Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Ins and Outs of the Washington Capitals Roster

Well we're past the second day of the free agent signing period, the draft is behind us and it's interesting to see how things are shaping up for the Caps as we look ahead to next season. Caps GM George McPhee made one great move so far and that was bringing vetran right winger Mike Knuble on board. The free agent pickup from the Flyers was something pretty much nobody saw coming. That said at 2 years and 5.6M this should be a solid good deal for both the Capitals and the 37 year old vetran right wing. Well here's my recap of the ins and outs of the roster and then I posit who I'd put on the "ice" if I were BB and the Caps had to play a game this weekend, to make things easier on myuself I assumed that any of the RFAs tendered qualifying offers were resigned.


1) Viktor Kozlov: 2008/2009 Cap Hit: $2.5M
Thoughts/Comparative Value: As much as I liked Kozlov, to me the corresponding "In" - Mike Knuble is a definate upgrade and at just about the same price against the salary cap as Kozlov was last season. Further, Knuble's stats and numbers are better than Kozlov's were last season.

2) Sergei Federov: 2008/2009 Cap Hit: $4.0M
Thoughts/Comparative Value: I didn't see Federov agreeing to much lower a salary than $4M, and he didn't, plus he will now finish his career playing alongside his brother in his homeland. Further this is another "out" where I'm feeling pretty positive about what I think is the corresponding "in" - Brooks Laich on the second line as center. A lot of folks are worried about this including GMGM and Coach Boudreau, and they should be this upcoming season is another one where the expectations are for the Caps to go even further than they did last season. That's a lot to ask when our second highest paid returning forward is likely to no longer even be considered for top six minutes. If he's the replacement for Federov and the second line center Laich has big skates to fill, I'm willing to bet he can and does do a good job accomplishing that feat.

3) Sami Lepisto: 2008/2009 Salary:
Thoughts/Comparative Value: Does it matter? Lepisto played 7 games for the Caps during this past regular season, he had no goals, 4 assists, 6 penalty minutes and was -3. For the Hershey Bears he turned in a solid but not fantastic body of work. To my minds eye you'd have to point to one of the other Capitals prospect/developing defensemen as the trade off here. Given that over the past two seasons when he's been called up to Washington Lepisto has been inconsistent, I thought the move of sending him to Phoenix for a for a fifth-round draft choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, rather than making him a qualifying offer was the right move. I also like several other prospects chances of making the big club's roster these days better than Sami's and that includes both Joe Finley as well as the more obvious choices John Carlson and Karl Alzner. Truth be told obviously for the Caps and Lepisto this was a make or break year and he didn't earn his way anywhere near a roster spot.

4) RFAs that did not recieve qualifying offers: Andrew Joudrey, Daren Machesney, Travis Morin and Sasha Pokulok.
Thoughts/Comparative Value: None of these were a surprise though after last season I'd think you'd have to say the Daren Machesney was the victim of a talent-laden goalie pipeline in the Caps System. The other thre all showed promise and flashes at one time or another and as a first rounder you'd have to class Pokulok as a disappointment at best, but none was a total surprise and the guys in the pipeline these four are making room for are all more worthy and better bets.


1) Quintin Laing: 2008/2009 Salary: Estimated 2009/2010 Cap Hit Number: $500K
Thoughts/Comparative Value: Okay it's easy to forget that "Q" was GMGM's first free agent signing this season. After all he only spent one game this season in a Caps sweater before getting hurt. However, as a Hershey Bear he had a solid season and a solid playoffs including Calder Cup. Laing provides depth and insurance to both the Capitals and the Bears and though at age 30 he's not likely to ever be on anybody's Hall of Fame ballot, he's an inspirational player, who turns in a solid night's work every game in a manner that has made him a fan favorite.

