Friday, August 28, 2009

So What Do Things Look Like Heading Into Camp For the Capitals?

So going into training camp these upcoming weeks what does the Washington Capital's likely roster look like? I haven't pondered this in a while and I don't know how different what I project will be from the last time I looked at this but as I think about this season's positives for the Capitals a smile comes to my face... My projected forward lines are:
Ovechkin - Backstrom - Knuble,
Semin - Morrison - Laich,
Fleischmann - Steckel - Fehr,
Osala - Gordon - Bradley.
Before we get into the what?!?!? Where's Clark !?!? What about Nylander, you don't really think they'll pay him $5M to sit in the press box this season - do ya ?!?! stuff. Let's just examine this set of lines and a few of the possibilities with these guys and why the heck i think the team could easily look a lot like this on most nights and do very well....
The first line is awesome, while some folks will be missing Vicktor Kozlov and Mike Knuble is 37, comparing what each of them did last season you have to look at Knuble as an upgrade. With Knuble on the line as well as OV and Backstrom you have a line that last year scored 105 goals between them (Knuble 27 goals versus 13 for Kozlov). Also Knuble's presence and "grit" should help the line keep things simpler and may even result in opening up a that little bit more time and space for OV to have yet another 60+ goal season. The continued maturation and development of Backstrom also seems all but guaranteed and as his 1+ point per game productivity in the playoffs last season showed he too could likely benefit from the presence of Knuble driving to the net to open things up more.
The second line of Semin - Morrison - Laich is one I'm very excited about, combined they scored 73 goals last season. Assuming Alexander Semin continues to develop and play more of a two way game, something that Brendan Morrison's presence - like Sergei Federov's last season - should reinforce, and Morrison returns more true to his historical form, and this line is going to be the most different thing between the start of last season and the start of this season. Laich had another solid year last year and will only have his "gritty" style of play reinforced watching Knuble and Morrison nose for the net and drive at 37 and 34 respectively. It wouldn't surprise me to see this line quickly click with Semin relishing the time and space Morrison and Laich's style of play force defenses to give him, and using it for his first 40+ goal season. Morrison with a feeling of something to prove and finding that playing with Semin can be as exciting and fun as playing with AO might just return to 20+ goal form; and Laich with all that garbage to pick up continuing to better his season high goal production and knocking on that 30 goal season door.
If the second line "gels" like I think it will, opposing teams would be looking at playing a Washington Capitals second line that produces 90 plus goals. Talk about no place to hide. Talk about having two power play units to make your mistakes hurt even without a heavyweight enforcer and that's what the Caps could well have in their top six forwards. Talk about having to really do some juggling - if Semin has a 40+ goal season this year - GMGM is really going to have to earn his money when it comes to extending his contract before the end of the season. Talk about having a lot to shout about in Section 103 during Caps game this season - I'm grinning just thinking about these possibilities.
The third line consisting of Fleischmann - Steckel - Fehr consists of two guys on wing who though solidly deserving of a sweater each night haven't lived up to their potential and a center who really earns his money and at a salary of $725K as one of the better faceoff men in the NHL last season is a bargain. Further last season during the playoffs "Stecks" had 3 goals, 2 assists and a 15.8% shooting percentage in 14 games - if he can keep on that track (0.357 points per game) during this regular season that would be a 30 point season with 12 - 15 goals. Those would be solid stats for a third line center. Assuming that at least one of the two wings betters their last season performance (I'd bet on Fehr getting 17+ goals and "Flash" getting 21 or more) and it's easy seeing this line - a group of guys who scored 39 goals between them last regular season producing 50+ goals during this years regular season campaign. Given this year is a contract year for all three of them, nobody is probably more motivated to make that jump from 39 goals to 50+ goals then they themselves.
My fourth line of Oscar Osala - Boyd Gordon - Matt Braley is a bit of a stretch but not so much so. I picked Osala because I think coming out of training camp at least one of the Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears will have earned themselves a roster spot up here in DC. I picked Osala because at just 21 years old, 6'4", 217# the strapping Finn pairs up well with the 6'0", 201# 25 year old Gordon and the 6'3" 201# 30 year old Bradley to form a pretty big, solid checking line. Further from what little I saw of Osala during his scant 2 games with the Capitals he is driven and he doesn't seem to shy too far away from a pretty physical, but fast aggressive style of play like Coach Boudreau wants to see. As far as Gordon and Bradley go, especially in light of their 2009 playoff performances, there's no doubt when you show up for a "Hockey War" you want these guys wearing a sweater, on your bench ready to play. Gordon is a responsible guy on both ends of the ice and is a solid special teams guy as a penalty killer. The 30 year old Bradley had a solid 2008-2009 regular season then stepped up his game in the playoff notching 2 goals and 4 assists in 14 games (0.429 points per game). It's easy to see how based on what he did in the playoffs how the 31 year old Bradley, if he had a guy like Osala or Jay Beagle or Alexandre Giroux or Francois Bouchard or Chris Bourque or ... on the other wing, and Gordon has a another good solid season, might be able to notch a 25+ point 10+ goal season this year.
