2011–12 Washington Capitals season
|2011–12 Washington Capitals|
|General Manager||George McPhee|
|Coach||Bruce Boudreau (Oct–Nov)
Dale Hunter (Nov–May)
|Alternate captains||Nicklas Backstrom
Troy Brouwer (Feb–May)
Brooks Laich (Feb–May)
|Average attendance||18,506 (100%)|
|Goals||Alexander Ovechkin (38)|
|Assists||Dennis Wideman (35)|
|Points||Alexander Ovechkin (65)|
|Penalties in minutes||Matt Hendricks (93)|
|Plus/minus||Karl Alzner (+12)|
|Wins||Tomas Vokoun (25)|
|Goals against average||Tomas Vokoun (2.51)|
The 2011–12 Washington Capitals season was the franchise's 38th season in the National Hockey League (NHL). Washington finished the year as the seventh place team in the Eastern Conference. In the opening round of the playoffs, they matched up with the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. Due to injuries, the Capitals were forced to play rookie goaltender Braden Holtby. Washington's defeat of the Bruins marked the first time in NHL history in which all seven games of a series were decided by one goal. Facing the East's top seed in the Conference Semifinals, Washington was defeated in seven games by the New York Rangers. Holtby was lauded for his playoff performance, where he recorded a .935 save percentage and was credited with putting Washington in a position to win each game.
Washington won their first seven games, setting a franchise record for consecutive victories to start a season. Shortly after, however, an early season slump prompted the benching of offensive star players Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin in separate games. The moves failed to produce results, and Head Coach Bruce Boudreau was eventually replaced by Dale Hunter. Boudreau's firing came seven days after he won his 200th game as an NHL head coach, achieving the feat faster anyone in NHL history. Under Hunter, the Capitals battled the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division title, ultimately losing out on their fifth-straight division title on the final day of the season. Two days after Washington's playoff elimination, Hunter stepped down as head coach; Adam Oates was hired as his replacement.
Individually, Alexander Ovechkin and Dennis Wideman were named to the All-Star Game. Due to a suspension for a reckless hit, however, Ovechkin elected not to attend the game to avoid being a distraction. Four Capitals were named one of the NHL's weekly three stars – a total of five times throughout the season. Three players made their NHL debut, while Mike Knuble played in his 1,000th game.
- 1 Off-season
- 2 Regular season
- 3 Playoffs
- 4 Post-season
- 5 Standings
- 6 Schedule and results
- 7 Player statistics
- 8 Awards and records
- 9 Transactions
- 10 2011 draft picks
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
During the off-season, the Capitals made several player changes. One of the players that was not retained by the team, Matt Bradley, started a controversy with his comments from a radio interview in Ottawa. In the interview, Bradley said his former team was "a little bit too nonchalant and guys weren’t disciplined the way they should have been," which he claimed were the two biggest reasons why the team was not able to advance past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He later stated that Head Coach Bruce Boudreau did not give the most ice time to players who were playing well, but went with his star players. He further noted that Boudreau was a "great coach" who had been put in a tough position. When asked to point out examples, Bradley stated that Alexander Semin "could easily be the best player in the league," but he "just doesn’t care," further noting, "When you've got a guy like that, you need him to be your best player, or one of your best players, and when he doesn't show up, you almost get the sense that he wants to be back in Russia." Semin's agent came to his client's defense, stating he "always cares." Teammate Mike Knuble noted that because Semin speaks limited English, the language barrier affects the way that he is perceived, further noting that the interview comments were something Bradley regretted. When asked about the comments, former Capitals forward David Steckel stated that, "It's not like he went out and told lies." Bradley later apologized for his comments in an interview with the Sun Sentinel.
Including Bradley, the Capitals lost six players who played for them in the playoffs, as well as back-up goaltender Semyon Varlamov.[note 1] To replace some of the departed players, Washington traded its 2011 first round draft pick to the Chicago Blackhawks for veteran winger Troy Brouwer, who was a member of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup championship team in 2010. They then signed Joel Ward as a free agent, adding grit and the hopes that he could duplicate his 2011 playoff success. Ward scored seven goals and 13 points in 12 playoff games with the Nashville Predators, after scoring 10 goals and 29 points in 80 regular season games. In net, they added veteran Tomas Vokoun, who was considered to be one of the top goaltenders in the 2011 free agent class. He signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract, well below his believed market value, to have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup. After making these and other off-season moves, the Capitals were over the NHL salary cap. The expectation was that defenseman Tom Poti would not be able to play due to injury and Washington would be forced to place him on long-term injured reserve, where his $2.9 million salary would not count against the cap total. Unexpectedly, Poti told the Capitals that he would be ready to play by training camp. Poti, however, failed his medical exam prior to training camp and was placed on long-term injured reserve.