2) Qualifying offers to Chris Bourque, Eric Fehr, Boyd Gordon, Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn, Steve Pinizzotto, Jeff Schultz and Kyle Wilson.
Thoughts/Comparative Value:
Well first the only name on this list that some might not be very familiar with - Kyle Wilson: The 24 year old center was drafted in 2004 in the ninth round by the Minnesota Wild, he played college hockey at Colgate through 2005-2006, then he was signed by the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL in 2006, he split the 2006-2007 season between San Antonio and Hershey, and was signed as a free agent by Washington last summer. He's played 80 regular season games each of the last two seasons in Hershey. This past year he notched 28 goals and 30 assists for 58 points. He was +13 and had 31 penalty minutes on the season. He's a big (6-0", 200#) right shooting, center and right now you'd have to think he';s a much better bargain and has as much chance of playing 10 games for the Capitals this next season as Michael Nylander does.
The next least known guy on this list - Steve Pinizzotto: An undrafted, 24 year old, big right wing that the Caps signed to a two year entry level contract in March of 2007 while he was playing college hockey at RIT. Pinnizzotto is a 6'-1", 196# right handed winger who has split his past two season between South Carolina and Hershey. During that time he's shown good skills and has been continuing to dvelop his nose for the net while also being a sound two way player with grit. This past season he had a particularly good set of numbers during the Bears' Calder Cup run, in 21 AHL Playoff games, Pinnizzotto had 3 goals, 2 assists and was +5.
The other six (6) players are all well known to Caps Fans and all were "no brainers" for tendering at least a qualifying offer. As far as who of those six are likely to get some interest and offer sheets and who might push through to arbitration other than the obvious one - Shaone Morrisson, you'd also have to think that any of the other five, even Bourque could be of interest to other teams as well, though I can't see Bourque pushing things to and through arbitration.

3) Mike Knuble signed as a free agent for 2 years at $5.6M
Thoughts/Comparative Value: Thoughts? Awesome comes to mind. Comparative value though Knuble is 37, his numbers have been getting better each of the past several seasons and he comes with 12 seasons of NHL experience and a Stanley Cup. He's a great trade out for Viktor Kozlov and the Right Wing the Caps hoped Chris Clark would be when they signed his last contract. This is a no brainer by pretty much any measure. He'll be awesome on the first or second line and I'm thinking it's first line for him.

So that's where things stand as of this evening - Thursday July 2nd, the Caps are not yet 100% gelled for the season but right now I think the roster looks like this if you had to put a team on the ice for a July 4th game:

Foward Lines:
1) Ovechkin - Backstrom - Knuble
2) Semin - Laich - Fehr (or Clark)
3) Fleischmann - Nylander? (or Steckel) - Clark (or Fehr)
4) Gordon (or Bradley) - Gordon (or Steckel) - Bradley (or C-Bo)
Reserves: Jay Beagle, Kieth Aucoin, Quintin Laing or several other prospects .....

Defense Pairs:
Mike Green - John Erskine
Tom Poti - Milan Jurcina
Brian Pothier - Karl Alzner
Reserves: Jeff Schultz, Shoane Morrisson, John Carlson, Tyler Sloan ....

Jose Theodore, Seymeon Varlamov
Reserves: Michal Neuvirth, Braden Holtby ... though nobody has signed "Johnnie" yet either ..

At the risk of pointing out the obvious this lineup truly illustrates Nylander's redundancey at this point and if other prospects in the pipeline continue to develop he'll definately continue to be so. He is a clearly a reason that GMGM makes the statements about UFA signings that he's been quoted as making... Also if Nyls is worth $5M this coming season and some of the guys are getting what they are getting around the league this week what will Backstrom and Semin be worth if they finish out next season with the same sort of stats or better than they had this season?


Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's Official Summer Is Here - NHL Draft & Caps Current Roster Situation

Well it's official summer is finally here - the season started 6 days ago for climatologists but for hockey fan's the summer is kicked off by the NHL draft and that occurred yesterday. So how did our Washington Capitals "fare" - kind of hard to tell based on these picks which were in part driven by the place the Capitals finished the season and the fact that management didn't want to part with any of the "jewels" they've garnered in recent prior drafts. Here's the Capitals picks for rounds one (1) through six (6):

Round 1: 24. Marcus Johansson, F, of Farjestad (Sweden);
Round 2: 55. Dmitri Orlov, D, Novokuznetsk (Russia);
Round 3: 85. Cody Eakin, C, Swift Current (WHL);
Round 4: 115. Patrick Wey, D, Waterloo (USHL);
Round 5: 145. Brett Flemming, D, Mississaugua St. Michael's (OHL);
Round 6: 175. Garrett Mitchell, F, Regina (WHL);
Round 7: None.

