Thursday, November 29, 2007

Caps Manage A Point

Capitals 1, Panthers 2 OT/SO (3-4)
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Caps faced their first shootout of the season. While they hung in there, they couldn't keep up with the Panthers after 11 rounds. Flashes of the 15 round debacle came to mind against the Rangers, and it was basically the same result. The Caps did not improve on their record and drop a very important game against the surging Florida Panthers.

Chris Clark got the only goal for the Capitals to tie the game at one in the second period. David Steckel had more than one opportunity to bury the puck, but was stoned each time by Tomas Vokoun. Olie Kolzig had a solid game too. It was the story that has plagued the Capitals all season long, the Caps just couldn't score.

Richard Zednik was again a thorn in the side of the Capitals. After sniffing out a rebound, the former Capital had no trouble finding the back of the net against his former team. After that though, I thought the Capitals did a good job of keeping him in check.

Unfortunately the Capitals lost a couple of guys during the course of the game. Both Alex Semin and Chris Clark left early with injuries. Semin reaggrivated his ankle injury and I am not sure what happened to Clark. Although Tarik was told it wasn't serious.

The Capitals have to find some way to get their offense back on track. It's already a long season.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Switch'n It All Up, Again

Again the lines get shook up for the sake of getting every ounce of offense out of this team. Micheal Nylander gets paired with Alex Ovechkin and Chris Clark on the front line. For some fans, that was supposed to be the plan, but both Bruce Boudreau and Glen Hanlon seemed to fight that line up at first.

Nick Backstrom sticks to the fourth line, which I think has helped him. Maybe the pressure is less or he is playing a simple system on this line (the triangle and simple break outs with emphasis on defense), or maybe he doesn't feel he has to do so much with the likes of Alex Semin and Nylander on the same line.

There is talk of Tomas Fleischmann sitting out, I wouldn't be surprised if he is sent down at some point. Flash is just not producing like the coaching staff envisioned. While many are still questioning why Donald Brashear still gets a jersey every night, he has been getting scoring chances. We just need to work on his aim, hit the net Donnie!

In terms of defense, the pairings that worked last year and at the beginning of the season are a thing of the past. I think the most movement that has happened in terms of line changes really has happened on the blue line. Shaone Morrisonn, the most under rated player on this team, has been paired with Mike Green on the first line. It doesn't matter who they line Morrisonn up with, he has turned out great defensive performances. He is always in position and he has a little mean streak in him. Just ask Vincent Lecavalier.

Steve Eminger has been having a tough season so far. He hasn't had the minutes or starts that he would like, but when he does get those starts his play is inconsistent. It's been an up and down season for Eminger who seems to be caught in a catch 22.

Sad Day

I mostly stick to hockey, it's what I know and what I like. But the news out of Redskins' Camp is too hard to ignore. Sean Taylor passed away this morning after being shot in the upper leg. Times like these, it's less about the sport or whose winning and whose losing. Rather it's a time of reflection and realization that our heroes are mortal. They are as human as you or I.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Taylor family and to the Redskin family too. It's a senseless way to go and 24 is too young. It is a sad day to be a Washington sports fan.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Sabres Confound Caps Again

Capitals 1, Sabres 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Not even with new head coach Bruce Boudreau, or Alex Semin actually playing, or an amazing goal by Alex Ovechkin could the Capitals hold off a hot Buffalo Sabre team. Not for lack of chances though.

The Capitals had the Sabres on the ropes more than one occasion but could not score. The Caps could not score - sound familiar? While Boudreau has brought life to the Caps, it's the same problems that haunt this team. Sure it's one loss, no big deal - does that sound familiar too?

Olaf Kolzig did just about everything to keep the Caps within reach, all for not. You could even say that the puck wasn't bouncing the Capitals way - sound familiar?

Now we will see how the Capitals respond. Under Glen Hanlon, this team just didn't respond after a loss. That has to change if they want to save the season. But in the meantime, the Caps just seem to get no love playing Buffalo, either on the ice or in the stands.

The very empty Verizon Center was half filled with Buffalo fans. Don't these people have jobs? They made their presence known by booing every time Ovie touched the puck and it nearly sounded like the home team scored with the reaction the Sabres got in the phone booth.

