Monday, January 29, 2007


I don't know who looks more disappointed, Kari Lehtonen or Kermit the Frog in the stands. Click on the pic for a larger view, or go here.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Was There An All-Star Game?

Not many saw nor cared about the NHL’s All-Star game. Not even a controversial jersey change could muster at least some people to perk up and take notice. Nope, the NHL’s viewership of the 55th All-Star game plunged 76%. Ouch. Prompting the question, if a tree falls in the woods, does Gary Betteman still get to keep his job for another year? Hmm.

The NHL moved the game back to a week night and it was highlighted on the ever so popular cable television channel VS. (Versus). In a game that featured 21 goals, and some of the league’s best talent, the ratings just were not there after going head to head with such rating giants like American Idol, Cooking with Klause, and the public access channel featuring a recap of the debate over the upgrade of new sewer lines in the city council (or C-Span III). Tough night.

Maybe if the NHL had bad singers and an English judge, things might have been different.

I didn’t see, but heard about the Caps home and home games against Carolina. After reading both recaps and watching the highlights, I am very proud how the boys picked up their boots and gave it right back to them. Although, I think alot of it has to do with who is in net for the Caps. Even though I think that Brad Johnson is a solid netminder, with Olie Kolzig in net, it’s just a different team.

I may not be reporting on a regular basis of each game, although I will try. I am attempting to put up a new blog that will rival the new sweaters (or at least excite my wife who checks up on my site every now and then). But be assured I am keeping a keen eye on things. Zednik, we are all looking at you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Don't Tan, I Am Two Toned!

So what, I can’t leave for a few days, get some rest, soak up some sun in Florida, maybe miss a few Caps games (i.e. no internet, barely cell service, no cable). I took the opportunity to kind of recharge the batteries, make some life decisions (not really) and made the decision to stop reporting the games as so much as to comment on them on my blog.

That means Puckhead’s Thoughts is going to go through some changes. Maybe a new look to my site and maybe I will update those links so the other 500 Capitals’ bloggers don’t feel snubbed (so bloggers send me your links and I will promise to try and get them up).

So much has happened since I took a plane ride to Sarasota and back that I just don’t know where to start. I want to talk about a plethora of things as we head into All-Star festivities in Dallas. The new jerseys, the fact that I can call Ovechkin an all-star winger now, Luc Robitaille’s tearful speech as they retired his jersey in L.A., the fact that I missed like 4 episodes of “I Love New York” on VH1, just so much going on!

Alright, let’s start with the jerseys. I was going to raise a huge stink after seeing the Olympic jerseys as the NHL goes for a more sleeker look. Personally, I did not like the form fitting jerseys that the Canadians and Americans wore. I prepared to go off on a huge rant about the new jerseys.

Then I saw the new look in USA Today and read the article. The league is not doing away with horizontal stripes, they are not going to be tucking in the jerseys, and the jerseys are not that form fitting (although days of speedy guys ripping down the ice and the jerseys flapping behind them is gone).

I found my self actually liking the new look. What the Caps sweaters are going to look like down the road remains to be seen, I may end up hating those. The rumor of the Capitals returning to their red, white and blue days seems more and more likely with the arrival of the new jerseys (plus it will be easier for Ovie and Semin to wear the red, white and blue when they go back and play for the Russian national team).

A lot of people have been making some gruffling remarks about the new apparel, saying the NHL is just looking to make money off fans who have to buy the new jerseys. Well, yea. I mean the NHL is not a non for profit people. Some in Canada think it’s a disaster that Reebok is “Americanizing” the game of hockey. Um, okay. You don't want the game to be Americanized, but the league can't survive with out the U.S. markets, hmm.

The only downside to the new jerseys, in my opinion, is it’s too soon. The league has just survived a lockout, a new CBA and a salary cap. We have new rules in place and new players to promote, too much is going on all at once. The jerseys can wait, let the NHL soak in a few years before you go changing everything.