So when you look at the Capitals picks a couple of things pop out at you. The philosophy of management seems to have been that the Capitals are currently a relatively complete team AND the Cap's developmental pipeline is also without any gaping holes. Another more subtle thing is that the Caps aren't too worried about the size of their lineup right now, of their 6 picks, only one - Patrick Wey a 6-1 Defenseman from the USHL, is over 6 feet. The other picks are all noted for their skating ability and speed, that would seem to fit into Coach Boudreau's approach of a fast moving team and an up tempo game. However, as we saw in this past year's playoffs there does need to be a balance between speed and size if the Caps high octane offense it to have a fair chance of carrying through from the regular season to the playoffs. In the playoffs, as we saw in both of the 2 series the Caps played - against the Rangers and the Penguins - traffic in front of the net is essential. Also the ability for defensemen to handle and tie up traffic in front of the net is equally important in your own end. Pittsburgh's ability to tie folks up and blocked shots by their own skaters were as much responsible for their Stanley Cup Win as was the scoring ability of their own high octane offense.

The Capitals draft position was pretty high or perhaps more accurately low on the list so their approach is understandable. With the pipeline consisting of two affiliates that won their respective league championships - the Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears and the Kelly Cup Champion South Carolina Stingrays they do have a pretty highly rated pipeline. Per Hockey's Future the Capitals Organization is ranked 6th in strength, even after the harvesting of their pipeline to grow a strong, young team here in Washington, so again it appears management's approach is both prudent and is yielding solid results.

With the draft out of the way and the free agent signing period to begin next week how do things look for the Capitals roster situation anyway? Right now the Capitals have a projected total Salary Cap hit next season of $46.78M against a likely total maximum salary cap of $56.7M. The current $46.78M salary cap hit covers a roster of 15 players: 9 forwards ($28.563M), 4 defenseman ($12.867M) and 2 goaltenders ($5.35M). That leaves the Capitals General Manager George McPhee (GMGM) once again with a bit of juggling and work to do in order to manage the roster and salary cap - not surprising given the team finished with 50 wins and the 4th best record in the league for the regular season last year. GMGM and crew have approximately $9.9M to use to fill out the roster - another 8 players, ensure there is some room for trade deadline pickups to address end of season and playoff needs; and have cushion in place to resign Young Guns Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin at the end of this season, among other things. Not an easy task but certainly not impossible and it is after all what these guys get paid to do.

Here's what General Manager George McPhee and the coaching staff had at the end of last season to work with, it's not a bad hand overall but there are some clear spots where work is needed. That work is needed both to ensure the Capitals continue to build on their successes in 2009/2010 and to ensure they have the room they need at the end of the 2010 playoffs to resign some key players who will become RFAs next July as well. The latter point is probabl;y why GMGM and crew haven't been over agressive in their pursuit of other teams UFAs and "rental players" these past two seasons. That said expectations continue to build amoung the fan base and ownership and not without reason. The Capitals had 3 of the top ten rated players in the league at the end of last season: Alex Ovechkin at #1, Mike Green at #2 and Alexander Semin at #7. No other team had more than 2 players in the top 10 overall and that team was - you guessed it - The Detroit Red Wings with Pavel Datsyuk at #5 and Marian Hossa at #8.

The Captials Players and Off Season Status are as follows:

Returning Forwards
Player Rating Salary Current Status
Alexander Ovechkin 103.75 $9.0M Signed through 2013
Alexander Semin 89.86 $5.0M RFA after 09/10
Nicklas Backstrom 83.13 $850K RFA after 09/10
Brooks Laich 73.21 $2.1M Signed through 10/11
Tomas Fleischmann 67.04 $725K RFA after 09/10
David Steckel 65.03 $725K UFA after 09/10
Matt Bradley 62.51 $1.0M Signed through 10/11
Michael Nylander 60.87 $5.5M Signed through 10/11
Chris Clark 58.54 $2.65M Signed through 10/11
Kieth Aucoin 87.32(AHL) $500K UFA after 09/10
Jay Beagle - $688K RFA after 09/10
Oskar Osala - $735K Signed through 10/11
Andrew Gordon - $660K RFA after 09/10

