Joe Beninati: No Stopping Caps


Joe Beninati: No Stopping Caps

Friday, February 5, 2010

By Joe Beninati
Capitals Play-By-Play

Winning never gets old and with the way the Capitals are racking up one victory after another they show no signs of fatigue. The Thrashers were off Thursday night while the Caps were exhausting all their offensive resources in New York. When the game began this evening, Atlanta had the fresher legs and that led to them jumping out 1-0 against Michal Neuvirth and his mates.

But after that Tobias Endstrom goal Neuvirth was terrific. He made 43 saves, many of which came off bang, bang plays to completely frustrate the Thrashers. Only RichPeverley's strange short handed goal off the skate boot of a sliding Alex Semin would blemish Neuvirth's performance in the last 56 minutes of the contest.

Offensively DC put up another five goals to reach the cruising altitude of 13 straight wins. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom put two bullets past Ondrej Pavelec to give the Capitals a lead they would never surrender. Alex Semin smacked in the eventual game winner off a nifty set up from Brooks Laich. Jason Chimera turned on the jets 68 seconds later and zipped a slap shot to the top corner, and the win streak appeared safe and sound.

Mike Green returned to the rink tonight after his three game suspension and he appeared to come through the game just fine. You will remember he suffered a leg injury in the same game in which he committed his suspendable offense against Florida. He showed no ill effects tonight.

Backstrom was not available for duty in the third period this evening. He's been especially durable in his three seasons as a pro, but he does occasionally suffer migraine headaches. It could have been the case this evening, we never did receive official word.

The Caps will need him Sunday when the Penguins come in for a highly anticipated showdown. Enjoy the game on NBC and we'll see you when the Caps visit Montreal Wednesday on CSN.

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Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

Wizards drop to precarious position in close Eastern Conference playoff race

As if they needed a reminder, the Wizards saw firsthand on Wednesday night just how much can change in a short period of time in the Eastern Conference playoff race where just two games separate the No. 3 and No. 6 teams.

That No. 6 team is now your Washington Wizards, who began the day in fourth place but lost their first game in four days on the same night both the Cavs and Sixers won theirs. 

The Wizards lost to the Spurs on Wednesday and managed only 90 points, their fewest since Jan. 22. It was a lackluster performance in a game the Wizards needed to treat with urgency. 


The Spurs sure did.

"We've gotta have a better mentality coming into games," guard Bradley Beal said. "The Spurs were fighting for playoff seeding just like we were."

The Wizards have now lost six of their last 10, yet all those games have come against teams currently holding playoff spots. Considering John Wall reamins out with a left knee injury, it's hard to fault them too much when they are staying afloat just fine in the big picture.

The problem is that the closer they get to the end of the season, the more these losses are magnified. They amount to missed opportunities, some bigger than others.

That was not lost on Beal, who considered the alternative. If the Wizards had beaten the Spurs, they would be sitting in fourth, two spots higher, and just a game-and-a-half out of third.

"Every time we have a chance to move up, we take two steps back," Beal lamented.


The Wizards are in a high stakes part of the standings where plenty is in the balance. They are fighting for home court advantage, something they would get in the third or fourth spots. And who they match up with will be paramount.

By falling to sixth, the Wizards are currently in line to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Though the Pacers and Sixers are also good teams, they don't have LeBron James. Avoiding him and the Cavs would be ideal for the Wizards.

Beal has even bigger worries than that. He noted after the loss in San Antonio that they could fall even further if they aren't careful. They are now just a game-and-a-half up on the seventh-place Heat. 

"We've gotta realize what's at stake, man. The way we're going, we could keep dropping and mess around and be eighth. We've gotta do whatever it takes to win," he said.

The Wizards should be fine, if the previous two months are any indication. But Wednesday night was another example of how precarious things are for them this season in the tightly-packed Eastern Conference.


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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.