Monday, March 31, 2008

Caps continue to fight without much help

I didn't get to see the Caps beat Florida 3-0 on Saturday since I was out of town. At least, my heart got a break from the relentless 'must win' games. The Caps aren't getting any help from anyone except for former Capital, Jeff Halpern, who had a game winning goal for Tampa Bay to beat the Carolina Hurricanes. That leaves the Caps 2 points behind them for the SE division lead. Thanks Jeff!

The Caps ended their road trip with a 5-1 record on the back of the hot net minder Cristobal Huet. Coach Boudreau seems to be sticking with Huet for the rest of the season and as much as I'm a huge fan of Olie, I can't blame him.

The Caps have done well with their trade deadline pickups and I'm still hoping that somehow the Caps can keep Sergei Fedorov for another year. Tarek El-Bashir had a great article in the Washington Post about how Fedorov is "possessed about the playoffs". He brings championship experience to this team that the young guys are soaking up.

To say tomorrow night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes is huge (again!) is an understatement. This is the Caps chance to tie for the division lead. I'm glad I'll be there.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Caps get 2, Carolina gets 1 point and noone is helping

This time last year, the Caps were already focused on the offseason. This year, they're fighting to the wire to see if they can slip into 8th place in the Eastern conference playoff race. That's a good thing, but it doesn't make it any easier for me to watch these nerve wracking games.

Last night, Caps came away with 2-points in a shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes, thanks to Viktor Kozlov's shootout goal. Again, in the good news department, Carolina and their net minder, Cam Ward, have owned the Caps for a while so 2-points is a big deal. In the bad news department, Carolina getting that point means they pretty much own the SE title.

Alex Ovechkin netted #61 setting a new Caps franchise record, beating Dennis Maruk's 60 goal mark in '81-'82. Ovie also threw his body around plenty last night. His hit on Carolina blue liner Dennis Hedican after he raced by the bench to get a new stick was a beautiful thing to see. Ovie needed a new stick because he smartly gave his to Milan Jurcina in the defensive zone after Jurcina lost his. Wow, Ovie continues to amaze me (and everyone else) and I still can't believe he's a Cap for 13-years.

Nicklas Backstrom added 2 assists to his points putting him 1 point ahead of rookie Patrick Kane.

Cristobal Huet played great in net, too, and kept the Caps in that game. His .926 save percentage and 6-2 record since he joined the Caps makes me really want him here next year.

Up next...Tampa Bay tomorrow.

Let's go Caps!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Caps escape Atlanta and Ovie gets 60

The score was 5-3, but it was an escape. 4 goals in the final 8 minutes and 30 second of the game means the Caps played lousy hockey for 2 1/2 periods. The Caps are quite lucky, actually, to have 4 points on this road trip so far. They have played some lousy hockey the last 3 games. I can only hope that burst of offense in the 3rd period against Atlanta and the fact that every member of the team stood up during the last two minutes of the games means that the Caps aren't ready to go down yet.

We shall see. An even bigger test against the team that doesn't want to lose lately, the Carolina Hurricanes, awaits tomorrow night.

Meantime, $124m man netted his 60th goal, the first time that feat has happened in 12-years, since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr did it with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Congrats Alex Oveckin! Ovie is more focused on helping the Caps squeeze into the playoffs than his goals total and that is another reason I'm so happy he's a Cap. That is more important.

So, the 'is Ovie Hart Trophy Worthy' debate rages on in the sports media. To me, he's the winner hands down (and, yes, I know I'm biased) but many people say the Caps must make the playoffs for him to be considered. The Caps would have been out of the playoff race a long time ago without Ovie. Of course, if the Caps make the playoffs, this argument is over.

Nicklas Backstrom turned it on with 2 goals and 1 assist, making him only the 2nd Capital rookie (gee, wonder who's first) to get 50 assists.

Come on Caps, throw the kitchen sink against Carolina.

Let's go Caps!

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Let's ignore that last stinking game

and hope the Caps do, too. Caps, please show up tonight against Atlanta.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

1 game down with 2 points, 5 more to go

After an 3-goal offensive burst (Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Matt Bradley) in the 1st period against the Nashville Predators, the Caps slacked off and Nashville almost came back. The Predators took back the momentum in the 2nd period. They only had 1 goal that period, but they controlled the play.