So that's my logic for my forward line picks.
Defensive pairings well here again the Caps are looking better then they did at the start of last season, thanks mainly to the return to the line-up of Brian Pothier, as well as the continued development of some of the other guys. My 3 defensive pairings:
Green - Morrisson,
Poti - Jurcina,
Pothier - Erskine,
Backups: Schultz, Alzner.
I look for GMGM to deal two of these guys early in the season to make some room for the up & comers, as well as possibly some cap space and get some additional draft picks assuming every stays reasonably health through the first 1/4 of the season. My reasoning for the picks and the placement of the parings is pretty convoluted.
First why does Alzner start the season in the press box or in Hershey - because he can and they can move him back and forth without putting him through waivers and he hasn't finished maturing his game in Hershey yet. Why does Schultz start the season in the press box - because he'll still be recovering from his off season surgery even though he'll be insisting he's ready to play.
Now the pairings - to me Mike Green - Shaone Morrisonn works and works well most if not all of the time. This will be the year Mike Green proves last season was no fluke but he'll also be looking to play even better in his own end without sacrificing the offensive in your face dynamic he brings to the game. I also look for Morrisonn to take a few more shots from the point when he gets the chance and expect both his shots on goal and his results in the way of goals and primary assists to go up. Last season's number for Green were =/- +24, 31 goals, 42 assists for 73 points with 243 shots on goal and a 12.8 shooting percentage in just 68 games. I won't hazard a guess on Green's production this season though if I did it would be between 20 and 30 goals with a =/- of +29 or better. Morrisonn's regular season numbers were +/- +4, 3 goals, 10 assists, 50 shots on goal with a 6.0% shooting percentage in 72 games played. I think Morrisonn will better those numbers significantly this season with a +/- of +12 or better, 80+ shots on goal, and a 9.0% or better shooting percentage I can see him producing 7 goals, and 17+ assists. I actually see this pair on the ice with the second and third line as often as they are out there with the first line as well. That's why I see Morrisonn's productivity going up and Green's staying close to last year's awesome season.
The second pairing of Tom Poti and Milan Jurcina enters this season having played reasonably well together often last seasoin. Further Jurcina's play last season earned him a $1.375M salary this year in arbitration (or perhaps GMGM deserves some credit for that by giving John Erskine a $2.5M, 2 year ($1.25M/year) contract extension in the middle of last season to keep Erskine off the UFA market.) In any case the 32 year old Tom Poti had a +/- +3, 3 goal, 10 assist 59 game injury shortened regular season and then stepped up his game in the playoffs notching a =/- +8, 2 goals and 5 assists in 14 games. "Juice" the 26 year old was second on the team in hits, played 79 regular season games, was +/- +1 with 3 goals and 11 assists. If the big Czech could improve his shooting percentage/accuracy (he was 3.2% with 95 shots on goal) his offensive production would likely improve linearly without any other aspect of his game suffering because he has a cannon of a slapper. In the playoffs Juice was +6, and had 2 goals with only 10 shots on goal in 14 games. I see this line out there and the 6'4" 233# Jurcina laying solid, legal hits on guys prone to take cheap hits on the first line. I see him able to do that because Poti will be there playing disciplined hockey and covering for Jurcina if he has to get out of position to do that aspect of his role now that the team is without a designated "heavyweight."
The third pairing I see as Pothier with whoever else is dressed that night assuming he has indeed fully recovered, stays that way and plays as well or better then he did in his 9 regular season and 13 playoff games last year. Ultimately though if things go the way i think they will I see some shuffling on the second and third pairing as GMGM deals two of the 8 defensemen listed here away, sometime between now and the trade deadline.
Goaltending I see as Theodore and Varlamov - ALL SEASON long. I also see Theo having a good year and holding onto number 1 throughout the entire year. I see Varly having the kind of year he needs to have to ensure he comes into camp next season as the number 1 as well. That should mean another 50+ win season for your Washington Capitals.
So what do you think - am I crazy? I'll ponder the fates of Chris Clark and Michael Nylander with my next post.

