Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Season Starts Fading Away

The Caps lost again to Ottawa 3-2 on Tuesday. At least, they made it interesting but interesting is worth exactly zero points in the standings. Once again, the Caps played decent hockey for 40-minutes in the 2nd and 3rd periods after letting Ottawa go up 2-0 in the 1st. But, 60-minutes of extremely hard working hockey is what the Caps have to produce to win games because they're not good enough without doing that.

Ovie netted his 32nd goal of the year and is on top of the leader board at the moment in goal scoring. Speaking of Ovie, this a great article from . And, yes, I believe.

The Caps play Florida again tonight. I can only hope they play better against that team than they did the last time around.

Let's go Caps!

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Monday, January 29, 2007

A Team with Two Identities

On Friday, the Caps lost to Carolina 6-2 and then turned around on Saturday and beat them 7-3. Obviously, the team finally got ticked off enough to come out and play a decent 60-minutes of hockey on Saturday, but lost again on Friday. The games count now if the Caps have any hopes of making the playoffs.

On Saturday, in addition to 2 goals from Semin and 1 from Ovie, the Caps got goals from Clark, Laich, Beech and Fehr. When the Caps have gone on winning streaks this year, they've had offense from a lot of players not just Semin and Ovie.

Mike Vogel's article on the Caps website here points to the reason the Caps are so inconsistent and struggling....goals against. This doesn't surprise me when I think about those 40+ shot games Olie has won this season. There's an interesting statistic at the end of the article that compares the NHL experience of the Caps current defense versus its last playoff appearance team in 2002-03. The 6 blue liners who will line up against Ottawa tomorrow have 791 games of experience versus 2,927 games for the blue liners that went to playoffs. So, back to my prior post, is this a 10-year rebuilding plan?

In Caps blogger world news...there are numerous bloggers out there writing about the Caps. One of the bloggers , Capital Prospect, feels like his territory is being invaded and that all the bloggers are out there trying to get press passes. Well, not me. I write about the Caps because I've been a fan since 1974 and it's one way to get my frustration out. Secondly, I like to write and have no time to do the kind of writing I want so the Caps blog is it for me. But, when I discovered this post, I was thrilled to see that On Frozen Blog linked to my blog. I will add my link back to that blog as it's a good one.

Caps play Ottawa again tomorrow. I have to agree with my boyfriend Jeff, it seems like they're in the same division.

Let's go Caps!

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

My House Survives the Latest Caps Implosion

My brother Dennis, who reads my blog, asked me if my boyfriend, dogs and household appliances survived the latest streak of lousy playing and losses that the Caps have had. They did, although I must admit, when I start screaming at the TV for some bone-headed move the Caps make, the dogs run downstairs cowering. I've had lots of reasons to scream lately.

Being a Caps fan feels like an exercise in futility at times and now is one of those times. I attended my first Caps game as a child in 1974 and became hooked on hockey. I was still an avid Redskins fan at the time and for many years afterwards, but Dan Snyder ruined my passion for the Redskins and I barely watch them. Now, my sports passion is focused solely on hockey and the Capitals which sucks right now (not that I'm missing anything by ignoring the Redskins).

For years, Abe Pollin, the Caps owner, could care less about hockey or the Caps (the Wizards are his baby) so it was a given the Caps were going nowhere fast although they had one Stanley Cup championship appearance against Detroit in 1998. It took me about 2 minutes into the first game of that championship series to realize the Caps were going to get destroyed by Detroit and they did, 4-0. Today, Caps fans have an owner who cares about hockey in Ted Leonsis and it's fun to watch them play when they win, but will they ever go deep into the playoffs again? Certainly not with the players or prospects they have now, especially on defense.

There's been a lot of debate in my house about the whole "rebuilding" versus "buying players" strategy to get the Caps deep into the playoffs. Getting Jagr was a disaster that the Caps are still playing for and Dan Snyder's "buy a Super Bowl team" strategy was a complete disaster for the Redskins. I don't know the answer to the right strategy, but I do know the Caps will never contend with a defense that isn't NHL caliber. And, young defensive prospects and players take a long time to mature so I'm wondering if the rebuilding plan is a 10-year plan. Sigh...

Thanks for letting me rant....

And, thankfully, it's the All Star week so I don't have to watch any Caps hockey. Let's hope they come back with the same enthusiasm they played with after the Olympic break last year and win a lot of games.

Let's go Caps!

p.s. The Caps did squeeze in a nice win at Carolina before losing again to the Florida Panthers, but I didn't get a blog post up. The 1:00 Saturday game against the Panthers threw me off schedule.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Misery Continues in Ottawa

The Caps lost 5-2 in Ottawa on Saturday night. They played better than their game against Florida, but it wasn't enough and the earlier season hopes for a playoff appearance this year are growing dimmer by the day. No one predicted the Caps would make the playoffs this year, but the team developed a reputation for being a hard working team that won some tough games and made other hockey teams pay attention. I'm using the past tense in the prior sentence for a reason...the hard work ethic seems to be fading of late and this team is nowhere near good enough to compete if they don't work hard.

