Tag Archives: Washington Capitals

TRADE: Blackhawks acquire Ladd in deal with Winnipeg

By: Nick Lanciani

The Chicago Blackhawks and the Winnipeg Jets provided a little trade action on Thursday night in a deal that involved quite a bit. Chicago sent forward Marko Dano, a first round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and a conditional pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft to Winnipeg in exchange for forwards Andrew Ladd and Matt Fraser, as well as defenseman Jay Harrison. The conditional pick in the trade will be a third rounder if the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup this season.

Unknown-2Ladd is a 30-year old left-winger who served as the Jets’ captain since the franchise moved from Atlanta to Winnipeg prior to the 2011-2012 season.

The two-time Stanley Cup champion ranks 4th in franchise history for Winnipeg in goal scoring with 139 goals since being acquired from Chicago after winning his most recent Cup championship in 2010.

His first Cup championship was with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

He had 17-17-34 totals in 59 games this season with the Jets and had a three game goal streak this month. Ladd had 143 shots on goal and 126 hits prior to the trade, as well. He tallied 37-62-99 totals in 184 career games in his first stint with the Blackhawks and amassed 6-4-10 totals in 36 playoff games with Chicago during that time. In 750 career NHL games, spanning 11 seasons with Carolina (2005-2008), Chicago (2008-2010), Atlanta (2010-2011) and Winnipeg (2011-2016), Ladd has 202-252-454 totals.

The native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was the Hurricane’s first round pick (4th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and had a career high in points (62) last season in 81 games with Winnipeg. He led the Jets in scoring in three seasons (2010-2011, 2012-2013 and 2014-2015). Ladd has 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) in 57 career Stanley Cup Playoffs appearances.

Unknown-3Dano is a 21-year old forward who has played in 48 career NHL games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Chicago Blackhawks. He was a product of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft having been selected 27th overall by Columbus.

He had two points (one goal, one assist) in 13 games with the Blackhawks this season and 4-19-23 totals in 34 games with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL).

The Blackhawks previously acquired the Eisenstadt, Austria native on June 30, 2015 in a trade that sent Brandon Saad to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dano has 23 career points and 16 penalty minutes and was named one of the top three players on team Slovakia at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. In 83 career AHL games, he has 17-31-48 totals and 78 penalty minutes over the last three seasons.

Harrison is a 33-year old defenseman who spent 18 games with the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League this season, notching 3-2-5 totals. The Oshawa, Ontario native has 23-52-75 scoring totals in 372 career NHL games in nine career NHL seasons with Toronto (2005-2009), Carolina (2009-2015) and Winnipeg (2014-2015). Harrison has 37-80-117 totals in 426 career AHL games, with 20 points in 45 career Calder Cup Playoffs games.

Fraser is a 25-year old right-winger who has 5-9-14 totals in 44 games with the Moose this season. He has 11-6-17 totals in 87 career NHL games, spanning four seasons with the Dallas Stars (2011-2013), Boston Bruins (2013-2014) and Edmonton Oilers (2014-2015).

The native of Red Deer, Alberta has two points (one goal, one assist) in four career Stanley Cup Playoffs games from his 2014 playoff appearance with Boston. Fraser has 95-50-145 totals in 225 career AHL games and 5-2-7 totals in 14 Calder Cup Playoffs games.

Both Fraser and Harrison will report to the IceHogs.

The Jets retained 36% of Andrew Ladd’s salary in the deal. Ladd and Harrison are pending UFAs, while Fraser is a pending RFA. Dano has two years left on his entry-level deal.

The Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators Thursday night at home and will see Ladd return to Chicago on Sunday when they take on the Washington Capitals at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois as part of NBC’s Game of the Week coverage.

Winnipeg travels to Dallas to play the Stars on Thursday night, but will move on with Dano in their system in time for Saturday’s matchup on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

TRADE: Capitals acquire Weber from Sabres

By: Nick Lanciani

On Tuesday evening the Washington Capitals acquired pending UFA defenseman Mike Weber from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a third round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Washington Capitals LogoWeber is a 28-year old stay-at-home defenseman who had one goal and four assists in 35 games with Buffalo this season. He also had 32 penalty minutes as a Sabre in that same timespan.

Since he entered the NHL in the 2007-2008 season with the Sabres, Weber ranked first among Buffalo skaters in hits (917) and blocked shots (666). The product of the second round (57th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft was drafted by the Sabres and had spent his entire career with the organization until this trade.

Buffalo Sabres LogoThe 6’2″, 217-pound, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native served as an alternate captain for Buffalo during the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, playing in a career high 68 games during the 2013-2014 season.

Weber established a career high in goals (4), assists (13) and points (17) in the 2010-2011 season. In 341 career NHL games with the Sabres, Weber registered 9-44-53 totals and 409 penalty minutes.

He has one assist in seven career NHL playoff games going all the way back to Buffalo’s first round exit to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Sabres retained 50% of Weber’s remaining salary.

Washington hosts the Montreal Canadiens on home ice on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center while Buffalo will take on the Anaheim Ducks on the road at the Honda Center. Weber is expected to join his new team and may be in the lineup as early as Wednesday’s night’s matchup with the Habs.

February 18 – Day 126 – Islander Wars, Episode II: Return of the Caps

New York beat Chicago in the first game of the season.  Chicago finally got the opportunity to return the favor, and capitalized on it, winning 5-3.

