Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Olie's gone

This depresses me more than the loss last night - from Tarik's blog.

"Kolzig Removes Nameplate
Goaltender Olie Kolzig removed his nameplate from his locker here at Verizon Center after tonight's 3-2 overtime loss to Philly. Kolzig declined to speak to reporters, but that gesture seems to say it all about his future with the organization."

Looking at the replays of the 98-99 cup run with Olie that they were showing during the playoffs and thinking back on all the years Olie has been here, I'm so depressed that this is how it's going to end. He's the only goalie that has ever done anything for the Caps and I so desperately wanted him to retire a Cap.

Olie, thank you for everything, and I will always proudly wear my #37 jersey. You've been nothing but a class act since Cristobal Huet arrived at the trade deadline.

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Thanks for the ride Caps

Last night's 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 was a heart breaker for Caps fans. And, I'm not going to complain about the officiating because it's a waste of time. Bad calls have been made (or not been made as the case may be) on both teams throughout this series. What I will dwell on is this...the Caps provided us fans with a glorious roller coaster ride for the last two months from the depths of despair in November to a SE Division Championship banner and the right to play in the playoffs for the first time in five years.

They came back from being down 3-1 in the series to tie it up and force a game 7. The young guys found out how to play playoff hockey by the 4th game of the series and that is something they can take into the offseason and build on next year.

My only hope at the onset of the season was that they would make the playoffs. They did and they proved that the Caps are going to be a fun team to watch for many years to come.

Here's to next season.

Let's go Caps!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Caps win 4-2 after 2-0 start to force game 7

How do you like me now? I can only imagine Alex Ovechkin had that thought for the Philly fans (and the media) after he scored the game winning goal on a breakaway pass from Viktor Kozlov to put the Caps up 3-2. Ovie got his 2nd goal of the night on a power play due to too many men on the ice for Philly to seal the Caps come from behind 4-2 victory.

Not that the Great 8 hasn't been contributing during this playoff series in other ways. He's drawn the top Philly blue liners and mixed it up with them all the way by hitting them and tiring them out. Plus, once Coach Boudreau made what is looking like his most brilliant change in this playoff series...moving Sergei Fedorov to center Ovie's line and putting Nicklas Backstrom with Alexander Semin the Caps have been buzzing and it was inevitable that Ovie would find space. So, let's see, is 2 game winning goals in a best of 7 series, 1 pp goal, 4 assists and 29 hits enough to convince people that Ovie can play in the playoffs? It is for me, but, of course, I'm biased.

Backstrom and Semin continued their stellar playing together again last night and they each added a goal to their point totals for the series. One was a multiple quick pass beauty that Backstrom snapped past Biron. Semin tied the game at 18:03 in the third. Semin gets called out, often rightly, about being a lazy player. He's been anything but in the playoffs by mucking it up with the Flyers, which surprised everyone, and showing his superior stick handling skills.

Cristobal Huet made 33 saves. His stick handling last night almost gave me a heart attack though. Huet's lucky that his pass that went directly to a Flyer's stick didn't end in a goal. He hung in there and will see how he does in back-to-back games, since that's never been his strength. But the Caps are on a high after being down 3-1 in this series and I expect Huet to bring his game again tonight.

This amazing season for the Caps continues tonight at the phone booth. It's another win or go home game and the Caps don't seem to want to quit yet. Boudreau certainly doesn't and that attitude says a lot. I hear it from the whole team, too. Well, guess what, Caps, your rabid and playoff starved fans want more hockey, too.

Let's go Caps!

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

"We have great fans--and I love playing in this building".

From Ted's USA Today journal - We arrive at the arena and my son and I go shake hands with our coaching staff. We see Sergei Fedorov in the hallway. He stops his stretching and comes to see me, shakes my hand and says "thank you — this is so much fun." I say "No, thank you — I appreciate all you have done and will do for our team." We hug and he has a twinkle in his eye. He says, "We have great fans — and I love playing in this building".

What I want this to mean (even though reading between the lines is a pretty useless exercise) that Sergei Fedorov wants to come back here next year and Ted wants to find a way to keep him.

I'm all for that.

Let's go Caps!

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Cardiac Caps hang on to beat Philly 3-2 in game 5

I don't know who started that name, but I did think I was having a heart attack during the last four minutes of that game yesterday afternoon. The Caps came out flying hard in the first period and continued taking their game to Philly like they did in the heartbreaking overtime loss on Thursday night. This time they won.

Nicklas Backstrom netted another goal from a sick Alexander Semin pass on the power play almost halfway through the first. Semin also kept pushing the Flyers around and got a roughing penalty in the first minute of the game. Semin has been impressive this series and Backstrom is blossoming by not being suffocated by the top line defense.

