Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wild Night In Ottawa

Capitals 8, Senators 6
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Just over a minute in the game the Capitals sent the Senators a message. They weren't afraid of the big bad Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. 13 goals later the Caps would once again hand the best team in the east a loss in their building after doing it in November. It was no walk in the park though.

In a game where goaltending just didn't matter (neither did their stats in this game), the Capitals out-shot and out-goaled the Senators. The Caps out-shot the Sens 33 to 22, including an 11 - 2 mark in the first period where they had a 2 -1 lead. The second period would even out some in shots and the Capitals were able to extend their lead 5 - 2. But the third period became a shooting gallery for both teams and Alexander Ovechkin made sure the win would stay pat.

Ovechkin scored his first 4 goal game in the NHL getting his 27th -30th goals for the year and he would end up with a 5 point night. Alex Semin had a goal and 2 assists, Nick Backstrom did the same with a tally and two helpers. Micheal Nylander also scored two big goals to keep the Caps ahead. The Capitals never trailed in this game, but Ottawa made it close pulling into one goal 3 times and Senator Mike Fisher grabbed a hat trick of his own.

Going into the third period, the Senators closed the locker room door not allowing players interviews during the second intermission. Coming out the Senators knew they had to take chances to win. The were able to keep the game interesting, but taking those chances also burned them in the end. The Caps took advantage of some turn overs and never relinquished their lead.

The big story tonight was not Ovie's 4 goals or the wild ending, but the Caps leap frogging the Tampa Bay Lightning that lost earlier in the day for 4th place in the Southeast Division. The Caps start their march up the standings to make the playoffs for the '07-'08 campaign by chipping away points where they can get them. They have been able to get standing points in 6 of their last 7 games and with only 3 wins. The Caps need to keep accumulating points and are 5 points away from a playoff spot.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Disgusting Loss

Capitals 3, Penguins 4 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Um, wow... okay. That sucked. The Capitals give one away after such a gritty performance. The Caps took a lead into the third period and looked as if they had control of the game only to see it slip away in the final seconds of a penalty kill, then a overtime killer by former Capital Sergei Gonchar. Not to mention the Capitals lost two men to injuries, Brent Johnson and Alex Ovechkin.

It was the second game in two nights for the Caps, while the Penguins first game since the holiday break. The Caps just ran out of gas. Donald Brashear got the Capitals' first goal and Brian Potheir continued his scoring ways. Both tallies tied the game up early in the second. Alex Ovechkin on a give away gave them the lead for his 26th of the season. Then everything fell apart in the third.

On the Penguins second goal late in the first, Brent Johnson scrambled for the puck and twisted what looked to be his right knee, but reports claim his left knee was sprained. Bring in Olie Kolzig. Then early in the third Ovie got a cut on his leg and did not return. Although Ovechkin needed stitches, the injury is not serious.

The Penguins had legs in the third and you could see that. The Capitals didn't. While they held Sid "the Kid" Crosby with out a goal, they gave him a little too much attention in the overtime frame, leaving Gonchar a wide open net.

What puzzles me the most about this loss was the Caps were so close to winning it in regulation. But they took a bad penalty. The Penguins looked like they weren't going to be able to convert it until a face off late in the man advantage. If the Capitals won that face off, game over, but Brooks Laich lost it. Where was David Steckel to take the draw, or Nick Backstrom who was 68% on his draws in this game?

The Caps gain a point for at least making it to overtime. That ties them with Tampa Bay for last in the Eastern Conference. The Caps don't have much time to dwell on this loss with a game coming up on Saturday night in Ottawa. The Senators will be looking for some revenge after the Caps slowed down the bunch with a 4-1 win in early November. The Caps better find their legs and stay healthy if they want a repeat preformance.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

When Garbage Is Beautiful

Capitals 3, Lightning 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

If I told you that Vincent Lacavalier scored twice for the Lightning and Alex Ovechkin had only an assist, you would probably think the Capitals dropped their post Christmas foray with Tampa Bay. How wrong you would be my friend. On a night where "interim" was dropped from Bruce Boudreau's business card, the garbage goals reigned supreme for the Caps and they cashed in.