It didn’t take long before Chicago had their first goal, courtesy of Andrew Desjardins at the 3:30 mark.  His tip-in was assisted by Second Star of the Game Teuvo Teravainen and Niklas Hjalmarsson (his 16th helper of the season).  That goal was the only one of the period, so the Hawks took their lead into the dressing room.

At the 10:05 mark of the second, Chicago struck again with a power play wrister from First Star Artemi Panarin (his 20th tally of the season), assisted by Erik Gustafsson and Michal Rozsival.  New York finally got on the board 3:40 later with a wrister from Third Star Kevin Hayes, assisted by Oscar Lindberg’s 12th helper of the season.  The Hawks‘ 2-1 lead held into the second intermission.

The Blueshirts leveled the score only 24 seconds after resuming play, courtesy of a Derick Brassard power play snapper, assisted by Keith Yandle (his 28th helper of the season) and Chris Kreider.  They followed that goal 1:53 later with a Dan Boyle slap shot, assisted by Hayes (his 17th helper of the season) and J.T. Miller.  The Blackhawks took offense to New York‘s goal streak, so they went on one of their own, thanks in large part to two Rangers penalties.  The first of those two power play goals occurred at the 9:53 mark, courtesy of an Andrew Shaw slap shot, who was assisted by Teravainen and Jonathan Toews (his 21st helper of the season) to level the game at three-all.  The Hawks broke the tie with only three minutes remaining in regulation on another power play.  Panarin scored his second of the night, assisted by Patrick Kane (his 49th helper of the season) and Brent Seabrook.  The final goal of the game came 1:49 later when Duncan Keith earned his 30th helper of the season with the assist on Panarin’s first professional hat trick-completing tally, which set the score at the 5-3 final.

Corey Crawford earns the win, saving 31 of 34 (91.2%), while Henrik Lundqvist takes the loss after saving 15 of 19 (78.9%).

The Game of the Day series now stands at 56-29-11, favoring the home squad by 33 points over the roadies.

This Thursday, we have a busy schedule, with 11 games on the docket.  First up are the two games that start at 7 p.m. eastern (Washington at the New York Islanders and Detroit at Pittsburgh [NBCSN]), followed half an hour later by four more (the New York Rangers at Toronto, Carolina at Ottawa, Winnipeg at Tampa Bay and San Jose at Florida).  8 p.m. eastern brings with it a couple more games (Los Angeles at St. Louis and Boston at Nashville), followed 60 minutes later by another pair (Minnesota at Edmonton and Dallas at Arizona).  The final game of the night is Anaheim at Vancouver, which drops the puck at 10 p.m. eastern.

Washington at New York and Anaheim at Vancouver represent the only two divisional rivalries taking place this evening, and five are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Washington at New York, Detroit at Pittsburgh, San Jose at Florida, Los Angeles at St. Louis and Boston at Nashville).  Washington at New York is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

As usual, we try to go with games that qualify for most or all of those groups.  WashingtonNew York is in all three, and selfishly, it’s been awhile since we’ve featured either squad, so let’s hop on the B Train and head to the Barcalays Center!

Washington Capitals LogoNew York Islanders LogoTonight’s game will be Washington‘s 12th in the series, where they currently own a 8-3-0 record.  Their most recent showing under our focus was February 6, when they visited New Jersey and won 3-2 in the shootout.  New York hasn’t been featured since their February 4 trip to Washington, where they fell 3-2 in their fourth featured game, dropping their record in the series to 1-3-0.

The 41-10-4 Washington Capitals are currently the best team in the NHL by a five-point margin.  They’ve earned that position honestly, as they sport the best defense backed by only the second-best offense.

Thanks in part to Karl Alzner’s team-leading 143 blocks, the Caps‘ defense has allowed only 1598 shots to reach 35-6-3 Braden Holtby and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.6% for only 126 goals against, fewest in the league.  Although they don’t own the top penalty kill, Washington‘s special team is still a force to be reckoned with, as it’s killed 83.91% of penalties for only 28 power play goals against, fifth-best in the league.

Washington‘s offense is second-rate only in the literal sense that it is second-best in the league in goals scored (184, led by Alex Ovechkin’s 35 tallies).  Ovechkin, with his 276 shots, has also led his squad to 1675 attempts, of which a whopping 10.8% find the back of the net.  The success continues to the power play, where the Caps rank number one with their 23.7% success rate that has provided them 41 extra-man goals (led by Ovechkin’s 14).

At this point, Washington is most concerned with clinching the Presidents’ Trophy, as neither the Rangers nor Florida are providing much competition for either the division or conference, respectively.  With a victory tonight to begin a win-streak (they beat the  Kings 3-1 Tuesday), the Capitals expand their lead for home ice back to seven points over Chicago.

The 30-19-6 New York Islanders currently occupy third in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  They’ve made it to that position by playing the eighth-best offense and the ninth-best defense, so they are a very well-rounded team.

Led by John Tavares’ 170 shots, the Isles have fired 1680 attempts, of which 9.3% have found the back of the net for 161 tallies, eighth-most in the league.  That success hasn’t carried over to the power play as much, as their 20.37% success rate, good for 33 goals, ranks only 11th-best in the league.

The defense is right behind, and led by injured Calvin de Haan’s 139 blocks to allow only 1652 shots to reach 16-6-2 Thomas Greiss and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.1% for 141 goals against, ninth-fewest in the league.  That success draws almost directly from the second-best penalty kill in the league, as the Isles kill an incredible 86.96% of their penalties for only 21 extra-man goals against.  They also have taken advantage of opportunities well, as they have five short-handed goals to their credit (led by Cal Clutterbuck’s two shorties).

