Found February 26, 2013 on
Tampa Bay Lightning
Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals
7 p.m, Verizon Center
TV: FS-Carolinas, CSN-Washington
The big storyline going into tonight will be that it is Alexander Semin's first game at Washington since signing with the Carolina Hurricanes. Semin had many successful years with the Caps before leaving for Carolina via free agency and he was pretty popular with a lot of fans but hated by others. Semin was a fantastic goal-scorer and underrated two-way player during his time in Washington but was criticized for his "work-ethic" and was scapegoated as a "lazy player" whenever things weren't going his team's way. It's not my place to say whether any of those accusations are true or not, but even some teammates have called him out on it. The most recent being Troy Brouwer who said that "there were some nights when you didn't know if he was going tos how up to a rink" in a recent interview.
His work ethic might be questionable according to those in the nation's capital but Semin's current teammates have had nothing but great things to say about him. They even went so far as to defend him on Twitter and in the media the last couple of games, saying that they loved having him around and that he has worked very hard every day this season. Seeing the Hurricanes players stick up for their teammate like this is a great sign and I'm sure they are ready to play for him tonight. It's great that they have some motivation, but they should have had enough motivation going into tonight since they are still without a win in the Southeast Division and need to keep pace with the Tampa Bay Lightning at the top of the division.
After hearing Brouwer's comments, I'm sure that many would love to see Sasha light up his former team, but I don't think Semin cares about how he performs on the stat sheet as long as the Hurricanes are the ones taking home the two points.
Know Your Opponent: Washington Capitals
At the beginning of the year, I thought Washington would be improved compared to how they were under Dale Hunter but they've actually been a lot worse. They currently sit at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 6-10-1 record and would need to acquire points in nearly 70% of their remaining games to even have a shot at the playoffs or the Southeast Division title. It's not an impossible feat for a team to accomplish, but the crystal ball isn't predicting many good things for the Capitals right now.
It's going to take time for the Caps to adjust to Adam Oates' system, especially with the shortened training camp, and they have a few new pieces coming in at forward, so there have been a lot of growing pains there for them. They have also been missing a key player in Brooks Laich for the entire season and have been receiving some very bad goaltending from Michal Neuvirth and the recently re-signed Braden Holtby. Given that and some odd lineup decisions on Oates' part, and it's easy to see why this team sputtered out of the gate to start the year. Much of the blame from fans and the media has been given to Alex Ovechkin being on the downward turn of his career, but that claim isn't completely true. He might not be putting the puck in the back of the net as often as usual, but Ovechkin is still a top 5 player in shots on goal so he is creating a lot of offense. His days of scoring 40-60 goals a season are over, but he is still one of the most dangerous forwards in the NHL no matter what his goal total is.
The Caps dug themselves into too big of a hole to contend for a playoff spot but this team is probably a little better than their record indicates. They haven't been a great territorial team this season but they haven't been awful and their goaltenders probably aren't as bad as they've shown so far either. It might be too late for the Caps to save their season, but this game wont be a pushover based on their record.
Tlusty - E. Staal - Semin
Dwyer - J. Staal - Dalpe
Bowman - Nash - Jokinen
Westgarth - Wallace - LaRose
Corvo - Faulk
Harrison - Sanguinetti
Gragnani - Murphy
Out: Welsh, Pitkanen, Gleason, McBain, Skinner
Chimera - Ribiero - Ovechkin
Brouwer - Backstrom - Fehr
Wolski - Perreault - Ward
Crabb - Beagle - Hendricks
Green - Alzner
Carlson - Erskine
Schultz - Kundratek
Out: Poti, Hamrlik, Johansson, Laich
Five Things to Watch For
- Zac Dalpe makes his return to the lineup tonight and if you remember, he was a pretty solid territorial player while being used on Jordan Staal's line during his first stint. Staal has actually done a fine job possession-wise since Skinner went down, so adding a player with more offensive talent on his line shouldn't hurt at all. That's actually what this line needs right now in Skinner's absence because while they've been able to keep the puck in the offensive zone, it hasn't been resulting in them getting a lot of shots. Hopefully Dalpe can improve that. They should spent most of the night against Ribiero and Ovechkin, two of Washington's best offensive players this season so that will be a good matchup.
- I'm really not sure how this defense is going to fare tonight with Marc-Andre Gragnani being inserted into the lineup for Michal Jordan. I know it's just subbing one AHL player for another, but Graganani plays a much more risky game than Jordan as an offensive defenseman and tends to wander a lot. I can't imagine that he and Murphy will do well together if they aren't protected but they could be awesome on the powerplay. Gragnani was a positive possession player in Vancouver in Buffalo last season but he was also given some of the easiest minutes on his team(s). This could end up being a favorable matchup for Washington if they are misused just a little.
- A favorable matchup for Carolina could be one of their top-two lines against Carlson and Erskine. Carlson is one of the better young defensemen in the league but Erskine has struggled to keep his head above water this year and he is playing shutdown minutes for some reason. If one of the Staal brothers is consistently out against them then it could be a long night for the Caps.
