Saturday, May 31, 2008

Looking to Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals Tonight

Game 3 the Penguins came alive, they were still out shot, but they certainly were NOT manhandled in any way, and of course "Sid the Kid" played to the level he's capable of which on anybody's scale is awesome. Marc-Andre Fluery was again excellent as well with a save percentage of 94.1% while facing 34 shots compared to the human numbers of 87.5% while facing 24 shots by Chris Osgood at the other end of the rink. The Pens took two more penalties than they had power plays but they gave up only one power play goal to Detroit on their 5 chances. Penguins' coach Michel Therrien used the last line change well and the +/- numbers of Crosby, Malkin and Hossa bear that out. So what's in store tonight?

Both teams had a day off on Thursday, the Red Wings went to Nemocolin Woodlands (a great get away not at all too far from DC for a great weekend escape) did some relaxing, some bonding and some marketing for the NHL. The Penguins apparently took a real day off Crosby told the MSM he laid around, mostly in bed, apparently alone getting rest. Hal Gill indicated he lounged and spent the day in Pittsburgh with his family going out to lunch. The point being both teams got a day to rest and relax on Thursday and were back at practice on Friday. For the Red Wings Tomas Holmstrom sat out Friday's practice but indicated he intends to play. As far as intangibles for the Pens, more sadly, Kris Letang received word that his best friend, Vancouver Canuck, Luc Bourdon was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident , Letang has indicated he is shocked by the news and had trouble focusing on hockey yesterday. All of this means both teams should have a high energy level in general but both also have a few potential "chinks" in their armour. Expect the Red Wings to again work very hard at "bottling up" Crosby and Hossa, as well as Malkin; and expect Coach Therrien to again make good use of the last line change to get them freed up some more than they were in Games 1 and 2. The things to watch are potentially elsewhere - for the Red Wings how will Johan Franzen react, his second game back? and how will Holmstrom's injury slow him down? will a rested Chris Osgood return to the impenetrable force in the Red Wings' net he was in games 1 and 2? - for the Penguins, how will Hal Gill handle the Red Wings in front of the Pens net? will Kris Letang be able focus on the game and play the inspired hockey of which he is capable? and will the Pens figure out how to at least match the Red Wings in shots on goal?

(Ed Note: There will be a moment of silence tonight before the game for Luc Bourdon, as the father of an 18 year old son, I can only imagine the grief and depth of the nightmare this untimely death is for his family. My heart truly goes out for them, no father or mother should ever have to deal with what they are going through. They are in our thoughts and prayers and I hope they are in yours as well.)

Stay tuned Caps Hockey Fans, tonight's game is on the same "bat station" at the same "bat time" as Wednesday night's - NBC. Tune in to see how this plays out, after all, it's the only hockey we've got available till Camp Opens at Kettler or even better, the pre-season starts.

Can't wait till next season. LETS GO CAPS!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Detroit Blanks Pittsburgh Again (3-0) Take 2 - 0 Series Lead

Last night, Detroit again controlled the tempo and play of the game for 60:00 minutes and beat Pittsburgh to take a 2 - 0 lead in the Stanley Cup finals. Once again Marc - Andre Fluery played an excellent game in net for the Penguins and delivered a save percentage of 91.2% on the 34 shots the Red Wings sent his way. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Chris Osgood again stopped 100% of the 22 shots the Penguins managed to take.

The Red Wings dominated most aspects of the game despite coming up behind or only matching the Pens in several statistical categories. The Penguins didn't get their first shot on net until over 12 minutes of the first period had been played. The only aspect of the Red Wings game that didn't hit on all cylinders was their power play. The Wings didn't score a power play goal all night despite having a man advantage for 13:20 of the game. The series now goes to Pittsburgh where the Penguins haven't lost since February 24th. It will again be interesting to see what adjustments and line match-ups the Penguins try now that they have the last line change. The Pens need to make some major changes to their game plan in order to turn things around because right now the Red Wings look like the much better team. (Ed Note: Maybe I should leave the prognostication to Peerless.) The nice aspect of this story no matter who you are rooting for? Thirty-five (35) year old, Chris Osgood is only the fourth goalie, all-time, to start a Stanley Cup Finals with two straight shut-outs. Not bad for a guy who came into the net in relief in the first round of this year's playoffs. Perhaps Osgood's performance is a reason, thirty eight (38) year old Olaf Kolzig believes he can still be a dominant, number 1 goalie in the NHL next season. Of course it might also be cause to hope another thirty-something goaltender might be able to anchor the Washington Capital's drive to their first Stanley Cup next year... In any case if the Pens can't make some effective adjustments in the next two days and Osgood and his teammates keep playing the kind of hockey they've shown fans in the first two games, this might be a very short series.

On the Washington Caps news front, for all those folks clogging up the Capital's Insider with comments about what GMGM should have done before or instead of signing Karl Alzner last week; please note the following facts:
1) Alzner was the Caps number 1 pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft and as such the Caps had until June 1st (this coming Sunday) to get him under contract.
2) By virtually all accounts and scouting reports the 19 year old is the best Defensemen who did NOT play in the NHL last year - in other words a tru "blue chip prospect" and the Caps would have been crazy to let him get away.
3) The three year entry level contract Alzner and the Caps signed is apparently very similar to the deal Caps Defenseman Mike Green signed three years ago (Green's deal averaged $833K/year).

Most of the folks blog posters and commenters feel the Caps should have signed before they signed Alzner, will indeed be signed. It's likely the Caps have now started serious discussion with many of them now that the IIHF Worlds are over. In most cases the posts involve Mike Green and Christobel Huet, or the Caps Goaltending picture in general. Some of these posts are obviously based on uneducated emotional reactions such as:
- One recent poster indicated he felt the Caps should try desperately to trade Tom Poti away - seems kind of ridiculous when you look at and understand Poti's role on the team and understand the 31 year old led the Caps in Ice Time, had a +/- rating of +9 often against the oppositions best forwards, and often was a stalwart on the penalty killing units. (Poti is under contract through July 2011 with an annual Salary Cap Hit of $3.5M - which will probably be the average or a steal for a top 2/to 4 defenseman after this year's free agent signings.)
- Other posts and comments indicate many do NOT understand what the word Restricted means before the words Free Agent in the terms of the current NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Shoanne Morrisson; Mike Green, Brooks Laich, Steve Emminger, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, along with minor leaguers Stephen Warner and Jamie Hunt are all RESTRICTED Free Agents this year. Certainly Caps Management will resign and/or match any qualifying offers most of these great young players get.
- Another subject of many posts and comments relate to the resigning of Sergei Federov, the thirty-eight year old veteran of 1,196 NHL regular season and 169 NHL playoff games trade deadline pickup, played a stellar post season and was super in the IIHF championships. Most point to that and the clear spark he and young Russian teammates Alexander Semin and Alexander Ovechkin seem to have when they play together as the reason the Caps should resign him now. This despite the fact it is unclear whether Federov wants to play another season in the NHL (his 19th) and the fact that the Caps need to have the right role and salary cap room for him when a healthy Michael Nylander and Chris Clark return to the lineup next season.

