Sunday, December 31, 2006

NHL Gets It Right (for once)

Suspensions were handed out today following the rough play that ensued at MSG between the Capitals and Rangers. Cap's tough guy Donald Brashear got a one game suspension for the sucker punch on Aaron Ward (which I might have given him a three to five game suspension). Ranger's tough guy Colton Orr got the worst of it after checking Alex Ovechkin high in the face, getting a 5 game suspension (I would have given him 10).

That should have some enforcers thinking twice about hitting Ovie again. Although I think there will be more shots to come his way. You can't hit the prodigy of the National Hockey League and get away with it. If Sid "the Kid" Crosby had been hit in that manner, I almost guarantee that the league would have thrown the book at Orr.

The Caps now are hurting again to fill it's ranks. With Brashear out and several Caps feeling under the weather, we could see more Bears in Caps uniforms when they face off with the Phoenix Coyotes although GMGM doesn't see that happening. If the Capitals can weather this little storm and get some big wins in '07, playoffs could still be in the picture.

Caps Fall Further

Capitals 1, Rangers 4
This is one of those games were there was no respect given to the young Caps. The Rangers took it upon themselves to teach this young group a leasson and the refs just looked the other way. A couple of checks from behind, a few cheap shots on Capitals and the officiating crew just let things get out of control.

Donald Brashear had been playing good solid defensive hockey over the last couple of games. That gave Glen Hanlon the opportunity to put him on the checking line against the number one line of the Rangers last night. As the Rangers took liberties of a depleted Caps team Brashear started standing up for his players. When he took a shot at Jaromir Jagr, Jagr dumped him getting two minutes for being an idiot. Brendan Shannahan's fight with Brashear was more of theatrics than anything else. Aaron Ward said something to Brashear after the fight which caused him to sucker punch him on the way to the penalty box. Brashear lost his cool a little bit, and should not have done that, it caused his ejection.

With Brashear out of the line up, it got worse for the Caps. Colton Orr took it upon himself to take a run at Alex Ovechkin (run is too nice of a word, he all out wanted to hurt the Caps' star). All he was going to get for his high check was a minor for charging. Are you kidding me? It's an obvious shot at Ovie with our enforcer in the locker room. Shaone Morrisonn came to the rescue and fought with Orr. Dan Marouelli and Kevin Pollock let this game get to this point. I don't think this crew will be officiating the Stanley Cup Finals anytime soon.

With that said, the Caps didn't play that bad of a game. There were a few missed opportunities and the Rangers took advantage of some defensive break downs. The Rangers were due for some offense, the Caps were just trying to get through a game healthy. Ben Clymer scored the only Caps goal off a pretty pass from Lawerence Nycholat which broke Clymer loose on a breakaway.

Overall Grade: C-

The Caps are just not 100% and obviously don't have the depth to cover for injured players. The Caps don't have much time to get healthy as they face the Coyotes on a New Years Day show down.

Nycholat is having a good stretch on the big squad since being called up from Hershey. He has one goal and three assists in five games for the Capitals. He is making a strong case for staying in a Caps sweater in the coming years.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Caps Make It Interesting

Again, on holiday break and did not see the game. I did catch some of the highlights (which were very brief) and took a look at the official scoresheet. The Caps didn't do that badly, with what was basically the Hershey Bears.

A few mistakes here and there, but the game reminded me a lot of the growing pains we witness last season. We just have to grin and bear it through this stretch with injured personel. Timo Helbling, Lawerence Nycholat (scored his first NHL goal), Dave Steckel and, playing for the first time in the NHL, Jamie Hunt were all called up to face the Devils. Brian Pothier and Shaone Morrisonn both played but were sick (bad case of mono apparently is going around the locker room). Their times were severly cut.

Glen Hanlon likes to bring up the the kids against the Devils for some reason. When Olie was hurt last year, Hanlon brought up Fredric Cassivi. Cassivi could easily be a NHL goaltender, but lost that day to the Devils, 2-3.

Capitals have a short turn around facing the New York Rangers tonight, I hope that XM Radio has the game cause that is the only way I am going to hear it. Caps have to have a short memory and be ready to come out and hit the Rangers' star Jaromir "the Woman" Jagr.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Caps Sans Offense

Capitals 1, Canadiens 4
ScoresheetWash Post

Caps are just not the same. Their depth is really thin as evident by the play of the recalled Hershey players filling in for injured Caps. Those breaks in the defense is breaking the Caps down, instead of that confident swagger, the fast starts, the Caps look a step behind and a bit like the Keystone Cops.

Jeff Schultz and Lawrence Nycholat actually look like minor leaguers, and that is a disappointment. Because of their marginal play the Caps start pulling the Center back to play a 3 man defensive line. The Capitals’ high powered offense is snuffed, and the best the Caps can muster are mostly power play goals.

It’s not that the Caps can’t win these games; there is just no confidence to get it done.

Overall Grade: D

Caps need to heal, and until they do, it’s going to be a rough road. Best the Capitals can do right now is get back to recreating the fast starts and using their offense to play their defense. The Capitals are not built to play defense, if we are being honest here. GMGM didn’t create this team to play defense.

Capitals hit the road for a back to back with the Devils and Rangers starting Friday night. Caps may get Shaone Morrisonn back to at least practice soon. But the loss of Bryan Muir, John Erskine, Matt Bradley and Richard Zednik is keeping this team at the sub par level. Let’s hope a late season push can help the Caps think post-season.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Caps Rake The Leafs

Okay, so this isn't my normal post-game... er... post. I didn't get a chance to see the game so there is little I can do to write about it. But after looking online and scaring my in-laws with a yelp, it was nice to see the Caps win in Toronto and I had to write something.

Curious to see the game on tape, which will have to wait for some time now. I want to see how Glen Hanlon crediting Donald Brashear kept the Leafs from a total come back. Also, why the Toronto media may be turning on Ovie, snubbing him the number one star and giving it to Mats Sundin (who appartently didn't play in the first two periods). The Caps defense core still seems to be beat up, and that is cause for concern if the Caps can't fill those voids.

If you are curious, I did get to open presents and I got some new Nike Bauer gloves, some new sticks, a Count Von Count coffee mug, and pajama pants with magical bunnies on them (don't ask). I also got the book Flags of Our Fathers, which I wanted to read for a long time.

As my wife and I were stuck in at Chicago O'Hare airport for 3 hours, I saw 4 of the most random people in Caps gear. The first was a guy in a leather jaket and an old school red Capitals sweater, the next was a kid with an Ovechkin shirt on, then a youger guy wearing a Hockey Night in Canada shirt and Caps hat and then a woman with a black Caps home jersey. Maybe there are more closet Caps fans now able to wear their gear in public. Who knows?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Wrapping Up Before Christmas

Ok, a lot is going on. So I am going to catch up on much of it before I board a plane for Minnesota. Let’s take a walk around the league.

Peter Bondra finally scored his 500th career goal and joins 37 other NHL players who have reached that milestone. Congrats to Bondra, a long time Cap. It’s good to see him reach that milestone.

Pittsburgh is in trouble of losing its hockey franchise. Mario Lemieux upped the ante and talked of moving the team elsewhere. This is just to light a fire under the butts of the great elected officials that the people of Pittsburgh saw fit to hold office. Too bad it wasn’t enough of an issue during the campaign season. Maybe making those politicians promise to do something may have been an ace in the hole, but they probably talked about mundane things like education and the environment.

