Wednesday, March 20, 2019

3/20/2019 Some Thoughts After Last Evenings 4-1 Caps Victory

Well attending last evening' Caps game in Newark was enjoyable.  The Portuguese food in Newark's Ironbound District was delightful and the Caps played a reasonably good road game.  My friend Jim's seats as always were awesome (witness the view from my seat as shown at right).

I can attest that Devils' Goalie McKenzie Blackwood played better than his game stat line might lead you to believe if you didn't watch the game yourself.  I can also say without a doubt that to get another two points tonight against Tampa Bay here in DC, the Caps will need to play even better than they did last evening in Newark.  No predictions on the outcome for tonight's game but:


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

3/19/2019 - Trying To Get Started Blogging (with some discipline & regularity) Again

Well here I go again. Once again I'm trying to get started blogging again.  As in the past, this blog - Mark's Musings - will be my most regular blog and likely primarily blogs about my avocations, particularly, my love and interest in Ice Hockey and my favorite sports team, the NHL's Washington Capitals.  This lovely morning finds me on the Amtrak Regional headed up to Newark to have a business meeting followed by dinner and a hockey game (Caps vs. Devils) in Newark. I know I've blogged about my prior trips to Newark for Devils - Caps games but hey, why not, they are fun and usually very interesting for me.  At this point of this particular NHL season, the Devils are outside the playoff picture looking in, and in a position to be spoilers.

This evening, besides being at "The Rock" rooting for the Capitals, I'll be rooting for the Bruins (to beat the Islanders) and the Hurricanes (to beat the Penguins) - no sense looking to play either the Islanders or Penguins in the first round if our Caps don't need to though I fully expect any road to #BackToBack has to go through at least one of them AND Tampa Bay this season.  Speaking of the Lightning - WOW - they've clinched the President's Trophy with 10 games remaining, AND more importantly they looked really, really powerful the last game the Caps played them.  Speaking of looking really, really powerful - how about that Alex Ovechkin?  With ten games remaining in the regular season, he's just two goals away from ANOTHER fifty (50) goal season, and five (5) goals ahead of Leon Draisaitel as the league's leading goal scorer.  Ovi is, IMO, clearly the best goal scorer of his generation, and perhaps of all time.  At thirty three (33) his nickname a a "Russian Machine" that Never Breaks is well deserved.

As for tonight's game, I'm looking forward to it - last time I was up in Newark, at the beginning of this season, the Caps did not look good or do well.  I expect the way they've been playing this game will be a different story.  We'll have dinner in Newark's Ironbound District then head over to the game - at least that's the plan.  We'll sit behind the goal the Caps defend twice, if I'm REALLY lucky, Ovi will score a goal in the first and then his 50th in the second where I'll be able to see and capture it on my phone really well.  If that happens, I'm also planning on buying extra Powerball tickets tomorrow as my karma will be REALLY REALLY great and who knows what might happen? A trifecta tonight would be looking online after the game and seeing that former Capital/Devil Marcus Johansonn had a hat trick as the Bruins beat the Islanders so the Caps were solidly in first place in the Metro Division. Hey - it could happen.

Seriously I'll just be pleased if it's a solid, well played 60 minute, 200 foot game by the Capitals and they win. My prediction? Easy peasy.

Caps 4 - Devils 2

Lets Go Caps!!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve Musings - 12/24/2018

Wow, where does the time go? Its Christmas Eve and another year is almost over.  As I think over the past year, I can’t help but think over the last several years and think how fortunate and blessed my and my family’s lives have been.  We are all healthy and, by and large, we are all happy. Our lives are full and rewarding. Sure, we are challenged, from time to time, and there are those days that I’m frustrated or wish I could just magically wiggle my nose and magically solve something.  But when I think over our lots in life, I know we have been and are living very fortunate lives.  I don’t know the reason for that, so all I can conclude is, we are blessed.  All I can do is offer prayers of thanks and try to live a good life as best I can and give back where I can.  Thank you, Lord and thank you to my family and friends for your kindness and the generosity of your example, kindness and the gifts of your time, encouragement and friendship.  These are truly the core of my musings as I consider my lot in life this Christmas Eve. 

