Thursday, February 26, 2009

1 ugly loss followed by a close win over Atlanta

My new job is keeping me way too busy to blog on a timely basis, but I'm still able to watch (or go) to the games.  The ugly loss against the Philadelphia Flyers had me yelling at the TV and throwing my glasses as usual.  The Caps lost that game in a few minutes during the 3rd period when Philly scored 3 times.  Although those goals were scored at even strength (total defensive breakdowns by the Caps), the Caps also spent 18 minutes in the penalty box which has got to stop.  They're assessed the 4th most minor penalties in the NHL and that shows the lack of discipline from this team, at times.

The Caps played a more disciplined game against the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday as they only ended up in the penalty box 6 times.  But, they should have put away the team sitting in 14th place in the Eastern conference instead of letting them get within 1 goal with two minutes left in the game.  It was a short-handed goal no less.  

Goalie Michal Neuvirth got his 2nd win in a row.   The Caps future looks bright on the goal tending front.  Alexander Semin, 1 power play goal, 1 assist and no penalties got the first star of the game.  Mike Green, 1 power play goal and 1 assist got the second star of the game.

Let's go Caps!



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Sunday, February 22, 2009

A fun win after Friday night's debacle

Since the Caps beat thBolde Pittsburgh Penguins in a satisfying 5-2 win this afternoon, I'm not going to dwell on that disastrous game against the Colorado Avalanche which I, unfortunately, attended on Friday night.  The best part of that game was hanging out with my other half's old hockey teammates.  It sounds like Coach Boudreau made the boys pay for that ugly game at practice yesterday, as he should have, so I'll let it go.

Today, however, was pure fun if you're a Caps fan since it was the Pittsburgh Penguins and the NHL's marketing star, Sydney Crosby, getting pushed around by the Caps.  The Caps chased Marc-Andre Fleury from the net after goals 4 and 5 went past him from Shaone Morrisonn and Brooks Laich not quite  midway through the 2nd period.  I have no idea how Brooksie got that sharp angle shot that squeezed between the post and arm of Fleury but it was pretty.

The Alex Ovechkin-Sydney Crosby show provided the drama to the game and my favorite moment after they jawed at each late in the 2nd was Ovie waiving good-bye to Sydney.  It was awesome.   Read more about it here courtesy of Slava Malamud from Soviet Express on Tarik's blog.  My favorite line, "What, I can't play hard against him?  What is he going to do, cry?" Ovie, we love you!

Other random thoughts:
  • The Russians got the stars today, Ovie (2nd), Alexander Semin (3rd star and he played a great game and ended up with 1G and 1A, and Sergei Fedorov (1st star and 1G, 1A) who played his best game since coming back from his ankle injury.
  • Jose Theodore got steadier as the game went on, but scared me to death earlier. I felt like he was pretty useless on the Sergei Gonchar goal but others said he never saw it.  I don't know, but Theo didn't even move on that shot.  After complimenting him over and over again recently, he went back to scaring me that he's in net.
  • All of the Caps look far more disciplined than they did on Friday even though they took 9 penalties.  Some of the calls against the Caps were definitely questionable.
  • Jeff Schultz was credited with 4 hits.  Wow, the world must be getting ready to end.
  • David Steckel played his best game in a long time.  I noticed him in a good way, clearing the puck out on the penalty kill often as an example.  He played well way more than he frustrated me, which has happened often lately.
  • The penalty killed played spectacularly killing off 8 of 9 penalties and spending a fair amount of time playing keep away and pursuing short-handed chances.
  • Sydney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were held to 1 point, assists on Gonchar's goal. Nothing makes me happier. 
Thanks boys.  I enjoyed this one.

The Philadelphia Flyers visit the phone booth on Tuesday.  

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Caps win skills competition against Habs to get 2 pts

Caps came out sloppy against the Montreal Canadiens, but persevered to win in the shootout 4-3.  The highlight reel of the night was Alex Ovechkin's goal which rivaled "The Goal".  Ovie passed to himself off the boards, made Habs defenseman Roman Hamrlik look silly, got tangled up and fell to the ice, shot the puck and celebrated his goal while still sliding on the ice. Wow, it's fun to be a Caps fan and it's a thrill to watch Ovie play his game.