Jason Arnott netted the 2nd Predator's goal 12:37 in the 3rd period and I had to stop watching. So, I didn't see Alex Ovechkin's empty netter (#58) with 4 seconds left in the game. I read on the message boards that even that goal was a doozy so I'm sorry I missed it. These games are so important that sometimes I just can't stand watching because the Caps so desperately need every 2 points they can get. Cristobal Huet played another great game in net and was awarded the 3rd star in the game.

The Caps bring their 4 game winning streak to the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. The Caps have to keep winnning because it seems like every team they're vying against for 8th place in the East or Carolina for 1st in the SE keeps winning. Caps haven't played Chicago in 4-years. Their team now features rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews who are both in the running for the Calder Trophy as is Nicklas Backstrom. I'm looking forward to watching them play, but the Caps must win!

Let's go Caps!

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Caps get 2 points in a shootout

which is amazing in itself. I can't even watch when the Caps play the shootout because they lose more often than they win. But, the Caps beat the Boston Bruins in a shootout today, 2-1.
Cristobal Huet made 39 saves in regulation, some of them spectacular, and was awared the 1st star of the game. The Caps didn't play their defensive game today and they looked a bit lifeless to me. It wasn't the same group that put on a show against Atlanta on Friday, but bad refereeing aside (sorry dudes, Ovie did not "dive" when he got tripped), the Caps came away with those desperately needed two points.

Sergei Federov scored his first goal as a Cap on a Nicklas Backstrom pass and Viktor Kozlov and Alexander Semin scored during the shootout to seal the deal. Boy, would I like to see Sergei Federov remain a Cap for the next year or two.

No one in the SE did the Caps any favors though. Florida beat Atlanta and Carolina beat Ottawa. The Caps have to be damn near perfect to get a shot at the post season. But, hearing the roaring crowd at the phone booth shouting "Refs, you suck" and, indeed they did, brings a smile to my face as I think about the energy at the games these days. It's a far cry from the past several years and it's nice to think that the Caps might get more attention from the media and the DC area as they progress.

The Caps embark on a 6 game road trip starting in Nashville on Tuesday. Every game is a must win.

Let's go Caps!

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Godzilla joins an elite group and Caps get 4 points

Olie Kolzig became only the 23rd goalie to reach 300 wins in the NHL. Congrats Olie! More importantly, the Caps beat Calgary 3-2 to gain 2 desperately needed points to keep their playoff hopes alive. Alex Ovechkin netted #55 and #56 and Viktor Kozlov got the other goal in the win.

The Caps followed that game with a 4-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. That was a good hockey game. Brooks Laich scored 2 goals, Ovie got #57 and Matt Cooke, the new guy & gritty winger got the other goal on a beautiful breakaway.

Brooks Laich is having a breakout year this year. I can remember bashing him as hard as other people in the past couple of years, but he's been consistently good this year. Tarek has a great article on him here in the Post today. The best quote in the article is this one. "If you want money, go to the bank," Laich said after the game. "If you want bread, go to the bakery. If you want goals, go to the net."

The Boston Bruins come to the phone booth today and it seems Chara might be out. Yippee.

Let's go Caps!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Brashear loses his cool to start an awful weekend

Donald Brashear's bone headed punch after the whistle to Boston defenseman Shane Hnidy's head cost the Caps two points in their lose 2-1 on Saturday. I've had a discussion in an earlier post on this blog with a reader Chris about Brashear's untimely penalties. Chris thought Brashear should be paying the Cap's to play hockey versus resigning him. Right now, I agree with him and wanted Brashear to sit for that. Granted, all of the calls the refs made in that Boston game seem to be punishment for the Caps 10-2 thrashing of the Bruins earlier in the week, but Brashear should know better. That 5 minute major for kneeing on Matt Cooke was nothing short of ridiculous. A 2 minute penalty, fine, but 5 minutes, give me a break.

Then, the Caps followed up that loss with an even bigger loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-2 on Sunday. Sydney Crosby got a goal off a Nicklas Backstrom pass that went awry and into the Cap's net. was that kind of weekend and the playoff hopes fade away.