The Capitals' power play was mortal again as the Caps failed to convert on any of there power play chances, not that the Sabres gave them much time staying out of the box. There were moments that the Capitals had this team pinned in their own zone, but no goals. All that work and not one red light or penalty. Credit the Sabres, they came to play and out worked and out hustled the Capitals when it matter most.

Sutherby Is A Duck

I had a chance last night to catch the Anaheim/LA game, otherwise known as the Freeway Faceoff. It was the third game Brian Sutherby had started for the Ducks and he never looked better. Last night even though he didn't get on the score sheet, his line looked very dominant. He settled on a line that included Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. It seems Sutherby looks right at home in black, gold and orange.

You can also get some reaction Sutherby had to the trade and his new team from that link. I am sure he will feel right at home with an aggressive physical team like the Ducks.

Closer to home, the timing might be right for a Capital resurgence. The Atlanta Thrashers coming off a hot streak have now dropped two in a row, including a blow out in Pittsburgh. The Carolina 'Canes have lost 3 of their last 5 and the Tampa Bay Lightning have cooled a bit losing their last 4. In the Southeast, it looks as if a tide is slowly turning. Both the Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals have winning streaks to their credit going into tonight. The future seems a little brighter for the Caps with every win.

Caps look to avenge their worst loss of the season against the Buffalo Sabres tonight. The Caps have two things going for them in this contest. One, they are at home and two, their special teams are coming around. Not to mention Alex Semin will be in uniform for this one.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Getting Back on Track

Capitals 5, Hurricanes 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The most important stat of the night: Capitals went 3 for 4 on the power play and the 'Canes were 0 for 3 on their power play. This was what Capitals fans were expecting from the very beginning. The Caps were supposed to have a dangerous power play and our penalty kill was to be the toughest on the league. It was a design that was suppose to have the Capitals in the playoff hunt, not scraping the bottom of the NHL barrel with a league worst record.

Not to say that the Caps have reached the pinnacle of perfection, far from it. But getting two wins back to back is a start. Alex Ovechkin looked as dangerous as ever scoring two goals, his 15th and 16th markers on the season. Micheal Nylander was a force in this game getting a goal and two assists. Also scoring for the Caps were Mike Green (second straight game were Green scored on the powerplay) and Boyd Gordon (on a empty netter and short handed).

The Caps were able to hold off a late game surge. For a good five minutes it look as if the Caps were once again squander a lead in the third. But with some good defense, good goaltending and a little bit of luck (the washed out Justin Williams goal that would have made it a one goal game with under a minute left in the game) the Capitals were able to hold off the attack.

The "Don't think, just play" mantra new head coach Bruce Boudreau laid on the Capitals have certainly loosened them up. For the Capitals turn their season around they still have to put together 5 to 6 game winning streaks just to pull with in .500 on the season. Boudreau may have just taken the cloud of expectation off the Caps' block, but now is the time to make up for lost time. It won't take long for those expectations to return with every win and non win.

For now, this is a good win. Even the many in attendance found it in themselves to give this team a standing ovation at the end of the first and of course at the end of the game. And for the moment GM George McPhee is starting to look like a genius agian. For the moment.

Big Win For Boudreau

Capitals 4, Flyers 3 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post

I have to first apologize to the three people that read my blog, (my mom being one of them - Hi mom!). To be honest with you I was dragged into the craziness that is Black Friday and spent most of the day shopping with my wife, so I did not see the game against the Flyers. I tried to tape it but apparently my VCR (yes I said VCR) has a mind of its own. Instead of seeing a thriller of a game, I can only go off the writings of Tarik, the rantings of Joe Reekie and the meager highlights on Comcast SportsNet.

Happy Belated Birthday to Nick Backstrom and what a game he had. Two assists and the game winning overtime goal. The Caps quickly took it to the Flyers amassing a 3 goal lead only to blow it late. What Bruce Boudreau has done is to quicken the offense. Faster shots, hit the net and you will eventually score. There was a turn around, but as I expected, the same problems still exist.

The Caps were still taking bad penalties, and giving up the easy play. But so many things went right for the Caps that it seemed destined that they should finish it. And on the road too. Backstrom finally broke out of his little slump and seems to see the ice much better now. The defensemen are starting to get points. The jump in their step needs to continue with Carolina in the V house tonight.

