Green joins Caps on road despite injury

Posted on: Tuesday 10/25/2011 7:56pm By benraby

Ben Raby, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Capitals defenseman Mike Green missed his second straight practice Tuesday as the Caps continued to prepare for their first multi-game road trip of the season.

According to the team, Green is suffering from a lower body injury and is considered day-to-day. Coach Bruce Boudreau said after practice that Green will travel with the team to Edmonton and is hopeful that the 26-year-old can skate with the team Wednesday.

The Caps begin their two-game trip Thursday against the Oilers and if Green is unable to play, Sean Collins will likely dress as the Capitals’ sixth defenseman.

John Erskine has not yet been cleared for his season debut (offseason shoulder surgery), leaving the Caps with little choice but to recall Collins Tuesday from the American Hockey League’s Hershey Bears.

 “When we phoned down there,” Boudreau explained, “he’s the best right-handed defenseman that they had… he has experience playing for us and he’s playing well. If we had kept a seventh defenseman [to begin the season] it would have been him anyways, so he was the logical choice.”

Collins appeared in four games with the Capitals last season recording a goal and two penalty minutes. He also dressed for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal against Tampa Bay.

“I spent a pretty good chunk of time here last year with the same coaching staff and a lot of the same guys,” Collins said. “The systems have changed a little bit, but we did them in training camp and we’re doing them in Hershey as well so I feel good about it.”

Green took a puck to the jaw in Saturday’s 7-1 win over Detroit - an injury that required stitches - and reportedly sprained his ankle on the play as well.

The injuries did not seem to slow Green down as he finished with two power play goals while tying his career-high with four points. After the game, Boudreau called it Green’s “best game - maybe in a year.”

The Capitals visit the Oilers, Thursday at 9:40 PM. Catch the broadcast on WFED 1500AM and online at www.wfed.com. Coverage begins with the Caps Pregame at 9:00.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

Ovechkin given day off after slow start

Posted on: Wednesday 10/19/2011 1:43pm

AP: 6750b722-1008-4284-9fa8-19ef95993eac
Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin sits on the bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011. The Capitals won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Ben Raby, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The Capitals returned to practice Wednesday without Alex Ovechkin. According to head coach Bruce Boudreau, Ovechkin was given a ‘maintenance day' to nurse a few ‘bumps and bruises.'

"With two more games this week," Boudreau explained, "we just told him to take [the practice] off and get some stretching done."

Ovechkin skated a season-low 17:35 in Tuesday's 3-0 win over the Panthers, although his usual time on the power play was limited with Florida penalized just once all game.

"If we had seven power plays last night, I'm sure he would have had 22 or 23 minutes," Boudreau says.

"In those occasions, especially when we're into a matching lines situation, if you look at Brooks [Laich's] line, instead of getting 13 minutes they're getting 17 minutes, and so Alex's line's minutes are going down, but I think in the long run that's definitely beneficial to us."

Statistically speaking, Ovechkin has had stronger starts in each of his previous six seasons. His one goal and three points through the first five games of the year are career-lows, as are his 17 shots on goal.

Ovechkin was also singled out by Boudreau after the Caps' second win of the season - Oct. 10 over Tampa Bay - as one of his players who needed to step up his game.

"I think he's got a long way to go to get to where he needs to be and should be," Boudreau said after Ovechkin was a minus-2 in the Caps' 6-5 shootout win over the Lightning. "He's our No. 1 player, but he can be better, there's no doubt about it."

Boudreau denied Ovechkin nursing any sort of injury related to any number of slashes he took in the first two games of the year.

Despite Ovechkin's numbers, Washington is 5-0-0 for the first time in franchise history, with a quartet of games before the end of the month that should serve as another good measuring stick.

The Capitals will be in Philadelphia Thursday to face the 4-0-1 Flyers, with an early perch atop the Eastern Conference standings at stake.

The Caps then return home Saturday to face the 4-0-0 Detroit Red Wings, before traveling to Western Canada next week for games against the upstart Edmonton Oilers and the reigning Presidents' Trophy winners in Vancouver.