October – November
In the season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes, Boudreau made a "surprise" decision to start goaltender Michal Neuvirth. Boudreau stated that the reason behind his decision was a reward for Neuvirth's hard work in training camp. Prior to the Capitals' second game, Neuvirth sustained a bruised foot and was unable to play. In his Capitals debut, Vokoun struggled, allowing five goals on 28 shots, but nevertheless Washington won the game 6–5 in a shootout. In the post-game interview, Vokoun blamed himself for the high number of goals and thanked his teammates for getting him the win in a game he should have lost. Vokoun rebounded in his second game, making 39 saves in a 3–2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. He continued his strong play and was named the NHL's third star of the week ending October 23 and helped the Capitals to a franchise-record seven game winning streak to start a season.
After losing two straight games, Washington was down 4–3 to the Anaheim Ducks in the final minutes of the game. With the goaltender pulled, Boudreau decided to play the third line of Joel Ward, Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera with Nicklas Backstrom as the extra attacker. Boudreau stated that he was "playing a hunch" by leaving star forward Alexander Ovechkin on the bench. The move paid off, however, as Backstrom scored to force overtime. He also scored the game winner in overtime assisted by Ovechkin. When asked about being left on the bench in a post-game interview, Ovechkin stated that Laich's line deserved to be on the ice – though the video showed Ovechkin visibly upset about being left on the bench. The following day, Ovechkin stated that he was upset about not being on the ice in the final minutes, but that he understood Boudreau's decision. The Hockey News' Ken Campbell applauded the benching of Ovechkin stating that in the past Boudreau had shown a willingness to continually put his star players out on the ice despite how they were playing and accepted the consequences. Campbell noted the move was Boudreau "addressing his most glaring problem as a coach".
Following the benching incident, the Capitals went 2–5–0 leading up to their November 21 game against the Phoenix Coyotes.[note 2] For the game, Boudreau again made headlines for not playing one of his star players, this time making Alexander Semin a healthy scratch (a non-dressing player). Semin led the team in penalties-in-minutes (PIMs), as well as being tied for second in the NHL with 14 minor penalties. Boudreau previously benched Semin for the second half of a game against the New Jersey Devils after the winger had taken two minor penalties and was deemed not focused. Washington defeated Phoenix in the game 4–3. NBC's Mike Halford echoed Campbell's statement when discussing the benching of Semin, commenting that it was a "bold move" and the latest in a series of messages sent by Boudreau. Halford further questioned if the new stance would eventually cost Boudreau his job.
The benchings did not produce the desired results, however, as the Capitals lost six of eight games, with Ovechkin scoring only one goal during the same stretch. As a result, Washington fired Boudreau on November 28 and replaced him with former Capitals captain Dale Hunter. Hunter was the head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's (OHL) London Knights when he was hired. During his time with London, he set an OHL record for fastest coach to 300 and 400 career wins. The Capitals lost Hunter's coaching debut 2–1 to the St. Louis Blues. The following day, Boudreau spoke to the media about being fired, stating that General Manager George McPhee made the "right decision at the time" and that despite speculation, he did not feel that Ovechkin was a problem, stating that he "worked as hard and tried as hard as he could."
December – January
The Capitals did not give Hunter his first NHL win until his third game, a 3–2 win over the Ottawa Senators that broke a four-game losing streak. Brooks Laich scored the game-winning goal just 12 seconds into the overtime period. The goal would prove to be the fastest overtime goal scored during the 2011–12 NHL regular season. In the rematch four days later, Ovechkin appeared to spear Senators forward Chris Neil. Following a Neil hit on Ovechkin, the pair skated up the ice, whereupon Neil fell to the ice following the alleged spear. Neil was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for diving. A spearing penalty, if called, would have resulted in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Later in the game, Ovechkin scored the eventual game-winning goal, his first goal in six games. When asked about the incident after the game, Neil described it as a "pitchfork in the gut," while Ovechkin stated he was "not the type of guy who spears players." The following day, a league spokesman stated that Ovechkin would not be suspended or fined for the incident.
The December 28 game against the New York Rangers marked the return of fourth line forward Jay Beagle, who previously missed 31 games with a concussion suffered in a fight against the Pittsburgh Penguins' Arron Asham. The fight itself had generated a minor controversy, as Asham, an experienced fighter, made celebratory gestures after knocking out Beagle, who was in his first career NHL fight. Several Capitals expressed their displeasure with Asham after the game, while Asham himself later called his actions "classless." Beagle's work ethic in his return was called contagious by teammate Matt Hendricks, and he helped the Capitals to a 4–1 victory.