David Steckel was a monster in this game with a garbage goal of his own and two assists. Brian Potheir scored the only pretty goal, a laser from the top of the circle. Matt Bradley was credited with the game winner after crashing the net on a Steckel shot and somehow it found it's way in the back of the cage that looked as if it was off it's moorings. Bradley also had an assist and was a +3. Steckel only finished with a +2 (he stepped off the ice with linemate Quintin Laing when Potheir scored his goal, Bradley was still in front of the net) but did walk away with the number one star.

The Capitals simply outworked the Lightning to give their new coach a big win. While Ovie was scoreless in his 200th NHL game, it seemed the 4th line stepped to the challenge and that was huge. Olaf Kolzig again looked shaky at times and brilliant for the rest. He seems to be averaging 1 to 2 soft goals a game. As long as the Caps can make that up, it may not matter.

The Caps' powerplay is also seemed to hit a rut. The Capitals were unable to convert on 4 chances. Although I do think the squad is gaining in some confidence. It also seems the Caps are doing all of this with out taking bad penalties, how about just one penalty. Ovie was called for the only Capitals penalty which was holding in the third. The Capitals were able to fight it off. I guess the best way to kill off penalties is to not take any. It's a good plan.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

It is a white Christmas up here in Minnesota. Visiting the in-laws and eating way too much food has become common place for me and my wife the last few years. And although I have to sacrifice a few games to self indulge in Hershey Kisses peanut butter cookies and rum cake, there is nothing more important that being with family and friends over the holiday season.

We braved a cold blistery winter storm to get here and it was worth it. The house is warm, so are the beds thanks to electric blankets. And the company is second to none. My mother in-law knows my weakness is cookies and there are more cookie tins than you can shake a stick at, most of it will be coming home with us later.

While I will not be able to get to update as much as I would like over the next couple of days, I hope the rest of you have a great holiday. Now, as much as I want to spend more time with all of you talking about plus and minuses and offensive strategies, there is a plate of cookies with my name on it up stairs and a big glass of milk. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Goaltending Duel In Nassau Co.

Capitals 2, Islanders 3 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post

After ratting out Olaf Kolzig on being too soft on some of his goals he came out with an excellent effort against the New York Islanders. But it was another soft goal that was the down fall of Kolzig and the Caps after scrapping back to put the game into overtime. It was an extreme angle shot by Richard Park that has the Caps coming home with just one point.

Not that it was all Kolzig's fault. The Caps were out worked in this one to a degree, and Kolzig had to face down 31 shots to Rick DiPietro's 16. In fact the Islander goaltender didn't face a single shot in the overtime frame. With the Caps battling a well defended Islander game all night, it was interesting to see that the ones that seemed to come through the most were ex-Islanders. Both Tom Poti and Viktor Kozlov finished the night with a +2 rating with Kozlov getting two assists. The goal scorers shouldn't have been a surprise in this one with Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin both getting tallies (5th and 25th on the season respectfully).

Olaf Kolzig did have a spectacular game. While the goals from Miroslav Satan on a break away and Billy Guerin from a funny rebound off the boards bested Olie, I didn't feel he was at fault for either one. However the overtime winner I do hole Kolzig responsible for. Even with Mike Green down and a virtual 4 on 3 ensued, from that angle Kolzig should have stopped that puck.

Besides the exciting finish, the rest of the game really lacked any punch from either side. The Islanders were able to bottle up Ovie pretty good, and the lack of offensive punch really hurt the Caps who are now nowhere closer to climbing out of 15th in the Eastern Conference. Lucky for the Caps they get some days off for Christmas and return to the ice the day after to face the Tampa Bay Lightning at home. Then no time to waste, the Caps face the dreaded Penguins on Dec. 27th at the Mellon.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Caps Drop One At Home

Capitals 2, Canadians 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Capitals power play couldn't get going, and the goaltending was soft. The same can't be said for the Canadians who capitalized on their powerplay chances and Cristobal Huet was solid in net. The Capitals jumped early on the Montreal squad but had nothing to show for it.

Nick Backstom was in the right place and the right time to bang home an Ovechkin rebound for the Caps first tally and Alex Semin cut the Canadian lead to 4-2 off a pretty pass from Backstorm. But the Caps couldn't get the puck past Huet. The inability to score still hinders this team.

