Sunday, February 8, 2009

Last Night Caps 3 - Panthers 1; Trade Rumors, & NHL on NBC

Last Night Caps 3 - Panthers 1
This Morning More Trade Silliness From The Usual Suspects

NBC Milbury Makes Things Even Sillier

Last night the Caps took a big first step. First things first though, it was indeed a two point night. The Capitals played the first of 29 games between now and the end of the season, the way "the game was meant to be played." It was a game where they played tight, tough hockey for a full sixty minutes against a playoff contender with a hot goaltender in net. The outcome of the game wasn't sealed until the final minute and the opponents as well as the Caps knew it and played that way. The Caps came into the game with some concern centered around their penalty killing unit's ability to shut down opponents and a more general concern around their defense after a general let down and dysfunction against the LA Kings last game. However, when it was over the Caps had erased those concerns and turned back the Florida Panthers 3-1 for a win and two points against a division rival. Last night's win was Jose Theodore's 20th of the season, the sixth 20 win season of his career, and the season is only 2/3rds done. More importantly, Theo's overall Save percentage for the season is now 0.900 and his GAA is 2.77. Mike Green scored two goals (18 & 19) and now has a seven game goal scoring streak going. "Game Over" is now on pace for a 31 goal, 77 point season. The line shakeups looked fairly good for the game. Certainly Federov & Semin click right away. The move of Nylander to right wing with Ovechkin and Backstrom looked okay, though as you would expect that line needs another while to get their timing down, something the three days off before the next game could work for if they stay together. The other lines looked good and it is indeed nice to see both Steckel and Gordon at center on lines 3 & 4. Unfortunately, Boyd Gordon had an off night in the face off circle so it'll be at least another game before we see if the complexion of the game changes with more dominance in the face off circle by the Capitals.

Today around the league we started/continued the "Trade Deadline" rumor silliness. The usual suspects weighed in. First we have Bruce Garroich being his usual blockhead self but more so yet. Why would a hockey beat writer in Ottawa write about the stories in his own back yard, it's not like the Senators have imploded or anything right? Why write about that when you can speculate about which team besides yours might win the "Jay Bouwmeester sweepstakes" and whether that will before or after the end of this season? especially if you can get in a swipe or two at a non-Canadian team, eh? Garrioch's now on record as saying he thinks Bouwmeester will end up in Edmonton AFTER the season. Let's see if his total wild guess this time comes out any better than his belief that Alexander Ovechkin would end up in Montreal which is where he felt Ovie would be a great fit in November 2006. To put my thoughts in perspective, I too doubt Boumeester will stay in Florida, last year's negotiations were too contentious. That said I don't know why one of the, if not THE, most desired UFA in this year's crop would trade one bubble team in a small market for another bubble team in a small market. Yes I understand Edmonton is much more a hockey town than South Florida, and it is Bouwmeester's hometown, but there are likely to be many solid suitors for the big blue line presence and league leading minutes played guy in addition to Edmonton. Sure Edmonton will have plenty of salary cap room and a blueline corps anchored by Boumeester, Sheldon Souray and Lubomir Visnovsky would be tremendously imposing; however, the Oilers need a clear number 1 goaltender and Dustin Penner to turn things up a notch or another true power forward to compliment their other young talent up front to make a real run at a Stanley Cup. Also given the other choices Bouwmeester is likely to be able to look at will he really give Edmonton that much of a hometown discount? Really, we're likely talking millions here.

So what does that other sage of all things hockey, Larry Brooks, from that total hockey town New York City think? Well, for once it's time to give credit where credit is due. Larry's headline and focus is on the most recent controversy being manufactured by a guy who is a bigger boob when it comes to things professional hockey than Bruce Garrioch or Larry himself could ever be, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. In addition to being "dead nuts on" relative to his view on the ludicrous notion the NHL should stop supporting the Olympics, Brooks also reports the larger, more substantial trade rumours around the league but doesn't make any silly comments or speculation in their regard. Solid reporting Larry! Brooks does offer a commentary on the Denis Gauthier - Josh Georges incident, and while it is laced with lots of sarcasm, it too is solid editorial journalism. Today's New York Post article by Mr. Brooks was a pleasant surprise to me and I actually recommend you read the two pages at the link here.

As for the news out of Edmonton itself regarding trade deadline deals and rumors? Check them out here - not much on it all except some open musing about the Glen Sather - Sean Avery - Chris Drury dynamic and a belief that Jay Pandolfo who has sat as a a healthy scratch for six straight games is likely to be dealt.

Finally Mike Milbury does it again, the guy is working hard to make Don Cherry look really intelligent and unlikely to put his foot in his mouth. Milbury just loves to create controversy or try at least. Hey, don't get me wrong, I like the devil may care attitude "say it and let the chips lay where they fall." His commentary between the first and second periods of the Red Wings - Penguins game was truly one of those sets of things, it wasn't into the "pansification of hockey class" but he continues to try and create a controversy between Malkin and Ovechkin. That said Pierre Maguire's choices of Zdeno Chara and Evgeni Nabalkov instead of Milbury's Ovechkin - Broudeur paring truly shows once again that Pierre is playing the game a couple cents short of a dime, eh? Of course Pierre did it all just to rib Mike for dealing Chara when he was the coach of the Islanders but hey what can you expect? Maguire is clearly one of those with a total man crush on "Sid the Kid." The NBC broadcast team spent over 2 full minutes between the second and third periods singing Crosby's praises, but Milbury hit it right on the mark if Pittsburgh doesn't make the playoffs this year, it's a disaster in Steeltown.

Now back to our regularly schedule subject - next up for the Capitals: the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, the first of a three game road swing.


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