- If there is one good thing Adam Oates has done with the Caps as head coach, it's that he has made their powerplay one of the best in the league. Adding Ribeiro is part of the reason for this, too as he has recorded 12 of his 21 points there, but there are still plenty of options for them to use. Ovechkin and Backstrom are obviously dangerous and they just got another weapon back today in the form of Mike Green. Carolina's PK was able to hold off the Islanders powerplay the other night, but they've got another tough test tonight if they fall into penalty trouble.
- When the Caps acquired Joel Ward two summers ago, the thought was that he would be used on a shutdown line and provide some secondary scoring for the Caps. He ended up being a fourth liner and the most useful thing he did was score the winning goal in Game 7 of their first round matchup against the Bruins last year. This season, he looks more like the player they expected to get. Ward has been performing great territorially while playing some very tough minutes on the Caps third line and is tied for the team lead in even strength goals with four. He might get an easier matchup tonight since Backstrom's line has been getting most of the tough minutes but that probably makes him more dangerous given how good of a territorial player he is.
It's nice to have some added motivation heading into tonight's game but this matchup was already very important even without the Semin drama. The Hurricanes need to get some wins against divisional opponents if they want to have a chance at the playoffs and tonight is a good place to start.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
Alexander Semin's return to Washington D.C. Tuesday caused quite a stir.Semin was an enigmatic performer during his tenure with the the Washington Capitals, demonstrating world-class offensive ability and the magical ability to disappear for weeks on end.“Some nights you didn’t even know if he was gonna come to the rink,” Capitals forward Troy Brouwer observed during a...
Former Capital Alexander Semin will make his first appearance at Verizon Center on Tuesday with his new team, the Carolina Hurricanes. Semin was a polarizing figure in Washington, either going on jaw-dropping scoring binges or long droughts with poorly-timed penalties. And that was when he wasn't injured.
A little under four weeks ago, the Hurricanes made the decision to send Zac Dalpe down to the AHL to make room for Tim Wallace. Dalpe has been one of Carolina's best forward prospects for quite some time now but he has yet to make his mark in the NHL despite making the Hurricanes out of training camp for three years in a row. I'll admit that he was in a bit over his head...
Former Washington Capital Alexander Semin made his first appearance against his old team. Now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, it is clear that Semin still has some fans in the D.C. area…like this girl who loves her some Semin.
Is this just an innocent sign made by a legitimate fan of Alexander Semin, or did she know what she was doing?
We don’t want to put the girl on blast...
GLOVE IS STRONG
On Tuesday night the Carolina Hurricanes came to town to take on the Washington Capitals. With the Capitals up 2-0 and a threat of the game getting out of hand, Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward came up with a huge stop that deserves to be considered a candidate for save of the year. Joel Ward had 3/4 of the net empty after Cam kicked out this rebound, and Cam magically got a piece...
Alex Ovechkin has a sense of timing. On the heels of his best game of the season, where Ovechkin logged a hat trick in a 5-1 Caps win, a Russian video emerges of Ovechkin drilling a slapshot through the high heels of a gang of good looking Russian women. Enjoy.
Thanks to Russian Machine Never Breaks for finding this gem.
From the replay, it does look like the Flyers forward Harry Zolnierczyk catches Capitals forward Mathieu Perreault with a "dirty" knee check, just like Taylor Hall hit Cal Clutterbuck. It's a bit of a different angle so it's not as cut an dry in my opinion. If I was a betting man, and I am, I think a suspension is coming for Zolnierczyk
I would imagine that ...
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have re-signed goaltender Braden Holtby to a two-year, $3.7 million contract extension, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Holtby will earn $1.7 million in 2013-14 and $2 million in 2014-15. He was set to become a restricted free agent following this season.
“We are pleased to sign Braden to a contract...
Alex Ovechkin makes $9,538,462 a year to play hockey for the Washington Capitals and I think Mike Milbury is right to call him out on National television, he played like a bag of ass tonight. If I was the owner of the Washington Capitals I would be upset. If I was a team mate of Ovechkin I would be upset.
Malkin skated for 30 minutes today:
Bylsma told reporters after the Penguins' practice in Sunrise, Fla. that Malkin went on the ice after being symptom-free Tuesday.
One thing Malkin will miss on this trip is to match up against his old friend Jordan Staal.
Pierre Lebrun had an interesting write up on Staal today. Two interesting notes:
Last night's 4-2 win over the Islanders was an ugly win for the Hurricanes, so it probably won't surprise you to hear that they were outchanced at even strength. The Canes have made somewhat of a habit of pulling out wins like this as last night was only the fifth time this season they were outchanced and the third time they won a game where that happened. I'm not sure...
The Washington Capitals are currently sitting near the very bottom of the Eastern Conference, one spot behind the last place Buffalo Sabres. In Tuesday night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps came out looking better than they have all season and threw 31 shots at Cam Ward through two periods. Somehow, only two of those shots managed to get by Ward who stood on...
It appears that Matt Hendricks is being repaid with support for his work with the USO during the lockout. General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, attended the game to watch Hendricks and the Caps win, 3-0.
Not all of the Washington Capitals' top six roles are filled.