Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Ottawa is playing for two things - their magic number to seal a playoff spot is 2 - if they win two more games or the Thrashers loose two more games, the Senators are in. That's a far cry from how things were looking for them early this season. The Senators are currently in 5th place in the East and have won their last 4 games. This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Sens and the Caps, the last time the two met, on February 11th in Ottawa, the Senators won 6-5 in regulation. In the prior two meetings Ottawa won the first meeting in November up north 4-3 in OT and then the Caps bested the Sens 5-2 the last time they visited Verizon Center on January 7th. Tonight's game should be a good one, as long as the Caps come out ready to play and focused. It looks like Alexander Ovechkin's Senator shadow - Anton Volchenkov will miss tonight's game, that should give Ovie a little more room, perhaps enough to score a couple and surpass Sidney Crosby for goal scoring lead. Also out tonight for the Senators will be Filip Kuba and Milan Michalik. Out for the Capitals are: Milan Jurcina, Boyd Gordon, Brooks Laich, Scott Walker and Brendan Morrison.
Here's to Rockin' the Red tonight and cheering the Caps on and back to form - you know 60 minutes of fast paced, high-energy ice hockey. If the Caps do that we should finish the night with win #50 locked up. I'll be in Section 103 doing my part tonight - how about y'all?
LETS GO CAPS!!!
Monday, March 29, 2010
First on Thursday evening 3/25 the Caps loose, AGAIN, to the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime 3-2. Then on Saturday, the BSU Beavers loose 5-1 in the first round of the NCAA Division 1 Men's Ice Hockey Tournament in Fort Wayne, IN to Michigan. Michiga, coached by former Saint Louis Blue Red Berenson simply overpowered the Beavers. BSU coach Tom Serratore was quoted as saying: "That's the hottest team in the country and it might be the best team in the country right now." after bigBlue tore up his Beavers. Just 24 hours later though the Blue had fallen to the Redhawks from Top Seeded Miami of Ohio, the team they beat in the CCHA tournament to earn their berth in the NCAA's. Oh well the Frozen Four is now down to: Miami of Ohio (last year's runner-up); who will face the Boston College Eagels in their Semifinal and the number 3 seed Wisconsin Badgers facing off against this year's Cinderella team, the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers at Detroit's Ford Field on April 8th. The final insult to my prowess as a "charm of a hockey fan" came yesterday when the Washington Capitals lost to the Calgary Flames at HOME in REGULATION 5 - 3 after having a first period that they finished behind 4-0.
So how do I feel today you might ask? Quite glad that I'm not one of those folks who gets too, too emotional about "their teams." Seriously I know folks who are Redskin fans that come into work depressed or mad on Monday's after the 'Skins loose the prior day. I just don't see that. I would say though, that I agree with Coach Boudreau, there's rarely, if ever, a reason to boo your team at home, let alone when they have what is really an infrequent off day/game; you really can't just "turn it on and off" that easily. What I mean is, isn't it about time to stabilize the roster with the one you feel will be "THE" roster for round one of the playoffs and start to let guys get in a grove? Sure I'd distribute the ice time more than you might otherwise do in the playoffs - no reason for ANYONE to play more than 21 minutes TOI in a game between now and April 11th. However, shouldn't the line-up be configured within maybe the occasional 1 person or two, if we count the goaltenders as well, of the expected/planned lineup for game 1 of the playoffs? To me, that means that Milan Jurcina, John Erskine and Tyler Sloan get little if any game time on the blue line right now. It also means the lines up front stabilize as much as possible so instead of shuffling the forward lines all around if a guy like Brendan Morrison is out, then the guy playing in his place plays "his regular line and regular shift" instead of shuffling the rest of the lineup, etc.
