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Tag:Braden Holtby
Posted on: February 14, 2012 1:42 am
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:55 am
 

A Caps goalie beaten from center ice ... again

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- The scouting report is out on the Washington Capitals. It doesn't matter which goalie is in net, just fire the puck from the red line. Chances are you are going to score.

For the second time in as many home losses -- 5-3 to the Sharks -- an opponent scored from center ice. Well that's not entirely accurate from Monday night, Dan Boyle's shot was deflected by Joe Pavelski around the blue line and bounced toward Braden Holtby, starting for the first time this season with Tomas Vokoun under the weather.

Holtby was left looking more like a first baseman picking a short hop than a goaltender.

"Just tried getting my stick out," Pavelski said. "You see it bouncing and you hope when you're that far away that something stupid happens."

Something stupid happened.

"I don't think I've ever been a part of anything like that," Boyle said. He's played in more than 900 NHL games so that's saying something.

"You could probably change a few things," Holtby said of the goal. "I'd probably liked to have been out further, but at that point I'm trying to make sure I'm in the right position, in case he rims it I [can] go and stop it. It happend pretty quickly to me, I wasn't expecting that so I'm not really sure what my positioning was."

It's just going that kind of way for the Caps right now.

Go back a few days when the Winnipeg Jets were at Verizon Center. They were trailing the Caps in the closing minutes 2-1. Just 12 seconds after scoring their first, Dustin Byfuglien hammered the puck into the offensive zone, only the puck went off Karl Alzner and Vokoun couldn't recover in time.

"I saw it, I was on the line. I can tell you, it's really hard for the goalies," Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec said. "It hit the guy's stick -- absolutely no chance for Vokey there. Absolutely no chance. I saw it. It's just bad luck, hit the guy's stick and goes straight to the net. Buff did a good job, shot the puck as hard as he can and the puck find a way."

That's two goalies. What about the third, backup Michal Neuvirth? Yes, he has been victimized in recent weeks by the red line shot, too.

His came in one of the month's critical matchups against the Florida Panthers and Mikael Samuelsson.

Three goalies, three red-line goals.

What do they say? Once is a fluke, twice is a coincidence and three times is a trend? Well we're not going to call this a trend. It's not like teams are going to begin launching shots from the red line all the time on the Caps. It's not exactly a fool-proof strategy.

But it has made the Caps goalies look a little like fools, even if they weren't the easiest saves in the world to be made.

More from Eye on Hockey

Is Caps' season slipping away?
Recap: Sharks 5, Capitals 3
NHL Trade Deadline rumor mill
NHL Playoff Race

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:58 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 1:27 pm
 

Is the Capitals' season slipping away?

The Caps might be losing their grip on this season. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- This season began with such promise for the Washington Capitals. They beefed up in an attempt to finally get over the Eastern Conference semifinal hump and hopes were high that this was the team.

It is starting to head toward an end of such despair.

Now granted, there is still time -- and a trade deadline to go -- but this team just isn't the contender so many saw. If you want, blame it on the injuries. It's tough for a team to play without its No. 1 center (Nicklas Backstrom) and No. 1 defenseman (Mike Green). But they aren't the only team dealing with injuries. That's not going to garner much sympathy.

But fact of the matter is they are slipping and are running out of games to pick it up. Depending on what happens with the Panthers take on the Senators on Wednesday night, the Caps could find themselves down by as many as six points in the Southeast Division. Adam Gretz already explained pretty well that that's obviously the worst division in hockey. So being six points back of the worst division leader isn't a good sign.

They have been tough to beat at home. Not for the San Jose Sharks, they weren't. Not on Monday night. The Sharks came in after a tough loss in St. Louis 24 hours ago and beat the Caps down, walking away with a 5-3 win (Caps scored a couple late to make it closer). It was Washington's third loss in a row, second at Verizon Center.

"I don't think we are frustrated," Alex Ovechkin said. "One [game] we have to win, but we didn't win. Everybody's trying. I can't say nobody's trying, nobody's playing 100 percent."