New York most recently played on Monday, beating the Red Wings 4-1.  Should the Islanders manage to turn that win into a streak, they have the opportunity to pull within two points of their Manhattan rivals, but that is also dependent on cooperation from Toronto.  More importantly than that though is avoiding falling out of a division spot, which is possible if they lose and Pittsburgh wins this evening.

Washington currently leads the season series 2-0-0, but the February 4 game was certainly an improvement for the Isles against the Caps, as they fell by only a lone goal instead of three.

These squads also met in last season’s playoffs, where the Caps won in seven games in the first round.  New York has not beaten Washington since Game Six on April 25, and certainly has aspirations of ending that skid.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include New York‘s Greiss (.931 save percentage [second-best in the league] and 2.16 GAA [tied for sixth-best in the league]) & Washington‘s Alzner (+21 [tied for sixth-best in the league]), Nicklas Backstrom (53 points [tied for eighth-best in the league] and 36 assists [tied for ninth-most in the league]), Holtby (35 wins [most in the league], 2.16 GAA [tied for sixth-best in the league] and .926 [seventh-best in the league]), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+27 [leads the league], 41 assists [third-most in the league] and 57 points [tied for fifth-most in the league]) and Ovechkin (35 goals [leads the league] and +21 [tied for sixth-best in the league]).

Although I think New York is better than their 9-7-1 record in their last 17 games, I don’t really think it matters.  Washington has already started building Donald Trump’s wall, and it’s name is Braden Holtby.  And, when you pair it with Ovechkin’s offense… New York will be lucky to take the Caps to overtime.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #24-Let’s Check the Standings

The Down the Frozen River crew talked about the standings and a little move that the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators made earlier in the week. Also, Stamkos. Stay tuned for more next week, but until then, hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

February 6 – Day 114 – Playoff preview?

Pittsburgh‘s Floridian road trip got a poor spot, as they dropped yesterday’s Game of the Day against Tampa Bay 6-3.

That being said, it was actually the Penguins that got the first goal of the game.  It was a Patric Hornqvist wrister off assists from Chris Kunitz (his 13th helper of the season) and Derrick Pouliot after 4:53 of play.  The one-goal shutout held exactly 6:57 before Anton Stralman leveled the game with a wrister of his own, assisted by First Star of the Game Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn (his 16th helper of the season).  Tampa took the lead with 1:26 remaining in the period when Killorn earned a tip-in, assisted by Johnson and Nikita Kucherov (his 23rd helper of the season).  The 2-1 score held into the intermission.

Only 6:04 after resuming play, Second Star Ondrej Palat earned the Bolts their third goal with a wrister, assisted by Third Star Steven Stamkos.  Pittsburgh got back within a goal exactly two minutes later when Sidney Crosby scored his 21st of the season off assists from Kunitz and Hornqvist, but the Lightning regained their advantage 1:11 later when Johnson snapped a goal after assists from Kucherov and Victor Hedman (his 25th helper of the season).  The 4-2 lead held into the final period.

Only 55 seconds after returning to the ice, the Pens got back within a goal when Matt Cullen fired a snap shot off the assist from Phil Kessel (his 18th of the season), but it would be the last for Pittsburgh.  At the 15:55 mark, Palat scored his second of the night after assists from Stamkos (his 19th helper of the season) and Vladislav Namestnikov, followed 2:01 by Ryan Callahan earning his 10th assist of the season by helping Anton Stralman to the final goal of the game, setting the score at the 6-3 final.

Ben Bishop earns the win by saving 27 of 30 (90%), while Marc-Andre Fleury takes the loss, saving only 10 of 14 (71.4%).  He was pulled after Johnson’s eventual game winner in the second period and replaced by Jeff Zatkoff, who saved 13 of 14 (92.9%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 51-24-9, favoring the home squad by 38 points, due in part to the home teams winning the last three games.

As with most Saturdays, this one is a busy one.  The action gets started at 1 p.m. eastern with two games (Washington at New Jersey and the New York Rangers at Philadelphia [NHLN]), with two more starting an hour later (Edmonton at Montréal and the New York Islanders at Detroit).  Three games get started at the usual 7 p.m. eastern starting time (Buffalo at Boston, Toronto at Ottawa and Pittsburgh at Florida), with three more starting 60 minutes later (Minnesota at St. Louis, San Jose at Nashville and Chicago at Dallas [NHLN]).  Finally, the co-nightcaps drop the puck at 10 p.m. eastern (Calgary at Vancouver and Winnipeg at Colorado).

Eight of today’s games are divisional (Washington at New Jersey, New York at Philadelphia, Buffalo at Boston, Toronto at Ottawa, Minnesota at St. Louis, Chicago at Dallas, Calgary at Vancouver and Winnipeg at Colorado), and four are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Washington at New Jersey, New York at Detroit, San Jose at Nashville and Chicago at Dallas).  Two of today’s games are also rematches of last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals: MinnesotaSt. Louis and CalgaryVancouver.

I know the last three games have all been in the Eastern Conference, but the WashingtonNew Jersey game could be a preview of a first round matchup for this postseason, so we have to keep an eye on that.