Meanwhile, many are calling for the team to move to Las Vegas or Houston rather than Kansas City. Vegas huh? You think that Carolina’s cheerleaders are cute, imagine some showgirls on ice! I hear it would be a toss up between Penn and Teller and Cirque doing the intermission shows. Maybe we will catch a player or two at the slots on the way from the locker room to the ice.

If the Pens become the Chips, that could move some teams to interesting new divisions and conferences and could bring a Western Conference foe to the East side. Speculation has been on Detroit getting first dibs on succeeding to the East. Others that might be good fits are Columbus, Nashville and of course Vancouver (hey why not?).

The league is thinking about reworking the divisions and shrinking them from 6 to 4. JP has the collar on this subject. Personally I would like to see the Caps face the Rangers, Islanders, Philly and Devils more. Most likely though the Caps will get shafted and will have to play AHL teams. Then maybe we can change the team name to the Lower Cases.
Have a great holiday!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Beat Up Caps Beaten

Capitals 1, Devils 4
ScoresheetWash PostNewark S-L

The New Jersey Devils continued their dominance over the Capitals, winning their fifth straight against the hurt Caps. The Caps start a stretch of 6 games in 9 days over the holiday week with a slow start and skidding to a 2 game losing streak. They were 7-1-1 before they played New Jersey, making the Capitals the 2nd hottest team in the East in their last 10 games (only Buffalo was better).

Marty Brodeur continues to confound Alex Ovechkin who was held without a point. The Devils have a way of boring their competitors to death (and the fans, I had to take a nap after the game!). This game was about as exciting as watching paint dry. But their style is winning them games against high powered offenses like the Capitals.

The Caps were a beat up bunch too. Out of the line up were John Erskine (foot fracture), Bryan Muir (same aliment) and Shaone Morrisonn (flu). That prompted the Caps to recall Jeff Schultz from Hershey.

Overall Grade: D (for Defensemenless)

The Caps just weren’t the same team tonight as they were when they had gone 7-1-1, but they were held up by a very experienced defensive team in the Devils. Every time I think it’s time for Brodeur to hang them up, he always surprises me when I see him in person. He hasn’t lost a thing as the Devils number one.

Caps fans took a big step in the right direction by heckling Brodeur before the game about the visor situation. Off Wing has the pic. I didn't see it at the game, but was happy to see some fans get on the opposing team's goaltender for his anti-visor views.

Capitals must try to steal some points soon as the Southeast Division is starting to shrink and teams like Tampa Bay and Florida are starting to find their winning ways. Hey, at least we are not Pittsburgh.

It’s the holiday season, which means I will be on hiatus for a few games, returning around the 27th or 28th, depending on how much beer I consume. So not only will I miss a few games, I will be out of town visiting the in-laws. So if I don’t see you, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and I will see you before years end.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Caps Start Flat

Capitals 4, Lightning 5
ScoresheetWash PostSt. Pete Times

The Capitals have been known for getting off to quick starts, but not in this game. The Capitals play was less than desirable and the Lightning took advantage. The only bright spot for the Caps were their grit to get back in the game down 5-2. But in the end it wasn’t enough and Vincent Lecavalier netted his career 200th goal for a win at the phone booth.

The Caps just overlooked their competitors in this game. It was like they were looking for someone else to stand up and do something, but it never happened until the third period. The Capitals penalty killing, which has been doing well, was a disaster allowing 3 of 5.

Not sure if the Caps thought this was just going to be a walk in the park, but even with the slow start, they showed some effort in the third period. The Caps came out with an aggressive fore check, and some timely scoring. They just couldn’t overcome the Lightning’s lead and the Caps see their win streak end at 2 games.

Overall Grade: 1st & 2nd Per. F, 3rd Per. B

Finding themselves in a big hole, the Caps started stepping up towards the end, but to no avail. After fighting for that second place spot in the southeast division, the Caps now drop below Carolina and settle into third. The Caps have to recognize they need to take points from their divisional foes if they have any hopes of making any kind of run at the post season.

Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist that gave him the third star of the game. He nearly tied it late in the third with a great jump toward the net, but Marc Denis was there for the stop. Also scoring for the Caps were Kris Beech, Jamie Heward and Bryan Muir.

Caps look to use their explosive offensive talents against the stingy defensive New Jersey Devils next. The Caps need to get some goal support for Ovie, or the Devils will run over the Capitals and close down.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Caps Take Advantage

Capitals 4, Flyers 1
ScoresheetWash PostPhilly Inq.

The Flyers were in this game until Peter Forsberg took a hard hit from Alex Ovechkin. With Forsberg out of the line up, the Flyers wilted. The Caps bloomed, lead by 2 pretty goals by Alex Semin and a wicked shot by Ovie. The Caps have won two in a row and stay a step ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for second in the Southeast.

As much as I want to say that Forsberg had nothing to do with the Caps win, the Flyers team just didn’t look the same after he left. The Caps caught them flat footed, and for the first time in some time, the Caps have won their regular season series against the big bad Philly Flyers.

Capitals seemed a little more together in this game, at least to me. It looked as if they were sharing the puck a little more. Semin scored a great wrap around that deked Antero Niittymaki out of his goal pads and left the opposite side of the net wide open. Ovechkin just skated east west on the goaltender and ripped one off the opposite side pipe to score on a wicked slap shot for his 22nd goal of the season.

Overall Grade: B

The Caps special teams are coming along nicely and the Caps just put a word on every fans mouth that we haven’t had there in quite some time: playoffs. I have to remind you though it’s a marathon, not a sprint and we haven’t reached the halfway point to the season just yet. The Caps are doing a great job of positioning themselves early in the season however, and that could set up a viable playoff run late in the season.

Caps face division rivals Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, and must continue to win games against their division foes. The Caps need to keep teams from taking points from them if they wish to get anywhere close to the post season. The best way to do that is to beat the teams they have to play 8 times a year.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Caps Moving Up

Caps face off against the Flyers tonight at the phone booth. With their win over the Thrashers last night, the Capitals leap-froged over the Carolina Hurricanes to take second in the southeast division (seventh in the conference). The Caps have a chance to put some distance between them and the Hurricanes with a win, and hope Tampa Bay can steal a win (Lightning play the ‘Canes tonight in Tampa).

The Flyers will be no easy challenger though, as their season maybe a bust, which is when teams are sometimes the most dangerous. Caps need to jump on their chances and play good team defense. Peter Forsberg is expected to be in the line up tonight as the Flyers look to right the ship.

Other NHL News:
  • The Washington Capitals lost a dear friend in Joshua Freeman Thursday when his helicopter crashed in Delaware. Freeman was part owner of the Capitals and a successful developer that was a part owner in the Capitals organization through Lincoln Holdings LLC. My prayers go to the Freeman family and the family of the pilot that also lost her life.

  • Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie has withdrawn his offer to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins, current owner Mario Lemieux said Friday. Or as I like to refer it as step one in moving to Kansas City. In as much as I hate the Penguins, Sid “the Kid” Crosby is on fire. Wonder what he would look like in a KC Scouts sweater? Hmmm…

  • So there has been a falling out between Jeremy Roenick and Wayne Gretzky. Apparently Roenick got benched and thought, “I am starving.” Not bothering to stick around GM Place, Jeremy “I like to destroy Nagano furniture” Roenick went and had a beer and a steak while his teammates carried on best they could with out him against the Canucks. That must be good steak.