As far as Broudreau, it's a good first start. An offensive minded coach, you can bet that the Caps will be looking to score even more as the season progresses. As far as Hanlon being let go during Thanksgiving, I thought it was a bit harsh when there were better opportunities for them to do it earlier. Hanlon was a good coach, who I think deserved better.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hanlon Out, Boudreau In

Why does this always happen when I am as far away from my computer as possible? Glen Hanlon has been axed. Happy Thanksgiving Caps fans, you got your wish. GM George McPhee decided he liked his job too much to go down with Hanlon, hence the change.

Bruce Boudreau (of Hershey Bears fame) takes the reigns. His job, to turn this team around. This had to happen. Not the Glen Hanlon is a bad guy, he did this team a great service. What he did with what he had over the last two years was nothing short of a miracle. He took a rookie team and made them a hard working competitive organization.

However, the team struggled out the gate this season. It got to the point that the players, of no fault of their own, just stop listening. A team that losses like this just turns numb to Hanlon's call. Hanlon can no longer coach effectively in an atmosphere like that.

Bruce Boudreau, besides having a cool hockey name, is no slouch either. There was concern in some circles that he wouldn't stay in Hershey long. That the NHL would come calling for him, and the Caps organization would take the hit if he left. Lucky for management (unlucky for Hanlon), the opportunity to keep Broudreau in the organization now has him leading his own NHL team.

While the interim is still attached to his head coaching job, I wouldn't be surprised that he would inherit the job depending on how the season goes. Maybe this is just what the Capitals needed, some fresh perspective. What Broudreu brings is a championship and that is worth it's weight in gold.

So for the moment, George McPhee succeeds in keeping his job, and replacing the coach without touching the back of the bench. Although Hanlon has been relieved, the rest of the staff are still employed. No word if that will change as of yet. The Caps face Philly tomorrow night. I don't imagine a dramatic turn around, but the team should respond in some way. I am going to hold judgement on this move until I watch the game. Until then, this is just appeasing a very large fan base.

For more coverage:
Capitals Insider
Japers Rink
In the Room

Now if you excuse me, I am going to help myself to turkey seconds!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Good-Bye Playoffs

Capitals 1, Thrashers 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post - AJC

This team is done, they aren't going to be playoff contenders. There is no longer any talk of making the post season, talks are now about just getting a win. The Capitals aren't moving their feet, they are not scoring and they are not winning. That is the bottom line.

The "Fire Hanlon" jeers filled the Verizon Center late in the second and carried over into the third, and fans trickled out with seven minutes left. Even the television commentators were doing wrap ups of the game with just under six minutes left in the game.

Just like the laundry that piles in the corner of my bedroom, it's not the single shirt or single pair of pants that make the laundry pile stink. It's the whole pile of clothes that keep adding up that makes the mess. It's roughly the same for the Capitals. Each game itself sometimes doesn't seem that bad, but the accumulations of the losses is making quite the stinky mess that has my wife throw scorn looks my way. Clearly the laundry has to be taken to the cleaners, make what ever connection to the coaching/management staff you want.

Alex Ovechkin scored on a power play chance to give the Capitals a one goal lead, after that it was 5 unanswered goals by the Atlanta Thrashers. The players on the bench are clearly not into the game. They are doing just the minimum, doing what the coach is telling them to do, but there is no extra sacrifice being made by players other than Ovechkin and a few (very few) others.

The Capitals had the same chances to score the Thrashers had. Atlanta took advantage of theirs, the Capitals didn't. There was no jump in their play. The Caps looked beyond lost on the ice on more than one occasion and there just was no connection, no chemistry. It lead to a lot of standing around and watching the play.

Why are the Caps not pulling players from Hershey? Why is McPhee and Hanlon staying with the same roster, just line juggling? Where is Steve Eminger? Where is Ben Clymer? Why are these players still on the sidelines when the Caps need help? Why is the management trading players for draft picks if they need others to step up? Why aren't these questions being asked and/or answered?

From AP: "General manager George McPhee was present but declined to answer questions." And the Wash Post: "Asked to address his team's woes outside the locker room, General Manager George McPhee declined to comment." What, is asking questions to the general manager against team policy?