Can't wait till next season - LETS GO CAPS!!!!

Wings Flew to Game 1 Victory - Downed Penguins 4 - 0 in Series Opener

Saturday night the Detroit Red Wings basically "man-handled" the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals opening game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. After the first ten minutes of the first period, that were, for the most part, the usual opening of a multi-game series, the sort of tentative "feel each other out" cautious, don't make too any mistakes kind of hockey, the Red Wings "turned on the jets" and basically shut down the Penguins for the remaining 50 minutes of the game.

Tonight it's game two, once again in Detroit. For the Penguins to win, they'll once again need super goaltending from Marc-Andre Fluery since it appears Chris Osgood continues to make that aspect of the game, "the price of admission". Some pundits are indicating this series is NOT a goaltenders battle and it's NOT JUST a goaltenders battle. However, there is indeed a goaltenders battle being waged within the larger battle between these two powerhouse teams. While a lot of comparisons will be made between the young Fluery and the experienced Osgood, on Saturday Fluery had a save % of 88.88% stopping 32 of 36 shots and Osgood posted a save % of 100% stopping all 19 of the Penguins shots. To be sure, Fluery's play in the first and second periods was, in large part, the only reason the Penguins started the third period within 2 goals of winning the game. During period 1 and 2 the Penguins were out shot by the Wings 27 - 16 and that was only because the Penguins spent much of the last half of the first period on the powerplay. The Red Wings won Saturday night's game in the neutral zone. During the second and third periods, Pittsburgh's powerful offensive weapons could not get moving and were rarely allowed to "setup" in the offensive zone. Detroit's penalty killing unit(s) were excellent holding a powerplay unit that averages a 25% success rate scoreless for 9:50 AND scoring a shorthanded goal late in the third period to go up 3-0.

Like Detroit, Pittsburgh is a powerhouse of a team and no doubt will make adjustments in tonight's game. After the lesson they got on Saturday, fans can be sure that the young guns from Pittsburgh will indeed "kick it up a notch". In game one the "less physical"/smaller/older Red Wings out hit the Pens 31 - 25 and swarmed over both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Malkin was held to just 1 shot and Crosby to only 3. Adding insult to injury on one the few shifts where Pens coach Michel Therrien put Crosby and Malkin out together, in what appeared to be an attempt to force the Wings to open the game up a bit early in the third period, the Red Wings' Mikael Samuelsson scored his second goal of the game to put Detroit up 2-0. Perhaps the worst outcome of Saturday's game is the Red Wing's have given the rest of the league a blueprint of how to take apart the Penguins, even with Crosby, Malkin, and Marian Hossa all in the lineup. Of course to do it you need a tremendous amount of talent, like the Red Wings have, and to play awfully solid, near flawless hockey yourselves. In any case, the interesting thing tonight will be watching the adjustments the Penguins have made in the first period and Detroit's reaction and counter to them in the second and third periods.

For Caps fans though it's nice to know those blasted flightless birds are vulnerable. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!! Can't wait till next season.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Stanley Cup Finals Start Today - Preview for Caps Next Year?

The Stanley Cup Finals start today when Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins face off against Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsuyk and the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit this evening. To Caps Fans, this will be a good, hard fought series between two teams likely to be between the Capitals and the Cup when next year's regular season ends and the 2009 playoffs begin as well.

As indicated in earlier posts this blogger is predicting that the Red Wings will fall slightly short and this year's Cup will be the start of the Crosby - Malkin - Fluery era in Pittsburgh. That assumes Marc-Andre Fluery continues the stellar play he has shown so far in the playoffs, even though he is likely to be tested even harder than he has at any point of his career. At the other end of the ice, veteran Chris Osgood is unlikely to waiver, so fans will have a good yardstick by which to measure the Penguins' #1 netminder.

The contrast between the two teams should be interesting Lidstrom vs. Gonchar; Datsuyk vs. Crosby; Zetterberg vs. Malkin will all no doubt be featured in various VS. network highlights and commentaries. However, the real battles/contrasts to decide the series will more likely be Franzen (when he returns) vs. Stall; Samuellson vs. Hossa; Chelios vs. Gill; Kopecki vs. Sykora; Maltby vs. Malone; Filppula vs. Talbot, etc.. It's here, the backside of each team's depth chart, where the exceptional depth of both teams becomes apparent. It's also here where the youth, raw talent and SIZE of the Penguins becomes clear and there is a contrast to the experience, finesse and learned skill of the Red Wings. Given the length of the season and the comparisons between the two teams there seems to be the potnetial for a slight edge to go to the Penguins here though as they say "That's why they play these games on the ice." For now the only thing left to do is speculate on the future outcome. Who do you think will hoist the Cup above his head Penguins Captain Crosby or Red Wings Captain Lidstrom and after what game of the series?

All the above in consideration it certainly seems if the Washington Captials are to build on their accomplishments for 2007 - 2008 and advance further into the 2009 playoffs, they will meet the likes of at least one, if not both, these teams next year as well. Of course a lot of water needs to pass under the bridge before the Caps are assured to be playing hockey past tax day next year, but this year was "a breakout year" for the young Caps team. Assuming the Caps can resolve the following off ice challenges between now and the start of the 2008-2009 season: a) resign their young number 1 defenseman, Mike Green, who is currently a restricted free agent; b) sign a legitimate number 1 goalie, preferably the resigning of Christobel Huet who is an Unrestricted Free Agent; c) sort out their blue line corps so the once again have 7 or 8 legitimate NHL Blueliners on the roster; d) figure out what/how to accommodate a roster with a healthy Michael Nylander AND a Sergei Federov, if Federov wants to play another NHL season given his post deadline performance for the Caps and his clear chemistry with young gun Alexander Semin; e) sort out what they want to do with "grinders" Matt Bradley and Matt Cooke in a way that retains sufficient "grit" in the line-up but also gets some additional secondary scoring in the lineup besides Brooks Laich (who they need to resign) and hopefully a healthy Chris Clarke, Fans can once again expect to be watching hockey in "the phone booth" in late April next year.