That’s all I got.

6 Second Miracle

Capitals 3, Thrashers 2 F/OT
ScoresheetWash PostAJC

It was clear what the Atlanta Thrashers game plan was early in the game. They ran at the Capitals; hitting, punching, smacking, slashing and sometimes spitting at the young Washington players. In the end, all those efforts to knock the Caps from their game may have tired the Thrashers. Alex Ovechkin did the rest and will officially go down into Capitals lore as the one-man highlight reel.

Ovie scored all three, two power play goals and the game winner 6 seconds into overtime. The Caps bounced back after a devastating 4 goal blown lead against the Penguins to make a come back of their own. The Thrashers thought they had it in the bag, apparently they didn’t tell Ovie.

This is the second career hat trick for the Caps forward and oddly enough his first one ended in an overtime winner against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In that game Ovechkin scored all three goals there as well. The Caps never say die help them out in this one and a frustrating game to watch, was well rewarded in the end.

Overall Grade: B

This game was one of those head turners; you can almost feel the loss wash over you. Then the power play goal, all hope restored and finally an overtime goal that shocked the Thrasher faithful. It’s all good drama, but the Caps had plenty of opportunities to bury this game earlier. A few missed passes, and bad shots and the Caps could have played a better game. But the Caps never said quit, and that was indicative of their play in the third.

The Caps played well, but needed to get those goal scoring second and third strings to start scoring goals on a more consistent basis. Atlanta did play a good game, but took one too many penalties, and the Caps power play was clutch. But the Caps had more opportunities earlier on the power play and squandered them.

On a side note, could Craig Laughlin sing the praises of the Thrashers anymore? I could have sworn he was wearing an Atlanta sweater in the booth. Locker was fawning over the Thrasher forwards, talked about how hard the Thrashers played, and took Atlanta’s side on a few questionable calls. I wonder how much Keith Jones would want to be the Caps new color man.

It was great to see Jamie Heward return to the ice. After a freak incident where Mike Modano's skate flew up into Hewards face cutting the defensemen's face pretty bad, Heward returned to the game with a half sheild (he was wearing a full face sheild in practice on Wednesday). Not only is great to see he is ok, but back in the line up and contributing.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Caps Loosen Up

The Capitals could have been facing one of the toughest practices after blowing a 4 goal lead to lose to a long time rival in a shoot out. They could be doing skating drills until the cows came home. But the practice was light and surprisingly loose. Tarik El-Bashir’s article in the Washington Post tells the tale, but I had gone to see it for myself.

Having some time on my hands I decided to see how the Caps would respond. They responded with smiles and solid practice. Glen Hanlon lightened the mood, and the Capitals actually looked like they were having fun.

Dainius Zubrus seemed to be challenging Olie Kolzig with extreme angle shots and a few shots outside of the drill. Both were smiling each time they one-upped the other. Brooks Laich was joking with Bryan Muir while Hanlon worked on defensive positioning. Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin slid along the ice after a tough skating and shooting drill, each one joking in Russian. Kris Beech getting called out after shooting on net after being waved off, and having to skate the length of the rink as punishment as Brent Johnson smiled and Hanlon barked (Beech smiled the entire stretch).

It’s something the young players needed, to forget a bad game. The Caps aren’t perfect, no NHL player can be. But the embarrassment of losing that game was punishment enough for Hanlon. The Caps practice may get more serious today, as they prepare for a Southeast showdown with the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday. But for one practice, it was just fun being a hockey player. That even lightened my mood.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Kettler Capitals Iceplex Pick-Up Dissappoints

So the Caps have this new facility atop the parking garage of Ballston Commons. They have a regular adult pick-up hockey sessions out and I notice that I could play today at 11:00 am. Very cool. I had some time to travel down Glebe Road and get some shots on net so I packed my gear and left.

On the 8th floor of the parking garage, the Capitals new practice facility looks different from the few weeks ago at the naming. There is a pro shop that carries Sid "the Kid" Crosby jerseys (as well as Caps, Red Wings, and Wild jerseys) and good selection of sticks and gear. I didn't get my skates sharpened there but it looked as if they had a guy who knew what he was doing back there, not just some high school kid that just sharpens rentals all day.

The facility is new and clean and nice. But the problem isn't with the facility, it's with the price. I had to fork over $15 to play pick-up. While the average around the DC metro area is around $10, the Kettler is keeping the casual players away. The total price is actually $16 if you include parking (but don't dally, after 3 hours it's more). You can purchase a 10 for $10 pass, which may not be a bad buy since your going to spend $100 on pick-up anyway.

Maybe it's because of the price, or the fact that it's new, but the session only drew four players including myself. The entire session was just shooting on the net and passing around. The ice was actually very good. They didn't clean the sheet after public session (most likely because there were only four of us), but the ice was still in good shape. We didn't play on the Capitals sheet where there are the official NHL markings on the ice and that was kind of disappointing.

Unless players start showing up it's not really worth the time or money to spend on Kettler's pick-up sessions. The locker rooms were a high-light, we dressed in the Smythe locker room. It featured some large pictures of Roy, Parent and Dryden. There are single shower stalls which don't drain correctly; you can flood the bathroom just by taking a shower.

I guess I was expecting a lot more than what I got playing at the Caps practice facility. If there had been more players it maybe worth the high price.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Caps Blow It

Capitals 4, Penguins 5 OT/SO (1-2)
ScoresheetWash PostTrib Rev

The Capitals squandered their 4 goal lead, and the Penguins showed why they are so dangerous. The Caps just stopped playing and again failed to finish. Quick starts and bad endings will be the epitaph on the tombstone of the Capitals’ year at season’s end if they can’t bury teams.

This game lived up to it’s billing as being pretty exciting. But, for the Caps it didn’t need to be that way. That is what is so frustrating about being a Caps fan.

The Pens may not have wanted to start their game being four down, but getting to the shoot out was the best case scenario for them considering the Caps record this year in the shoot out.

The Capitals, who used to foam at the mouth to get it to the shoot out, had yet to win a game in the shoot out this season. That stat didn’t change. Olie Kolzig is not a shoot out goaltender, and the Caps couldn’t find the back of the net on a break away if they had a map and a Verizon Center tour guide.

Overall Grade: F

A great start and a bad finish gives the Caps the failing grade. They just stopped playing, stopped shooting, stopped everything after the fourth goal. Caps need to finish games and work on getting more consistent scoring. Caps earned a point, which is about the only good thing about this game past the second period.

Caps can’t dwell on this one too long, and hopefully this can spur this team into actually finishing their quick starts. They face Atlanta Friday and need to start getting more wins. At leas the Caps will have the week to “recover.”

Bondra Lands In Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks weren't done with making changes to their club. There newest addition Peter Bondra who was not picked up by anyone else this year, could make the roster as early as Tuesday. The long time Capital was in jeopardy of sitting out the entire year before the Blackhawks look his way. Let's see if he can help that team do a fair shade better. has gone Ovie/Kid crazy. Their "Tale of the Tape" feature puts Sid "the Kid" Crosby stats against Alex Ovechkin's. It also includes some pretty cool videos of some promos of the up coming game later tonight on Versus. I really don't care if Crosby or Ovechkin score, just as long as the Caps win.