"'It snowballed,' Capitals defenseman Brian Pothier said. 'We were careless. We made some plays that burnt us.'" I think it's more the lack of "plays" that is the problem.

Bobby Holik (in his infinate wisdom) had an interesting quote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution: "'They played like they wanted to get their coach fired, but that's another story,' Holik said."

On a side note, if the Capitals wanted to be back in the hunt for the playoffs they would have to win their next 5 straight and the Lightning, Maple Leafs, Thrashers, Panthers, Penguins, Devils and Sabres would all have to lose during that span for the Capitals to overtake them in the standings. The Tampa Bay Lightning are currently in 8th place in the Eastern Conference
with 22 points, the Caps are stuck in neutral (and in last) with a meager 13 points. (stats as of Nov. 21)

Oh and if you were paying attention, the Hershey Bears just won their 4th straight. They had clutch goals by Chris Bourque on the power play and Joe Motzko with the game winner.

Bears Pulling It Together

While the Caps struggle, the Bears are thriving. Quietly the Capital's AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears have just won three straight and look to add more wins tonight against Bridgeport. And guess whose leading in scoring: Joe Motzko with 6 goals and 4 assists and Jakub Klepis is not far behind with 9 points. You can find out more on BearCap12's blog.

In other news around the rinks, Sid "the Kid" Crosby is leading the All-Star voting in the east. Big surprise. But it looks like Alex Ovechkin may not even get a starting position. Apparently the Capitals have returned to an afterthought on the minds of NHL fans everywhere.

Caps have to pull a win tonight against another southeast rival, the Thrashers. I am not holding my breath, but anything could happen. That is why we watch!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not Near Enough - Bye Suts

Capitals 3, Panthers 4
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The afternoon started with some news, Brian Sutherby was traded to Anaheim for some draft pick (that is all we seem able to get anymore). I am a bit confounded by this trade because it doesn't help the team now. It's a draft pick, and I thought the rebuild was over. Already the night was getting off on a bad foot.

Next, the Capitals start a home stand against the Florida Panthers at the phone booth. Well it was supposed to be a home stand but with the restless Caps fans just looking for a win, they might have well been on the road. The heckling persisted in the ears of the Caps even behind their whole bench with fans not shying away from using bad grammar and even worse slang at the Capitals. Oh, and Peter Bondra was in the building, so that was nice.

"They are supposed to be breeding a winner," a season ticket holder was overheard saying, "but they can't win." "Who cares if [Ovechkin] gets 50 goals this season," another said, "we just want them to win a game." The Caps still had a game to play, and didn't show up until the third. Dropping another loss against a Southeast rival.

The Caps seemed a bit listless in the first and second periods, but that changed late in the third with the team down 4-1. They quickly put the Panthers on their heels and got two quick goals. But then that advance petered out and the Capitals again left the ice with Alex Ovechkin stretched out on the ice with his head in his gloves and another loss.

After the game the team had a meeting with GM George McPhee in attendance. Not sure what was said, but I was told the air was cleared between the players and their general manager. But maybe this is what is needed as now every move the team does will be closely watched. The Glen Hanlon watch is also in affect with fans starting the "Fire Hanlon" chant half-way through the game. One thing is for sure, this team won't get much sleep tonight.

Scoring for the Caps were Brook Laich (shorthanded goal), Chris Clark and Alex Semin. Olie Kolzig started in net, and at times was brillant and other times looked slow.

Worst Trade Ever

I am sorry, but GM George McPhee has seriously bought the farm on this trade. McPhee traded Brian Sutherby to Anaheim for a second round draft pick. What? A draft pick. Ben Clymer has to be steaming right about now.

Apparently for McPhee it's of no concern his team has a worse record than the season before, it doesn't matter that his team is considered an afterthought and now a joke. Nope, he got himself a draft pick, whoopee! Are you kidding me?