Monday, August 17, 2009

USA Hockey Is Now Going To Try And Censor The Press...

This Should Be A Fun One To Watch...

First Patrick Kane makes this limp statement today:

"Because I put myself in being in the wrong position in the wrong time, I've caused a lot of pain for my family, my hometown of Buffalo, the city of Chicago, the Chicago Blackhawks and obviously the great fans we have here in Chicago. And for that part, I sincerely apologize. Now it's time for me to move forward. I'm excited to get back to the ice and represent the Chicago Blackhawks and the United States Olympic Hockey Team. Thank you."

Then Brian Burke & follows up by telling reporters (compliments of

"After Kane departed, USA Hockey director of communications Dave Fischer attempted to make the scandal off-limits during the three-day camp just outside of Chicago:

"Obviously, throughout the course of the three days, he will be available to the media with the condition that the topic not be anything about that because he can't comment on it, as you understand. Our players cannot comment on it, our management team ... if you'd respect that, you can all appreciate that until the legal proceedings get wrapped up in the near future."

Burke, however, had a few more comments to get in during his turn at the mic, telling the media to ask their questions now because "we're not talking about Patrick Kane after we leave here."
He said the situation hasn't affected his judgment of Kane as a member of the 2010 USA Hockey squad, although he deflected questions that asked him to speculate on Kane's status depending on what a grand jury decides to do with the case.

Burke was steadfast, however, that Kane was a victim of circumstance: "I think it's possible for a young man to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said, adding that "when I was Patrick Kane's age, I did a couple of things I wouldn't want to talk about up here."

Mostly, Burke chastised the media for making the Kane affair into front-page news, although he would couch the comments with claims that he wasn't "trying to scold" them. Which of course he totally was. "

This should be a fun thing to watch particularly during the next three days, no way that at least one reporter doesn't take Burke's statements as a challenge, and I gotta believe there's at least one or two other players who think Kane is a prima donna based on the rumours out of Chicago. So what punishment will USA Hockey and Burke extract out of the guy who says he thinks that stupid, spoiled brats, ought to have to pay for their stupidity with more than a simple apology before the world just forgets their mistakes and moves on....

Your thoughts?

I can't wait till we have some real hockey news to talk about here in DC -


Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'm Trying But There Is Really No...Real ... Hockey ...News ...These Days...

I guess the European Influence on the NHL is totally confirmed - I figue that's why it seems the whole hockey world has taken the month of August pretty much off on holidays. Sure we still get an occassional Michael Nylandr is unhappy and might go to the KHL rumour but for Caps fans there's little else in the way of fodder to kick around. So what's left, we follow bankruptcy hearings in Cali and Arizona and debate whether or not Patrick Kane was an idiot last week....

On the good end of things, apparently a few more of the Capitals are starting to trickle in to the DC area and skate at KCI... maybe we'll start to see some action, activity and news though I really don't expect much for another two weeks or so....

I can't wait for camp to open... how about y'all?


Monday, August 10, 2009

Am I the Only One Who Thinks ...

Am I the only one....
... who thinks that maybe USA Hockey should wait until after Patrick Kane's court dates are over before having him in camp?
To date I haven't seen one story or detail about the story of the Blackhawks' star alleged altercation with a cab driver in his hometown of Buffalo, NY that doesn't point to the fact he was probably intoxicated - under age (he's 20) - and the altercation was apparently over literally pocket change. And to be clear we're talking about packet change to anyone, not just someone making millions for playing a game.

So let's get this straight, a sporting public who overwhelmingly feel that it's okay to continue to possibly prevent a guy who served his time, and has been financially impacted in a severe way, from continuing to earn his livelihood - one Michael Vick; is going to get behind a Team USA with some punka$$ kid who beat-down a working stiff just doing his job over less than a dollar? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying anything about thinking Michael Vick's life shouldn't be impacted further - what he did was horrible and what he's gotten and continues to get is fine by me. What I'm saying is that if it turns out Patrick Kane is the idiot it sounds like he was when he took on the cab driver, then why would USA Hockey treat him any better than Gary Bettman treated Sean Avery for his comments about the dating habits of other NHL players and his ex-girlfriends? Also how can it be good for the game, the sport in general and the governing body of the sport for amateurs in the United States to have Kane in camp with this cloud over him. At the very least he was drinking underage - look at the whole recent Michael Phelps actions and repercussions.