Like I said earlier, with the win over the Flyers the Caps moved up to 8th place in the eastern coference. A win against the Penguins could push the Capitals into a tie with the Rangers and the Hurricanes at 34 points. Although is too early in the season to start talking playoffs, the Caps are in the hunt. The Caps have to keep up their good play to keep the pressure up and keep close to that 8th place spot.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Caps Back On Track

Capitals 5, Flyers 3
ScoresheetWash PostPhilly Inq.

It’s that time of year that holiday parties start dominating your schedule so you miss things like the Caps visiting Philadelphia. Then in your drunken stupor (I didn’t drive if that is what you’re thinking) you realize bed is better than staying up to watch the game on tape. So about mid afternoon you’re writing a recap with a hang over, and fast-forwarding through commercials. I think we have all been there.

Anyway, Bryan Muir couldn’t have picked a better time to get a much needed goal for the Caps. When it looked like the Caps’ fast start was going south once more with a slew of bad penalties and some breakdowns on the penalty kill, Muir’s snap shot off a dandy pass from Kris Beech while the Flyers’ defense broke down, put the Caps ahead for sure. Even though Alex Ovechkin received the first star, that was the play of the game and stopped the Caps from losing two straight.

Ovie scored off a rebound where he did a 360 to slide the puck under the sprawled out Antero Nittymaki. Also scoring for the Caps were Chris Clark, Matt Pettinger and Brooks Laich. The Caps offense is actually coming along nicely; the Caps have scored collectively 28 goals in their last six games of which they have won 5.

Overall Grade: B

The Caps are still taking some bad penalties, and the penalty kill has been doing its job. In this game however, the Caps couldn’t rest on the hopes that they could kill every one off and the Flyers were 2 of 8 and were able to tie it up mid way through the second. Its something the Caps can’t take for granted anymore.

With that win over the Flyers the Caps have moved to 8th place in the Eastern Conference. If the season were to end today, we would have Boston to face in the first round. The Caps passed a few teams to take the last playoff spot, they were in 11th before they dropped the puck in Philly.

Caps need to keep this streak alive as Versus comes to the phone booth, oh yea, and that annoying Sid “the Kid” Crosby and the Penguins will happen to be there too. Caps need a big win to keep the playoff hunt with in reach by the time the All-Star game comes around. It’s still a long season, but a great start could lead to a great finish.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Snapped Back To Reality

Capitals 1, Ducks 6
ScoresheetWash PostLA Times

The Capitals were victims of being beat at their own game. The Ducks came out with the early lead and then they had an aggressive forecheck and played more physical. The Caps offense took a night off as the Ducks showed why they’re the team to beat in the west.

In all fairness, this was not the same team the Caps played last year where Alex Ovechkin took full advantage of them scoring three including the overtime game winner, his first NHL hattrick. The Caps had their chances, but their non-consistent offense that exploded in the last four games fizzled out against Anaheim. The Ducks execution of this game was impeccable; they did what they wanted to do. The Caps were just overwhelmed and were knocked off their game.

Alex Semin was the lone goal scorer for the Caps. Ovie had an assist along with Donald Brashear. Brashear started early in the game getting into a fight with George Parros who looks like he stepped out of the seventies with long hair and a handle bar mustache. I have a hard time taking a guy like that seriously. It’s called personal grooming.

Olie Kolzig was never pulled in this game and suffered through all six goals. After admitting that he liked a lot of shots on him, he looked ready to call it a night right about the 4th or 5th goal. After being hot and keeping his team in reach, Olie just couldn’t put the cork in the Ducks high powered offense. The whole Capitals team was snapped back to reality.

Overall Grade: C-

As much as I was frustrated in this game at the Caps play, there wasn’t much to say about this game other than the Caps and the Ducks are two different teams. It is a difference in experience. If the Caps could bury a couple early, the game would have had a different outcome.

Now the Caps have to regroup, and face the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night. I am always a believer that routs are not always a bad thing, as long as you can learn from your mistakes and make the adjustments to come back better than when you left the ice.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Caps Stay Hot Against Senators

Capitals 6, Senators 2
ScoresheetWash PostOtt Cit

The Capitals fast start took Ottawa by surprise and then they finished the Senators off. The Caps are finishing their games. If they keep this up, the playoffs are a real possibility. Although Alex Ovechkin didn’t score, his presence was felt with three assists. The Caps are building on their successes.

Captain Chris Clark scored a pair and Matt Pettinger (who finished a -1 in this game if you can believe it), Brooks Laich, Alex Semin and Matt Bradley were the other Caps’ scorers. Dainius Zubrus also got a playmaker with three assists in his return from an illness. The Capitals are gaining ever more confidence as the season progresses. Ovie is getting goal support, which takes much the pressure of scoring off his shoulders.

The Caps special teams are getting better and better. The Caps were able to score a pair of power play goals and keep the Senators to a measly 1 for 8 on their power play. When the Caps penalty kill can keep teams from scoring and their power play can put pucks in the net, it’s a recipe for wins.

Olaf Kolzig could be the hottest goaltender in the east right now. Olie stopped 35 shots and has a winning record at 10-6-3 with a 3.00 goals against average and .917 save percentage. Olie is keeping his team in it, and his team is rewarding him with timely goals.

Overall Grade: B+

Caps have to keep this scoring touch going, ‘cause the once “Mighty” Ducks are coming to the phone booth. Anaheim has a way of shutting teams out, and winning big games. It should be quite the match up since both teams are on a little hot streak.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Caps Beat Buffalo At Their Own Game

Capitals 7, Sabres 4
ScoresheetWash PostBuff News

The Capitals’ scoring touch hasn’t subsided, it’s exploded. The Buffalo Sabres found out the hard way, the Caps can score. In a game that saw two Caps defenders get tallies, a multi-score game for someone not named Alex, Ryan Miller got chased from the net half way into the first period and Ovie gets thrown out of the game. Was this a good game or what?

The Caps scored early and never looked back. Scoring early and often put the Sabres on their heels. Richard Zednik opened the scoring, followed by Bryan Muir, Matt Pettinger (who scored two), Ben Clymer, Alex Ovechkin and John Erskine. Every time it looked like Buffalo was about to gain momentum, the Caps answered back.

Ovie was thrown in the second after a check from behind on Daniel Briere who turned away from the from the play to go for a change. Briere went head first into the wall and was not seriously injured. The Refs made the right call in throwing the forward out of the game, but I think it was a bad hit by Ovechkin and he knew it:

“He got turned around and I hit him,” Ovechkin said, adding that he didn't think the infraction warrants a suspension. “I didn't want to give him some injury. It was an accident.” – AP

Lindy Ruff thought otherwise saying Ovie should be punished for the infraction (Sore loser). I don’t think that hit represents Ovechkin’s physical play, and Ruff knows that. The Sabres coach is just trying to protect his player. But, Briere never missed a shift.

Erskine’s goal to cap the win was just a clearing attempt that went off the boards and drifted down into the Buffalo empty net. By far the best defensive player for the Capitals this year, John Erskine scored only his 4th career goal, but it couldn’t have happened to a better Caps player. His hard working, gritty style of play is helping the Capitals win games. Not to mention his lucky bounces.

