A Light Week
The Caps play just one game this week, Wednesday’s home date with the Colorado Avalanche. Caps captain Chris Clark skated with his teammates today, but is unlikely to play on Wednesday at this point. Left wing Alexander Semin was back on the ice at Monday’s practice and is likely to play against the Avs. Injured defensemen Tom Poti and Brian Pothier remain sidelined, and two more Caps joined them on the sidelines. Left wing Matt Pettinger left practice early today and center Michael Nylander did not take the ice. We hope to have more on their respective conditions later in the day.
We shot video of Bruce Boudreau’s post-practice press conference as well as conversations with Brent Johnson (who is nearly ready to return to the lineup) and Clark. You can view those videos at washingtoncaps.com; they should be up and ready to go later this afternoon. Later this week, I’ll have stories on the revitalized Washington blueline corps and a separate piece on Shaone Morrisonn, also at caps.com. As is my usual custom, I wrote a postgame notebook piece for Saturday’s game in Montreal. Because of a technical snafu, it did not appear on caps.com until this morning. In case you’re one of the folks who were wondering what happened to it, I’ll repost it here as well:
Money is Green and Green is Money – Mike Green now has two overtime game-winning goals. He joins Calle Johansson as the only Caps defenseman with more than one overtime game-winner in a Washington uniform. Like Green, Johansson scored both of his OT game-winners as a Capital in the same season, doing so during the 1999-00 campaign.
Pace of the 8 Car – With two goals on Saturday, Alex Ovechkin now has 32 in 42 games this season. In his rookie season of 2005-06, he scored his 32nd goal of the season in his 44th game. Ovechkin’s 32nd goal in that 2005-06 season was his most memorable to date: it was “The Goal” in Phoenix on Jan. 16, 2006.Last season, Ovechkin scored his 32nd goal in the Caps’ 51st game of the season.
With his goals on Saturday, he has now scored in 21 different NHL buildings and has scored in all Eastern Conference buildings with the exception of New Jersey’s Prudential Center, where he has played only one game.
Ovechkin has still not gone more than two games without scoring a goal all season. The last time he went more than two games without lighting the lamp was Mar. 24-31, 2007 when he went four games without scoring a goal.
Pull the Power Plug – When Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec scored on a power play at 2:38 of the first period in Saturday’s game, it marked the 15th straight game in which the Canadiens have scored at least one power play goal against Washington. The last game in which the Caps kept the Canadiens from scoring on the power play was Feb. 24, 2003 in a 4-1 Washington win at the MCI Center.
Since that game nearly five years ago, Montreal is 19-for-79 (24.1%) with the extra man against Washington.
High/Low – With blueliners Tom Poti and Brian Pothieron the sidelines, Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz skated 25:33 and blueliner Milan Jurcina skated 23:25, the most for both players in any single game this season. Forwards Michael Nylander (13:15) and Viktor Kozlov (11:37) both logged their lowest ice time totals in any single game this season.
Jurcina played 10:14 in the third period and overtime, the most of any Washington blueliner during that stretch. Nylander skated just 2:38 and Kozlov 1:59 during the same span of Saturday’s game. Donald Brashear skated 9:33 for the game, but picked up 3:01 in the final period and overtime.
Ovechkin led Caps forwards with 9:37 combined in the third and overtime while Nicklas Backstrom logged 9:01 during that stretch.
With 22:31 on the afternoon, Backstrom registered his second highest ice time total this season. He skated 23:10 in a shootout loss at Detroit on Dec. 17.
Mavens of the Matinee – The Capitals are now a perfect 4-0 in afternoon games this season.
Border Patrol – Washington is now 4-0 in games played in Canada this season. The Capitals have scored an average of six goals per game in those four visits north of the border this season. The Caps make two more treks north of the border this season, both later on this month. Washington visits Toronto on Jan. 23 and returns to Montreal on Jan. 29.
Comeback Kids – Washington rebounded from a 2-0 deficit at the end of the first period to win Saturday’s game. The Caps are now 3-10-2 when trailing after one period this season. They are 13-0-1 when leading after two.
The Canadiens dropped to 17-3-5 when scoring the game’s first goal and 14-2-2 when leading after 20 minutes.
Coming Up Short – Coming into Saturday afternoon’s game, Green carried an average of just five seconds worth of shorthanded ice time per game. Green was not deployed on either of Montreal’s two first-period power play chances, but he saw 41 seconds of shorthanded ice time early in the second period when penalty-killing blueliner Shaone Morrison was in the box.
Hallowed Ground – Caps coach Bruce Boudreau made his first visit to Montreal as an NHL coach, but he has fond memories of his last visit as an NHL player.
“I told [Caps GM] George [McPhee] the last time I played here was 26 years ago,” said Boudreau. “I got an assist on a Ronnie Ellis goal. That’s all I know. It broke him out of a 21-game scoring streak. They finally put me with him and took Stan Weir off the line. And then we won the Memorial Cup here. They’re good memories.
“I don’t know what it means to Europeans or Americans. I know what it means to Canadians. This is hallowed ground when it comes to hockey. If you can’t get yourself up to have a great game in Montreal, then boy, I don’t know if you should be a hockey player.”
Junior Achievement – Caps blueline prospects Karl Alzner and Josh Godfrey both won gold medals as members of Team Canada, winners of the gold at the 2008 World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic. Alzner, who captained the Canadian team, finished the tournament with a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating in seven games. Godfrey had five assists and was also a plus-2 with eight penalty minutes.
Washington goaltending prospect Michal Neuvirth represented the host Czech Republic team. He was 2-0-2 with a 2.50 goals against average and a .910 save pct. in four games played.
Down on the Farm – Playing the second of their two games on a brief New England road trip, the Hershey Bears scored four first period goals and held on for a 5-4 win over the Wolf Pack in Hartford on Friday.
Scott Barney, Grant Potulny, Andrew Gordon and Joe Motzko scored in the first for Hershey, but Ben Clymer’s third period tally proved to be the game-winner. Daren Machesney stopped 38 of the 42 shots he faced in the Hershey nets as the Bears gained a split on the trip.
With 42 points, the Bears are tied for third in the AHL’s East Division, five points behind front-running Philadelphia. Hershey has the rest of the weekend off and is back in action on Wednesday when it hosts Norfolk.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays saw their franchise record 12-game winning streak snapped this weekend with back-to-back losses to the Florida Everblades on Friday and Saturday. The Stingrays fell 6-3 on Friday and 7-2 on Saturday in the first two games of a season-high seven-game road trip.South Carolina visits Pensacola on Monday and Mississippi on Tuesday. The Stingrays conclude the trip with three games against the Texas Wildcatters – the ECHL’s top team at 26-2-1-4 – in Beaumont next weekend.
The Stingrays are now tied with Florida and Augusta for third place in the ECHL’s South Division.