Kukla's Korner

F Street Faithful

Neuvirth Shines in Opener, Caps Win 4-3 In OT

I think it is fair to say Tomas Vokoun might feel a little uneasy as he lays in bed tonight.  Vokoun, who found out earlier this week that he would not start, was forced to sit and watch as Michal Neuvirth absolutely stonewalled the Carolina Hurricanes.  The score-line will show that the Hurricanes put 3 behind him, but he can’t be blamed for any of them. Let’s get to the breakdown.

Outside of Neuvirth, the biggest bright spot for the Capitals was their third line of Chimera, Laich, and Ward.  Their combination of great speed and grit repeatedly hemmed the Canes’ top line in their own zone.  Unfortunately, this line was unable to capitalize on any of their increased pressure.  This was a theme found in all 4 even-strength lines.  Several times throughout the game, especially around the midpoint of the second period, the Capitals were able to roll their lines without allowing the Hurricanes any sustained pressure.  Luckily for the Caps, they were able to develop a couple of goals off the rush and, more importantly, the power play.

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Season Predictions

Tonight, hockey finally makes its return.  While the Caps do not kick their season off until Sunday, there are some great games on the schedule tonight, so check them out.  All Caps fans should have some interest in the Flyers/Bruins game (7pm on Versus), as former Cap Jaromir Jagr makes his return to the NHL after a 3-year stint playing in the KHL.  I do not plan to try to hide my smile the first time he finds himself on the wrong end of a Zdeno Chara check.

As much as we all enjoy hockey in all forms, it all comes down to the team from D.C. as they once again begin their quest for the Cup.  It all starts with Carolina as they look for their first win since they eliminated the Rangers in game 5 of round 1 last spring.  Here are my predictions:

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Jason Chimera Signs 2-year Deal

The Washington Capitals just announced that they have signed Jason Chimera to a 2 year contract.  Chimera, 32, was entering the final year of his $1.875 million/year contract that he signed 4 years ago in Columbus.  The terms of the contract are 2 years 3.5 million (cap hit 1.75 a year).

Last year Chimera tallied 10 goals and 16 assists in 81 regular season games and 2 goals and 2 assists in 9 playoff games.  With the summer signings of Brouwer and Ward I was wondering if Chimera was in the long-term plan for the Capitals but GMGM seems to like the guy.  It will be nice for the Caps to have that 3rd/4th line speed for the next couple of years and his toughness ranks among the top in the team.  It is also worth noting that his 3 career playoff goals have all been game winners, including the 2OT winner in game 4 against the Rangers.

I do like this signing but I worry about the Caps ability to resign some of the other core guys now.  Green and Carlson will both be restricted free agents at the end of the year and Alex Semin will be unrestricted free agent. 

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The Centre Issue

Throughout the 2010-2011 season, the Capitals employed 7 different centers for extended periods of time: Arnott, Backstrom, Fleischmann, Gordon, Johansson, Perreault, and Steckel.  Of those seven, three remain on the roster this year (Backstrom, Johansson, Perreault) with only two having guaranteed spots on the opening night roster (Backstrom, Johansson).  Even with the signing of Jeff Halpern, the Caps still find themselves short down the middle.  To complete the line-up the Caps have three possible options: Perreault, Sjogren, or Laich.

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Training Camp News and Notes

Before I get into my personal observations from the first day of Caps’ training camp I want to pass along the biggest news of the day:

Tarik El-Bashir, of the Washington Post, reported earlier that Tom Poti did not pass his medical test on Friday.  Poti has not played since January due to a groin problem.

I was running a little behind schedule today so I missed the majority of the first group.  While I didn’t get to see the big guys (Ovechkin, Green, Semin…) skate in the group, I was able to catch the goaltender specific workout of group A. Aside from that I was able to catch all of the group B and C practices.  Here are some things I noticed:

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Busy Couple of Weeks

Finally we are coming down the homestretch of a long summer.  With the start of the NHL season just a few weeks away, I wanted to let Caps fans out there know what the team has going on in the next couple of weeks. 

Rookie Camp (Ongoing): The rookies have been at Kettler all week, but there are still a couple of opportunities to see the kids in actions.  Tomorrow will be the end-of-camp scrimmage starting at 11:45 a.m.  This will mark the lone rookie camp activity I will attend.  If you can make it, I suggest doing it.  Rookies worth watching include Cody Eakin, Dmitry Orlov, and Mattias Sjogren (who has a decent shot at cracking the opening-day roster).

Rookie Flyers Game (September 15): This has become an annual event over the past couple of years.  Unfortunately, this year it will be played in Philadelphia.  If for some reason you find yourself in Philly on Thursday with free time, the game starts at 5 pm at the Wells Fargo Center.

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About F Street Faithful

Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate.  This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals.  The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.

In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at  York College of Pennsylvania.  I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland. 

You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at overtheboard@gmail.com.

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