Beninati: Double Satisfaction

Beninati: Double Satisfaction

Thursday, January 21, 2010

By Joe Beninati
Capitals Play-By-Play

The satisfaction is double when a 6-3 win comes at the expense of your arch rival. The Capitals played this game with a playoff intensity and by the third period the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins were tired of matching it.The Capitals were the better team very early in the game, putting a ton of pressure on their ex-teammate Brent Johnson. The veteran netminder played his heart out to keep the Caps off the board in the first ten minutes. At the other end, Jose Theodore was his own worst enemy, mishandling a long dump in that turned out to be a gift wrapped goal for Sidney Crosby. The resilient Caps fought back to tie in the opening period when Mike Knuble drove hard to the net to clean up an Alex Ovechkin rush. Ovechkin, Knuble, and Backstrom played with a much better tempo tonight compared to the Red Wings game earlier this week.The second period was a high-scoring extravaganza. Eric Fehr and Ovechkin sandwiched their tallies around a couple for Pittsburgh. Ovechkin converted an old school wrist shot
for his power play goal. The Penguins received the first three power plays of the game and did not cash them in. As it turned out the Caps would be a perfect 2-for-2 with two power play goals coming on just two shots.The first four minutes of the third period had to make Caps fans very pleased. The indescribably skilled hands of Alex Semin sent Tomas Fleischmann in on a breakway and Flash put it away, looking very much like a seasoned pro. When Backstrom caught Johnson leaning off the post 53 seconds later, D.C. had a much deserved lead to protect down the stretch.There have been times this year when they've had issues putting games away in these situations, but this was not one of them. Theodore bounced back from his early bobble very well. The defense corps, which was without an injured Mike Green, repeatedly
turned away Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who played on the same line for most of the third period. ShaoneMorrisonn turned in an inspired performance and not just for his two assists.The Caps won the faceoff battle by a mile and delivered the most jarring hit of the night. This win was a very positive step. A big victory in the backyard of your biggest enemy and a job very well done. See you on Saturday with a game against Phoenix on CSN.

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting


The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.


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The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”