Fact, even though I'm a jinx and the Caps lost yesterday, they still clinched the Eastern Conference Championship thanks to the scores elsewhere around the league - in other words when the Devils lost 5-1 in Philadelphia yesterday that meant the Caps locked up the Conference Crown. Am I frustrated the Caps have failed to gain their 50th win of the season in their last two outings - yes. Would I like to see them have Home Ice Advantage throughout the ENTIRE playoffs, no matter how far they go - sure. However, right now the Capitals are locked for the # 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and are 5 points up on the San Jose Sharks and 10 points up on the Chicago Blackhawks for the "President's Trophy" - the Sharks have 6 games left to play, the Caps have 7 games left and the Blackhawks have 8 games left this season. My point is Boudreau is right, but as I said, not everything is rosy at Kettler and Verizon Centers. I'm all for the Capitals using these last 7 games to get ready for the playoffs, but maintaining that winning attitude and that "aura" of a really tough team to beat is very important. I think it's as important as anything else in the playoffs. Time and again, the team that finishes the season playing well and playing hard goes deep into the playoffs - look at how far Carolina went last season?
So it's settled, I'm a jinx and the Caps are aching and ready to turn things around. No need to panic, it is only two games but I'm sure the guys want that 50th win as bad as we fans do. I'm also sure the team next up - the Ottawa Senators are as motivated as the Calgary Flames were on Sunday. That means the Caps need to play like THEY not Ottawa are the 5th place team in the Conference fighting for their division title - after all that is what Ottawa is and will be doing. For sure they can't play a period of hockey as uninspired and unmotivated as Sunday's first period - well it's not impossible - but it is highly unlikely - thank goodness.
So let's all get with the "Zen" program, do a big cleansing breath as we get into the Lotus position and chant our mantra - sending positive vibes to the Capitals ....UMMM..UMMM....UMMM...
LETS GO CAPS!!!!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Caps and Penguins will face each other once more this regular season, and now the Caps have are 3 for 3 in this regular season on the defending Stanley Cup Champions. Of course we all remember last season and last year's playoffs, so how much is that really worth come late April/Early May? Not much - there I said it, and we all should too. Sure rejoice, another victory on the way to that 50 win milestone, it's great! So is playing a solid game and executing on your game plan, that's how you ensure you are ready for the playoff quest that is upcoming. In the end I had three high points in the game,
#1) When Semin scored, right after I said to Jasper, our oldest Tibetan Terrier: "We could really use a shortie, right now." - I have a feeling, given my superstitions, Jasper might be hearing that after every Cap goes to the "Sin Bin" during the playoffs.
#2) When Theo stopped Crosby on the doorstep, stoned him solidly, on a powerplay in the third period keeping the Pens from going up by 2. I said it earlier this week, I'm over my "I hate Crosby, stage, really. I was just psyched that Theo kept the Caps within one, I had a funny feeling, it was "our turn" to hang around all night and come back and win against them. Oh, and there's still that "mancrush" I have going on Theo, too. and
#3a & #3b) Mike Knuble's TWO goals, don't make me pick between them. I can't.
Tied back for fourth would be Ovechkin and Semin's shootout goals. Fifth was watching Fleury slam his stick against the goalpost after Knuble's game winner, even though I suspect that will only fuel MAF's intensity against the Caps in upcoming games. It is a rivalry after all.
Tonight, the Caps take on the Hurricanes and they are playing well, they also match up well against the Caps. Sure the last game was all Caps but I wouldn't count on it this time. Still I see the Caps getting points 109 and 110 tonight, though not by more than a goal or two. I suspect we'll see the Caps have a good night and I also expect we'll see former Cap Brian Pothier have a good game too. Why? I don't know, just a hunch.
Prediction: Caps 4 - Hurricanes 2. Game Winner off of Corvo's Stick and Winning Goaltender: Varlamov.
