Friday, February 29, 2008

You Have Got To Be Kidding

What marketing thinks of Olie Kolzig's skills:

(I couldn't get the ad to work on my page) And yes, It's easy to score on him (almost like in real life). Just saw the ad on Yahoo! and I couldn't help but score ten in a row on Olie (and counting). With the recent drama that is now the goaltending trio of Kolzig, Cristabol Huet and Brent Johnson now front in center, it seems the Caps marketing is okay with an image of Kolzig sliding front and back of an open net. Do realize though with a 6' x 4' cage behind him I doubt that Olie is very much up to scale.

Caps Stop Best In East

Capitals 4, Devils 0
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

The Washington Capitals took a step in the right direction as they beat the red hot New Jersey Devils at the Rock. You could call it a growing step. The Caps defeat the best team in the east (something they haven't had much of a problem of doing this year be it Ottawa or New Jersey) to gain ground in the division and make a strong push for the playoffs. Cristabol Huet was perfect and the Caps for the first time in a long time look energized and ready for the playoffs.

Newly acquired players Sergei Fedorov and Huet both made strong debuts for the Capitals. Matt Cooke was not in the line up as Bruce Boudreau would like the feisty forward get a practice in first. Fedorov had a beautiful no look pass to Alex Semin to set up the first goal in the second and looked in peak performance through out the game (maybe he does play better with younger players). Then Huet closed the door on 18 shots and the Caps played very well in front of their new goaltender.

Mike Green, Alex Semin, Viktor Kozlov and Donald Brashear all scored for the Caps. I don't know why so many people are surprised when Brashear scores, he is always shooting and they are usually good hard and accurate shots on net. One was bound to go in. Semin and Green both scored on the power play.

While Alex Ovechkin didn't score, he did get an assist on Kozlov's goal. The pressure to get to 50 goals may be a distraction for the slick forward, but I expect him to score a few more times before the year ends. It is nice to see some other Caps on the score sheet in the mean time.

Timing for the Capitals couldn't be better as they made the most of their leap day. The Caps pull to within 3 points of the division leading Carolina who are started to look strained under injury and keeping up with the Caps' surge. Not only that but the Caps have pulled to within 3 points of 8th place in conference. For the Caps to be hitting a stride right about now could be the best thing for them.

With 17 games the Caps have also come close to and will most likly eclipe their standings record of the previous two season of 70. A bench mark that in November actually looked like a pipe dream. If the Caps can continue their march in March, things are coming up roses for Boudreau's bunch.

The road doesn't get any easier, the Caps play both a surging Toronto and red hot Boston in their next two games. The only good thing about both games will be the Caps will be in the confines of home. The Caps have to be looking for a win against both clubs before they hit the road to take on Buffalo and Boston again.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Give, Because You Know You Want To

When ever people can get together to help a group in need, that is a good thing. Some area bloggers have come to the rescue of a hockey team in need. Local hockey is a mixed bag here in the DC area, and when there is a good program in trouble it should be our responsibility to come to its aid. Because we love the sport in general, because we want those younger than us to appreciate a sport we hold dear and mostly because it's right to do so. So I am asking my readers to help out as well. Here are the details. Even if it's only a dollar, it helps.

What: An auction to benefit the Wilson High hockey team
When: Friday, February 29th 7:00 pm (leap day)
Where: Clyde's of Gallery Place - $10

For more information check out the bloggers banded together: Japer's Rink, On Frozen Blog, 3 Grumpy Caps Fans, Off Wing Opinion, Capital Addiction and The Peerless Prognosticator.

Want to give online? Give here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What I Laich About You

Capitals 4, Wild 1
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

You don't know how long I wanted to use that title. The Caps get a little bit of energy after their general manager grabbed a grocery cart and did a little shopping. I guess it's do or die time for the second and third line guys with the new troops that are coming in. And Brooks Laich, what a break out game for him.

Laich had 4 points night, his career best by far with 2 goals and 2 helpers. Eric Fehr and Shaone Morrisonn added with their first goals of the year. Olie Kolzig must be feeling the heat with the oncoming competition in Cristabol Huet. It was one of his better performances, if it weren't for an unfortunate bounce Olie would have had a shut out against a very potent offense. Chris Bourque was called up to fill the Matt Pettinger hole for this game, and played pretty well.

While the win was big, the deals that happened earlier in the day was bigger. The Caps pull a number one goaltender, a smooth veteran, a tough as nails winger and a prospect. George McPhee just about told every one that they were "standing pat" but they were one of the busiest teams on draft deadline day.

Even with this big uplifting win, the Caps didn't move much in the standings as Carolina won their game tonight as well. Although not as decidedly as the Caps won against Minnesota. It's still 5 points out of playoff contention. The Caps get some reinforcements just in time.

For coverage on all the trades, have fun:
Washington Post, Washington Times, On Frozen Blog, Japer's Rink, Peerless Prognosticator.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Caps Busy On Trade Day

Contrary to what George McPhee told reporters just yesterday, the Washington Capitals were in the deal making business. He made it sound as if the Caps were comfortable where they were. Trades would not make sense at this point. GMGM sure pulled one over on us.

There were some grumblings about the Capitals shopping Steve Eminger and Ben Clymer around the league. A trade seemed imminent, but it would see the Caps gaining more than dumping. McPhee did say he wasn't in the selling mood. The Caps make an astonishing 5 trades acquiring 5 new players and only losing two. All players the Caps acquired are unrestricted free agents at the end of the season.

The Caps jumped at an opportunity to land Cristobal Huet for a second round draft pick early. Already GMGM was turning heads. Huet, ranked 11th in the league for goaltenders with a 21-12-6 record and a 2.55 goals against average and a .916 save percentage, will certainly help the Capitals out in net. GMGM acquired Huet with the draft pick he obtained from Anaheim. It does stir a controversy in the goaltender position as Olie Kolzig and Huet will most likely be sharing duties. That leaves Brent Johnson out in the cold. Huet will be a UFA at the end of the season, so it's still unclear if this is just a rental type deal or if the Capitals are interested in signing the goaltender long term.

Then the Caps pulled Sergei Fedorov from Columbus for their next move. While he is no replacement for a Micheal Nylander, Fedorov does add experience in the middle as a solid second or third line center. He may see some time with both Alex Semin and Alex Ovechkin on a line, but I am assuming he is there to fill out their center position farther down the line. I don't see McPhee signing Fedorov in the off season, he would be a hefty price tag to keep. But you can not deny Fedorov's veteran status if the Caps were to make the playoffs.

Not long after that was announced, the Capitals made their move again swapping Matts with Vancouver. Matt Pettinger gets to go to his hometown to be a Canuck and Matt Cooke adds some gritty play to the Capitals line up. Cooke, an agitator, actually comes in with better stats then Pettinger. He will be a key checking line acquistion and will prove his worth in a division that seemed to beef up some at the deadline. Pettinger's season was a bit disappointing personally. A change of scene for both players may become a positive for both.

