Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Novotny Settles In

Wash Post's Tarik got a good look at the Capitals newest addition, Jiri Novotny. He will be number 13 when he hits the ice against the Lightning Thursday night. Glen Hanlon set him up on a line with Brooks Laich and Thomas Fleischmann.

As lines jumbled with the recent departures and injuries the likely line ups will be:

Line 1: Ovechkin-Beech-Semin
Line 2: Pettinger-Gordon-Bradley
Line 3: Fleischmann-Novotny-Laich
Line 4: Brashear-Sutherby-Clymer

What concerns me the most about Novotny is his dedication. After being traded from a contender to a rebuilding team, will that drive Novotny enough to play well? I guess we will see Thrusday night.

Caps Battle Back, Lose In SO

Capitals 5, Panthers 6 OT/SO (0-2)
ScoresheetWash Post

I expected the Caps to be a little shell shocked after the trade deadline. But the Caps came out flat. That could have been the story. But the Caps fought back and in the end, the game got pretty entertaining.

The Capitals have lost three major players. They are players who were in that locker room for many games, the ones who were talking between periods, encouraging their teammates. That is something that is missed, but easily fixed. I expected the Caps to be a little off when they looked at those empty spots in the locker room.

In all fairness, the Panthers were in the same boat in a way. They had lost Gary Roberts, a respected voice in that locker room. They had a day to get over it, the Caps’ axe dropped right around noon. They also lost Todd Bertuzzi, but he was injured for most the season, sort of like Richard Zednik for the Caps, not a big loss.

Brent Johnson was shakey, and sat after only playing the first period. Fredric Cassivi had his chance in net and did well. Bryan Muir was back in the line up after a broken foot has healed. Donald Brashear spent some time on the top line, taking over Dainius Zubrus spot (yea I said Donald Brashear). Alex Ovechkin snaps out of his scoring slump scoring 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists) and received the number one star.

The Caps battled hard in this game, and several times it looked as if they were going to pull out the win. Ovie said it right after the game: “I still think we have a great team. It doesn't matter who we lost or who comes here.” Get use to saying that a lot.

Whatever funk the Capitals are in, they have to shake out of it in a hurry when they face the Tampa Bay Lightning who are on fire of late. If the Caps wish to win they have to out work the Lightning.

If you still have a trade hangover and need a fix, check out Japer's Rink where he has quotes. I want quotes.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Caps Drop A Couple Z's

Dainius Zubrus is a Sabre and the Capitals send a defense prospect for rookie forward Jiri Novotny and a first round pick. One of the more quiet trades on trade day the Caps move a few large payrolls off their roster. GMGM just didn’t want to sign Zubie to a five year deal. Novotny is still recovering from a sprained ankle.

Caps also moved Timo Helbling for a frist round pick from the Sabres. Helbling only played two games for the Caps this year. He is considered a top defensive prospect and the Capitals get a first round draft pick in the up coming draft.

Jamie Heward was also moved today to Los Angeles for a fifth round pick. Capitals lose an experienced defenseman for a deep pick. I would have thought the Caps could get more for Heward.

I thought Zubie was going west, but here is a chance for the forward to do very well with a fast and fluid team. For Zubrus this is a good trade, for the Capitals, eh. Novotny is a very good rookie, considered a playmaker, but will not fill the void left by Zubrus.

What the Capitals really wanted was the first round draft pick, and they let Zubie and a defenseman go for it. Novotny was just icing. With a lot of big names being moved today, this one just sort of was a side note. Zubrus should add some consistency to the Sabres’ lineup. Caps also dealt Richard Zednik to the Islanders for a second round pick.

Other Resources:
Capitals Press Release
Japers Rink
Capitals Insider - Wash Post

Pack Up And Get Out!

And when you get there call me.

Caps lose Richard Zednik to the Islanders for a second round draft pick. We could have weaseled a first rounder somewhere, but George McPhee settled for a second round pick. No player in return either. The Zed-heads never came back when the Caps reacquired the speedy winger, just as well.

Also lost Lawrence Nycholat to Ottawa for Andy Hedlund and a sixth round pick. Hedlund was promptly sent to assigned to Hershey. Nycholat fetched a player and a pick for the Caps, nice work. Although, I would have like to see Nycholat start for the Caps. With Hedlund you get a 6'2”, 216-pound native of Osseo, Minn., the Capitals exchange speed for size and a draft pick.

