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Capitals get contributions from all ages on penalty kill

In a penalty-filled game against Ottawa tonight, the Washington Capitals' man-down unit had almost as much to do with the club's 3-2 victory at Verizon Center as Alex Ovechkin's goal with 31 seconds to play in overtime.

Ovechkin's winner certainly was spectacular, and it's what teammates, coaches and fans have come to expect from perhaps the most talented player in the world. It no doubt will be played and replayed on SportsCenter, and it's probably the first of many memorable moments the left wing will provide this season.

What you're not likely to see on any highlight show is the Capitals' rugged work on the penalty kill, which went 5 for 5 against a Senators team desperate for a win. The penalty kill took on even more importance tonight considering the Capitals went 0 for 5 on the power play and got outshot, 31-26.

"The guys are really playing great," said goalie Michal Neuvirth, who had 29 saves. "They're really blocking shots and paying the price, and that's a big key. Our penalty kill was outstanding tonight."

The 22-year-old rookie had plenty of help from veterans and youngsters alike on that unit, which has not yielded a goal in 12 shorthanded chances over three games.

Left wing Jason Chimera, 31, played 2 minutes 26 seconds on the penalty kill and on several occasions was responsible for getting the puck out of harm's way when the Senators were bearing down. Defenseman John Erskine, 30, played 3:51 of short-handed time, and center Matt Hendricks, 29, played 2:45. Hendricks also blocked a team-high four shots and delivered some wicked hits.

"You know, anytime you get hit, it tires you out," said Hendricks, among the team's few new acquisitions for this season, "and if you keep getting repetitively hit, every time you go back to get the puck, it's in the back of your head someone's coming to hit me, someone's coming to hit me."

Defenseman Karl Alzner, 22, one of the team's most promising young players, spent 1:13 on the penalty kill. Although not technically a rookie, Alzner is set to play his first season predominantly with the Capitals after 30 games with the NHL club in 2008-09 and 21 games last season.

True rookies got into the act too, with defenseman John Carlson getting 3:44 in man-down situations and center Marcus Johansson playing 1:02. Carlson and Johansson both are 20.

"I just try to skate as much as I can in the neutral zone and in the offensive zone and then just do what everybody else does in our own end," said Johansson, whose defensive upside had a lot to do with him making the team after the Capitals drafted him in the first round last year. "It's a difficult job, but it's fun."

By Gene Wang  | October 11, 2010; 11:06 PM ET
Categories:  Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, Marcus Johansson, Michal Neuvirth  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Caps vs. Senators
Next: Mike Green and his defensive agenda

Comments

weak writeup...glad we won in OT, but it wasn't a spectacular goal. Seemed like it caught Leclaire off guard...like a changeup. Erskine was horrible in OT

Posted by: Phishhead311 | October 11, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I liked reading what Hendricks had to say about hitting. This is a fairly new concept for this young Capitals team. Hendricks is proving to be a great 4th liner for the team. Hopefully he, King, Brads, and Steckel will make teams pay when they play the Caps.

Great win. Ovie had 2 highlights in 3 games (penalty shot and overtime goal).

Posted by: Wemiss21 | October 11, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

They are working hard and are being aggressive on the PK unlike last season. There PK looks even better than the 08-09 season. Hope they keep up the good work.

Posted by: pkme | October 11, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Power Play looks pretty rough right now.

Posted by: pkme | October 11, 2010 11:56 PM | Report abuse

hendricks forced the point and ran into Gonch a coupla times

can't remember the last time we had a pk forward do that for us.

oh actually i do, matt cooke!

and Chimera's combining speed with aggression this yr. He's probably our mvp on the Pk upfront. When he takes a beeline and goes thru people and then beats everyone down ice for the puck, that's when he's at his best.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't aware Ovechkin made the switch to right wing.

Posted by: Tate12 | October 12, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

@ Phishhead31

do explain how erskine was horrible in OT?

Posted by: _stevo | October 12, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

@pkme

The power play has looked awful all year for the most part. (They looked good but didn't score during the first period and we scored our first goal with our PP personnel soon after the end of a penalty.)

Third period power play was frankly abysmal. Poor passing and our point men seemed to miss passes right and left.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 12, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

whats different this yr vs last? hendricks?

i have a hard time believing a FA grinder dime a dozen addition is the key to a better PK.

We have a commitment this yr we didn't have in yrs past. So far anyway. Its an attitude and systemic change that is calling for the forwards to attack the point more.

Why we couldn't figure it out over 80 games last yr is befuddling.

i still think Gordo can do a better job of forcing the issue when he's on the PK. He needs to stiffen it up.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

@Tom, PhilR etc

Guys I gotta tell ya and I might be a little late breaking this as I just got home but people are coming unglued! And I mean big time!

Everybody and I mean EVERYBODY, players, agents, coaches, owners, former players, former agents & yes the UNION is even pissed at Lou.

