Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Caps Get 2 Points from Calgary

The Caps ended their road trip with a win at Calgary last night and Richard Zednik got the puck in the net twice. I'm glad to see Zednik make some goals after being in a scoring drought this year and even more thrilled to see the Caps net 5 points out of a possible 8 on this roadtrip against some strong teams. It's a big improvement from last year. Not that the Caps don't have a long list of things to work on, but putting up a good showing on their first road trip is encouraging this early in the season.

Danius Zubrus got the other 2 goals last night. Ovie assisted on 2 goals for Zubie & Zednik and was all over the ice last night delivering some hard hits. Olie remained stellar in goal with 37 saves. The win placed Olie in a tie for 33rd place on the all time win list with Ken Dryden. Keep up the good work Olie.

On an interesting note, I read on the fan boards this morning that GM George McPhee is thinking about calling up a scorer from the Hershey Bears as he continues to shift the lines around to find the best performing combinations for the Caps. McPhee was apparently interviewed on Calgary radio about this. The buzz from the fan boards - maybe it's time to bring up Tomas Fleischman, a left winger who had a breakout year with Hershey last year, scoring 30 goals & 33 assists and, this year, he has already scored 8 points in 7 games.

I'm sure we'll hear the official news on this soon. Back to home ice and the Atlanta Thrashers who fell to the Maple Leafs last night, 4-2.

Let's go Caps!

Monday, October 30, 2006

An Ugly Game

The Caps were shutout for the first time this season with an ugly 4-0 loss at Edmonton. They looked tired out there on Saturday night having played 3 games in 4 days, but no, that doesn't excuse the lackluster effort. Mike Vogel in his postgame notebook on the Caps website mentions that the Caps were outshot by a wide margin, 10-3 in the first period, just like in their other games on this road trip. I hope the Caps come out with more enthusiasm in the first period against Calgary tonight.

Before I started writing this blog, I didn't spend much time on the message boards for Capital fans like I do now. Reading the boards has shown me that the Caps have a fanatical group of fans that analyze every game, every player, every line change and every move that management makes for the team. Some of the common themes on the boards - the Caps need a much stronger defense (no surprise there), the Caps need a play making center (Backstrom is on his way soon...thankfully!) and the Caps need to learn how to keep the puck out of their own zone.

What amuses me most about the fan boards is how emotional Caps fans are (yes, all sport teams have their fanatics, but the Caps have a much smaller fan base) and I count myself among the emotional. A friend of mine asked my boyfriend Jeff, "Is she always like this at Caps game?" at the Tampa Bay game. We were watching from a box suite and every time the Caps pulled some bone headed move, I went into the suite and watched football on the TV because I couldn't stand it. At least, I'm not the only fan that desperately wants the Caps to make the playoffs this year, even if it's a stretch goal for this rebuilding team, but I think that's the only way the Caps will get more fan support in this city.

So, Caps, let's finish up this road trip in Calgary on a high note!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

1 Point Against Vancouver, Luongo

I hate shootouts! And, no, I'm not "worried" about Ovie's lack of production in the shootout as some people are, but I think the Caps need to spend more time practicing shootouts considering they've been in that situation 4 times in 9 games. At least, the Caps got another hard fought point on the road against a very competitive team and a goalie Luongo who was 7-0 against the Caps last year.

Olie was spectacular in goal again with 42 saves. The Caps need to protect him better and I agree with other fans who say Eminger is playing terribly. He is -4. Ouch, the Caps won't continue to get standing points with 40+ shots on their goal every night, but I'm thrilled they got 1 last night.

So, after last night's overtime loss, maybe this writer who predicted the Caps would have "catastrophic losses" on this road trip will change his tune.

The Washington Post's article "Canucks Sneak Past Capitals in Shootout" highlights the reason I like Ovie for more than just his hockey skills. He's focused on the team, not just his accomplishments. People in Canada seem more excited to see Ovie play than they do here. Sigh.... I feel Ted L's pain. What will it take to get DC excited about hockey if Ovie can't do it?

Finally, the Caps are 2nd in the NHL for goals per game at 3.62. Okay, we're only a few weeks into the season, but they were 23rd last year.

Onto the Oilers. Let's go Caps! Keep up the good work.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Olie Wins One in Colorado

The Caps won last night, 5-3 in Colorado so they started off their road trip with 2 points. Yippee.

Olie was stellar between the pipes last night with 45 saves. Now, the Caps won't win too many games with 45 shots on goal, but Olie was hot. He did let in one softie, but other than that, he kept the Caps in the game and closed it out for them. When Colorado pulled their net minder in the last few minutes of the 3rd period, I kept flashing back to the Atlanta game which they lost in the very end of the 3rd period after Atlanta pulled their goalie. But, the Caps pulled it out.

Mike Green, the young blueliner for the Capitals made an end-to-end rush and scored a beautiful goal. That goal is one for the highlight reels. I have high hopes for his development and, so far, he hasn't disappointed.