In late December, Ovechkin went on a seven-game point streak that featured the two-point games in the final four games of the streak. In conjunction with the point streak, he scored eight goals in nine games.[note 3] Washington went 5–1–1 during the streak, which was eventually snapped in a 5–2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on January 7. In the game prior to the streak being snapped, Capitals' defenseman Mike Green returned from a groin injury that had kept him out of the lineup for 23 games. Washington defeated the Calgary Flames 3–1 in the contest, which moved their record to 9–0–0 with Green in the line-up. However, the news coming out of the game was not all good. During the game, the Capitals' leading scorer, Nicklas Backstrom, was elbowed in the head by the Flames' Rene Bourque. Backstrom underwent concussion testing, which proved inconclusive; he suffered from what was described as "concussion-like symptoms" and was eventually placed on the injured reserve. For his actions, Bourque was suspended five games for delivering the elbow. Compounding the Capitals' injury problem was the loss of Mike Green in just his second game back; he re-injured his groin during the contest and was placed on the long-term injured reserve. During a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ovechkin delivered a hit to Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek. On the hit, Ovechkin launched himself into Michalek's shoulder, where the force of the hit caused Ovechkin to make contact with Michalek's head. Later in the game, Michalek delivered an elbow to the back of Matt Hendricks' head, driving it into the glass. The following day, it was announced that Ovechkin was suspended for three games for the reckless hit despite not receiving a penalty on the play during the game. Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan stated the length of the suspension took into account that Ovechkin was a repeat offender, having been suspended twice before and fined twice as well. It also took into consideration that Michalek was not injured on the play. Despite his own actions, Michalek avoided a fine or suspension. Without Ovechkin, Backstrom or Green, Washington nonetheless defeated defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the final game before the All-Star break to move into first place in the Southeast Division.
Washington had two players named to the NHL All-Star Game. Despite having a poor season by his standards, Alexander Ovechkin was named to the Game. However, due to his suspension, Ovechkin announced that he did not want to be a distraction at the game; he was "not comfortable" going, and declined to attend the All-Star weekend. Dennis Wideman was the Capitals' other All-Star representative. He recorded 34 points heading into the break while averaging over 24 minutes of ice time per game.
February – April
Washington started the second half of the season with a 2–2–1 record. In their next game, against the Winnipeg Jets, the Capitals lost a two-goal lead late in the game, eventually losing in a shootout. The loss knocked the Capitals out of first place in their division and they dropped from third to ninth in the conference. Washington lost their next two games before defeating the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers 2–1. The game marked goaltender Tomas Vokoun's first game in Florida after leaving the team as a free agent in the off-season. With the win, Washington moved two points behind the Panthers. Despite being close, however, Washington could not build any momentum, later losing their next three games before closing out the month of February on a three-game win streak.
Washington continued its inconsistent play into the month of March, losing three games before going on a four-game winning streak leading up to another game against the Winnipeg Jets. During the loss to the Jets, Vokoun re-aggravated a reoccurring groin injury; he had been dealing with the injury since late February, and it forced him out of the lineup. Braden Holtby was recalled to serve as the team's back-up. During Vokoun's absence, Ovechkin began a goal-scoring streak, notching nine goals in seven games, culminating in a two-goal performance during a 3–0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. The scoring steak helped Ovechkin to be named NHL's third star of the week. The win moved the Capitals into the eighth and final playoff spot. They did not remain there long, however, as their next game was a lost 5–1 to the Buffalo Sabres, who passed Washington for eighth place. The following game, against the Boston Bruins, Vokoun returned to action, but played only 18:25 before the same injury forced him from the game. Although the Capitals won the game, it was Vokoun's final game of the season as well as his last as a Capital, with Vokoun later describing the injury as a "pretty severe [groin] tear." Washington's final game of March marked the return of Nicklas Backstrom, who had missed 40 games with a concussion. The Capitals won the game 3–2 in a shootout, moving them back into eighth place.
Entering April, the Capitals had a chance to clinch a playoff spot against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game was tied 2–2 with 1:03 remaining when Steven Stamkos scored, leading Tampa to the eventual 4–2 victory. Facing the Division-leading Panthers in their next game, Washington succeeded in clinching a playoff spot with a 4–2 win of their own. The victory also gave the Capitals a chance at winning their Division in their final game. During the game, Neuvirth was hurt when former Capital Marco Sturm fell on top of him while he was making a save. Neuvirth left after the incident and did not return. Neuvirth suffered a lower body injury and was not ready to return for the final game or the start of the playoffs. Washington won its final game of the year behind a 35-save performance from Holtby, clinching at least the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference pending the outcome of Florida’s game. A win by the Panthers in their final game, however, prevented Washington from winning their fifth-straight Division title and moving into the third playoff seed.