I waited as long as I could for a Dainius Zubrus, but looks like that won’t happen until tomorrow if it ever does. McPhee and Zubie are at odds on the length of contract although both sides talked last night. Wash Post has more on that.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Devils End Caps' One Game Winning Streak

Capitals 2, Devils 3
ScoresheetWash Post

Alex Ovechkin’s shot not only hit Devils’ goaltender Scott Clemmensen’s mask bending it, but it also landed in the net. It tied the game at two, but the Caps couldn’t pull this win out. In a rather yawnish game, the Capitals drop another game as their season slowly slips away.

“I've been hit in the mask a lot. The cage will bend, it takes the velocity off the puck and it will drop in front of you,” Clemmensen said. “I can't believe it hit me, bent my cage and went in. It had to have been a really hard shot.” Indeed.

Ovechkin, who had only scored once in the last ten games, was obviously relieved. “I got it in, finally,” he said. Ovie goal was not enough for the Caps to win. They have struggled since the All Star break.

Caps played an okay game today against the Devils, but just couldn’t find that lucky bounce. The Caps have to create their opportunities themselves, but more and more it’s seems they would rather sit back on their heels and wait for something to happen. When the Capitals play an aggressive style, they score. That style however takes confidence that the Caps seem to lack.

Brent Johnson has been doing a good job in net, even getting the third star in this game. With more games under his belt, the better he will get. Brent stopped 26 out of 29 including a few acrobatic saves that wowed the skinny crowd. Not many showed up for the game due to a bad winter storm (and by bad I mean the fact that there is a presence of snow, DC commuters become the world’s worst drivers).

Caps face the Panthers next, and need a win badly against the team that right in front of them in the standings in the southeast division. A loss and the risk ending this season dead last in their division for a third straight season.

Also via the Washington Post:
“McPhee has expressed interest in signing [Dainius] Zubrus and [Richard] Zednik to extensions, but time is running out, he acknowledged. The contract talks with Zubrus's agent, in fact, have slowed to a standstill.” It doesn’t sound very good for Zubie.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Caps Steal One From Devils

Capitals 4, Devils 2
ScoresheetWash Post

Go figure. I complain that the Capitals can’t be a team like the New Jersey Devils, and the Caps play the trap better than their foes. The Caps were patient and opportunistic. The result is a break in a five game losing streak.

Alex Ovechkin didn’t score, but did get a secondary assist and looked a little more rejuvenated in this game. Alex Semin, Matt Pettinger and Thomas Fleischmann (his first NHL goal) all scored on breakaways on Marty Broduer. Milan Jurcina scored on a deflected shot from the point. Joe Beninati wanted that puck to touch off Ovechkin who was in front of the Devils net, but looked more like it went off the Devils’ defensemen and Jurcina was awarded the goal.

The Devils did seem asleep for the first two periods of this game, but they picked it up late. The Caps weathered the storm, even making things pretty exciting at the end with the Devils pressuring. Cam Janssen had himself quite a game for the Devils scoring his first NHL goal and getting in a fight with Caps tough guy John Erskine. This kid has some fire in him.

Caps need to repeat their performance as they face off against the Devils again 24 hours after their opening face off in NJ. The Devils will be trying to avenge their home loss by coming out tough against the Capitals. The Caps need to continue to play well.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Capitals Win First Period

Capitals 2, Sharks 3 OT/SO(1-2)
ScoresheetWash PostMercury

Too bad they thought that one period was enough. I am speechless. One of the best starts of the year, the Caps jump out to a two goal lead, and just stopped playing. Quotes:

“Long term I think it makes you stronger, I think it makes you delve into what makes you play well. There are very few players in the NHL that go from start to finish in their careers without a little bit of a stall, especially offensive guys.” – Glen Hanlon on Alex Ovechkin’s slump.

“We've been struggling of late, so it was nice to see that when we got behind the eight ball there, we showed a lot of guts coming back. We stuck with
it and got two points, and that's huge for us right now” – Sharks’ Scott Hannan.

“I want to score goals. We're disappointed. We play against a great team, and we can't win. The second penalty in the third period was a killer for us.” – Ovechkin.

