Saturday, January 26, 2008

1 point out of first

It wasn't pretty, but the Caps pulled 2 points out of two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a home and home series and left for the all star break with a win. More importantly, they are 1 point off of first place in the SE division with 2 games in hand over Carolina. It's fun to be a Caps fan again versus the torture of earlier this season. The game went down to the end, but the Caps pulled it out with goals from Brooks Laich and Viktor Kozlov and strong work in net by Brent Johnson that got him the 1st star of the game. Ovie was named 2nd star and had two assists.

In other Caps news:
Donald Brashear resigned a 1-year contract extension with the Caps. I'm glad he's sticking around.

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom are at the All Star and Young Stars games in Atlanta this weekend. Tarek's blog captures Ovie's silliness as usual.

At least, there will be hockey on tonight.

Let's go Ovie & Backstrom!

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Monday, January 21, 2008 leading in goal scoring

for the moment with 38 goals to Ilya Kovalchuk's 37. Hey, Mikey, we like it.

And Quintin Laing draws kudos from the fans for the numerous blocked shots he made again tonight. The guy plays with heart. I like hearing the fans talk about and seeing Ovie give Laing and the penalty killers credit tonight, too.

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A Sweet Two Points....

Since I hate the Penguins as much as most Caps fans, getting two points against them in the shootout (even if they are sans Captian Crosby) is fun to watch. And, it was Alex Ovechkin (he of not much shootout success) and Alexander Semin who scored the goals. Evgeni Malkin and Ovie did their part to make the game exciting for their fans with 2 goals and 1 assist a piece, plus a brutal hit that sent Ovie flying. It looked like Ovie caused it as much as he suffered for it.

This game also showed me how important Shaone Morrison is to this team. Everyone's plus/minus suffered last night. Luckily, it appears he's only out with a bruised foot so I'm thrilled that he shouldn't be out long. He is the stay-at-home defense man to Mike Green's offensive minded ways.

The other amazing stat of the night, Nicklas Backstrom had the first back-to-back 4 point nights as a rookie in NHL history. He was being compared to Adam Oates (a high standard, indeed) and the sportscasters are now talking about him. I think the Caps may have a Calder Trophy contender on their hands for the second time in three seasons. That is simply astounding. I have a love-hate relationship, okay, mostly hate as I've called for his head more times than not, with GMGM, but I can't complain about Ovie (of course), Backstrom, Green or Semin. Wow, this team is fun to watch and they're playing without Clarkie and Pothier and tonight, Morrison, too.

Toronto is next. We want two more points.

Let's go Caps!

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

500 hockey...and Boudreau calls it mediocrity

The Caps beat the Florida Panthers (frequently their nemesis, much like the Caps became Ottawa's this season) 5-3 to reach the 500 mark with a 21-21-4 record for the first time in three months. For the Caps, this has been a long, slow climb out of the basement. Coach Broudreau says in the Caps recap "We've officially reached mediocrity." I love this guy.

My friend Karen & I were discussing at the game tonight that you have to appreciate Broudreau's competitiveness and the fact that he's making the most of the opportunity that's been given to him. He's doing a great job so far. He's finally convinced this team that they're a good hockey team even with all the injuries they've had to deal with this year. And, I'm having fun watching hockey again.

Nicklas Backstrom made 4 assists, a career high for him, and got the 1st star of the game. When I think about where the Caps were 3 years ago and where they are now in terms of talent I can't help but smile. Well, earlier this season was no picnic, but now watching Backstrom quickly develop into the NHL talent that people predicted (he's beginning to show me why people compared him to Peter Forsberg and he's only 19), watching Mike Green become the top goal scoring defensemen with Shaone Morrison backing him up, watching Alexander Semin (please stay healthy) start to light it up and with an attitude that seems way better than it has before and, of course, watching the most exciting $124m goal scorer in the league, Ovie, continue to find the back of the net has me jumping for joy. This is a young, exciting hockey team and they're "finally starting to believe". For those of you who haven't watched The Miracle as many times as I have, that's the origin of that line.

The Caps still have a long way to go, but I have a lot more hope for them today than I did on Thanksgiving Day.

The dreaded Pittsburgh Penguins, minus Captain Crosby are up Monday.

Let's go Caps!

p.s. Thank you, Susan (who attended her first hockey game) and Karen for being enthusiastic supporters of the Caps tonight! We all have a huge love of sports and we laughed about the fact that three women were not only talking about the Caps, but the Redskins, Wizards and Nationals all in the same night.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

O-lie O-lie...what a hockey game.

Olie has not been having a career year (far from it, in fact) as everyone knows and yet this Mike Wise column in the Washington Post from the other day about Olie leaving or retiring did not make happy. Why? Because he's been the face of this hockey club forever and his leadership skills have kept the youngsters in the game many, many times (remember those 40 shot nights Olie had to defend?) over the last few "rebuilding" years when the Caps didn't have a defense worth mentioning. But, oh, what a night he had against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday stopping 12 shooters in the shootout and making some spectacular during the game saves. Olie needed that and I hope it gives him confidence. The Caps still need him.