Finishing the regular season as the seventh seed, Washington was matched up with the defending champion Boston Bruins. As Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth were still injured, the Capitals were forced to start Braden Holtby in Game 1. Through the first two periods, Boston was in control of the game, out-shooting Washington 26–7. Despite the disparity in shots, the game remained tied 0–0 after regulation. Washington lost the game shortly into overtime. They rebounded to tie the series when Nicklas Backstrom scored in double overtime of game two. Through the first two games of the series, Holtby stopped 72 of 74 Bruins' shots. In Game 3, the two teams again looked to be heading to overtime tied 3–3 late in the third when Backstrom took a penalty. Zdeno Chara scored on the man advantage with under two minutes remaining, giving Boston the win. After the game ended, Backstrom was given a match penalty for intent to injure following a cross-check to Rich Peverley. Backstrom received a one-game suspension for his actions. Without Backstrom in Game 4, the Capitals evened the series with a 2–1 victory that featured a 44-save performance from Holtby. The Capitals took their first lead in the series thanks to a Troy Brouwer power-play goal with 1:27 left in regulation of game five. Facing elimination, Boston did not trail throughout Game 6 and was in position to win late in the third. However, an Alexander Ovechkin goal led to overtime, were Tyler Seguin scored to force a seventh and deciding game. Game 7 went to overtime, where a dump-in attempt was blocked by Mike Knuble, giving him a breakaway. He took a backhand that was stopped by Boston's Tim Thomas. Joel Ward followed the play and scored the game-winning goal on the rebound. With Washington's victory in the series, Holtby became just the third rookie goaltender in NHL history to defeat the reigning Stanley Cup champions. It was also the first playoff series in NHL history which all seven games were decided by one goal.
In the second round, Washington was matched up with the top-seeded New York Rangers. After losing Game 1 by giving up two goals in a 1:30 span, Washington took a 2–0 lead in Game 2, only to have the Rangers come back and tie the score in the third period. The Capitals, however, won the game on an Ovechkin power-play goal late in the third. Game 3 was a triple-overtime contest that ended when Marian Gaborik scored to give New York a 2–1 win. The 114:41 game was the 20th longest game in NHL history, and Washington's third-longest game in franchise history. Washington evened the series in Game 4 with a one-goal win. In the win, Ovechkin was benched for the majority of the third period, where after the tilt, he noted that the most important thing was that the Capitals won the game. Washington looked to be heading for their first series lead as Game 5 was coming to an end. The Capitals were leading 2–1 with 21.3 seconds remaining when Joel Ward took a double minor penalty for high-sticking. On the ensuing power play, Brad Richards scored with 6.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. The Rangers remained on the power play to start the overtime period, with Ward serving the second half of his double minor when Marc Staal scored to give New York the win. Facing elimination in Game 6, Washington took the lead 1:28 into the game on an Ovechkin power play tally. They did not trail in the game and won 2–1 to force Game 7. Ovechkin's goal was the 30th of his post-season career, which tied him for the Capitals all-time franchise record with Peter Bondra. In the deciding game, Brad Richards scored 1:32 into the first period helping New York to the eventual 2–1 victory and the series win. Holtby finished the playoffs with a 1.95 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and was praised for his "breakout" performance while being credited with giving the Capitals a "chance to win every game."
Two days after the loss, Head Coach Dale Hunter stepped down for personal reasons. General Manager George McPhee announced that he would take his time considering candidates to replace Hunter. The search lasted a month-and-a-half before the team hired former NHL and Capitals star, Adam Oates. The intention was to have a coach that combined the up-tempo style implored by Bruce Boudreau and the "defense first" system of Hunter. McPhee said of the hiring "you try to get the smartest guy in the room" and he believed Oates was that person. Ovechkin noted that he was excited to play under a coach he believed would bring more offense back to Washington's system. Oates' hiring came on the same day that he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player.