For the final trade, the Caps get back Alexandre Giroux from the Atlanta Thrashers right at the deadline. They give up Joe Motzko who seemed to vanish into the wood work in Hershey, while Giroux seemed to grow up a little. I think McPhee didn't feel right about sending Giroux to Atlanta, and he had an opportunity to get that piece back. But Giroux will be sent to Hershey as soon as he arrives.

The Capitals seemed to make the most head turning moves, and seemed to impress most of the analyst who are still scratching their heads on the Huet deal. GMGM did well, but are these only temporary band-aids for the rest of the season. Will McPhee sign any of the players he traded for. It seems that remains to be see.

Meanwhile Steve Eminger and Ben Clymer are still stuck in the system as neither player was moved.

All Trades On Trade Day

The following are all the trades that were made before the 3 pm EST trade deadline. Plus a few of my gut reactions to each trade.

3:49 pm: Tampa Bay Lightning trade Jan Havac to Nashville Predators 7th round draft pick.
Thoughts: Looks like Tampa is getting what it can in draft picks.

3:34 pm: Atlanta Thrashers trade Alexandre Giroux to Washington Capitals for Joe Motzko.
Thoughts: Minor league trade mostly, eh prospect for another eh prospect. Caps get back another prospect it traded away.

3:27 pm: Los Angeles Kings trade Jean-Sebastien to Anaheim Ducks for 7th round draft pick.
Thoughts: Brian Burke corners the market on goaltenders named Jean-Sebastian.

3:21 pm: NY Islanders trade Marc-Andre Bergeron to Anaheim Ducks for 3rd round draft pick.
Thoughts: Ducks looks to keep their defense core a movable one with the quick puck moving Bergeron.

3:19 pm: Phoenix Coyotes trade Fredrik Sjostrom, David Leneveu and Josh Gratton to NY Rangers for Al Montoya, Marcel Hossa.
Thoughts: Seems minor but a lot of players involved. I think the Coyotes needed to move some stagnant players.

3:18 pm: Toronto Maple Leafs trade Chad Kilger to Florida Panthers for 3rd round draft pick.
Thoughts: Maple Leafs continue to pick up draft picks as they look to rebuild.

3:14 pm: Los Angeles Kings trade Brad Stuart to Detroit Red Wings for 2nd round and 4th round draft picks.
Thoughts: Red Wings look for some stability while the Kings can't dump Rob Blake at the deadline.

3:10 pm: NY Islanders trade Chris Simon to Minnesota Wild for 6th round draft pick.
Thoughts: Wild add some muscle and Islanders sort of wash their hands of Simon's controversial stint on Long Island.

2:57 pm: Atlanta Thrashers trade Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh Penguins for Angelo Esposito, Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen and a first round draft pick.
Thoughts: Atlanta sweep up on this deal. Penguins sell the farm for Hossa and Don Waddel comes out ahead on this deal.

2:52 pm: St. Louis Blues trade Christian Backman to NY Rangers for 4th round draft pick.
Thoughts: Minor trade.

2:52 pm: Toronto Maple Leafs trade Hal Gill to Pittsburgh Penguins for 2nd round and 5th round draft pick.
Thoughts: I worked when they brought in Gary Roberts, maybe this will work too. The Leafs are trying to dismantle.

1:37pm: Washington Capitals trade Matt Pettinger to Vancouver Canucks for Matt Cooke.
Thoughts: Pettinger's sub par season sends him home, Cooke will bring in some more punch.

1:29 pm: San Jose Sharks trade Rob Davison to NY Islanders for 7th round draft pick.
Thoughts: Salary dump.

1:11 pm: Columbus Blue Jackets trade Sergei Fedorov to Washington Capitals for prospect Theo Ruth.
Thoughts: I actually did see this one coming, another Russian in the fold. Not sure if Fedorov has much left in the tank, but may see a surge from him playing with fellow countrymen.

1:02 pm: Columbus Blue Jackets trade Adam Foote to Colorado Avalanche for '08/'09 1st round draft pick and conditional draft pick.
Thoughts: Foote's relationship has been frosty with the management at best. So best thing is for him to go, back to Colorado.

Word from Kettler, Caps aren't done.

12:35 pm: Chicago Blackhawks trade Martin Lapointe to Ottawa Senators for 2008 6th round draft pick.
Thoughts: The Senators giving up on Hossa?

12:18 pm: Carolina Hurricanes trade Andrew Ladd to Chicago Blackhawks for Tuomo Ruutu.
Thoughts: Interesting, I will have to do some more research on this.

12:15 pm: Florida Panthers trade Ruslin Salei to Colorado Avalanche for Karlis Skrastins and 3rd round draft pick.
Thoughts: A slow player for another slow player.

11:49 am: Montreal Canadiens trade Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals for 2009 2nd round pick.
Thoughts:Hmm, Are Brent Johnson's Days numbered? The Caps defiantly need some goaltending, but this is a head scratcher... for now.

11:41 am: Tampa Bay Lightning trade Brad Richards, Johan Holmqvist to Dallas Stars for Mike Smith, Jeff Halpern, Jussi Jokinen.
Thoughts: This was a rumor that started last night and cultivated today. Ex-Cap Halpern returns to the Southeast Division. Dallas filled a big hole at center, Tampa gets a goaltender.

Could the Capitals be dealing for Sergei Federov from Columbus?

11:25 am: Buffalo Sabres trade Brian Campbell and a 7th round draft pick to the San Jose Sharks for Steve Bernier and 1st round pick.
Thoughts: San Jose wanted Rob Blake, he said no, so they did the next best thing. Sabres do get something back in a first round pick and a solid forward, but the D did take a hit, a hit that was coming.

11:15 am: Toronto Maple Leafs trade Wade Belak to the Florida Panthers for a 5th round pick.
Thoughts: Looks like Don Brashear is getting a dancing partner for the Panther games.

10:36 am: St. Louis Blues trade Bryce Salvador to the New Jersey Devils for Can Janssen.
Thoughts: Devils needed to bolster their D and get one for next to nothing dealing Janssen since he hasn't seen a game in a while.

Feel free to comment. Just look up to see some star players flying to their new cities.

Related P.H.T. Stories:
Cooke A Capital
Fedorov A Capital
Huet A Capital
Halpern Back In The Southeast?
Rumor Mill Has Started
If The Caps Aren't Sellers...

Cooke A Capital

The Washington Capitals aren't sitting on their heels this trade season. The Caps move Matt Pettinger to Vancouver for Matt Cooke. The Caps were expecting more from Pettinger, but he just couldn't find the net this year. In return the Caps get Cooke, a winger with slightly better stats joins the Caps' push for a playoff spot.

Pettinger did practice this morning with the team.

Fedorov A Capital

The Washington Capitals seem to have a Russian connection because here comes another. Sergei Fedorov was acquired by the Caps for prospect Theo Ruth. Fedorov was one of those buzz words that had been circling around the Capitals for a few years actually. I thought with the Viktor Kozlov was picked up, that was the end of that. But McPhee will bring in another skilled veteran to help out up front.

Fedorov may have seen his best years behind him and I am sure GMGM is hoping that having him play with some fellow countrymen in the line up should energize him.