Washington Capitals LogoNew Jersey Devils Logo

 

 

 

 

Today’s game will be Washington‘s 11th in the DtFR Game of the Day Series, where they own a 7-3-0 record.  Their most recent was just this last Thursday, a 3-2 victory over the Islanders.  New Jersey has not seen time in the series since January 8 when they hosted Boston, but lost 4-1.  That game, their third in the series, set their record at 1-2-0 in such games.

The 36-9-4 Washington Capitals are currently the best team in the NHL.  They lead the Central Division by 15 points over the New York Rangers, nine points over Florida and two points over Chicago.  In addition to playing the best defense in the league (as measured by goals against), they also have the second-best offense.  A more detailed account of their play may be found in Thursday’s Game of the Day.

Washington‘s most recent game was that victory over the Isles.  Turning that lone win into a streak with this evening’s game has the potential to expand the Caps‘ lead over the Blackhawks in the Presidents’ Trophy race to four points.

The 26-20-6 New Jersey Devils currently sit in fourth place in the Metropolitan Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference, good enough to qualify them for the second and final Eastern Conference wildcard position.  They’ve given up the sixth-fewest goals in the league, but the offense has been brutal to watch, scoring the third-fewest tallies.

Thanks in part to Adam Larsson’s 93 blocks, the Devils have allowed only 1489 shots to reach 23-15-5 Cory Schneider and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.5% for 118 goals against (sixth-fewest in the league).  Although the defense as a whole has been strong, the penalty kill has not been much more than average.  It is the 11th-best in the league, killing 81.82% for 30 extra-man goals against.

The offense has been nothing to write home about.  Even with Kyle Palmieri’s 127 attempts, the Devils have only fired 1268 shots so far this season, of which a solid 9.2% have found the back of the net (led by Palmieri’s 20 tallies).  The offense has been led by the 10th-best power play in the league, successful on 19.39% of attempts for 32 extra-man goals (led by Palmieri’s seven).  There is one major downfall of the power play though, and that’s short-handed goals – the Devils have given up seven so far this season, three more than the league average.

Jersey lost a 3-2 shootout in Toronto on Thursday, and would probably be very interested in keeping it from becoming a losing skid.  A win this afternoon has the potential to move them into the first wildcard spot, which they would certainly appreciate to get as far away from the Capitals in the playoffs as possible.

These teams have only met once this season, with Washington winning 5-3 at the Verizon Center.  After today’s game, they will play one more time during the regular season, two weeks from today.  Should the standings hold as they stand before play today, this will be an  Eastern Conference Quarterfinal.

Some players to watch in today’s game includes New Jersey‘s Schneider (2.03 GAA [third-best in the league], four shutouts [tied for third-most in the league], .929 save percentage [sixth-best in the league] and 23 wins [tied for sixth-most in the league]) & Washington‘s Nicklas Backstrom (+18 [10th-best in the league]), Braden Holtby (31 wins [most in the league], 2.07 GAA [fifth-best in the league] and .928 save percentage [seventh-best in the league]), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+25 [best in the league], 36 assists [third-most in the league] and 51 points [tied for fifth-most in the league]) and Alex Ovechkin (29 goals [second-most in the league] and +21 [sixth-best in the league]).

Although the Devils do have the advantage of playing at home, I do not think it will be enough to stop the incredible Caps.  Expect Washington to continue their trek to the Stanley Cup Finals.

February 4 – Day 112 – It’s another rematch!

In what is currently a First Round matchup in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning held home ice to earn the 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

The Bolts scored the first goal after 21:23 of play, courtesy of a J.T. Brown wrister, assisted by Braydon Coburn (his seventh helper of the season), but the Wings leveled the score only 3:43 later with a snap shot from Gustav Nyquist, assisted by Tomas Tatar (his 15th helper of the season) and Kyle Quincey.  Tampa‘s game-winner came at the 6:30 mark of the second with a Tyler Johnson wrister, assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman (his 24th helper of the season).  The 2-1 Lightning lead held into the second intermission.

The Lightning‘s lone insurance goal was Kucherov’s 21st tally of the season, a wrister off the assist from Ondrej Palat, setting the score at the 3-1 final.

Ben Bishop earns the win by saving 24 of 25 (96%), while Petr Mrazek takes the loss after saving 20 of 23 (87%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 49-24-9, favoring the home squad by 34 points.

It’s a busy Thursday in the NHL!  The action starts at… you guessed it… 7 p.m. eastern (Boston at Buffalo and Minnesota at the New York Rangers)!  7:30 p.m. eastern brings with it four more games (the New York Islanders at Washington [NBCSN], New Jersey at Toronto, Edmonton at Ottawa and Detroit at Florida), followed by two more at the top of the hour (San Jose at St. Louis and Philadelphia at Nashville).  9 p.m. eastern brings with it two games (Dallas at Colorado and Chicago at Arizona), with the co-nightcaps occurring an hour later (Columbus at Vancouver and Anaheim at Los Angeles [NBCSN]).

Five of tonight’s 12 games are between divisional rivals (Boston at Buffalo, New York at Washington, Detroit at Florida, Dallas at Colorado and Anaheim at Los Angeles), while another set of five are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (New York at Washington, Detroit at Florida, San Jose at St. Louis, Dallas at Colorado and Anaheim at Los Angeles).

Four of tonight’s games have some special notes associated.  Minnesota brings with them Jarret Stoll, an ex-Ranger of this season, and Edmonton‘s Eric Gryba makes his first return to Ottawa after three seasons of playing with the Sens.  New YorkWashington is a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, and John Tortorella will coach his first game in Vancouver since being released in May of 2014.