“All he needed was to stop one and feel good about himself.” – Sharks’ head coach Ron Wilson speaking about his goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.

“We're playing better. But we're not getting the wins. We're just falling
a goal short.” – Brent Johnson.

“Shootouts are always a roll of the dice.” – Nabokov (not against the Capitals this season, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion).

“We're a pretty positive group. Focus on the positives. We keep on trying to emphasize the things that we do well. We keep on correcting mistakes. It's a group that works hard. They've got great leadership in there.” – Glen Hanlon.

The Capitals are not the New Jersey Devils, you can’t expect them to get an early lead and play defense for the rest of the game. I have a feeling that the “trap” defense is going to be a killer for the Capitals.

When you play the trap, it does not allow your offensive players to do what they do, because they cannot be out of position, ever. Ovechkin’s best goals came from when he wasn’t necessarily playing the trap. Ovie needs to be Ovie, not a defender.

Olaf Kolzig may be out for the season. In an interview with Comcast Sportsnet, the Caps’ net minder mentioned that if the Caps were in the hunt for the playoffs, he would be there in net 100%. But it wasn’t worth re-injuring his knee in the last two weeks of the season for games that don’t mean anything. Uh-oh.

Speaking of the Devils, Caps play the trap-masters themselves in a home and home stretch this weekend.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Dropping Another One

Capitals 3, Montreal 5
ScoresheetWash Post

Certain phrases were coming to mind as I was watching the Caps struggle through the first period. “Rock Bottom”, “Hitting the Wall”, “Goodbye Playoffs”, “Un-special Teams”. It was one of those periods you just want to forget, and the Caps seemed to do so with 2 big goals in the second. But it was too little, too late.

Alex Ovechkin has hit a wall, it’s called NHL goaltenders who seemed to wise up to Ovie’s quick shots off the wing. All of the All-Star forward’s goals seem to be rebound goals or wide open net tallies. I am wondering if that banana blade of his is really helping. When the Caps have won this season Ovechkin is a +20, when they lose he is -35.

Alex Semin took a few shifts in Ovie’s spot, lined up with Chris Clark and Dainius Zubrus on more than a couple of occasions. There were a lot of line shake-ups for the Caps, nothing much seemed to work. Jamie Heward had quite a game with a goal and two assists.

The Capitals’ special teams suck. I mean that is the only thing you can say about it. The Caps couldn’t keep the Canadiens from scoring on their power plays and they couldn’t get anything going on any the power play, except for one.

Caps play San Jose next. Let the trade grinder roll, the Capitals are sellers.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Stupid Pierre

I think I got called out for calling Pierre McGuire a Pens sympathizer. Not that I really hate Pierre (although he has not invited me over for afternoon tea as of yet), I just decided to rant about it on my blog because my wife didn't want to hear it. I am sure he is a nice guy (to his mother).

Pierre did give the Caps some credit during the game. He said some nice things and I think the fact that there was glass between him and the Washington Bench and none on the Pens side, he was a little more in the know about what Pittsburgh was doing. Just once I would like to see a player give Pierre a little tap during play during a shift change. I mean he is right there.

A lot of trade talk has been swirling around and the Wash Post confirmed that Dainius Zubrus was in danger of being traded. Although I would hate for that to happen, it wouldn't be the worst thing the Caps could have done (i.e. signing Jagr). The Caps could ship the forward as a rental to a Cup running team and resign him over the summer. Just like Peter Bondra.

One thing is for sure, the Caps may resign to the fact that the Playoffs is too far out of reach by the time the trade deadline rears it's ugly head (Feb. 27). That means all eyes look at the NHL Draft and Nicklas Backstrum's arrival in DC.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

It's The Pitts For The Caps

Capitals 2, Penguins 3
ScoresheetWash Post

I hate Pierre McGuire. You think he wanted to open mouth kiss Sid “the Kid” Crosby while reporting from next to the Penguins bench. It was the Pittsburgh Penguin show, it hardly mattered that the Caps were there at all. They were just another team the Penguins beat.

The Capitals deserved this loss. How can the Caps put up an aggressive forecheck that kept the Penguins deep in their zone for nearly two minutes and not score? Even after the Caps had the advantage of a change and exhausted Penguin defenders, all they could muster was a shot or two.

