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20Dec

With all eyes on Ovechkin, role players rise to the occasion

As Alex Ovechkin continues his assault on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list, it’s safe to say that some games on the schedule carry a heightened significance over others. With The Great 8 just one tally away from tying Gordie Howe for second place with 801 goals, the Washington Capitals hosting Mr. Hockey’s former team, the Detroit Red Wings, suddenly becomes a must-watch proposition.

So much so, in fact, that two of Howe’s sons, Mark and Marty, were in attendance for the mouth-watering matchup. While the sellout crowd was on the edge of its seat hoping to see history made by the face of the franchise, a few of his less-heralded teammates ended up making the difference on this night.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Capitals received a spark from fourth-line center Nic Dowd, who scored two goals 11 seconds apart and later assisted on defenseman Dmitry Orlov’s game-winning goal in overtime to earn a 4-3 victory over Detroit.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson rounded out the scoring with his fourth goal in two games and goalie Charlie Lindgren made 16 saves as Washington won for the seventh time in eight games. Since taking over for injured starter Darcy Kuemper, Lindgren has gone 7-1-0 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average. Lindgren might not be in contention to overtake Kuemper, but he’s definitely proved capable of shouldering the load moving forward.

Ovechkin, who was obviously the focal point for many coming into the matchup, finished the night with one assist. The Capitals are suddenly playing their best hockey of the season, so feel free to tune in for Ovechkin’s pursuit of historical greatness, but stick around for what’s becoming a much more well-rounded squad of late.

10Dec

Even Flow Caps rock Black, put Seattle in Rearviewmirror

Fresh off the heels of their longest road trip of the season, the Washington Capitals are slowly starting to dig themselves out of the early season hole they’ve been stuck in for the first quarter of the season.

After picking up seven out of 12 points on their roadie, Washington returned home to host the Seattle Kraken, the surprise team of the season. While their inaugural season looked very much like that of a first-year squad learning how to compete at the professional level, this year’s Kraken is much more lethal, with plenty of firepower up and down the lineup enabling Seattle to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. The Friday night matchup also marked the return of a quartet of former Capitals — goalie Philipp Grubauer, left wing Andre Burakovsky, right wing Daniel Spring and defenseman Justin Schultz.

The high-flying Kraken have been the NHL’s biggest surprise of the season and the maddeningly-inconsistent Capitals have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments … so naturally Washington rode their backup netminder to a decisive 4-1 win.

Goalie Charlie Lindgren started for the injured Darcy Kuemper, who remains out with an upper-body injury, and stopped 25 of 26 shots to propel the Caps their third-straight win. On the flip side of the rink, right wing Anthony Mantha, left wing Marcus Johansson, center Lars Eller and left wing Alex Ovechkin provided the goals for Washington. Ovechkin’s empty-net tally with four second remaining gave him 796 career goals, just six away from surpassing Hall of Famer Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’s all-time list.

Earlier in the day, both right wing Tom Wilson (torn ACL) and center Nicklas Backstrom (hip) practiced with their teammates. While there is still no time table for their return, it appears that reinforcements might eventually be on the way.

28Nov

Commanders honor Sean Taylor, extend winning streak

There is something poetic, in a melancholy sort of way, about Washington Commanders running back Brian Robinson Jr. leading his team to a hard-fought 19-13 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on the day the franchise honored the late Sean Taylor — the playmaking All-Pro safety who was murdered in an attempted robbery in 2007.

Just three months after Robinson was shot twice in an attempted carjacking, the 23-year-old rookie eclipsed 100 yards rushing in a game for the first time as a pro and added a 14-yard catch-and-run touchdown on a rainy and miserable afternoon when offense was difficult to come by. 

Burgundy and gold clad fans arrived at the stadium with their thoughts on a physically-imposing player who was taken from us all far too soon. A few hours later, those same supporters headed home with ample cause for celebration, in large part to another hard-hitting youngster who is incredibly fortunate to be here today.

Against the Falcons, Washington also benefitted from a swarming defense playing aggressive and confident football. By smartly leaning into a dynamic ground game and a rejuvenated defense, the Commanders have won six out of seven games for the first time since 2012 and are firmly in playoff contention — a drastic turnaround after their dismal 1-4 start. This is an identity that has proven successful countless times over the years in the National Football League.

Led by Robinson, Washington amassed a season-high 176 rushing yards, which means less is asked of quarterback Taylor Heinicke and the passing game. On the other side of the ball, dynamic tackles Jon Allen and Daron Payne generate enough consistent pressure up front, that it frees up the rest of the defense to just go out and make plays. Related: With the outcome very much in the balance and the Falcons just four yards away from a victory, cornerback Kendall Fuller saved the day by intercepting a deflected pass in the end zone with roughly one minute remaining in regulation.

26Nov

Back in black, Caps extinguish Flames

Regardless of whether you think an NHL season is a sprint or a marathon, at some point a race is involved. Sadly, the Washington Capitals couldn’t even get lined up without tripping over the starting block and have now spent the first quarter of the season getting lapped by the competition.

Injuries to key players — pretty much everyone not named left wing Alex Ovechkin and/or center Evgeny Kuzetsov — have decimated the Caps, creating a constant shuffling of lines and a complete lack of stability throughout the roster. Unless/until center Nicklas Backstrom, forward Tom Wilson and countless others are able to return to action and produce, it’s difficult to envision this year’s squad flipping some magical switch and going on an extended run.