Here's the skinny: Sergei Fedorov is in his final year of a 5 year $40 million dollar contract and he looks to be a temporary fix to the loss of veteran players. I don't see the Caps resigning Fedorov and I wouldn't be surprised that he is on his last legs. He should be able to come in and fit in with his smooth skating style and puck moving skills. He was also a big part of the sweep of the Capitals back in 1998 in the Stanley Cup Finals. The foe is now a friend.

Huet A Capital

The Washington Capitals made a trade to bolster a position that I felt they had needed some help with. Cristobal Huet was traded to the Capitals for a 2nd round pick. Almost for nothing.

This tells me one of two things, Olie Kolzig doesn't look like he will get a contract extension after he is done, and Brent Johnson's days are numbered. The Canadiens obviously are going with Carey Price, and McPhee pulled a goaltender from out of nowhere. He would have been crazy not to take this opportunity.

Hoo - Ette? Who-ehh? Who cares, he's a Capital! Hey, his pads happen to match too!

Okay, here's the skinny: Christobal Huet is an unrestricted free agent at season's end. The Capitals needed a finger in the dam sorta speak. The Caps take on his $2.75 million dollar contract (prorated of course). The thinking here might be more about the future rather than the right now. If the Capitals can resign the talented goaltender it might be a look at the net for the Capitals for the next few years. He may split duties with Kolzig for the rest of the year then take the reigns from Kolzig when his time is done.

The Canadiens too maybe dumping some salary for a bid at Marian Hossa.

Halpern Back In The Southeast?

Jeff Halpern was named in a package deal Dallas may be sending to Tampa with goaltender Mike Smith and a young defenseman Mark Fistric for Brad Richards. That would put Halpern in a Lightning sweater for the remainder of the season.

Also Marian Hossa is rumored to be a Montreal Canadien. Most likely Michael Ryder will be the return player to Atlanta.

Still no confirmation on Steve Eminger yet.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rumor Mill Has Begun

I am getting a couple of murmurs about the Caps in a possible trade that would move Steve Eminger. Since Eminger hasn't been the first choice of management, he has always been in the crosshairs of a possible trade.

Also there is some grumblings of Ben Clymer being moved as well. Again these are just rumors as of now, and the Eminger report is the only one I heard from two different sources.

I will try to find out more, but most likely nothing will be confirmed until tomorrow.

Update: I am actually working tonight, so I will be up all night checking in on trades and updating, then try to stay awake for the trades tomorrow.

Lightning deal Vinny Prospal to Philly for Alexandre Picard and a second or third draft pick. Dan Boyle also signed a contract to stay in Tampa.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shaking Of The Head

Capitals 1, Devils 2 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

There was one phrase in my head as I left the game on an sudden overcast sky, the Capitals deserved a better fate. Unlike the game before in Carolina, the Caps were pressing until the end, keeping their attack even with their defensive efforts and goaltending was solid. Credit Martin Brodeur who has a habit of playing big when games mean something. For the Devils it meant taking the lead in the East. For the Caps it was an attempt to avenge a sub par performance 22 hours earlier.

Alex Semin scored just moments after the Devils took advantage of some Caps' penalties. Alex Ovechkin had an assist but was held scoreless in the last 5 games. The Caps effort overall was much improved from a day ago. The defense looked a little more in control in front of the net (besides the John Madden game winner) and I think I even saw Semin on the back check. There were times the Caps were getting a little too cute with the puck, but the overall pressure and effort was there. If the Capitals had pulled this effort in Carolina and still lost I would have felt better about it.

But this game was clearly about Brodeur, with some help of a left post and crossbar. The Devil goaltender was just spectacular through out the game. The Caps did pepper the net with some effort as well. Sometimes the Caps are guilty of just throwing the puck right at the goaltender, but Brodeur had to be sharp. Not to take anything away from Brent Johnson either. He clearly was a breath of fresh air after the Carolina debacle with Olie Kolzig in the paint. Although, if Kolzig had gotten the same support Johnny had, the out come would have been different.

How a team responds from a bad loss is key and while this is still a loss the Caps do gain a point and shouldn't be hanging their heads. They came out and worked, and that is what Caps fans really want out of their beloved. The team responded well. But the Caps really needed the two points, as we will be saying that every time they lose a game from here to the rest of the season.

Sami Lepisto looked much better although is still taking some sticking penalties. I contribute some of that to the difference between the minor league game speeds and the NHL speeds. If your not careful you can get got out of position real quick. As he legs get acclimated, we will see less and less of that. Tom Poti is playing much better as well. He was a little more physical in this game, and I am wondering if he is still bearing grudges against the Devils from playing in the Atlantic Division. He seems to have his best games against old divisional foes (which makes sense in a way).

While the Capitals need points, they do need to sort of lick their wounds and get some confidence back. Sure they gain a point, but an overtime loss can be a moral killer. Two straight losses could get this team in a rut they need to get out of quick if they want to make a run for the playoffs.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Big Talk, No Game

Capitals 3, Hurricanes 6
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

If a team is going to talk about how a certain game has to be treated like a playoff game with high intensity and pull a defensive debacle like that deserves to take a seat in April. This team obviously is not prepared to take the next step to the playoffs.

Whatever talk the Caps were bleating at the beginning of this game, they certainly didn't back it up. Maybe they're burnt out trying to come back from an early season implosion, maybe injuries were just too much for the Caps to bear, maybe they are just not clutch in big games in the NHL. This now puts the Caps at 0-5 in games they considered "must wins." Games where they could have pulled away, pulled ahead or pulled with in a game of their divisional foes on their own.

The game had the feel of some desperation early, but once again when the Caps got a lead they let it squander. Bad penalties, bad plays and a horrible defensive effort made this team look more like the Hershey Bears than the Washington Capitals, and that is an insult to the Bears. When the Hurricanes did whatever they wanted in front of Olie Kolzig, the result was 6 goals and it could have been more. Just about every goal the 'Canes scored were rebounds which the Caps defense just could not control.

If the Caps can't beat their own division, which is quite obvious they can't, they are not going to the playoffs and GMGM might as well be a seller. They have the worst record against the Southeast at 10-12-3 and the only team besides the Lightning that are below .500 against division rivals. If you can't have a winning record against your own division, you are not going to the playoffs, period.

Mike Green, Alex Semin and Brooks Laich all scored for the Caps. Semin is riding a 4 game scoring streak and the power play was a good 2 for 4. However, the penalty kill (that I had been raving about for the last 3 or 4 games) was dismal. The 'Canes scored 4 goals (4!) out of seven chances. The Caps misfortunes were stupid, laxed, lazy, dumb, unnecessary penalties too. Alex Ovechkin broke out of his point slump with primary assists on all three goals. Shaone Morrisonn and Mike Green were the only two players with a +1 rating while Sami Lepisto and John Erskine were both a -2.

I am not expecting too much out of this team tomorrow either, their moral took a serious hit in Carolina. That makes the Devils lick their chomps as they step into the phone booth to try to take the lead in the Eastern Conference. While the Caps have to pull together some wins to see if they can at least grab an 8th spot, however unlikely that will be with Florida and Atlanta making their push.

Yes I understand there still 20 some games left and the season is far from over, but if the Capitals continue to play their division like they have and stumble in games they consider "must win," then the future does look bleak. The Caps can ill afford to lose these big games.