This trade does squat for the Capitals. Even after a summer of great signings, it's blunder moves like this that makes this a second rate, never-gonna-go-anywhere club. Don't fire Glen Hanlon, kick GMGM to the curb. McPhee was in talks with Anaheim since training camp wasting a good player on the bench just to get a "good" deal. A piece of drift wood at this point would be a better trade than this.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lightning Strikes Twice

Capitals 2, Lightning 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Even jumping to a 2-1 lead, the Capitals just couldn't stop a very hot team, the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Caps again breakdown ever so slightly on defense and the Tampa took advantage. After that it was shut down time, which teams don't seem to have a problem doing to the Washington Capitals.

Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich were your scorers. Laich tipped in a Shaone Morrisonn point shot and Ovie buried a wrister off a pass from Chris Clark. Brent Johnson got the nod in the net only to suffer another loss.

For whatever reason, Glen Hanlon has not played the Morrisonn and Milan Jurcina line against Tampa's top line since their first game against them. Back on Oct. 24, Morrisonn and Jurcina held the top line of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Loius and Vinny Prospal to a goal and an assists. Since then, these three have accumulated 4 goals and 8 assists.

The Capitals special teams are their crux, not their savior this season. The Capitals are a disappointing 0-10 when their opposition scores a power play goal. What is more depressing, the Capitals can't score clutch goals when they need it most. That might be the back breaker that has Caps' fans fuming.

The talent on this team is just not connecting. For whatever reason, the opportunities are there but the goals are not. The Caps need a shake up, not necessarily a coaching shake up. I would like to see more of what Brian Sutherby, Steve Eminger, Ben Clymer, Chris Bourque, Jame Pollock and Jakub Klepis can do.

Southeast Woes

Capitals 1, Panthers 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

This is down right pathetic. Horribly pathetic. The Caps have a problem finding the back of the net. And as result, they lose to Florida, again. The Caps couldn't buy themselves a goal on the powerplay and their clutch performers just aren't performing.

Alex Ovechkin scored on a broken play in front. The Capitals did have their chances, but couldn't score on a net even if it was a drunken prom date in the back of the limo. Olie Kolzig got burned by a rookie for the game winner, but played pretty well considering.

The Capitals need some scoring and need it bad. Ovie is on pace for what he was doing last year (remember this is the season where they were supposed to improve). I have heard from a couple of sources that Alex Semin would rather smoke outside of the Verizon Center during games than work on getting healthy. That helps.

Glen Hanlon wasn't too happy about the loss. On the trip from Miami to Tampa the Caps got an earful from their coach (I heard from a source). Hanlon is fighting for his job right now, so it seems only natural that he lose it on the plane ride. The Caps are getting players open shots, players alone in front of the net and good one timers, but all for not. Just chalk it down as another bad loss at an inopportune time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Grumblings Start To Grow Within

Tarik at the Wash Post may have just caught the scent of dissatisfaction of Capitals' management not from fans, but from the locker room. In the Post today was an article about Steve Eminger who sounds like he is ready to move on:
"It's past frustrating," he said following yesterday's practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "It's just a matter of them putting me in the lineup, and putting me in there for more than one game, or moving me to somewhere I'm going to play. Because clearly I'm not in their plans."

I am not quite sure why they aren't playing Emmy either. But add another player on the "I am not happy here" train with Ben Clymer. It was only a matter of time that the players who can contribute but are sitting on the sidelines during a slump are starting to feel a bit jaded. Watching Eminger at practice yesterday, he looked good. His speed is up and his intensity is there. But for what ever reason, there is not a game night jersey with his name on it.

It's All In The Numbers

It's fun with stats time. Mostly because I am bored. I had thought up a song to go with it, but we better save that for another time. Just know I am humming it in my head as I type.

1.000 - The Capitals winning percentage when leading after two periods, but are only .500 when leading the first and only .300 if they outshot their opponents.

6 - Number of times the Capitals were shutout last season, Carolina shut them out twice last year. So far the Caps have been shutout twice, once by the 'Canes.

1 - Number of times the Caps shutout their opponents last year, they hit their quota already this year with just one shutout against, yep you guessed it, Carolina.

5 - The number of overtimes the Capitals played in through 17 games last season, they have only played overtime once this year. Of those 5 games that went to over time, three went to a shootout.

51% - The Capitals face off percentage which is ranked 9th in the league.

1/3 - The fraction of games the Caps win when they are outshot, their winning percentage when they out shoot their opponents is worse: .300.

