Sunday, November 25, 2007

Opt out Ovie!

Whether or not you like Larry Brooks as a hockey writer, this article is my recurring nightmare, and, yet, I've frequently had the same thought that Ovie deserves better than DC, especially over this last month. I want Alex Ovechkin to break every record and win every trophy in the NHL that he can and I don't know if Washington is the place he'll do that. A contract announcement would make me feel more optimistic about that.


Let's go Caps!

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A new beginning and 4 points to show for it

Bruce Boudreau made his NHL coaching debut and the Caps beat the Flyers in an overtime thriller, 4-3 on Friday afternoon. Nicklas Backstrom scored the overtime game winner off an Alex Ovechkin pass to make a nice 20th birthday present for the rookie. He also got a shaving cream pie from Ovie after his game winning goal + 2 assist game.

Bourdreau, in a surprise move, played Backstrom on the 4th line between Donald Brashear and Matt Bradley and declared them the best line after the game. That line played well, keeping the puck in the offensive zone and Brashear netted a goal, in addition to, beating the crap out of Riley Cote for good reason early in the game. Flyers v. Caps are always nasty games and this one proved no different.

Not that the game against the Flyers was all good because it wasn't and they almost lost the game, but the Caps prevailed, for once, and a new coach got his first win in the big game.

Then, the Caps turned around and beat the Southeast Division leading Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2 on Saturday night. The Caps outplayed the Hurricanes in the first period, keeping the puck in the offensive zone for huge chunks of time. Even more amazing, the Caps netted three power play goals from Mike Green, Ovie and Michael Nylander after getting another one in Philly. Power play goals have been tough to come by for the Caps so what's going on here? According to Caps writer Mike Vogel post game report, no one is saying, although Boudreau said he listened to suggestions from assistant coach, Jay Leach and trusted his players abilities. worked and little has worked for the Caps on the power play this year.

So, the Caps have won two in a row for the first time since the first week of the season and the wins came against very good hockey teams. I hope it means things might start going in the right direction. Still, at this point in the season, I don't have any expectations for the Caps. They've got a huge hole in front of them and have to play inspired hockey from here on out to get anywhere. Will a new coach be able to do that? I don't know. I'm just happy to watch a team playing with more fire than I've seen in a while.

Buffalo comes to town tomorrow night.

Let's go Caps!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A class act departs

My last blog post, which I never posted, skewered Glen Hanlon and desperately called for someone, anyone to save this hockey team from its worst start in 26-years. GMGM finally decided to fire Hanlon after he and the Caps got booed non-stop during a 5-1 debacle of a game against Atlanta. It's been tough for me to write about, much less, watch the Capitals this season (and I still have many game tickets left) so I'm thrilled there's been a coaching change with Bruce Boudreau, AHL Hershey Bears coach, being named interim coach for the Caps.

Still...this coaching change makes me sad. I wanted Glen Hanlon to do well here. I heard GMGM's press conference where he told Glen that he really appreciated his service and what he did to develop the young guys playing on this team. To hear Hanlon's response that he knew the change had to be made and he honestly didn't know what he would do for the team in the Flyers game on Friday means Hanlon wasn't being delusional about the situation either. The coach lost this team somewhere.

But, I'd like to join GMGM in saying thank you to Glen Hanlon. I'll never forget that it was him who told Ovechkin that he had to learn how to play defense, too, if he wanted to be a true superstar in this league. Well, Ovie took that lesson to heart and has gone from playing minus-19 hockey last year to playing consistently plus-3 hockey this year. His defensive play is almost as fun to watch as his offense this year.

And, Peter Laviolette, the Carolina Hurricane coach, said he never took the Caps lightly because Glen Hanlon always made his team play hard whether they had the talent or not. This was particularly true up until December last season when the Caps played above their talent and us fans were thinking playoff potential until injuries and the flu took the wind out of their sails. But, it was a fun season to watch early on last season.

Finally, only Glen Hanlon would call his replacement, Bruce Boudreau after his first win against the Flyers to congratulate him. That's total class and shows how much Hanlon cares about this team.

So, thank you Glen and good luck landing on your feet. I know you will.

Let's go Caps!

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Friday, November 09, 2007


The Caps put together a resounding 4-1 win against the #1 team in the NHL, the Ottawa Senators last Thursday and then turned around and lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, 5-2. This pisses me off big time. Why? Because it shows that when the Caps feel like it, they can beat the best team in the NHL. When they don't feel like it, and they've rarely played 60 minutes of hockey during any game this season, they lose.

On the good news side (and there is very little of that), Alex Ovechkin is playing his heart out on both ends of the ice. He has 19 points, is on pace for 53 goals this season and, even more amazing, he's plus 3! After ending up -19 last year, Alex learned how to play defense and he's making other teams pay for it. Ovie is the primary reason I can still stomach watching the Caps play a hockey game because I get to watch him. His motivation to play with fire every single night makes me wish we could bottle that enthusiasm and give it to the rest of the Caps.

I, like many others, had such high expectations (if simply making the playoffs is considered "high" expectations) for the Caps this year and they are exactly nowhere and pushing themselves out of playoff contention quickly. Yes, you read that right, if the Caps don't turn around this season in the next few weeks, they'll be playing golf again in April.

And, injuries are not an excuse for this team's record. Every player on this team that isn't injured should be motivated to play hard and win every single night. They're far from it. That's the coaching staff's job and they're not getting it done.

The Caps play the Panthers on Thursday after another one of these stupid 5 game breaks in their schedule this year. I really think that is not helping the Caps situation at all. It's very hard for them to get ahockey rhythm going.

Let's go Caps!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Twenty minutes of hockey isn't good enough

The Caps lost by 1 goal again to another one of my favorite teams the Philadelphia Flyers (ha, ha). The Caps played great hockey in the first period out shooting the Flyers 14-6, but the second period saw the Flyers come back and tie it up on a Danny Briere (gag me) goal and go ahead by 1 goal at the end of the second. Ovie netted a power play goal in the 3rd, but the Flyers kept their 3-2 lead for the win. Gee, another 1 goal loss.

The always physical battle between the old Patrick Division rivals included numerous fights, shoving and pushing, and blood on the ice. Brooks Laich fought with Mike Richards and he ended up with 12 stitches in his nose. Unfortunately, that fight appeared to motivate Philly...not what the Caps needed.

At this point in the hockey season, I don't know what to say about the Caps except they stink and injuries are no excuse. Individually, most of the Caps are not out there hustling for 60 minutes which they need to do to win games. That brings me back to the coaching staff. They need to motivate this team and they aren't getting the job done.

The Caps play the hot Carolina Hurricanes tonight and I'm expecting them to lose. So, here's hoping they prove me wrong.

Let's go Caps!

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