Free Agent Forwards
Player Rating Class 08/09 Current Status
Sergei Fedorov 69.77 UFA $4.0M Signed KHL, Metallurg
Viktor Kozlov 69.08 UFA $2.5M Signed KHL, Salavat
Eric Fehr 65.71 RFA $735K
Boyd Gordon 60.63 RFA $725K
Quintin Laing 57.29 UFA $500K Resigned to a 1 year deal
Donald Brashear 55.22 UFA $1.2M
Chris Bourque - RFA $525K Age 23;
Alexandre Giroux 90.51(AHL) UFA $475K Age 28;

Returning Defense
Player Rating Salary Current Status
Mike Green 100.33 $5.0M Signed through 11/12
Tom Poti - $3.5M Signed through 10/11
Brian Pothier N/A $2.5M UFA after 09/10
John Erskine - $1.25M Signed through 10/11
Karl Alzner N/A $875K RFA after 10/11, age 21
John Carlson N/A $850K RFA after 10/11, age 19

Free Agent Defense
Player Rating Class 08/09 Current Status
Shoane Morisson - RFA $1.975M Age 26;
Milan Jurcina RFA $912K Age 26;
Jeff Schultz RFA $650K Age 23;
Sami Lepisto RFA $675K Age 24;
Tyler Sloan UFA $475K Age 28;
Staffan Kronwall UFA-VI $500K Age 26;
Bryan Helmer UFA $475K Age 36;
Sean Collins RFA $625K Age 25;

Player 08/09 SV% Class Salary Current Status
Jose Theodore 0.900 N/A $4.5M UFA after 09/10
Brent Johnson 0.908 UFA $825K Age 31, Likely Gone
Seymeon Varlamov 0.918 N/A $850K Signed through 10/11
Michal Nuevirth 0.892 N/A $850 RFA after 09/10.

I highlighted Nylander and Clark in red italics, probably for obvious reasons. While both are solid hockey players, they clearly aren't meeting or exceeding the expectations any of us likely have given their combined ~$8M salary cap hit. Now that Sergei Federov has decided to likely finish out his career playing alongside his brother Fedor in the KHL and Vicktor Kozlov has also decided to return to his homeland, the Capitals either need some of their young talent to join Ovechkin, Laich, Semin and Backstrom to fill out the top 6 scoring forwards on a consistant basis next season or bring in someone to fill the role. It is possible that Chris Clark gets healthy this offseason and again returns to be a 20+ goal scorer and as the current team captain and a locker room leader will likely be given the chance to do so.

What the Capitals do with Michael Nylander so he earns even half of his salary cap hit remains a mystery. Nylander is a talented skater and why he doesn't fit with the current Capitals team isn't obvious unless of course you just watch a couple of games. Nylander is a talented, puck control skater so you might be tempted to feel he ought to fit in easily and nicely. However, its the way Nylander controls the puck and the direction he skates that are the issue - he moves away from the defenders to protect the puck and that results in a game he plays that is as much or more "East - West" as it is "North - South." Since the inception of the Bruce Boudreau era in early December 2007, the game plan and focus for the first two lines has been to take the offense to the Capitals opponents - aggressively. The game is a skating game and a speedy one at that; the Capitals rarely if ever play a trap. Offensively when faced with a well executed 1-4 trap they respond with an even more aggressive approach and juggle the top two lines to overload the weaker side of an opponents lineup. In short the direction they press is North - South and out to the perimeter to get past the trap into the offensive zone. Once in the zone they rely on either their quick releases and laser sharp aim shots (Ovechkin and Semin) or their ability to simply drive to the net and controlk the puck while doing so (Backstrom and Laich). Young gun "wannabes" such as Fleischmann and Fehr do the same at one time or another. Nylander, an accomplished, successful vetran NHL player plays a different game - he circles, even when necessary in the nuetral zone. It's like he is the one introvert in a room full and group full of extroverts - he just doesn't fit. At age 36 its doubtful he can really change his game enough to not be the guy who interupts the flow of the Capitals offense let alone be a guy who fits in well enough to earn his current second highest salary on the team. It's unfortunate, he's clearly a good guy, a talented skater and a solid influence in the locker room. However, he's also clearly NOT worth a $4.875M salary cap hit and at 36 with a NMC he's likely to finish his career languishing here in DC and pulling the Caps down for two more season. There is no doubt though that GMGM will continue to look for ways to make this situation better - he has to as Nylanders Cap his eats up almost 10% of what he has to work with.

