Wednesday, October 31, 2007

XM Capitals Interview

If anyone has XM Satellite Radio on XM Ch. 204, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn and Mike Green will be on the NHL Live show that broadcasts from the Reebok Edge store in NY. The Interview is sometime in the 1pm hour (eastern time).

Update: the Interview went well. Most of the talk was about foreign players getting use to playing in North America. And there was talk about Morrisonn's fight with Vinny Lecavlier. Sounds like they were going to a nice dinner on Holloween night. Hope they had fun.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Night Of Firsts

Capitals 7, Leafs 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Toronto Star

You had the feeling that this team was about to break it open. The frustration over the last couple of games spilled out into a blitz of goals for the Capitals as they smacked the Leafs in Toronto 7-1.

Scoring their first goals of the season were Matt Bradley, Brian Sutherby (who has been a healthy scratch for a while), Jeff Schultz (his first NHL career goal as well), Boyd Gordon and Matt Pettinger. Micheal Nylander added a playmaker (3 assists) and Alex Ovechkin had the two other goals and an assist. Olie Kolzig stopped 32 shots, and looked much better in net this game.

This is a big road win for the Caps. After starting their road trip with a lose to St. Louis, it looked like the team was doing everything right but nothing to show for it. Playing the Leafs - a team that started a little shaky this season - seemed to cure the Caps' ills.

Olie still looks like he is lacking a little confidence right now. He look as if he too far back in the net and not challenging shots. It looks like he is trying to hard to make the big save, when all Olie has to do is be Olie. His goaltending has to continue to improve as the season moves on.

Nick Backstrom is still without a goal, although his assists are starting to pile up. He has been close on several chances, but has yet to get a solid shot on net. Looks like his teammates are helping him out though, every game he is getting a nice feed or two in front of the net. Once Backstrom gets that goal, he may loosen that grip on the stick a lil' bit and gain some confidence.

The Caps seemed to have some of that "killer" in them in this game. Even getting the home crowd to turn on the Leafs. In the Toronto Star:
By the time the third period started, at least one third of the Air Canada Centre was empty and one small section could be heard chanting "Let's Go Raptors!". The NBA season starts Wednesday for Toronto's club.

Now that hurts.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bondra Retires

Peter Bondra is no longer a player. More of a General Manager. As far as the last two games, I will save my angst for the Toronto game.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

That's More Like It

Capitals 5, Lightning 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post - St. Pete Times

Chris Clark may not be very flashy, fast or a sniper. But when you put the Capitals' captain on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Viktor Kozlov, the hard working forward becomes a different player. Clark scored two goals, Ovie netted a goal and had two helpers and Dave Steckel scored his first NHL goal to stop the losing skid at just 4 games.

For the Capitals to end their losing ways and to do it versus a division foe is a big plus. Clark and Ovechkin looked right at home with one another. The chemistry that seemed to be lacking with forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Joe Motzko was there instantly with Clark back on the top line.

Alex Semin was back, but again looked a little behind Micheal Nylander and Nick Backstrom. It will take him a game or two to get back up to speed. Backstrom nearly got his first NHL goal, after a pretty feed to the slot, Backstrom was denied. Dave Steckel got his first NHL goal scoring on a feed from Ovie. Olie Kolzig still looks a little shaky to me, but played well enough to get the game. Brooks Laich also scored giving him his second on the year.

In the third, Shaone Morrisonn got under Vincent Lecavalier's skin and the two scrambled to fight when Morrisonn took an awkward turn and face planted into the ice with his arms behind him. He got a nasty cut, but was soon out to finish the period out. Both Shaone Morrisonn and Milan Jurcina have both been quietly shutting down the opposition's top line. The two have been a wall back there, playing very very well.

The Caps will face an old foe in Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks as they come to town Friday night.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Already On Shaky Ground

There are things about the Capitals' recent play that concern me. A lot of you have been saying, "It's too early to tell," or "It's a marathon not a race." That is true, we still have a long way to go. But how I see it, the Caps are in real trouble.

Let's say the last 7 games were a playoff series. The Caps would have lost the series 3 games to 4. They would have been outscored by a 14 to 19 goal margin and lost their last 4 straight (including two home games). That would have put the Caps on the links. For every seven games the Caps lose 4, they lose.