As I think about those things above, the enjoyment I get from many things in life seem shallow and certainly less important.  One of those shallow things I get joy from is watching and following professional sports, but I do find joy in them.  When I think of the professional hockey team I follow, I console myself in thinking about how much charity and joy I understand the Washington Capitals Players and Staff and the MSE foundation give others who are not as fortunate as me and my family.  Those things make me feel less shallow for following and supporting the Capitals and proud of the team and what it gives back to our community.  But with these sorts of bigger thoughts and feelings of thanks, I think my current blog musings about the Capitals should wait a couple of days.

As I think back and look forward this time on year, I’m thinking about how and what I can give back more myself, especially to our community and I’m likely to start doing that and also musing about it here from time to time to.  

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Two Weeks Gone By; Six More Caps Games Played (4-2-0)

Well in the two weeks since my last blog post the Caps have played six more games; two home games and four on the road and compiled a 4-2-0 record in that period, despite still having two top six forwards out of the lineup injured and one veteran d-man also out. What to say about the Caps during this period - well first they are 8-2-0 in the last ten games and 4-2-0 in the last two weeks. What does that record say to me, well the Cup hangover is gone and they are back. That's the good news. I'm going to look back at the last two weeks in reverse order though, starting with last night's game.

Capitals at Columbus Blue Jackets 12/8/2018

Well in many ways the best road game so far this season.  Out of lineup: Tom Wilson (upper body - concussion?); TJ Oshie (upper body - concussion?); Brooks Orpik (Lower Body); healthy scratch: Christian Djoos; Riley Barber.  Starting Goaltenders: Braden Holtby; Sergei Bobrovsky.  Result 4-0 Caps win.  Where to start? Well, 1) welcome to the National Travis Boyd with his first NHL goal off a pretty nicely orchestrated and setup play by Alex Ovechkin; 2) welcome to the Caps scoring statistics and off the schneid Dmitri Jaskin; 3) awesome saves when the Blue Jackets surged by Holtby to get his second shutout of the season; 4) way to play the full 60 minutes with no passengers to get the win; and finally 5) way to display that fountain of youth and retake the NHL goal scoring lead, our Captain, Alex Ovechkin.  There really wasn't much not to like about this game if you're a Caps fan.  Final thought: I hope Blue Jackets' coach John Tortorella feels better soon, he really looked pale and under the weather as he apparently has been for a while, but the sweater is styling.

Capitals at Arizona Coyotes 12/6/2018

Well - I missed this game as I was on the road for work and didn't finish driving back home from NY until after the game ended.  Starting Goaltenders: Phoenix Copley; Adin Hill. Out of lineup: Tom Wilson (upper body - concussion?); TJ Oshie (upper body - concussion?); Brooks Orpik (Lower Body - LTIR); healthy scratch: Madison Bowey.  Andre Burakovsky scored the GWG late in the third period, was named the first star but apparently didn't think he had a great game based on his post game comment: "This game is funny. Overall, I wasn't really there today, I had a tough one. Some nights, you have 1,000 chances and can't score. Some nights, you're struggling and you get one." Copley turned in a solid performance: 0.931 SV% stopping 27 of 29 SOG to earn his sixth win of the season and his record for the year is now 6-2-0-1 with a 2.95 GAA and 0.902 SV%.

Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights 12/4/2018

This ended up being somewhat an Olyde Type Hockey game thanks to the antics of one Ryan Reaves of theKnights and the Caps lost in the end by a score of 5-3.  Out of Line Up: TJ Oshie (upper body - concussion?); Brooks Orpik (Lower Body - LTIR); healthy scratches: Jonas Siegenthaler; Travis Boyd. Out of Lineup for VGK: Max Pacioretty. Starting Goaltenders: Braden Holtby; Marc-Andre Fleury.  Result was a 5-3 regulation loss by the Capitals. Well highlights and low lights were: highlights: 1) Nate Schmidt scored twice and had an assist against his former team (us); 2) Jakub Vrana scored twice showing his speed and hands off; 3) Ovi scored his 20th goal of the season thus far; lowlights: 1) Ryan Reaves is trash for sure, pure unadulterated trash - it's not just his actions, targeting not just Wilson but Ovechkin and every other player he could the entire game until his ejection nope not just that but also his post game comment on the Wilson hit was out of line and unrepentant; 2) VGK's coaching staff - nobody plays like Reaves did for 14 shifts/10:48 TOI until the officials ejected him without doing so with the encouragement of his coach/coaching staff, also given the post game comments; 3) the fact the Caps didn't respond after Reaves took Wilson out of the game either physically or on the scoreboard to me is a low light and something I lay at the feet of the players and the coaching staff, but understandable in Butthead Bettman's NHL.  I'm just consoling myself with the fact that the next two games the Caps have played well and the thought that if this is the best game VGK can throw out there after losing the SCF and the first meeting this season to us, then I don't see them making the playoffs again this post season.

