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.