While those returns are intriguing, we grow closer to the playoffs everyday, and what better way to realize that than taking a look at last year?

New York Islanders LogoWashington Capitals Logo

 

 

 

 

Tonight is New York‘s fourth game in the DtFR Game of the Day series, in which they own a 1-2-0 record.  Their most recent appearance was on January 25 when they hosted the Red Wings and lost 4-2.  Washington has been featured nine times before tonight’s game, and own a 6-3-0 record in such games, with their most recent being a 5-2 victory over the Rangers on home ice.

The 26-16-6 New York Islanders currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  They have a top-10 defense paired with one of the better offenses in the league.

Led by Calvin de Haan’s 169 blocks, the Islanders defense has allowed only 1457 shots to reach 12-9-4 Jaroslav Halak and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.5% for only 118 goals against, eighth fewest in the league.  The Isles also own the second-best penalty kill in the league, killing 86.9% for only 19 power play goals against.

John Tavares has spearheaded the Islanders‘ offense with a team-leading 145 shots, with the team being responsible for 1460 shots total.  9% have found the back of the net for 132 goals (led by Brock Nelson’s 20 tallies).  The biggest thing holding the Islanders back is their 15th-worst power play.  They’re successful on only 18.12% of attempts for 25 power play goals (led by Frans Nielsen’s five).

New York‘s most recent game was a 5-3 victory over the Wild on Tuesday.  Pending the Rangers‘ result against those Wild, the Islanders do have the opportunity to jump the Blueshirts into second place in the division.

The 35-9-4 Washington Capitals are currently the best team in the league, leading the second place Chicago Blackhawks by two points.  There’s no doubting that they deserve that spot, as they have the best defense and second-best offense.

Led by Karl Alzner’s 122 blocks, the Caps have only allowed 1376 shots to reach 30-5-3 Braden Holtby and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.6% for only 108 goals against, fewest in the league.  Part of the reason Washington has found such success has been their seventh-best penalty kill, killing 83.67% of opposing power plays for only 24 power play goals against.

The offense is no slouch, either.  Led by Alex Ovechkin’s 234 shots, the Capitals have fired 1482 pucks on goal, of which a whopping 10.7% have found the back of the net for 158 goals (Ovechkin leads the way with 28 tallies).  That offense has been supported by the league-leading offense, scoring on 25.33% for 38 goals (led by Ovechkin’s 11 power play tallies).

Going back to before the All-Star Game, the Capitals are actually on a two-game losing skid, with their most recent being a 5-2 loss to the Panthers on Tuesday.  While the Capitals may not have anyone to surpass, a win tonight does have the potential to increase their lead over the Rangers in the division, the Panthers in the conference and the Blackhawks for the Presidents’ Trophy.

In their only other meeting this season, the Capitals beat the Islanders 4-1 in Brooklyn on January 7.  While that game may not have been so tight, last season’s playoff series was.  The Caps needed seven games to knock off the Isles before eventually falling to the other team from the Big Apple.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include New York‘s Thomas Greiss (.927 save percentage [tied for ninth-best in the league]) and Washington‘s Holtby (30 wins [leads the league], 2.07 GAA [fifth-best in the league] and .929 save percentage [tied for sixth-best in the league]), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+25 [leads the league], 36 assists [third-most in the league] and 51 points [fifth-most in the league]) and Ovechkin (28 goals [tied for second-most in the league] and +20 [tied for sixth-best in the league]).

It’s tough to pick against the Capitals, especially on home ice.  Washington expects to pick up the offense this night, as Ovi is making his return after serving his one-game suspension for missing/skipping the All-Star Game.  I think this skid ends at two.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #21 (that’s right we skipped #20)

The Down the Frozen River crew kicks off 2016 with their first podcast of the year (well, that actually made its way onto the site, that is- we may resurrect #20 someday). This week the DTFR crew discusses Montreal, Jonathan Drouin, injuries, and guitar? Hear what they have to say about the latest news and notes from around the NHL in this week’s #DTFRPodcast.

Join the conversation, make a suggestion, or ask a question for our next podcast using #AskDownTheFrozenRiver or #DTFRPodcast on Twitter and/or drop us a line on Facebook– your thoughts might make it on our show!

January 17 – Day 99 – It’s another Blueshirts-Caps day

It took overtime, but the Sharks were able to spoil Antti Niemi’s homecoming, as they beat the Stars 4-3.

Only one goal was scored in the first period, and it belonged to the road team.  Mattias Janmark and Antoine Roussel both notched their eighth assists of the season as they helped Ales Hemsky to a backhander at the 11:15 mark.

The second period was all San Jose, as they not only leveled the game, but took the lead going into the second intermission.  Their first goal came only 3:54 after resuming play, scored by Second Star of the Game Marc-Edouard Vlasic after assists from Joe Thonton (his 25th helper of the season) and First Star Tomas Hertl.  Only 7:13 later, Chris Tierney fired a slapshot past Niemi on the power play after assists from Tommy Wingels (his ninth helper of the season) and Matt Nieto, setting the score at 2-1.

The Stars leveled the score only 33 seconds after resuming play in the final frame with a snap shot from Tyler Seguin (his 25th tally of the season) after an assist from Jamie Benn.  San Jose took the lead again only 7:18 later with Vlasic’s second goal of the night after assists from Dylan DeMelo and Joonas Donskoi (his 10th helper of the season).  The flurry of goals ended only 12 seconds later when Third Star Jason Spezza leveled the score again after assists from Benn (his 30th helper of the season) and Seguin.  The three-all tie held to the final horn, forcing some three-on-three play.