Nicklas Backstrom made a beautiful play with a pass to Sergei Fedorov that came back to him to pot the 2nd goal in net for the Caps.  David Steckel got the 3rd goal (and 3rd star) by deflecting a shot from Tom Poti.

Now, for the rest of the game:
  • Caps passing.....phew.
  • Alexander Semin's hooking penalties...we've seen enough of those.
  • Delay of game penalties...yes, Mike Green and many others, we've had enough of those, as well.
  • Caps penalty kill (Habs scored 3 of 3) and two of them came within 4 and 5 seconds of starting the penalty kill...yuck.  That won't do for the playoffs boys.
The Caps and Habs came to a draw at the overtime period and went to the skills competition to decide the game.  Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom (Coach Boudreau - why don't we use Backie more on the shootout?) scored for the Capitals and Caps goalie, Jose Theodore, stopped Montreal's shooters for the win.

The Colorado Avalanche come to the phone booth on Friday and I'm going to be there. 

So, please, let's not play down to a struggling team Caps.

Let's go Caps!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

A visit to Florida nets Caps 4 points & Green into history books

What a satisfying weekend if you're a Caps fan.  Mike Green broke an NHL record by scoring in 8 games in a row in front of his father on dads weekend, a feat not accomplished since 1984 by the Boston Bruins Mike O'Connell. Oh, and the Caps won 5-1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning

Michal Neuvirth started in net for the Caps, the 8th player to debut for the team this season and got his first NHL win. His glove hand is something to behold.  Neuvirth stonewalled Vinnie Lecavalier with that glove and he used it often during his first NHL win.  In fact, he would have had a shutout if Caps new blue liner Staffan Kronwall hadn't been credited with putting the puck into his own net.  Oh, well, every win can't be perfect as much as Caps fans wish it so.  It was two points on the road with Neurvirth letting in 1 shot out of 32 and garnering the 3rd star of the game. Wow, nice to see the Caps have two good goalie prospects.

The Caps traveled to the Florida Panthers for a 5:00 start today less than 24 hours after that 7:30 start against Tampa Bay.  It was an U-G-L-Y game, the Caps spent 16 minutes in the penalty box, but it was a game that made Caps fans happy because Alex Ovechkin is a Capital. Not only did he score the game winner on a shot that I still can't believe went past Tomas Vokoun by using a defender as his screen again, but he ended up with a hat trick on an empty netter by clearing the puck out of the defensive zone in the last 21 seconds of the game.

Have I mentioned how much I love Alex Ovechkin?  I've been watching the Washington Capitals since 1974 and it's never been nearly as entertaining as the Ovie years.  He's the league leader in game winning goals because the guy wants nothing more than to win hockey games. Wow, just wow. He's unreal and I marvel at the fact that I get to watch him play night after night.

The other person from today's game that deserves mention is Jose Theodore, 3rd star of the game.  I've been one of his most vocal critics, but he's played great in net lately and it's been quite a while since I've complained about him.  

Bottom line....this Caps team is fun to watch. Do I think they're going to win a Stanley Cup this year?  No. Their defense is far too suspect for that (and if I have to eat those words, I'll do it gladly) but I'll be thrilled if they win a series or two in the playoffs.

The Caps have a rough stretch coming up with Montreal, Flyers, Penguins, Atlanta, Avalanche for a 5 game home stand (I'll be there on Friday for the Avs game) and at the Bruins right after that.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cap eke out a point against Rangers

That was a frustrating game to watch to say the least.  It was also a chippy game as both Donald Brashear and Matt Bradley threw down the gloves.  The Caps escaped with a point but the New York Rangers won 5-4 to prevent the Caps from sweeping the series.

2nd star went to Mike Green who is on an unbelievable goal scoring roll, tying the NHL defenseman record of scoring goals 7 games in a row.  He scored 2 goals in this game.  BoldHe first fired a bomb past Henrik Lundqvist on a pass from Alex Ovechkin.  The other two goals came from Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr as they fed each other for goals in the 1st period. 

