Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Bus Arrived In NJ, Team Didn't

Capitals 2, Devils 7

Worst game the Capitals have played yet. They didn’t even show up for the game. Two gimme goals by Alex Ovechkin (who has now scored a goal in 4 games straight) and Brian Sutherby were post-Christmas gifts.

The Devils came out with a huge work ethic and out skated, out played, and even out witted the Capitals in every part of the game. The Caps were not in position and watched more of the action than take part of any of it. About 16 minutes in the second, starting goalie Brent Johnson suffered a groin injury (or got out of the game sensing it would be a blow out) and Olaf Kolzig looked very uncomfortable in net.

Not to take from any thing away of the talent of the Devils, but a college team could have entered the building and beat the Caps in this game. The Capitals could not get motivated or produce anything other than headaches. Even with opportunities on Martin Brodeur alone the Caps would shoot into the chest or a soft shot for the Devils net minder to knock down.

The Refs in this game were just horrible. After about the 9th interference pick the Devils did on Caps players, I was ready to rip a pillow apart. The Devils were picking all night. Overall a horrible game if you are a Caps fan, which I am wondering why I still am. Is there a bright side you ask? Ovechkin gets his 21st goal. There is your bright side.

Overall Grade: F

Wash Post will have all the details of the Devils great win over a crappy Capitals’ effort. The only thing I can pray for is for the Capitals to right the ship by the time they play the Flyers.

Now I have to go pack my bags and take a week hiatus in Tucson were hopefully the Caps will find their winning ways when I come back.

Trades Past,Present And Future

Caps make some moves that don’t include Brendan Witt or Olaf Kolzig. General Manager George McPhee made the change for forward Colin Forbes for Stephen Peat. Forbes will not report to the Capitals however, he will start his stint in Hershey.

This is Forbes second round with the Capitals after signing with the team as a free agent in 2002. Forbes last NHL points were with the Capitals in the ’01-’02 season. He has played 308 NHL games were he has posted a career 33 goals, 28 assists, and 211 PIMs.

McPhee did acknowledge on OLN that other GMs were interested in obtaining Kolzig. Whether any of those deals were too good to pass up, we will never know, but McPhee stood his ground on keeping the All-Star goaltender.

No word yet on the trade status of defensemen Witt, but closer to the playoffs teams may look to be interested in beefing up the blue line with a seasoned veteran.

A disappointment for the Capitals would have to be the healing process of Jeff Friesen. He has now been on Injury Reserve since November 11th. The last goal the veteran player has scored for the Capitals was October 26th versus Buffalo.

Jet Lagged

Capitals 3, Bruins 4

It’s good to be back and it’s good to actually see an entire game in as many days. Just wish the outcome was better. The Caps played well, but were not able to stop the Bruins late charge. And it was on “national” television. I can’t wait for NBC to start broadcasting games.

The Caps put together a great game including doing better on the power play. But after the spectacular goal by Alex Ovechkin, the Caps just laid down, and allowed the Bruins to tie the game late in the third and win in overtime. I guess that 13th win is harder to get than once believed.

Overall Grade: B-

Wash Post gets the basics down on the game. Some highlights: Ovechkin scored his 21st goal, Mathieu Biron scored 3 power play goals in three straight games, Olaf Kolzig was outstanding in net with 39 saves. Brendan Witt played in his 600th NHL game, all of them with the Caps. Lowlights: the Caps were held below 20 shots on net, and were out shot 3-0 in the extra period.

Now that I am back, I am off again across the country to Tucson. So it’s my second last post of the year. Yeah for you!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

USA, All The Way!

The U.S. pulls its roster last night during an OLN broadcast of the Stars vs. Wild in St. Paul. I am sure that upped the ratings for this thrilling game.

Okay, so here is the roster for 2006. A few surprises and a few disappointments. I couldn’t be happier that Jeremy Roenick is not found on the roster. Better luck next time Jeremy.

Okay, let’s breakdown the Goaltenders first. All three will be making their debut in the red, white, and blue. Whose in:

Rick DePietro, Winthrop Mass. (Islanders): A good goalie with a so-so year. Right now he is letting big rebounds out and is not squaring up to the puck as well as the next two guys.