Here's the deal, according to the CBA a team has to dress 18 skaters and 2 goalies unless there is an "emergency". Well the Dev's only dressed 15 skaters today. Why? Because Rolston and A-Train are out injured and they couldn't bring anybody else up or they would've gone over the cap. So everybody is viewing this as the latest "cap circumvention" move by Lou. He has abandoned all. It's self explanatory why owners etc would be mad but why is the union mad? The #1 reason is there are essentially 3 jobs out there that aren't being filled. The unions job is to fight for more jobs, benefits etc and Lou is single handedly reducing that number.

I can't tell you guys what's going to come of this but I'm telling you that the once respected and "model" GM is now being looked at like a liar, a cheater & somebody who has abandoned his peers. This is not good. I would expect that NJ gets even more penalties due to breaking the CBA. Good ole Lou is gonna say it was an "emergency" but the problem is EVERYBODY is against him and that excuse won't work. It WILL get thrown in his face that had he had better cap management then there would've been no "emergency".

Sorry if I'm repeating anything that's been said but every since this game got under way my phone has been blowing up for sure.

I know this sounds so weird it's hard for me to type it but I gotta believe his job is on the line. For those of you who don't know that's like saying Pat Riley's job is in jeopardy. It's hard to fathom but I'll ask you this, what has made such a smart, well respected and very knowledgable GM go so over the line that he's abandoned everybody outside of NJ? If there's another explanation please enlighten me. It's hard in this world to piss off the owners, players and union but Lou has done it.

I think the worst thing that could ever happy to Kovy was signing that contract. Time will tell.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | October 12, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

@Tom, PhilR etc

Guys I gotta tell ya and I might be a little late breaking this as I just got home but people are coming unglued! And I mean big time!

Everybody and I mean EVERYBODY, players, agents, coaches, owners, former players, former agents & yes the UNION is even pissed at Lou.

Here's the deal, according to the CBA a team has to dress 18 skaters and 2 goalies unless there is an "emergency". Well the Dev's only dressed 15 skaters today. Why? Because Rolston and A-Train are out injured and they couldn't bring anybody else up or they would've gone over the cap. So everybody is viewing this as the latest "cap circumvention" move by Lou. He has abandoned all. It's self explanatory why owners etc would be mad but why is the union mad? The #1 reason is there are essentially 3 jobs out there that aren't being filled. The unions job is to fight for more jobs, benefits etc and Lou is single handedly reducing that number.

I can't tell you guys what's going to come of this but I'm telling you that the once respected and "model" GM is now being looked at like a liar, a cheater & somebody who has abandoned his peers. This is not good. I would expect that NJ gets even more penalties due to breaking the CBA. Good ole Lou is gonna say it was an "emergency" but the problem is EVERYBODY is against him and that excuse won't work. It WILL get thrown in his face that had he had better cap management then there would've been no "emergency".

Sorry if I'm repeating anything that's been said but every since this game got under way my phone has been blowing up for sure.

I know this sounds so weird it's hard for me to type it but I gotta believe his job is on the line. For those of you who don't know that's like saying Pat Riley's job is in jeopardy. It's hard to fathom but I'll ask you this, what has made such a smart, well respected and very knowledgable GM go so over the line that he's abandoned everybody outside of NJ? If there's another explanation please enlighten me. It's hard in this world to piss off the owners, players and union but Lou has done it.

I think the worst thing that could ever happy to Kovy was signing that contract. Time will tell.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | October 12, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't worry too much about the PP this early in the season, particularly with Backstrom not looking right out there for whatever reason (leg, migraines etc...).

PPs take longer than PKs to get going, in general, and I believe we started slow on the PP last season, too (finished slow as well, unfortunately).

I'm more encouraged by the clear commitment to doing certain things differently, as cstanton1 alluded to, not just on the PK, though, but in general.

Not worried about the PP. That'll come around.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 12, 2010 12:16 AM | Report abuse

Naw, it's way more than just one guy. It's very apparent the systematic changes implemented in the PK this year. Far from the pitiful, passive box we saw last year. Erskine, Carlson, Green..that makes 1/2th of our defense on the more physical side of play, and we've already seen a difference in Schultz's game. I mean, we saw him actually hit someone! I know it seems played out, especially on this board, but physicality, aggressiveness, etc = better PK. It keeps guys more alert and active on top of that. Our bottom six is also wholly better than last year, even with just one addition and one yet to play. They have all played a very hard-nosed game, finishing their checks, all except Gordo and MaJo a few times I saw. Chimera has been great, and the same with Bradley and Steckel.

I know it's only three games, but the team seems more "gelled" and willing to play as a team this year more than any other. That, and it seems that defensive play is receiving more emphasis. Just gotta reduce those o-zone turnovers.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 12, 2010 12:21 AM | Report abuse

i feel the same way, the PP will come around

I've seen PPs that start off bad and come together later. Haven't seen that happen with bad PK units

Poker, you sound like you're about to give birth with that last post. That you duped.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

right, my point exactly.

so why did it take so long to figure out that playing a passive box approach in front of a D that can't clear the crease was a bad ploy to begin with?

midseason adjustment a foreign concept for these guys?

anyway, its way more fun to watch our forwards attack the point now. Gonch was like, what the heck is goin on here? A damn Capital PKer is about to run me over here!