Overall Grade: A

Besides the Ovechkin hit, I think the Caps played one of their most complete games of the season. The offensive threat is getting more confidence as the season progresses and the Caps are finding ways to win with key players out of their line up (Ovie’s toss, Zednik’s injury). The Caps have to keep their momentum going because there is no let up in the schedule.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Caps Cling Onto Win

Capitals 4, Stars 3
ScoresheetWash PostDallas MN

Caps made this one interesting after taking a commanding 4-1 lead into the late third period. But the Caps hold out and make Jeff Halpern’s return to the phone booth a tough one for the tired Dallas Stars.

Brooks Laich had the assist of the night fighting through 4 Dallas defenders to shovel the puck in the slot to a breaking Richard Zednik who buried the puck. The Caps used their speed and hard work to take advantage of an exhausted Stars squad that arrived in DC late. The Caps were able to draw a few penalties and capitalized. The Caps’ power play was 2 for 5 and was perfect on the penalty kill.

There was a scary moment in the third period when Jamie Heward took a skate to the face behind the Caps net. The shock may have given the Stars some help getting back into the game. The Caps nearly let the 4-1 lead get away from them when Stu Barnes scored, then the Stars’ coach Dave Tippett pulled Marty Turco (who replaced starter Mike Smith) and they climbed back to within one with two minutes and three seconds left in the game.

But the Caps held on, barely, and started their 4 game homestand on a good foot. Scoring for the Capitals were Zednik, Chris Clark, Matt Pettinger and Alex Semin. Alex Ovechkin had a penalty shot after starting goaltender Smith threw his stick after Ovie shook the defense free for a breakaway. Ovechkin was unable to score on the shot, losing control of the puck and never getting his shot on net.

Overall Grade: B

The Capitals still need to find that finishing touch on games they take control of early. The Caps were merely able to outscore Dallas in this one. They were able to build off their Tampa win. They will need that scoring confidence when they face their next opponents; Buffalo (insert scary music here!).

Caps face off with the dreaded Sabres on Saturday. Hanlon’s bunch has to be able to match Buffalo’s scoring touch but at the same time contain the speedy Sabres. It’s asking a lot, I know, but the Caps are finding scoring outside of their top line. That is a good sign.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Green is Great

Capitals Mike Green found himself on a feature on It was actually was a good piece on Green about transitioning from the WHL and AHL to the NHL. Mike continues to impress me as the season goes along. His quick speed and physical play is a bright spot for the Capitals this year.

While Green is getting his accolades on, Alex Ovechkin is having a surprisingly quiet year. Ovie is not as flash as he was in his rookie season, but he is doing the little things to help the team this year. While Ovie still looks for that open ice to show off his speed, I have been noticing him sharing the puck a bit more.

But Ovie shot is not the terror it was from a year ago. When Alex had that angle shot 10 to 15 feet out, he could bury the puck over the goaltenders shoulder. But the last couple of shots from that angle Ovie’s shots don’t seem that high snapper from last year. I am not sure if it’s from the new stick rule allowing a bigger curve in player’s hockey sticks, or if something else is going on. Ovechkin is on pace for another 50 goal season.

Other NHL News:

That is all I got.

Kolzig Wills the Win

Capitals 5, Lightning 2
ScoresheetWash PostSt. Pete Times

The Capitals were looking down the barrel of losing seven straight games. Someone had to step it up. It was a veteran goaltender who proved why his name is on the All Star ballot. Olie Kolzig faced down 50 shots and saved 48 of them. The Caps took advantage of their chances and broke out of their scoring slump to be 3 goals better than their divisional rivals to break their game losing slump.

Kolzig had a way of intimidating Tampa Bay. The Caps were badly out shot in the first, but there stood Kolzig keeping the Caps in the game. Most of the 50 shots he faced were perimeter shots from the outside. Caps defense kept the odd-man rushes to a minimum in this game. Many of those saves by Kolzig looked as if they were routine, and he made them look easy; a good indicator of how good a goalie really is. Compare that to the 13 shots that chased Johan Holmqvist from the net with 3 minutes left in the second for the Lightning.

The Caps goaltender finally got some goal support, as secondary scoring helped them break their slump. Scoring for the Caps were Alex Semin (9th goal of the season, first since October 21st), Boyd Gordon (who had a pretty shorthanded goal), Kris Beech (who started all the scoring by simply holding on to the puck a little longer), Chris Clark (scoring on a near impossible angle) and Alex Ovechkin (empty netter, but he will take it). Matt Pettinger took home the second star of the game with two assists, one to Beech and the other to Gordon’s shorty.

Overall Grade: B

This was a good game in terms of finally breaking their scoring slump, but the Caps are giving up a lot of shots and I would like to see the defense button it up a little. The blue liners are doing a better job of picking up the play and not allowing too many odd man rushes or break away chances.

Caps must look to build on this win and secondary lines must be able to keep the scoring up for them to win more games. The Caps schedule doesn’t get much easier in the month of December. Caps face the Jeff Halpern and the Dallas Stars Thursday at home. Capitals need to keep their scoring touch if they wish to stay in the playoff hunt.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Caps Lose, Again

Capitals 1, Islanders 4
ScoresheetWash PostNY Daily

Alex Ovechkin was the only Capital to score, and the rest couldn’t solve Rick DiPietro. The Caps lose their 6th straight and their woes continue. Their inability to score is making the Capitals the team anyone can beat.

Caps are digging themselves a pretty big hole. If Ovie was scoring his highlight reel goals, it might be worth watching. But lately it’s been a string of almost goals, and missed nets. The Caps hard work just doesn’t seem to help.

Overall Grade: F

Caps need to shake out of this non-scoring slump they are on. Or their bad luck will just get worse. They just need one thing to go right for them. Just one goal at the right time, an opportune bounce, something.

I can’t imagine the moral is very high on the Caps side. This is quickly becoming not just a coach’s problem, but a General Manager’s problem. The Caps do need some help in a big way. The return of Alex Semin may help them recover.

Caps travel southward to face another divisional foe the Lightning on Tuesday night. The Caps need to find some way to win games. Or their season ends before the all-star game.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Caps Bad Luck Continues

Capitals 1, Maple Leafs 7
ScoresheetWash PostStar

This game reminds me of a joke. Why doesn’t Baltimore have a professional hockey team? Then DC would want one. The Caps looked lost, bewildered and generally played like an AHL team. Too many bad passes. Too many bad clears. Just too many bad plays. The Caps defense just didn’t show up.

Not to mention, this was one of the worst officiating jobs I have seen in a while. I don’t like to pick on the refs much, but two phantom trip calls (one was an obvious dive, the other never happened) hurt the Caps at the worst possible times. They were just bad calls. If it weren’t for bad luck, the Caps would have no luck at all. It’s not like the officials have to help them lose, the Caps are doing a good job on their own.

Overall Grade: F-

I am not sure how the Caps fix this. They have dropped their 5th straight game. Unless there is a turn around soon, the Caps will be scraping the bottom of the barrel sitting in last place in the Southeast Division. That is a long way from Alex Ovechkin’s lofty goal of making the playoffs. Looks like the Caps need to have one of those player only meetings.

The Capitals have taken two steps back on their special teams. The Maple Leafs were 3 of 5 on the power play, while the Caps could only muster 1 of 6 on their chances. The Maple Leafs made the goals look easy. The Caps penalty kill needs to find its zen again.