Anaheim Ducks at Capitals 12/2/2018

Worst Caps Home performance in ... I can't remember how long.  Out of Lineup: TJ Oshie (upper body - concussion?); Brooks Orpik (Lower Body - LTIR); healthy scratches: Jonas Siegenthaler; Travis Boyd. Starting Goaltenders: Braden Holtby, John Gibson. Result 6-5 regulation loss by the Caps.  Where to start, well at the end of the first period the Caps were leading 3-1and had chased John Gibson from the net; midway through the second period they were leading 5-1; at the end of the second period the Caps were still leading 5-3 but momentum had shifted; at the end of the third period the Ducks had won it 6-5 after scoring 5 unanswered goals on the Capitals.  In between the 13:30 mark of the second period when Nic Down scored the Caps fifth goal and the end of the game, it seemed like they decided they could phone the rest of the game in most of the time and the few times they even shot on net, Ryan Miller (in for Gibson) rose to the challenge.  My conclusion is simple the Capitals played an uninspired second two periods and Todd Reirden got severely out coached by Randy Carlyle.  Carlyle's team was laying a huge egg when he pulled Gibson, and whatever he said to them or got them to say to themselves at the first intermission meant they knew to win you can't ever give-up not until the game is over.  Contrast that to how the Caps came out for the third period and the lack of adjustments by them to ensure they finished the game with the two points they should have gotten out of this contest.

New Jersey Devils at Capitals 11/30/2018

Backstrom with the Hat Trick and an assist; Holtby with a 33 save/ 0.917 SV%. Out of Lineup: TJ Oshie (upper body - concussion?); Brooks Orpik (Lower Body - LTIR); healthy scratches: Jonas Siegenthaler; Travis Boyd. Starting Goaltenders: Braden Holtby, Keith Kinkaid. Result 6-3 Capitals Win.  A dominant game by Capitals first line:  Backstrom 3G, 1A; Ovechkin 1G, 2A; Tom Wilson 1G.  The post game discussion on this one was all around Wilson's match penalty for his hit on Brett Seney, which got him ejected even though I didn't think it was a hit to the head, targeting, etc. and based on Seney's post game comments, I don't think it was either.  NHL Player Safety also opted not to mete out any supplemental discipline and saw the event similarly to myself and Todd Reirden did.  That said, it's a reminder that Tom Wilson has to really think about every hit he makes.

Capitals at New York Islanders 11/26/2018

A solid road game against former Cap's Bench Boss' Islanders gets Caps two points in regulation.  Out of Lineup: TJ Oshie (upper body - concussion?); Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body)  Brooks Orpik (Lower Body - LTIR); healthy scratch: Jonas Siegenthaler. Starting Goaltenders: Braden Holtby, Thmas Greiss. A solid, solid road win marked by excellent play by the first line:  Tom Wilson 2G, 1A; Alex Ovechkin 1G, Nicklas Backstrom 3A and Braden Holtby 0.967 SV% (32/33). Result 4-1 win by our Washington Capitals.

This Week:

Next up this week will be three games: Tuesday at home against the Detroit Red Wings who are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games; Friday at Carolina against the Hurricanes who are 5-4-1 in their last 10 gams, and Saturday they host Buffalo who are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.  I'm looking forward to attending my next game for the Saturday game against the Sabres, they've been a surprise to me this season, I didn't expect them to be this good until next season or so. With the parity in the league this season, especially in the Eastern Conference where just 8 points/3-4 games separate the third place Sabres to the 13th Place Ottawa Senators, any team can beat any other team on a given night/day.  So this weeks games should be good but I'm still optimistic about the Caps getting 6 more points out of the next three games and if the Caps play all of them like they played they played last evening in Columbus.