The overtime period lasted only 1:12 before Hertl scored the game-winner, assisted by Vlasic (his 16th helper of the season) and Logan Couture.

Martin Jones’ record improves to 20-13-2 after saving 32 of 35 (91.4%), while Niemi’s falls to 16-8-5 after saving 35 of 39 (89.7%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 41-19-9, favoring the home squad by 29 points over the roadies.

Fourteen points are on the table in today’s Sunday schedule.  The action gets started at 3 p.m. eastern when Carolina visits Pittsburgh, followed an hour later by Vancouver at the New York Islanders.  The final two matinees start at 5 p.m. eastern when Florida visits Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers visit Washington (NHLN/TVAS).  Montréal at Chicago (SN/RDS) gets started at the usual starting time of 7 p.m. eastern, followed half an hour later by Philadelphia at Detroit (NBCSN).  Finally, this evening’s nightcap, Los Angeles at Anaheim, gets started at 9 p.m. eastern.

A majority of today’s games are divisional matchups (Carolina at Pittsburgh, Florida at Tampa Bay, New York at Washington and Los Angeles at Anaheim), and three are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Florida at Tampa Bay, New York at Washington and Montréal at Chicago).  In addition to qualifying for the other two groups, the New YorkWashington game is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Those who have followed along all season know that I like to give preference to those games that are rematches of last year’s playoffs or a return of a player to an arena he used to call home, and today is no exception.

New York Rangers LogoWashington Capitals Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s appearance in the Game of the Day series for New York will tie them with Chicago for most games featured in the series at 13.  The Rangers own a 7-3-2 record in such games, and their most recent showing in the series was a 2-1 victory over the Bruins on Monday.  Washington has been featured eight times before this afternoon’s competition, and own a 5-3-0 record in such games.  Their most recent showing in the series was a 4-3 overtime victory in Madison Square Garden on January 9.

The 24-15-5 New York Rangers are currently second in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference.  To get them to that position, the Rangers have employed a top-10 offense backed by an above-average defense, measured by goals for or against.

The Blueshirts‘ most recent showing was a 3-2 shootout victory in Philadelphia yesterday.  Should New York win today’s game, they would move at least a point closer to the league-leading Capitals and potentially create a lead more solid than winning a ROW tiebreaker over the Islanders.

The 33-8-3 Washington Capitals currently lead the Metropolitan Division by 16 points over the Rangers, the Eastern Conference by 12 points over the Panthers and the NHL by five points over the Blackhawks.  Not only does the best defense in the league call the Verizon Center home, but also the second-best offense, showing why the Caps are the class of the NHL.

Thanks in large part to Karl Alzner and his team-leading 115 blocks, the Caps have allowed only 1229 shots to reach 28-4-2 Braden Holtby and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 93.1% for only 95 goals against, best in the NHL by two goals over Los Angeles.  Washington maintains their excellent form on the penalty kill, where they’ve killed 84.92% of opposing power plays for only 19 tallies allowed.

Of course, the story in Washington is usually the offense, and this season has not been short of successes on that end as well.  Led by Alex Ovechkin’s 216 attempts, the Caps have fired 1328 shots so far this season, of which a whopping 10.6% have found the back of the net for 144 goals (led by Ovechkin’s 26 goals), second-most in the league (trail Dallas by seven tallies).  Just like the penalty kill, special teams have been a big part of that success, as the Capitals have scored on 26.15% of attempts for 34 power play goals, led by Ovechkin’s nine extra-man tallies.

Washington played yesterday, but it was not the result they were looking for as they lost 4-1 in Buffalo.

This is the fourth meeting of five between these two squads so far this season, with Washington leading the series 2-1-0.  We’ve been there for all three, so you can read a quick-and-dirty recap of the games that occurred November 3, December 20 and January 9.

Some players to watch in this afternoon’s game include New York‘s Henrik Lundqvist (20 wins [fourth-most in the league]) and Washington‘s Nicklas Backstrom (28 assists [tied for fifth-most in the league] and +17 [tied for sixth-best in the league]), Holtby (28 wins [leads the league], 1.97 GAA [second-best in the league] and .931 save percentage [tied for third-best in the league]), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+21 [fourth-best in the league]) and Ovechkin (26 goals [tied for second-most in the league] and +19 [fifth-best in the league]).

I’m not even going to lie to you, I have to pick Washington in today’s game.  They are the best team in the NHL, and I don’t see New York being anything more than a stepping stone on their way to a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

January 9 – Day 91 – I’m running out of jokes for Washington visiting New York…

It was the second straight 4-1 road victory in the Game of the Day series, as Boston earned their 3000th all-time victory with a win at The Rock.

The lone goal of the first period belongs to Frank Vatrano and the Bruins after only 2:02 of play, assisted by Third Star of the Game Colin Miller, his 11th helper of the season.

It was a night of quick starts for the Bruins, as First Star Ryan Spooner fired his ninth goal of the season, this one the eventual game-winner, after being assisted by Second Star Dennis Seidenberg 4:49 after resuming play.  New Jersey tried to stage a comeback with a goal from Bobby Farnham, assisted by Stephen Gionta and Adam Larsson (his seventh of the season) at the 11:57 mark to set the score at 2-1, but eventually gave up a power play goal to Jimmy Hayes with only 1:25 remaining in the period, assisted by Zdeno Chara (his 15th helper of the season) and Matt Beleskey.