Sergei Fedorov scored the 2nd goal and Semin got the 3rd with assists from Fedorov and Mike Green. The Flyers made it interesting when Derian Hatcher knocked one past Cristobal Huet (30 saves and more doozies) less than a minute later. The Caps then survived Philly's late game push through the last 4+ minutes. Whew...

Philly kept Alex Ovechkin scoreless again, but he played a good game and made his presence felt. He's getting used to playoff style hockey, too. I expect to see him score tomorrow night.

Back to Philly tomorrow.

Let's go Caps!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Caps showed heart even if they lost

That's what I wanted to see. The Caps may have lost 4-3 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers to go down 3-1 in the 7 game series, but they showed up to play. As I've said on the message boards and Ted, take note, it's not that I'm a fair weather fan (I've been a Caps fan too long for that), it's that the Caps team I watched down the stretch hadn't really shown up in the playoffs. Tonight, they did and I'm happy about that even if they lost. Overall, they played their game and went back at Philly like they've needed to do since Game 1. Too bad it didn't happen until game 4.

The line changes Coach Bruce Boudreau made tonight seemed to have worked. Nicklas Backstrom made the most of his time on the ice on the 2nd line, mixing it up with Danny Briere (yeah, Nicklas!), scoring a goal (thank you for shooting) and netting an assist on an Alexander Semin goal. Semin is another Cap that played stellar tonight and also mixed it up. He played one of his best hockey games I've seen since becoming a Cap and gave Philly's physical hockey right back to them.

The other player to call out, Steve Eminger, who is making the most of his playoff time and netted the tying goal for the Caps. He also played well on defense and only had 1 penalty. Although Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless again, he played a good game and got 2 assists. He's dealing with a tough group of Flyers hanging on him, but I give him credit. Having Sergei Fedorov on his line did seem to help.

Cristobal Huet (and yes, I wanted Olie to play against the aggressive Flyers) made some acrobatic saves that kept the Caps into this game. The Caps gave him much more protection and a lot more sightlines. Huet couldn't have been better tonight.

And, thank you, Matt Cooke, for holding onto Danny Briere's neck for a while and playing aggressively all night long. Can we keep him please? It's clear the Caps need grit and Cooke provides it.

This too many men on the ice idiocy, however, has to stop. It cost the Caps tonight. There is no excuse for that in the playoffs. Wake up gentlemen.

Bottom line though...the Caps lost and the defense still needs serious help before the Caps can become a true contender.

Game 5, Saturday, back at the phone booth.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Caps roll over again against Philly

Yes, they won the first game, but barely and only due to a 3rd period offensive surge, but the past two games, including last night's 6-3 loss, have been stinkers against the Philadelphia Flyers. This team looks like a young, inexperienced team that has been outplayed and outcoached. It's a miracle the series isn't 3-0 Philly right now.

What worked for Coach Boudreau in his AHL championship run isn't going to cut it in the NHL playoffs. What worked for the Caps to actually reach the playoffs isn't going to cut it either. It's a different game in the playoffs and Coach BB and the players need to figure it out.

The thing that is most distressing to me is the fact that the Caps are rolling over and letting Philly get away with anything they want to do. What happened to the heart & soul of this team? Where is the team that stood up for each other and fought their way into the playoffs? I never thought the Caps would go deep into the playoffs this year, but I didn't think they'd stink it up this badly either. Thankfully, they did, because this rude awakening to playoff hockey will hopefully make the team (and management) adjust.

I said management, specifically, because, if Ted & GMGM think the "rebuilding" is over, they better take another hard look at the defense and they better start looking for some gritty hockey players, in general, to balance out the softness of this team. It'll be tough to ever go deep in the playoffs without it, much less win a championship. The Caps right now look about as tough as the Mighty Mites.

Coach BB is shaking up the lines moving Sergei Fedorov up to center Ovie & Kozlov and putting Nicklas Backstrom down on the 2nd line. Backstrom has been completely overwhelmed in the playoffs, but I'm not sure this change will do much for them and it messes with the line chemistry. I've also heard in the media that he's keeping Cristobal Huet in net. I'd like to see Olie in net instead because I think he can cause a spark and bring that desperately needed toughness to the game (even though that shouldn't be the net minder's focus!) And, that's not a knock on Huet. He's had zero help from his teammates.

Game 4, tomorrow, Wachovia Center, 7 pm.

Let's go Caps!