Kane should do the right thing, assuming ANY part of this incident is true, stay out of USA Hockey camp until this is cleared up and if all of it's true, he should recuse himself from the USA National Team and this Olympics Games.

Now I'm not naive enough to think that is going to happen, but I think that's what the lad should do.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My 2 Cents This AM on The Coyotes, The Islanders, and The Lightning

Okay instead of something about hockey, the really interesting part of ice hockey you know players, skating, statistics, etc. - since I got nutin' on that stuff - today if you read further your gonna get a couple of my quick thoughts on the business of hockey as it has to do with 3 teams in the news lately.

First the Phoenix Coyotes, Hockey Blog In Canada has the answer - REALLY - this is the answer if the NHL Board of Governors really doesn't want Jim Balsillie to buy the team, the league should enter and win the action. I find the NHL's current 26 page motion to me must be a real stretch and pretty ludicrous. I haven't read it but I'll take a guess it consists of 2 major parts: Part 1) 6 - 10 pages on how Jerry Moyes, like every other owner, committed when he bought the team to only convey ownership (full, partial or controlling) to persons or legal entities pre-approved by the NHL Board of Governors, and Part 2) the remaining 16 - 20 pages with numerous details, provided in first person deposition form, by members of the current Board of Governors, about their interactions and business dealings with Balsillie related to his prior 2 attempts to get a hold of an NHL team and why that has led to the unanimous rejection of his current application as an unfit member of "their club". I don't see how the Judge does anything but look on this motion the same as he has looked at the NHL's blackballing of Mr. Balsillie in the past - not at all in the interest of the Coyotes creditors - unless there are some first hand accusations, with some substantiating evidence, that Balsillie's prior actions were in some way illegal. Since that's probably not the case then I say that HBIC has it right, the NHL needs to buy the team, exit it from Bankruptcy and then sell it to someone it can work with. I bet if they did that, they would want more from the Reinsdorf's then is currently on the table, they also would probably be open to moving the team, though probably not to Southern Ontario. Just my 2 cents on that one this morning.

On the Islanders and the Lighthouse Project, here's my 2 cents. I've lived on Long Island several times in my life for a total of 12 years, I've been to the Nassau Coliseum, in early days when it wasn't old and decrepit and more recently. I frequently stay right next door to it at the Marriott, Uniondale when I have business trips to the area. My 2 cents is while not totally in line with all the "Just Build It" crowd --- "Just Build It" Expedite the environmental impact studies, do what you have to do on both sides to make that happen - if that means breaking the project and the reviews into phases then do it, but it needs to happen and there is no reason not to build it. The current site is old, dated, and really not at all aesthetically pleasing or a modern suburban vista in any way, shape or form. As for the idea there are too many teams in the area with the Devils, Rangers, and Bruins as well as the Islanders in the region - that's stupid too. The population base is big enough to support all those teams, and the AHL teams that are in between NYC and Boston (Bridgeport & Providence). The markets are segmented enough that there isn't an issue either. The Islanders have been a good franchise and will be in the future, they need a new arena and another draft or two like they had this summer and they'll be back in fine form. Now about their never ending quest for a cool logo...probably not gonna happen. Just my 2 cents "on dat one."

How about this news - per the Saint Petersburg Times (Damien Cristodero) "The NHL apparently has decided the Lightning's ownership situation is unsustainable and set up a process in which squabbling co-owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules can buy each other out.
Barrie has the first shot in an exclusive 60-day window that apparently runs out in mid to late September. If Barrie fails, Koules gets his chance. " You have got to be kidding me, these guys somehow managed to get together, work together through the process of buying an NHL Franchise and now they are "squabbling" so much and it's adversely affecting the team to the point the league feels they need to step in and help facilitate a peaceable separation. Guys - grow up, play nice and keep your investment moving forward. Talk about high school shenanigans...jeez. Just my 2 cents.

Last thoughts, doesn't reading this and thinking about silliness like this long for some real hockey news? I mean sports and following the NHL in general and the Caps in particular is my escape from "real life" business, etc. I for one am just at the point I'd love for the Caps to even manufacture some news. Maybe OV will do another interview or something...anything besides stuff like this. If we can't have any real hockey news, maybe we'll get lucky and they'll find some pics of Bettman dressed in WWII German uniforms like that FIFA guy or something... how about it photoshoppers?