It was almost a must win against the Penguins with everything in the Caps' favor. They were at home, they had a day off while the Pens played the night before, and they were facing a shaky goaltender up to that point. The fact that they had the fresh legs and still couldn't pull a win out, that concerns me. If the Caps won 3 of every seven games that would be a horrendous record on the season (it would give them 35 wins - 70 points - a record the Capitals have had in the previous two seasons).

If the expectations of this team are to make the playoffs, this is a bad way of doing it. I understand that this team is going to lose games, but how a team responds to a loss is so important. This team has not responded well to their losses, they are not learning from their mistakes to this point. Lucky for them, they have 75 games to make it right. Let's hope they do.

So I will be watching the next series, the next 7 games. The more the Caps can win those stretches the better their record will be. For the success of any team, in any sport, is to win those regular season series. Then in the post season, when the games really count they can draw on the experiences of winning games after mild setbacks.

The Caps have to win their games at home too. A 1-2 record is not something to be proud of. If the Caps can't put the fear in visiting teams at the Verizon Center, then it's going to be a long season.

Fun with Numbers:
-4 Micheal Nylander's plus/minus rating so far this season. Obviously he is not here for his defensive skills.

59.7% Boyd Gordon's face off percentage, not too shabby. But Matt Bradley's is better at a perfect 100%.

37 The number of shots Alex Ovechkin has taken. Nylander, Viktor Kozlov, Matt Pettinger and Tom Poti are all tied for second in that department with 16.

6 Number of games missed by Alex Semin.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

One Flipping Goal

Capitals 1, Penguins 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

There are a couple of things that bothered me about this game at the Mellon Arena, er, I mean the Verizon Center. First of all, why were the Caps wearing their away colors? Let's make the home team feel even more not at home. It was suppose to be a white wash or something like that, what happened to the sea of red for the home game? I don't get it, do one thing. That is it, either have us wear red or white, but don't go back and forth.

Second, where is this high powered offense? One goal against a team that has a soft defense and a shaky goaltender. What the heck is going on here?

The Caps again failed to follow through on the many chances they had to put the puck in the back of the net. Brent Johnson played one of the best games I have seen him play as a Capital and it was to a loss. The Capitals were able to keep another high powered offense to just two tallies, but where are the Caps' goals. Who is putting the puck in the net? Who is out there to help Alex Ovechkin? Brian Pothier scored the Caps lone goal.

The Capitals have now lost 4 in a row including two on home ice. This can't be good. They are heading down the Atlanta route if this continues. Ovechkin was held pointless, Micheal Nylander and Nick Backstrom both had an assist. Among the list of Capitals yet to score a goal this season: Nick Backstrom, Matt Pettinger, Matt Bradley, Chris Clark and David Steckel.

The Caps face Tampa Bay next at home. This will be no easy test, and if the Caps can't fix what's broken, make it 5 losses in a row. Maybe the Caps will at least wear the home sweaters and get one thing right.

Also, we wanted to thank the Penguin fans for selling out the building for the first time in a while. The home town support for the Capitals was less than stellar. Ah, the frustration of being a Capitals fan.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Different Jerseys - Same Team

Capitals 2, Islanders 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Bad penalties and a weak power play. The Capitals may have new jerseys and new faces, but it's the same old story. The New York Islanders waltz into the Verizon Center and beat the Capitals in glorious High Definition. The Caps tried a comeback late in the third, but the Isles were quick to answer and the home town faithful were quick to the exits.

Alex Ovechkin scored a beautiful one timer from Joe Motzko and Tomas Fleischmann stuck in a beautiful feed from Nick Backstrom from behind the net. Besides that, the Caps couldn't score (or get many shots) on the power play and the penalty kill was porous.

Olie Kolzig looked like he might be trying too hard. This entire team seems to be trying to hard to make it work. With three losses I can imagine the tension is going to rise. The one thing I kept thinking watching the game was the Caps really don't have a hitter. It looked like the Islanders had free range.

The Caps need to fix whatever is broke before the Penguins come to town Saturday night. They will be facing a much more powerful offense and the defense has to be ship shape. But they have to be able to score too.

Sid Vs. Ovie

I have a feeling this debate will go on for a while. That debate was featured on as two writers took sides. And while I am bias, I still believe what I have said before. Why can't they both be good. If you don't know what I am talking about - Whose Better? Sid "the Kid" Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin.