"It's going to be a great challenge," Boudreau says. "I'd rather play a minor league team, but it's going to be a great challenge. You want to see where you're at, at different stages in the season.

"Three of the next four games are against the elite in the league so we'll know whether we've got a lot more work to do or whether we're on the right track."

Catch the Capitals (5-0-0) and Flyers (4-0-1) Thursday night on WFED 1500AM and online at Federal News Radio. Coverage begins with Caps Pregame at 6:45.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

Capitals start season with power

Posted on: Sunday 10/9/2011 2:04pm By jwarner

AP: aa7a27e6-1645-4c46-b61e-35fd9cb8116e
Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green, right, celebrates his game-winning goal with teammates Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, and Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, during the overtime period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3 in overtime. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Jonathan Warner, wtop.com

The roaring sea of red is back at Verizon Center, and for at least one game, so is the power play.

The Caps scored two with a man advantage, including the game-winner as they opened the season with a 4-3 win over Carolina.

The Caps had one of the top power-play units in the league for two-straight seasons before inexplicably losing its effectiveness in the playoffs against Montreal in 2010 and then have that carry through all of last year.

Should they get that unit clicking again, the goals and the fun should come in bunches.

The Caps may have something that coach Bruce Boudreau has been seeking -- balanced scoring.

Against the Hurricanes, they got goals from their second and third lines and defense.

Just wait till the top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble get on the scoresheet.

It was good to see Mike Green light the lamp in OT. He had just eight goals in an injury-filled 2010-2011 after scoring 50 combined the previous two seasons.

I like the line combinations and defensive pairings. It appears Boudreau does as well. If that's the case, he may not get to mix the lines up as he likes to do.

Instead, he'll just have to enjoy the offensive show.

Nothing wrong with that.

Follow Jonathan Warner and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Is this the year for the Capitals?

Posted on: Wednesday 10/5/2011 11:48am By jwarner

AP: b85a2e0d-82ac-4aa0-b489-85bbeb0d3d7a
Will this be the season the Caps put it all together? (AP)

Jonathan Warner, wtop.com

This time will be different.

At least that’s what we thought in 2009, 2010 and 2011. That’s when the Washington Capitals were supposed to win the Stanley Cup.

Certainly in 2010 when they had the best record in the NHL.  But they bowed out in a stunning first-round loss to the worst team in the playoffs – the Montreal Canadiens.

Certainly in 2011, when we thought this young team had learned their lesson, only to watch them put all their effort into beating the New York Rangers in the first round, and then get swept by Tampa Bay in the second.

To prevent that from happening again, the Capitals made some significant moves in the offseason. They got bigger, tougher, more experienced players. That should get them over the hump, right?

Maybe.

You see,  the core of this team remains the same, and as they go, so go the Caps. They have to hope their Young Guns have matured. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Brooks Laich are still the heart of this team.

They’ve been with the Caps since 2007-2008, the start of their recent successful run. However, after improving steadily for three straight seasons, all five posted numbers last year that they’d like to forget.

Where did the NHL’s top offense go? More importantly, how do they get it back?

Bruce Boudreau’s first three seasons behind the bench provided us with the NHL’s most exciting team. Last year, though, they inexplicably lost their mojo. They'd better find it if they want to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup, because while the Capitals needed to improve their defense -- and they have -- lighting the lamp is who they are, who we want them to be and how they are most successful.

Yes, defense wins championships, and the Caps seem to have enough of that now, along with the addition of veteran goalie Tomas Vokoun. So how about kicking up the tempo of the offense? It’s a lack of goalscoring the past two playoffs that hurt them, not their defense.

The Caps have been the top team in the East the last two regular seasons. All the ingredients are there for a repeat of that performance.

And, if the Young Guns are on target, they should be able to put together a long run in the playoffs.

Now is the time they grow up and stop teasing us with what they could be -- show us how great you are.

Follow Jonathan Warner and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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