The only good news from the Ottawa game was that Steve Eminger got a goal and an assist. I'll be thrilled if Eminger's game continues to improve and he finally demonstrates that he can play up to his potential as an NHL defenseman.

The worst news from the game...rookie defenseman Mike Green took a puck to the foot and left the game after playing a couple more shifts. I'm getting sick to death of Capital defensemen going out with foot injuries but I can only hope he's not out for long. The Caps defense is the worst part of their game as it is...although the offense needs to step it up, too and, of course I'm not talking about the Alex's...they're doing just fine.

In the hopes that the Caps may actually win a game if I don't watch, I will not watch the game tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Let's go Caps!

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Caps Implode in Florida

There is not one good thing I can say about the Caps lackluster effort against the Florida Panthers on Saturday which resulted in an utterly disgusting 7-3 loss. The Caps can play better than that, but they didn't show up in Florida. I would also like to know why in the hell Olie started in goal for his 10th game in a row. He needs to be rested now and then.

Thankfully, Brent Johnson is starting in goal in Ottawa tonight and I hope he has a good night. The Senators are hot right now and the Caps are still figuring out if they really want to contend for the playoffs this year. Maybe Saturday's debacle will light a fire under them. In other news, Tarik El-Bashir reports in his blog here that Donald Brashear moves up tonight to the second line with Semin. Interesting, Brashear has been playing good hockey and making some gorgeous passes and it might be nice if those passes went to Semin. We'll see.

Let's go Caps!

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Caps Fan Frustration in Tampa Bay

The game last night made me want to hurl my remote control through the TV once Tampa went up 5-4 in the 3rd. The Caps really needed to win that game. Okay, so the offense went on another tear - with 2 from Semin, 1 from Chris Clarke and 1 from Ben Clymer (What? 2 goals in 2 games from Clymer?), but offense is irrelevant since they lost. It just highlights the glaring problems on defense. Olie made 20 saves instead of the 40+ the last time they played Tampa so I guess I should be happy that the shots against has improved since the beginning of the season. But, I'm not.

Hanlon & the coaching staff apparently handed over the "leadership" role for the team to the captains & assistants starting with the win over Montreal. Hanlon mentioned that he thought the coaching staff was getting too crazy about where they are in the standings (boy, do I understand that since I only look at standings points and ignore the record). more here in the Washington Post.

In other Caps news, Brent Johnson got signed to a 2-year contract extension. So, Hanlon, when in the hell are you going to rest Olie and put Brent back in goal? I think it's ridiculous that Olie's played 9 games in a row. I'd really like him to be around for another few years when the Caps have a legitimate shot at going deep in the playoffs but he shouldn't be playing 9 games in a row now.

Caps visit the Florida Panthers tomorrow. If they don't win that game, I'm not quite sure my TV will survive.

Let's go Caps!

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Caps Sweep Flyers for the 1st Time Ever

This young Caps team made franchise history by sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers this year in a 6-2 win at Verizon Center on Tuesday. Ben Clymer scored the first goal 15 seconds into the game. Ovie scored 2 goals and 1 assist to put him at the top of the goal scoring leader board again and Semin put one in on the power play. And much to the delight of Capitals fans, Donald Brashear scored his 1st goal of the season. Sutherby wrapped up the game with a goal in the 3rd.

Apparently, Glen Hanlon wasn't too happy with the Caps performance even though they won. The Caps have a bad tendancy to get lazy when they're ahead and I think that was Hanlon's issue but they got 2 standings points that were desperately needed after their last losing streak.

My favorite quotes from the Caps on the Flyers game came from this Washington Post article yesterday.

Donald Brashear raves about being with the Caps and thinks the fan must like him after the ovation he received from getting his 1st goal. I think a lot of Capitals fans, myself included, were a little leery of Donald Brashear coming to play here but I think he's great. He's a team leader and contributor.

Alex Ovechkin says that the Caps are making history now by sweeping the Flyers but you have to read the quote to appreciate Ovie's humor. But, the quote makes me realize the Ovie will never understand how badly Caps fans hate Pittsburgh...because of history.

The Caps go on a 4 game road trip starting tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Let's go Caps!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

What a Win Against Atlanta

That was fun watching the Caps beat the Thrashers 3-2 in overtime last night. Of course, if the Thrashers had won, I wouldn't be saying it was fun! Semin started the scoring in the 1st (Ovie & Olie assisted - he's had a few assists this year), Ovie ended his 5-game scoring drought in the 2nd with a powerful wrist shot and Semin ended the game in overtime on a pretty shot going around Lehtonen to get it in the net. Olie played another stellar game. He's in the zone right now.