Olaf Kolzig looks to me like he has already played a full season. At times he was good, then when it mattered most, Kolzig looked tired and run down. I still think that Kolzig is a good goaltender, but he is making bad mental mistakes and still letting in 2 or more soft goals a game. Whether its the fact that the Caps are out shooting their opponents and Kolzig isn't getting much action or if he just looks spent, Kolzig seems to be the root of the Caps problems these last few games.

The Caps have some time to dwell on this a bit since their next game is not until Saturday at Nassau Colosseum against the Islanders. A sobering satistic, the Caps have only won two of their last five. The Caps fall again to the cellar of the Eastern Conference with 29 points, but can make ground on their own with a win over the Islanders who are now 14th at 32 points. While they Caps can't leap frog the boys from Long Island, they can stay alive and with in 5 games of the coveted 8th playoff spot.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Caps Surprise At The Joe

Capitals 3, Red Wings 4 OT/SO (1-3)
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Detnews

For a team - with the start of a season they had - to walk into the Joe Lewis Arena and go toe to toe with the Red Wings and get a lead then come from behind to tie late in the third is nothing short of a miracle. The Washington Capitals worked their butts off and escaped with a point from a team that has made other teams look like Squirt level squads with their possession game. Yes, it would have been nice for Olie to stop at least one Red Wing in the shoot out, but the Capitals have no reason to hang their heads at the effort they gave at the Joe.

Alex Ovechkin tied the game at one with a 5-hole blast on the power play in the first for his 24th tally of the year. Jeff Schultz once again scored a clutch goal to give the lead to the Caps late in the first and Alex "it's about time you started scoring" Semin got the clutch goal late in the third to take the game into overtime. Both David Steckel and Ovie had chances to put the Caps ahead. Steckel chance came early in the third where he missed (I mean by mere millimeters) an open net and Ovie had a semi-breakaway in OT, but Dominik Hasek was there with his glove and pad, Ovie just couldn't get it up.

The Red Wings had trouble playing their game in this one, and at times it looked like the Caps were the possession experts. Semin's first couple of periods were a bit ho-hum, but he picked it up in the third getting good hard shots off on Hasek. Shots were even at 30 for both teams which pretty much indicates a well hard fought game against to virtually even teams.

As good as this game was Ted Kulfan gave all three stars to Detroit players. Homer. You have to be kidding me. This guy's out of his mind, all three stars to the Red Wings, did you not just see the Caps come in and almost beat this team? Kulfan, I can clearly state, is an idiot. That was a major injustice to the Capitals in this game.

Now, I am not saying that the Caps were perfect. Olie is still letting in soft goals and was just atrocious in the shoot out, all three Red Wings scored - it wasn't even close. Ovie also didn't play his best game, he was good at points but he did turn the puck over on Detroit's third goal after trying to do a little too much. The Caps were able to overcome those mistakes and it shows their potential if they ever do play a perfect game.

With this one point performance the Caps are no longer last in the Eastern Conference, they are instead tied in last with Atlanta. The Caps have some time to rest and tighten up their game before they take on the Montreal Canadians at the phone booth. Hopefully some of that hard work continues for the Caps. They are starting to see the light from the basement of the Eastern Conference. Now is the time to take that step up and get back into this thing.

Some good quotes from the game:

Mike Babcock - "I was really impressed, I really was. It was a hard battle for us. Not a lot of teams have kept us off-kilter like they did. We didn't show them respect at the start, but we got better, but they made it hard for us." -

Henrik Zetterberg on Ovechkin and Backstrom - "They have a real good future, both of them. They're real mature for their age and they'll be big stars for a long time." -

Olaf Kolzig - "It's nice, but we had a chance to win the game. I just couldn't get it done for the boys in the shootout." -

Shaone Morrisonn - "We got one point out of it, which is better than nothing. But we felt like we could have won it. We had some power plays in the third period and we gave up two goals on the penalty kill. It's tough." -

Bruce Boudreau - "We're not quitting. There is a good chance if we just keep getting two points here, one point there, rise in the standings and then once they start to believe they are a really good team, then good things usually start to happen." -

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Caps Start Roadtrip With 2 Points

Capitals 3, Lightning 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Brian Pothier's game certainly turned around after a healthy scratch a few games ago. Pothier has become a much more sure puckhandler and ratcheted up his physical play. His power play goal in the third period was the mark that the Capitals were able to hold on to against the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The confidence factor is alive and well in the Capitals now that they have 4 wins in the last 5 games. They will need that against the Red Wings Monday night. Quintin Laing and Tomas Fleischmann also scored for the Caps and Alex Ovechkin's point streak comes to an end at 7 games. Ovie was a little off in this game as he missed on a breakaway opportunity and was a -2 on the night. His longest point streak of this season has been 9 games.

