Capitals Corner Pre-Game Show On The Fanspeak Radio Network
By Alan Zlotorzynski: The Washington Capitals will face the Florida Panthers in Florida tonight (7:30 p.m.) for the first half of back-to-backs. The Capitals have compiled a 23-8-1 record against Florida in the last 32 matchups and have gone 10-5-1 in their last 16 road games vs. Florida. Washington is 3-0-0 this season against the Panthers, outscoring Florida 18-6 in that span, and have scored at least five goals in all three contests so far this season.
The Capitals recent surge is thanks in part to strong goaltending from Braden Holtby and the play of what was once known as the “Young Guns”. Defenseman Mike Green, center Nicklas Backstrom and forward Alex Ovechkin have led the charge. The trio, which is still considered the nucleus of the Capitals, has combined to score 18 goals while registering 35-points in their last 25 combined man games.
The Capitals hope to continue their stellar play within the Southeast division tonight, as they are 10-3-0 in division play this season. Washington has not lost a season series to the Panthers since the 2005-06 season and is looking to sweep the season series against Florida for the first time since 2009-10 when it went 6-0.
The Capitals are coming off a week in which they collected a point in each of their four contests, while posting a 3-0-1 mark. Washington needed overtime or a shootout to finish three of the four games, losing in overtime to the Flyers after holding a two-goal lead with a little over seven minutes to play. The OT loss did nothing to slow down Ovechkin and company as they quickly rebounded to beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 in come from behind fashion two nights later.
The recent winning surge has catapulted Washington into a tie for first place in the Southeast division. Washington is tied with the Winnipeg Jets, whom the Capitals beat by a combined score of 10-1 in back-to-back on the road in Winnipeg a few weeks back.
The Jets will visit Verizon Center on April 22 in what is shaping up to be one of the better finishes to the lockout shortened NHL season.
The Capitals were quiet until the end of the NHL trade deadline on Wednesday. It was just before the 3 p.m. deadline that Caps GM George McPhee pulled the trigger on a deal and acquired forwards Martin Erat and Michael Latta from Nashville. Erat ranked tied for first on Nashville in points and led the team in assists at the time of the trade and skated 14:43 in his Capitals debut on April 4 vs. the New York Islanders.
He ranks second in Nashville franchise history in career points (481), goals (163), assists (318), games played (723), game-winning goals (26) and ranks third in power-play goals (42). He recorded a career-high 58 points (19 goals, 39 assists) last season for Nashville and has eclipsed the 50-point plateau in five of the last six seasons. Erat entered the season as one of just 17 NHL players (including Mike Ribeiro) to have recorded 45 or more points each of the last eight seasons (since 2003-04).
Many Caps fans and NHL experts alike expected McPhee to deal to deal unrestricted free agent center, Mike Ribeiro but Washington stood pat and instead traded their No.11 pick in last year’s NHL entry Draft, Filip Forsberg.
The deal enraged many Capitals fans and had many experts scratching their heads. Many demanded to know why Washington would trade away Forsberg’s explosive north-south speed and well finessed stickhandling for Erat, who while a nice player doesn’t possess the potential of Forsberg and will be 32 years old in August. Not to mention Erat has two years remaining on his current contract with a salary cap hit of $4.5 million per season.
His best season occurred two years ago when registered 58-points for the Predators. NHL Central Scouting ranked Forsberg as the top European prospect heading into last year’s draft recorded 15 goals and 18 assists for Leksand in Allsvenskan, the second-tier Swedish league.
The 18 year old was dubbed an all-star at this year’s world junior championships — but because he’s playing in the second-tier Swedish league Caps GM George McPhee recently admitted it’s difficult to truly evaluate the young winger.
McPhee had asked Forsberg to report to Hershey soon but this was before he dealt him Wednesday.
Washington also added depth to their already young and talented core of defenseman on Friday. Washington announced they signed defenseman Patrick Wey to a two-year, entry-level contract beginning in 2013-14, McPhee announced.
The 6’3, 210-pound defenseman recently completed his senior season at Boston College, recording career highs in points (13), assists (12), games played (37, tied) and penalty minutes (54) and registered a plus-14 rating this season. Wey helped Boston College to a 22-12-4 record and a berth in the NCAA tournament. He was named a 2013 Hockey East Second-Team All-Star and named Hockey East’s 2013 Best Defensive Defenseman.
In 133 career games with Boston College, Wey collected 33 points (four goals, 29 assists) and 147 penalty minutes. He helped Boston College win the NCAA National Championship in 2011-12 and tallied one goal and three assists in four tournament games. Boston College also won the Hockey East Championship and the NCAA regular-season championship last season as Wey was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team at the Northeast Regional.