This is why things are hitting critical mass. They have been good at home for almost all of the season and pretty dang bad on the road. Washington's next four are on the road starting with Friday's massive game against the Panthers in Florida. That will follow with dates in Tampa Bay, Carolina and Ottawa too. Not exactly Murder's Row but for a team that struggles on the road, anything is tough.

It's not a stretch to say that they probably need six out of the eight points on that trip. They can't afford to fall any further behind Florida or the rest of their Eastern counterparts.

The good news? There is some. Ottawa is falling harder than the Caps right now, not making the bottom of the East out of reach.

It's pretty safe to say that the Caps need to do something at the trade deadline. They will be active no doubt. Tonight in Washington 12 scouts were on hand including two from the Blue Jackets, ex-Ducks coach Randy Carlyle (now a scout for Anaheim) and Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier. It's worth noting that this weekend in Columbus two Caps scouts were present.

"The determination is there -- I think -- in this room,” Matt Hendricks said. “I think the focus is there. The execution just isn't there right now."

This coming road trip is a crucial a stretch as any this season. It really could be the season for the Capitals after their recent swoon.

More from Eye on Hockey

Holtby beaten from center ice
Recap: Sharks 5, Capitals 3
NHL Trade Deadline rumor mill
NHL Playoff Race

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: November 26, 2011 9:14 am
 

Tempers flare following Holtby's celebration

By: Adam Gretz

As far as rivalries in the American Hockey League go, the one between the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Hershey Bears is probably as good (and intense) as it gets. That's kind of fitting when you remember that they are the affiliates of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, which has been a pretty good NHL rivalry dating all the way back to the early 1990's and their Patrick Division days.

On Friday night Hershey picked up a shootout win in Wilkes-Barre, and Bears goaltender Braden Holtby was a little pumped up after stopping Nick Petersen's shot to secure the win, giving a series of fist-pumps as he skated toward center ice to greet his teamamtes. That, of course, resulted in some heated exchanges at the middle of the ice. Apparently Holtby's response was a bit of a retalliation for Penguins defenseman Simon Despres making a similar gesture following an overtime win earlier this season.

Here's the video, via Sweetest Hockey On Earth:



Holtby, one of the Capitals' top prospects, was issued a 10-minute misconduct after the game was over.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Vokoun talks about joining Caps, leaving Cats

By Brian Stubits

Tomas Vokoun has had an interesting couple of months. He went through the free agency freeze, expecting to be coveted to waiting around a few days for an offer. The frustration of that was offset by going from a perennial loser with the Panthers to an annual power in the Capitals.

There he will battle with Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, but that's another story altogehter (which Adam Gretz already covered!).

Vokoun only spent four years in Florida, but he made no secret how much he enjoys living in the area. So it's no surprise that he was working out at the Panthers team facility in Coral Springs, Fla. on Monday when Miami Herald writer George Richards caught up with the goaltender.

In their nearly 15-minute interview, the conversation runs the gamut from Vokoun playing for a contender and the possibility of pressure joining him. Plus they talk about the frustrations of July 1 and the relationship with former Panthers coach and now Devils head man Peter DeBoer.

Above is the first of three parts in the interview. Click here for Part II and click here for Part III.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: August 25, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: August 25, 2011 7:21 pm
 

Can Neuvirth push Vokoun for starting job?

NeuvirthBy: Adam Gretz

Not that we know these things before even one game is played during the 2011-12 season, but the Washington Capitals addition of free agent goaltender Tomas Vokoun on a one-year, $1.5 million contract has the potential to be one of the best deals of the summer.

For the past four years he's been the proverbial big fish in the small pond, quietly going about his business as the best player -- and one of the best goalies in the NHL -- on one of the worst teams in the league. He's finished in the top-10 in save percentage in each of the past five seasons, including four finishes in the top-five, all while usually facing over 32 shots per game.

His addition was just one part of a busy summer of activity for the Capitals, which included the additions of forwards Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, defenseman Roman Hamrlik, as well as the trade of one of their young goalies, Semyon Varlamov, to the Colorado Avalanche for a future first-round pick. It's already been assumed that Vokoun will be the Capitals' starting goaltender when the season begins, which means last year's No. 1, Michal Neuvirth, will be pushed to backup duty. Still, that's not stopping him from enterinng camp with the intentiions of taking back his starting gig, as he told Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post on Thursday.