53 - Alex Ovechkin's on pace number for goals this season.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day Practice

Yes, I know that Veteran's Day was yesterday and today is only the observance of the holiday, but it seemed appropriate since veteran Chris Clark has been sited at a practice on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Micheal Nylander. It looks like Viktor Kozlov, Nick Backstrom and Tomas Fleischmann makes up the second line.

The mood around the practice facility was a little quiet. Ovie more than once took his anguish out on the boards after a missed shot or two. The team is not talking, which is bad. While it's just practice, there is no chatter, no joking, no communication during some drills. Most of that melted away by the end of the practice (after Hanlon left the ice). George McPhee sat on his little balcony and watched most of the practice with a sour look on his face (but when does he not have a sour look on his face) in front of a very dark and still front office. It was a bit eerie to watch him and the empty office behind him (foreshadowing?).

Hanlon looked a little peeved through the whole practice. Stopping drills every now and then to give clear instructions. Most of what they worked on today were quick passes and stretch plays on the break out.

There was one drill that sort of caught my attention, which was defense recovering after shooting from the point. A defenseman would take a pass from the corner, draw it to the middle and shoot on net, then catch up to a two on one. The best two defensemen I saw were John Erskine and Brian Potheir who were able to get back in a defensive position every time.


Washington D.C. The nation's capital. Home of the most powerful in all the world. Unless your talking of the area's pro teams. The Redskins, Wizards and the Capitals have collectively made the District groan with dissatisfaction. But every team seems to have the same problems besides not winning (although the Wiz did win last night), they are relying on their defenses a little too much. One could draw parallels.

For the Redskins, you think they would learn from their mistakes. Yet again they put too much emphasis on the defense side of the ball only to realize they weren't as tough on "D" as they were last year. They allowed teams to creep back in the lead when their offense suddenly gets the equivalent of a brain cramp. The same could be said about the Capitals.

The Caps have put all their eggs in to a defensive package with little importance put on offense. Glen Hanlon's philosophy will always be defense (he is a former goaltender), but there seems to be no room left for creativity on offense. It's like an afterthought. And teams who are patient enough to wait for Caps' mistakes take advantage.

When I see the Capitals practice, they aren't working on offensive plays. You can't help but notice there is more work on getting back than pushing the attack. It's all apart of this possession game that Hanlon is pressing. Even in games it seems the only offensive play that seems evident is get the puck to Micheal Nylander or Alex Ovechkin and let's see what happens. Or my favorite play (sarcasm warning) Mike Green driving it up the wing only to lose the puck in the corner.

The Capitals cannot win games with out scoring goals. But that doesn't seem to be a priority for the Hanlon or the Caps right now. They are preaching defense, defense and more defense. Yes defense is important, but wins are too. Defenses are always going to make mistakes during a game, it's the offense that has to respond and respond when it is needed most. If I knew that the Caps give up 2 or 3 goals but could make it up with their offense, I wouldn't bite my nails everytime the Caps go down a goal or two. It is teams like Ottawa strike that perfect balance.

I was reading the comments on the website following the Caps win Ottawa and I couldn't help but see comments talking about Ovie being a bit of puck hog. I made a point of watching Ovie in the Lightning game and a couple of things were made apparent. Ovie is damn fast, he outskates his teammates often leaving him alone in the offensive zone. There other thing I notice is he doesn't quite know what to do with it once he gets there, and it just becomes another low percentage outside shot on net.

The Caps are not setting anyone other than Ovie up either, which goaltenders have gotten wise to. But in the Lightning game, Tom Poti and Tomas Fleischmann set up a beautiful give and go. I remember thinking, why don't we see more of this from the Capitals? I am not sure if Hanlon or anyone on the coaching staff knows much about producing offense at the NHL level. At the moment teams are not really cowering at the Capitals offensive punch.

The Caps need to start producing, but if the only suggestion is to put a guy in front of the net a la Tomas Holstrom style, the Caps need to do a little bit better than that (or trade the farm for Holstrom). The Caps instead should be working on getting their scorers in a position to, well, score.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

And Right Back Where They Were

Capitals 2, Lightning 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post

How can you go from a stellar win to loss to a lesser team? It seems the Capitals only show up for big games, but not the ones they are supposed to win. The Caps let their guard down early in the third and it was all the Lightning needed.