LETS GO CAPS!!!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I watched the game, it was a good one, and Detroit won by a score of 3 - 1 if you didn't see it. Zetterberg spent much of the game about as close to Crosby as "white" gets on rice. In the last minute of the game, often not included in the pics and videos being posted, what you don't see is the jockeying for position in front of the Detroit net and the mixing it up going on between Zetterberg and Crosby for position. It was a physical matchup and really good hockey to watch, as was Crosby's driving the net and getting in Howard's face often during the night. However, even more interesting to watch was how Detroit in general and Howard in particular handled it all and kept Sid The Kid off the board and pointless all evening long. So I'm sure Crosby was frustrated at the end of the game, but the mixing it up with Zetterberg was all normal, playing hard ice hockey; I'm confident if there was 30 seconds left to play when he did it, he would have gotten a 2 minute minor for it. I'm also pretty sure given Crosby's driving the net all night long, Howard was more than happy to come to Zetterberg's aid and give "#87" a bit of a face-wash with his catcher. From my seat on the settee here in scenic Bristow, the on ice officials handled it all just right.
In the end it all works out and now if Detroit beats the odds and makes it to the Stanley Cup Finals as a #7 or #8 seed and Pittsbugh returns to the finals as well, the NHL will have another bitter rivalry to hype, in the sort of WWE fashion they seem to be gravitating towards. The moves by Crosby, the 22 year old Penguin Captain, weren't well advised. However, nobody got hurt and it was all in the course of a hard fought ice hockey game. If we Caps fans are going to credibly defend the actions of our own team's 24 year old Captain, when his youthful exuberance, passion for the game, and strong competitive nature drive him to make a poor decision, in the normal course of a game, we shouldn't fail to give Sidney Crosby the same consideration. If we act in such a manner, we really aren't credible when we air a legitimate beef. I mean it's not like either did anything universally reviled like punching someone below the belt or such.
My real question is had Zetterberg caught an edge and crumpled to the ice, breaking a bone or something, how many games suspension would Colin Campbell have given Crosby? I'm not being facetious, I think he would have suspended Crosby for the move. However, given the lack of any logic would Crosby have gotten just one game since he's not a repeat offender like Ovie is? My point is once again, in defense of Ovechkin, accidents happen sometimes. When they don't we should be happy and rejoice. When they do, we shouldn't scream for the other guy's head on a platter. Of course, just because you have a lot of money, doesn't make you immune from making stupid statements. Thankfully in the Crosby/Zetterberg tussle, nobody was hurt, no accidents happened and instead Zetterberg woke up named the #1 Star of the night in the league.
Next Pittsburgh, tomorrow at the Phone Booth...
LETS GO CAPS!!!
Monday, March 22, 2010
A) When trailing after the first period, the Capitals win are the only team in the NHL who win more than 50% of the time. They have a win % of 0.593 while the team in second place to them - the Pittsburgh Penguins only come out on top when trailing after the first period 48.5% of the time. If never saying die is a measure of "heart" the Capitals lead the rest of the NHL by at least 10%.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010
- October: The Caps opened the season 8-2-3 and captured 19 points while playing 0.731 hockey.
- November: The Caps went 8-3-3 capturing another 19 points and played 0.679 hockey and finished the month with 38 points for the the first two months of the season.
- December: The Caps went 8-5-0, capturing another 16 points, playing 0.615 hockey and finishing the month with a total of 54 points.
- January: After opening the new year with a 2-1 loss to the Kings in LA on New Year's day, the third loss in a row, the Caps went 13-2-0 including finishing the month with the first ten of what would end up being a 14 game winning streak. The fantastic January record, 0.867 hockey, gave the Caps 80 points and propelled them into a clear battle for the league's regular season point title. It also clearly gives this year's Caps team a chance to finish the season with the best record of any team in franchise history and enter the playoffs with a top seed and home ice advantage throughout.
- February: After continuing the in process winning streak to 14 games the Caps went into the Olympic break on a three game loosing streak and a record of 4-1-2 and a total of 90 points. Even with a three game loosing streak the Caps were 0.714 for the month.
- March: Returning from the Olympic break, the Caps have started the month 4-1-1, made some interesting, relatively low cost trade deadline pickups and were the first team in the league to clinch their division and a playoff spot. The Caps now have 99 points and are on the verge of their second 100+ point season.