Shaone Morrisonn has quietly been shutting top lines down this season. While Mike Green has been getting offensive accolades, Morrisonn has been a defensive monster on the ice. Watching this game I have seen one of his better performances as a Capital yet, and his name is nowhere to be seen on the scoresheet. But every Lightning rust with Shaone on the ice ended with him breaking it up. He was aggressive when he needed to be and had very timely poke checks and more important, he never turned the puck over. While Shaone was a -2 in this game, neither goal was really his fault, and there were times that Morrisonn was able to thwart attacks late in the game to preserve the Caps' lead.

Brent Johnson did okay in net, he let a soft one in on the first goal, but for the most part he look pretty confident in the crease. What might have been the big accomplishment in this game was the fact the Capitals did not look past the Lightning and did not have the Red Wings game to distract their game in Tampa. I think it's easy for a team to be caught looking ahead, but Bruce Boudreau has these guys focused game by game.

Bring on Detriot!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Luck Can't Help The Caps

Capitals 3, Sabres 5
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Things were just going swimmingly, until Buffalo came to town. The Caps see their win streak come to a screeching halt off of poor goaltending. Not even a lucky bounce that tied the game in the third could help overcome some bad breakdowns on defense and even worse goaltending.

Olie Kolzig still has a problem letting in soft goals at the worst times. A give away that left the net wide open and a sharp angle shot both bested Kolzig. The Caps did lead this game at one point (at two points actually), but due to some goaltending miscues the Sabres stuck around long enough to score a couple key goals late.

The night started off well to, the Caps jumped to a one goal lead on a power play goal by Alex Ovechkin, his 23rd on the year. But then a bad turnover by Kolzig and Derek Roy stashed the puck in a wide open net with a little more than a minute left in the period. In the second the Caps got off to a quick start when Nick Backstrom scored to give the Caps the lead once more. Only to see the Capitals' defense breakdown late in the second and allowed Maxime Afinogenov a break away on Olie (this goal wasn't Kolzig's fault either, Mike Green actually poked checked the puck off of Aginogenov's stick and it beat Kolzig and went off the post and in). Then early in the third the Sabres get a quick goal on the sharp angle, Kolzig had let a another softy in.

The Caps did get a lucky bounce in the middle of the third, Brooks Laich scored his 6th goal of the year after the puck took a strange bounce off the boards catching Ryan Miller out of his net. But even with the tie, it seemed the Sabres out lasted the Capitals and late in the game Buffalo pinned the Caps in their zone for a good minute and a half/two minutes before finally scoring. Add an empty net goal and the Caps have no one to blame but themselves for their loss, well and Kolzig.

It was one of the worst games I have seen Kolzig play. Usually, when the Caps are in a tight game, Kolzig is a bit more sure footed but not this season. The Capitals offense has to make up for their goaltenders soft goals. During their short winning run, the veteran goaltender has let in 2 or more goals a game, lucky for the Capitals were able to scored more than was scored against. Kolzig always seems good for a softie or two every game. I hate to say it, but the Caps may have seen Kolzig's best years behind him.

Caps can't dwell too much on this loss, they have to pull it back together to face off with a southeast rival Tampa Bay on Saturday night. Brent Johnson will probably get the call in net, and hopefully he can fair better.

The Florida Panthers leap-frogged the Atlanta Thrashers for third in the division, while the Caps still struggle to make up some ground. Now they are chasing the Thrashers who are a game and a half ahead of the Caps. The Caps are still 8 points behind the 8th place Toronto Maple Leafs who are tied with Philadelphia with points at 34. Caps are still in a three way tie with LA and Phoenix for worst in the league.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Put On Your Swimsuit...

... 'Cause you're going diving with Sid "The Kid" Crosby..