It's good for the league to have two superstars it can promote, and the two don't disappoint. While I curse and complain and call Sid "the Kid" names, I do think he is a good hockey player. It's still good for the league to have this debate. Both can be good, both can be spectacular.

Both players have astounded fans, amazed hockey and non-hockey fans both. Who can't forget the goal by Ovie in Phoenix, or the splitting of the defense by the agile Kid. It's a healthy debate. Not like the ones that talk about larger nets, or fighting in hockey, or even steroid scandals. So let's debate. Whose better?

I much more prefer Ovie's tough play. Ovechkin doesn't shy from hits, and has a nose for the net. He is not afraid to throw his weight around. Every time Ovie gets the puck and skates up ice the excitement level in any building builds.

Crosby is a bit too delicate for me. Crosby is pure offense, not a two way player like Ovechkin. He would rather go the long way around a defense, than attack it better on. The Kid also depends on his speed much too often that gets him quickly out of position or too recklessly. Plus I don't believe that he should be a captain.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who Has Time Anymore?

Not me. But Joe Motzko has lots of time apparently to get used to his new digs as a Capital. Tarik did a review of the newest acquisition. The coaching staff was impressed with the right winger and it looks like he may get a few more calls up in the big league.

Alex Semin's ankle doesn't have time to play Thursday. His sore ankle will keep him sidelined. Although if he plays like he did at the home opener it may not matter the forward is back in the line up. Even though he did get some dangerous shots off, Semin's play was a bit lackluster and he looked a little lost on the ice. If he can get open, I am sure Nylander can set up the forward for some great opportunities, that is if he ever gets back on the ice.

What might be scarier than that is Alex Ovechkin is injured. That isn't good. It's undisclosed what his injury is, and I am not about to engage in any kind of rumor about the all-star forward. But if Ovechkin is missing from the line up (he is expected to play Thursday), that bodes bad ju-ju for the Capital's season.

Maryland has plenty of time to build a new stadium to lure the D.C. United out of the District. They could be the College Park United. I can see the new logo now. D.C. isn't going to let the soccer team get away without a fight, but they were the ones that broke off talks about a new stadium along Anacostia. Oooo, that makes for drama.

Looks like the Atlanta Thrashers need to make some time to get better. They again lost and have yet to win a game this season. That makes them 0-6. That makes 10 straight losses if you count the playoff sweep of last season. On the plus side they are the only team with a zero in the win or lose column in the Eastern Conference, so there the only perfect team this season - in a way.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Sabres Drop Caps Like A Bad Habit

Capitals 3, Sabres 7
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Caps were hoping for better on this New York road trip. Instead it was a disaster. After a strong start to the season, the Caps drop two straight with a rout in Buffalo. And the Sabres showed they still had it. The Capitals were badly outshot, outplayed and outwitted.

Glen Hanlon's possession game is turning into a high risk turn over in the neutral zone. The Captials just couldn't get a clean break out going, and it was only a matter of time that the opposing team started putting pressure on the defense. With an exception for a few, the Caps defense are not great at puck handling. Those turn overs killed the Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin added to his goal total with a tally, as did Mike Green and Micheal Nylander. Green's goal came in the third after serving a penalty and snuck behind the Sabre defense. After Buffalo's Ryan Miller hesitated chasing after the puck, Green made him pay with a puck in the back of the net.

There was just a complete breakdown in defensive coverage in this game. Brent Johnson did well considering he faced 53 shots. The Caps only peppered Miller with a meager 23. For what ever reason the Caps' offense just couldn't get it in gear. And the defense broke.

Flashes of two seasons ago haunted my thoughts as I watched the game. It did look as if the Caps were doing the right things, making the right plays. Yet, no win. I am not panicking just yet. It's only the 5 game of the season.

Joe Motzko was called up for the game. I hardly saw him do anything.

Next game: Thursday hosting the Islanders. The Caps need a few days to recover, so they will take tomorrow off (at least that is what the practice schedule says). Then it's back to the grind. The only good thing about the next couple of games will be that the Caps are back at the Phone Booth.

100 Goals And A Loss

Capitals 1, Rangers 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post

There goes the 82 and 0 season. The Caps just looked horrible in this contest. The Rangers took it to the Capitals at MSG and the score could have easily been 5 -1 or 8-1 rather than just 3-1. What hurt the most is the Caps just walked in expecting to win and that didn't happen (surprise). The Rangers were far more prepared than the Caps were.