In the meantime, I put up another gratuitous cheesecake picture of a former hockey babe just... well ... just because I got nutin' and I figured it's sort of a thank you for working with me while we get through these dog days of summer. Besides, seeing what Anna Kourikova has been up to lately is at least as hockey related as reading a deposition related to the Coyotes Bankruptcy Proceedings, and hey I'm still missing Sergei Federov, though B-Mo is a good pickup.

I can't wait till training camp....


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Errr...Dog Days Of Summer... Errr...Nothing to Talk About But ---The Islanders?!?!?!

So when it comes to Caps news, basically, uhhh well, "I got nuttin'." Yep, nothing, and I'm not alone, last summer, it never seemed to be this bad.

But I'm not alone.

- Tariq over at the WaPo, and on his blog "Capitals Insider": Last post, 3 days ago, subject - the Hershey Bears resigned Alexandre Giroux. He also "caught up with Eric Fehr", that day and posted the recap of his conversation. Nothing earth shattering, Fehr talked about his recuperation from surgery, said he probably wouldn't be in @ the start of camp though and said he might be there by the start of the season. Not really news to the faithful....

- @ Dump N' Chase, Mike Vogel last post - July 30 - Subject: Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison's first visits to DC and their talks with the press. Okay, news yes but as of this AM over a week with ... nutin' new since...

- Corey over at the Washington Times and on his blog "In The Room" - last post July 31st, Subject The Milan Jurcina Arbitration Decision. News yes but again now a week old and since... "nutin'.

- @ Japers Rink, well there's whatever is available in the way of snippets and some manufactured "news" involving current, future and former Caps but basically IMO nothing worth really bringing up or pointing out for the last 3 days.

- @ A View From the Cheap Seats, CapsChick posted a nice one on August 3rd, her last post, on the history of Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison's numbers. It's not earth shattering "news" but hey it is a real nice piece and for Caps faithful it does get the memories going....

- The Peerless Prognosticator, despite the lack of news and or inspiration for prognostication that happens this time of year hasn't failed to come up with some occasional posts that are more than worth the look, on average every other day lately. His last post is awesome IMO - he has a side by side pic that shows the resemblance of Sidney Crosby to former Presidential Candidate Michael Dukakias (sp? - sue me I'm too lazy to look it up this morning) - okay - LOL!

So as you can see that's why I got nutin' to say about the Caps. Why is this summer so much slower for Caps news in particular and NHL news in general. I thought for a second on this and I think its because of the fact there isn't nearly as much change or movement on the Caps Roster as well as player movement around the NHL being down. Basically - there's less to talk about and think about. Also despite the Caps great season last year, we're all just anticipating this coming season and we've (us rabid Caps fans) also done a bunch of analysis but not about new and novel things. Or maybe it's just we're all just way too distracted running around trying to figure out what new car to buy before "the cash for clunkers" deal runs out of money again... In any case that explains: 1) why I wrote about the Coyotes ownership; 2) why there is a picture of "hockey babe" Elisha Cuthbert on this post that has NUTIN' whatsoever to do with the rest of it's contents, and 3) why if there's no real hockey news that happens today, I'm likely to write about the Islanders need and quest for a new arena tomorrow...

Friday, August 7, 2009

How About This Whole Coyotes Mess Now?

So I don't know about you all but I'm pretty torn about this stuff with the Coyotes - Jim Balsille-Jerry Reinsdorf mess. First as a hockey fan, when I put myself into a Phoenix fans shoes I find myself rooting for the fans which means rooting for Reinsdorf which means rooting for - Gary Bettmann - and that is something I just can't do, at all.

Then I read an article/post about the business deal aspect of the whole staying in Glendale thing, with the likely concessions and or the concessions the Reinsdorf bid wants. Now for me it's clear I can't support it. First it screws the creditors, not at all the intent of US Bankruptcy Laws and the process, second it screws a super set of folks that likely includes some of the same Coyotes fans that don't want to see the team moved - the taxpayers of Glendale (see this post at From The Rink.) Whatever happens I just can't be for any outcome that so compromises the rights of the real victims of this mess the Coyotes creditors - and its more and more clear that Bankruptcy was indeed the only right thing to do to stop the bleeding.

Finally as more and more comes out about the Reinsdorfs, their bid, and the other business dealings of Reinsdorfs etc. I find it harder and harder to understand the stiff necked, resolute opposition of the other owners to Jim Balsillie. I don't dispute that like a bunch of affluent owners of Co-Ops in a pricey, exclusive building in NYC, the members of the Co-Op board have rights and can pick their neighbors or at least exercises some control and due process when one of them wants to or has to sell their shares/unit. My wonderment is grounded in their opposition to Balsillie in such overwhelming fave to a group of buyers who have at least as many issues as the Blackberry Billionaire from Southern Ontario.