Robert Esche, Utica NY (Flyers): A streaky goalie that has improved his consistency of late. I don’t expect him to be the starter, unless he turns it up a notch in the next month or so. Esche however does have some international experience.

John Grahame, Denver CO (Lightning): A goalie that had a rocky start to the season but has found a good grove and is playing well behind the Tampa Bay defense. I see him as the #1 or 2 goalie on this squad.

The D-men.

It’s mostly a veteran squad on the blue line with Chris Chelios (Chicago IL/Red Wings), Darian Hatcher (Sterling Heights MI/Flyers), Brian Rafalski (Dearborn MI/Devils), Mathieu Schnieder (New York, NY/Red Wings) and Aaron Miller (Buffalo, NY/Kings). New-comers include John-Michael Liles (Zionsville, IN/Avalanche) and Jordan Leopold (Golden Valley, MN/Flames).

The defense should be solid in front of whomever, the pick up of Leopold and Liles I thought was a good choice. The D-core should be a quick, yet physical bunch.


Making a return to the USA sweaters are Keith Tkachuk (Melrose MA/Blues), Chris Drury (Trumbull, CT/Sabres), Bill Guerin (Wilbraham, MA/Stars), Mike Modano (Livonia MI/Stars), Brian Rolston (Flint MI/Wild), and Doug Weight (Warren MI/Blues).

Making their Olympic debut are Jason Blake (Moorhead MN/Islanders), Erik Cole (Oswego, NY/Hurricanes), Craig Conroy (Potsdam, NY/Kings), Brian Gionta (Rochester NY/Devils), Scott Gomez (Anchorage, AK/Devils), Mike Knuble (Toronto, ON/Flyers).

I was happy to see Cole’s name on the roster as well as Gomez and Gionta. All of those guys are hard working players and contribute to the team. Gionta is the goal scorer for the US, having the best scoring record to date.

Disappointed to not see Tony Amonte and Eric Weinrich not on the roster as both are favorites of mine. I was surprised that Roenick was not named, but I don’t think he earned his spot for the winter Olympics in Turin Italy.

As usual, no Capitals made the US roster as the Wash Post reports. Jeff Halpern, Ben Clymer and Chris Clark were all passed up for this Olympic bid for gold. Brent Johnson could also be considered, but has not played the games or has much to show for officials to consider his chances.

The Capitals won’t be without any representation in Turin however, Alex Ovechkin will likely be on the Russian squad, Ivan Majesky will represent Slovakia, and Olaf Kolzig will start in net for the German squad.

I think the U.S. team looks solid. A nice mixture of veteran and youth combine should make for a good team core. Who will start in net of course will be the big question. I like Grahame of late. He has helped his team make the Southeast Division more of a race that a blow out by Carolina.

Now all we have to do is wait for Canada to announce their roster, wonder if they will do it during a OLN broadcast. Doubt it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

I'm On Vacation!

Caught the game last night and the Caps can’t figure out Roberto Luongo. The Caps once again fall to the Panthers even shooting a franchise record 55 shots against the Panthers’ goaltender.

Caps just couldn’t get anything in, and they had plenty of opportunities.

Overall Grade: B

Since I didn’t see the San Jose game I really can’t grade. Hanlon should have let Kolzig rest for that game, and I was surprised to see his name as the starting goalie. The Caps looked a little tired for the Panther game due to the cross continental trip from San Jose.

Wash Post will cover the details on both the Panthers and San Jose’s wins. Since I will not be able to post until after the holidays you’re on your own for the next couple of games. Just take deep breaths and remind yourself its ok.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Catching Up Just To Fall Behind Again.

I think one of the hardest things about having a blog is the Christmas season. Traveling makes it hard for me to catch the games and update my opinions of the game. So please bear with me as I will try to catch Caps games when I can, while I am on the road.

Wow, what a difference a day makes. Lots of news, so little time.

Penguins say goodbye to Eddie Olczyk Thursday. Olczyk was sort of the Pens’ Jim Schoenfeld to make a comparison for Caps fans. Their commentary was great to listen to in the booth, but taking the reins of a hockey team is a completely different thing.