|1||y – Florida Panthers||82||38||26||18||32||203||227||94|
|2||x – Washington Capitals||82||42||32||8||38||222||230||92|
|3||Tampa Bay Lightning||82||38||36||8||35||235||281||84|
|1||z – New York Rangers||AT||82||51||24||7||47||226||187||109|
|2||y – Boston Bruins||NE||82||49||29||4||40||269||202||102|
|3||y – Florida Panthers||SE||82||38||26||18||32||203||227||94|
|4||x – Pittsburgh Penguins||AT||82||51||25||6||42||282||221||108|
|5||x – Philadelphia Flyers||AT||82||47||26||9||43||264||232||103|
|6||x – New Jersey Devils||AT||82||48||28||6||36||228||209||102|
|7||x – Washington Capitals||SE||82||42||32||8||38||222||230||92|
|8||x – Ottawa Senators||NE||82||41||31||10||35||249||240||92|
|10||Tampa Bay Lightning||SE||82||38||36||8||35||235||281||84|
|13||Toronto Maple Leafs||NE||82||35||37||10||31||231||264||80|
|14||New York Islanders||AT||82||34||37||11||27||203||255||79|
Divisions: AT – Atlantic, NE – Northeast, SE – Southeast
x – Qualified for playoffs, y – Clinched division, z – Clinched conference (and division)
Schedule and results
|2011 Pre-season: 3–3–1 (Home: 3–1–0 ; Road: 0–2–1)|
|1||September 20 (in Baltimore, MD)||Nashville Predators||2–0||Washington Capitals||-||Neuvirth||0–1–0||11,082||Recap|
|2||September 21||Washington Capitals||3–4||Columbus Blue Jackets||OT||Grubauer||0–1–1||8,264||Recap|
|3||September 23||Washington Capitals||2–3||Chicago Blackhawks||-||Vokoun||0–2–1||19,798||Recap|
|4||September 26||Columbus Blue Jackets||1–3||Washington Capitals||-||Neuvirth||1–2–1||18,025||Recap|
|5||September 28||Washington Capitals||1–4||Nashville Predators||-||Vokoun||1–3–1||13,437||Recap|
|6||September 30||Buffalo Sabres||3–4||Washington Capitals||SO||Vokoun||2–3–1||18, 356||Recap|
|7||October 2||Chicago Blackhawks||1–4||Washington Capitals||-||Neuvirth||3–3–1||18, 405||Recap|
|October: 7–2–0 (Home: 5–0–0 ; Road: 2–2–0)|
|1||8||Carolina Hurricanes||3–4||Washington Capitals||OT||Neuvirth||1–0–0||2||18, 506||Recap|
|2||10||Tampa Bay Lightning||5–6||Washington Capitals||SO||Vokoun||2–0–0||4||18,506||Recap|
|3||13||Washington Capitals||3–2||Pittsburgh Penguins||OT||Vokoun||3–0–0||6||18,512||Recap|
|4||15||Ottawa Senators||1–2||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||4–0–0||8||18,506||Recap|
|5||18||Florida Panthers||0–3||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||5–0–0||10||18,506||Recap|
|6||20||Washington Capitals||5–2||Philadelphia Flyers||Vokoun||6–0–0||12||19,658||Recap|
|7||22||Detroit Red Wings||1–7||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||7–0–0||14||18,506||Recap|
|8||27||Washington Capitals||1–2||Edmonton Oilers||Vokoun||7–1–0||14||16,839||Recap|
|9||29||Washington Capitals||4–7||Vancouver Canucks||Neuvirth||7–2–0||14||18,860||Recap|
|November: 5–8–1 (Home: 3–3–1 ; Road: 2–5–0)|
|10||1||Anaheim Ducks||4–5||Washington Capitals||OT||Vokoun||8–2–0||16||18,506||Recap|
|11||4||Washington Capitals||5–1||Carolina Hurricanes||Neuvirth||9–2–0||18||14,589||Recap|
|12||5||Washington Capitals||3–5||New York Islanders||Vokoun||9–3–0||18||14,812||Recap|
|13||8||Dallas Stars||5–2||Washington Capitals||Neuvirth||9–4–0||18||18,506||Recap|
|14||11||Washington Capitals||3–1||New Jersey Devils||Vokoun||10–4–0||20||15,230||Recap|
|15||12||New Jersey Devils||3–2||Washington Capitals||SO||Neuvirth||10–4–1||21||18,506||Recap|
|16||15||Washington Capitals||1–3||Nashville Predators||Vokoun||10–5–1||21||14,863||Recap|
|17||17||Washington Capitals||1–4||Winnipeg Jets||Neuvirth||10–6–1||21||15,004||Recap|
|18||19||Washington Capitals||1–7||Toronto Maple Leafs||Vokoun||10–7–1||21||19,594||Recap|
|19||21||Phoenix Coyotes||3–4||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||11–7–1||23||18,506||Recap|
|20||23||Winnipeg Jets||3–4||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||12–7–1||25||18,506||Recap|
|21||25||New York Rangers||6–3||Washington Capitals||Neuvirth||12–8–1||25||18,506||Recap|
|22||26||Washington Capitals||1–5||Buffalo Sabres||Vokoun||12–9–1||25||18,690||Recap|
|23||29||St. Louis Blues||2–1||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||12–10–1||25||18,506||Recap|
|December: 8–5–1 (Home: 5–2–0 ; Road: 3–3–1)|
|24||1||Pittsburgh Penguins||2–1||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||12–11–1||25||18,506||Recap|
|25||3||Ottawa Senators||2–3||Washington Capitals||OT||Neuvirth||13–11–1||27||18,506||Recap|
|26||5||Washington Capitals||4–5||Florida Panthers||Neuvirth||13–12–1||27||16,337||Recap|