The biggest area of likely change/fluidity for the Capitals is probably the Defense Corps. The resolution of the top 4 defenseman on Bruce Boudreau's roster card at the start of next season will require sorting out the resigning of Shoanne Morrisson (RFA) and Steve Emminger (RFA) as well as the status of Brian Pothier (Career Threatening?/Ending? Concussion Syndrome Injury), as well as the play and ranking of Milan Jurcina, John Erskine, Sami Lepesto, Ben Clymer and Karl Alzner. Basically the only things settled in the blueline corps seem to be a)Tom Poti will be back and b)the Caps want to resign Green and Morrisson but the salary cap implications of those two resignings and Pothier's status need to be understood, and Coach Boudrea has to understand and decide where he is on the depth chart ranking of Emminger, before Boudreau and General Manager George McPhee look at whether they feel they need to go to the free agent pool for another top 4 D-Man. It seems Jurcina, Erskine, Lepisto and Alzner are all likely to compete for roster slots 5 and 6 when camps open with Jurcina the likely #5.

The most critical area currently in flux is Goaltending. As has been highlighted well by DMG in his Caps Blue Line, the only NHL caliber goal keeper currently under contract for the Caps is backup Brent Johnson. Whether you're an "Olie the Goalie" continued supporter or not it certainly seems the Caps need to resign Christobel Huet now. It seems clear that Olie Kolzig will either end his career elsewhere or Caps fans will be seeing his number hoisted to the rafters of the VC next season if he retires after testing the free agent waters. None of the goalie prospects are NHL ready and even Fredric Cassivi last year's number #1 goalie on the Caps AHL Affiliate Hershey Bears is an unrestricted free agent, not that he's the right guy for the job any more than Johnnie is. If the Caps need to go into the Free Agent pool the pickings get slim pretty fast after Jose Theodore and if the Caps are willing/able to spend 5/6+M for a goalie, they will likely be just as able to save a few bucks and sign the 32 year old Huet rather than the 31 year old Theodore. Though both Huet and Theodore fit the right age bracket to fill the gap between the end of longtime number 1 Kolzig's Caps Career and the current prospects in the Caps system.

Forward line positions are a strength and all the Capital's Management Organization has in these positions at this point seem to be choices between good, better and best. That being said, General Manager George McPhee will still need to continue to do the excellent job of Salary Cap Management that he's been doing if the Caps are to rise to the heights that both of this evening's contestants have. LETS GO CAPS!!!! Can't Wait For Next Season.

Friday, May 23, 2008

It Was Inevitable - the Beatification of Sidney Crosby Begins

It Was Inevitable - the Beatification of Sidney Crosby Begins

USA Today Writer Kevin Allen First To Start NHL Star On Road To Being Recognized As The Deity He Must No Doubt Be.

(Editorial Note: This may be as ill-advised as my rant about Comcast's Lisa Hillary (sorry once again Lisa, but I think I've atoned and hopefully learned from that information age/web 2.0 mis-step. Here we go. I was working on a much more interesting piece on the Caps and wasn't going to post again till tomorrow prior to the start of the Stanley Cup Finals, but I saw this little comment/gaffe made by Kevin Allen in today's USA Today, a paper with a circulation of over 2Million - America's largest and I couldn't resist my urges to comment. So here goes.)

With the Penguins in the Stanley Cup finals it was likely inevitable. Since his team is in the finals, and Sidney Crosby would be the youngest player to Captain an NHL team to it's championship IF they win, it was likely inevitable that rather than describing him as what he is, media from the broader markets and more traditional sources would slip into hyperbole and declare him the undisputed best forward and/or player, etc. Calling that one and confirming that hype must sell papers sure didn't take long. In his "Finals Preview" on page 9C of today's USA Today, Kevin Allen states: "Key matchup: Lidstrom vs. Crosby. This is best-on-best, the game's best defenseman against the NHL's top forward."

Calling Lidstrom the game's best defensemen is as problematic as calling Crosby the NHL's top forward. Using "the game" as the predecent to the statement implies the best of all time, to be sure the 38 year old Swede is a future Hall of Famer and the likely winner of the Norris Trophy as the best defensemen in the league this year; but the best of all time? - clearly open to debate since now the group expands to include the likes of stars from bygone eras such as Bobby Orr. Nicklas Lidstrom's career is long and storied enough to warrant consideration and inclusion in that GROUP of players who could be considered the best of all time, but why do we need to declare him the best other than to sell copies of today's USA Today, which a hockey story on page 9C clearly isn't likely to do anyway.

Calling Crosby "the NHL's top forward" or even "the NHL's top center" right now is also clearly premature; and, by objective measures, probably just plain wrong. One of the best - yes again, he is definitely in that GROUP of players who are the elite in the NHL today. However, Crosby's play this season, prior to the playoffs, in the position of center had even been eclipsed by his teammate Evgeni Malkin. There are 30 players who finished with more points them Crosby overall; granted his season was shortened by injury, but even on a points per game basis, Crosby, a center, tallied 1.36 points per game (.45 goals per game and .91 assists per game). That puts him slightly behind scoring title winner Alexander Ovechkin who averaged 1.37 points per game (a whopping 0.79 goals per game and 0.58 assists per game). Also, Many consider Goals vice Points, the measure by which forward's contributions to their team should be gauged, if that's your measure of a forward's worth/value, "Sid the Kid's" 0.45 goals per game put him behind approximately 14 other NHL forwards this year. Crosby's +/- is +.34 per game (overall +18). His +/- performance per game puts 8 players ahead of him for the year including Ovechkin, Defenseman Lidstrom, and forwards Jarome Iginla, and Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg, who with 1.23 points per game and .57 goals per game also puts him in the group. Teammate Evgeni Malkin's per game stats this year: 1.29 points, 0.57 goals, and overall +/- +18 while playing 100% of the regular season games and logging an average of 21:19 per game.

My point - Sidney Crosby is very good, and if he has a reasonable length career, the 20 year old Center from Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia, will indeed likely be in that group of all time greats that includes Wayne Gretzky and Crosby's mentor in Pittsburgh - Mario Lemieux. However, the risk of early deification of Crosby, who played only 53 games in this year's 82 game regular season, is three-fold. First, it cheapens the achievements of those who match or actually exceed Crosby's current performance, for example Ovechkin, and arguably Malkin, Iginila, Pavel Datsuk, Zetterberg and a few others. Second, it clearly cheapens the accomplishments of the "all time greats" like Gretzkey, Lemieux, and numerous other including "Rocket" Richard, etc. Third, since so many of the other players in the current NHL who are in the ranks of the elite are European, it is fuel for the claims that the "Hockey Press" favors Canadians; regardless if this is fact or merely perception it is fuel for these claims.