Olczyk had no prior experience behind the bench. So why did you hire him, because he’s looks good there? That is the least of the Pens fans worries however, as talks heat up more about the team possibly moving to Kansas City.

The Southeast Division is having a surprising affect on Western Conference teams. 4 of the five teams have posted a .500 record or better versus our friends on the left side of the map. Tampa Bay is 4-1, Carolina 4-2-1, Florida 3-3, Washington 2-2, and Atlanta 2-3-1. The Southeast Division will not play the Northwest Division this year.

Talk of raising the salary cap next year has made many general managers chomp at the bit. Gary Bettman figures that the NHL maybe growing after the lockout. The cap will rise from $40 million to $45 million. Big jump.

GM George McPhee flat out denies any rumors of trading the big man Olaf Kolzig. Wash Post covers McPhee’s revelation that Olie is the only thing besides Alex Ovechkin the team has going for them. Raising the salary cap may give the Caps more freedom to improve the team’s dynamic next year.

At this point the Caps are beginning to gain chemistry. The C.B.S. line is getting better at finding each other, the teamwork of the Ocechkin, Zubrus, Clark line has opponents constantly on their heels, and the other lines are improving.

Give AO another year and he will figure out how to get through those defenders standing him up. Then he will be amazing to watch.

Since I am on the road today, I will probably miss the game. I will work on trying to keep my page updated as much as I can while I am on the road this holiday season.

Caps play Sharks tonight, only 6 words of advice: Do what you did in L.A.

Capitals at Sharks Preview

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Clutch Goal Against Kings

Capitals 3, Kings 2

As Olaf Kolzig returned to the locker room at the end of the game, he raised his arms in a sort of “raise the roof” motion. He had good reason to be happy. The Capitals win a big game at the Staples Center 3-2 over the Los Angeles Kings.

Just when I was brewing up the story of this game and complaining to whoever was in earshot, “the Caps need to get a clutch goal,” when Jamie Heward put a laser by Jason LaBarbera at 18:57, just over a minute left in the game. This blog was shaping up to be about the lack of clutch players for the Caps. I am glad it doesn’t have to.

Heward came up with a huge clutch goal for the Caps in the waning seconds of the third. The Kings looked on stunned. They couldn’t even put together a 6-on-5 for the remainder of the game. The Caps finally put a solid team back on their heels.

In a game where the Refs were getting bonuses for calling hooking and interference calls (12 hooking/interference calls out of 22 total penalties), the Capitals finally can rely on their special teams for a win. Maybe this should exorcise the demons from the power play.

Matt Bradley had the defensive play of the game, saving a puck that squeezed past Olie and Bradley caught it just in time to clear it away. Video replay shows the puck right on the goal line, but not in (or at the very least inconclusive). Much to the chagrin of Kings’ fans.

Overall Grade: A

The Caps played their game and got big goals from Heward and Brian Sutherby were both timely and clutch. Too bad I didn’t tape the game, because it was a classic for sure. Caps came out physical, which proved to be a positive for them as the Kings could not match the intensity of their aggressive visitors.

Brendan Witt also gets some mad props in this game. Even if his number didn’t show on the scoreboard, he had some big hits and was solid on defense. Witt must really want out of DC if he is playing this well.

Wash Post gets you the quotes and details from the game, including a ton of stats that I can’t think of right now because it’s 1:17 in the morning. And yes I have to be up early tomorrow, thanks for asking.

Caps face San Jose Friday night, same late time: 10:30 pm EST. The game will be on WB50 for you locals. Good night, I am crashing!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

West Coast Swing

On Monday morning the Caps traveled to Los Angeles. On Tuesday they got a skate in at the King’s rink.

"This is probably the closest group of guys we've had," Capitals centerJeff Halpern said. "Trips like this help, because it gets everybody, especially the guys with families, involved. It brings us together. The way our team plays, we should play as well as on the road as we do at home. It's hard to figure out."Wash Post

The Capitals hope to have a revelation and a good start to this short west coast swing. The L.A. Kings got off to a hot start, but have since cooled. Their number one priority for tonight’s game is to stop rookie sensation Alex Ovechkin.

