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Potvin Says "Lazy" Caps Need a Kick in the Butt

By Scott Lowe So far during the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps have been the better team five-on-five. In fact, they were dominant at even strength in their Game 2 overtime loss. It’s been said throughout hockey annals, however, that specials teams can be the difference during the playoffs. That certainly has been the case thus far in this series. But why? Denis Potvin, speaking this morning on Sirius/XM Home Ice, seems to think it all comes down to effort. “They are just being lazy and are not playing smart,” the Hall of Fame defenseman said of the Capitals. “This goes beyond X’s and O’s. They need a kick in th...

Caps and Bolts Should Not Lack for Entertainment

By Scott Lowe Over the past few years – even when the Bolts weren’t a contender – the Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning have played many entertaining hockey games. It is a rivalry that has been percolating over time and should reach a boiling point as the two teams square off in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Game 1 is tonight at Verizon Center with a 7 p.m. faceoff. Looking back at some of the more entertaining duels between Washington and Tampa, there was the late-season game in 2008 in which an injured Vincent Lacavalier was helped from the ice with the Caps chasing down their first playoff berth in five years. There was a pair of 7-4 track meets, a Washington vict...

Erskine Has Earned His Keep

By Scott Lowe Last year at the trade deadline the Washington Capitals tinkered with their high-powered lineup, bringing in veterans such as Joe Corvo, Scott Walker and Eric Belanger. Even though they were running away with the Eastern Conference and the Presidents’ Trophy, it was clear that someone in the organization wasn’t thrilled with the tenuous high-wire act that was producing a ton of high-scoring victories while raising questions about defensive responsibility. There was some confusion in the message that the organization sent with the deadline deals, however. The Caps traded solid defensive-minded defenseman Brian Pothier, a better-than-adequate puck-mover, and openly discus...

Can the Maturing Caps Take the Next Step?

By Scott Lowe Maybe, just maybe we can finally throw the past out the window as it pertains to this year’s edition of the Washington Capitals. Don’t roll your eyes. I said, “maybe.” Twenty-four hours from now we’ll either be saying, “These young Caps have matured, learned from their past failures and are now as legitimate a Stanley Cup contender as there is this year in the NHL.” Or we’ll be saying, “Same old Caps; now the pressure’s back on them.” So far it in this year’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers it appears as though this Washington team has taken its embarrassing first-round loss to Montreal a year ago to heart...

Caps Can't Relax Even for a Split Second

By Scott Lowe We can sit an overanalyze the Washington Capitals-New York Rangers Eastern Conference quarterfinal series all we want, but at this point of the season with so much at stake there really aren’t many secrets – well, other than whether Mike Knuble will suit up tonight for Washington, that is. Neither team is going to alter its style or make a bunch of adjustments. When all is said and done, Game 4 will be won by the club that works the hardest and best executes the familiar postseason game plan of getting pucks to the net, generating traffic in front of the opposing netminder and staying disciplined. Sounds boring, but unless you are from California, that’s playoff hocke...

The Defense Can Never Rest

By Scott Lowe The Washington Capitals are a team that in the past has not handled playoff prosperity well. That’s why it was so refreshing to hear after Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers that they were not happy with their offensive showing in a hard-fought 2-1 overtime victory in which they toiled for about 54 minutes before potting a goal. And that’s why it was even more encouraging to hear that they weren’t happy with their third-period effort following a 2-0 win in Game 2. “We played a pretty solid middle period,” said center Jason Arnott, who netted the Caps’ first power-play goal in what turned out to be a decisive...

Caps Looking for Goals, Not Style Points

By Scott Lowe The good news for Washington Capitals fans is that despite a very solid defensive effort and a 2-1 overtime victory Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the players don’t seem satisfied with their offensive performance. If you had to classify the Caps’ two goals against Rangers all-world netminder Henrik Lundqvist, Alex Ovechkin’s third-period tying marker would have to be considered “dirty,” while Alexander Semin’s laser-beam one-timer in overtime was a thing of beauty. To a man, Washington players – including the top line – have spoken in the past two days about generating more traffic in front of the net, creating rebounds and sc...

Caps Appear Ready to Apply Lessons Learned - Series Preview

By Scott Lowe Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Preview #1 Washington (48-23-11) vs. #8 New York Rangers (44-33-5) Everyone is going to point to the Rangers’ two blowout wins against the Caps (by 6-0 and 7-0 scores) this season and talk about this being a bad matchup for Washington. You will hear from more than one source that the Rangers are primed to pull off the upset. But a closer look at the facts does not appear uphold that viewpoint. The circumstances of those blowouts – the first coming with a Washington team making a transition in playing style and struggling through a season–high eight-game losing streak and the second coming on the heels of a grueling six-game road...

Caps-Pens Must See TV No Matter Who Plays

By Scott Lowe Today’s always-anticipated nationally televised matchup between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins is a huge game for both teams, but not for the normal reasons. The fact that these two clubs are fierce rivals for once has very little to do with the importance of the contest. Nor does the Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry have any bearing on what should be an intense Super Bowl Sunday matinee. None of that matters today. Instead it is an opportunity for both teams to send a message to the rest of the league. For the Caps, who have struggled to a 3-7-6 mark recently (thanks Mike Vogel!) against teams currently holding down playoff spots while going 7-2-2 ...

Caps Lineup vs. Thrashers

A basically unispired first period by both the Caps and Thrashers tonight. Very few scoring opportunities. Tight defensive battle. Lots of bodies in front of both nets. The lineup for Washington: Forwards Ovechkin-Backstrom-Chimera Laich-Perreault-Beagle Hendricks-Johansson-Knuble Steckel-Gordon-Bradley Defense Schultz-Green Alzner-Carlson Erskine-Hannan Goal Varlamov Scratched D.J. King, Michal Neuvirth and Tyler Sloan.