When you look at those month by month results, what you see is the Capitals have played consistently strong and with clear purpose and drive to win, throughout the season. One might say, the Capitals have played with earnest all season long, working hard to make sure they get back to the playoffs and go further then they did last year. The Capitals have clearly shown they understand it is much better to be finishing the season in a manner that is preparing for the post season rather then scurrying to make sure they make the playoffs. Now whether or not that means this Capitals team achieves what no other Capitals Team has during the franchises 35 year history remains to be seen. But it's sure been fun to watch them try, and it likely it will continue to be so. Of course, all that continues to require focus on the immediate task at hand by the Capitals and that means one game at a time. Next up, Chicago, today on the NBC Game of the Week.
LETS GO CAPS!!!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
The Capitals come into the game looking for their 14th consecutive win on home ice and their 4th win in a row. The Caps are currently sitting atop the league standings with 96 points and a 44-13-8 record overall. They are 25-3-3 on home ice so far this season. The Caps have amassed a positive goal differential of +75 so far this season and are the highest scoring team in the league by a margin of 40 goals at this point; the Capitals score an average of 3.95 goals per game and have given up and average of only 2.8 goals per game. Additionally the Caps only strengthened their team at the trade deadline.
The Stars and the Caps played once last season in Dallas, the Caps won that game 6-5 in overtime, if both teams play to anywhere near their potential, this game shouldn't be that close. When the headline and opening sentence on the story about your team's trade deadline pickups are: " Segal Adjusting to Life With New Team" and "Dallas' newest forward is a valuable foot soldier who brings a lot of energy to the Stars'lineup." when you are on a three game post break road trip and have lost your last three games, things aren't exactly all roses in cowtown. The Stars are averaging only 2.82 goals per game while averaging 3.12 goals against. They have actually stood pat pretty much all season, except for picking up goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Brandon Segal was claimed off waivers just before the Olympic break, playing with the team they started the season with. Now they are on the bad side of the trend while fighting for the last available playoff spot in their Conference. They still have a fairly solid team but they haven't been clicking all that well all season long. The stars of the Stars among the forwards are Brad Richards, Mike Ribiero and Brendan Morrow. None are having anywhere near career years, though Ribero seems to be on pace to produce his usual numbers. However, one could easily look over Richards' production this season and his career statistics and wonder why anyone ever thought he was worth $5.7M/year - compare his production to say oh I don't know, Alexander Semin, and one might easily understand why Semin's agent talks about "not taking any hometown discounts.". On the blueline the top three defensemen are: Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, and Karlis Skrastins. In net the Stars have two accomplished veterans: Marty Turco and Kari Lehtonen. In team defense based on GA/G the Stars rank 25th so the collective efforts of the five defensemen and goaltenders mentioned here has been underwhelming to date. Against the leagues leading offensive team, that should mean the Caps ought to be able to put the puck into the net, unless the Dallas netminders have an anomalous game of the spectacular variety tonight.
Prediction: Caps 6 - Stars 3.
To get an idea just how far the Capitals have come in the past 3 or so years take a look over at the WaPo site and read today's article by Caps Beat Writer Tarik El-Bashir. The quotes by Joe Corvo about being dealt to the Capitals echo the good feelings the other trade deadline pick-ups also said about being dealt to the Caps. However, those of us who've followed the team for "a while" can readily remember the rebuild and times when the Caps used to have to really scrape and claw to get the attention and consideration of the better players in the NHL as they approached free-agency, I won't mention any names or specifics but consider what sort of things they had to include in say a guy with the initials MN in his contract a couple of years ago. In any case, it's a lot more fun to be where we are now as a team for everybody: Ownership, Management, Players, and Fans....
Speaking of fun, if your in the Security business and going to be out in Las Vegas for ISC West make sure you come see the unveiling of ICx Technologies' CommandSpace Argus, March 24 - 26 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center.
In the meantime, let's all get ready and go Rock The Red at Verizon Center tonight as the Caps go after their 14th consecutive win on home ice.