Those remaining hopeful that better days are on the horizon can take solace in the fact that forward T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup and paid immediate dividends after being sidelined for 11 games due to a lower-body injury. Oshie scored a first-period tally, just his third goal of the season, and added an assist to propel Washington to a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames. Ovechkin and Kuznetsov rounded out the scoring and goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped all 32 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the season, as the Caps improved to 9-10-3.

The victory was also noteworthy because it represented the team’s first win in their Reverse Retro jerseys. During a season in which the franchise is celebrating 25 years at Capital One Arena it’s fitting that the Caps are turning back the clock with sweaters inspired by the color scheme of the 90s era team of Olaf Kolzig, Peter Bondra and friends.

19Nov

Ice Nine Kills at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena

Let’s not beat around the proverbial bush, an Ice Nine Kills show can absolutely be hazardous to the health of the uninitiated. That’s because the Boston-based band has a bit of an obsession with horror movies, so it’s commonplace to see a butcher knife, chainsaw or an outright massacre during their set. Consider this a disclaimer that “graphic” images are involved any time a camera is pointed in the general direction of an Ice Nine Kills performance.

Frontman Spencer Charnas and the gang began their set by paying a gory tribute to feature films such as Steven King’s Pet Sematary, Eli Roth’s torture-heavy Hostel and Mary Herron’s American Psycho with their opening three songs, which meant unsuspecting concert-goers might have looked up as the lead singer took to the stage with a microphone in one hand and a bloody shovel in the other and immediately had a question or two.

By the time Charnas assumed the role of Patrick Bateman, the investment banker-turned-serial killer portrayed by Christian Bale in the 2000 cult classic, it was readily apparent that no one has more fun on stage than the well-dressed gentlemen of Ice Nine Kills. Over the years they have carved out a unique niche for themselves and are simply slaying it these days.

Their full 50-minute set featured a fun mix of tracks from their 2018 album, The Silver Scream, and 2021’s The Silver Scream 2: Welcome to Horrorwood, and included crowd favorites such as “Stabbing in the Dark,” “The Shower Scene” and “A Grave Mistake.”

Ice Nine Kills setlist // inspirational movies

Funeral Derangements // Pet Sematary
Wurst Vacation // Hostel
Hip to Be Scared // American Psycho
Ex-Mørtis // The Evil Dead
IT Is the End // It Chapter One
Stabbing in the Dark // Halloween
The Shower Scene // Psycho
A Grave Mistake // The Crow
Farewell II Flesh // Candyman
The American Nightmare // A Nightmare on Elm Street

18Nov

Motionless In White at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena

Like an iconic movie franchise, the Trinity of Terror tour was destined to be immortalized as a trilogy.

Three of hard rock’s heaviest hitters have been performing together for close to a year now and are showing no signs of slowing down. Co-headliners Black Veil Brides, Ice Nine Kills and Motionless In White rolled into Baltimore, in the midst of the third leg of the aptly named Trinity Of Terror tour, and put on one helluva show for those who braved a cold and dreary evening to get to Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena.

Regardless of the order, all three acts command a stage as if they’re the headliner so in spite of the early start time, Motionless In White immediately sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy as soon as lead singer Chris Motionless implored those in attendance to “Get up! Get up!” with the opening line of “Disguise.”

For the next 50 minutes, the pride of Scranton, Pennsylvania, had the entire building eating out of their proverbial hands as they performed tracks such as “Werewolf,” their smash-hit “Masterpiece” and their unique rendition of The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me.”

According to the band, which was formed in 2005, their name is derived from a song called “Motionless and White” by Eighteen Visions. Regardless of their initial inspiration, they are a well-oiled machine at this stage of their musical careers. And, after seeing Motionless In White live for the first time, it makes perfect sense why they would lend one of their tracks to World Wrestling Entertainment for Rhea Ripley’s entrance music. Chris Motionless and friends have a similar charisma and stage presence to those world-class entertainers, so the pairing is an all-time no-brainer. As soon as their set came to a close, concert-goers could be heard already looking forward to the next time they would be able to see Motionless In White in concert again.

17Nov

Black Veil Brides at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena

In Roman Catholic terminology, a “black veil bride” is a woman who marries into the church and gives up all the pleasures of life in devotion to God. If that’s the case with the Hollywood-based band of the same name, they’re doing a splendid job of hiding it these days. The look, feel and sound of Black Veil Brides has changed since they initially formed back in 2006, but throughout that time they’ve always put on an entertaining live show that is anything but devoid of pleasure.

During their Baltimore show, Black Veil Brides captivated Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena with an 11-song set that spanned seven different albums. Lead singer Andy Biersack, who looks like a cross between Cobra Kai actor Tanner Buchanan and international soccer star Christiano Ronaldo, moves about the stage and sings with an ease and confidence that is very Mick Jagger-esque.

While “Scarlet Cross,” “Fallen Angels” and “In the End” got the biggest pop from those in attendance, Black Veil Brides put on a highly-enjoyable showing that absolutely sent everyone happy. And probably exhausted. But definitely fulfilled.

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