There was a good contingent of Caps fans at the game this afternoon. It's nice to see Caps fans rally for the support of their team down in Carolina, but I am sure they wished a better outcome. Still, it's pretty cool to see a mix of old and new Caps sweaters up in the nose bleeds of the RBC Center. Let's hope they behaved themselves.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

If The Caps Aren't Sellers...

Being a general manager in the NHL is not an easy position nowadays. What with the salary cap, players retiring then coming back and the log jam that is the Eastern and Western Conference Standings. It's enough to give you a headache. Do you sell or buy, buy or sell, SELL or BUY!!?!!

Well GM George McPhee answered that question after his little meeting with the other GM's around the league that got into a "my goaltender's equipment is bigger than yours" conflict. The Capitals were not going to be sellers come trade deadline time (tell that to Brian Sutherby, but anyway). GMGM seems pretty content with the team he has on the ice, never mind the calls for help on the blue line.

So, if they aren't sellers, are they buyers? Not likely. The Caps do have some room under the cap if they wanted to make a move, but that might mean "selling" off some good talent for a rental. And a rental can be a mixed bag, just ask the Atlanta Thrashers. It seems the Caps will not be making any headlines when February 26 rears its ugly head.

I can imagine GMGM with a big mug of hot chocolate in a log cabin somewhere with big wool socks on, never minding the calendar that is above his desk in the corner. Not a care in the world. What does he have to worry about? If the Capitals don't make the playoffs he can explain that injuries were just too much to overcome, that the young core needed another year, that the "O" in the National Anthem was too much of a distraction (really, is it that big of a deal?)

Even if the Capitals made a move, who do you move? Do you trade draft picks? Who would you want to get? Seems the biggest move for the Capitals is to do nothing. Now pull up your wool socks and a hot cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the rest of the season, playoff bound or not. The best move is to not. For once, I think McPhee has got something right.

Call It What You Will

Capitals 2, Islanders 3 OT/SO(0-1)
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

I am not going to write about the Caps failure to score after getting a lead. I am not going to write about a lack of a "killer instinct" the Caps seem to lack. I am not going to write about how after having four days off they somehow look winded and tired. I am not going to write about how the Caps could have had two points, but have to once again settle for a single point. All of those things we have discussed before. Call it what you will, but the Capitals lost this game.

The Capitals' early season implosion may have been too large for them to eclipse. They were once revered as one of the hardest working teams in the league for the past two seasons, now that motto seems to have faded as the Caps now live and die based on Alex Ovechkin's stick. Ovie is a spectacular talent, but he can not be an island.

Alex Semin scored a nice backhander to open the scoring in the first and Brooks Laich tipped a Mike Green blast on the powerplay. Alex Ovechkin was held pointless for a third straight game and seems stuck at 48 goals. Jeff Schultz was listed as the dreaded "day-to-day" with a strained knee, giving the green light for Sam Lepisto to be called up once again.

Silver lining: Well, the Caps did secure a point. That's what they need is to accrue standings points to keep the pressure on Carolina and keep themselves ahead of the game. The penalty kill has been clutch for them as well. The Caps have killed penalties in six straight games. The last time the Caps were scored on down a man was February 6.

Now it's a quick trip to Carolina where the Caps can once again help their own cause by defeating the team in their way. I don't expect much of any miracle to happen against the 'Canes. What I would expect from the Capitals is for them to put on their hard hats and get to work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

One And Done

Sam Lepisto got his shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning. That was enough for Caps management know they have a very capable defensemen if they need him a pinch. But with Tom Poti back in the lineup, there is just no room for the smooth skating Fin. So back down he goes. Along with Eric Fehr.

Fehr was a healthy scratch against the Lightning, and the Caps didn't miss him much. Boudreau talked about Fehr getting his scoring touch back, which I think is the smart move. He just didn't look comfortable at the big league level. Fehr was often out of position, behind the play and look a little out of shape. Give him a few more games to get his game right.

With those two gone the Caps have a capable line up that evens out, for the forwards anyway. For the defense looks like Steve Eminger might be the odd man out. Meanwhile the Islanders aren't a much healthy either. The Long Island gang is without defensemen Brendan Witt, Andy Sutton and Chris Campoli. The Caps offense may get some much needed confidence.

Update: Shaone Morrisonn is suppose to be on Washington Post Live this afternoon on Comcast Sportsnet.

So Close, Yet So Far

Carolina had an opportunity to be six points ahead of the Caps. Too bad that didn't happen. The Caps are still three points behind the Southeast leaders, but they also have 3 extra games to make up as well. While some say the team is hurting bad without their captain Rod Brind'Amour, this is a team that has won the Stanley Cup. Don't look for a sit down just yet.

The Caps face the Islanders tonight at the phone booth. The Islanders will be with out the services of Any Sutton thanks to a torn hamstring. He tore it on a hit in Long Island's inspired win over the San Jose Sharks. What might be more significant is that Ilse are only a point above the Capitals in the Eastern Conference. The Caps not only have a chance to put pressure on Carolina, but can also strive closer to a playoff spot with out winning the division.

Ahead of the Caps are the NY Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Philly Flyers and the Boston Bruins. All are with in 4 points of one another in the standings that span from 11th up to 7th place. Also Atlanta is tied with the Caps at 62 points and will also be pressuring for playoff action. Of those three teams ahead of the Caps only one has a solid win record of 6-2-2 in their last ten, Buffalo. The other two seem beatable down the stretch, especially the Flyers who are 2-7-1 in their last 10. Because the race for first in the Southeast is so close, the possibility of the Caps eclipsing two teams for 8th place is plausible.

Of course the Capitals don't want to settle for sneaking in the back door of the playoffs. Neither do the Fans. We all want home ice advantage for the first round. There are good signs that might be in our future as well. For one, Alex Ovechkin is over his little stomach flu and will be at 100%. Olie Kolzig has been on fire since Christmas and his confidence level (which has always been a barometer for the team's moral) is growing. Alex Semin is getting his scoring touch back, hopefully so do Tomas Fleischmann, Matt Pettinger and Boyd Gordon. And the Caps have been winning with out Micheal Nylander, Chris Clark and Brian Potheir. Three Vets that did lead the team in ice time now all out.

First and foremost though, the Caps must keep winning.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wild Third At St. Pete Times

Capitals 3, Lightning 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

If you were doing the same thing I was doing when the Tampa Bay Lightning scored the tying goal with 3:38 to go, you would be buying a new TV remote tomorrow and explaining to your wife why there is a hole in the wall. Could this really be happening, the exact same breakdown two nights in a row where the Caps get the lead then blow it late in the third? It was certainly looking that way until Alex Semin tapped a rebound past Johan Holqvist to give the Caps the lead for good. The Caps escape a wild third period with a much needed two points.

Tomas Fleischmann seems to be finding his scoring grove as he started the scoring with a power play tally in the first. After that it became a goaltender duel between Holmqvist and Olie Kolzig. As much as I have made fun of Kolzig this season, he has been pretty good in tough games. He was fantastic in this match up turning away almost 36 shots before the Lightning finally slipped one past him and finished the night with 39 saves. The Caps were able to make it 2-0 on a perfect 2 on 1 by Dave Steckel and Matt Bradley. Steckel scored, Bradley's dad was interviewed between periods, it worked well for all involved.