Alex Ovechkin gets his 100th career NHL goal on a pretty deke and shot over Henrik Lundqvist's glove. It was the only bright moment of the game for the Capitals. Ovie, again, played one of his best games, as did Olie Kolzig - all for not. The rest of the team did not show up. Kolzig kept it close, but in the end it was penalties and sloppy play that caused the Caps first loss of the season.

Scott Gomez got his first goal as a Ranger which makes the home town crowd breath a sigh of relief. Jaromir Jagr was again the number one Cap killer and Lundqvist shut any hopes of a Capital comeback.

The last two games the Caps played, the team was doing a little standing around as the opposing team buzzed. The Capitals have to get back to their hard work roots. The Caps have to stay out of the penalty box and as a result of penalty after penalty the perfect penalty kill was extinguished.

Caps face off with the Sabres tonight. If they have any hopes of winning, they better show up to work. Or Glen Hanlon's going to take out some frustration during practice. Hopefully this loss is the kick in the butt the Caps need to battle the Sabres.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Battle Of The Undefeateds

Capitals 2, Islanders 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Two teams with surprising records faced off in a Columbus Day (Thanksgiving Day in Canada) matinee. It was the Capitals that came out on top even though the Islanders scored first. It wasn't all roses for the Caps, they came out sluggish in the first and got lucky in the second. It was the first game where the Capitals were badly outshot (31 - 12).

Islander Richard Park started the scoring for the Islanders that had a little bit of a jump on the Caps in the first period. Many of the guys were standing around as the Islanders buzzed. But the Caps penalty kill remains perfect on the season and the Caps just outlasted their opponents. And having Olie Kolzig to stop 30 shots doesn't hurt either.

Viktor Kozlov scored his 2nd goal of the season in the second to get the Caps on the board, a rocket that beat Rick DiPietro's glove. Then Brooks Laich got the game winner off a Brain Potheir shot. Laich scooped up the rebound and beat a sprawling DiPietro to score on the open net. A year ago, the Caps would have folded at the pressure the Ilanders put on. But the Caps stuck to their game plan and prevailed.

Just a few observations. It looks like Glen Hanlon is still playing with the lines a bit. There was a time where Micheal Nylander and Alex Ovechkin were on the same line. I didn't think that Laich had a great training camp, but he came up big in this game. John Erskine has a bone to pick with Billy Guerin, the Islanders' captain. The two were at it all game long, with hit after hit, and cheap shot after cheap shot. The two were teammates in Dallas.

Caps will return home for practice then it's a rare trip to New York on a Friday night at MSG.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Injury Bug Strikes Again

As per Tarik, Alex Semin doesn't look like he will be making it to Nassau Colosseum. He may miss more than that if his ankle becomes an issue this season. Semin last night looked as if he was a tad bit behind everyone, even though he had some good quick shots and some room to move.

Which leaves the Nylander/Backstrom line incomplete. To my surprise, I would have thought Nylander would have gotten more top line status with Ovechkin and Kozlov, but Hanlon is sticking to the Swedish tandem. Now it looks as if Matt Bradley is getting the call to the second line.

Another thing I have noticed is that Brian Sutherby is hardly being missed in all this shuffle. He did not play in the last two games, and I am not sure if he is on the roster for the Islander game. Sutherby had a pretty tough season last year, but does that mean the gritty forward sits out as an alternate this season? Appears so.

Home Sweet Home

Capitals 2, Hurricanes 0
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The 'Canes were seeing red. Not just from the new uniforms the Capitals wore for the first time at home or from the many in attendance wearing red, but from the Caps new game. The possession game is working for the Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 99th career goal, Milan Jurcina added the insurance and Olie Kolzig posted the shutout (his career 35th). Now that is what I call domination. This early success has got Caps fans buzzing, but it won't take long for opposing teams to work out a defense against it. But for now it's working and the Caps are a great improvement from last season.

Uncle Ted wasn't in red, sure he had a red tie on. But he was in a dark suit and blue shirt, but no red. I thought that was a bit weird. As far as red goes, I did like the red uniforms on the boys this year. It took a little while to let my eye adjust, but the look was good. Besides if they keep winning, I could care less about what they are wearing.