From the Post:
Coach Bruce Boudreau has said he anticipates that Vokoun will start the season as the Capitals’ No. 1 option in net. But Neuvirth said Thursday that he's conceding nothing.

“Tomas might be one of the top three goalies in the league,” Neuvirth said. “So it's a big opportunity for me to show I can be as good as this guy or even better. Obviously, I want to play the most games and I still want to be the number one goalie.”

Reminded of Boudreau's comments, Neuvirth fired back, “It's still summer. We still have three weeks until training camp. Whatever Bruce is saying, it doesn't bother me. We'll see what happens in training camp. Obviously, Tomas is a great goalie and I respect him.”
Neuvirth is certainly right about one thing: it is still summer and, at this point, starting jobs are most certainly still up for grabs, but it's going to be difficult for him to reclaim his No. 1 job this season, if that even matters.

Whether he has the "No. 1" role or not, Neuvirth is still going to get his share of playing time this season (even if it's a decrease from last season), and it's important to keep in mind that he's still only 23 years old and represents the future of the position in Washington (and don't forget, the Capitals still have Braden Holtby in the system as well).

If there's a concern for Vokoun at this point it could probably go back to the part about him playing the past four seasons on one of the worst teams in the NHL and not having to deal with the pressures of postseason hockey. Despite playing 12 years in the NHL with the Predators and Panthers, the 35-year-old Vokoun has appeared in just 11 playoff games. Though, it's also worth pointing out that he's played well in those games -- all with the Predators -- recording a .922 save percentage.

A little competition at this point in his career shouldn't hurt Neuvirth, and there's not a team in the league that is going to worry about having too many good goaltenders that can start for them, especially when they're only taking up a combined $2.6 million salary cap space.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: July 19, 2011 10:13 am
 

Daily Skate: B's, Marchand working toward deal

By Brian Stubits

MARCH-ING TOWARD A DEAL? Brad Marchand really endeared himself to the folks in Boston with his excellent play as a rookie, in particular his stellar postseason performance. But as of now, he still doesn't have a contract inked for next season as the 11-goal playoffs probably have impacted the negotiations. Marchand isn't worried about it, saying at a premier of the team's championship DVD that "It's been a very busy time for everyone with the Cup and everything. Even though we know we have all summer, we're both confident something's going to get done here soon. I don't think either of us are worried. We know something's going to get done. They know I want to be here. I know they want me here."

OLIE THE GOALIE COACH: Former fan favorite Olaf (Olie) Kolzig is back in Washington to help with the goaltending situation for the Capitals, but as a coach. In a recent interview with D.C. 101 radio, Kolzig goes into depth about the layout of the netminders in Washington from Tomas Vokoun to what Braden Holtby faces in his tough position. Russian Machine Never Breaks (great blog name, guys) has the full transcript.

ROYAL TWINS: Daniel and Henrik Sedin took a call in the middle of the Stanley Cup Final with the Canucks from the royal family in Sweden. What was the occasion? The two were informed they were up for the honor as the nation's top athlete, an award that is handed out every year as part of Crown Princess Victoria's birthday celebration. The last time a hockey player won the award was in 1994 when Peter Forsberg was honored.

LET IT SNOW: It's hard to believe, but this week marks Garth Snow's fifth anniversary of taking over as the Islanders general manager. In that time the Isles snuck into the playoffs once, have gone into rebuilding hibernation since and Snow handed out maybe the most infamous contract in hockey today (15 years, $67.5 million to Rick DiPietro). The GM sat down with NHL.com to talk about his time in the position and brings with him a message to the fans: Stay patient. I think that's something the Islanders fans learned to be a long time ago.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: July 2, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: July 2, 2011 7:28 pm
 

Vokoun signs with Caps for one year, $1.5M

The Washington Capitals have signed Tomas Vokoun to a one-year contract. Scott Burnside of espn.com reports the deal is wort $1.5 million.