While today’s focus may be on the Capitals, the Kings have Olympic thoughts for the upcoming games in Turin. Craig Conroy and Aaron Miller have secured spots on team USA, but a big name missing is Jeremy Roenick.

"Would I like to be on it? No question. But I'm not expecting to be on it," the 35-year-old forward said. LA Times

The Capitals could catch the Kings going through the motions, if there concentration is on AO, other Capitals must step up their games to give the rookie goal support. The Caps road record has been nothing to write home about. They must play better on the road.

The good news, since their only road win vs. Montreal (the win versus Buffalo was technically at a neutrual site) the Caps losses on the road have been one goal decisions. The Caps look to use their new brand of hard work to improve a dismal 2-10-1 record on the road.

Capitals at L.A. Kings Preview

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

A Birth And A Rebirth

Yesterday at 1:57 PM, my sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Ella. Which makes me Uncle “G”, you don’t have to refer to me as such though. What a great birthday though, 12/12/05.

It’s a new member of our family and I couldn’t be happier for my sister. Of course this means teaching the youth about my favorite sport, Hockey. If we get her in skates now, she has a chance to make the Olympic team in about 16 or 17 years from now. Wishful thinking.

This brings me to the whole point of this post. This is to tell my niece Ella now what the future of the NHL will be like in the ... future. And of course I put it in a letter.

Dear Ella,
You couldn’t have picked a better time to be born. The game of professional hockey is fast, fun and better than it has been in years. Even though I know your mother is a Penguins fan, I hope you will take into consideration that they suck. You don’t have to be a Pens fan like your mom, and you don’t have to be Caps fan like your uncle. Cheer for Anaheim, they need it.

Anyway, by the time you are old enough to understand the game, these are the changes I foresee in the future of NHL.

1) Back in 2005, we tested this whole keeping the goaltender out of the corners by creating a trapezoid area behind the net where the goaltender was only allowed to touch the puck in that area. Soon NHL officials realized more offense could come with a sharp pass from an experienced goaltender rather than just keeping them in designated areas.

2) When you were born Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were rookies. They were outstanding, and Sid the Kid played in Pittsburgh back then. Ovechkin was traded after the Caps failed to win a Stanley Cup and gone through 5 coaches. But after the lockout, it’s all anyone wanted to talk about, the two rookies, Crosby and Ovechkin.

3) The Nashville Predators had this god awful third jersey that was a mustard color. Thankfully Dijon Mustard makers of America sued the team over patent infringement, and they got rid of them.

4) You may hear about some hockey movies that people will tell you to watch, but there is only one good one: Slapshot from the seventies starring Paul Newman. Miracle is the only other one I consider good, but if anyone tells you about Youngblood, or Mighty Ducks, just know that they suck, and the movies do to.

Well I am sure there will be a lot of changes as you grow older and I will poison your mind about hockey and other things your mother would not approve of. And anytime you want to come to Washington, I will get you a nice warm seat next to me to watch the Caps. Welcome to Earth Ella.

Your Uncle “G”

P.S. If you want to be all girly and hang out with my wife and shop that is fine too, but then no personalized jersey for you!

-- Other Notes --

  • Jiri Fischer is grateful yet uncertain about his future. Detroit’s own was emotional during his first press conference since collapsing on the bench. I am still pulling for Fischer to make a return to the ice.

  • I am starting to believe that the Ottawa Senators are almost unbeatable this year. Why didn’t Colorado start David Aebischer? Is there some kind of goalie problems in Denver?

  • Now that the Capitals seem to be getting better and their brand of play is getting more exciting, Brendan Witt and Olaf Kolzig are starting to like D.C. a whole lot better. Even though Olie didn’t say it, Kolzig thought about moving on and ending his career with a Cup contending team. Even the trade rhetoric from Witt has subsided. But is that good news for the Caps?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Say It Ain't So, Mario

The Penguins just can’t get it together. Sid the Kid was suppose to stop the bleeding, help the city of Pittsburgh realize that a new stadium was what Mario Lemieux and the Penguins needed to bring back a championship team. I guess Pittsburgh is Steeler town.