Now to be sure Balsillie has done nothing this time around but rub the other NHL owners "faces in it". Clearly a stupid way to start out with folks who you want to be neighbors with. Comparing Balsillie with Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders just isn't at all right. Davis was one of the pioneers of the AFL and had been a long time owner and peer of the his NFL Colleagues when he decided not to go along with them. Balsillie isn't in the club yet. Even Billionaires understand that the key is to do what it takes to get into the club and then once you're in then you can act like Al Davis, or any other of "the boys." To me, now that he's won the right to put in a bid, it's time for Balsillie to go out of his way to make some amends with the other NHL owners and even Gary Buttmann. The first step and a smart one all around would be to say openly and in his bid that this season, if he wins and buys the Coyotes they will stay and play in Glendale, but they will move next season to their upgraded arena in Hamilton. That move will help salve some wounds and will help his bid given with his court win, it's likely other bids that move the team out of Phoenix will also come forth and be considered. He should also offer some compensation to the Maple Leafs and the Sabres, but nothing on the order of the crazy stuff the Nationals Ownership had to concede to Peter Angelos.

Finally to sweeten the bid to the folks in the jurisdiction that the Bankruptcy Court will hear this case, he should put some offers on the table to the City of Glendale for breaking the lease...

This still might not win it for the Blackberry Billionaire but it'll certainly raise the ante should anyone else want to come to the table and I think it'll send Reinsdorf on his way.

Besides I want to see Gary Buttmann with a sour puss face meeting with Jim Balsillie to give him the keys. Maybe then he won't have time to think about the next dumb rule change he wants to put in place to try and ruin the NHL by assuming it's hard core fans are like and want what NBA fans want.

Obviously there was no significant Washington Capitals related news to muse about today... I can't wait till Camp opens.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

OV - So Cool and Brutally Honest It's Scary....

By no most if not all the folks who read my blog have to have watched the just under 10 minute interview OV recently did with RT (Russia Today). The guy is just so candid it's totally refreshing. I' sure most folks like the answer about how sex both before and after a game helps him play hockey better. My reaction was come on the kid's just under 24 years old and in top physical condition that one is kind of a no brainer isn't it? The only surprise is the candor with which he choose to answer. The most sincere and thoughtful answer was no doubt the one about how besides victory the think most likely to make him cry - "probably the birth of my future child".

I also thought his insistence at emphasizing he hasn't won EVERY possible award in Hockey yet is telling as to what he's thinking about for goals this season. But my all time favorite answer - the one I thought the funniest? Keep in mind, I have a son, our only child, who is a great kid and one I don't think I have to worry about this coming true anymore than Ovie's parents have to worry about it, though my kid is a long way off from making $9M/year... SS/RT: "If you weren't playing hockey, what would you probably be doing?" AO: "Uhh, I don't know...probably scrounging off my parents like a lot of people my age..." BEST Interview Answer From An Early 20's Sports Start EVER!!!!

Can't Wait Till Camp Opens...LETS GO CAPS!!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I can't wait for hockey to get rolling again, anything, even the opening of training camp will be news, the blogs everywhere - there's just not much hockey news. Watching OV & Semin party in Moscow has lost what little appeal it might have had. If this keeps up, I'll just have to focus on work for the next three weeks until we go to the beach for a week's vacation.

So what is there to talk about for Caps fans? Well Milan Jurcina's arbitration hearing is settled and the Caps now have at least 8 NHL quality defensemen under contract.

Here's my thoughts on the Caps current D-Men and their order on the depth chart: 1) Mike Green, 2) Tom Poti, 3) Brian Pothier, 4)Shoane Morrisonn, 5) Milan Jurcina, 6) Jeff Schultz, 7) John Erskine, 8) Karl Alzner, 9) Tyler Sloan, 10) John Carlson. Now many folks will argue with my placement of "Juice" at 5 and even Sha-Mo at 4 - I just think there is a comfort facto with them out there in the "defensively focused d-man role." It's clear 1, 2, and 3 are supposed to be the offensively minded blueliners when they are out there and not paired with each other though and it's also clear that Green is more at ease with either Sha-Mo or Schultz then Jurcina. However it's also clear from hits, etc. in the statistics the physicality that Jurcina brings to the Caps lineup is needed and desirable. Also, while it didn't seem like Alzner shied away from the physical side of the game, the only guys on the blueline last year who seemed to enjoy laying on a good body check more then a neat poke check or making a nifty outlet pass were "Juice" and John Erskine. So that's why I put both on the current depth chart above Alzner and Jurcina ahead of Schultz. Readers no doubt will have differing opinions and I'm sure there's lots of reasons to have and support them.