|27||7||Washington Capitals||5–3||Ottawa Senators||Vokoun||14–12–1||29||17,771||Recap|
|28||9||Toronto Maple Leafs||2–4||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||15–12–1||31||18,506||Recap|
|29||13||Philadelphia Flyers||5–1||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||15–13–1||31||18,506||Recap|
|30||15||Washington Capitals||1–0||Winnipeg Jets||Neuvirth||16–13–1||33||15,004||Recap|
|31||17||Washington Capitals||1–2||Colorado Avalanche||Neuvirth||16–14–1||33||16,011||Recap|
|32||20||Nashville Predators||1–4||Washington Capitals||Neuvirth||17–14–1||35||18,506||Recap|
|33||23||Washington Capitals||3–4||New Jersey Devils||SO||Neuvirth||17–14–2||36||14,043||Recap|
|34||26||Washington Capitals||2–4||Buffalo Sabres||Neuvirth||17–15–2||36||18,690||Recap|
|35||28||New York Rangers||1–4||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||18–15–2||38||18,506||Recap|
|36||30||Buffalo Sabres||1–3||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||19–15–2||40||18,506||Recap|
|37||31||Washington Capitals||4–2||Columbus Blue Jackets||Vokoun||20–15–2||42||18,199||Recap|
|January: 6–4–2 (Home: 5–1–0 ; Road: 1–3–2)|
|38||3||Calgary Flames||1–3||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||21–15–2||44||18,506||Recap|
|39||7||Washington Capitals||2–5||San Jose Sharks||Vokoun||21–16–2||44||17,562||Recap|
|40||9||Washington Capitals||2–5||Los Angeles Kings||Vokoun||21–17–2||44||18,118||Recap|
|41||11||Pittsburgh Penguins||0–1||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||22–17–2||46||18,506||Recap|
|42||13||Tampa Bay Lightning||3–4||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||23–17–2||48||18,506||Recap|
|43||15||Carolina Hurricanes||1–2||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||24–17–2||50||18,506||Recap|
|44||17||New York Islanders||3–0||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||24–18–2||50||18,506||Recap|
|45||18||Washington Capitals||3–0||Montreal Canadiens||Neuvirth||25–18–2||52||21,273||Recap|
|46||20||Washington Capitals||0–3||Carolina Hurricanes||Vokoun||25–19–2||52||17,507||Recap|
|47||22||Washington Capitals||3–4||Pittsburgh Penguins||OT||Neuvirth||25–19–3||53||18,565||Recap|
|48||24||Boston Bruins||3–5||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||26–19–3||55||18,506||Recap|
|49||31||Washington Capitals||3–4||Tampa Bay Lightning||OT||Vokoun||26–19–4||56||17,754||Recap|
|February: 6–7–1 (Home: 3–2–1 ; Road: 3–5–0)|
|50||1||Washington Capitals||2–4||Florida Panthers||Neuvirth||26–20–4||56||15,231||Recap|
|51||4||Washington Capitals||3–0||Montreal Canadiens||Vokoun||27–20–4||58||21,273||Recap|
|52||5||Boston Bruins||4–1||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||27–21–4||58||18,506||Recap|
|53||7||Florida Panthers||0–4||Washington Capitals||Vokoun||28–21–4||60||18,506||Recap|
|54||9||Winnipeg Jets||3–2||Washington Capitals||SO||Vokoun||28–21–5||61||18,506||Recap|
|55||12||Washington Capitals||2–3||New York Rangers||Neuvirth||28–22–5||61||18,200||Recap|
|56||13||San Jose Sharks||5–3||Washington Capitals||Holtby||28–23–5||61||18,506||Recap|
|57||17||Washington Capitals||2–1||Florida Panthers||Vokoun||29–23–5||63||17,779||Recap|
|58||18||Washington Capitals||1–2||Tampa Bay Lightning||Vokoun||29–24–5||63||19,204||Recap|
|59||20||Washington Capitals||0–5||Carolina Hurricanes||Vokoun||29–25–5||63||16,837||Recap|
|60||22||Washington Capitals||2–5||Ottawa Senators||Vokoun||29–26–5||63||18,357||Recap|
|61||24||Montreal Canadiens||1–4||Washington Capitals||Neuvirth||30–26–5||65||18,506||Recap|
|62||25||Washington Capitals||4–2||Toronto Maple Leafs||Neuvirth||31–26–5||67||19,577||Recap|
|63||28||New York Islanders||2–3||Washington Capitals||OT||Neuvirth||32–26–5||69||18,506||Recap|
|March: 8–5–3 (Home: 4–3–2 ; Road: 4–2–1)|
|64||2||New Jersey Devils||5–0||Washington Capitals||Neuvirth||32–27–5||69||185,06||Recap|
|65||4||Philadelphia Flyers||1–0||Washington Capitals||Neuvirth||32–28–5||69||18,506||Recap|
|66||6||Carolina Hurricanes||4–3||Washington Capitals||OT||Neuvirth||32–28–6||70||18,506||Recap|
|67||8||Tampa Bay Lightning||2–3||Washington Capitals||OT||Vokoun||33–28–6||72||18,506||Recap|
|68||10||Washington Capitals||4–3||Boston Bruins||Vokoun||34–26–6||74||17,565||Recap|
|69||11||Toronto Maple Leafs||0–2||Washington Capitals||Neuvirth||35–26–6||76||18,506||Recap|
|70||13||Washington Capitals||5–4||New York Islanders||SO||Neuvirth||36–26–6||78||11,488||Recap|
|71||16||Washington Capitals||2–3||Winnipeg Jets||Vokoun||36–27–6||78||15,004||Recap|
|72||18||Washington Capitals||2–5||Chicago Blackhawks||Neuvirth||36–28–6||78||21,561||Recap|