Seems the gamers got something right... back story.

McPhee A Little Too Quiet

If you read the New York Post on the game last night like I did then the entry Tarik gave today, you might notice that GM George McPhee's refusal of disclosing Micheal Nylander's injury may land him in hot water with the league. Although no action has been taken, general managers must disclose the details of an injury with the media. Not to do so would be a violation of NHL policy.

It's not like the Caps are in the middle of a playoff series where Nylander's condition is made secret until afterwards. But more grumblings about McPhee's attitude seem to follow GMGM around. The Capitals are the only organization that doesn't allow player's agents in the family/friends room at the Verizon Center before or after games. Not that any of this should reflect the Capitals' performance on the ice, but it does strain the relationship between players and management.

McPhee's refusal to talk about contract negotiations with Alex Ovechkin isn't settling over to well either. While the many GMs are happy to discuss contract specifics and negotiations, GMGM stands quiet. Many fans are seeing players being wrapped up in contracts with teams that clearly want them like Sid "the Kid" Crosby, but see nothing in the works with Ovechkin. Just a "hey we are working on it," would suffice. McPhee seems to have a "No comment" relationship with the media, and I am not sure how far that will fly at the end of this very pivotal season.

Caps Rally

Capitals 5, Rangers 4 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Capitals come out on top in one of the most entertaining third periods the Caps have played this season. In a contest where the Caps and Rangers traded goals in the third period, it seemed fitting that the game winner by Mike Green in overtime was appropriate. The Rangers floundered after a two goal lead and the two teams went to the wire.

Joe Motzko scored the two goals to get the Caps back to even. It seemed the Ranger defense just went to sleep after the two goal lead and the Capitals took advantage. Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps the brief lead with his 22nd tally of the year, and Jeff Schultz and Mike Green added timely goals to tie then win the game respectfully.

What are they feeding Jeff Schultz? The young defenseman has three goals in three straight games, helping the Caps on their three game winning streak. The same could be said about Mike Green who is finding the back of the net. Donald Brashear is getting into the action as well getting two helpers in this game and a fight with Colton Orr.

The Caps have been able to win without veteran leadership, Viktor Kozlov and Tom Poti have not scored during the 3 game stretch and Micheal Nylander has been out of the line up with an injury. What every Bruce Boudreau's preaching in the locker room, has the youngsters up in arms and ready to answer the calls. And Ovie doesn't mind as long as the Caps are winning.

The power play still needs some work, every goal scored was at even strength. And a the Caps did let a goal in even though the penalty had just expired, but it was basically a power play goal for the Rangers. Special teams need to be cleaned up a little if the Caps want to keep this streak moving along. But all in all, it was an entertaining game and I am still wearing my red mullet they gave away at the game for '80s night, much to my wife's disapproval. She thinks it smells funny.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Caps Hold Off Devils

Capitals 3, Devils 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Quintin Laing is known mostly for his hard work, blocking shots and his defensive capabilities. But it was his offense that gave the Capitals a win against a team that had just beat them 3 nights before by the same tally. Bruce Boudreau's critique in this game was a complete 180 turn around from that night they lost in New Jersey. Apparently so did the Capitals' game.

Laing scored his first ever NHL goal and the team made sure it was a game winning goal as the Capitals gave the streaky Devils their second straight loss. Jeff Schultz and Nick Backstom also scored for the Caps that have now won two in a row.

The Capitals definitely had a step on the Devils in this one from the start. While most NJ fans would claim they were robbed from a goal that was disallowed, the Caps could have said the same on a quick whistle with Tomas Fleischmann on the doorstep to shove the puck under Kevin Weekes.

The Caps' forecheck was a thing of beauty tonight and the line of Matt Bradley, Donald Brashear and Backstrom has created havoc for the opponents defense in their zone. Also looking better is Alex Semin. His speed is coming back and his stick handling looks okay. Semin has to improve on his shots though, they look a little sloppy and slow for someone who can rip the puck pretty well. He is starting to look more and more of the Semin of old.

If the LA Kings lose, the Caps could be tied for last place rather than holding the bottom rung. The Kings play Vancouver tonight and have stalled at 24 points. The Caps just make 24 with their win tonight. However they are still on the bottom of the Eastern Conference. They are just 8 points, 4 games from claiming a playoff spot at 8th place (32 points). Of course all of those teams ahead of the Caps would have to lose their games until then. It ain't over 'til it's over.