On the overall plus side, thanks USA Today, the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs got a picture and inset headline on the front page of the Sports Section on a Friday edition along with a story about the NBA playoffs and this weekend's Indianapolis 500. Not bad for a sport The Onion frequently pokes fun at and usually doesn't get it's due in the MSM. LETS GO CAPS!!!!! Can't wait for next season at the phone booth. Now it's back to work - seriously, this was just a diversion from putting the finishing touches on a proposal update due on Tuesday morning, here at ICx Technologies.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Caps Signing News - Caps Sign Top Prospect Karl Alzner to 3 Year Entry Level Contract

Per the Caps Website , today the Caps signed top prospect Karl Alzner to a 3 year NHL Entry Level deal. Rabid Caps fans can get their first "eyes on" Alzner this summer when he attends the Caps' summer development camp, to be held July 7-12 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va. However he has been here before, he attended summer development camp with the Caps last year and played in a preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Alzner was Washington’s first choice (fifth overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. The 19-year-old from British Columbia was named the 2007-08 recipient of the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the WHL’s player of the year. Alzner was also named the WHL’s best defenseman for 2007-08. He is also the WHL’s nominee for CHL player of the year. Although the Capitals' team defense took a quantum leap forward in the second half, the Caps could still use a bona fide shutdown defender. That was Alzner’s role with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen in 2007-08, and it was his role with Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championship. He excelled at that task with both teams.

"We're very excited for Karl as today marks the start of his pro career," said Hitmen GM and Head Coach Kelly Kisio. "Not only has Karl been an excellent defenseman for the Calgary Hitmen but his leadership off the ice will leave a lasting impact in our dressing room." Alzner, the 2008 Calgary Hitmen Player of the Year, WHL Player of the Year and WHL Defenceman of the Year, not only captained the Hitmen this past season but also led Team Canada to a Gold Medal at the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Not the D-Man, I was hoping to see get quickly signed by the Caps after the conclusion of the World Championships but a good solid signing in any case. Given the doubts surrounding Brian Pothier's potential to return to the Caps, Alzner probably has a legitimate chance at making the Caps roster this year and will certainly make the Bears if he looks like he needs some more seasoning. LETS GO CAPS!!!!

Monday, May 19, 2008

It's Penguins vs. Red Wings In the Finals

Well yesterday Pittsburgh pretty much manhandled the Philadelphia Flyers downing them 6-0 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Championship series to get into the Stanley Cup finals; and this evening the Detroit Red Wings took control of their game 6 with the Dallas Stars and drove to the Western Conference Championship behind a 4-1 victory. The Stanley Cup finals start in Detroit on Saturday and it should be a great series.

Predictions anyone? For me it's Penguins in 6. If that happens it will be the true start of the Malkin - Crosby - Fluery era in Pittsburgh and the Penguins first Stanley Cup since 1991 - 92 and their third ever. If Detroit wins it'll be their first since 2001 - 02 and their 11th all time.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Week In Review - Stars Surpirse Wings and Make A Go Of It

The last week in review could have these headlines.
For NHL fans try these two on: A) Stars Make a Go Of It, Surprise the Red Wings 2 -1 at the Joe; and B) Flyers Still Alive and Eagerly Awaiting Kimmo's Return.

For ECHL Fans: It's "Cincinnati Advances To Kelly Cup Finals Cyclones Beat South Carolina 2-1 In Overtime "

For Local (Bristow/Gainesville/Haymarket, VA) lacrosse fans it's "Battlefield Bobcats fall 8-9 to Osborn Eagles In First Ever Playoff Appearance"

For Caps Fans It's: "Green, Semin, Federov & Ovechkin Make To Play For World Championship" Yes, it's Canada vs. Russia for the championship and the way Semin, Ovie and Federov have been playing together perhaps, if it weren't for the two years remaining on his contract, Michael Nylander might be getting a little worried.

For folks who follow ICx Technologies it's: "ICx Technologies Reports First Quarter 2008 Results"

So overall it's been a pretty busy week. Work continues to go at a hectic pace and on the personal front getting ready to watch our son graduate from high school and start at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on July 10th is keeping us quite busy and productively occupied. The Caps blogs have all been a little slow, I attribute this to the fact many of the players who management would want to negotiate with have all been at the IIHF World Championships. Truth be told all the Caps involved have turned in pretty respectable performances in the tournament. Here's a few notes for those looking to catch up. Even though Nicklas Backstrom's Sweden team lost their Bronze Medal match-up to rival Finland 4-0, Backstrom had a pretty good tournament and was a force to be reckoned with despite his young age. Nicklas was one of Team Sweden's Ice Time leaders and had 3 goals, 4 assists and was +1 for the tournement and had a Faceoff Won percentage of 58.6%. Over on Team France, goalkeeper Christobel Huet was able to turn in a respectable GAA of 3.60 and a save percentage of 91.12% while salvaging a 2-3 record for an otherwise very young and inexperienced team. As for Mike Green and his performance for Team Canada, in 8 games played so far "Game Over" has 4 goals, 7 assists and is +1 averaging 14:19 of ice time per game. In seven games played for the Czech Republic, Tomas Fleischmann, had 2 goals, 3 assists and was +/- +6. Finally, Team Russia boasts 3 Washington Capitals the Sashas (Ovechkin and Semin) and Sergei Federov. Ovechkin, a leading candidate for the NHL's Hart Trophy, has 6 goals, 4 assists and is +9 with an average of 16:59 minutes per game over the 8 games played leading up to today's championship match-up. Semin, one of the other Washington Capital "Young Guns", also has 10 points - 4 goals and 6 assists, and is +9 with an average time on ice (TOI) of 18:11 per game. The elder statesman, Federov, has 5 goals, 5 assists and is +9 with an average TOI of 17:22 per game.