The Penguins nearly gave this win to the Caps, playing passively. They allowed the Washington squad to play more physical. But the Caps couldn’t do the one thing that has plagued them of late, score.

There is just no offense to this team right now. Alex Ovechkin has one goal in the past seven games. I can’t remember the last time I heard a name other than Alex Semin and Ovie getting a big goal for the Caps. Philadelphia could pass the Caps in the standings leaving them in last place in the east. That could mean last place in the league as well.

Clearly the Caps have no confidence and I can’t imagine the mood in the locker room is very jovial. No need to try and find ways getting more butts in the seats at the Verizon Center, because right now, the Caps are not worth it.

Caps face Montreal next. My bet is the slumping Canadiens extend their winning streak to two.

Comparing Caps & Pens - Trade Talk

There have been a lot of comparisons of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. Although it’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges, many could consider that these two teams were in the same situation a year ago. Both had a superstar rookies, both had disappointed endings to their seasons, and both were looking to their prospects to carry the flag next season.

But the Pens find themselves not only fighting for a spot in the playoffs, but looking for home ice advantage. And the Caps? Playoff hopes are another season away, again.

Where did the Pens go right, and the Caps go wrong? It’s an unfair question, but one just has to go to the Verizon Center and hear that question come out of the mouths of loyal season ticket holders. I have no idea why they ask me either.

The Penguins have seen their young players develop quickly. Jordan Staal, Evgeni Malkin and others have added goal support for Sid “the Kid” Crosby. With some veteran leadership and a good goaltending, the Pens are currently 4th in the standings and knocking on that playoff door.

The Caps have only seen two players put up numbers, Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin. All this offensive “power” and the Caps can’t seem to get anyone but the Alexes to score? The Caps other prospects like Jakub Klepis and Brooks Laich turned in so-so performances this year.

The Caps have only five players with 20 or more points, while the Pens have 8 including rookies Staal and Malkin. Third and fourth line scoring for the Caps nearly doesn’t exist while for the Penguins, every line contributes. Goal support for the star players keeps the pressure of scoring clutch goals every game down to a minimum. With out it, star players take unneeded risks, do too much on their own and can be easily defended.

The Penguins have a hot goaltender too. Marc-Andre Fleury is 29-12-7 with a 2.85 goals against average. Olaf Kolzig’s numbers are less impressive, 19-19-5 and a 3.06 GAA. You could argue shots at the netminders are the reason for this gap. Okay, let’s look; Fleury has faced 1432 shots, Kolzig 1487. Not much difference. Although goaltending may not be the key, the Pens in the last 4 games have let in 17 goals but scored 21. The Caps have allowed 14 goals in their last 4, scoring 10.

Comparing the two teams is a bit unfair, because both are very different. But what are the Penguins doing right, that the Caps aren’t? Both have loaded up on young talent in a rebuilding effort. Both have dumped some of their large salaries in an effort to free cap room. Both have put their futures in young talented players’ hands. And it’s the Penguins that have playoffs in their future while the Caps are making tee times (if the season continues as it is).

It’s obvious the Penguins are getting production from their young players. The Caps aren’t. The Pens are riding their winning streak on the back of a hot goaltender. Kolzig is out with a knee injury. Pittsburgh is getting all the attention. The Caps are struggling to keep fans in the Verizon Center.

George McPhee’s model could be flawed, especially if his prospects turn out to be nothing more than minor league players in NHL sweaters. We all knew that this process wasn’t going to be an overnight success. At the same time, it frustrates Caps fans to see the Penguins enjoy their success off of some hot prospect players. While the Caps struggle nightly to find the back of the net and use the inexperience excuse. Weren’t the Caps supposed to get that kind of effort from their young guys?

Again it’s not fair to compare the two. They have different systems, different players, and different coaches. But with the Caps facing their once divisional foes again on national TV, it certainly brings the question to the fore front. What are the Caps doing wrong?

Trade Talk:

So it may look as if Richard Zednik’s time as a Capital for a second time could be short. The injury plagued forward could be shipped for (you guessed it) a couple of draft picks. He also only signed a one year contract with the club, so he may look for new digs by summertime anyway. It might be better to get something for him.