My Current Projected Caps Opening Day Lineup is:

Forward Lines:
1) Ovechkin - Backstrom - Clark
2) Semin - Laich - Fehr
3) Fleischman - Steckel - Bradley
4) Nylander - Gordon - Aucoin

Reserve Forwards: Beagle, Osala, Laing and Bourque or Giroux.

Defense Pairs:

Green - Erskine
Poti - Jurcina
Pothier - Alzner

Reserve Defenders: Carlson, Schultz

Goaltenders: Jose Theodore & Seymeon Varlamov
Reserve: Michal Nuevrith.

I expect the following 2008/2009 Caps will be playing on other teams at the start of the 2009/2010 Season (in addition to Sergei Federov and Vicktor Kozlov):

1) Donald Brashear - Look for the Capitals to drop their "enforcer" down to the middleweight class from the super heaveyweight that "Brash" represents. The enforcer duties will be taken over by: John Erskine, Milan Jurcina, Quintin Laing and Matt Bradley - when the Caps need an enforcer. One of the things that Alexander Ovechkin's hard charging style of play has done is keep opposing teams from taking liberties with the Capitals star by letting them know he can take care of himnself by using his wicked hard, clean checks to keep them at bay. However as we saw in the playoffs and from time to time during the last regular season having guys like Bradley, Laing, and Erskine on the team who are willing to take on all comers if need be is also needed from time to time when you have a high powered smooth skating offense centered on a set of "Young Guns" who are obvious targets to shoot at.

2) Brent Johnson - "Johnnie" had a great season going until his injury, between that and the solid play of young netminders Neuvirth and Varlamov it just seems like another team will be more than willing to give him a raise and it's unlikely the Capitals will do the same.

3) Shoane Morrisson - With the current salary cap situation, Pothier ready to come back, and Alzner and Carlson in the wings, the Capitals will probably make a minimum qualifying offer for ShaMo and then let him go to anyone that puts forth a larger offer sheet.Whiole he had a pretty good set of playoffs his regular season last year was a step or two below his prior years effort in 2007/2008.

Other guys "on the bubble": Clearly Nylander if anybody would take himn in a manner that would work. Bryan Helmer - he had a great season last year and if he wasn't 36 somebody would be picking him up for sure, as it is someone may still do so and give him a shot at a final NHL season or two. Here's a name I doubt you'll be thinking about but it seems to me virtually certain that Sasha Pokaluk will be playing in Russia or Europe at the start of this coming season.

Well I think that has me caught up on hockey blogging. This summer continues to be hectic and I just don't seem to have any time to blog much these days. I'll try to be more regular in my postings - blogging helps me clear my head of other things anyway. That said I still have to keep meeting my deadlines for my "day job" and that isn't getting any easier - being busy in this economy is a blessing and sure beats the alternative in my view.

So what are all your thoughts on what the Caps will be doing in this off season to improve the team?

Can't Wait Till October....


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Wow - Cool Hockey Weekend Even If It Is Summertime....

Okay, since you probably read this and other blogs you know that The Washington Capitals' ECHL affiliate South Carolina Stingrays captured the Kelly Cup - the ECHL Championship in Anchorage on Friday Night. It took 23 playoff games for the Rays to get 16 wins, but with a 4-2 victory in game seven, the South Carolina Stingrays knocked off the Alaska Aces and clinched their third Kelly Cup Championship!! Congratulations to the Rays Organization. The winning goaltender Friday Night, and the ECHL Playoff MVP, was James Reimer who stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced. The XX year old Reimer was a 4th Round, 99th overall pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2006 NHL entry draft, and as per Hockey's Future is part of the Leafs system, this season he played in Reading for the ECHL Royals, Toronto for the AHL Marlies, and South Carolina. He was a great pickup for the Stingrays by their coach/gm - Jared Bednar. Also on the winning team were Capitals prospects: Center & Team Captain Travis Morin, and Left Winger Maxime Lacroix.