I just checked the online feed and the IIHF championship game finished regulation tied 4-4. Semin scored the first goal, assisted by Ovechkin and Federov. The Canadians then scored 3 unanswered tallies through the rest of the first. Semin then scored the second Russian goal early 1:14 into the second period on a power-play. Heatley answered at 9:56 into the second to keep the Canadians up by 2 at the end of the second. During the third period the scoring at least was all Russia and they tied the game up. For third period scoring, 8:55 into the period Tereshchneko scored assisted by Semin and Tyutin and at 14:46 into the period Kovalchuck tied the game at four where it's stayed until the start of overtime. Clearly, Washington Capitals have a lot to look forward to next season. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!

Post Game note: Right after I posted this originally, Ilya Kovalchuck scored the game winner on an overtime powerplay the primary assist on the goal - Sergei Federov. From a personal perspective I don't know if the Caps and Sergei can figure out a way to have him in a Caps uniform next season but I sure hope they do. I believe he's got gas left in his tank and would once again be a real help in the post-season if (Scratch That, WHEN) the Caps make the playoffs again next year.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Old News: Kolzig Leaving Capitals; Commentary: Irrational Reactions

It's old news to DC Hockey Fas by this morning, longtime Capitals Starting Goalie Olaf Kolzig, has announced he will not return to the Washington Capitals. Kolzig made this pronouncement in his first big interview with the press since the Caps season ending game 7 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in round one of the NHL Playoffs. Kolzig was speaking on Thursday with Washington Post Hockey Beat writer Tarik El-Bashir, who reported the conversation in an article published in yesterday's Post. The news was somewhat anti-climatic and expected, at this year's trade deadline the Caps picked up a second starting net-minder, Christbel Huet, from the Montreal Canadeans and Huet started in net for the Caps in their final 7 regular season games, as well as all 7 of their playoff games, even though Kolzig was healthy. Somewhat surprising to me though have been some, the small minority, of the reactions and comments being posted in response to the publishing of the news as it makes the rounds of the "blogsphere".
To be sure, those fans who inhabit the blogsphere, whether blog writers, or regular readers who submit comments, are the more passionate and opinionated fans so while the fact they possess strong opinions is not, in itself surprising, some of the opinions on this subject are puzzling. Here's some "factoids" about Kolzig's career, even though it has been and will be reported upon in far greater depth elsewhere.

- Kolzig was a first round draft pick by the Capitals in 1989 and since then has played 711 games and captured 301 wins.

- He has been the face of the team for over a decade and their undisputed number 1 goalie since the 1997-1998 season.

- He first made the NHL All Star Team in 1999 - 2000; that same year he also won the NHL's Veznia Trophy as the league's outstanding goaltender.

- He stayed with the Capitals Organization through thick and thin over the 17 seasons, even when he could have left and gone to a higher caliber team.

- Kolzig's 711 NHL games played put him # 20 on the NHL all time list for players in the "modern era" ; his 301 wins place him tied for 22nd on that same list. With 2 more 62 Game/25 Win seasons he would likely be 11th on the games played list (depending on how Hasek finishes out his career) and 17th on the all time wins list.

- Over the course of his career the Capitals have captured 58.8% of the available points in games he's played.

- Of the 18,o13 saves he's made throughout his career, many have thrilled and delighted DC's hockey fans. He's made those saves while allowing just 1,860 goals against for an overall Goals Against Average and Save Percentage of 2.70 GAA and SV of 0.907.

- It's very likely that given the choice the ultra-competitive "Olie the Goalie" would "like every one of those 1,860 goals against him back".

- He earned $10.9M in salary over the past two seasons as one of the Capitals' franchise players.

- This past season was far from Olaf Kolzig's best, however as he points out it probably wasn't as bad as some make it out to be. He garnered 25 wins in 54 starts and overall ranked as the 24th goalie in a league with 30 teams in an off year. He may still be capable of playing number 1 and even dominating, age isn't always that big a factor with goalies look at the all time list; look at Chris Osgood, etc. This past season Kolzig captured 52% of the available points in games played including the period between the start of the season and Thanksgiving when the Caps had a horrible stretch all around.

- Kolzig is part owner of the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans.

- Kolzig's generosity and humanitarian efforts in the community are well documented and real; he is and likely always will be a total class act; Washington area sports fans have been fortunate to have him as a role model for their kids for 17 years.

This writers thoughts and opinions on the subject of Olaf Kolzig apparently deciding he won't return to the Washington Capitals or they don't want him to do so.

- This is probably the right decision for Kolzig, the Caps absolutely did, through their actions after game 4 of the Flyers series, indicate their preference for Huet as the Goalie of choice at present. As a side note, since the Caps won game 5 it was the right tactical decision and if Huet is resigned by the Caps it will probably prove out to be the right strategic decision for the Caps as well.

- Seventeen years is a long career for a professional athlete in any sport. If Olie wants to continue to play so be it. If he wants to continue his playing career I hope he does and wish him the best but given the way the season ended for him here in DC a change of scenery is probably what he needs to rejuvenate himself.

- If Kolzig decides to retire as a player and it's possible I'd love to see him stay in the DC area, he is a class act and like Darrell Green he could use his fame and the affection the local fan base have for him to continue to help the worthy charitable causes he supports. As someone who has been the face of the Caps for over a decade, I'm sure the Caps management would be willing to give him the right kind of front office or hockey operations staff position that both would find rewarding. Leonsis and Lincoln Holdings are many things but not stupid.

- Everything to date indeed indicates Olie wants to try and play two or three more years as a starting NHL goalie and there are a couple teams that could use him. The style of play Coach Boudreau is pushing though would make that tougher.

- If Kolzig does retire after testing the free agency market and not liking what he sees the Caps Organization and Fan Base should react the way the Redskins did to Green's retirement and the Packers Organization has to Brett Farve's. While the Caps have never won a Cup (their sport's equivalent to the Super Bowl), looking at the overall body of work that is Olie Kolzig's playing career and off ice impact he's had in the DC area the last 17 years, I feel these are justifiable parallels.

- The last thing fans should do in reaction to Kolzig's announcement is react with scorn or glee. He's not "overpaid" nobody put a gun to anybody's head to get him his 5.45M last season and he earned it even considering the off season he had. His play after the coaching change was part of the team effort that recovered the Caps season. Reacting with glee and indicating he is anything other than one of the games better active players from an overall career perspective is just wrong and not borne out by the facts including the statistics. True he isn't in the top 5 all time but he IS IN the TOP 25 ALL TIME and that as they say "isn't shabby". Consider that for a lot of his career the Caps have been "building" or "re-building" and in context his overall body of work looks even better.