Vokoun was the top goalie available on the free-agent market and seemed destined to go to Colorado if he didn't re-sign with the Florida Panthers. When the Cats signed Jose Theodore, it seemed like it was just a matter of time before the Avs signed the veteran goaltender.

Apparently turned off by Vokoun's asking price, the Avs moved on by trading for Semyon Varlamov -- from the Capitals -- and signing Jean-Sebastien Giguere to back him up. That left the question lingering: where would Vokoun sign?

The Capitals had a trio of young goaltenders up until yesterday in Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby. When they shipped Varlamov -- who was close to going to the KHL -- most assumed the Caps would go with the duo of Neuvirth and Holtby. Instead, they sign Vokoun -- at a very cheap rate, mind you -- to come in and help the youngsters while trying to help the Capitals advance deeper in the playoffs.

"He's been on teams with no chance to win for a very long time," Vokoun's agent Michael Deutsch said. "The opportunity to compete for a Stanley Cup means a great deal to him."

In his 13 seasons spent between the Panthers, Nashville Predators and one game with the Montreal Canadiens, Vokoun has only appeared in five playoff games. That's partly because of the teams he has had in front of him. Vokoun has continually put up one of the better save percentages in the NHL, last year posting a .922 percentage in Florida.

Signing him at such a low price considering his status as the elite and perhaps even  the only full-time starting goaltender available, is no risk for the Caps. For Vokoun, it's a significantly lower salary than I'm sure he expected to command.

By Brian Stubits

Photo: Getty Images

Click here for more free-agency updates.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnhl and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: June 30, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:06 am
 

Daily Skate: NHLPA files grievance against Preds

QUALIFIED MESS: It could be a Blackhawks snafu situation all over again. Late Wednesday night the NHLPA filed a grievance claiming the Nashville Predators failed to tender qualifying offers to its restricted free agents such as Sergei Kostitsyn (not Shea Weber, who was taken to arbitration). NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly had said earlier in the day that the NHL wasn't aware of any issues, but the official grievance came later. If the ruling goes in favor of the NHLPA, the players will all become unrestricted free agents. You might remember this happened to Chicago under Dale Tallon, forcing the team to re-sign its players to inflated prices, eventually helping to put the team in salary cap hell, which it is just recovering from.

KONTINENTAL DIVIDE: Last season, the Capitals had, I hesitate to call it a problem, but an issue with three goaltenders for two roster spots. Perhaps that problem is taking care of itself. While it's still not clear, it appears as though Semyon Varlamov is likely going to ply his trade in the KHL next season instead of with the Caps. That leaves Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby to tend the goals in the capital, if it happens that way (or to sign a veteran backup and leave Holtby to get more playing time in the AHL). But adding intrigue to the situation is Varlamov's agent throwing the Capitals team doctors under the bus a bit, saying they aren't as good as the doctors in Russia and it led to some injury troubles for Varlamov in D.C.

REALIGNMENT MAP: Are you the type of person that has a difficult time visualizing such things as realignment? Well here's a handy little map with one of the proposed plans. In this rendition -- not a very likely one if you ask me -- it keeps 15 teams in each conference, moving only Detroit to the East and leaving Columbus in the West. It does chop the league down to four divisions instead of six.

TRUE KEEPER OF THE CUP? A few of the Blues players recently attended a screening of the movie Zookeeper with the movie's star, Kevin James. While at the screening, James pointed out he knows what the Blues need to do if they want to win the Stanley Cup: have him film a movie in St. Louis. "I shot [a movie] in Chicago and the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup. I shot in Boston recently, I just wrapped. Who wins? The Bruins win it," James said. "So St. Louis, you better bring me here to shoot my next movie. That's all I'm saying ... I'm just throwing that out there right now." Now St. Louis must weigh the pros vs. cons of winning a Stanley Cup or giving the world another Kevin James flick.

JAGR WATCH BEHIND THE SCENES: Think the big, seemingly never-ending stories that drag on are tough to read every day? Imagine the task of covering it. Penguins beat writer Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review details the dizzying experience he has had keeping tabs on all things Jaromir Jagr, including an invasion of turtles and a superstar lost in transportation.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com