LETS GO CAPS!!!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
As far as the Eastern Conference goes right now the Capitals are basically fighting it out with four other teams for the Conference crown: Pittsburgh who has 82 points, New Jersey who has 79 points and two games in hand, Buffalo who has 77 points and two games in hand, and Ottawa who has 77 points and whom the Capitals have one game in hand on. So right now the Caps lead the Conference by at least 7 games on their next closest rival with 17 games to play. That puts their magic number on New Jersey at 11, Pittsburgh and Buffalo each at 10, and on Ottawa at 7.
These numbers are interesting and even more exciting when you look over the Caps remaining schedule. Eight of the remaining games are against other members of the Southeast Division. So far this season the Caps are 14-2-0 against teams in their own division. Further the Caps play the Carolina Hurricanes 3 more times this month - once at home and twice in Raleigh at RBC Center, and at this point following their trade deadline moves with just 59 points, the 28th place Hurricanes are playing solely for pride with a depleted roster, so it's probably not hard to see the Capitals capturing 4 or more of those available points, unless somehow Cam Ward manages to steal more than one game from the Caps. The Caps play the Tampa Bay Lightening and the Atlanta Thrashers each two times, Tampa once at home and once in Tampa this month and Atlanta twice here at Verizon Center in April. As they showed the other night the Lightening still has a team that isn't an easy match-up for the Caps if they get some reasonably solid play out of their goaltender so lets be conservative and say they split those 4 available points with the 'ning. However looking at Atlanta things get even more speculative, if the Thrashers come into the games with the Capitals still fighting with the Bruins, Canadiens and Rangers for the final playoff spot in the Conference, they might be able to fight hard and split the two games with the Caps, even though so far this season the Caps are 25-3-3 on home ice. Then we come to the Florida Panthers, the Fla-Cats have basically all but admitted they are already thinking about next season, so even though the game is on their home ice in Sunrise, I'll assume the Caps win and sweep this years series 6-0 since in the first 5 contests this season the Caps have outscored the Panthers 26 - 12. So just from playing 0.625 hockey against a set of opponents against who the Caps have been 0.825 so far this season, they should capture another 10 points putting them at a season total of at least 106 points.
The Caps have another five (5) games against other Eastern Conference teams from outside the Southeastern Division. They play Pittsburgh once more here at Verizon Center on 3/24 and once in Pittsburgh on 4/6 - the second game of a back to back and probably the hardest challenge for the Capitals in the remaining 17 games; Boston twice both games here in DC on 4/5 and then in the Caps final game of the season on 4/12; and Ottawa here in DC on 3/30. So it's not unfathomable to see the Caps snagging at least 6 of those 10 points which would put them at a season total of at least 112 points, which would be their best season total ever and that doesn't even take into account the other three games the Caps have to play against Western Conference opponents before the season concludes. The Caps play Dallas - their next opponent - on Monday Evening here at Verizon Center. The Caps come into the game riding a three game winning streak while the Stars have lost their last three and are rapidly sliding out of the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference so I'll call that one for the Caps. On Sunday 3/14 the Caps travel to United Center in Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on National TV and while that will be "one bodacious game" I'm again picking the Caps to come home with two points.Finally we have Calgary here at Verizon Center on Sunday 3/28 and in that game I'm figuring the Flames walk away with two points while the Caps get one. So with those five points the Caps finish the season with 117 points and their best season record and point total ever. the amazing thing about this analysis and recap is that it is conservative since a) it forecasts the Caps to capture points at a ate lower than they have so far this season, and it forecasts they do so against a strength of schedule that is weaker than they face so far this season. That's pretty intense wouldn't you say?
Of course it all has to happen one game at a time starting tomorrow evening against Dallas. That should be a good one...
LETS GO CAPS!!!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
1) the 1976-1977 Montreal Canadiens with 132 points in 80 games,
2) the 1995-1996 Red Wings with 131 points in 82 games,
3) the 1977-1978 Montreal Canadiens with 129 points in 80 games,
4) the 1975-1976 Montreal Canadiesns with 127 points in 80 games,
5) the 1970 - 1971 Boston Bruins with 121 points in 78 games,
6) the 1972 - 1973 Montreal Canadiens with 120 points in 78 games,
7) the 1971 - 1972 Boston Bruins with 119 points in 78 games,
8) the 1985-1986 Edmonton Oilers with 119 points during an 80 game season,
9) the 1983-1984 Edmonton Oilers also with 119 points in an 80 game season,
10) the 1981-1982 New York Islanders with 118 points in an 80 game season.