Good Luck Olie, we'll miss you. The jersey you and Johnnie signed for me last year will continue to be proudly displayed in my office for years to come.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Next Round of NHL Playoffs Start Tonight as do NOVA High School LAX Playoffs

The NHL Conference Championship Round of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs start tonight when the Dallas Stars faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 EDT at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. It's a pretty safe bet that even the HOT Dallas Stars Goalie, Marty Turco, will have his hands full with the "pucksters" from "Hockeytown". Both Conference Championship series: Dallas - Detroit, and the next chapter in the Pittsburgh - Philadelphia rivalry should be a treat to watch. Now that San Jose is out of the action my last team in the playoffs to root for - Philadelphia - is playing the team that IMHO Caps Fans like to watch get beat the most, so my allegiances are once again fully aligned. It's nice to be "unconflicted" once again.

Closer to home the Battlefield HS Boys Lacrosse Team takes on the Osborn HS Eagles at Osborn in Manassas, VA. The Battlefield Bobcats, in just their fourth year of existence have amassed a regular season record of 9-5 while the Eagles are 10 -3. They will meet in the Virginia Cedar Run District Playoffs on Thursday. In the regional power rankings Osborn is #85 and Battlefield is 188th, so the Bobcats will be looking to pull off an upset to avenge their 11-5 defeat at the hands of the Eagles earlier this season on April 9th. LETS GO BOBCATS!!!!

The playoffs continue for the Captials ECHL affiliate South Carolina Stingrays on Friday when The 2008 Kelly Cup Playoffs American Conference Finals will begin in Cincinnati when the North Division champion Cincinnati Cyclones host the South Division champion South Carolina Stingrays in Game 1 of a best-of-seven series at the U.S. Bank Arena. It is the third trip to the conference finals for South Carolina and the second trip for Cincinnati. The Stingrays won in each of their previous trips to the conference finals in 1997 and 2001, going on to win the Kelly Cup both times, while Cincinnati lost in seven games in 2003 to eventual Kelly Cup champion Atlantic City. Cincinnati will host Game 2 at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday before the series travels to the North Charleston Coliseum for Games 3 and 4 at 7:05 p.m. ET on May 14 and 16. The winner will advance to the Kelly Cup Finals where they will meet the National Conference winner. The National Conference Finals begin on Monday when top seed Las Vegas hosts sixth-seed Utah in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series.

Finally, here's a pretty cool on-line article about "The Great Eight".

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Let's Meet the Guys in The Caps System Still Playing Hockey

Ladies and Gentlemen here's your South Carolina Stingrays:


#2 Patrick McNiel; Date of Birth: 03/17/1987, Height: 6' 0", Weight: 195 lbs, Shoots: L Resides: Strathroy, ONT Biography: McNeill made his professional debut in 2007-08 after playing the last four years with the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL, where he accumulated 53 goals and 129 assists for 182 points in 249 career junior contests. He was the Capitals’ 4th round selection (118th overall) in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He led all OHL blueliners with 77 points during the 2005-06 campaign and was a 2nd Team All-Star. McNiel served as Saginaw’s captain during the 2006-07 season, and was the 1st overall pick in the 2003 OHL Priority Selection Draft. In Hershey this year, the 21 year old McNiel played 48 games, had 1 goal and 13 assists and 16 penalty minutes. In the 5 ECHL playoff games he's competed in this year, McNiel has 2 assists, is -3 and has 4 penalty minutes.

#6 Sean Collins; Date of Birth: 10/30/1983, Height: 6' 1" , Weight: 212 lbs, Shoots: R Hometown: Troy, MI Collins played four seasons at Ohio State University before signing with the Capitals in 2007. The 25 year old made his professional debut in South Carolina this year and played 31 regular season games and had 1 goal, 13 assists was +/- +7 and had 16 penalty minutes. So far in the 2008 ECHL playoffs, Collins has played all 15 games and has 1 goal, 8 assists, is +4 and has 18 penalty minutes.

#44 Sasha Pokulok; Shoots: R Height: 6-5 Weight: 230; Birthdate: 1986-05-25 Birthplace: Vaudreuil-Dorion, PQ. This towering 22 year old defenseman enjoyed a stellar freshman year with the Cornell Big Red in 2004 - 2005 that culminated with a selection to the ECACHL All-Rookie Team. In 2005-06, Pokulok was a member of the 2006 Canadian WJC team. He turned pro in 2006-07 after two years at Cornell. He suffered a concussion in the first game of the season with the Hershey Bears. He returned in January and was reassigned to the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays. He suffered another concussion after playing about a month. Pokulok’s use of his size, matched with his good stick-handling ability, made him one of the best defensive prospects in the Capitals' system before the injuries. If Pokulok had stayed healthy throughout the 2006-07 season it would be very likely that he would be contending for a job in the NHL. But now, a good season will just mean staying healthy throughout the rest of the ECHL playoffs and turning in some decent numbers and games. So far he's played 14 of 15 games and has 5 assists, is +/- +4 and has 12 penalty minutes.


#27 Center, Travis Morin, Shoots: L Height: 6-2 Weight: 195 Birthdate: 1984-01-09 Birthplace: Brooklyn Park, MN. Morin played 2002-03 season with the USHL’s Chicago Steel. He had 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists) in 60 games played. His 47 points ranked him third on the team in scoring and his 26 assists ranked him second on the team in that category. Then in 2003-04: Morin completed his NCAA Freshman season at Minnesota State University-Mankato; and he had 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 38 games played. His 21 points ranked him fourth on the team in scoring. He turned pro at the end of senior season (2006 - 2007) and joined the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays roster. The 24 year old center is a tenacious competitor whose play along the boards is quite good. He is defensively responsible and plays very well in one-on-one situations. His great puckhandling and passing skills enable him to play the point in power-play situations. He possesses a good, quick release as well. Morin is a decent skater, but it is one area that could use some improvement. During the 2007-08 Regular Season with the South Carolina Stingrays, he played 68 games scored 34 goals and had 50 assists, a +/- +16, and 30 penalty minutes. He made the 2007 - 2008 ECHL All Star Team. So far in the ECHL playoffs, Morin has played 15 games and has scored 10 goals, has 5 assists, is -5 and has 16 penalty minutes.

