Thursday, September 18, 2008 is back finally

After a very long summer that saw Alex Ovechkin clean up at the NHL awards ceremony with 4 awards, the Capitals new coach Bruce Boudreau win the Jack Adams award for Coach of the Year, some good draft picks enter the Caps system during draft day including Anton Gustafsson (son of Bengt!), and a fun rookie development camp in July, hockey is back and so is Pass Shoot Score.  Real live, smash mouth hockey was on display today at Kettler Ice Rink where the Capitals top rookies beat up on the Philly rookies 7-0. 

Caps fan have been dying for hockey after the team made an improbable run to win the SE division last year only to go out in the first round of the playoffs after a 7-game series with Philly that was decided on an overtime goal in the 7th game.   The message boards and blogs have been alive all summer (and this isn't the case everywhere in the NHL) and the excitement that greeted the signing of almost every single player from last year's team with one exception, goalie, had the fanatical fans eagerly anticipating the return of hockey.

Ahhh, hockey.  Is there anything sweeter than bodies crashing into the boards, pucks zinging past unsuspecting opposing goalies and some good fights? Approximately 2500 Caps fans got that today.  

I've never attended the rookie scrimmage game before and it's fun to see the young guys playing their hearts out so they might get invited to the big club's training camp.   The Caps rookies played up tempo, physical hockey and it's clear that their herbies helped their conditioning because they never looked tired while Philly's rookies looked tired and frustrated by the 3rd period.  

What I liked:
  • Viktor Dovgan mixing it up with the Philly players and playing an impressive game.
  • John Carlson, defending his net minder and also playing a strong game.  In general, the Caps young guys defended their net minder well.
  • All 3 goal tenders, Simeon Varlamov, Michel Neuvirth and Braden Holtby made a few great saves and got the shutout.  Neuvirth got peppered more in the 3rd period and held his own with great help from his defense.
  • The Francois Bouchard, Matthew Perrault and Steve Pinizzotto looked strong together and have several goals and assists between them.  For the complete scoring summary, see Tarek's blog.
Next up, the Caps real training camp starts on Saturday.  Many of the players got here earlier which is a great sign that they're all pumped for the season to start soon, too.

Let's go Caps!

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