The Caps have to be near perfect if they want to play in the offseason, starting tonight against a surging Calgary Flames. Olie Kolzig goes for his 300th win at the phone booth. Let's go Godzilla!

Let's go Caps!

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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ovie love from Buffalo

This is a pleasure to read!

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Caps finally beat Buffalo this season

Alex Oveckin (1st star), led the way with 2 goals (#53 and 54), Nicklas Backstrom (2nd star) also scored, and Olie Kolzig played a tremendous game against the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-1 at their place. A desperately needed win as the Caps are fighting with the Flyers, Sabres and Islanders for 8th place in the east as much as they're fighting Carolina for 1st place in the SE.

  • Brooks Laich kicking the puck out of the net on a goal that crossed the line while Olie was on his back. The ref couldn't see it so he blew the whistle, after the goal went it, but they washed the goal out. Kudos to Brooksie for his alertness.
  • Backstrom's down the ice pass to Ovie on his first goal was a thing of beauty. He also made his own goal look easy. Nicklas Backstrom is turning into one helluva hockey player. Although it's a tight race and he's passing to Ovie, Backstrom is in the running for the Calder Trophy with his rookie leading 58 points and plus-6 hockey. His faceoff % has gone in the toilet though at 46%. We'll see, but I like watching him play.
  • Ovie egging on the Buffalo fans after his 2nd goal. Since Ovie hit Daniel Briere, Buffalo hates Ovie.
  • Tom Pothi riding out the last few seconds of a power play opportunity against an empty net showed class.

Ovie's trainer from Russian, that he worked out with last summer, has apparently relocated here to help Ovie. It's working. He's exploded in the last couple of games after his goal scoring slump.

The Caps go to Boston on Saturday to face a Bruins team that will be bitter over the 10-2 game. Nothing is going to be easy from here on out.

Let's go Caps!

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wow...what a game

The Caps showed what they can do when they play an all out intense game from start to finish. They beat the surging Boston Bruins, 10-2, in front of a boisterous crowd at the phone booth. Alex Ovechkin got goals #50, 51 and 52 and ended the night with the hat trick and 2 assists for a 5 point night. Last night, everyone scored for the Caps it seemed like...Matt Bradley had 2, Brooks Laich had 2, Nicklas Backstrom had 1 goal and 2 assists, Donald Brashear had another goal and Matt Cooke, the new Capital, started the scoring with his goal 32 seconds into the game.

The Caps haven't had a lot of luck recently against the Bruins or their net minder, Tim Thomas, but that changed last night. They played with the intensity of a team fighting for a playoff position. Let's hope they continue to play that way because it'll take that level of intensity in their remaining 15 games because they'll need every point to make the playoffs.

Zdeno Chara frequently suffocates Ovie and tried to stir his teammates up by going after Brashear early on. It didn't work and Ovie scored less than 30-seconds later. Mike Green, leading scorer among defensemen by 2 goals over Chara, pasted him into the boards, but did get a boarding call for it, one of 18 penalties in that game.

Ovie's comment from the Caps recap ..."Just wait, we have lots of games left, and one game can mean nothing," Ovechkin said. "We just have to continue to do what we did today, and try to play the same way on Wednesday." That's exactly what he should say and one of the reasons I'm glad he'll be here for many more years.

The bad news...Cristobal Huet is suffering from back spasms. Let's hope they don't last long and Olie plays well.

Interesting Ovie tidbit....according to Tarek's blog, Ovie brought his Russian trainer here to help him through his slump. It worked.

Up next, Buffalo. Every game counts.

Let's go Caps!

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Monday, March 03, 2008

A tough game and a must win, as always

After playing inspired hockey against the NJ Devils on Friday night, winning 4-0 and giving Cristobel Huet a shutout in his first night in net for the Caps, the Caps dropped 2 points against Toronto. Tonight, they get to play the surging Boston Bruins with their 7 game winning streak and all star blue liner, Zdeno Chara who always hangs all over Alex Ovechkin.

The Caps need this game so I hope they play hard and as a team.

Let's go Caps!

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