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Monday, April 14, 2008

A horrible excuse for a hockey game

The Caps lost to the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-0, in their 2nd game of this best of 7 playoff series. The Caps, all of them, deserved to lose this game. They looked tired and listless out there and it's surprising the score wasn't worse. No one is playing physical and you have to against Philly and no one played defense worth a damn yesterday.

Scott Hartnell abused Cristobal Huet, trying to take his helmet off after tackling the net minder. He needs to pay and I'm sorry he didn't yesterday. Philly seems to be taking advantage of Huet's small size. That makes me wonder if Coach Boudreau is thinking of putting Olie Kolzig in net. Olie's size does bring an advantage in net and if anyone went at him, he wouldn't hesitate to mix it up.

The real test is tomorrow night in Philly. How will Coach Boudreau and the Caps respond? It'll be interesting to see how this young & inexperienced hockey team plays after that stinker of a game.

Let's go Caps!

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Caps persevere on another Ovie higlight goal

Alex Ovechkin netted his first playoff goal by stealing the puck from Lasse Kukkunen and turning around to fire the puck over Martin Biron for the game winning goal. Watching Kukkunen smash his stick on the ice in frustration made me smile. The Philadelphia Flyers wanted to force Ovie to play a physical game instead of scoring so he made 5 hits on them.

Mike Green played a spectacular game and my brother, Dennis, said he thought Green's second goal was reminiscent of that famous Bobby Orr goal. I told him that's not the first comparison to Bobby Orr I've heard about Mike Green. Having Shane Morrison back clearly helped Greenie. Or, maybe it's the new playoff mohawk. Sergei Fedorov made his first playoff point since 2003 setting up Greenie's first goal.

David Steckel looked great in his first game back from a broken finger. He scored the Cap's second goal in the beginning of the second period. He also broke up some Philly plays.

Donald Brashear, known more for his fists, started the scoring for the Caps on a bouncing puck off of Matt Bradley's stick. Brad's played a physical game, too, and made more than one Philly player pay, in addition, to getting two assists, his first playoff points.

Cristobal Huet, didn't have his best night, with 4 goals against, but hung in there for the win.

The phone booth continued to rock and as soon as Mike Green scored in the place went wild. For us long suffering Caps fan, it sure is nice to finally have a loud arena for our team.

The Caps played okay hockey in the first period, terrible hockey in the second period when Philly answered with 3 straight goals and then they got it together in the 3rd, scoring 3 straight goals. The Caps rarely come back from 3 goals back, but they did it last night.

This quote from Ovie in Tarik's Washington Post article says it all. "What I learned is we are a team who never give up," said Ovechkin, who looked completely drained as he sat in his locker stall answering questions. "It doesn't matter who scores, we just keep going."

Game 2 is tomorrow at 2:00.

Let's go Caps!

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tomorrow the Flyers...tonight some news

Caps love in the media, one interesting side story (Olie) and the Flyers perspective from Tarik El-Bashir.

Olie doesn't want a pity party.

Bullies Back on Broad Street.

The tie that binds them. (Our Hershey boys and our coach!)

Out of Nowhere: Boudreau, Stevens Go from Minors to Playoffs

On Verizon Center in a general hockey article from Question #5.

This is my absolute favorite article....
World's Capitals

The goods news (which is in the details of some of the articles) is that Shaone Morrison, Jeff Schultz and David Steckel were at practice and are expected to play.

Let's go Caps!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

SE Division Champions...what just happened here

From the high of training camp and the anticipation of the season because of the new additions to the team (Poti, Kozlov, Nylander and rookie Center Nicklas Backstrom ) to the low of Thanksgiving morning when the Caps organiziation finally fired Coach Glen Hanlon to the resurgence of the history making Caps (last in the NHL at Thanksgiving to first in their division), it's been a roller coaster of a season. The Caps are playoff bound for the first time since the 2002-2003 season. The Florida Panthers did the Caps a huge favor last night in beating the Carolina Hurricanes. It was up to the Caps to beat Florida tonight and take the playoffs and the SE Division title away from Carolina. The Caps did what they needed, too, beating Florida 3-1.

This wasn't a game for the rabid fan to enjoy, it was a game to endure. Most of the people around us felt like we did, clock watching, and just wanting the damn game to be over. The Carolina win was more fun. But, the Verizon Center rocked even louder than the Carolina game (the echo was amazing) and the end of the 3rd period was awesome with everyone standing up and clapping.

Tomas Fleischmann put the Caps up 1-0 in the 1st period, netting his 10th of the season. For someone who gets so much grief from Caps fans I was happy for him to get that goal. He's young. Watching Brooks Laich blossom this year makes me realize patience is needed before giving up on these young players.