Every thing is just going wrong for the team. After making the jump to get a talented rookie, and spending enough to pepper the team with proven veteran players, the Penguins face the truth that Pittsburgh really doesn’t need a NHL Franchise.

The Penguins play in the Mellon Arena, the smallest in the league. Even if the Penguins sell out every game from now to the end of the season in 2007 when the lease on the Mellon Arena runs out, the team will not make enough money for even running cost, so they say.

The team desperately needs a new arena, but it’s very doubtful they will get it in time. Too little, too late. The Penguins are looking into funding for a new stadium through a slot license. But it is unclear if the ownership can get the license to start the funding project.

It brings up a plethora of “what ifs” that right now neither Lemieux nor the ownership can really answer with much certainty. The only real answer that is barreling down on them is to move the team. Kansas City and Houston have expressed interest.

My Penguin friends are very concerned that the jerseys they are donning for every game will soon be just collectibles, and the NHL will never play a game again in Pittsburgh. “They are your elected officials,” I tell them.

From the articles I have read in Pittsburgh, the city and county officials are willing to sit down and hear the woes of the Penguins, but seem less likely to act upon those accounts. If the city doesn’t want the team, or doesn’t want to find a solution, then there is no reason for the team to stay, despite a loyal fan base.

If the team were to move to K.C., the chances Nashville will be pushed into the Eastern Conference are great. By proximity, the Predators would be a perfect fit into the Southeast Division.

The Capitals would move into the Atlantic Division which would be more competitive and would improve the Capitals attendance by being close to their rivals (which means more fans from other teams at the phone booth).

No doubt that Ted Leonsis has some interest in Pittsburgh’s demise. But for now it’s a waiting game, will Pittsburgh finance a new arena for their beloved Penguins, or will we be seeing a new team in the Midwest?

If the Penguins do decide to move the team, it will mark an end of an era of great games and rivalries between the Capitals and the Penguins. My first NHL game I ever attended was a Caps/Pens game at the Capital Center.

As much as I hate the Penguins, I would not like to see the team go down like this. But their departure may help the Capitals depart the Southeast Division, argued as the worst division in the NHL.

It’s a question that places a cloud over Mellon Arena, and makes Penguins fans nervous.

-- Other Notes --

  • Olympic talk is running rampant; Lemieux and Steve Yzerman have opted out of playing in Turin. Many Canadians find it a welcome sight not to have either on their Olympic team. Now, how can we convince Jeremy Roenick?

  • Eddie Belfour just can’t surpass Terry Sawchuck. Stuck on 447 wins, Belfour has tried 4 times to move to second place, but has failed. He will get it, but it won’t be against former teammates.

  • John Grahame set a new franchise record of nine consecutive win. Khabibulin who?

  • Shout-out to former Cap, Mike Grier. He had a big night for the Sabres with the winning goal in overtime over the Minnesota Wild. It’s always good to see former Capitals do better on other teams. Maybe not.

That is all I got. Caps play L.A. on Wednesday, late game at 10:30 pm. Bring the chips.

**Editors Note: Okay, you can stop emailing me, my friends from the north. There is a third city that has expressed interest in pulling the Penguins from Pittsburgh. I apologize to my Canadien readers for my exclusion of Winnipeg. 12/13/05

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Red Wings Home Win?

Capitals 3, Red Wings 4

It could almost be counted as a home win for the visiting Red Wings. With as many Capitals jerseys in the crowd you could see even more red and white of the Detroit faithful. And the Mo Town boys didn’t disappoint.

Once again a premiere team has to resort to its special teams to beat the hard working Caps. The Red Wings scored 3 power play goals, with a goal just seconds after a power play ended.

The Capitals played their best game to date. Going against the power house of the west Glen Hanlon pretty much summed up the reality of the Caps playing the number 2 team in the league:

“I don't think you come in and expect to dominate the Red Wings. ... These guys are great. The make me smile, even in defeat. I can hardly wait until we start winning these games.”

Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist and Jamie Heward is back on the scoring side with a buzzer beater goal at the end of the game. Four tenths of a second too late and the Caps lose by two.

Overall Grade: A

If the Caps can play as well as they did against the Red Wings, that can only mean good things for the Caps. The Caps were moving, aggressive on the boards, and were able to move the puck much better than they could against the Predators.

Wash Post covers the close game, closer than would be expected. The last two games for the Capitals were against top 5 teams in the NHL. They were able to hold their own. The ability for this young team to play well against two winning records bodes well for the future of the club.

The Capitals head west to face two good teams on the west coast. The Caps play the L.A. Kings on Wednesday for a late game on the east coast. The game is at 10:30 pm eastern time, which means pajama party at Puckhead’s Palace.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Predators' Power Play Punishes

Capitals 2, Predators 5

The Caps may have been prepared for the 2nd placed team in the Western Conference. They may have been prepared for the likes of Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya. But the Capitals were not ready for the Predators power play.

3 power play goals lifted the Preds to win number 18 and just one win behind first place Detroit that the Capitals face on Friday. The Capitals didn’t look like the buzzing team that had given the Rangers a beating last Saturday.

With as many times the penalty kill unit has been on the ice for the Caps, you would think that they would have their system down pat. But the Preds caught the Caps standing around, watching the play. They have been a man short 196 times already this season.

Penalties killed the Capitals, and the quick passing of the Predator power play left Olaf Kolzig spinning, and on the first two goals being beaten so badly he didn’t even go down into the butterfly to attempt a save.

Alex Ovechkin had the only power play goal for the Capitals after a pretty pass from Andrew Cassels. Add a Ben Clymer “garbage goal” and the Caps were frustrated all night by the Preds defense and Chris Mason in goal for Thomas Vokoun.

Overall Grade: D

The Caps need to take advantage of opportunities their opponents give them. Unable to score with a two man advantage has plagued the Caps all year. The Caps must stay out of the penalty box against Detroit, or the result will be the same.

Wash Post covers the details as usual. The team is definitely hard on themselves after this game, maybe it will be a wake-up call for them when they face the first place team in the west, the Red Wings.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Preds Come To Washington

Capitals vs. Predators Preview

Capitals are 1-0 versus western teams. It was their home opener win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Now they face one of the hottest teams in the west. The Nashville Predators are the surprise team of the season and most of the praise goes to Paul Kariya. Since his arrival to Music Town, the Preds have been hard to stop this season.

The Capitals have to come at the Preds with an aggressive forecheck and play with as much intensity as they did against the Rangers. The Caps have the right system to keep teams that are hot in the scoring column to a minimum if they show up to play tonight.

The game tonight starts a 4 game stretch against the west, with the Detroit Red Wings in town on Friday, then a west coast swing to play the L.A. Kings and San Jose Sharks. This should test the Caps against good teams on the long road trip. This will be a quick trip considering in January the Caps go on a three game swing to the west to play Dallas, Phoenix, and Anaheim.

The Caps should surprise the Preds early in the game; Alex Ovechkin should be able to exploit the defense early. The Caps once again must bring their lunch pales and hard hats and be prepared to come to work. Fearless Prediction: Caps 4, Preds 2.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

The one thing I hate/love about the Christmas season is the parties. I have been partying for the last two nights, hence no post yesterday and I apologize. Normally I like to keep the conversation on the Capitals in my blog, but I had the opportunity to go to the White House for their Holiday Party.

There are two great things about living in Washington D.C.; the Pro Sports and the parties. Every other time I have gone to the White House it has been behind big ropes and a sort of walk through museum type of visit. To actually go, get close to the paintings and sit in the furniture, it blew my mind.

They served the best soup in espresso cups. They had ham, and lamb chops. And no party would be complete without eggnog. I am an aficionado of eggnog! It was okay.

There are few things I take advantage of here when it has to do with politics, I tend to just stay out of it. But when an opportunity like this comes along, it’s once in a lifetime. I got to rub elbows with the powerful and the influential. And the eggnog was okay.

Ok, sorry. I had to brag. Back to hockey.