The Pittsburgh native helped the United States win the bronze medal at the 2011 Under-20 World Junior Championship, appearing in six tournament games. Washington drafted Wey in the fourth round (115th overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
G Jose Theodore spent two seasons in Washington (2008-10). He finished his career with the Capitals, playing in 104 games finishing with a 62-24-12 record with three shutouts. F Tomas Fleischmann spent the majority of his career in Washington (2005-10). During his time with the Capitals, Fleischmann played 283 games, recording 138 points (60-78-138).
TOP FIVE CAPS FACTS (Washington Capitals: Media Notes)
Green streak –Mike Green scored for the fourth consecutive game on April 4 vs. the Islanders and has tallied 5g-1a in his last four contests. Thursday marked Green’s first goal spree of as many as four consecutive contests since he scored in four straight from Oct. 30-Nov. 7, 2010, a period that included Braden Holtby’s first NHL win (Nov. 5) and first NHL start (Nov. 7). Green holds the NHL record for consecutive games with a goal by a defenseman (eight games).
Here to assist –Nicklas Backstrom extended his point streak to four games with an assist on April 4 vs. New York and now has 1g-6a in his last four contests. Backstrom is currently tied for third in the league in assists (30) after tallying 17 helpers in 18 combined games in March and April.
Southeast treat –The Capitals have compiled a 10-3-0 record against teams from the Southeast Division this season, the best record in Southeast divisional play. Washington has won its last four contests against Southeast Division opponents and is 3-0 this season against Florida.
Explosive offense –The Capitals scored four goals in the game’s first 8:10 on March 7 vs. Florida. That marks the second-fastest four goals scored to start a game in Capitals history. The first came in 6:49 on 1/21/86 vs. the Minnesota North Stars. The four first-period goals tied a season high for a single period while the seven goals scored were a single-game high this season for Washington.
MORE CAPS NOTES:
All about Ovi:
* Alex Ovechkin has scored the most goals (359) and points (716) in the NHL since the 2005-06 season.
* Alex Ovechkin finished the 2011-12 season ranked fifth in the NHL with 38 goals.
Holtby shuts the door –Braden Holtby’s four shutouts this season are more than Washington’s team leader had in that department in 23 of the team’s previous 37 seasons of existence. With seven career shutouts, Holtby has tied Michal Neuvirth and Pete Peeters for fifth on the franchise’s all-time list.
Hitting the mark –Alex Ovechkin scored twice on April 2 at Carolina, including his 20th goal of the season. The only other active players to score at least 20 goals in each of their first eight NHL seasons are Jaromir Jagr (17), Teemu Selanne (11), and Ilya Kovalchuk (10, through last season). Ovechkin became the 36th player in NHL history to score 20 or more goals in his first eight seasons in the league and becomes the only player to have scored 20 or more goals each of the last eight seasons (since 2005-06).
400’s –Nicklas Backstrom played his 400th career NHL game on March 31 at Philadelphia and with his four assists on April 2 at Carolina surpassed the 400-point plateau (402). Backstrom became just the 16th Capital to score 400 or more points with Washington.
Just win –Braden Holtby recorded his 16th win of the season on April 4 vs. the New York Islanders, extending a career-high for wins in a single season. Holtby won 10 games in 2010-11 and is one of just four goaltenders (Jim Carey, Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov) in Capitals history to post two or more seasons of 10 or more wins at the age of 23 or younger. Holtby’s 30 career wins rank him tied for fourth in Capitals history among goaltenders originally drafted by Washington.
Before the puck is dropped in south Florida tonight, be sure to join Alan Zlotorzynski for a special pre-game edition of CAPITALS CORNER/ THE NHL SHOW.
Alan will breakdown the recent success of the Capitals and will tell what to expect the rest of the season, as he breaks down the remaining games. He will also break down the trade that sent the Capitals top first round selection from last year’s NHL Draft, Filip Forsberg to the Nashville Predators for veteran Martin Erat. He will tell you why it is not as bad as you have been reading or hearing.
Washington earned a point in every game this past week while posting a record of 3-0-1. Three of their four contests required overtime or a shootout to decide. With the help of Caps play-by-play man John Walton, Alan will have all of the audio highlights as well as the stats that matter from a very important week.
Alan will also recap the NHL trade deadline, as well as have all of the news and notes from around the rest of the league. He will also take you down to the minors where the Hershey Bears are fighting for a playoff spot and Reading Royals are in the playoffs.
Showtime is 5:30 on the Fanspeak Radio Network.