Ovie was the only goal scorer for the Caps. Brent Johnson was only able to stop 21 shots and hardly challenged any Leaf shot (he barely left the crease after an errant bounce from the boards burned him much like it burned Olie Kolzig in the Atlanta game).

If I had to pick out a positive about this game, the Caps hitting picked up late in the game with some good solid legal hits. If they had played this physical from the onset, this game could have had a different outcome.

The Islanders host the Capitals Saturday night. That is not much time for the Caps to reflect on this one, and that may be a good thing. I, for one, would like to forget about this one too. The Caps can not afford to lose another game, so they need to show some off some of that high powered offense.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fight Fallout

So the fines and suspensions have been handed out, and the Caps take the short end of the stick. Suspended for the Caps are Donald Brashear (3 games) and Brian Sutherby (1 game). Scott Mellanby was also suspended for the Thrashers for one game.

I am surprised that no suspensions were handed to Andy Sutton or Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalcheck grabbed Chris Clark’s face protector and shook it rather hard, in attempt to do harm. It was Sutton’s head hunting that started the whole thing. Bettman apparently didn't see any of that from his posh New York apartment.

Glen Hanlon will be fined $30,000 for doing the right thing, Bob Hartley got fined $10,000 for being an idiot. I would have liked to see Hanlon and Hartley go at it, but Hartley probably got a manicure and didn’t want to screw that up.

Japer covers the fight better than myself, plus has video of the whole episode that includes the head hunting hit by Sutton.

The stupidest quote of the night came from Glen Metropolit:

“Getting the game-winning goal in this building, it means a lot to me,” said Metropolit, who played for the Capitals last season and was acquired as an unrestricted free agent. “It proves that Washington lost a good player.” – AP

Are you kidding me? The luckiest goal in all of hockey and you think you scored that goal because you are a “good player"? I am glad the Caps got “rid” of you. That is just a dumb thing to say. Enjoy being on the goon squad.

Caps play the Thrashers in Atlanta on December 15th. It should be an interesting game as both teams will have long enough memories. Hope everyone had a good Turkey day.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Caps Fight Their Way to Loss

Capitals 2, Thrasher 4
ScoresheetWash PostAJC

You could blame it on errant passes. You could blame it on the new glass installed at the Verizon Center. You could blame the Caps fourth straight loss to Atlanta on inconsistent offense. There is more than enough blame in this game to go around. As soon the Caps got the 2 goal lead, they just couldn’t get any offense going. And the bad luck just overtook the Capitals at home.

The goons took over at the end of the third period. You could feel the tension all game, and with fewer than 2 minutes left, both sides were taking cheap shots and bad hits. The highlight of the numerous fights late was Donald Brashear’s knocking the snot out of Vitaly Vishnevski. It will be interesting to see what the Atlanta Bloggers may say about this game. I think both sides just needed this fight outbreak to happen so they can get back to hockey. Although, game 5 between these teams should be interesting.

Overall Grade: D-

The Caps have a string of great first periods. That is great, but there are 3 periods in a game. Caps must find a way to pull together a full game, whether they have the lucky bounces or not. This game is one of the best games and worst games I have seen the Caps play yet.

The first power play looked so good, that I was giddy when Matt Pettinger slammed home the game’s opening goal. They moved the puck and gave the Thrashers different looks and attacked from different angles. But then they never repeated it, and their schizophrenic offense couldn’t muster much. Jakub Kelpis assisted Pettinger and scored the second goal.

Chris Clark returned for this game sporting a mouth protector. Clark took a puck to the face requiring surgery. Although his time was cut, Clark's presence was felt. Alex Semin is still listed day to day with an injured shoulder.

Caps host the Toronto Maple Leafs Friday. Looking anywhere other than winning this game would be foolish on behalf of the Capitals who now have dropped their 4th straight. Eat some turkey, take a nap, and come back ready to play.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Practice Facility Now Has Pick-Up

Caps new practice facility, Kettler Capitals Iceplex, finally has pick-up hockey for the Thanksgiving holiday week. I guess they are expecting some big crowds because they broke them up in different age groups. The schedule they have on their website is here.

I would expect a lot of players at these sessions considering it's the holiday and it is the Caps new facility. So don’t be surprised if there are 20 players on the bench. I am still debating whether or not to go. I hear the ice is pretty good.

Wash Post picked up on the heroic doings of Captain Clark. After taking a puck in the face, Chris Clark kept playing. There are some pretty good quotes from others on the team about the situation. The attitude on the Caps is in the right place. Japer also spreads the praise about Superhero Captain Clark.

I am getting nervous about the up coming game with Buffalo Saturday December 2nd. After Tampa Bay Lightning got spanked, I am not sure how the Caps will match up with them. I realize it’s a couple of games away, but it’s that blaring Sabres logo on the calendar that stares back at the Caps.

Caps first need to face down the Thrashers on a Thanksgiving Eve matchup. They have lost the previous two games with the Thrash both by the score of 4-3.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Women CAN Play in the NHL, etc.

When he is not getting a perm or pretending to be a hockey player, Jaromir Jagr occasionally scores goals. It must be those new skates with the toe pick. Jagr scored 600 career goals (or 517 goals if you don’t count his entire time with the Capitals, which most Caps fans don’t). It will be interesting to see what he “injures” this year in the playoffs.

Okay, I am done picking on Jagr. For now.

Flyers decide to give John Stevens two years to turn the team around. Good luck. I think I speak for all of Philadelphia when I say, “Who can think of hockey at time like this? Donovan is out for the season! The flag should be flying at half mast or something!”

Kukla calls out bloggers that only complain on their teams. Figuring the glass is half empty, many bloggers are failing to see the positives in our teams and only focusing on the negatives. So let’s find some positives for the Senators, the Flyers, and the Coyotes. Ummmmmm… I’ll get back to you on that one.

Many of you may realize that I am spending less time on posting these last couple of weeks. Well, I can’t be here all the time! Plus I have started a new part time job, so I need some time to get acclimated to my new schedule. Although I am still looking for a full time gig, so if anyone is hiring, I can write a blog. And watch hockey games. And I am a glass is half empty kinda guy. Glendale Arena is really nice, there is a positive. Take that Kukla, ha!

Editor's Note: I realize it is an insulting statement to compare Jagr to women, I apologize to women everywhere.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Beat Up Caps Fall in OT

Capitals 2, Bruins 3 OT
ScoresheetWash PostHerald

No Chris Clark, Dainius Zubrus, Alexander Semin and Steve Eminger. The Caps should have been slaughtered. It was their second game in two nights too. But the Capitals did something that I wouldn’t have expected. They hung in there.

Truthfully when I heard of the scratches, I actually rubbed my temples and contemplated missing tonight’s game. The Caps had their moments and got some a key goal from an unexpected source. Jakub “don’t call me Yakub” Klepis scored a pretty breakaway goal on Tim Thomas, making the goaltender freeze up and slid the puck five-hole.

Alex Ovechkin also scored on the powerplay, keeping the game well with in reach and the boys walk out of TD Banknorth Garden with a point. Although I don’t want to play many more games with so many key players in the stands, the Caps exceeded my expectations.

