Saturday, October 10, 2015

Rusty Caps Eek A Win

Capitals 5, Devils 3
Game Summary - Event Summary

It may have been a bit rocky, but the Capitals managed a win in dramatic fashion as they start their 2015-2016 season against the New Jersey Devils. Braden Holtby stopped 22 shots to earn his first victory of the season. Alex Ovechkin scored yet another highlight reel goal that started a three goal third period that solidified the win for the home team.

The Devils, who lost the night before at home to the Winnipeg Jets, pushed the pace of the game early as they tested the Caps legs early. It proved a good strategy for them as the home team seemed to struggle after a week off from their previous pre-season game. Despite being on their heels, they did manage a shorthanded goal by Jason Chimera who banked it off a defenders stick on a give and go with Justin Williams.

Washington then took a 2-0 lead after a break down by the Devils on the transition. It led to Brooks Orpik scoring his first goal as a Capital. After that, the Devils seemed to wake up. Bad coverage led to Adam Henrique goal after he got a spectacular feed from Jiri Tlusty. Then add a Devil power play goal and New Jersey made it a new game after one period of play.

While things seemed to settle in the second period, it was in the third when the fireworks started for the Capitals. The captain, Ovechkin, took a outlet dump out on the half boards in his own zone from Matt Niskanen. In his classic way, Ovi streaked down the left side, pulled the puck through his own legs and away from Devils defender John Moore. Ovi then bear downed on net on the back hand before last minute going forehand to chip it over Keith Kinkaid who covered the lower net expecting a back hand shot.

The goal sent the phone booth into a tizzy and chant of "O-vi" rang down as the captain celebrated his first of the season and 476th goal of his career. It also ignited the Caps play and they were able to take a strong hold on the game with a power play goal by Marcus Johansson and a Niskanen empty netter.

Niskanen's goal did come from a strange strategy by the Devils to pull goaltender Kinkaid on the PK with three minutes to play in the game. Caps took advantage and scored to make it 5-2. New Jersey didn't give up their strategy and got a last minute goal from Mike Cammalleri.

Caps Notes:
  • Ovi 500 goal watch: Scored a goal to reach 476 career goals in the NHL. He has 12 points (6g, 6a) in 11 home openers.
  • Ovechkin (1g, 1a), Chimera (1g, 1a), Niskanen (1g, 1a), Williams (2a) and John Carlson (2a) all had a two point night. 
  • Chimera's first period short handed goal was a first for the franchise. It was the first time in Caps history for the first goal of the season be a shorty. (per Elias Sports Bureau)

Sunday, July 26, 2015

RST: Random Sunday Thoughts

Holtby's Home, Semin Signs

It has been hard for me of late to find time to keep PHT up. Thanks to my lovely bride, we have come up with the solution of hitting all the high points of the week with "Random Sunday Thoughts". Fun for you, I know. The following are just some thoughts of mine on the Capitals week in the news and my opinion (for what it is worth) on those stories. Let's just see if I can keep up with this.

Semin is a Hab

After being bought out of his five year, $35 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes, former Cap Alex Semin signed a one year $1.1 million with the Montreal Canadiens. While we all knew Semin would find work somewhere, I was surprised it was still in North America.

With the KHL matching some expanding salaries of players from the NHL, I would have figured Semin would chase the money back in Russia. But that was not the case. He stays in the western hemisphere playing for a pretty good Canadien team who could use some natural goal scoring talent in their line up. He takes a pretty significant pay cut to do so. I just hope he is a less poisonous manner in which the 'Canes saw him with in their locker room.

Back in Net

Braden Holtby signs a 5 year $30.5 million contract to back stop the Capitals. It is the first contract the Capitals have offered over three years since they signed Olaf Kolzig to a five year $31 million. If that doesn't tell you how important Holtby is to this organization, I am sure the heavy work load and stellar numbers both in the regular season and in the post season should.

Barry Trotz called Holtby part of the Capitals' DNA in the post season. Certainly the 25 year old netminder has endeared himself to the Caps' fandom with his spectacular saves and his calm demeanor has boost the confidence of his teammates in front of him. Everyone is pretty excited to have him locked up for another 5 years.

Holtby's cap hit is at $6.1 million, breaking down to $3.5 million the first year then consecutively $7, $7, $5, and $5 million. The Caps could have done better to get that cap hit below 6, but MacLellan wanted to match as close to Holtby's desired numbers which were reported to be near $8 million a year. It remains to be seen now what is left for Marcus Johansson, the last Caps' free agent to be signed.

Other Caps' Notes:
  • The NHL changed the start times of 3 Caps games at the Verizon center from the 7 pm start to a 7:30 pm puck drop. The dates and times can be found here, and with the national broadcasts I am sure these are not the last changes for games this season. 
  • Caps did make some minor signings with the addition of Zach Sill. One thing the Washington squad is getting under the management of MacLellan is bigger through the ranks. Sill at six foot, 202 lbs, Sill spent time with the Penguins and Maple Leafs acquiring 84 PIMs in 63 NHL games played.