The Caps need to stay out the damn penalty box and Shaone Morrisonn that particularly applies to you.  He's had a double minor and a 5-minute major penalty in the past two games.  Why Karl Alzner and Milan Jurcina are sitting out the game tonight versus Morrisonn is beyond me.

Surprising stats:
  • Ovie was credited with 13 hits.  Seriously?  I mean I saw him hitting a lot, but that stat stood out.
  • Karl Alzner, David Steckel and Boyd Gordon played -3 hockey.
  • Matt Bradley won a fight. 
It's a Florida weekend for the Caps starting with the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and the team that is creeping up in points, the Florida Panthers.  I hope the Caps take these games seriously.

Let's go Caps!

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

An intense 5 minutes seals Caps 3-1 win over Florida

Shaone Morrisonn's 5 minute major left the Caps playing a 5-3 penalty kill for 1:05 following by the other 3:55 on a 5-4 to finish out the last 5:06 of the game.  To say that the Caps penalty kill has struggled would be an understatement. They've let in goals in 13 straight games on the penalty kill so this situation presented a challenge.

As the phone booth vibrated with cheering Caps fans who had just "unleash(ed) the fury", the penalty killers did their job.  David Steckel made a couple of the great clearing plays and Mike Green's 168 foot empty netter goal threw the crowd into a frenzy.  David Steckel was awarded the 2nd star of the game since he blocked 4 shots, got credited for 3 hits and won 64% of his faceoffs in addition to making the great clearing plays on the extended penalty kill.

Mike Green should have been awarded a star in my opinion.  He got the 2nd goal of the game off a beauty of a pass from Alex Ovechkin and his empty netter play at the end of the game sealed the victory for the Caps.  He's on a roll and leads all defense men in goals and points.

The bad part of the game...the first period.  The Caps looked awful and their passes were not hitting the market, at all, during that period.  But, the Caps needed that SE divisional win and they got it.  I'm glad since the Panthers give the Caps a fit all the time.

Caps head to New York to see the Rangers on Wednesday.

Let's go Caps!

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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Ovechkin's 200th goal overshadowed by Caps loss

Once again, the Caps with a 2nd place standing in the Eastern conference let the 13th place team in the Western conference, the Los Angeles Kings walk away from the Verizon Center with 2 points.  The Caps did not show up to play defense at all.  The Kings scored on three breakaways.  Seriously? I can't even imagine what Coach Boudreau had to say to those guys after the game.  It was ugly.  

The amazing thing is that the Capitals almost managed to tie the game up in the end of the 3rd period.  That shows how good they can be if they'll show up and play 60 minutes of hockey. Props to Jose Theodore because he, once again, kept them in the game.  How has it happened that the guy who played terribly at the beginning of the season is winning games for the Caps.

Alex Ovechkin's 200th goal came on a faceoff with good work from Alexander Semin on the pass.  The Caps fan favorite joined elite company scoring his 200th goal in his 4th season as only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mike Bossy reached that level of scoring as quickly.

The Caps went into the penalty box 9 times which killed them.  They've got to stay out of the damn box, particularly, during the playoffs.  The defense also needs to tighten up their game in a big way. That's probably why Karl Alzner has been recalled for tonight's game against the Florida Panthers.

By the way, Caps, this is a division game against a team that beats you frequently no matter where they are in the standings.  Right now, the Kitty Cats are in front of Carolina.  Perhaps you should take them seriously.

I'll be there cheering.

Let's go Caps!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Caps break Devils 8 game winning streak

The Caps took it to the New Jersey Devils tonight and got a 5-2 win on the road as a result. Improbably, Michael Nylander had 2 goals and got the first star of the night.  Nylander has had a tough year fitting into the Caps and Coach Boudreau's offensive system so it's nice to see him shoot the puck and get those goals.  The one totally fit the 'keep up the presence in front of the net and get the garbage goal' that the Caps need to do more often.  This one happened because of the rebound via Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann

Mike Green got the 2nd star of the game for his 1 goal (a thing of beauty from Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin) and 1 assist in 24:54 of ice time.  He played -1 hockey and is still frequently a liability in his own end, but he's fun to watch.

Alex Ovechkin didn't score his 200th goal (hopefully, he'll do that at the phone booth), but he netted 2 assists.  The pass to Brooks Laich off his skate to let Brooksie get his garbage goal was a great play.