The game is faster, and more fun to watch, especially in person. Let that be the league’s selling point, instead of some flashy new jerseys (Buffalo, are you listening?). You have to ease those old traditionalists into the hot tub of the new hockey or they just will gripe and complain about the water being too hot. These are the same guys that would like to bring clutching and grabbing back into the league, fyi.

So as much as I like the new jerseys, I just think Gary Betteman should have given it a year or two for the new NHL to start growing some roots.

Other NHL News:

Just because Ovie has tickets to Dallas, doesn’t mean the other players are sitting around picking their noses. Want to know what players are doing during the five day break, check out’s article.

Luc Robitaille’s number was retired at the Staples Center. I met Luc twice as a kid, both times he was extremely nice. The last time I met him was under a couple of bags of ice in the locker room and I remember thinking “Wow, he must be in some pain.” But Robitaille was very nice and said hello.

Alex Ovechkin is finally an all-star winger, I have wanted to say that since I witnessed his two goal start to his NHL career against the Blue Jackets over a year ago. Now I can. He will be on a line with Sid “the Kid” Crosby. It should be highly entertaining.

Okay, it’s not NHL news, but it is for me. I have started working for XM Satellite Radio in DC. I mostly work overnights on the traffic channels. It’s my first radio gig since leaving Tucson. Although it’s not the big pay check I had hoped for, it is fun to work the overnights again. So if you have XM and are up at 3 am, you can listen to me slaughter street names in Orlando (or other cities as well, I am an equal opportunity mispronouncer). If you don’t have XM, I am required by contract to call you a loser and tell you to get it because all the cool kids have it. Plus they carry NHL games, can’t beat that. (P.S. there is nothing I can do about the massive commercial presence of XM on, live with it).

That is all I got.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Florida Beats "the pants off the Capitals"

Capitals 3, Panthers 7
ScoresheetWash PostMiami Her.

The Capitals scored 3 goals on 17 shots. That may sound impressive in just one period, but that was for 60 minutes of play. I don’t care how good of a team you may have, if you only have 17 shots in a game and are out-shot almost three times that (FLA: 54 shots), you are not going to win games in this league.

The Caps just weren’t themselves tonight, bad passes, low energy, and the Panthers just seemed to dominate in every one on one battle. There is no real reason for the Capitals to look this sloppy unless they spent the last two days on the beach.

Even the commentators on the Panthers radio broadcast could barely believe how bad the Caps played. Prompting one of them to say, "I don't know if just not the Capitals night or what, but the Panthers are beating the pants off the Capitals." The loss could have been worse than just 7 goals if Olie Kolzig didn’t stand on his head in net. In the end, Kolzig was pulled not because of his play, but that of his teammates in front of him.

Overall Grade: F

I was embarrassed watching this game. The Caps were not their speedy selves, and looked off all night. It was a struggle for the team just to clear the zone. It was clear the Capitals were in no way prepared to play. This loss was a team effort.

But there were some bright spots for Caps fans (albeit a very dull, barely visible spot). Alexander Semin’s point streak continues through five games now with a total of 10 points in five games. Alex Ovechkin has extended his point streak to six games getting a power play assist in each of the last six games. He now has 12 points in the last 6 games.

Caps now have to regroup, maybe even hold one of those clear-the-air player meetings. They face Ottawa next, and that will be no easy task on the road. Let’s hope they come out with a little more jump next time.
Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

Friday, January 12, 2007

Kolzig Drops One

Capitals 4, Lightning 5
ScoresheetWash PostSt. Pete

The goals were there, the goaltending was not. Caps fall to the Lightning not because of their offense not showing up, but rather, Olaf Kolzig letting in a few softies. After the Capitals talked of using their 3 game winning swing on to the road, the Caps fall to a Lightning team that had the bounces.

Certainly Tampa Bay didn’t have the Caps by the throat on this one. Some great goals were scored on both teams, but the Capitals netminder knew where the blame lands. I couldn’t argue with Kolzig on this one, no matter how badly I wanted too.