But the Lightning turned their game to a whole new level and actually tied the game at 2 with under 4 minutes to play. They kept the Caps on their heels and Bruce Boudreau had to take a time out to settle his boys down after the second goal. What ever he said to the troops, I guarantee you that Alex Semin didn't understand it ('cause he doesn't speak english), but he did know the team needed a clutch goal and he delivered. Semin tipped a rebound shot from Mike Green (Viktor Kozlov deflected the shot) for the game winner. To be honest I had to look twice to make sure it was Semin because he jumped against the boards in a Ovechkin-esque way after the goal.

The Caps win, and they do it with Alex Ovechkin off of the scoresheet. Ovie was held pointless and was a -1. The Capitals found goals and a way to win, albeit a very unconventional way of doing it. The Cardiac Caps are finding ways for me to do home improvement projects on the weekend (i.e. filling holes in walls).

This win was a big one for the Caps as they have pushed back up to second place in a tie with Atlanta who lost tonight, and are two points behind Carolina who helped the Caps out in a way by beating Florida. Although, the Caps could have come out of this weekend with twice the points and they know it. If they had won all three contests, they would be in sole position of first place a point ahead of Carolina. But to win on the road in the NHL is not an easy thing to do for any team. The Caps should be satisfied with their 3 points and with in a game of Carolina. If Carolina had lost to Florida, there would have been a 4 way tie in the Southeast Division with only Tampa Bay out of the loop (but hey, the Bolts would have been in 2nd place).

It's a much needed day off for the Capitals Sunday as many of them will stay in Florida to hang out with their dads who traveled along with the team through this road swing. But it's back to work Monday morning and the Islanders visit the phone booth on Wednesday night. The Caps can ill afford to let up off the gas now as they are in the thick of it. Keep winning and they will be in the playoffs, keep losing and I will have to either pad my walls or buy a nerf remote control.

Good Parody

Click here for video.

I absolutely love the Crosby voice. I can't help but smile every time I see the regular ads during games thinking of this parody ad.

Editor's note: On the link to the youtube.com video site the owner explains-
That line is supposed to be a reference to the NHL's ineffective and inconsistent discipline for hits from behind & head shots...I made this video long before Zednik's accident, glad he's ok! I wouldn't make fun of something like that.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Slipping Away

Capitals 2, Panthers 4
Scoresheet - Wash Post - Wash Times

We talk about it all the time. It's like beating a dead horse, finding a new club, then beating it some more. The Capitals have to find ways to close out games when they have the lead. This whole, "Whew, thank goodness we got that goal and now I can work less" has got to stop for the Capitals. They once again blow a lead and this time there would be no heroics from Alex Ovechkin who was held pointless.

Alex Semin was able to give the Caps a power play tally to tie the game in the second. Not long after that Tomas Fleischmann shot a quick snapper past a surprised Tomas Vokoun. Then the Caps took the rest of the night off, with a sloppy break out pass turn over and two soft goals by Brent Johnson who needs to learn how to stay snug to the post.

In the meantime, the Caps fall from first to a tie with the Panthers for 3rd in the span of two games. Once again the Caps lose an important game where they could have put some space between them and the team they are playing in the standings. Since the Philly game where they tooke first in the Southeast, the Caps are 0 for 4 with only one point in games that could keep them in first or put them ahead of the team they were playing losing games to Atlanta (twice), Carolina and now Florida.

Are there bright spots? Of course, the Capitals penalty kill has been a perfect in the last 19 short manned situations. The last time the Caps were scored on shorthanded was in Philly on February 6. That is a pretty astonishing accomplishment that spans now 4 games. They were also able to score on the power play but were only 1 for 4.

Before we got into all this first place business, the Caps played with nothing to lose. I guess now with something to lose, the Capitals are starting to come up short. Somehow Bruce Boudreau has got to get this back to a "nothing to lose" type of team we've seen before. It's been better for this team to make mistakes and play a high risk/high reward game rather than a slow deliberate protection of a lead (isn't that the shell we played under Hanlon?). It's frustrating to see this team who is capable of scoring 4 or more goals in a game to slug along with only 1 or 2 goals a game.

Secondary scoring is absolutely killing this team. Ovie is not going to be Mr. 4-goals-and-an-overtime-winner-every-night (which could be what Ovechkin means in Russian for all I know). The fact that players like Matt Pettinger, Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Fehr and Boyd Gordon haven't produced much offensively is starting to really hurt. There is clearly a lack of depth that has been present. Micheal Nylander is 4th in scoring and he has been out of the line up for a month already.

Right now the only player that is showing up for the Caps wears an 8. That has to change if the Caps hope to go anywhere. The Caps so far have come up with only a single point in their last two, and instead of jumping to a lead in the Southeast, they are in the middle of the log jam and slipping down the standings. The Caps must finish big games, with authority. They have it in them.

Great Day At The Beach

From time to time I get random emails from people who both like and hate this blog. For those who hate it, mom stop writing me. For the others I appreciate the feedback. That being said I got one of these emails from someone who is anonymous (not that anonymous since I have your email address).

"Kolzig letting in beach balls, are you serious?"

In fact I am, see:

And old school!


Oops, how did that last one get in there? Ah well.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Off On The Wrong Foot

Capitals 2, Thrashers 3 OT/SO(0-2)
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Capitals need points, and they need their opponents to get none. The last three times they had a chance to help themselves in the standings and to stand alone at the top, they have failed. The have lost all three games. At least in Atlanta they were able to pull out a point and created a three way tie for first in the Southeast Division.

The first period saw the Capitals wipe the ice with the Thrashers. They did everything right, keeping pressure up on the defense, winning the one on one battles, getting shots on net. But just like the game days before with the Thrashers, Atlanta laid in wait and Kari Lehtonen once again stoned the Caps efforts.

Viktor Kozlov finally broke the stalemate with a goal in the second and then the Thrashers jumped to a 2-1 lead after Lehtonen passed the puck to a streaking Marian Hossa. Alex Ovechkin got a late goal to tie it up and it was off to the shoot out where Olie Kolzig couldn't stop a beach ball from going in the net.

The Caps have this very very bad habit of letting their collective foots off the gas once they get a lead. Their play before the goal was inspired, hard working and desperate. After Kozlov scored they seemed lethargic, slow and couldn't win a face off to save their lives in the second period. What is most frustrating part was the Caps had the Thrashers on the ropes. They just couldn't score. Boyd Gordon had 3 or 4 glorious opportunities but couldn't beat Lehtonen.

The Caps were also o for 2 on the powerplay, big surprise. They also lost Tom Poti to a "lower leg injury" in the first. He was listed day to day and is questionable for the game Friday in Sunrise. Again Quintin Laing was a healthy scratch in favor of Eric Fehr and I think they miss his gritty play. While Fehr still is not impressing like maybe they thought he would. Tomas Fleischmann just signed a 2 year extension with the Caps and celebrated with penalty and a -1 with no shots on net.