The Caps certainly didn't work the whole 60 minutes and it cost them. Even with a Alex Ovechkin goal late in the second to tie the game, the first five minutes of the third period the Caps were caught flat footed. After it looked like the Caps were going to keep the Lightning's top line off the scoreboard, there was just a complete break down.

The fact that again this year the Caps will not be able to win back to back games, is going to make this a very long season for us fans. Again the Capitals are last in the Southeast, again they loss a very important division game, again the power play fails to score on their chances, again they lose. Again and again.

Ovechkin scored late in the second to tie the game, but couldn't bury a shorthanded breakaway late in the third. Penalties killed the Capitals in the third when Mike Green took a high sticking penalty worthy of a double minor. There went any chance of a come back and the Lightning added an easy goal to push the game farther away. Tom Poti did have a pretty give and go with Tomas Fleischmann, giving Flash his forth of the year.

You can scratch the playoffs this year for the Capitals. Unless they can pull a winning streak comparable to 5 to 6 game stretches, they are not going anywhere. All that talent and no where to go, talk about a bad date.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

It's Downright Poetic

Capitals 4, Senators 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Ott Cit

The Caps were just setting up the Ottawa Senators. They lost those games just to get the Senators right where they want them. They wanted the expectation level so low, that when they visited Scotiabank Place they would catch everyone off guard. Or the Caps were just due for a big win.

Viktor Kozlov had a huge night with a goal and two assists. When Kozlov scores the Caps win, apparently. Nick Backstrom finally got a goal, his NHL first off a Kozlov assist. Tomas Fleischmann snapped a pretty wrister past Ray Emery and Alex Ovechkin finished the scoring putting the Ottawa Senators away in the third. I even got the wife to start the cheer "Beat the traffic - beat, beat the traffic" to the 19,666 Senator faithful heading to the exits after Ovie's goal. What a great game!

The Capitals simply outworked the Senators in the pivotal second period. And when Kozlov outworked his defender off the side boards to score, the Caps could smell the blood in the water. Last season the Caps would lay off a little after the first goal. It has been a significant improvement to say the least. The Caps penalty kill was also spectacular. And the fact that the Capitals could kill off a 5 on 3 then turn the offense on was something Caps fans have been waiting almost 2 years to see happen.

While my poll may say different, Olie Kolzig finally showed that spark that we all know and love. He played one of the best games thus far. He challenged shots, read the plays beautifully and recovered better. He was worthy of the number one star but settled for the second. Kozlov took top honors. And talk of firing Glen Hanlon should lessen a little, thankfully.

Caps face the Lightning at the phone booth Saturday. Their work ethic must still be as potent as it was against the Senators. If not, it will be another 4 games for the next win.

Update: Allen Panzeri from the Ottawa Citizen wrote the following:
The Washington Capitals aren't going to win the Stanley Cup this year.

The Ottawa Senators might.

It was tough to tell them apart on Thursday night.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coaching Quandary

I am not saying that Ted Leonsis is making calls to replace anybody at this point. But if Capitals fans seem dead set on cutting Glen Hanlon loose, then we might as well look at our options.

The likeliest outcome would be the dismissal of Hanlon. GM George McPhee most likely will stay. General managers normally are not replaced mid season. Mostly because the GM would cut the coach before his hot seat gets too hot. If McPhee stays with Hanlon, they both go. So it's likely that McPhee would rather find a new coach rather than a new job. Much like the situation in Atlanta, Don Waddell had to cut Bob Hartley or lose his job as well.

So if Hanlon is out, who do you want in? Bob Hartley? Pat Quinn? Another?

Bob Hartley would be a bad choice. He is a harsh coach more apt to push veterans rather than a young squad that is short of confidence right now. Pat Quinn would be a better choice. His knowledge of international hockey would be helpful with both Russian and Swedish stars on this team. Those are the two I know of that I could talk about, but I am sure there is more.

But again, I think a lot more bad has to happen before we go down this road. There is still time to turn this around. The Capitals are playing with more urgency, which is good, but the results are less than spectacular. And when this offense gets hot, talk of coach replacement will be the last thing on Caps fans' minds.