Ovie played a masterful game once again, the like with Viktor Kozlov and Ovie has been exciting to watch. The Alex Semin, Micheal Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom line could use a little pick me up though. Semin just looked lost out there, also looked about half speed.

Next game is against the Islanders Monday night. The Islanders have been surprisingly tough in there last two contests. The Caps must remain out of the penalty box and continue what ever it is they have been doing so far, because it's working.

10/8 Capitals at Islanders, 2 pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Satellite Radio: XM Ch. 204
Terrestrial Radio: 1500 AM, 107.7 FM and 820 AM

Friday, October 05, 2007

Starting Off On The Good Foot

Capitals 3, Thrashers 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post - AJC

You could feel the nervous anticipation around the beltway. Caps fans turned there televisions to Comcast SportsNet to get the new Capital season started. The Caps started on the road against Division rivals Atlanta Thrashers. It was time to see what the boys could do.

The baby blues have a potent offense that looked a little lackluster in this game. Glen Hanlon's possession game was something to see as it seemed for the entire first period the Capitals had the puck deep in Atlanta's zone. Micheal Nylander scored on the power play in the first and two minutes later John Erskine scored a bomb from the blue line (set up by Ken Klee, wrong team Ken) and like that the Caps were up 2-0.

Viktor Kozlov added a goal in the third and the Caps hold off a late Thrasher surge to spoil the Atlanta's crowd home opener and opened the season impressively. Brent Johnson was good in net. Besides the goal that was shot at an extreme angle by rookie Bryan Little, Johnny was solid in net stopping 28 shots. In fact shots on goal was a lopsided 40-29 in favor of the Caps. Remember last season when that 40 was against the Capitals? I do, and it's nice to see the tables turn.

The new additions were immediatly felt with goals both by Nylander and Kozlov. Alex Ovechkin played one of the best games I have seen him play. Even though he only had an assist, Ovie was back playing defense and was dominating the play when he was on ice. He even got clipped up high on a follow through shot and got a little blood on the uniform (which beaded off - no more blood on the jerseys, say it ain't so).

The Caps played a dominating road game. This is an extremely different team from a year ago. The Capitals look confident and energized. Uncle Ted was right - the rebuild is over.

Here We Go

The Capitals start their season today in Atlanta, then catch a flight home for their home opener (and the debut of the red jerseys) Saturday night against Carolina. Since the off season acquisitions of Micheal Nylander, Tom Poti and Viktor Kozlov, there has been a huge buzz about the Washington Capitals.

It's not just the fans that are impressed with the team's attempt to move from a rebuilding franchise to a competitive one, but many others in the hockey world are taking notice. One thing is for sure - the expectation level for this team far exceeds that of previous years.

For the Capitals to be successful they must find that chemistry level fast. The Capitals have probably the two best trigger men in the league in Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin. Now those acquired have to compliment the dynamic duo. If that chemistry fails, the Caps are looking at an uncomfortable season and lost opportunity.

The Caps must play well against their division rivals. Even though the season schedule will have a different look next year, the Caps still play their rivals 8 times this season. If they have hopes of making the playoffs, they must dominate the Southeast.

I will be watching the line combos for this game since Semin did not make the trip to Atlanta nursing a sore ankle. The anticipation for this game is at it's peak. It's finally time. Drop the puck.

Capitals at Atlanta Thrashers - 7:30 pm
Local TV: Comcast SportsNet
XM Radio: Ch. 207
Terrestrial Radio: 1500 AM, 107.7 FM and 820 AM

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pardon My Absence - Klepis Traded?

It's funny how your priorities change when some one in your family is rushed to the hospital. Don't know when I will post over the next couple of days, but will try for the 3 of you that read this blog (including my mom, hi mom!).

Caps lose their last preseason game where the last two periods were an exercise in DON'T GET HURT. I kind of figured after the first period, the second and third were just formalities.

Ben Clymer wants out. He doesn't want to be here, which could be part of the reason his butt was shipped to Hershey. Expect his trade soon.

Rumor Alert
: Jakub Klepis has been traded/shipped/sent away/packed and no longer apart of the Caps org. Don't know the details, and it is just a rumor, so take at face value.

That is all I got, try to get back on when I can.

Update: I am full of it, apparently. There is no story of Klepis being sent anywhere (other than Hershey).