|73||19||Washington Capitals||5–3||Detroit Red Wings||Holtby||37–28–6||80||20,066||Recap|
|74||22||Washington Capitals||1–2||Philadelphia Flyers||SO||Holtby||37–29–7||81||19,948||Recap|
|75||23||Winnipeg Jets||4–3||Washington Capitals||OT||Neuvirth||37–29–8||82||18,506||Recap|
|76||25||Minnesota Wild||0–3||Washington Capitals||Holtby||38–30–8||84||18,506||Recap|
|77||27||Buffalo Sabres||5–1||Washington Capitals||Holtby||38–31–8||84||18,506||Recap|
|78||29||Washington Capitals||3–2||Boston Bruins||SO||Neuvirth||39–31–8||86||17,565||Recap|
|79||31||Montreal Canadiens||2–3||Washington Capitals||SO||Neuvirth||40–31–8||88||18,506||Recap|
|April: 2–1–0 (Home: 1–0–0 ; Road: 1–1–0)|
|80||2||Washington Capitals||2–4||Tampa Bay Lightning||Neuvirth||40–32–8||88||19,204||Recap|
|81||5||Florida Panthers||2–4||Washington Capitals||Holtby||41–32–8||90||18,506||Recap|
|82||7||Washington Capitals||4–1||New York Rangers||Holtby||42–32–8||92||18,200||Recap|
Key:Win Loss Clinch Playoff Series Eliminated from playoffs
|2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs|
Note: GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; +/− = Plus/Minus; PIM = Penalty Minutes
Note: GP = Games Played; Min = Time On Ice (minutes); W = Wins; L = Losses; OT = Overtime Losses; GA = Goals Against; GAA= Goals Against Average; SA= Shots Against; SV= Saves; Sv% = Save Percentage; SO= Shutouts
Awards and records
Entering the season, Boudreau had amassed 189 wins in 309 NHL games. The win total put him on track to surpass Don Cherry as the fastest head coach to reach 200 NHL victories. After reaching 199 wins, Washington went on a four-game losing streak before finally earning Boudreau the milestone win. Despite the losing streak, Boudreau registered his 200th win in 326 games, eclipsing Cherry's previous mark of 341 games. While Boudreau set the record, he had the advantage of overtime and shootout victories, which did not exist during Cherry's coaching career. Boudreau was fired seven days after setting the record.
Besides Ovechkin's March and Vokoun's third star award, Washington had players named NHL weekly stars three other times. Backstrom was named a third star after recording four points in two games. John Carlson earned third star honors with back-to-back three-point games and finishing the week with seven points. Ovechkin received the first of his two star awards by scoring eight points in six games in January.
|Tomas Vokoun||NHL Third Star of the Week||October 24, 2011|||
|Nicklas Backstrom||NHL Third Star of the Week||November 7, 2011|||
|John Carlson||NHL Third Star of the Week||December 12, 2011|||
|Alexander Ovechkin||NHL Second Star of the Week||January 2, 2012|||
|Alexander Ovechkin||NHL Third Star of the Week||March 26, 2012|||
|Bruce Boudreau||Reached 200 wins faster than any coach in NHL history||November 21, 2011|||
|Joel Ward||100th Career NHL Point||October 8, 2011|||
|Jason Chimera||100th Career NHL Goal||October 10, 2011|||
|Jeff Halpern||800th Career NHL Game||October 27, 2011|||
|Alexander Semin||400th Career NHL Game||October 27, 2011|||
|Cody Eakin||1st Career NHL Game||November 1, 2011|||
|Cody Eakin||1st Career NHL Goal
1st Career NHL Assist
1st Career NHL Point
|November 4, 2011|||
|John Erskine||400th Career NHL Game||November 8, 2011|||
|Jason Chimera||600th Career NHL Game||November 21, 2011|||
|Dmitry Orlov||1st Career NHL Game||November 21, 2011|||
|Dmitry Orlov||1st Career NHL Assist
1st Career NHL Point
|November 23, 2011|||
|Brooks Laich||500th Career NHL Game||December 3, 2011|||
|Alexander Ovechkin||500th Career NHL Game||December 3, 2011|||
|Marcus Johansson||100th Career NHL Game||December 20, 2011|||
|Mike Knuble||1,000th Career NHL Game||December 20, 2011|||
|Nicklas Backstrom||100th Career NHL Goal||December 30, 2011|||
|Tomas Kundratek||1st Career NHL Game||January 11, 2012|||
|Dmitry Orlov||1st Career NHL Goal||January 15, 2012|||
|Dennis Wideman||500th Career NHL Game||January 22, 2012|||
|Alexander Semin||200th Career NHL Assist||February 22, 2012|||
|Joel Ward||300th Career NHL Game||February 22, 2012|||
|Troy Brouwer||300th Career NHL Game||February 25, 2012|||
|Mathieu Perreault||100th Career NHL Game||February 25, 2012|||
|Karl Alzner||200th Career NHL Game||March 8, 2012|||
|Matt Hendricks||200th Career NHL Game||March 8, 2012|||
|Michal Neuvirth||100th Career NHL Game||March 11, 2012|||
|Alexander Semin||400th Career NHL Point||March 19, 2012|||