Overall Grade: C

Brent Johnson surprises me in every game, and I don’t really know why. He is a good goaltender. He stopped 35 shots and kept the Caps in reach the whole game. Only a tripping call in OT that the Bruins able to score the game winner.

Caps play the Thrashers at home before Turkey Day (Wednesday for those of you above the border). Caps need to find ways to win within their division. At least there will be some down time before the next game. The Caps need to heal.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Black & Blue Caps Lose Second Straight

Capitals 1, ‘Canes 4
ScoresheetWash PostNews Ob

Capitals played with out captain Chris Clark who took a puck to the mouth in Boston’s game. Dainius Zubrus suited up for this one, but he suffered a knee on knee blow in the previous game. The Caps played a good first, but then just looked beat up. The Hurricanes’ picked a good day to play the Caps.

Richard Zednik scored the only tally on the power play, and the once stingy penalty kill that I praise broke down when the Stanley Cup Champions came to town. The Caps looked a little out of sync in this game. There were too many small mental mistakes that were making them play catch up all night.

Overall Grade: C-

I don’t know what it is about the Carolina Hurricanes that I give them a lot of credit in this game for winning it, rather than the Caps losing it. Some of the ‘Canes dads were in attendance for take your pop to work weekend.

Caps need to hit a reset button or something. It just seems that they are a little off. Maybe it’s the loss of Clark or they’re a little beat up. Whatever the problem is, the Caps don’t have much time to turn it around when they meet Boston, in Boston.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Caps Run Out of Gas

Capitals 2, Bruins 3 F/OT/SO (0-1)
ScoresheetWash PostHerald

There used to be a time the Capitals loved getting the game into overtime. There used to be a sense of excitement and thrill when the Caps could get their opponent to a shoot out. But those days are hard to come by anymore.

The Capitals continue their shoot-out slump against the Boston Bruins. The Caps have yet to score in the shoot out goal this year. A shocking statistic considering the talent the Caps have. Alex Semin couldn’t move Tim Thomas and just shot it into him, Alex Ovechkin deked himself out and hitting pad on the backhand, and Matt Pettinger couldn’t recreate his shorthanded score in the first that saved the Capitals when they were down 2 -0.

Olaf Kolzig didn’t have to stand on his head for this one, but he was tested a lot more than his counterpart late in the third. The shots came out even for both teams at 35 shots a piece. A bright spot for the Caps is their special teams. The Capitals’ penalty kill is starting to get some attention and is ranked 18th in the league and rising, and the Caps were able to sneak a power play goal to tie it all up at 2 in the 2nd.

Overall Grade: C

There were some pretty exciting moments in overtime where the Caps could have put this game away. But it was an extremely long shift at the end of the third where the Capitals just couldn’t get off the ice to save their lives after some bad dumps that turned to iceings. That may have emptied the tanks for the Caps in OT.

Caps have to shake out of this and look to rebuild against the visiting ‘Canes on Friday. They may want to try to win this in regulation.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Twiddling Thumbs

Don’t look now, but the Caps management are working hard on doing… well, nothing. It might be the best move they do. In the Wash Post, Tarik El-Bashir talks to the man in charge George McPhee about possibly amping up the rebuilding process.

As much as I want to see the Caps make some key moves, I would have to agree with GMGM on this one. Right now the Caps are getting the job done, and while it may not be pretty, it’s effective. Although some young players, especially on defense, are showing signs of improvement, they are still about 2 years away from being consistent.

Olie Kolzig will still have to stand on his head for another year or two if GMGM stays with his blue liners. But right now, the season is still early. While there are still bugs in the system, the only way to fix them is to learn from the mistakes you make. The Caps learning curve is doing alright.

Big congratulations to some Hershey Bears players who received their championship rings. Brooks Laich, Kris Beech, Boyd Gordon, Mike Green and Jakub Klepis all got some jewelry. The veterans of the Caps broke out in applause for the youngsters getting their dues.

Other NHL News:
  • Blue Jackets could have a new coach. Management in Columbus was given permission to have a sit down with Ken Hitchcock. I am wondering why it took this long. The BJs shook up their coaches with the assistant coach taking charge.
  • What the heck is happening up in Ottawa? Players went through drills with little talking and moral seems real low for the Senators. Both management and players have taken shots at one another, which needs to stop.

  • I am already tired of the Capitals’ promos where you just look at the player from different angles while Joe Beninati highlights plays to a heavy metal background. This neither excites me about the season, nor convinces me to purchase tickets. They are just boring and waste of space.
That is all I got.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Caps Finding Ways to Win

Capitals 4, Panthers 1
ScoresheetWash PostMiami Herald

For a second game in a row, Olie Kolzig was denied a shutout he should have had. He faced 45 shots and turned away all but one, a power play tally in the second by Nathan Horton. The Caps survive a disgruntled Panther squad that gave Kolzig a run for his money.

Scoring for the Caps were Matt Pettinger (whose shot Alex Auld saved, but the rebound hit Petty in the leg and hopped over the goaltender), Alex Ovechkin (second game winning goal in a row), and Dainius Zubrus (who scored on the 5-on-3 and an empty netter). Caps are starting to gain confidence and only good things can follow.

Overall Grade: B+

Caps actually get a power play goal late in the third with a two man advantage, but they are still a far ways from having a workable power play. Although I don’t have any suggestion on how it can get better (except to change up the make-up of players on the power play), the Capitals’ outstanding penalty killing more than makes up for my lack of experience coaching in the National Hockey League. You’re doing alright Glen Hanlon.

Capitals have surpassed their last season record against Florida; they have won 2 games against their rivals instead of only one from last season. The Caps have to use this win to propel a good effort against the Boston Bruins back home at the phone booth.

With about seven minutes left in the game, Comcast Sports Net Mid Atlantic feed was cut, prompting a parade of Comcast promos. There is nothing like watching TV promos for 5 straight minutes. When the anchors came on to settle down the ravenous Cap watching crowd, the girl cracked a joke that Joe Reekie tripped over a cord. That is funny.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Show Me the Money came out with their “Ultimate Hockey Franchise” rating NHL teams on different scales. You would be surprise to know that the Washington Capitals did get a top rating in one of the categories. Best website (

Just to let you know how it all shook out:

Arena Deal: Nashville Predators
Fan Experience: Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota Wild
TV Deals: Toronto Maple Leafs
Naming Rights: Boston Bruins
Location: New York City
Best Fans: Colorado Avalanche
Best Players: Buffalo Sabres
General Manager: John Muckler (Ottawa Senators)
Owner: Michael Ilitch (Detroit Red Wings)
Website: Washington Capitals

In terms of value, the Washington Capitals are the cheapest team to buy at this point. They were ranked dead last in value at $127 million. Compare that to the Toronto Maple Leafs valued at $332 million and ranked first. However, under the new CBA, smaller market teams (that includes the Capitals) are seeing revenue coming to the rescue. The complete list is here. sees the NHL in some good waters. In their article, NHL on the Rebound, Forbes touches on the value of NHL franchises and their shaky TV deals with Versus and NBC. Even though the business side of hockey usually puts me to sleep, this may be helpful for some of you out there like me whose eyelids droop at the sight of numbers.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Caps Wrangle Rangers

Capitals 3, Rangers 1
ScoresheetWash PostNYDaily

Olaf Kolzig should have posted a shut-out. But stupid Michael Nylander had to score on a late power play with Dainius Zubrus in the penalty box for tripping. It was clear the Rangers were not going to leave the Verizon Center with out a goal, pulling their goaltender with more than two minutes left in the game. The Caps only allowed one, and Alex Ovechkin walks away with the game winner.