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton about the second goal. Backstrom had the guy with the puck covered and he wasn't going anywhere. Hitting is all well and good but it doesn't help when it takes you out of position. There was nothing to gain from the play, hitting the Sens player there wasn't going to stop a scoring play that would have been there if the hit wasn't made. By going for the hit there were no players in a good position to cover Shannon and he was able to make a great play and score. If Erskine stays at home then he can take away the middle from Shannon and can make the save easier for Neuvirth. It is just like Green going for an offensive play and being caught only if Green is successful he can get a goal or the team can get on. The play by Erskine was not going to help anything no matter what happened. The guy on the wall was not moving and clearly wasn't going to be a threat but Shannon was and Erskine let him come in with only a guy chasing to beat.

Posted by: icehammer97 | October 12, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Sorry bro! LOL! I really only hit "submit" once.

But yeah man there are some poeple that are seriously ticked. You know the hockey community is a pretty close knit type of group and for Lou to do this he's basically sticking his middle finger up at everybody.

I think part of what has everybody so upset is it comes RIGHT after his failed attempt with the contract.

But you're right sorry bout the double post. guuh!

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | October 12, 2010 12:29 AM | Report abuse

pokerface: I posted earlier today (yesterday to you eastern cats) that the Devils dressing 15 would get the players' union up in arms. This is a serious problem as 15 skaters damages the integrity of the game.

I for one would rather Caps be above avg on PK and below avg on PP than other way around. PP will come around but PK has been lousy for years. Seeing them attack the points was great.

Also I'd rather Green get only 40 pts but have him play more a Pronger style as he is than a Coffey style like he was. Although 31 mins in the 3rd game of the year is absurd. We have cap space and if the rest of the d-men are so undependable than a trade must be made.

If Bradley is hurt let's get DJ King out there and beat the living cr@p out of NYI Wed night. They are young and if you beat them up they will cough up the pts and go home. Make it hurt to play in DC! Make it REALLY hurt! Just like last year when Pronger put Tavares's face against the glass!

Ever notice when you cause someone pain they either fight back and you so "Whoa!" or else they just GIVE UP! Make em QUIT!

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

"switch to right wing"... yup it was the only time he had a good chance all night. Instead of going at the defensive stalwart that is Sergei Gonchar, he went at Chris Phillips and beat him. :D

Posted by: rh71 | October 12, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

He didn't really switch to right wing, he just happened to come down that side in the 4v4 OT. Nice little deke Ovi did there to shake off Leclaire's concentration..he probably felt a pass coming.

On the subject, it's funny to see that defenders still try to defend Ovi by backing up, backing up, backing up, backing up. The respect is still there, and Ovi takes full advantage of it.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | October 12, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

A nice start to the season on the PK. They are carrying over their play from the preseason. I will want to see where the PK ranks at the 20 game mark. They are definitely forcing the issue more and that seems to be making a difference.

Posted by: jimc93 | October 12, 2010 6:51 AM | Report abuse

Referring to Ovechkin as a right wing is similar to stating the tight end McNabb....terrible mistake in an otherwise fine article.

Posted by: wellscats | October 12, 2010 6:54 AM | Report abuse

McNabb is a great qb in a double tightend set . Can I get hell yea from a wowboy fan lolol..uhh...ugg charlie brown just look up lusy skirt and saw a hairy beaver lol

Posted by: terryreece | October 12, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

McNabb is a great qb in a double tightend set . Can I get hell yea from a wowboy fan lolol..uhh...ugg charlie brown just look up lusy skirt and saw a hairy beaver lol

Posted by: terryreece | October 12, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

I didnt really know anything about Hendricks , but this is the type of guy we have really missed since Cooke left. I think we made a mistake is keeping Bradley and not signing Cooke, its just nice to have a guy that will hit the whole game and just not a shift or two.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | October 12, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Caps continue to add young talent in Carlson, Alzner, Johansson and Neuvirth while the Blackhawks, Penguins, Devils and other contenders have had to drop players strictly for salary cap reasons.

This is why the Capitals did not get into a bidding war for Jay Bouwmeester last year and why the team did not trade top prospects to take on a contract like that of Sheldon Souray.

Some clubs like the Maple Leafs, Rangers, Devils, Flyers, etc. can never seem to say no to trades and signings of veterans over 30 and that has caused them to have to turn over their roster every 2 years.

Posted by: RoyHobbs4 | October 12, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

@pokerface208

>>I think the worst thing that could ever happy to Kovy was signing that contract. Time will tell.

God, does that feel right. Big mistake: the Kovy signing. It made no sense for anyone. He's just not Ovechkin and paying him Ovie money and saying he is just makes for a terrible situation for the team. Imagine THAT salary parked in the minor leagues 3 years from now!

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 12, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal - >>make 'em hurt

Umm. Winning isn't the only thing. I hope hockey isn't heading back to the Broad Street Bullies era, those were dark times and I'd have a hard time cheering for a team that won with thuggery. I'd rather watch a sporting event than watch bear-baiting.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | October 12, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

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