But, the Pass Shoot Score player of the game is Steve Eminger. That would be a complete shock to anyone who didn't watch the game. The 23-year old blue liner threw his body on the ice to block a shot and he made a gorgeous spin around the defender combined with a no look pass to Alexander Semin that ended up being the game winning goal. He played gritty hockey all game and actually look like he might start living up to his potential. If, if, if Eminger contines to play like he did last night, my hopes for an improved Capitals defense are going up.

On a side note, have you seen the Donald Breashear commercial yet? What a hoot. He's an enforcer for a sports broadcaster.

Caps play in Philly on Tues.

Let's go Caps!

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Zubie Nets 2 Goals & The Caps Finally Win

In my last post, I mentioned my disappointment with this Caps team and tonight's win against Montreal, a team 10-points ahead of the Caps in the Eastern Conference, proves that this Caps team can play against contenders. That's why I get so frustrated sometimes.

Interestingly enough, it was Zubie who put the first two in the net (he's been in a scoring drought) and the Caps also got contributions from Nycholat and two more from Semin. Nycholat, the recent captain of the AHL Hershey Bears, has been impressive in his NHL stint and apparently the Caps management thinks so too as evidenced by the increase in his playing time from around 16 minutes to 24+ minutes.

The energy level of this Caps team reflected the way they looked earlier in their winning streak and I hope this game builds some confidence for the team. Maybe the flu knocked the team out more than I thought or Hanlon putting the old lines back together worked some magic.

To read the fan message boards right after the game is quite amusing, particularly, the entries that occur during the game. Right after the first period, there were topics like this...Semin looked horrible (hey, he scored 2 goals) and Huet is the only one that looks good (the Caps ran the league leading goalie in saves against off the ice...hmmm, running goalies off the ice is a familiar scene from the prior winning streak).

Caps have 2 more games in their 4-game homestand with the Thrashers, ugh, then the Flyers coming to Verizon Center.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ok, I'm Disappointed

The Caps continued their losing streak against the Phoenix Coyotes by losing 3-2 on New Year's Day. Once again, they let the Coyotes get ahead by 3-1 after the 1st period. I realize the Caps have been slowed by injuries, the flu, mono, fighting suspensions and a brutal schedule, but I'm tired of this losing streak. This team has to find a way to win again because dammit I want them to go to the playoffs.

Okay, so maybe I'm being totally unrealistic since no one predicted them to go to the playoffs this year, but the Caps have won some great games against better teams this season. They're also a team that sticks up for each other which should lead to some great team chemistry...which would hopefully turn into winning games, but that hasn't been the case lately.

When the Caps were winning consistently, they were getting offense from everyone - Clark, Pettinger, Zubrus to name a few - not just their goal scoring leaders Ovie & then Semin. So, what happened to that? I know Hanlon's felt compelled to mix up the lines, but it doesn't appear to be helping.

Here's hoping the Caps play a good game against Montreal tomorrow night.

Let's go Caps!

Monday, January 01, 2007

NHL Responds to the Rangers' Dirty Actions

The flu & injury depleted Caps lost a hockey game to the New York Rangers by 4-1 on Saturday night, but the score is the minor story from that game.

It all started with Brendan Shanahan instigating a fight with Donald Brashear because he thought Brashear was hassling Jaromir Jagr all night long. I have no doubt that Brashear, paired with Jagr all night long did get under Jagr's skin. Chris Clarke recently commented that Brashear is very good at doing that. According to Shanahan in the Washington Post today, Brashear gave him a chance to back down, but he didn't take it. Brashear got the best of Shanahan and on the way out, popped another Ranger's defenseman, Ward, in the jaw for talking at him as he was leaving the ice. Brashear was ejected and I sat there worrying about how long he'd be out. Fighting story, part I.

Fighting story, part II. With 4 minutes left in a game the Caps were going to lose, the Rangers Colton Orr decided to level Alex Ovechkin on an open ice hit. Ovie went down hard, but luckily, wasn't injured. Caps blue liner Shaone Morrison immediately went after Orr and received a 5-minute major, a game misconduct and an instigator penalty (because there was 5 minutes left to play).

The response of the NHL to this obnoxiousness from the Rangers means I don't have to write a letter to Gary Bettman. At times this season, the officiating against the Caps has been horrendous and teams have gotten away with murder. If the NHL wants their marketing superstar, Ovie, to stay on the ice it's a good thing they sent a message today. The NHL suspended Orr for 5 games, did not suspend Morrison or fine Hanlon and Brashear only got a 1 game suspension.

The Caps play shortly against the Phoenix Coyotes and appear to be sufficiently recovered from the flu.

Let's play some hockey Caps!

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