Update: No such luck for the Capitals, the LA Kings beat the Vancouver Canucks 4 - 2 leaving the Caps still at sole possession of last place in the league with 24 points.

Finally, Someone Else Scores

Capitals 6, Thrashers 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post

These are the types of games I am going to miss this month. Boy did I miss a whopper. The Capitals finally get secondary scoring. Besides 2 goals from defenseman Mike Green, 4 different Capitals scored against the Thrashers. It's something that the Caps must continue to do if they want to jump back into the playoff question.

Nick Backstrom started the scoring off a give away by the Thrashers' defender. Goals were followed up by Jeff Schultz, Alex Ovechkin, Green and one player who needed to find the back of the net this season in the worst way - Matt Pettinger.

Another player that looked closer to normal was Alex Semin. He was faster than he had been all season and it looks like he is getting back in the groove. Semin was close to scoring on several opportunities.

Bruce Boudreau's comments the night before sparked the Caps. Olie Kolzig let in a couple of softies late, which wasn't that bad since the Capitals were in control. Kolzig started in his second straight start, something he hasn't done this season. Boudreau called out the veteran goaltender against the Devils on the first goal and Kolzig responded with some solid saves early in the Thrasher game, but those soft goals still bother me. The Capitals had an chance to keep this game way out of hand, but the Thrashers were allowed to come back.

The Caps didn't score on the power play either. That needs to change tonight against the Devils. The Capitals look to avenge their loss to NJ at home. The Caps are getting a team that has seen it's winning streak snapped in overtime at MSG against the Rangers. The Caps can take advantage of a tired team at home.

After the big win, many of the players decided to celebrate, by throwing Shaone Morrisonn a birthday party after the game. Morrisonn's birthday is actually Dec. 23, but it seemed the appropriate time to go and party which I am sure the Caps did with a big win over a hated rival.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

NHL's Worst

Capitals 2, Devils 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post

What can one say? 5 days off, fresh legs against a team that had to come from behind the night before, and the Capitals come out sluggish. That to me, makes zero sense. The Caps get burned early in the first and shut down the Caps. How? Bad turnovers, lazy plays, bad penalties. You name it, the Caps are experts in all those areas this year. Hanlon shouldn't have been fired, 20 other guys should have lost their jobs.

Instead of going through the game, I am just going to post some of the quotes out there on players reactions to the game. Maybe it will give you a better idea of who really is at fault.

From the Washington Post:

"We didn't play good enough to win, or we would have won. That was a horrible giveaway for the first goal, and Olie should have had the save. He's too good a goalie to let those things go in." - Bruce Boudreau

"We weren't moving our legs in the first period. If you look at it, the first period was the difference in the game. We had no reason to come out sluggish." - Brooks Laich

"We can sit there and look for positives all we want. But the bottom line is we didn't get the job done. In this league, you have to play for 60 minutes at the top of your game." - Bruce Boudreau

"There's not much you can say about that [injured players]. That's the hand we were dealt. We made a valiant effort at the end, but it wasn't enough." - Olie Kolzig

From the AP:

"We're a team that needs 20 guys to go. As I told them after two periods, you can't rely on No. 8 (Ovechkin) to win every game for you." - Bruce Boudreau

Alex Ovechkin didn't score, but he did get an assist and got hit akwardly into the boards by former Cap Danius Zubrus. No penalty was assessed. Alex Semin scored only his second goal of the season and the his wrist shot looks better than ever, now if only that ankle would heal all the way. Brooks Laich scored another goal that gave the Caps some life, but these guys can't play the game in the last 3 minutes.

Bruce Boudreau's comments are a welcome relief to the happy go lucky face Glen Hanlon sometimes would put on. He is laying the blame exactly where it belongs, on goaltending, on scoring, on defense, on this team. This team has to preform at an elite level to win games in the NHL, and right now they are no where near it.