The Caps scared me during the first part of the 3rd period as they came out flat.  Nylander did get a goal for them to go up 4-2, but it was Eric Fehr's hard angle empty netter that sealed the deal.

The Caps play the LA Kings on Thursday night.

Let's go Caps! 

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Alex Ovechkin show gets Caps 4 points

The Capitals played the Stanley Cup defending Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon at 12:30 followed by the Ottawa Senators on Sunday afternoon at 12:30.  I really don't like these early start games as I'd prefer to drink beer than coffee while I watch hockey.  Oh, well, the early starts ended with the Caps winning both games and Alex Ovechkin had 2 goals against Detroit followed by a hat trick against Ottawa.

Against the Red Wings, Ovechkin didn't start off strong, but he ended the game with his 32nd and 33rd goals of the season almost 13 minutes into the 3rd period to open up a tight game.  I'm sure his 32nd goal will make the NHL goals of the week as I can't believe he got the shot off much less into the net.  

It was one of those games that I get nervous watching as the two teams traded goals at the very end of the 1st and the 2nd period to keep the game tied.  And, I didn't enjoy the Red Wing fan sitting in front of me because she was obnoxious.  At least, there weren't as many Red Wings fans as usual.  And Caps fans were loud.  

Other thoughts:
  • Tom Poti's steadying influence on the blue line is a necessary ingredient for the Caps to continue to be successful.  Poti's ability to make short, crisp passes that don't get taken away by the opponent is something the rest of the Caps should try to emulate more.  Their cross ice and just plain stupid passes that end in giveaways are driving me insane.  The downside to Poti being back is that Karl Alzner got sent back to Hershey, but he will back.
  • Alexander Semin's costly hooking penalty in the neutral zone (why, why, why did you do it Semin?) resulted in Detroit's 2nd goal. Semin is such a talented player, but he's an equally frustrating ones at times. 
  • Eric Fehr played one of his best games of this season even though he still didn't record a goal.  I liked the Nicklas Backstrom, Tomas Fleischmann and Fehr line.  They exhibited good chemistry playing together. 
  • Jose Theodore has found his game in net and I can only hope it continues.  He faced 29 shots and only let in 2.
  • The insanity of that 6 on 3 in the last 1:30 of the game was ridiculous.  Poti blocked 3 shots and Jeff Schultz and David Steckel each blocked 1 shot.  And, is that delay of game for a non intentional puck over the glass a ridiculous penalty or what?  Ugh.
The second half of the Alex Ovechkin show featured a 7-4 win over the Ottawa Senators and Ovie's hat trick. After Daniel Alfredsson scored the first goal early in the first period, the Caps scored 4 unanswered goals by early in the 2nd period courtesy of Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin on the power play and Eric Fehr and Ovie at even strength.  Ovie scored that even strength goal and his 3rd goal by making Senators defender Filip Kuba look silly.  Twice Ovie used him as a shield and shot the puck between Kuba's legs to score.  

Other thoughts:
  • Mike Green's pass over the head of the Ottawa defenders that landed on Alexander Semin's stick was awesome.  Semin promptly put it into the net with a deft move around goalie Alex Auld.  It was nice to see Semin score again after the awful game he had against the Red Wings.  Green had a 4 point day.
  • Eric Fehr got his goal today by hustling and crashing the net.  That Flash/Backstrom/Fehr line looks good together.  
  • Nicklas Backstrom had a 3 point day and his empty net goal was a coast to coast attempt that sealed the win.
  • Sergei Fedorov assisted on all of Ovie's goals and looked a more on his game than he did on Saturday.
  • I really hate it when the Caps ease up after getting a big lead.  The third period became a little dicey in this game as the Senators rallied to within two goals with almost 9 minutes left in the 3rd.  
All in all, a satisfying 4 point weekend with Alex Ovechkin lighting the lamp often and with flair. I really do pinch myself quite often that Alex is a Capital.  As a long suffering Caps fan, it's awesome to be able to watch him do his stuff.

The Caps visit the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.  The Devils are 1 point behind the Caps in the Eastern conference with 1 game in hand so it's an important one for the Eastern conference standings.

Let's go Caps!

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