If a regulation hockey game was forty minutes long, the Capitals would own a 2-3-1 record. Such is not the case however, as the Washington Capitals blew a two goal lead that they held for over half of their game with the Ottawa Senators on a frigid Tuesday night. It was a game in which it seemed as though the Caps had finally gained some form of a comfort level with Adam Oates’ new system, and for the majority of the first two periods, Washington looked like a very dominant, and efficient hockey club. Troy Brouwer opened up the scoring in bitterly cold Ottawa just passed the thirteen minute mark of the first period when Wojtek Wolski turned a loose puck over at center ice and created a two-on-one opportunity with Brouwer. Wolski snuck down the left wing and fed a saucer pass to the forehand of Troy Brouwer in the low slot, who then passed up the quick shot, and opted to deke Craig Anderson. Brouwer finished the play by tucking the puck on his backhand passed a sprawling Anderson, who actually caught a piece of it before he saw it roll across the goal line.
Segment 1- Tom, Mike and Adam talk about the 2013 NatsFest and Bryce Harper
Segment 2- The guys talk about the over the top Caps fans who end up making it all about themselves
Segment 3- Adam brings up Mel Kiper’s grades of the 2012 NFL Draft
Segment 04- The guys talk about the Verizon Center switching from Coke to Pepsi
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All is well again in Washington D.C., at least for one night, as the Washington Capitals earned their first victory of the 2013 campaign in a 3-2 thriller against the Buffalo Sabres. The Caps were coming off of an overtime defeat at the hands of the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, a game that saw the DC hockey team overcome a two goal deficit to force overtime. They seemed to have gained confidence from that game, as it spilled over into this afternoon’s contest.
For the third game in a row, the Capitals had a strong push in the first period. And for the third game in a row, they were unable to sustain that momentum for much longer than that as they dropped what was arguably their worst defeat of the season, getting crushed 4-1 against Montreal on Thursday night. The loss snaps a six game win streak against Montreal and dropped the Caps to 0-3 to start the season, the worst start since the 1993-1994 season when they lost six straight. In a night that felt as though things were finally starting to swing in the Capitals’ favor, ended in anything but. As they had in their first two games, the Capitals looked solid early on in the first period. In fact, if not for potential Vezina Trophy candidate Carey Price, this game had the looks of a very favorable outcome for the Capitals’ early on. There were signs that some of Adam Oates’ new system had begun to stick, especially with players like Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks, both of whom have had very strong outings through the first three games.
Going into the lockout shortened season, many speculated that players’ endurance levels would be somewhat of a factor in the first few games. The Washington Capitals have proven this to be the case as, for the second time in as many games, they were unable to maintain the high energy level of play they sustained for the first half of a period or so. Tuesday night, the Caps were back at it on the ice, trying to erase a sloppy and disorganized 6-3 loss in Tampa Bay on Saturday night. The game, this time against a visiting Winnipeg Jets team on the second leg of a back-to-back, bore a similar storyline to the game this past Saturday. The Caps started off on a good note. They seemed to have a better understanding of the new offensive forechecking system that Adam Oates has installed, creating turnovers deep in Winnipeg’s zone, resulting in a couple of scoring chances. Ultimately, it was Matt Hendricks who cashed in on a beautiful tick-tack-toe play that started with a cross ice pass from Alex Ovechkin to Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom majestically threw a slap-pass down to the goal mouth where Hendricks was able to redirect the puck into the net with his skate. Washington also seemed to have a nice flow to their power play, and although they did not score on it until a meaningless goal late in the third period, they seemed to have good puck movement and were able to generate chances.
Well, at times it wasn’t pretty, but hockey was back in full-fledged action on Saturday. Mistakes are still to be made, and rust still to be shed, but for now, it will do. The Washington Capitals and Adam Oates made their long anticipated debut Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but ultimately fell short in a 6-3 loss. The Caps looked to be in control, even dominant at times, early on in the first. Much of that had to do with an early interference penalty drawn by Alex Ovechkin followed almost immediately by another penalty by Tampa which ultimately led to the Capitals being on the power play for four of the game’s first five minutes. The Caps had plenty of chances, but Tampa’s newly acquired goaltender Anders Lindback proved that he was up for the challenge of being a starting goaltender for the first time in his career.
Hockey is back! After a lengthy (and some would argue unnecessary) lockout, the NHL and players finally came to an agreement. Seats will be filled and jerseys will be sold, but for some teams, such as the Washington Capitals, the damage may have already been done. Still, with a new coach, new faces, and intriguing positional battles, the now solely 2013 could still prove both exciting and educational for a young and talented group that was one goal short of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since new coach Adam Oates’ Capitals team did it back in 1998. Here are a few headlines to keep track of in this abbreviated NHL season for the Washington Capitals.
1. How will the team respond to another coaching and system change?
The 2012-13 season has fans excited for many reasons, but it would be irresponsible to ignore the biggest offseason headline; the hiring of Adam Oates. Many Caps fans will be excited to welcome Oates back to the organization, but many know him as the playmaking center, not the coach. So what will his influence be on this Capitals team? In his introductory press conference, Oates was quoted by ESPN.com as claiming “I really feel the game today is territory. You have to establish territory and protect it.”. What Oates will implement is a style of play that is much of a hybrid between the high powered, run-and-gun offense that was installed by Bruce Boudreau, and the tight checking, defensive style established by Dale Hunter. He will attempt to send a strong forecheck with centers and wingers upon opposing teams in their own defensive zone, while instilling a strong commitment to team defense. Oates’ made a name for himself as the assistant coach of the New Jersey Devils by forcing mistakes from opposing teams’ defenseman with an aggressive forecheck. The idea behind this goes back to territory. In recent history, teams that have gone deep into the playoffs have established a presence in their offensive zone via this aggressive forechecking style. Perfect examples of this can be seen through last years Stanley Cup winners, the Los Angeles Kings, their counterparts and Oates’ old team, the New Jersey Devils, and the Boston Bruins . The pressure that these teams created from their forecheck resulted in ill-advised passes from defensemen and created turnovers in the offensive zone, leading to more offense and goals.
Offense and goals are something that Capitals fans would love to see more of from their beloved captain Alex Ovechkin. While 38 goals and 65 points is nothing to snuff at for any player, it was by far Ovechkin’s worst totals for his career and has left fans wondering if the “Great 8” will ever recapture that magic that made him one of the league’s most exciting players. It is believed that a large reason that contributed to General Manager George McPhee’s hiring of Oates had to do with the development of Ilya Kovalchuck’s game in becoming more a more “complete” hockey player. Under Oates, Kovalchuck became a more responsible player in his own defensive zone, even contributing on the penalty kill. He also regained some of the offensive firepower that he was best known for under Oates, seeing his highest offensive output in goals and points since the 2008 season. The hope and belief is that Oates might be able to achieve some of these same results and rejuvenate Ovechkin back to his Art Ross Trophy and two-time MVP form.
With a new, more aggressive style of offense, a commitment to good team defense through solid positional play, and a more complete and offensively potent Alex Ovechkin, Adam Oates may find just the right recipe for success with a Caps team that is desperate for playoff success.