#7 Right Wing Andrew Gordon. Shoots: Right Height: 5'11" Weight: 180 lbs Birthdate: 12/13/1985 Birthplace: Halifax, Nova Scotia. Selected by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round, 197th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, this 22 year old right wing made his professional debut this year after completing his junior season at Saint Cloud State last year. During the 2007-2008 season Gordon played 58 games with the AHL Hershey Bears and 11 regular season games with the Stingrays. During his 58 games in Hershey, he scored 16 goals and had 32 assists and 39 penalty minutes. During his 11 games in South Carolina, he scored 8 goals and had 6 assists and 6 penalty minutes. Gordon plays the game with loads of energy and intensity who seems to always be around the puck. He has an excellent scoring touch combined with great hockey sense and awareness that makes him a difficult player to defend against. Gordon has a keen sense of knowing where the play is going and often times is able to put himself in great scoring position. He is relentless in his puck pursuit and is a fierce competitor. He doesn’t shy away from getting physical to win the battles for pucks or space on the ice. Gordon skates with speed and has good acceleration. He possesses a great wrist shot and gets his shots off very quickly. So far during the 2008 ECHL playoffs Gordon has played 4 games, has 1 goal and 1 assist and is +/- +2.

#18 Right Wing Steve Pinizzotto Shoots: Right Height: 6-1 Weight: 195 lbs Birthdate: 1984-04-26; Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario. He was acquired/signed as an Unrestricted Free Agent in 2007; prior to turning pro Pinizzotto played two seasons at Rochester Institute of Technology. During the 2007 - 2008 regular season he played 40 games for South Carolina in the ECHL and 23 games for Hershey. He has split his playing time between playing Right Wing and playing Center. In his 40 games with the Stingrays this season, he scored 15 goals, had 17 assists, was +9 and spent 58 minutes in the "sin bin." During his 23 regular season games in Hershey, Pinizzotto had 4 assists and 12 penalty minutes. Pinizzotto’s game combines great offensive ability and some grit. He can set-up and finish plays. Where Pinizzotto is particularly dangerous is around the net. He can often be found making things happen around the net. He is also quite strong along the boards and in the corners. Pinizzotto is a tough competitor and won’t shy away from the physical aspects of the game. He moves the puck extremely well and possesses nice passing skills. Pinizzotto has a strong shot with a quick release. He's played 5 games has 1 goal, is -1 and has 12 penalty minutes.

#19 Right Wing Stephen Werner Shoots: Right Height: 6-0 Weight: 195 lbs Birthdate: 1984-08-08 Eligible for Draft: 2002 Hometown: Washington, D.C. This 23 year old "hometown hero" was drafted 83rd overall in 2003 Entry Draft by the Capitals. He played college hockey at UMass. Werner is a good two-way player with good playmaking and decision-making skills. He has a hard shot and is good through traffic. He could stand to be more physical. During the 2007 - 2008 season, he played 25 regular season games with South Carolina and scored 6 goals, 15 assists, was +/- +8 and had 24 penalty minutes. So far in the 2008 race to the Kelly Cup, Werner has played 14 games and has scored 5 goals, has 6 assists; is + 1 and has 4 penalty minutes.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

South Carolina Stingrays Best Columbia Inferno 2-0 to Advance in ECHL Playoffs

Last night the Capitals ECHL Affiliate South Carolina Stingrays bested their cross state rival Columbia Inferno 2-0 in regulation at the North Charleston Coliseum to stay alive in the Kelly Cup Playoffs. The Stingrays now play a 7 game series against the Cincinnati Cyclones who bested the Reading Royals 6-1 in their "rubber match" last night in Cincinnati. If the Stingrays beat the Cyclones they will then compete for the ECHL Championship (the Kelly Cup). LETS GO RAYS!!

In local high school sports Osborne Park beat Battlefield in Boy's Lacrosse last evening. This evening Battlefield completes their regular season home games boys lacrosse schedule against Loudoun Valley in a makeup game for a rain out. It's senior night at Battlefield as they take on a tough opponent and try to get their 10th win of the season. This evenings game is "at home" - Battlefield High School - in Haymarket, VA. LETS GO BOBCATS!!!!.

Finally, what about the weather today. This morning driving down the George Washington Parkway to work at 6:30AM I was really struck by how much I love this time of year here in DC. The only way it could be better would be if it was us instead of those blasted Flyers fans buying tickets to home playoff games against the Penguins. LETS GO CAPS!!! and what the heck - LETS GO .... SPRING !?!?!?!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Week Ahead - Into The Breach Without Caps Hockey for a Diversion

Well the week ahead looks pretty busy and hectic as usual. So even though the Caps have concluded their season, this week like last will probably just fly by.

On the professional front, it's another couple proposals, in process and looming. As we at ICx Technologies look toward our next couple of months we have several large US DoD Force Protection related procurements that are in process or looming that will keep us busy over the next couple of months. First on the horizon is a task order proposal related to a "Joint Capabilities Technologies Demonstration" or JCTD that needs to be completed this week. If I get that done early in the week then I can go out to the West Coast to look at some interesting technology the DoD is using to fuse CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives) sensor data with, if I don't get the proposal done early in the week, then that's what I'll be doing till its done. Hopefully, we'll also hear about the next steps in a program procurement the Army has in process for a proposal we submitted about 10 months ago, soon as well. The the Air Force has their next large Force Protection program procurement coming out later this month. All in all it should be a busy couple of months and with some good fortune it'll be a happy time for those of us who have been working these types of things. On the product side things also continue to move forward briskly and in a positive but busy fashion, we've started closing early sales of our CohesionIF(tm) - sensor integration software - and that too will mean we'll be increasing our capabilities in providing CBRNE and Advanced Wide Area Surveillance sensors for incorporation and integration to enterprise-wide security solutions. I'm very excited about our prospects in both areas as they are things I've been working towards since joining the ICx Team, 17 months ago.

On the personal front, we are getting prepared to be empty-nesters in Bristow when our son Chris enters the United States Merchant Marine Academy, in Kings Point, NY - he'll report for "Indoctrination" - sounds ominous doesn't it? - on July 10th. It's not that ominous, for the record, I reported to KP for Indoctrination on July 10, 1978, 30 years before my son enters to the day but I started on a Monday, he'll start on a Thursday. Indoctrination is a 2 1/2 week period prior to the start of classes where entering Freshman - Plebe Candidates in USMMA "speak" - receive their first taste of Academy life and their first "Indoctrination" to "Regimental Life" - it's basically the start of their military training prior to the start of the academic year. They "learn" the rules of the regiment as well as a significant amount of historical information about the Academy - "Plebe Knowledge" and start their PT (Physical Training) and learn to march, etc. While not all that ominous, it will be a large change for most Midshipman, including our son. However, yesterday, he told me he was looking forward to "finishing this stuff and starting the next thing in his life" - hopefully, he'll keep that attitude going forward, I believe he will.