Ovie also scored a beautiful goal on the power play making them 1 for 3 on the PP last night. The power play seems to be improving so that's a positive development.

And, finally, Donald Brashear played a good game last night. He got the puck to Zubie for another goal and he played aggressive hockey.

Onto Vancouver and Luongo coming off his first shutout as a Canuck. The Caps have work to do and I'll be watching.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Swede & Future Cap

The Washington Post highlighted the Caps #1 draft pick this year, the 18-year old Swede Nicklas Backstrom, in an article yesterday. (It's always nice when the Post writes about the Caps.) Backstrom has scored 8 goals and has 20 points in 14 games and is in the top 10 for winning faceoffs. Backstrom, a center, plays for Sweden's top professional league. Reading that he's often compared to Peter Forsberg made my heart jump. If that turns out to be true, I can't wait to see what the Caps offense looks like in a year or two with Backstrom at center, paired with OV and Semin anchoring the 2nd line. Have the Caps ever had 3 top offensive producers at one time? Ohhh, the possibilities....

Speaking of possibilities, Ted Leonsis is once again asking the fans to have "faith and patience" as the Caps develop. He got several emails after the lousy Tampa Bay game and posted this topic on his blog yesterday. I've got to agree with him when he says it's all about team chemistry not about trying to create chemistry by buying superstars and putting them in the mix (Jaromir Jagr - need I say more - except he's obviously found team chemistry again).

Time to get ready to watch the Caps in Colorado...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Arggghhh, Part II

Lightning 6, Capitals 4.

The good news first...the Caps revamped power play unit with Semin, OV, Zubie, Zednik and Pothier made 2 goals in 3 tries so that's a huge improvement on the PP.

The bad news. The 2nd period was a complete disaster with too many penalties, bad officiating and 1 goal that never should have made it past Olie. The other bad news was the barely visible fan base at Verizon Center. It was a Saturday night game, the Redskins stink, the Nationals season is done and the Wizards are in the pre-season so why not root for the home hockey team? I was disappointed at all the empty seats. Home ice advantage doesn't count for much if there aren't enough fans to make enough noise to get the players pumped up.

I know, I know, DC isn't a "hockey" town, so maybe it's time to teach non-hockey fans why they should become hockey fans and, of course, Washington Capitals fans. Hockey is a fast moving and exciting game to watch. So, for all of you non-hockey fans here are 6 reasons why you should go to a Caps game:
  1. Alexander Ovechkin - 2005-2006 rookie of the year who scored 52 goals. One of OV's goals last year was so memorable that it will forever be known as "the goal". Search for it on the Internet and you'll be amazed at the moves this talented hockey player can make.
  2. Ted Leonsis - a sports team owner that cares about the fans, loves the game and has a plan to turn the Caps into champions.
  3. Alexander Semin - another Russian forward, like Ovechkin, who has already put up 8 goals this year after returning to the Caps from a 2-year hiatus playing in Russia. He's been fun to watch.
  4. Ticket prices - you don't have to take out a loan to pay for a game.
  5. Hershey Bears - Like baseball, hockey teams have farm teams and the Hershey Bears are the Caps farm team. They won the Calder Cup championship last year in the American Hockey League. Some of those players are already full-time Capitals - like Mike Green who is doing well as a young defenseman for the Caps and others will be future Caps. These players have learned what it takes to bring home a championship and that's important for the Capitals development.
  6. The Redskins season is pretty much done so why not support the Capitals. And, as an added bonus, I doubt Tom Cruise will ever attend a Capitals game.

The Caps head out West for a road trip this week with some late night games so I'll be watching as long as I can stay awake. Let's go Caps!

Friday, October 20, 2006


19:27 in the 3rd period, the Caps lost the game. Granted, the Thrashers were working with a man advantage as they pulled their netminder and they got the job done. I'm trying to be happy with the Caps taking 1-point on the road against a really good team, but it was tough as I screamed at the TV and my dogs cowered. And, I hate shootouts. I can't even watch them anymore.

The good news... OV scored a goal and got an assist so I'm happy with that. Semin got a goal on the power play, thankfully. The bad news...the PP is killing the Caps. I have no idea what the problem is, but spending the whole time on power play trying to bring the puck back out their own zone isn't going to help the Caps score goals on the man advantage. Something has got to be done about the power play.

I do like the fact that Ted Leonsis is having the Caps focus on trying to get 6 points in each 5 game segment of the season. He talks about this in his Tuesday, October 17th blog post. It's the Caps mini seasons. Having a young team like the Caps focus on mini-goals is a good idea in an 80-game season.

Onto Saturday and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Caps - let's get 2 points on this one, okay?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Offense & Less Penalties

The Caps came away with 2 standing points after beating the Florida Panthers 5-2 last night. Alexander Semin continues scoring goals and assists. I love it. He's doing great. Even better, the offensive surge in the 1st period was spread among the Capitals with Clark, Heward, Beech & Bradley all contributing goals.