The Capitals have been busy making moves. The Caps have brought up Graham Mink from Hershey for the game against the Rangers, just to be sent back down, and then recalled again. Jakub Klepis, Tomas Flieschmann have both had ten games or more in the big leagues, but were not able to make much of a dent. Both were sent back to Hershey. After Brooks Laich was sent back to Hershey, he is now back in a Capitals sweater.

Maxime Ouellet has been a disappointment for George McPhee since he was drafted. He was to take Olaf Kolzig’s job, but has been developing slowly and now the caps find that they no longer have much youth in the goaltender department.

The Capitals also have key players still nursing injuries, Jeff Friesen and Stephen Peat.

It is quite clear that Glen Hanlon is looking for players that can make a difference immediately. Although he has allowed players to settle in, mostly for experience, and mostly due to injuries, Hanlon is trying to produce young players faster than normal.

It’s no secret that Hanlon wants the same system in Hershey as they are playing at the phone booth. The payoff is beginning to show. Mink was able to quickly adapt and played well against the Rangers. The system is working, and it will be the machine that will help the Caps withstand slumps, and injuries. It will help when the Caps decide to make their Cup run in a few years time.

The Caps are making the transactions and it proves that this organization is healthy and getting better. With the ability to go to the farm system for help, and getting that help will benefit the Capitals greatly.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

"Drought Over"

Capitals 5, Rangers 1

“All is right with the world, Alexander Ovechkin has scored…” said Joe Beninati. And Caps fans let out a collective sigh of relief.

Three other Caps that needed goals to get out of their 5 game slump. Along with AO, Dainius Zubrus, Jeff Halpern, and Steve Emminger all got a tally on the board.

Olaf Kolzig should have gotten a shutout, but two late penalties cut into Kolzig’s glory. The Caps finally get a game that goes their way. Along with a goal that opened the scoring for the Caps, AO got a playmaker’s 3 assists.

Jaromir Jagr had a nice homecoming only getting an assist on a 5-on-3 power play. Jagr wanted to score, to show off in front of his former team’s house. The Rangers just looked frustrated, relying more on their talent than a system. Only late in the game did New York finally get some pressure on Kolzig.

Overall Grade: A

The Caps hard work and opportunist attitude to scoring paid off. The Capitals still need to work on their power play which was 1-6 tonight. I was so impressed with Graham Mink, who was called up from Hershey. Capitals were so close giving Kolzig a shutout, which seems to be a rarity nowadays in the NHL.

Wash Post sings the praises of the Caps. I happy this team got a good solid win, against a hot team to end their streak. Now if they can turn this into more than one win.

Maxime Ouellet was traded to Vancouver’s system for a fifth-round pick in 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The Capitals must feel pretty comfortable in the goaltender department. Or is it a move to free up some more money for something else? Hmmm…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I will see you bright and early on Monday…

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Bottom Feeders

Capitals 2, Panthers 3

It is hard to win games on the road in the NHL, even if their arena has less people than the phone booth. Brent Johnson was excellent in the net, and I do believe that Florida’s third goal was deflected with a high stick.

But what really sucked was the Capitals’ power play, which they were not able to do anything with the extra man. 1 for 7 and an opportunity with a 2 man advantage for 55 seconds, and the Caps couldn’t find the net with a flashlight and a map.

I am starting to see a lot of inconsistency in the Referees as the season wears on. Many soft holding calls against the Caps, while the others were so obvious that people getting a hot dog at the concessions stand could sense it, and no whistle. No wonder the players are confused. The Officiating has to be tighter, and much more consistent game to game.

Overall Grade: C

Caps are playing well, and making the right decisions, but someone has to start getting a nose for the net besides Alex Ovechkin. Even though the local ads say “One man, doing it all by himself” the Caps need to give him another threat to ease some of the pressure off the rookie.

Jeff Friesen is turning out to be a hell of a deal. He needs to be on the ice, or dealt. I don’t think the Caps have the opportunity to lose anymore players to injury. Dainius Zubrus looked a little rusty, but I expect him to be on pace in the next couple of games.