The bottom line here though is given Pothier is still really a question mark after being sidelined most of the past two seasons; and that you have to look at and talk more about Jurcina, Schultz, Alzner and Carlson in terms of potential and what they might do in the future; and you probably have to feel that both Morrisonn and Erskine are currently playing to their potential where they are on the Caps depth chart - the only two clear top four defensemen on the Caps roster right now are Green and Poti. What's that say or mean? Well let's start with this statement and fact - another season like last year and Mike Green will be the second Washington Capital who is a legitimate, acknowledged NHL superstar. The derision of Green's defensive play and lapses are, in my view, greatly exaggerated and misplaced. The only reason people talk about them so much is because it's so clear that he has tremendous talents and that's what you usually notice when he's on the ice. Tom Poti - like or hate him, you have to admit when you look at his stats he's a top tier defensemen, especially when you look around the SE Division. All that side what it means at the bottom line is at least two of the other eight guys on this list have to step it up and play all season long and through the playoffs like guys who are top four defensemen. If Pothier can come back fully from his injury and play all season long without any issues, he can do it, he's proven that. Of the others at least five of the other seven have the talent and innate skills to do it but they are all relatively young and untested. The obvious choice as most likely to do it this coming season - Shoane Morrisson - let's hope that Sha-Mo shows he deserves his relatively large paycheck. If Morrisson and Pothier and Green and Poti play like we know they can, then maybe the Caps can have the season and playoffs all of us Caps fans are rooting for.

Personally, I can't wait to find out if they can/do.


Saturday, August 1, 2009


I've been looking over this coming NHL season's home game schedule for the Washington Caps here on a month by month basis is how things look.

The caps open the season with a bang and a lot of good hockey seems to be on tap for Caps fans during the first month of the season. The Caps will play 6 road games and 7 home games in October. Eight of the 13 games will be against playoff teams. During October the Caps play three games against Western Conference opponents and eight against Eastern Conference foes; the only Southeastern Division team the Caps face in October is Atlanta who they play twice - both games against the Thrashers are away at Philips Center. The other team the Caps play twice in October is the Philadelphia Flyers once on the road and once at home. The Caps Home opener is on Saturday October 3rd at 7pm against the Toronto Maple Leafs. During October the Caps play seven (7) home games. Three are weekend games - Saturday, October 3rd at 7PM against the Maple Leafs; Saturday, October 17th vs. Nashville at 7PM; and Friday, October 30th against the Islanders. They have four other home games on weeknights during the first month of the season. They play the Rangers at Verizon on Thursday October 8th in a game that will no doubt be loud with a lot of Rockin' the Red going on. The week of October 12 through 17th features a three game home stand - they play the NJ Devils at the Phone Booth on Monday the 12th, the San Jose Sharks on Thursday the 15th and then the Saturday game against the Predators. Tuesday October 27th sees the Caps take on the Flyers. The October schedule means the Caps need to start the season ready to play top quality hockey and it should get everyone back into a hockey mood pretty quickly.

The November schedule brings Caps fans a 14 game menu - 6 home games and 8 road games. Perhaps more interesting is the combos and match ups in November. The Caps traditional Thanksgiving home game is apparently, at least for now, a thing of the past, though the Caps will host the Sabres at VC on the evening of Wednesday November 25th. The November schedule starts at home on Sunday November 1st against Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets; the Caps next play the Devils at "the Rock" on Wed 11/4, then they travel to Sunrise Florida for the first of a home and home on back to back nights against the Florida Panthers on Friday 11/6, the other bookend of that match up occurs on Saturday evening 11/7 at Verizon. The 11/7 game is the first of a three day home-stand that also includes the Islanders on Wed 11/11 before it's capped off on Friday 11/13 against the Minnesota Wild. Then it's off to a game the next night against Martin Brodeur and the Devils in Newark the very next night Saturday 11/14 followed by a Tuesday match up on 11/17 against the Rangers at MSG. The Caps then get a two day break before they play back to back games against Montreal and Toronto - they take on the Habs at home on Friday 11/20 then travel to Toronto to play the Maple Leafs on HNIC (Hockey Night In Canada) on 11/21. After that the Thanksgiving week schedule looks interesting as well: @ Ottawa on Monday 11/23, @ home against the Sabres on Wed 11/25, @ Montreal on Saturday 11/28 (Will that be the game they play in the Olympic Arena? --- uh, no...apparently n ot going to happen at least not this season.) The Caps wrap up November in Raleigh, NC when they face the Division Rival Carolina Hurricanes for the first time of the season. All told, November isn't any easier than October. The Caps have two instance when they play on back to back nights, their longest break is a four day stretch from November 7th (2nd of a home and home at home against the Panthers) until November 11th (road game against the Islanders). Also even though only 5 of the 14 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season, only three are against SE Division foes and the only two games against Western COnference foes are against two pretty good teams Columbus and Minnesota.