The Capitals don't have much time to dwell on this lose as they have to jump back down to the Verizon Center to Atlanta. I am sure the building will be even more empty. Just another day at the office for the league's worst.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Night of Nights

Tonight is the an important night for the Capitals. After the Caps get nearly a week off to work on Bruce Boudreau's new system, they get to show what they have learned tonight at the Devil's new flat, dubbed "The Rock." Sounds cooler than the phone booth.

The Capitals are now under command of a new coach and how this new system - that was successful in the AHL - will work at the NHL level is in question tonight. Boudreau's new system is much more offensive minded, which is nearly a 180 from what Glen Hanlon had been preaching. This should be more of an exciting team, if they can get on a roll.

This league has been such a roller coaster ride for teams so far. Ottawa getting off to a fast start to fade of late. While the Maple Leafs started slow and have begun to pick it up. This has been the year of streaks for teams, so maybe the Capitals can ride one of those streaks - a winning one hopefully.

They will have to do it though with out the help of Micheal Nylander (undisclosed), Boyd Gordon (broken hand) and Chris Clark (groin). Even though Alex Ovechkin did not practice much over the past week, he will be present and accounted for. Joe Motzko will be recalled for some help against the Devils. Tonight is an important night for the Capitals.

In other news, Scott Niedermayer is coming back. What does that mean for the Capitals? We could pick up a solid defenseman. Sean O'Donnell could be possible trade fodder since the Ducks will have to dump about a million dollars for cap space. Since Brian Burke is no longer on friendly terms with Edmonton (reporters asked him if he had been talking to the other 29 teams about a trade, Burke responded, "28 teams, we don't talk to Edmonton"), the Caps have a 1 in 28 chance maybe of picking up another defenseman. Burke also may not move a defenseman, but instead a forward. Either way, it may be a way for the Caps to dump some problems to southern California in return for some proven talent.

Also there has been talk of how bad the ice is at the Verizon Center. An ideal ice condition for hockey is hard, cold ice. The game is faster and the ice holds together so there is less ruts (less chance for the puck to bounce/players getting hurt). Instead the ice at the phone booth is soft and wet (wet means the ice is not cold enough and is refusing to freeze). I am surprised the league hasn't led the charge for every building to have quality control for ice conditions. Since I have been playing out at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, I can tell you the ice there is in good condition. At the very least, the ice condition at the practice facility should match that of the Verizon Center. Maybe we should just have the games at the Kettler, since we can't seem to fill the phone booth anyway.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Much Needed Break

Sorry about the short absence, but I just got the NHL Network and have been spending my time mesmerized by the wonder and awesomeness of my television. Look at the pretty TV, it's interested in hockey as much as you are, whoooooooaaaaa. Uh-em, anyway.

Plus I have been going through a blogger crisis. It's what every blogger goes through at some point where you consider just not writing a blog. It's too hard, or I would much rather sleep, or who is that strange lady at the end of my couch, oh yea that's my wife. Plus the holiday season is upon us and soon I will be going to fabulous parties and missing much more games not to mention a big trip to Minnesota the week of Christmas. So blogging will be far and few between during this very busy and festive time of year.

Okay, now that is out of the way, Tomas Fleischmann and Jeff Schultz are going to try their hand at coaching. Youth hockey that is and only for a day. The pair will be at Fort Dupont to teach the tricks of the trade to youth players (no, not how to not score, that is an awful thought, shame on you). That happens this evening at 6 p.m.

Addressing some of the Alex Ovechkin might not play here next year rumors. Okay that is just not going to happen, because it doesn't matter what the league may offer Ovie to sail away, the Capitals do have the right to match it to keep him. But if some genius (like a Kevin Lowe) decides to make an outlandish offer for the forward, the Caps could be handcuffed cap wise with the weight of Ovechkin's contract. It would almost ensure that Ovie would be skating with a lot of twenty and twenty one year olds for some time before his is a free agent.

No one quite knows what the real story is however with a contract extension. With McPhee tight lipped and Ovie's "I speak no english/I have no agent" until a something is on paper I don't think anyone will know what is going on. Hence everyone has their own opinion on the matter and rumors abound. Listening to XM Satellite Radio Home Ice, every Canadian team's fan wishes they had Ovechkin on their team. Funny how they aren't that wild about Sid "the Kid" Crosby.