Matt Bradley made the only goal on the shootout, after begging Coach Bourdreau to let him shoot. He joked with his teammates according to Tarik El-Bashir's article that he was going to hold a shootout clinic for the Caps at practice the next day. Gotta love it.

In other Caps news, I'm thrilled Nicklas Backstrom got recognized as a "Young Star" and will be joining Ovie for the All Star festivities. If only the NHL would realize that the Caps also have the leading scorer among blue liners in Mike Green. And, thank you Coach Boudreau for pairing him with Shaone Morrison who is playing his "stay-at-home defense" role superbly allowing Greenie to generate offense.

Caps take on the Florida Panthers tonight and I'll be leaving shortly to meet up with two friends and will be introducing one of them to the game of hockey! So....

Let's go Caps!

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thank you Ted & GMGM...Ovie is here to stay

At the lowest point of this season in late November, I even thought Ovie deserved better than Washington, but Ted & GMGM finally made the necessary move firing Hanlon (and, yes, I like and respect him and am glad he's coming back to Washington as a scout) and now they've finally struck a 13-year, $124M contract, according to Tarik El Bashir's blog, contract with Alex the Great. I'm wowed by that...he's here until 2020-2021, just let that sink in. Ovie is the best player the Caps have ever had and he's only in his 3rd season. The best is yet to come (if he went from playing -19 to +6 hockey in the past year, anything's possible) and the fact that it will be here in Washington thrills me to no end. With Alex on the Cap's side, promising young stars, Mike Green and rookie, Nicklas Backstrom, and a new coach, Bruce Boudreau who has the hockey analysts wondering where's he been, the future looks bright in Washington.

I read about Ovie, before he even arrived in camp his rookie year, and then I saw him during one of the first preseason games. Like most fans, I couldn't believe this guy was a Capital. His amazing speed, great moves, hard shot, hits (a power hitting, goal scoring forward..what a combo) and sheer love and enthusiam for the game make him the most fun hockey player to watch that I've ever seen. So, thank you, too, Ovie for staying.

There was also a hockey game played last night between the Capitals and the Avs. Caps won the defensive slugfest 2-1. Much to my enjoyment at the game, two Avs fans were sitting in front of me. Since I've been subjected to Flyers and Buffalo fans when the Caps are getting their butts kicked, I admit, I enjoyed their annoyance at the Avs losing.

Hmmm...highlights from last night:
  • Viktor Koslov actually played aggressive hockey. That was a change of pace.
  • Olie had a good night and made some great saves.
  • Sean Morrison made some spectular plays on defense last night, most definitely, saving one goal from being scored.
  • Brooks Laich, one of the goal scorers and 1st star obviously continues to play good hockey this year.
  • Steve Emminger, in back-to-back games for a long-time played well and was also aggressive.
  • The Avs tied up Ovie pretty well all night.
  • The game was a pretty boring defensive game but the third period got interesting and Verizon Center was pretty load, considering it was a Wed night game.
  • The Caps got 2 points...most important.

Up next, the Flyers on Sunday.

Let's go Caps!

p.s. And thank you Caps management for the holiday ticket gift. I'm looking forward to seeing what may be an increasingly important April game in a lower level seat.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A promising, future Cap

Karl Alzner impressed me at training camp and it seems he hasn't let up...what an encouraging article.

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An Enjoyable New Year's Day but Injury Concerns

My anguish over the Caps, once again, losing to the Penguins (Olie is the only current Capital player that really understands that anguish) in a shootout is gone, replaced by the sheer joy of watching the Capitals beat the #1 team in the Eastern Confence, the Ottawa Senators, 3 times in a row. These last two were wild, shooting and scoring matches but they were fun, if you are a Caps fan. If you're a Senators fan, you are no doubt ready to kill anyone in a red, white and blue Capitals uniform. Read above, I understand.

In the 8-6 match, Ovie scored 4 goals (oh, yeah and that was after getting stiches for a cut on the thigh the night before). According to the Post's beat writer, Tarik El-Bashir, the Senators vowed to control Ovie on New Year's Day. Ottawa started that game by netting two goals right in a row. They bottled Ovie up, but Mike Green took over scoring 2 goals, Viktor Kozlov (where in the world have you been?) scored, Michael Nylander, Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon also scored. Gordon, it's good to have you back. The Caps won 6-3. Mike Green, tied for 1st in defensemen scoring, continues to be a joy to watch. So does Nicklas Backstrom. I notice his vision on the ice even during training camp and he's becoming a good playmaker.

I don't know what Kool Aid, Coach Boudreau has the Capitals drinking, but I hope they keep drinking it. Injuries are killing the Caps. Tom Pothi isn't going to make the team trip to Boston and he's played monster minutes, 20+, for the Caps all year. He's sorely missed when he's not out there. Semin, apparently is okay, and will play in Boston.

And, thank you Caps for the upgrade to a lower level bowl ticket as a holiday gift for being a partial season ticket plan holder.

Let's go Caps!

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