Lindback. Beagle made a strong case for making the team with his game winning goal. Marcus Johansson also stood out in this game.

Matt Hendricks didn't quite make the splash he did in the first preseason game, but he played a more physical after the coaching staff evaluated his first game. Brian Fahey also seemed pretty invisible through out the game.

Both goaltenders looked pretty good. Michal Neuvirth had a great series of saves late in the first period as the Predators picked up their play. Dany Sabourin even came up big in the waning seconds of the game coming up with some pretty nice saves to preserve the Caps' lead.

Caps Notes:
  • Caps cut goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman Patrick Wellar and sent them down to Hershey. 
  • Bruce Boudreau indicated that Alex Ovechkin most likely will start in only three preseason games. Ovi is expected to only play in the Caps' home games.
  • Next Preseason tilt is against Boston Tuesday night (9/28) at Verizon Center. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rookies Kick Off Camp

It was just a practice, but already rookie Capitals' players are starting to impress. Cody Eakin is one of those young players that has the coaching staff eager to put him in with the big boys.

"I want to see him in an exhibition game or two at the NHL level," Head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's the one junior that's come here I think saying forget it I want to play in the NHL this year. He had a great junior year and we're going to give him a chance to see what he's got."

Other players just found it hard to keep up with the rigorous first practice. Stanislav Galiev had a hard time with the skating drills and had to take a knee or two late in practice. The 86th overall draft pick found himself out of breath as the practice wound down.

Braden Holtby didn't need to be on the ice with the rookies, but with the log jam of pro netminders working out together it was tough to find some ice time. Holtby took part of the practice to get in some work and ice time before fall camp begins.

Joe Finley made an early impression as he takes a spot back on the blue line. His experiment at forward in last year's camp is over as he is looking for a permanent job with Hershey next season. He had a freak arm injury while playing with the South Carolina Stingrays. Finley comes with a new attitude and a bit more composure according to Gabby.

"He's a lot more composed and better, I think," Boudreau said. "[He's] another year older, he's played one year, albeit a short one because of an injury shortened season, at pro. He wants to be a regular in Hershey and he's come here with that determination. I like him."

I would expect tomorrow's practice to be just as tough as today's work out. The rookies are prepping for the rookie game against the Flyers on Thursday.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

5 Rookies To Watch

Before every season starts, there is first a preseason. Then before that is fall camp. Before that is rookie camp, and that is what starts soon for the Capitals as they look to once again chase a championship.

With the kiddies going back to school and the weather returning to a tolerable temperature, so comes the Capitals' rookies to catch a glimpse at what a NHL camp is all about. These kids will fly in, be subjected to some hard work both on and off the ice, then cap it all off with a rookie game against the Philadelphia Flyers on September 16th.

After that, fall camp progresses fairly quickly as some rooks will be sent back to their junior teams (or back to Europe) and the big boys come back to town to get their work in before the first preseason game on September 22.

Here are a five rookies to keep an eye out for at rookie camp.

#87, David de Kastrozza, Forward - The University of Maine stand out signed with the South Carolina Stingrays after his senior year with the Black Bears. The Toms River, New Jersey native amassed 2 assists in three games played late in the season and only saw four games in the post season and no points. One thing de Kastrozza has going for him is size at 6'3", 205 lbs. It will be his first camp with the Capitals and maybe looked at as a defensive forward. He scored a goal and assists when the Maine Black Bears beat Boston University in the Hockey East semifinal.

#49, Stanislav Galiev, Forward - Another talented puck handler from Russia, Galiev spent last year in Juniors with the St. John Sea Dogs. He was selected 86th overall in the 2010 draft and is not expected to make the team, but he can set up a play or two. In 67 games he set up his team mates with 45 assists, 60 points total. Galiev likes to pattern his play after Alex Semin, but he needs to work on his strength and physical play. Pretty good video on him.

#76, Garrett Mitchell, Forward - A tough kid who returns to his second camp with the Capitals. We caught up with him last year at development camp. He took what he learned and doubled his points when he went back with his hometown Regina Pats. He improved his point production from 15 to 31 in a year. He also got some love in Hershey playing one game for the Bears. While he is on the short side, Mitchell is definitely a sand paper type player. Amassing 110 PIMs last year he hasn't been shy about picking a fight or two.

#45, Zach Miskovic, Defense - While not really considered a rookie (he played a full year with Hershey), this is an important camp for the 6'1", 185 lbs. defenseman. If John Carlson and Karl Alzner stick with the big club, Miskovic could be the go to defenseman at Hershey if the Caps run into injuries. On the blue line, he has actually been productive on the back end helping out with 20 assists and 26 points in 59 games played. His hard work ethic will turn heads on the coaching staff.

#31, Philipp Grubauer, Goaltender - Born in Rosenheim Germany, this big calm goaltender has the chops to make it to the NHL. That might be a tough road to travel in the Capitals organization that is full of young talented goaltending. He led the Windsor Spitfires to a second Memorial Cup championship despite being pulled in the third game. He is a quick goaltender that uses his reflexes to swallow up pucks. Technically sound, he could find a spot in Hershey if Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov impress with the big club. However, he will be fighting a few more really good, young goaltenders looking to do the same thing. He is the third German goaltender the Caps have taken in the draft (Robert Meuller and Olaf Kolzig are the others). He was the Caps' 112th overall pick (4th round). Here is a gallery of some pics of him during the 2010 Mastercard Memorial Cup run.

First practice for the rookies is on Sunday September 12th at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The 10:30 am practice is open to the public. They will scrimmage Wednesday at 11:45 am.  Rookie camp will end with a game against the Philadelphia Flyers rookies on Thursday at 3 pm.