The Caps seem to be pretty dangerous after being shut out. They came out with a grudge in the first period out-shooting the Rangers 17 to 5. Not only did the Caps find their offense again, they always had a player in Jaromir Jagr’s face all night. Jagr took his damaged pride and his illegal sticks home only getting off three shots.

Boyd Gordon started the scoring with a great job on the forecheck. It was the epitome of a garbage goal as Gordon never gave up whacking at the puck in front of Henrik Lundqvist. Gordon also posted an assist playing his best game as a Cap.

Overall Grade: B+

As much as I want to give the Caps an A, they are still lacking in one department: the powerless play. The Caps were 0 for 7 with an extra man. It’s one of those things that can be overlooked in a game such as this, but is important for the Caps to start cashing in on the power play.

Matt Pettinger also scored midway through the third. Petty got a jump off the boards to beat a pinching Ranger defenseman, and a 2 on 1 quickly developed with Alex Semin. Petty curled and dragged around the defender and put it 5 hole on Lundqvist. Semin looked at Petty as if to say, “You’re supposed to pass those to me.”

Is it wrong for me to be John Erskin’s biggest fan? I thought he did really well, even getting his mitt in Jagr’s face and messed up his make-up during a scrum. Donald Brashear actually got into a fight (‘bout time), and Shaone Morrisonn did a pretty good job on Jagr keeping him to three shots.

Caps face the Panthers on Monday, and hopefully they can carry this win to Sunrise. Like I have said before, divisional points are so important in the new NHL. If the Caps are serious about making the post season, they have to start beating their rivals.

Powerless Play

Part of the Capitals offensive troubles has to do with a poor power play. The Caps have 13 power play goals out of 77 chances (15th in the NHL). By comparison both the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers are rated higher (both teams have a losing record).

The Caps sometimes are sometimes too selfish with the puck. Both Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin have both taken bad shots from the outside. The power play unit is just not moving the puck. In their game against the 'Canes, the Caps just couldn't get anything inside and the penalty killers were able to keep the puck outside. Cam Ward had some easy saves.

Maybe the Capitals can practice that power play when they take the ice this morning at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex for their morning skate. Adorned atop the Ballston Commons Mall's parking garage, the Caps will practice their preskate before the Rangers game at the Verizon Center (although with the size of crowds at the phone booth, they could play at the Iceplex).

In other NHL News:
  • The Anaheim Ducks finally suffered their first regulation loss versus the Flames. The Ducks were able to score a point in their first 16 games, a record. But Miikka Kiprusoff shut them out to kill that streak. You can take the "Mighty" out of the Duck, but you can't take the "Mighty" out of their play.
  • Patrick Roy, Dickie Duff, Herb Brooks and Harley Hotchkiss are all being inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame. has a nice piece about Roy and his accomplishments.
  • 37 players make their ballot debuts for the 2007 NHL All Star game. Alex Ovechkin is among them on the ballot. Voting begins November 15th, the All Star game will be in Dallas on January 24.

Caps play the Rangers tonight at the Verizon. Go Caps!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hurricanes Blow Caps Away

Capitals 0, Hurricanes 5
ScoresheetWash PostNewsOb

The Capitals just got out-worked, out-played and out-skated. The Caps just didn’t make the plays to keep them in the game, and Brent Johnson, a surprise starter in net, did all he could to keep the Caps in shooting distance. They picked an awful time to lose their offense.

Besides the lopsided score, I actually thought the Caps played okay. A key goal at the end of the first or early in the second could have turned this game around for the Caps, but Cam Ward was dynamite in net earning his first regular season shut-out.

Caps just didn’t generate much offense, their passes seemed errant, their play seemed erratic and when they were forced to take chances late that open the score for the Hurricanes. As much as I want to hate Eric Cole, I love this guy. He is fast and plays extremely hard. Cole sported the hat-trick with some nice goals. The Hurricanes are finding their winning ways again.

Overall Grade: D+

The Caps must learn from this loss to learn about consistency. It’s something they are severely lacking. It almost seemed as if the Caps were waiting for someone to get that first goal. Although Alex Ovechkin is a team leader, he cannot do it in a vacuum.

John “I dropped Andrew Ladd like a ton of bricks” Erskin played a great game. His hits were timely, and he had great intuition on defense. Erskin fit right in after playing a few in Hershey. He filled in for a injured defense core.

Caps also need to stay out of the penalty box. Even though their penalty kill is getting the job done, they must play more focused games. Caps look to revenge a season opening loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday. They have to put together a better team effort if they wish to do so at the phone booth.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No Puckhead

Not thinking clearly, I finished my Caps/Thrashers thread with hopes of getting to the Philly game tonight. Little did I realize that I was on a plane today and not only can I not post, but I won't see any of the game. That is what happens when life gets in the way of running a blog.

So since there is no hope of getting a post out for the next few days, here are a few that I am sure can pick up the slack:

Japer's Rink
Caps Nut
On Frozen Blog
Off Wing Opinion
And of course SESO

Last time I left the confines of the couch the Caps spanked the Aves at the Pepsi Center and Hitchcock and Clarke said bye bye in Philly. So I figure it's a good thing I am out of town for the next couple of games.

Remember to Vote November 7th. Be safe and I will see you Thursday (I hope).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Caps Fall Apart

Capitals 3, Thrashers 4
ScoresheetWash Post - AJC

This has been one of the better starts for the Capitals I have seen this year. But, it was sloppy second and third periods that gave the Atlanta Thrashers life and the win. The Caps just couldn’t recover. The Thrashers answered every goal, and then one more.

The sooner the Caps realize that there are 3 periods in a game, the sooner they will start closing out games. They always seem to stop skating with a lead, and tonight was no exception. What they did in Calgary is now wiped out by this poor loss at home. If the Caps play every game like they were on the road, the better off they will be (with the crowds that are at the Verizon Center it shouldn’t be too hard to imagine).

Olaf Kolzig didn’t look too happy in net. He watched the Caps self destruct in front of him, and there wasn’t much he could do. If looks could kill, a lot of the Caps D-men would be hitting the deck. Ben Clymer was a -2 in this game.

Overall Grade: 1st Period: A, Rest of game: D+

The Caps were out muscled in this game. The Thrash looked like they were just wearing down the Capital forwards. They just looked manhandled in the second and third. There was just no fire in the Caps belly when they get down.

Dainius Zubrus was clearly the best player on the Caps side, scoring two goals and nearly getting the hattrick. Alex Ovechkin had two assists and Chris Clark had a pretty shorthanded goal. Too bad it was all for not.

The game went ugly late as Jon Sim “accidentally” tripped up Ovie with a knee on knee check while Ovie was heading to the bench. I thought the whole reason to get Donald Brashear was so this kind of hanky panky would not go on concerning Ovie. Again there doesn’t seem any urgency for the Caps to do anything but just let the other team hit them.

Caps don’t have much time to sulk after this horrendous game. They jump a bus to Philadelphia where the Flyers look to turn their season around with the visiting Caps. Brett Johnson will probably get the nod in net, I am sure the steaming Kolzig needs a night off.