Wash Post of course it the source I go to. Bryan Muir actually couldn’t have said it better as he was quoted about not putting the game away. At least Muir gets it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

It's Gonna Be Fun!

Well if everyone is doing it

This is my list of favorite and least favorite players by team. Be gentle.

Anaheim: Petr Sykora / Sandis Ozolinsh
Atlanta: Peter Bondra / Marian Hossa
Boston: Brian Leetch / Sergei Samsonov
Buffalo: Mike Grier / Jochen Hecht
Calgary: Jarome Iginla / Rhett Warrener
Carolina: Erik Cole / Rod Brind’Amour
Chicago: Anyone but Matthew Barnaby / Matthew Barnaby
Colorado: Tie Steve Konowalchuk, Dan Hinote / Pierre Turgeon
Columbus: Adam Foote / Jan Hrdina
Dallas: Jason Arnott / Brenden Morrow
Detroit: Chris Chelios / Robert Lang
Edmonton: Chris Pronger / Michael Peca
Florida: Joe Nieuwendyk / Everyone else
Los Angeles: Aaron Miller / Jeremy Roenick
Minnesota: Alexandre Daigle / Randy Robitaille
Montreal: Richard Zednik / Mathieu Dandenault
Nashville: Paul Kariya / Yanic Perreault
New Jersey: Scott Gomez / Jamie Langenbrunner
New York Isles: Jason Blake / Miroslav Satan
New York Rangers: Michael Nylander / Jaromir Jagr
Ottawa: Dany Heatley / Dominik Hasek
Philadelphia: Simon Gagne / Michal Handzus
Pittsburgh: Zigmund Palffy / Everyone else
Phoenix: Shane Doan / Wayne Gretzky as coach (not as player)
San Jose: Jonathan Cheechoo (fun name to say) / Alyn McCauley
St. Louis: Dean McAmmond / Patrick Lalime
Tampa Bay: Brad Richards / Martin St. Louis
Toronto: Bryan McCabe / Eric Lindros
Vancouver: Trevor Linden / Mattias Ohlund
Washington: Olaf Kolzig / Brendan Witt

Struggle In Sunrise

Capitals vs. Panthers Preview

After a few days off, the Capitals are hoping to stop their losing skid at the Bankatlantic Center. This will be only the second time the Panthers and Capitals have faced their Southwestern foe. This is the make-up game for the postponed match-up on October 29 because of Hurricane Wilma.

The Panthers have only won once in the month of November and trade rumors are circling around their key star goaltender Roberto Luongo. The team is trying not to panic, but as much talent as the Panthers have, winning has been an up-hill battle for them.

The Caps will have their hands full. In their last meeting, the Panthers faced a much different Capitals team. The Caps were still working on finding each other roles and getting used to their new linemates.

Dainius Zubrus is back and will probably line up with Alex Ovechkin. Having Zubrus back may open some room for the slumping rookie who has failed to score a goal in the last 5 games. Ovechkin’s off ice trouble continues as a U.S. District Court Judge has schedule hearings on whether AO’s former team Moscow Dynamo has rights over the superstar rookie.

The Capitals look to improve their poor road record which is a dismal 2-9-1. The Panthers look to get back on the winning skate, their home record is nothing to be proud of either posting a 5-5-1 at the Bankatlantic Center.

Caps could take two big points away from their divisional rivals if they continue their hard work. It won’t be easy so I am looking at a low scoring affair. However, Panthers should win at home 2-1.

-- Other Notes --

  • Bruins and Sharks do a blockbuster deal which brings Joe Thornton to San Jose for three players, Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau. Why can’t I ever trade 3 players for a superstar on EA NHL ’06?

  • Ed Belfour has to wait before passing Terry Sawchuck for wins. The Maple Leafs couldn’t give the all-star goaltender a win against the Lightning. I still believe that Belfour is an underrated talent that many take for granted. Good luck on getting 448 Eddie!

  • Jiri Fischer health problems continue after his scare on the bench in which he stopped breathing. The 25 year old was back in the hospital after another abnormal heartbeat this week. This could hurt the Czech’s chance to return with the Red Wings.