Jakub Klepis is going back to Europe, which is good for the young forward. He didn't earn a contract and the Capitals retain his rights. But at some point I look for that to be traded along with Ben Clymer at some point. Both toughed it out, and both are not getting rewarded with the big club. It all boils down to not enough room.

That is all I have for now....

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Finally, A Win

Capitals 2, Panthers 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post

What can I say about this one, the Caps actually played a pretty good road game. The Panthers though did look ripe for the picking, and the Capitals finally sneak a couple by Tomas Vokoun to register a mark in the win column. It took four games and three losses against the Miami squad to finally beat them, but the Capitals pulled out a win.

Alex Ovechkin was a little frustrated in this one, but he did go away with the game winning goal. After back to back penalties (a phantom high stick on a clean hit and a deserved cross checking when Ovie took out a Florida player right into the goal post), Ovie settled down a little bit and got back to what Ovechkin does best, shoot like crazy. Eventually one snuck in an extreme angle for his 20th goal and kept the Caps to the good for the rest of the game.

Brent Johnson was in goal and was good and Brian Potheir got on the scoreboard as well with his second of the year. Matt Pettinger had his fair share of chances in this game but just couldn't put the puck in the net. If it weren't for his bad luck he would have no luck at all, even hitting the post on an virtual empty net. Nick Backstrom had a tough game too. The rookie didn't get any love from the panthers after getting thrown down by the head on more than one occasion. No penalty was assessed.

The Caps actually look like they are on the verge, and it might be Bruce Boudreau's new system that the team will be working on this week. The Caps have a few days to work in a new system the hopefully will breed more offense out of this lackluster offense.

Another thing that concerned me as I listened to the out of town play by play on my XM Satellite radio was the commentators talking about Ovechkin possibly leaving at the end of the year. They continued by saying that the Caps had offered a deal to the Ovechkin that would make him the highest paid player in the league, but the it was Ovie that was stalling the talks in maybe an effort to go somewhere else. That worries me greatly if that is true.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Just Plain Bad

Capitals 3, Hurricanes 4
Scoresheet - Wash Post

Now it's just getting ugly. The Caps get two goals washed while a bouncing puck and a high stick deflection that counted gives the Hurricanes the win. For the Capitals they have dropped three straight proving it's not who you put behind the bench, it's the guys on the ice that have to score.

Alex Ovechkin had one of his best and worst games. It seemed to come and go like the tide. A spectacular goal on the power play off the face off started a good night. Then Ovie was caught out of position and had to back check on a break away giving up a penalty shot in the process (that LaRose did not score on). Early in the third he made amends with a pretty goal only to later score on his own net. After that, Ovechkin's high tide never returned despite two great chances late. Ovie scored his 18th and 19th of the season.

After coming off an ankle injury, Alex Semin got no love from the Carolina Hurricanes who slashed the forward on the legs the entire game. Semin left limping in the waning seconds in the third after another slash to the leg. Which proves to me that the 'Canes are a bunch of stick happy goons. They were clearly, clearly looking to injure the forward again, and the refs did nothing.

Speaking of which, this officiating crew really dropped the ball on this one. Two glaring problems I saw were missed calls and phantom penalties. They called a delay of game penalty on Tom Poti after his shot was deflected off the rink off Nick Backstrom's stick, which the puck has to touch nothing on the way out for a minor penalty to be assessed. Chad LaRose clearly hooked Mike Green late in the third and Green high sticked LaRose back. Green sat in the box and LaRose got off. Just the little things are killing this team, so it doesn't help that the officiating was off tonight.

The same problems are plaguing this team. The big problem is the second and third tier lines are not scoring. Ovie, Micheal Nylander, Viktor Kozlov, and Nicklas Backstrom are all in the double digits in terms of points (goals and assists). But Brooks Laich, Boyd Gordon, Matt Bradley, Matt Pettinger, Tomas Feischmann, Dave Steckel and Donald Brashear are all in single digit points with 7 points or less. Of those seven, four just have one goal. Chris Clark and Alex Semin have both been injured, but for everyone else it's been a scoring drought. The Capitals have to, have to, find second tier scoring from someone, anyone.

Chalk all of this down though as a loss. They get 2 points, the Caps get zero. In the end that is the bottom line. The Caps are not just losing, they are failing. They are again the rock bottom worst team in the league. The absolute worst.