Going into the off-season, there was concern over the future of goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Washington had given the restricted free agent a qualifying offer, giving the Capitals the right to match any other NHL offers or receive draft pick compensation if they did not match. Though Washington had control of his negotiating rights, Varlamov indicated that he would leave the NHL to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He stated that while he wanted to play in the NHL, he did not want to be a back-up. If Varlamov left the League, Washington would not receive any compensation but would retain his NHL rights. In the KHL, a war for Varlamov's services was developing. Lokomotiv Yaroslav claimed to retain Varlamov's KHL rights and wanted to sign him to a contract around $2 million a season. Alternatively, SKA Saint Petersburg filed a complaint with the KHL, stating his rights were not owned because his original contract with Yaroslav predated the formation of the KHL and was therefore invalid. Before the situation could be resolved, the Capitals traded Varlamov's rights to the Colorado Avalanche for a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, along with a conditional second-round selection 2012 or 2013. Following the trade, team owner Ted Leonsis noted that Varlamov "wanted assurances that we couldn’t make to him." He was disappointed, but wished Varlamov well with Colorado. The Avalanche then signed the goaltender to a three-year, $8.5 million contract, thus keeping him in the NHL.
|June 2, 2011||To Nashville Predators
Conditional 7th-round pick in 2013
|To Washington Capitals
|June 24, 2011||To Chicago Blackhawks
1st-round pick (#26 overall) in 2011
|To Washington Capitals
|July 1, 2011||To Colorado Avalanche
|To Washington Capitals
1st-round pick in 2012
Conditional 2nd-round pick in 2012
|July 8, 2011||To Winnipeg Jets
|To Washington Capitals
4th-round pick in 2012
|November 8, 2011||To New York Rangers
|To Washington Capitals
|February 2, 2012||To Philadelphia Flyers
|To Washington Capitals
|February 2, 2012||To Colorado Avalanche
|To Washington Capitals
|May 26, 2012||To Boston Bruins
|To Washington Capitals
|June 4, 2012||To Pittsburgh Penguins:
|To Washington Capitals:
7th-round pick in 2012
2011 draft picks
The 2011 NHL Entry Draft was held in St. Paul, Minnesota, on June 24 and 25. Heading into the draft, the Capitals had only five picks due to a variety of trades, which was tied for the fewest in franchise history. Believing that they had prospect depth in their organization and not seeing an available player who could help immediately, Washington traded their first round pick for Troy Brouwer. With just late round selections remaining, the Capitals decided to take players that required time to develop. Three of their four picks were in, or set to attend, college. Fourth-round pick Steffen Soberg, the lone player not attending college, played in the GET-ligaen, Norway's highest level of competition. At the 2011 IIHF World U18 Championships, he posted the second-highest save percentage in the tournament and was considered one of Norway's top three players, though no Norwegian goaltender has ever played an NHL game.
|Round||#||Player||Position||Nationality||College/Junior/Club Team (League)|
|4||117||Steffen Soberg||G||Norway||Manglerud Star (Norway)|
|5||147||Patrick Koudys||D||Canada||Rensslaer (ECAC)|
|6||177||Travis Boyd||C||United States||USA U-18 (USHL)|
|7||207||Garrett Haar||D||United States||Fargo Force (USHL)|
- Draft notes
- The Capitals' first-round pick in the draft was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Troy Brouwer.
- The Capitals' second-round pick in the draft, along with Brian Pothier and Oskar Osala, was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Joe Corvo in 2010.
- The Capitals' third-round pick in the draft, along with Jake Hauswirth, was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Dennis Wideman.
^ 1: Washington traded Eric Fehr and Varlamov, while Jason Arnott, Marco Sturm, Scott Hannan, Boyd Gordon and Bradley all left via free agency. All played at least five games for the Capitals during the 2011 playoffs, except Varlamov, who, as the back-up, did not play any games.
^ 2: The NHL uses a point system that awards two points for a win and one point an overtime or shootout loss. The denotation of a team's record is wins-losses-overtime/shootout losses.
^ 3: In ice hockey a combination of a player's goals and assists are collectively called points. Though a lone goal or assist can also be referred to as a point. A point streak consists of registering a point in multiple consecutive games.
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