A new name came up, Dainius Zubrus. Zubie could be a very valuable addition to teams looking for that fast play making forward for their second or third lines and is solid in the face off circle. Zubie could also land a player and a draft pick in a trade. Although it may sound crazy to trade him at this point considering his chemistry with Ovie, someone has to move off that top line to make room for Nicklas Backstrom.

Also worried about maybe being traded could be Steve Emminger. Emminger has a sub-par season from a year ago, and is only so-so actually defending. But he may add some speed to defenses that need a puck moving blue liner.

It is quite obvious though that the Caps won’t trade for any veterans until the summer. Caps won’t want to lose any of the youth they worked so hard obtaining, so signing free agents will be the aim of the McPhee at the 19th hole between tee times.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Caps Lose SO Again, Forsberg Traded

Capitals 2, Lightning 3 OT/SO (0-1)
ScoresheetWash Post

The Caps fought hard in this one, but Vincent Lacavalier and Martin St. Louis were just too much for the Caps to pull out the win in Tampa. Caps had the 1-0 lead, but it only took less than five minutes for Lacavalier to unravel the Olie Kolzig-less Capitals in the second period.

When a team like this is looking for points to make a run for the playoffs, even the third and fourth lines need to pick it up. There was no goal support for Alex Semin or Alex Ovechkin in this one. Only a last minute goal by Dainius Zubrus let the Caps capture at least a point.

Back in the line up are Brian Potheir and John Erskine. You could feel a sense of relief come over DC (or rather the suburbs) to see those guys’ images on their television screens. The Caps did play a good game, just not enough to get two. Having Potheir and Erskine back was a large improvement.

Caps continue to struggle in shootouts too. If Ovie couldn’t buy a goal in the shootout lately, and while the hair cut looked good, it just didn’t help. The Caps are 1 for 6 in the shootout this season (scoring only 3 times while letting in 10).

It’s one of those games that had the possibility of being a great steal for the Caps to win one against a divisional rival, but instead it’s another loss among many for a team that is given no chance to succeed. A game that significance is buried amongst bigger news around the league.

That bigger news maybe that Peter Forsberg is now a Predator. The Flyers’ superstar was shipped to Nashville for two players and two draft picks. There goes holding out hope that maybe the Caps were interested. David (I take the S and the D out of spoiled) Poile, the mastermind of the trade, called it only fair to send Forsberg to a new team after the Flyers experience one of there worst seasons in memory.

Or even Joe Sakic scoring his 600th goal in Calgary. Not only did Sakic reach the landmark with two goals but did it in the Flames' front yard which has been a difficult place for teams to play lately.

Caps face the Penguins on NBC Sunday at 3:30 pm. Don’t hold your breath though, doesn’t look like the Caps have much of a chance on this one. The Caps face a hot Pittsburgh team without Kolzig, or a hot Ovechkin, or much goal support, etc., etc., etc.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kolzig Out

The Capitals are dealt another blow to keep them from reaching the playoffs for this year. Olaf Kolzig hurt his knee during practice today and will be out 3 to 4 weeks (most likely 3). Brent Johnson, who just recovered from an injury, will now be the Caps number 1 goaltender.

Most likely Fredric Cassivi will be called up to back up Johnson. While Johnson has been a capable back up, he has been less than stellar with a 4-7-3 record and a whopping 3.86 goals against average. In his last three starts he allowed 15 goals. Not a shining star on the horizon of the Caps’ season.

But instead of looking at this as a blow, this could be a chance for Johnson to prove the critics wrong. A shake up like this certainly hurts the Capitals psyche about the playoffs, or it could have the opposite affect. They may now have to bear down, and start playing clutch hockey to make a final run at the end of the season. Not just to fight for the playoffs, but also their jobs for next season.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Luck Not Enough

Capitals 2, Rangers 5
ScoresheetWash Post

Shaone Morrisonn played one of the best defensive games of his career against the very volatile Jaromir Jagr. Too bad he was the only Capital that showed up. The Caps took some very bad penalties and paid for them. This was a case of the Caps shooting themselves in the foot and dropping another game at home.

Alex Ovechkin gets a lucky bounce to score on the powerplay tying the game in the first. Chris Clark beat Henrik Lundqvist with a pretty back hand that tied the game again in the second. After that the Caps just didn’t put any more pressure on the Rangers and got into penalty troubles. That is all the Rangers needed, and the Caps just crumbled in the third. The Caps ability to score even strength hurt them in the end.