Now Carolina, Atlanta and Washington are in a 3 way tie for first with 60 points. The Caps can't afford to lose points now, they may never get them back. Every game against their rivals, especially Atlanta and Carolina must be regulation wins, they have to be playoff caliber games. The Caps have to play with some sense of desperation.

The Caps next two games won't be a walk in the park either. Both the Panthers and Lightning are starting to come on strong. If the Caps fall in regulation in both games the path they have to travel becomes a fight for perfection for the rest of the season. They can not afford to allow any division team to gain points.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

In Case You Were Wondering

Some photos from the "event" at Cleveland Park Bar & Grill Sunday after the Rangers game. I have no idea who every one is (besides the players), so if you happen to see yourself let me know in the comments page. And thanks to all that showed up and supported the Washington Animal Rescue League.




It's good to be Shaone Morrisonn!




More pictures are posted here. Again thanks to every one that came out.

Oh yea, Tomas Feischmann was resigned for 2 years. Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Mike Green, Steve Eminger and Shaone Morrisonn are still RFAs at the end of the season.

Caps and 'Canes Swap Again

The Carolina Hurricanes needed to shake things up a bit to ensure some success down the stretch. They said "see ya" to Cory Stillman and Mike Commadore and said "hello" to Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves. While Eaves is still nursing an injury, Joe Corvo made his 'Canes debut against Boston and helped Carolina come away with a win. He had an assist and was a -1.

But it's the revolving door of the division leader that makes news here. The 'Canes once again take the Southeast Division lead. The Caps once again fall to 10th in the eastern conference. Expect this up and down act for the rest of the season, but it may not be such a bad thing.

The Caps, Hurricanes, Thrashers and Panthers are all fighting for first. That is elevating play of all 4 teams that are still in the hunt. They have to win games. The more games the Southeast wins, the more the collective improve their standings points. They could eclipse Buffalo, Boston and NY Rangers if those teams should slip. Since the collective need points, they could all slide past those teams that might not be in such a crunch to make up those points.

But a lot can happen in a stretch of 20-25 games that are left. If the Caps want to taste the post season, they have to keep winning, and this road trip will go a long way if they can pull away with 6 points without surrendering a point in return. A loss won't kill the Caps chances, but it would make it harder once March rears it's head.

Some very important people will be traveling with the team for the Florida stretch, some of the player's dads. If they are anything like my dad they will get a lot of "What are you doing, skating circles out there?" or "Did you enjoy playing the whole game from you butt?" after the game. That or maybe they will get into fights with the other teams fathers in the stands. Most likely it will give a bit of a boost to the boys to keep moral up as they fight tooth and nail for first place. And yes dad, it's extremely fun to play from one's butt!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Goodness Gracious

More and more media are giving mad props to Mike Green for his ability to be a Ranger killer in overtime and now the same amount of goals and is producing the same amount offense than Jarimor Jagr (yup, just ask Uncle Ted). Green is quickly becoming a defensive darling for the Capitals and the NHL. During the Rangers game we even got a glimpse of his crib. Not only is he a good hockey player, the boy has some style. Brooks Laich was on hand to rib the blueliner on his sense of style and decor.

If you didn't see it: click here!


Anyway, that aside I am actually okay with all the Caps marketing this season. The return to red, white and blue and the cool alternative slogans have been pretty cool to see all about town. Although the tattoo commercial I can do without, at least it's better than just panning a camera around Kolzig and Ovie with Joe B. in the background. It's getting better.

Oh and there was a big trade between Carolina and Ottawa: Corey Stillman and Mike Commadore goes to Ottawa and Joe Corvo and Patrick Eaves to Carolina.

Thoughts for Zednik

Get better man, we want to see you back on the ice soon.

NHL News: Zednik Stable After Surgery
Good News: Zednik's Life Never In Jeopardy

To see the Zednik get nicked, click here. Warning not for the faint of heart.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Capitals Come Back Again

Capitals 3, Rangers 2 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The Capitals had a couple of problems in the southeast match up that saw Carolina retake the Southeast Division lead. One was bad penalties (Alex Semin, we are all looking at you), the other was the power play. The Caps were able to remedy one of those problems early. The other, not so much. The Rangers may have played the night before, but they sure didn't look like it and kept the Caps on their heels for most of the game. It would take overtime to settle this one.

Alex Ovechkin solved the sagging powerplay with a goal they needed in the last 25 or so man advantages: a garbage goal (Ovie's 47th). The Caps slammed the net on their first power play and Eric Fehr created the traffic and Ovie slapped home the power play tally. After that the Rangers took it to the Caps stepping out to a 2-1 lead. Boyd Gordon, a player that needs to find his scoring touch a bit more this season ties it late in the second period. In overtime it was Mike Green who shot a laser past Stephen Valiquette and the Capitals take home the winner.

Olie Kozig got his 700th start and made it count by stopping some tough shots and looked a little like the Kolzig of old (besides the Avery goal in the first which he didn't play the angle right). It was fitting that his 700th start be a game winner and goaltender duel of sorts. The Caps split the season series with the New York Rangers, winning the last two in overtime.

The Caps took too many lazy penalties though. I'm not sure if it is because of the early start but the Capitals took a lot of tripping and hooking calls. Olie also didn't help his team too much with a delay of game penalty mid way through the third. But the Caps penalty kill was able to fend off the Ranger attack (0-6). Although the Caps didn't get much help from the refs who were pretty inconsistent in this game. Eric Fehr was leveled in the corner with a cross check to the back and the refs looked the other way. It seemed all the marginal stuff was called while some major take downs were not.

Quintin Laing was a healthy scratch, and even though the Capitals were perfect on the kill there was something definitely missing not having 53 out there. The Caps seem to lack a little grit on the checking line, even though Don Brashear did his best to create some havoc himself.

It's first place again for the Capitals as they leap frog the Hurricanes and Thrashers a second time. They even got a little of a breather as the Florida Panthers losing their game today keeping the Caps 2 points ahead of them. While they will have a few days to enjoy the number one spot in the division and 3rd in the conference, the Caps still have more work to do.

The Capitals now must face three division foes on the road for their next three games. The first game will be in Atlanta and the Caps need to win that game to put some distance between them and Thrashers and Hurricanes. Then they will face Florida then Tampa Bay. The Caps are looking for a 6 point sweep on this road trip, but realistically the Caps would be in good shape if they can come out of this road trip with 4 standings points.

Midway through the third period I heard Comcast Sportsnet left the game for a few minutes for the announcement of the new Redskins coach. Jim Zorn was named the new head coach and the Redskins remind DC hockey fans whose king by cutting away from the game to announce a coach nobody knows much about (other than at one point he was hired as an offensive coordinator). Nice to see some respect.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Year Of The Rat

It appears that the WMATA will be holding a parade in Chinatown to celebrate the little creatures that inhabit the Metro rail stations and tubes... wait, what? Oh not that kind of rat? Ooooh year of the rat. Aren't most rats in witness protection? Anyway, expect delays if you are heading to the phone booth to catch the Rangers/Caps game. Come early and watch the parade, stay for the game. Then rat out your friends that didn't come to the game.