The Capitals AHL affiliate Hershey Bears took a 2-1 Series lead in the AHL's Calder Cup finals with a 3-0 win in Hershey yesterday over the Vancouver Canucks' affiliate Manitoba Moose. The Bears try and make the series 3-1 this evening in Hershey with a 5:00PM faceoff while the Moose try and even the series up. Both Hershey and Manitoba are filling their buildings and the series is filled with solid hockey. Yesterday, The Bears found the back of the goal first, as Graham Mink netted his sixth of the postseason at 6:22 of the first period. Michal Neuvirth earned his fourth postseason shutout, turning aside all 28 Moose shots. The Hershey power play went 2-for-3, and the penalty kill silenced Manitoba on all five attempts. The three stars of the Game: 1. Michal Neuvirth (4th postseason shutout) 2. Alexandre Giroux (league-leading 14th playoff goal) 3. Staffan Kronwall (two assists, on ice for all three goals).

Good luck to the Bears today; hopefully next year at this juncture all three teams in the Capitals Organization, including those who regularly play at the Verizon Center will still be competing. Speaking of NHL Hockey how about those Red Wings? Last night's game was truly a lesson in puck control and self control by the Red Wings. Pavel Datsyuk notched two assists and almost had a third in his return to the ice after 18 days on IR. Chris Osgood turned away all 22 shots by the Penguins and the Red Wings as a whole totally frustrated both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Marc-Andre Fluery had his "human game" letting 5 of 21 shots by for a save percentage of just 0.762 before being pulled in the second period. By that point it was basically all over "except for the crying" as they say. The way this series has been nothing is for sure but there was no doubt who the better team on the ice last night was. Clearly Pittsburgh has a lot of adjustments to make over the next couple of days while Detroit seems to determined to try and repeat and not give the young talented Pittsburgh team anything to motivate themselves with. Lots of physical play and some of it marginal ensued last night, but in the post-game comments and Q&A, the Red Wings were clearly not biting on any leading questions and seem determined to let their play on the ice do their talking next game as well as this one. So Pittsburgh now has their backs against the wall and Detroit appears determined to try and win their 12 Cup overall and 2nd in a row in Pittsburgh. It should be a great game - I have a new poll - who do you think will win on Tuesday and who will win the Cup? I'm thinking Detroit holds it together and once again wins the Cup in Pittsburgh on Tuesday; I'm not making any predictions on scores, etc. though. I do predict that Franzen and Malkin will go at it before the end of the second period though.

Five more weeks till the Capitals Development Camp Opens ... in the meantime

LETS GO BEARS!!!! and once again

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Atlanta - Probably Won't See Much of Tonight's Hockey Game But ...

Well today it is very likely "the day job" will get in the way of me seeing much of tonight's "Game 3 in Pittsburgh" since my flight back to DC is at 4:20PM and from my window at the hotel it already looks like we'll have thunderstorms later. Travel this time of year is always subject to delays up & down the East Coast and cross country because of storms. On a more sober note, my heart and prayers are with the crew and passengers of that Air France plane that is lost, that doesn't look like it will have any happy endings. Things like that sure keep missing watching a hockey game in perspective pretty easy, eh?

Any regrets I have about missing any of tonight's game will also be shortly overtaken by the fact I really like my "day job" here at ICx Technologies and today we'll be doing a few aspects of it that I also really enjoy as well. My boss and I are here in Atlanta meeting with the folks who lead Surveillance Team and make our integrated platforms (Cerberus(tm) and SkyWatch(tm)) and exploring and planning how we can better help them in their growth and strategic business capture efforts as well as making sure we also better understand their capabilities and business so we can do that effectively. It's a quick trip, basically a day. However, given the fact they are such a great team themselves and they have a lot of targets that are right in the sweet spot of what we do, I know it will be a productive, rewarding and interesting day and that in the end we'll be able to find ways we can help each other and accelerate our mutual effort to grow our business. Not as whimsical or fun as watching a hockey game but a lot more directly related to making sure I keep a roof over my head and also actually fun for me as well.