The other story of the night was penalties. The Caps only had 4 last night. Yippee. See, it's much easier to generate some offense when you're not in the penalty box.

The one negative on the game - 5 power player opportunities and no goals again. The Caps are now 4-37 with the man advantage. Not good.

Onto Atlanta. I want 2 points and I also want to see OV put a puck in the net. Let's go Caps.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Power Play Must Produce

In this post lockout world of the NHL where offense is emphasized, the Capitals must start producing points on the power play. I'm glad the PK unit is doing better, but going 1 for 8 on the power play against Atlanta isn't going to win games as evidenced by the Caps 4-3 overtime loss on Saturday night. Where is the chemistry on the PP? I don't know, but I hope we see it soon. At least, the Caps got 1-point in the standings.

Speaking of that point, I'm also thrilled to hear Olie say that the Caps are focused on their place in the standings this year. Good. They're a little more seasoned this year although the defense is still terrribly young. But, I've been impressed with Pothier so far. He may have been #5 on defense for Ottawa, but he's made good use of his 30 minutes playing time this year v. his 18 minutes on average last year. So I'm glad he's in Washington.

Time to get to the game last night!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Brent Johnson & Penalties

So, the Caps didn't win this one in the shootout against the Minnesota Wild, but they came away with a point so I'll take it. They played a decent game overall...except for the constant penalties. It's tough to generate offense if you're spending over a third of the game on the penalty kill. Out of 11 penalties, the PK unit killed off 9. The Caps were ranked 28th out of 30th in the PK last year and they've managed to move up to 21st so far this year. At least, that's an improvement.

The biggest star of the night was Brent Johnson. According to the Washington Post this morning he was disappointed in the outcome - what goalie wouldn't be? However, Brent played a spectacular game, making 38 saves and some of those were unbelievable to watch. It's clear that his play continues at the level he achieved after the Olympics break so Brent we're thrilled you're Olie's backup.

Alexander Semin also played well, adding another goal to his tally. He's at the top of the leader board in the NHL with 5. Boy, are we glad to have you back from Russia. Keep up the good work.

Saturday night the Caps face the red hot Atlanta Thrashers, the division leader with a 3-0-1 record. My fingers are crossed that the Caps can generate more offense, but it's going to be a tough contest.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Caps 5, Canes 2

Much better.The Caps were a little sluggish early in the first period, but they quickly picked up their game. Alexander Semin started the scoring and ended the night with a hat trick. He's been an early standout with 4 goals in 2 games. I'm glad he doesn't have as much pressure on him as our other Alex - Ovechkin - and I hope Semin keeps knocking it into the net.

I've been worried about the expectations resting on OV's shoulders. In the first two periods of the game, OV looked like he was trying to hard to get the puck in the net and he kept taking difficult angle shots on the net. Midway through the 2nd period, I started chanting in my head "OV will score in the 3rd period" and when he did the Verizon Center erupted. Later, OV added a much needed power play goal and Semin hit the final tally for his hat trick. So, all 5 goals were scored by our two Alex's. And, Clark & Pothier both played well and each had 3 assists. This is going to be a fun year to watch the Caps.

The 16,000+ crowd at the Verizon Center was loud & enthusiastic. I sat in the middle of a sea of OV jerseys and the guy in front of us kept yelling, "Cam Ward, you suck." I only wish that were true. But, I love the enthusiasm. Keep it up Caps fans.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rangers 5, Capitals 2 and Jagr scores within seconds. Sigh. This does not make my night nor does it ease my frustration.

I was stuck in traffic - what else is new in DC - listening to the game on Sirius satellite radio which was also an unpleasant experience since it was the NY Rangers network! I listened to them praise "Jagr's winning ways" and then go on to say maybe Caps fans don't think the same thing about Jagr. Hmmm, you think?

But, as my boyfriend and fellow Caps fanatic so gently reminds me, Jagr scored more points than all other Capitals during the 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 seasons. At least, OV's point total last year was higher than Jagr's for all the seasons he played for the Caps. Let's hope that trend continues.

OV looked rusty last night though. (I finally made it home to actually watch some of the game.) And, make no mistake about it, I've been on the OV bandwagon since I started reading about him last summer before he even took to the ice here. I realize it's just one game, but I want the Caps to go to the playoffs. Unrealistic expectations? Of course, since no one seems to be predicting they will, but I can't help it. That's why I'm a Caps Dreamer.

Even though I'm a dreamer, I'm well aware of the Cap's deficiencies. The defense needs some serious help...gee, no surprise there. Unfortunately, there isn't anyone coming to the rescue on defense. The Caps have to make do with what they have as we're in "rebuilding" mode and according to Coach Hanlon in the Washington Post yesterday, "We'll add the right pieces at the right time. We'll have to see when that time comes, whether it's late this season or early next season." I hope the "right time" comes faster than expected, but I'm not holding my breath.

Mike Green played well on defense last night. He impressed me with his short stint with the Caps last year and his playing on the Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears should help him contribute here. Go Mike!

Onto Carolina. I'll be there cheering!