I think part of the reason for the recent decline is that teams are more prepared for the Capitals. The Caps aren't the rebuilding youth of years past. They are getting NHL's best full attention. Maybe a couple of those games last year the other teams didn't take the Caps too seriously. This year they are.

I doubt Uncle Ted will be making any drastic changes soon. But I have been wrong before.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dead Last

Capitals 1, Thrashers 2 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post - AJC

The Capitals find themselves in familiar territory. Unfortunately, that is last place in the Southeast Division not to mention a spot at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. The Caps third period comeback wasn't enough to penetrate Ondrej Pavelec. That's right, I said Ondrej Pavelec. The Thrasher rookie goaltender was close to getting his first NHL shutout. Wouldn't that be poetic for the hapless Caps.

Micheal Nylander tied the game with a wrap around pass from Viktor Kozlov on the power play. No points for Alex Ovechkin in this one but according to Tarik, the top line play was nothing sort of amazing:
The most notable switch involved putting Alex Ovechkin, Nylander and Chris Bourque on the top line.

Rookie Nicklas Backstrom was moved to center, his natural position, on the second line, where he skated between Tomas Fleischmann and Kozlov.

Both of the revamped top lines were effective and, at times, outstanding.

Many of the shots could be described as glorious scoring chances, but each time Pavelec was there with a pad or glove or blocker.

The moral on this team cannot be very high. The Caps have dropped ten of the last 12 games. That could put both Glen Hanlon and GM George McPhee in the hot seat. The Capitals scored just 3 goals in four games. The Media, again, have put the blame on injuries, which could be the saving grace for Hanlon and GMGM. But that was the only reason the Caps went out and got free agents, wasn't it?

I don't see the Caps fortunes improving as they take a trip up to Ottawa. These are two teams going in two very different directions. If there was a game to black out for Caps fans, it should be the on Thursday. Alas, every Capital debacle will be on TV for the remaining 67 games. Cruel and unusual punishment for Caps fans everywhere.

Who would have thought that goaltending would be an issue for this season?

Bourque Gets A Shot

Not that we will see it due to the Versus blackout. But Chris Bourque will be in Caps colors for the Atlanta game tonight. Something has to get this offense sparked and start scoring goals, maybe that comes from a Hall of Famer's kid.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Going Nowhere Fast

Capitals 0, Hurricanes 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Remind me why I am a Caps fan. Three straight losses. Not to mention that the games were boring. The Caps were at least fun to watch even when they were losing a season ago. Now? It's like we are beating a dead horse and it's getting more painful to watch. Now when the Capitals get in the hole, it's like a shooting gallery from the outside. Are you kidding me? Where is this effort to get the puck to the net, to create traffic, to do anything?

The Capitals have to stop this giving up after the first goal. Every shot to the net is from the outside, there are no set up plays, no attempts to jam the puck towards the crease. Where is this creative offense that the Capitals are suppose to have? If I see Mike Green skate up the side and lose the puck one more time, I am going to puke. That is it? That's all we got?

Alex Ovechkin is on an island, playing and hitting harder than anyone else on the team. Here is a forward that should be scoring, NOT LEADING THE TEAM IN HITS! What is going on? The team keeps hoping for lucky bounces. Good teams make their own luck boys.

With Florida playing well and Atlanta getting over the funk they are in, the Capitals cannot afford anymore streaky losses. Losing 3 or 4 in a row and we are talking tee times in April, not playoffs. Maybe it's time to get Ben Clymer back in the line up, and send down Tomas Fleischmann and Nick Backstrom. Both players have been as useful as a plank of wood.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Capitals 0, Rangers 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Rangers just seem to have the Capitals number. The Capitals had just a couple of defensive breakdowns and Hendrik Lundqvist deserves some credit. The Caps start November on the wrong foot however as they lose this game even playing the better game.

Olie Kolzig took a beating in this one, getting run over by Rangers virtually all game. But Kolzig played well and again it was penalties the Caps couldn't control. The game should have ended a 1-0 or 1-1 tie.

It was a pretty exciting game besides the loss and the shut out. The Capitals stayed to their game plan and had some great opportunities to score, but just couldn't beat Lundqvist.

Caps come back home Friday night to face off against the Flyers, a totally different team from a season ago.