My prediction for tonight: 4-3 OT win by Penguins. That's my thought, unless Chris Osgood keeps his amazing string of excellent (better than 0.950 SV% games) going. If that happens, the Penguins will not score 4 or more goals in a game and if they don't do that it's hard to see how they win since right now it's hard to see Detroit scoring less than 3 goals a game. And ... once again I hope I'm wrong since when it comes to Pro Hockey Teams, I'm kind of pretty "anti-flightless bird."

Monday, June 1, 2009

Last Poll Results and New Poll Up - Get Your Vote In and Share Your Comments Please

Well the results from my last poll were basically all over the map. The question: What would the results be from this past weekends games?" Of course I only had 5 respondents and two got it right (40%) - they said the Red Wings would win both games. Obviously two of the other three respondents (myself) included) got the answer wrong by varying degrees and one Caps fan doesn't care who wins... umm .. maybe that was the safe answer. In any case the new poll asks who you think the series winner will be and how many games will it go?

So get your predictions in as you only have three and a half more days to make your prediction and please share your comments and musings as well.

For Caps fans here's some thoughts to muse on:

1) Just a little more than 6 weeks till Development Camp opens.
2) How hot do you think the women that Ovie and Semin are hanging with on the beach in Turkey are?
3) The South Carolina Singrays, the Caps ECHL affiliate, will be back in action on Thursday night from back in Anchorage, AK to play game six of this best-of-seven game series. The Rays lead the series 3 games to 2 and will try for the second time to knock off the Aces and raise the Kelly Cup. Game time will be at 11:15 eastern time.
4) In the AHL Championship (Calder Cup) Series, the Caps AHL Affiliate Hershey Bears stunned the Manitoba Moose in Winnipeg on Saturday night, defeating the Vancouver Canucks' AHL affiliate 5-4 in overtime in Game 1 and taking a 1-0 series lead. The Bears and Moose will be back in action tomorrow night in Winnipeg for game 2.

So think the Caps have a pretty good player development pipeline or what?

Wow - Another 3-1 Win By The Red Wings and They Lead the Finals 2 - 0

Well the Stanley Cup Finals head to Pittsburgh and will resume on Tuesday Night with the Detroit Red Wings leading the series 2 games to nil. Pittsburgh has to really go back and figure out how the Wings are neutralizing their keys to victory, and they have to hope that somehow between now and Tuesday evening Chris Osgood gets back to earth. Osgood was the #1 star of the game again tonight with a Save % of 0.969.

Both the #1 star and the Save % are duplicate images of Osgood's performance in game 1, so who's leading the Conn Smyth voting if it's held tomorrow? Probably not Sidney Crosby who was once again held off the scorecard.

Oh and in a totally weird motion that clearly sends the signal that discipline in the NHL is nothing but arbitrary and capricious, Evgeni Malkin will not be suspended despite getting an instigator penalty in the last five minutes of the game. Here what was in the game recap up on NHL.COM: "Malkin received an instigator penalty for a fight with Detroit’s Henrik Zetternberg at 19:41, but will not be suspended.NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell issued the following statement regarding the instigator penalty:Rule 47.22 states: "A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five minutes or at any time in overtime shall be suspended for one game, pending a review of the incident. The director of hockey operations will review every such incident and may rescind the suspension based on a number of criteria. The criteria for the review shall include, but not be limited to, the score, previous incidents, etc..." Following that review, Campbell said: "None of the criteria in this rule applied in this situation. Suspensions are applied under this rule when a team attempts to send a message in the last five minutes by having a player instigate a fight. A suspension could also be applied when a player seeks retribution for a prior incident. Neither was the case here and therefore the one game suspension is rescinded."

Well it's over to the Igloo now and according to the crack broadcast team at NBC it will be a totally different story there because the Penguins will have the last line change. I don't know about that, it sure seemed like Detroit had four lines that could skate with any combos Pittsburgh was throwing out there in the final two periods tonight. In any case, we are defiantly seeing some good hockey being played and I have to believe that either Osgood is human or Fluery steals at least one of the next two games and this is at least a five game series no matter what. Oh well of even more interest to me is whether either Datsyuk or Draper play in game 3 after everyone has an off day. Oh and once again - how about that Justin Abdelkader kid - he scored another goal tonight...