Further if you look closer at the rosters of the teams that played and won those games you'll see rosters filled with depth and great names, many names who are in the Hockey Hall of Fame today. Caps fans, if you're not having fun watching games this season, you likely never will have fun at a hockey game.
Now about tonight, Jose Theodore - first star of the game and deservedly so, stopping 30 of 30 for his first shutout of the year, his third as a Washington Capital and the 29th of his career. Including tonight's game Theo is 22-7-6 with 1 shutout, a GAA of 2.79 and a Save Percentage of 0.910 in 37 appearances so far this season. Further in his last three games Theo is 2-0-1 and has better than a 1.90 GAA and better than 0.933 SV%. It would be great to see Theodore continue this level of performance until June, it would be a career year for him and it would mean a great year for the Capitals as well. Theodore played superbly the entire game tonight. Eric Fehr scored his 17th goal of the season on the power play in the first period and it was the game winner, although no one expected it to be at the time. Fehr scored by going hard to the net and roofing a nice pass from Tomas Fleischmann past Ranger backup goaltender Alex Auld. The third star of the game went to "new guy" Eric Belanger. For most of the game Belanger skated as the pivot between Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin and tonight he and his linemates looked very good the entire game. Belanger scored the "insurance goal" at even strength at the 13:38 mark of the second period assisted by both Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Monday, March 1, 2010
The ending of the game was just horrible from my personal perspective. My initial feelings were totally in synch with the exasperation and disappointment Ryan Millers reaction to the goal expressed. Before I spout off once again about Sidney Crosby, let me admit the guy has a way of making a different no matter what and he is a great hockey player. That said the Gold Medal game, at least the first 61 minutes of it were clearly NOT his best hockey ever played. Also just as so many fans who don't like Ovechkin would have made this point, I'll make the point that if it weren't for those final 60 or so seconds he spent on the ice, many, many, many folks would have been all over about how he didn't make a difference and rise to the occasion this game. Instead somehow the bloody guy manages to score what is probably the most important hockey goal scored by a Canadian Player in at least the last 8 years. Ugh, so cruel to those of us who feel the guy is already excessively deified by far too many hockey fans and pundits. Unbelievable...makes me root against him even harder but you know what I'm pretty sure he never cared and I know for sure now he doesn't have to care about nor no matter what will he ever.
Give it to both teams though it was a great game and it could have gone either way to use the cliche'. It did go to Canada and you have to congratulate them all, even Sidney bleepin' Crosby. The guy is uncanny, but does he have to be so perfect when he's interviewed so he always sounds so scripted? It's like watching a 21st century version of Leave It To Beaver but in a Bart Starr Athletic Level Talent's body.
Also in the vein of admitting I was wrong, as long as he doesn't do anything monumentally stupid, Patrick Kane can be on the next three or four Team USA's at the Olympics as well. If he wants to go out partying call me I'll fly to Buffalo and be his designated driver if he doesn't want to spend cab fare and he doesn't have to tip me. I just want to make sure neither I or anybody that matters ever feels the need to question having him represent our nation at Ice Hockey, the guy has rockets on the end of his legs.
Now with all that said it's time to get back to the last ~20 games of the 2009-2010 NHL season. Tonight the NHL returns to action with Detroit at Colorado in just 15 minutes and then tomorrow it's a full slate of games - 12 in all. The Caps return to action on Wednesday evening in Buffalo...there they all will be looking to make sure they return to the winning ways they were enjoying during most of the time since the New Year and looking to wrap up the regular season in fine form.
Some good blogs today by Tarik El-Bashir on Capitals Insider, first from this morning and then later this afternoon... as we all wonder about will the Caps be active here before the trade deadline...
LETS GO CAPS!!!