The trade deadline players, once again, stole the show. Sergei Fedorov showed everyone just how much he wants to go back to the playoffs with his game winning goal at 15:03 in the 2nd. Matt Cooke made his presence felt everywhere and Cristobal Huet continued his sparkling net minding. Alexander Semin, 1 goal, 1 assist (to/from Fedorov) is clearly learning much from Fedorov (boy, I really want him to stay!!!!). Nicklas Backstrom got an assist on Semin's goal meaning he now holds the rookie assist record for the Capitals (1 better than Ovie!) Go Nicklas!

This night wasn't about Alex Ovechkin, who was held scoreless, but nevertheless, the MVP chants rang down at the phone booth. To those who said his team had to make the playoffs to be considered, well, how do you like this team & Ovie now?

Thank you Coach Bruce Boudreau. Everyone loves what you've done with this team. I know why your team in Hershey did so well and we're glad you're here now.

And, finally, my tribute to Olie Kolzig. In the season review the Caps played, they highlighted Olie's 300th win. He's a special and elite goalie, so congrats again Olie. The cheers of "O-lie" rang out loud. Thank you Olie.

Wow, the Caps now have home field advantage in the playoffs. How in the world did that happen? There are some injury issues (Brooks Laich, Jeff Schultz...ugh), but for one night, who cares. The Caps are in the playoffs and they just won the SE division.

Plus, there is more hockey for Caps fans coming's been way too long :)

Let's go Caps!

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Caps own their destiny...

beat the Florida Panthers tomorrow night and they're in the playoffs as the SE Division Champions. And, thank you, Florida for beating the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. Is it going to be wild in the phone booth tomorrow night or what? I'll be there screaming....

Let's go Caps!

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Ovie makes history, Caps roll on 4-1 over TBL

Alex Ovechkin netted #64 to pass Luc Robitaille for all time goals scored in an NHL season by a left winger. He also netted #65, yet another game winning goal for Ovie, at 7:50 in the 3rd period against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boyd Gordon and Tom Pothi added goals in the 3rd to keep the Caps playoff hopes alive. Nicklas Backstrom got assist #54, tying Ovie's single season assist record for a Cap's rookie. It took until the 3rd period of the game for the Caps to lead making it another stomach pain inducing game to watch for Caps fans. This season has aged me!

The Caps still aren't in control of their destiny but they currently sit in 8th place tied with Boston. All the playoff permutations are nicely summarized in Tarik's article in the Post today. Tonight will be another nerve wracking night of scoreboard watching.

And, the Caps have one more test tomorrow, the Florida Panthers. I told my other half Jeff when we ordered tickets for this season that tomorrow night's game, the last of the season, might be meaningful this year. Who knew how true that would be? I can't wait to be there wearing red.

Regardless of how this season ends, I'm extremely proud of this hockey team. It's been a blast since Thanksgiving.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Washington can't be a hockey town?

I beg to differ. The Verizon Center rocked last night for the Washington Capitals in a way it never has for this hockey team. My throat feels raw after screaming like the rest of the crazy fans, wearing a sea of red clothing, for this sellout hockey game that the Caps had to win. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, to tie them in points for the season at the top of the SE division.

The intensity of this game from opening faceoff to the end had my nerves on edge until Alexander Semin scored the 3rd goal of the game, assisted by Sergei Fedorov and Mike Green, at 14:28 in the second period. I calmed down slightly after that goal. It seemed like every Cap played well last night. Matt Cooke started the scoring in the 1st on a beautiful play setup by Fedorov and Green. Brooks Laich netted his 21st on a power play goal with Tomas Fleischman and Viktor Kozlov assisting. And, Alex Oveckin scored number 63 on a beautiful blind spin around rocket shot past Cam Ward. The chants of "M-V-P" rained down on the ice after that goal.

It wasn't just the scoring. This team passed well, played great defense (Tom Poti, John Erskine, and Jeff Schulz stood out to me) and played a great forechecking game. Everyone was making hits. That's what this team has to do.

Oh, and let's not forget the net minding. Cristobal Huet was, once again, spectacular in net, making difficult saves when necessary.

There are no guarantee for the playoffs here as Carolina has to stumble and the Caps have
to beat Florida and Tampa Bay or Philly or Boston has to stumble in the overall Eastern conference race. But for one night, Washington was a happy, happy hockey town! And, the future looks bright indeed.

And, the bad news from last night is that blue liner Shaone Morrison left with an upper body injury. Let's hope Mo is okay, but there are no updates on Tarek's blog.

Tomorrow night...the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Let's go Caps!

P.S. Thank you to Ted Leonsis for his holiday present to partial season ticket plan holders, tickets to a lower level game. That's where I was with my other half Jeff last night.

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