“The team played terrific. The goalie let them down,” Kolzig said. “I just didn't make the saves I needed to make, and that basically was the difference.”

The Caps played their game, and got results, but the Lightning took advantage of Olie on an off night. Alex Semin is on fire scoring two goals tonight, scoring seven goals in the last four games (9 points in 4 games). Alex Ovechkin keeps the points race interesting getting a couple of assists. Donald Brashear has been playing some kind of hockey, setting up a pretty assist to a breaking Ben Clymer who floated in alone to score.

Overall Grade: Caps: B+, Kolzig: D

It was just one of those games that can make a goaltender fume. The game winner by Martin St. Louis was a soft shot from the slot that snuck in short side. I had to rewind it and look at it a couple of different times to see where the puck penetrated Kolzig’s meaty pads. I still couldn’t figure it out how the puck squirted through.

Caps must shake out of this in a hurry as they face their other southeast division rival Florida Panthers Saturday night. Capitals need more of the same from scorers Ovie and Semin. Or the Panthers may take advantage of a lapse of confidence.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Monday, January 08, 2007

Caps Back Above .500

I have missed a few games, things in Puckhead's life have priority right now. But I wanted to get a quick post on just so the 3 people that read my blog know that I am okay.

Caps played a great game against Atlanta. Alex Semin was on a mission in this game, scraping it up with Marian Hossa and scoring two including the OT winner. Semin was all over the ice and it's a great to see the winger sort of ramp up his game.

Olie Kolzig was in-another-world good. Kolzig played about the best I have seen him play all year. It's too bad he didn't get the votes to be in the top 3 for the All Star game, because right now he is in the top three in the league. His stats may not be the best in the league, but he has been solid all season long and getting better, not just hot in the last 10 games or so.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Shaone Morrisonn for putting Glen Metropolit on his butt. I have been waiting for someone to stand him up just once after he made his lucky bounce goal he scored against the Caps a few weeks ago seem like it was a beautiful goal that beat Kolzig. He did however score on a juicy rebound by the Caps netminder.

Caps find their winning ways and did it against the top team in the Southeast. Not only are the Caps 11 games better than a year ago, they are looking for more. Glen Hanlon has the boys hungry not just to win, but win every night.

Caps face the Flyers Tuesday night, and I should be able to get a normal post in. Capitals need to keep this confidence game up.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Back On Track

Capitals 5, Canadiens 1

On the verge of losing their 6th straight, the Washington Capitals such needed a couple of friendly bounces. They got it tonight as they faced down the Montreal Canadiens and took control of this game and never looked back.

Dainius Zubrus and Alex Semin both scored a pair and Lawrence Nycholat scored his second career NHL goal and Alex Ovechkin grabbed the playmaker. The Canadiens scored the first goal, but the Caps answered quickly on the next Power Play. Olaf Kolzig had 27 saves including a fantastic save were he robbed Michael Ryder from a wide open net goal with an outstretched glove.

Caps get back their killer instinct and finish the first half of season at .500 (17-17-7). The ship looks to be righted, but there was a caution tone in the post game interviews. Kolzig talked about absorbing the win for tonight and getting back to work at practice Friday.

Overall Grade: B

The turning point of the game was the Saku Koivu’s goaltender interference penalty that would have tied the game for the Canadiens at two a piece. Instead the Caps kept their lead and added one to boot.

This is a different team that the one that limped through their five game slump. They had a better jump in their stride, a more confident look in their play. The Caps knew they needed to put a good 60 minutes together and they got it done. There was a killer instinct about the Capitals. Not an instinct to fall into a defensive shell, which they could have easily done in the third period up 4-1.

Caps face the Thrashers Saturday night, and look to get some divisional points to keep their nose in the mix of teams positioning for the post season. Caps need to come out shooting and play physical. Or they might as well not show up.