Boston completed their series of quick goals when Seidenberg and Spooner (his 19th assist of the season) assisted Miller to the final goal of the game, setting the score at the 4-1 final.

Tuukka Rask took the night off, so it’s Jonas Gustavsson who earned the win after saving 19 of 20 (95%) to improve his record to 7-3-1, while Cory Schneider’s record falls to 17-13-5 after saving 27 of 31 (87.1%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 35-19-7, favoring the home squad over the roadies by 21 points.

It’s a busy Saturday in the NHL, with a whopping 10 games being played.  There’s two matinees at 1 p.m. eastern, both of them involving the teams from the Big Apple (Washington at the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders at Philadelphia).  Four games drop the puck at the usual starting time of 7 p.m. eastern (Pittsburgh at Montréal [NHLN/TVAS/SN], Boston at Ottawa, Carolina at Columbus and Toronto at San Jose [CBC]), followed an hour later by Minnesota at Dallas.  The games west of the Rockies get started at 9 p.m. eastern when Nashville visits Arizona, followed an hour later by Tampa Bay at Vancouver (CBC/SN).  Finally, this evening’s nightcap drops the puck at 10:30 p.m. eastern when St. Louis visits Los Angeles.

Five of tonight’s games are divisional rivalries (Washington at New York, New York at Philadelphia, Boston at Ottawa, Carolina at Columbus and Minnesota at Dallas), while four feature teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Washington at New York, Minnesota at Dallas, Nashville at Arizona and St. Louis at Los Angeles).  Washington at New York also represents a rematch of an Eastern Conference Semifinal from last season’s playoffs.

Since we already watched Washington‘s rematch with their quarterfinal opponent of a year ago, let’s watch them take on their opponent from the semifinals.

Washington Capitals LogoNew York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Washington has been featured seven times before tonight’s game, and owns a 4-3-0 record in such games.  Their most recent was a 4-1 victory in Brooklyn on Thursday.  Tonight’s game will tie New York with Chicago for 11 appearances, most in our series.  The Rangers own a 6-3-1 in such games, with their most recent being a 3-0 loss in Sunrise last Saturday to the Panthers.

The 30-7-3 Washington Capitals currently own the best team in the NHL, as they have a 14-point lead over the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division, a nine-point lead over the Panthers in the Eastern Conference, and a one-point lead in the league over the Stars.  You can read a summary of their play here, but for those that don’t want to, just know that there’s a reason the Caps lead the league – they’re the best on defense, and second-best in offense.  In other words, they’re pretty good!

The Caps are currently riding a two-game winning streak, and their most recent game was a Thursday 4-1 victory in Brooklyn against the Islanders. You can read a quick-and-dirty recap of it here.

The 22-14-4 New York Rangers currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference, and have utilized a strong offense to get them to that position.

Usually, good teams put lots of pucks on net.  Instead, the Rangers prefer to take shots of a higher quality, as they’ve scored 10.3% of their 1132 shots (led by Rick Nash’s 117 shots) for 117 goals (led by Mats Zuccarello’s 16 tallies), fourth-most in the league.  Although the offense as a whole has been one of the best, the Blueshirts‘ power play has been nothing special.  They’ve had 114 opportunities and scored only 22 goals, for a 19.3% success rate that leads the league average by only .17%.

Thanks in part to Ryan McDonagh’s team-leading 77 blocks, the Rangers‘ defense has been able to keep all but 1193 shots away from 18-11-3 Henrik Lundqvist and co., who’ve collectively saved 91.8% for 103 goals against.  Just like the power play, the penalty kill has been only average this season.  New York has defended 133 penalties so far this season, of which they’ve killed 80.45% (.42% below average) for 26 goals against.

The Blueshirts‘ most recent game was a 6-2 victory over the Stars on Tuesday.

The Capitals and Rangers have already met twice before tonight’s game, with both taking place at Madison Square Garden.  New York won the first meeting 5-2 on November 3, but Washington leveled the series only three weeks ago on December 20 with a 7-3 win.  Both of those games were featured as a Game of the Day, and a recap can be found by clicking either score.

Some players to watch in tonight’s games include New York‘s Lundqvist (18 wins [tied for fifth-best in the league]) & Washington‘s Nicklas Backstrom (25 assists [tied for eighth-best in the league]), Braden Holtby (26 wins [best in the league], 1.9 GAA [third-best in the league] and .933 save percentage [fourth-best in the league]), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+18 [tied for fourth-best in the league]) and Alex Ovechkin (22 goals [fifth-best in the league] and +17 [tied for sixth-best in the league]).

Like I said a couple days ago, it is hard to pick against the Washington Capitals.  I don’t care where they’re playing, who they’re playing, or any other variable.  This team is no doubt the best team in the Eastern Conference, and potentially the league.  Expect the Caps to complete their three-day, two-game tour of the Big Apple with four points.

January 7 – Day 89 – For a team that calls themselves the Caps, you’d figure their logo would be in all-caps like the Islanders…

First Star of the Game Bo Horvat scored twice in the third period to clinch the 3-2 Vancouver victory in Yesterday’s Game of the Day against the Carolina Hurricanes.