The prospect of making the post season is slowly fading for the Capitals. If they can’t beat a playoff bound team like the Rangers at home, it doesn’t seem very likely that they can make up the points to finish anywhere but either 4th or last in the Southeast Division. Now that it looks more and more like management will likely do nothing close to the trade deadline, it looks like the Caps are on their own to make the season end on a high note.

Morrisonn kept Jagr in check all game, but many others seemed to miss their assignments when Jagr had the puck. That gave the Ranger forward the ability to draw 2 or 3 Capitals off of their normal duties and gave Jagr his three assists. If the Caps stuck to their man, and let Morrisonn work, I doubt Jagr could get a clean shot or an open man.

Caps face division foes Tampa Bay on Feb. 15th at the St. Pete Times forum. It’s another opportunity for the Capitals to take points away from a rival and a step closer to finishing up on that high note.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Caps Squeeze By Kings

Capitals 4, Kings 3 OT
ScoresheetWash PostLA Times

The Capitals squeezed by the Kings, and I mean squeezed by. Mathieu Garon looked shaky in net and the Caps took advantage of some goaltending missed plays. Garon cost the Kings this game, the Caps were just beneficiaries.

Scoring for the Caps were Dainius Zubrus (the game winner), Boyd Gordon (short-handed slapper that handcuffed Garon), Chris Clark (a trickler), and Ben Clymer (an actual goal, nice one too). Brian Sutherby had an awesome chance to score as well, but couldn’t get the puck up over a diving Garon. Sutherby continues to struggle this year and that is a large disappointment from his play a year ago. Alex Ovechkin got an assist to end his point dought (was also a +3).

The Caps looked okay in this one, not a real force to be reckoned with though. As happy they must be to get the win, the Caps have to worry about their shots on net and their inability to score on the power play. Special teams, while they looked good earlier in the season, have struggled as of late. The Caps basically set up the same two plays, point to wing, back to point to Ovechkin for the one-timer or let Alex Semin snap if from anywhere he wants to.

What the Capitals can do is to use this win as a stepping off point to gain confidence and start making some points for a campaign for the playoffs. The Caps, however, need to start winning some of these in regulation. The Rangers come to town and that won’t be an easy game for the Caps to win. They will need to play better defense, and find their scoring sticks (rather than the hooking ones) to get another two.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Will Trade Improve Post-season Outlook?

The NHL trade deadline is fast approaching (Feb. 27) and it seem very unlikely the Caps will move anyone or acquire any players. Milan Jurcina was acquired after the Caps lost Brian Potheir to the dreaded injury list, which is filled with nothing but defensemen (John Erskine and Bryan Muir are also out), has tons of potential, but no experience.

If the Caps did make that trade to beef up their lines, would you want another defenseman, or are you looking for more offensive power? The Capitals do need more experience on the blue line, but also need something to bring some consistency on offense as well. I don’t believe the Caps will do anything if it isn’t for a top prospect or a draft pick, which is a disappointing outlook for this team to round out the rest of this year.

But who would the Caps move, who isn’t getting the job done and is expendable? Certianly some thought in to moving the likes of Jakub Klepis after he has shown very little improvement through the course of this year. Klepis has been touted as an exceptional play maker, but Klepis has made only 2 assists in the last 17 games, forcing management to scratch him from the lineup. Or is there another player that has failed to meet expectations that may be let go of?

Right now, the way I see it, GMGM may have a plan in place to do just that: stay in place. It does not seem very likely GMGM will get very much in return if he did do a deal with what he has. This leaves the rest of this team to scrape for points with little help from management, for this season anyway.

The Caps know how important it is to start accumulating points if they are ever going to taste the playoffs this year. However, the higher ups maybe throwing the towel in on that idea if they let the trade deadline go without improving the team’s makeup.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Ovechkin Pointless In Three

Capitals 2, Bruins 3 OT/SO (1-2)
ScoresheetWash Post

The Capitals fall into penalty trouble late from an unlikely source. Alex Ovechkin, called for delay of game when he threw the puck over the boards into the crowd. Ovie called it the worst game of his life. Zdeno Chara may have had something to do with that, who was always out on the ice when Ovie was and did a fantastic job of keeping the all star forward to two shots and no points.