On the "hockey diversion front" both the Caps and Hershey Bears are now out of their respective playoffs, however the South Carolina Stingrays will play a series ending (one way or the other) game 5 tonight to see if they or the Columbia Inferno continue on in the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs. The winner of the Stingrays - Inferno series will play the winner of the Cincinnati Cyclones - Reading Royals series who also play their "rubber match" game on Monday evening in Cincinnati.

Washington DC Area Hockey fans continuing to follow the Stanley Cup playoffs know the Eastern Conference Championship series starts later this week in Pittsburgh when the Penguins face off against the Philadelphia Flyers. Meanwhile in the Western Conference the Detroit Red Wings will face off against the Dallas Stars. The Stars beat the San Jose Sharks with a 2-1 win in the fourth overtime last night in Dallas. Both NHL games contested yesterday were exciting to watch. An earlier post provides the highlights of the Penguins - Ranger finale. The Sharks - Stars game went into a fourth overtime and was an exciting, fun game to watch. Throughout the entire game, the goal tending was superb, but the stupendous saves that both Evgeni Nabakov and Marty Turco made in the first three overtime periods were pretty mind-boggling. Through 6 periods of hockey the Sharks had 61 shots and the Stars had 51, even more amazing than their respective save percentages of of 98.36% and 98.04%, was the nature of some of the saves made by Turco and Nabakov. There were numerous scoring chances where it seemed the Goalies were superhuman. Both played top notch hockey through 131 minutes of hockey, and they both amassed several games worth of highlight reel saves throughout the action. In reality, both goalies played to a 1-1 tie in the first "game 6", then to a 0-0, dual shutout, tie in the second "game 6". The game went on like this until in the seventh period/fourth overtime when, at 9:03, Brenden Morrow scored a power by deflecting a pass from Stephane Robidas as the Stars and eliminated the pesky San Jose Sharks 2-1 in a game that ended early Monday morning. It was the longest game in the NHL playoffs this season, and the longest in San Jose history. The sad thing is that by the end of this game, both teams deserved to win, as did both goaltenders, but in the end only one team could win and that was Dallas. So Dallas now faces the Detroit Red Wings to see who from the Western Division will play for the Cup.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

It's Penguins vs. Flyers for the Eastern Division Finals

It'll be a "Pennsylvania Battle Royale" to see who will be the Eastern Conference Champion and contest for Lord Stanley's Cup this year. This afternoon the New York Rangers fought valiantly, taking the game into overtime after coming back from a two goal deficit but in the end the Penguins proved too much. Trade deadline pickup Marian Hossa scored two goals this afternoon including the game winner in overtime, validating Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero's trade deadline deal making.

After a scoreless first period, Pittsburgh jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second on a power play goal by Marian Hossa at 8:45 and an even strength tally by Evgeni Malkin at 12:40. The Penguins truly dominated the second period outshooting the Rangers 17-4. However, during the third period the Rangers, aware they were facing elimination, fought back and scored two quick even strength goals - one at 2:02 by Lauri Korpiskowski and one at 3:25 by Nigel Dawes. Then the game settled into a give and take battle of nerves for the remaining 16 minutes, though the rangers did outshot the Pens 11-7 during the final stanza of regulation play. In overtime the Penguins seemed to generate a new sense of purpose and draw some energy from the Igloo home crowd outshooting the Rangers 5-0, before Hossa finished them off with the sixth shot of overtime at 7:10.

Throughout the series the Rangers played physical, tight games against the Penguins and Rangers' Goalie Henrik Lundqvist was a one man team at times, however it wasn't close to enough as the Penguins downed them 4 games to 1. A big part of the reason that Lundqvist's heroics weren't enough was that they were matched and at critical times surpassed at the other end of the ice by Marc-Andre Fleury. Despite involving two teams with names like Crosby, Malkin, Jagr, and Gomez on the roster, this series was more a goaltenders duel then anything else. Throughout the series the Pens got outstanding goal-tending from Marc-Andre Fleury, who was the #1 star of the game in game #2 (a 2-0 shutout victory for Penguins in which Lundqvist also stopped 24 of 26 shots and earned the games third star). Fluery was also the third star of the game in Game 3, a 5-3 Pittsburgh victory, where he stopped 23 of 26 shots while Lundqvist yielded 5 goals to the Pens on their 11 shots. In game 4, Fleury stopped 31 of the Rangers 34 shots however at the other end of the ice, Lundqvist was perfect stopping all 29 of the Penguins attempts and earning the first star of the game. In today's game Henrik Lundqvist stopped 37 of the Penguins 40 shots, a save percentage of 92.5% and earned the games third star, while Fluery stopped 20 of the Rangers 22 shots a save percentage of 90.90%. Now the Battle of the Keystone State will be waged to see who is the 2008 "Beast of the East". This two will be a physical series, featuring two hot goaltenders and two teams with great young teams, in two hockey-crazed cities Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. What are tickets going to go for on Broad Street for game 3 - any guesses?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Huet's Price Going Up? Flyers Down Habs 6 - 4 To Take Series

Well I was watching the Flyers-Canadeans Game 5 and the Flyers had just pulled ahead of the Habs 4-3 at the end of the 2nd period. Carey Price had just let two Flyers goals get past him that he'd probably like to have back and I can't help but wonder what this all is doing to the likely "price" it'll take for the Capitals to resign Christobel Huet. Throughout tonight's game Cary Price didn't get a lot of help in front but his glove side looked very vulnerable throughout the entire Flyers series. The other thing going against Price is that at the other end of the ice Martin Biron continued to play excellently throughout the series.

The Canadeans came out in the third period and tied the game before the Flyers took the lead again at 16:56 on a textbook tip-in by Scottie Upshall on a Jeff Carter shot from the point through a crowded slot. Mike Knuble "sealed the deal" with an empty net goal at 19:10. Overall tonight Carey Price stopped 31 shots. However the bigger story was that the Flyers scored 20 goals in 5 games on the Canadeans' 20 year old rookie goalie. The Flyers now await the outcome of the Penguins - Rangers series to see who they play for the Eastern Conference Championship. The Penguins currently lead that series 3 - 1 and could end the series tomorrow when they meet for game 5 in Pittsburgh. One thing is for sure, regardless of who the Flyers end up playing - Pittsburgh or the Rangers - it will be a physical series.

What do you think will Montreal try to resign Christobel Huet after Price's issues in the Flyers series?