December brings the Holiday season as well as a 13 game lineup for Caps fans. Of the 13 games scheduled, only 5 are home games and there is a four game road trip from 12/12 to 12/19 that takes the Caps on their first West Coast swing of the season. The second West coast swing bridges the end of the month and starts with a 12/30 game against San Jose followed by the first Caps game of 2010 in Los Angeles against the Kings on January 2nd. During the 13 games in December the Caps play 4 different Western Conference foes once a piece, they also play 4 games against Southeast Division rivals - Carolina twice (both games at home for the Caps), Florida once (home game) and Tampa Bay once (away in Saint Petersburg on Pearl Harbor Day). December's home ice schedule starts again Thursday, December 3rd but then the Caps don't have another home game until Friday, December 11th when they face Carolina. After the Carolina game on 11/11, Caps fans won't get to Rock the Red again at VC until the Caps kick off a three game home-stand on Wednesday 12/23 against the Buffalo Sabres, then it's the New Jersey Devils on Saturday 12/26 followed by a home game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday 12/28. Before the Caps travel out west to take on the Sharks and Kings. As you look at it and think about it, if you're a season ticket holder it just feels weird - December is "feast" or "famine" for watching Hockey live in the District. It got me thinking what's the Hershey Bears Schedule look like during the Caps West Coast swing from 12/12 to 12/23. However, as far as I could quickly tell the AHL schedule hasn't been fully set or released yet, but it's a thought.

By the end of December the Caps will have played 40 games and the Season will be almost 1/2 over, and despite having played 20 games against teams that made the 2009 playoffs, they will not have yet played a game against (either home or away) the 2009 Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. During the first six weeks of 2010, the period between New years day and the NHL's two week season break for the 2010 Olympics, that situation changes. During those six weeks the Caps play 22 games - 11 home games and 11 away games, one of the away games - Thursday, January 21st is in Pittsburgh and the home game on Sunday February 7th is an afternoon game against the Penguins. Other highlights for the six weeks between New Years and the Olympics include a three game home-stand against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and Florida on January 9th, 12th and 13th; and Stanley Cup finalists week when the Caps host Detroit on Tuesday January 19th and then travel to Pittsburgh on January 21st. It'll also be interesting to see if the whole Phoenix ownership thing is something folks are still talking about when the 'yotes get to Verizon on Saturday January 23rd for their game. Of the 22 games during that six weeks only 7 are against 2009 playoff teams, 5 are against Western Conference foes and 6 are against other Southeast Division opponents.

The Caps return to post - Olympic action on the road in Buffalo on Monday, March 3rd. During the six final weeks of the season (March 3rd to April ) the Caps play 20 games, 8 on the road and 12 at home. Additionally since 4 of the road games come in a single road stretch from March 14th through March 20th, there's a lot of hockey being play at Verizon Center during March and April. The Caps have a 5 game home-stand - their longest of the season between March 4th and March 12th; and a 3 game home-stand between March 28th and April 1st. The Caps end their season at home this season, their final two games of the regular season are at home - Atlanta, Friday April 9th and Boston, Sunday, April 11th. Other highlight games of that six weeks are likely to be: Pittsburgh at Verizon on Wednesday, March 24th and in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, April 6th; @ Chicago, Sunday, March 14th; Calgary @ Verizon on Sunday, March 28th; and @ Columbus on Saturday, March 3rd. In fact the March 3rd game against the Blue jackets might make for a fun road trip. In any case during those 20 games that the Caps play the final six weeks of the season, they play 7 games against Southeaster Division foes; 12 games against 2009 playoff teams; and 4 games against Western Conference teams - 2 home and 2 away.

So it's a pretty cool schedule and other than the 2 weeks when we'll all want to be consumed by the Olympics, it provides a nice steady diet for Caps fans to feast on. I can't wait till October 3rd after looking it over for an hour.