The Caps again found themselves in a tight game with the Boston boys. Even though we have heard different names scoring (Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr), the Caps are still falling short on getting second and third line scoring. And watching missed opportunity after missed opportunity is getting harder to watch.

Milan Jurcina has been doing a good job in a Caps sweater. Since being acquired from the Bruins, Jurcina played a solid game even saving a goal in the third by getting a kick save of his own. In the last three games he has been a +1 with 10 shots on goal.

Olaf Kolzig had another spectacular night, except for shoot out where Patrice Bergeron still has Olie’s number. Even so, Olie played another solid game, making difficult saves look easy. Kolzig has been the only bright spot for the Caps in the last two games.

The Bruins win the season series after winning all three games in overtime or shootout. The Caps get a chance to steal a game away on the ides of March against the Bruins in Boston. Caps will play LA Thursday at home next. The Kings have already decided their fate for the season, unloading their rosters in hopes of rebuilding the Kings for next season.

Caps get a point as a consolation, but need to start putting more 2 pointers up on the board and protect their home ice. The Caps may look back on this game as a disappointment, but they need to start pushing those close games over to their advantage.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Caps End Losing Streak

Capitals 2, Islanders 1 OT/SO (1-0)
ScoresheetWash Post

Olaf Kolzig wasn’t very happy about his performance against the Penguins, and he certainly played one of his worst games in memory against the Panthers a game before that. But Kolzig made good on this one stopping 31 shots and stopping three very big ones in the shoot-out.

Matt Pettinger scored the lone goal for the Caps to give them an early first period lead, Alex Semin scored the only shoot-out goal and the Caps start their home stand on a good note. The Capitals power play is still struggling going 0 for four, but the penalty kill was perfect killing all of the Islanders 5 power plays. Alex Ovechkin was shut out for the second straight game.

The Caps didn’t change their game much from the Pens game, and it turned out to be a better effort today. The Caps jump the Panthers after briefly standing in last place in the Southeastern division. If they hope to make the playoffs, the Caps have to make the Verizon Center a very uncomfortable place for visiting teams, right now that isn’t the case (13-11-3).

It was scarey to watch the Caps face another shootout, but Semin pacified that fear with an early goal against Rick DiPietro. That is all Kolzig needed as the Islanders just couldn’t slip one past Godzilla. Richard Zednik is playing well too, keeping his feet moving and creating chances with his speed. A job worthy of the game’s second star.

The Caps deal with the Bruins next. A team that features a wicked tall defensemen that the Caps were in the bidding for. Hopefully, secondary scoring and some lucky bounces will put some life back into the Capitals step.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Caps' Season Slipping Away

Capitals 0, Penguins 2
ScoresheetWash Post

It’s going, going… The Capitals “high-powered” offense puts a goose egg against the Penguins and the Caps slip slowly into oblivion, for another year. The Caps had their chances, just too many missed nets, bad passes. It’s not like their trying, but they are not connecting. The Capitals are letting their season get away from them.

It was important for this team to put together some wins after the all star break. But instead the Caps can’t seem to get anything going. Alex Ovechkin’s point streak comes to and end, Olaf Kolzig looks iffy in net and all roads point to the golf course at season’s end.

Don’t throw in the towel you say? No, your right, the Caps can turn things around, but only if things start changing. Alex Semin and Ovechkin need goal support, players like Brian Sutherby (2 points in 17 games), Matt Pettinger (1 goal in 22 games), Ben Clymer (3 goals in 26 games), and Kris Beech (1 goal in 15 games) need to start getting points on the board, or this team is not going anywhere.

Yes there have been injuries, and key personnel out. Richard Zednik is returning from injury, John Erskine and Bryan Muir both recovering from injuries as well. That’s why GMGM (in all his infinite wisdom) went out and fetched Milan Jurcina from Boston.

The Caps are just not clicking, their offense comes out in full force one game, and lays flat the next. If they can work out some sort of consistency out of they forwards, then Caps fans can start looking forward to the playoffs. I just don’t see that happening this year.

Penguins played a great defensive game against the Caps, but the Capitals had opportunities to score. Failure to capitalize is the downfall of this team. Caps come home from a disastrous road trip to face the Islanders in another matinee. They have to start finding the back of the net, or the season slips farther and farther away.