It was actually the Canes that struck first in this one, but it wasn’t until 28:02 had ticked off the clock.  It was an important score for Carolina, as Jordan Staal earned his ninth assist of the season, helping Second Star John-Michael Liles to a short-handed goal, the first of the year for the squad.  Vancouver leveled the score with 2:21 remaining on the clock when Adam Cracknell and Christopher Tanev assisted Third Star Sven Baertschi, the score that held into the second intermission.

The Canucks took their first lead of the game when Matt Bartkowski (his eighth assist of the season) and Alex Biega assisted Horvat 7:15 after resuming play.  Their lead was short-lived though, as Noah Hanifin assisted Staal to his eighth goal of the season to knot the score at two.  The game-winner came with only 1:06 remaining on the clock, courtesy of Horvat after being assisted by Baertschi (his seventh on the season) and Linden Vey on the power play.

These Swedish goalkeepers go way back, even before their NHL days.  Eddie Läck began backing up Jacob Markstrom in 2009, when both played for Brynäs IF, and continued their relationship into the NHL, as both played in the Canucks‘ system.  Markstrom got the advantage in this one, saving 26 of 28 (92.9%) to improve his record to 5-5-3.  Läck’s record falls to 5-7-3 after saving 18 of 21 (85.7%).

Today’s Thursday schedule is an exciting one, with eight playoff teams in action.  The festivities get started at 7 p.m. eastern when Washington visits the New York Islanders (TVAS/SN360), followed half an hour later by Florida at Ottawa (RDS).  Philadelphia at Minnesota (NBCSN) gets started at 8 p.m. eastern, followed 30 minutes later by Winnipeg at Dallas.  9 p.m. eastern starts the Arizona at Calgary game, and this evening’s nightcaps start an hour and a half later (Toronto at Los Angeles and Detroit at San Jose).

Four of tonight’s games are between division rivals (Washington at New York, Florida at Ottawa, Winnipeg at Dallas and Arizona at Calgary), and Washington at New York represents the only game between two playoff qualifiers in addition to being an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal rematch.

Take all that information into account, and I challenge you to take a guess as to which game we’ll watch…

Washington Capitals LogoNew York Islanders Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Washington has been featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series sixth times before this evening, and own a 3-3-0 record under such circumstances.  Their most recent showing in the series was a 7-3 victory in Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on December 20.  New York has been featured only one time before, a 4-0 victory over the Devils on December 13.

The 29-7-3 Washington Capitals are currently the best team in the NHL, leading the Metropolitan Division by 12 points, the Eastern Conference by nine points, and the league by a lone point.  Almost every facet of their game works to a t, as they lead the league in goals against and are second in goals for.

Good defenses keep the puck off their goalie as much as possible, and that is exactly what the Caps are doing.  Thanks in part to Karl Alzner’s 103 blocks, they’ve allowed only 1105 shots to reach 25-4-2 Braden Holtby and co., who’ve collectively saved 92.9% (leads the league average by 1.3%) for only 84 goals against, 21 below the league average and tops in the NHL.  Washington‘s been even better on the penalty kill, where they’ve saved 84.21% of the 114 attempts they’ve defended (3.51% above the league average), allowing only 18 goals.

Another thing good defenses do is get the puck to their forwards, and these forwards are some of the best in the business as well.  Led by Alex Ovechkin’s 192 shots, the Capitals have put the puck on net 1183 times, of which 10.3% have found the back of the net for 122 tallies (led by Ovechkin’s 21).  They’ve been especially potent on the power play, scoring on 25.83% of their attempts for 31 goals (led by Ovechkin’s seven).

The Caps‘ most recent showing was a 3-2 victory in Boston on Tuesday.

The 22-13-5 New York Islanders currently sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference.  Similar to Washington, the Isles play a very balanced game, but New York slightly favors the offensive end.

So far this season, New York has put 1191 shots on net (led by John Tavares’ 113), of which 9.2% have turned into goals for 110 tallies (led by Tavares’ 15), eighth-most in the league.  Probably the biggest deficiency in the offense has been their power play.  On 112 attempts, the Isles have scored 21 goals (led by Frans Nielsen’s four) for a 18.75% success rate that trails the league average by .55%.

What makes this Islanders team good is that the offense isn’t playing this well to overcome defensive or goaltending struggles.  Although Calvin de Haan has 100 blocks to his credit, 1210 shots have still made their way to 12-6-2 Thomas Greiss and co., who have collectively saved 92.5% for only 97 goals against.  And even though one special team has been struggling doesn’t mean that the other is.  New York‘s penalty kill is great, killing 85.59% of 118 attempts for only 17 goals against.

The Isles‘ most recent game was a 6-5 victory over the Stars on Sunday.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include New York‘s Greiss (.928 save percentage [sixth-best in the league]) or Jaroslav Halak (2.09 GAA [seventh-best in the league]) & Washington‘s Holtby (25 wins [best in the league], 1.93 GAA [second-best in the league] and .932 save percentage [tied for third-best in the league]), Evgeny Kuznetsov (+18 [tied for fourth-best in the league]) and Ovechkin (21 goals [fifth-best in the league] and +15 [tenth-best in the league]).

Last season, these squads met in the first round of the playoffs, with Washington needing all seven games to knock off the Islanders.  Both teams seem to have improved since then, making this game and the season-series all the better to watch.

It doesn’t matter where they play, it is tough to pick against Washington.  The Islanders and their fans will put up a good fight, especially given how the playoffs went last year, but I think the Capitals can get out of the Barclays Center with two points.