It also looks like Boudreau is going with two power play units rather than one. He had been leaning on just one crew, but the Caps can't find the back of the net with a map and a flashlight. He also shook up the lines (big surprise). Fehr has dropped to the 4th line with Gordon and Pettinger, while Quintin Laing maybe a healthy scratch for the first time since being called up.

The Caps find themselves where they were almost a week ago before they played the Philadelphia Flyers. They are tied with Florida and are one point behind both Atlanta and Carolina for division lead, thanks to Atlanta and Florida wins and a Carolina loss. Florida will be the only other Southeast team playing Sunday. The Capitals can take the lead once more with a win, but if they lose and the Panthers win, the Miami squad will be atop the division standings. It's starting to turn into a sprint to the end of the season in the Southeast with 4 teams neck to neck.

The games left for the Capitals are not any easier as they push for a playoff spot. After the Rangers game the Caps face their divisional foes on the road for the next three games (Atlanta, Florida and Tampa). These are must win games for the Caps.

And here is something to wrap your head around: If Gabby started the season and had the same record in the Capitals' first 21 games as he had in his first 21 games as the Caps' new coach, the team would have 70 points. They would have also had a 12 point lead on Carolina. They would have matched their season point high of the previous two seasons with 27 games left. The would also be two points behind Ottawa and the lead in the Eastern Conference. I love math.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Caps Can't Help Themselves

Capitals 1, Hurricanes 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

This is twice where the Capitals have shanked an important division game, almost in carbon copy manner. The Caps couldn't put the Thrashers away to give them the lead in the Southeast then, and they couldn't keep the lead against the Hurricanes tonight. The sad thing is, the Caps lost both games at home. It's not like the 'Canes played a perfect game against the Capitals, for a team that is dead last in penalty kills Carolina thwarted all of the Capitals power plays leaving them with a 0 for seven mark. And just like that the Caps are on the outside looking in.

When the Caps have had the opportunity to help themselves in the Southeast Division standings, they have failed. The Capitals are 9-9-2 against their division rivals, while the Thrashers, Hurricanes and Panthers all have winning stats against their foes.

The Caps came out sluggish and looked tired through the entire game. That might be because the Hurricanes is the more experienced team. Carolina simply out worked and out hustled the Caps. It didn't matter that their two goals came early and their offense was mere spurts off of Capitals' turnovers, they out played the Caps in their own building. They were more physical, more hungry, just the better team. They wore the Caps down, so it wasn't any surprise that the Capitals looked sluggish and tired right when they needed legs the most.

Alex Semin scored the Caps only goal and while he was a catalyst for recharging the offense half way through the third, he was the buzzkill late in the period taking a bad slashing penalty away from the puck (just because he was pulled down). Any chance of a comeback was snuffed out at that point. Alex Ovechkin was pretty much silenced and when the 'Canes had a chance to hit the league leading scorer, they did.

While I do think Eric Fehr is the Caps' future, he isn't ready yet. He had been pushed back to the second line after the top line couldn't get any pressure going. It makes me wonder if Fehr needs some more time in Hershey before he can be pulled up again. He looks slow and is out of position. His shots are coming from standing in front of the net and each time he comes off the ice he looks winded and out of breath. John Erskine left in the first after getting hurt, and the Caps just looked beat after the game was over. A completely different team that walked into Wachovia Center in Philly and took first place.

The power play was a piece of crap. They were too predictable and they stopped moving all together for the later man advantages. You can credit Cam Ward for showing up because every shot was right at him. I can't tell you how many shots just hit him, when Ward wasn't even moving. On the opposite side of the rink, Brent Johnson made some pretty spectacular saves. He was the only reason the 'Canes didn't jump to a 4-0 or 5-0 lead when the Caps' defense struggled.

But that is experience for you. Carolina has been through those wars, they know how to play big games. It's quite obvious the Capitals are not ready. The Hurricanes knew exactly what they needed to do, and even though it wasn't pretty, it got the job done and the Capitals need to learn to not just get to these kind of big games, but need to learn how to win them. If the Caps can't win these divisional games, then it will be a longer summer than expected for them.

The crowd was big at the phone booth, it was announced 18,204 and it sounded and looked like it. The 'Canes took the crowd out of it pretty early even with a late rally.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Caps Get A Little Help

One night you're a hero and in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference standings, the next night you could be back in 11th and that road seems harder to travel again. But the Caps get some help tonight. Of the three teams in the Southeast Division that played only Tampa Bay won. Atlanta dropped their game against Vancouver (thanks Luongo) and the Florida Panthers lost a close game with Ottawa (Thank you Heatly). Along with Carolina these four teams, the Caps, Thrashers and Panthers are in a dead heat and every standing point counts.

The Capitals stay atop the Southeast for now, and they have a chance to put some space between Carolina, Atlanta and Florida with a regulation win against the 'Canes. That would put them 3 points ahead of everyone. It's not going to be easy to maintain that spot, the Caps will get the division's best play. They are playing with a target on their chests. This will be a true test on what kind of hockey team Uncle Ted and GMGM has.

Meanwhile, talk around the league has mostly been centered around Alex Ovechkin and a bid for league MVP. The rest of the NHL is quickly recognizing what a absolute talent the Capitals have. Even talk of Sid "the Kid" Crosby has subsided to Ovechkin's ovations. Even with Sid skating for the first time in several week since tweaking his high ankle. While Ovie is getting all the Hart talk, Bruce Bourdreau is getting some rumblings around the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. All this talk and still 27 games still to go on the schedule. I almost feel everyone is jinxing the team.

But for now it feels good to see that the Capitals' efforts are paying off. Also, It's nice to see Ovechkin get his accolades. Every Caps fan wants to taste the playoffs again. A chance to bring that intensity back to the phone booth, that chance at a Cup. But the Caps haven't won that right yet and I have covered my house with wood just to knock on.

Don't forget about the Capitals Meet & Greet on Sunday after the NY Rangers game at the Cleveland Park Bar & Grill. All info can be found on the right side of my page or here. All proceeds will benefit the Washington Animal Rescue League. It's your chance to meet Shaone Morrisonn, Eric Fehr, Brooks Laich and Mike Green. Tell your friends!

From Worst To First (It's About Time Post)

Capitals 4, Flyers 3
Scoresheet - Wash Post

When Bruce Boudreau took over the Washington Capitals they were a down and out team. They weren't even considering playoffs, they were just looking to salvage a season. But Gabby took off the shroud of perfect play under Glen Hanlon and told the boys to play. If they were down a couple of goals, they had to make that up. It hasn't been a perfect trip to the top, but the Capitals (being the only Southeast Division team to play tonight) took sole possesion of first place in the division and 3rd in the Eastern Conference standings.

Brooks Laich started the scoring after Alex Ovechkin had to sit in the sin bin with James Vandermeere after the pair exchanged cross checks after the whistle. It was a pretty little backhander to open the scoring in the second. Matt Bradley tipped a shot in for his 3rd goal of the year and 64 seconds later Viktor Kozlov netted a goal. Ovechkin didn't waste much time getting the 4th goal and his 46th of the year to put the Caps up 4-1.

