Welcome to the Capitals Weekly as we look back at the past week for the Washington Capitals as they took on the Ottawa Senators (postponed), Nashville Predators, and Detroit Red Wings. Plus we take a look at news and storylines that took place during the week of December 27th though 31st.
- Monday, December 27th, 2021 – Ottawa Senators v. Washington Capitals
- Postponed due to COVID-19
- Wednesday, December 29th, 2021 – Nashville Predators v. Washington Capitals
- After 10 days off the Capitals would return to the ice as they would host the Nashville Predators in their final home game of 2021. In the first period the Caps would strike fast as Lars Eller would be the beneficiary of a beautiful cross crease pass from John Carlson to take the 1-0 lead. The Caps would then get their first powerplay of the game as Michael McCarron would get called for interference, but the Caps would get probably only one really good shot on goal as the Preds would kill off the penalty. However, the Caps would strike once again as Carlson would let one rip from the top of the faceoff circles and top shelf to grow the Caps lead to two. The Caps would then go back on the powerplay due to a Ryan Johansen slash on the returning Michal Kempny, but once again the Caps would falter on the powerplay, but they would generate some better offensive zone pressure this time around. Shortly after the powerplay ended Carl Hagelin would feed Nic Dowd with a cross crease layup to give the Caps the 3-0 lead over the Preds. After the third goal we would see tempers flare up as Matt Benning of the Preds and the debuting Alex Alexeyev would both be called for roughing and Garnet Hathaway would be called for high sticking to give the Predators their first powerplay of the game.
- Going in to the second period the Preds would continue their powerplay from the first period, but would be held off the board, however, after the powerplay expired Yakov Trenin would strike to get the Preds on the board. Tempers would still be flaring between the two teams as Tom Wilson and Mark Borowiecki would drop the gloves. Both men would get five minute majors for fighting and Borowiecki would get a two minute instigator and a 10 minute misconduct to put the Caps back on the powerplay, which they would fail to convert on yet again. After killing of the penalty the Predators would get two goals in the 35 seconds as Luke Kunin and Filip Forsberg would score to tie the game at three for the Predators. After Nashville tied the game it would continue to get physical as Dmitry Orlov and Ben Harpur would both get matching minors for roughing, and then later Matt Benning would put the Capitals back on the powerplay with a roughing penalty of his own. The Caps would not score on the powerplay.
- In the third period The Caps and Preds would trade powerplay opportunities, but neither team would score, but on the second penalty kill for the Caps it would be Evgeny Kuznetsov with the great individual effort to score a piece of art top shelf goal to give the Capitals the 4-3 lead. Late in the period the Predators would pull the goaltender which would see Carl Hagelin get the empty netter to ice the game and give the Capitals the 5-3 victory over the Predators. However, before the victory would become official, fireworks would go off one last time which would see a pair of misconduct penalties be doled out.
- Overall it is a good solid win for the Caps, and a great way to get back into the groove of things after a 10 day layoff due to COVID and the Holiday Break. First period was all Caps (pun intended), but the second period the Predators came alive. The third period you could tell both teams were more settled in. I liked the aggressiveness the Caps had, and it was a key factor to the game all night long.
- Friday, December 31st, 2021 – Detroit Red Wings v. Washington Capitals
- To close out the year 2021 the Capitals would head to Detroit to take on the Red Wings, and in the first period it was a lackluster effort from the Caps as they would be outshot 11 to 5 by the Wings, but would manage to escape the period still scoreless. Late in the period however, Dmitry Orlov would be called for tripping to put the Wings on the powerplay with 19 seconds left in the period.
- Going into the second period the Wings would fail to convert on the powerplay, but after it ended Pius Suter would strike to give the Wings the 1-0 lead. After that goal the Caps would take over as they would register the next nine shots on goal. There would be a pair of powerplays traded amongst the two two teams, first for the Caps early in the period, but of course they did nothing with it, and then later in the period Tom Wilson would head to the box to give the Wings their second powerplay of the game, but they also would not capitalize on this one. With less than five minutes left in the period Evgeny Kuznetsov would score to tie the game at one, and Lucas Johansen would record his first career point in his NHL debut.
- Then in the third period it would be a feisty period between the two teams as get more physical with the hits. The Wings would give the Caps two powerplays during the period, and on their second one of the period, and third of the game, Alex Ovechkin would pound one through Thomas Greiss to record his 275th career powerplay goal, after much debate and postgame video review, to give the Caps the 2-1 lead. Ovechkin would then get the empty netter to give him his second of the night, and the Capitals the 3-1 victory over the Red Wings.
- Another good win for the Caps. Lucas Johansen, just like Alex Alexeyev the game before him, played solid in his NHL debut. The Caps powerplay almost went 0 for 3, but after review in Toronto it was declared that Ovechkin got the puck past Greiss with just enough time before the powerplay ended to pass Dave Andreychuk for first place in powerplay goals with 275. After Detroit scored in the opening minutes of the second period the Caps came alive and would outshoot the Wings 22 to 5, so it was good to see the Caps dominate the way they did. Powerplay still needs work, and the Caps need to get better in the faceoff circle. 35 percent is not going to cut it.
News and Notes
- Two More Debuts!
- Due to half of the Caps defensive core being placed into COVID-19 Protocols the Caps were forced to call up reinforcements, and this allowed for Alex Alexeyev (12/29 v. NAS) and Lucas Johansen (12/31 @ DET) to make their NHL debuts. In Alexeyev’s first game he would play 10:35 with one hit and a penalty. In Johansen’s debut he would log 12:18 in ice time and he would record an assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal for his first career NHL point.
- Ovi Climbs the Charts
- Alex Ovechkin would net two more goals this week as he continues to chase Wayne Gretzky on the all time goal scoring list, but in the meantime he would takeover sole possession of first place as the League’s all time powerplay goal scorer with his 275th career powerplay goal.
- The Powerplay… Again!
- Against Nashville the Caps were 0 for 6 for the second game in a row, and then they went 1 for 3, after video review postgame. The Caps went 1 for 9 for the week. That’s really bad, and once again Blaine Forsythe needs to be fired. I’m just going to keep saying it until it happens.
- Kempny’s Return!
- While it may be brief due to defenseman being on the COVID Protocol list, we finally were able to see the return of Michal Kempny to the Capitals lineup, and first time since March 2020. Kempny was a solid presence on the defensive end, and showed great awareness and timing. Kempny would make great use of his stick to break up plays, and even create a beautiful outlet pass that would lead to the Nic Dowd goal, and giving Kempny an assist on the goal. We’ve missed Kempny on the Caps blueline, and seeing his progress since dealing with both leg injuries is very promising and will be a great addition to the lineup come the Playoffs.
Sunday, January 2nd, 2022 – v. New Jersey Devils – 3p ET
TV: TVAS, NBCSWA, MSG+
Tuesday, January 4th, 2022 – @ Montreal Canadiens – Postponed
TV: TSN2, NBCSWA, RDS
Friday, January 7th, 2022 – @ St. Louis Blues – 8p ET
TV: SNE, SNO, SNP, BSMW, NBCSWA
Saturday, January 8th, 2022 – @ Minnesota Wild – 8p ET
TV: BSN, NBCSWA