The Flyers didn't lay down in the third after that, but their luck could have been better. A goal was disallowed due to a quick whistle after Scott Hartnell pushed Olie Kolzig and the puck into the net. Then the Broad Street Bullies made a case for overtime netting two goals with 22 seconds left to tie the game. But the Caps persevered, much to the chagrin of the hometown faithful who were still booing the refs as the game ended for disallowing a goal.

The Caps played a pretty good road game up until the Flyers started making a comeback. The Caps held Daniel Briere and Mike Richards to an assist each and a -1. Alex Semin, Mike Green, and Shaone Morrisonn all were a +2. The Philly boys came out physical in the first period, but their legs gave out and inopportune times. The Caps weren't perfect in this game, but when have they ever been.

The Caps have a day to enjoy being at the top. For a team that was tied for 3rd in the division and 11th in the Conference, they have catapulted themselves to 1st in the Southeast and 3rd in the Conference. Remember 1st place division teams in each division take the 1, 2 and 3 spots in the Conference. The Caps finally are sitting in a position they last saw March of 2003.

Carolina will have something to say about that Friday night. The 'Canes will be in town to take on the newly crowned 1st place Caps to reclaim the title. This game is shaping up to be one of the biggest games of the season for the Washington squad. For the Capitals to remain in first with a win over a division rival, but it's been a mixed bag of success for them playing their division so far this season.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Caps Escapes Columbus

Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 OT
Scoresheet - Wash Post

The first time Alex Ovechkin played the Columbus Blue Jackets he made a statement to the NHL scoring 2 goals. Who could forget his opening shift when he took a defender into the boards breaking one of the plexi-glass holders and the near standing ovation Ovechkin got as his image graced the jumbo-tron. The Capitals certainly have come a long way.

The Caps came out sluggish once again falling into a two goal deficit in the first (one of which was a 3 on 5 shortie goal by Rick Nash). The Caps battle back with a couple of goals by Ovie (his 44th) and Alex Semin. Then the BJs got a break from Bill McCreary when the referee bumped into Shaone Morrisonn allowing Rick Nash an avenue around the big defender to give the home team the lead once more. Lucky for Morrisonn (and McCreary) Tom Poti scored his first of the season with six minutes left in the third to tie.

In overtime, Alex Ovechkin with his 45th goal of the season, snapped a wrister past Fredrik Norrena who had to fill in for Pascal LeClaire who suffered a sprained neck. The Caps once again come from behind to gain two points and it's a good thing they did. The Southeast Division just became a log jam with 4 teams within a point of first place.

The Capitals got some help tonight from the Hurricanes and Thrashers who both lost, but the Florida Panthers would not go quietly slamming the Toronto Maple Leafs 8-0 and tied the Capitals with 55 points. This division, with the slow start each team had, looks like it will go to the wire with only the first place team going into the playoffs. I still think the top two teams of the division will be able to make the post season because it is so tight and these teams need all the wins they can muster.

Tom Poti had his best game as a Capital. He blocked an important goal when Brent Johnson was down and out. Besides having a great game defensively, he scored his first ever goal as a Capital to tie the game at three sending it to overtime. Poti finished this game with a goal, an assist and a plus 1. While Poti was never acquired to score goals, that big zero in his goal column was an eye sore for the veteran player.

The Caps don't have much time to rest as they take on the Flyers tomorrow night. The Caps have an opportunity to take first in the division if they can earn two points against the upstart Philly squad that won their game with Atlanta. If the Capitals can keep winning, they will find themselves in the playoffs. If they keep winning.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Fehr-y Good

Apparently Eric Fehr has been recalled. I always seem to be the last to know. Fehr may see some action up on the first line, at least that is were he was lined up in practice today. I most likely will be out at Kettler tomorrow to take in the sights.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Giants Beat The New England Cheaters

We all do it, get the family and friends together to eat fattening appetizers as a dinner and laugh at the commercials and watch closely for wardrobe malfunctions. And between the humorous ad sales they play a little game called football. The Super Bowl actually.

I really thought that the New England Cheaters were going to be able to pull it out, but the Giants, wow! What a come back. The first half could be described as boring, but being from a football family we saw that strategies were hard at work in the first and the Giants had to have been feeling pretty good going into the halftime break.

The New York Giants end a season that had its fair share of trouble. I will even go out of my way to make the comparison to the Capitals. The Giants started out 0-2 and the head coach was pleading for his job. Apparently that was good enough to win the Super Bowl. The Capitals also had a dismal start and a rough season, could that mean a Cinderella ending?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Hill Becomes More Steep

Capitals 0, Thrashers 2
Scoresheet - Wash Post

This was an important game. The Capitals had a chance to control their own destiny by putting some distance between them and Atlanta. That was until Kari Lehtonen shut the Capitals high scoring offense down. The Capitals' high power, dynamic offense was snuffed and shut out. Atlanta didn't even have Ilya Kovalchuk in the line up. The Caps couldn't win a game they needed badly needed too. Instead it's Atlanta climbing the Division standings and the Caps sputter back to .500 and still 3 points behind.

After the high powered and inspired performance by Alex Ovechkin the game before, the Capitals couldn't get it into gear. The Caps led in shots 36 to 12, but it was only one goal that decided the Capitals' fate. Todd White scored mid way through the third and the Thrashers clamped down the defense and added an empty netter to put the Caps away.

This loss hurts. You would think after the way Ovechkin played a couple of nights before that this team would come out inspired, instead of flat. Ovie had a wide open net early in the first but shanked it wide of the net. After that Lehtonen played well enough to get the shut out.

The Capitals still have trouble closing out big games. Ovechkin is not the only player on this team, but the way his teammates are performing it seems like he is. The Caps seemed too tight, too wound up, too unenthusiastic at times. Instead of the Caps leaping ahead, they are pushed back farther. Lucky for them Carolina lost their game to Pittsburgh and is now tied with Atlanta, but the Capitals are still 3 points shy of both.

Credit Atlanta with some strong strategy. They played a slow, plotted, New Jersey-esque trap and sat back to wait for their chance. They clogged the neutral zone and had 3 players back at all times. They waited for a neutral zone mistake to take advantage and they beat Olie Kolzig. Kolzig only faced 12 shots making 11 saves.

If the Caps go on to miss the playoffs for yet another season, remember this loss. That is how important this game was to the Capitals. When any team as a chance to take points away from their division foes they have to in order to make any head way in the standings. The way this season schedule is set up, every division game is like a playoff game from now until the end of the season. The Caps must win these games, or it's an early exit.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Because I Am A Sucker For Cute Girls

A shameless plug for a friend and a cute girl, but it's worth it for Caps fans:
I hear Shaone Morrisonn is a lock for the event, and I will try to get a few more names of players that will be there.

The event will be Feb. 10th after the game. The game is an afternoon one, 1:00 pm against the Rangers. The event will be at the Cleveland Park Bar and Grill, for those who can't read the bottom. Cleveland Park Metro Stop (Red Line) Cross streets: Connecticut and Ordway across from the Uptown theater.

Be there or be square.

Update: Mike Green and Brooks Liach will bothe be a lock to be there and 2 other players.