Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Caps Beat the Trap

The New Jersey Devils play the defensive trap style of hockey - a clog the neutral zone and force turnovers there kind of game- and they play it effectively against the Washington Capitals, particularly, with Martin Brodeur in net. Saturday, however, the Caps brought their "A" game and beat the Broudeur led Devils with a 4-1 victory.  A better Christmas present I couldn't imagine, except for my brand spanking new #74 red Caps jersey.  Yeehaa.

Okay, back to the game of hockey.  The only standard by which I judge games and individual performances by the Caps are whether or not they are playoff worthy because nothing else matters now.  The Caps have proven they can win the Southleast Division.  They haven't proven they can win the Stanley Cup.  On Saturday, they gritted out a win against the Devils and proved they can play against the trap and the number 1 net minder in the NHL when they put their minds to it.   In case you don't remember, the Caps lost to the Devils the prior 3 times they've played them this season.  So, beating them is an accomplishment.

More importantly, beating the trap is taking a step towards winning that ultimate goal. Teams have to play defensive hockey effectively to win the Cup and that means playing against the trap and the defensive style of hockey that wins playoff games.  

Good job Caps!

Next up, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Let's go Caps!

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Case for Mathieu Perreault

This is the first game since he got called up from the AHL to play for the Caps that Mathieu Perreault didn't play.  He's out with food poisoning.  The Caps miss him badly.   They look lethargic, sloppy and without an ounce of effort in the game going on right now against the Buffalo Sabres. They need Perreault.

The 21-year old center was a late round draft pick in 2006 and the Caps signed him to a three-year entry level contract in March 2008.  General Manager George McPhee hasn't drafted too many successful late round picks yet.  Perreault may prove to be an exception.  

Since he's played 16 games for the Caps, he has 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points, while playing mostly on the third line.  But, it's his intangibles that impress me even more, so far.  He's a small guy, at 5'9, and plays with a chip on his shoulder because of everyone who ever told him he'd never make it to the NHL.  And, it shows in the heart, energy and grit with which he plays every shift. He'll grind it out against the boards for a puck against anyone, regardless of how big they are.
Perreault's also playing +5 hockey and is an effective forechecker.  I like what he bring to the Caps.  He's quickly becoming a fan favorite and that's a hard thing to do with that mercurial lot. Hard core Caps fans, and I'm one of them, are an insane lot and we just want a Cup.

I'm grateful Perreault doesn't have to clear waivers so he can stay.  He should stay.

Let's go Caps!

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

A terrible night to be a Caps fan

Nothing in my history as a huge sports fan prepared me for the feelings that went through me when I watched Alex Ovechkin writhing on the ice after his knee on knee hit against Tim Gleason of the Carolina Hurricanes last night.  The sinking feeling that the Caps season was swishing down the toilet made me sick to my stomach (that's not a knock on the rest of the Caps, I love these guys, but they need their star).  I was also pissed.  I'm a huge fan and I love the way Ovie plays, but I kept thinking his crazy exuberance was going to bite him this time and he was going to be out for months. 

Luckily, that didn't happen as it appears Ovie will only miss 2-games because he's been suspended.  Not good, for so many other reasons, but I can live with that over a long-term injury. Being a Washington sports fan has been tough for so long because our teams have sucked, but the arrival of Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the young guns brought hope back to this Washington sports fan.  It's been a fun ride so far and I'm not ready for it to end.

Before I became a hockey fan, I grew up in a Redskins football family and started watching at the age of 4.  I learned early on the fanaticism of sports fans while trying to escape physical injury if I happened to be sitting next to my mother when the Redskins played Dallas.  "Why don't they just break his little toe?,"she would say about whatever Dallas player happened to be tormenting the Redskins while she dug her fingernails into my arm.  That's where I get it from.

Luckily, Washington hasn't been entirely championship less, it's just been a long time and forever for the Caps.  I got to witness that soul stirring Redskin's first Superbowl victory against the Miami Dolphins where John Riggins became a model for an iconic sports photograph that exemplifies the courage, strength and determination of superstar athletes.  Hmmm, he's probably a pretty good comparison to Alex Ovechkin in a couple of ways.  The Redskins would win two more Superbowls, the last one 18-years ago though, before ownership transferred to Dan Snyder. I gave up my football fandom about 5-years after that because I have no hope he can become a good owner. It's probably been 6-years since I've been to a game.

The Wizards/Bullets haven't been much to talk about since 1978 and I'm not much of a baseball fan yet as the Nats have been a disaster during most of their tenure here.  You know it's pathetic being a sport fan in a town when you find pleasure in watching your baseball team fight for 4th place in their division that one year. Yes, I followed them that year and will follow them again.  It's the season opposite of hockey so I need something to keep me occupied between drops of the puck.

My sports fanaticism now starts and ends with hockey.  I went to my first game as a young girl the first year the Caps came to D.C. I loved it. From there, my fandom went up and down over the years, particularly, when I couldn't watch games while I was in college, but I always followed them.  Their Stanley Cup run on the back of Olie Kolzig's stellar play in net gave me something to live on for a while, even as I also realized the Caps were badly outclassed in talent against the Detroit Red Wings. Passing, what's that?  I learned how the elite teams did it in that series.

Then, Ted Leonsis bought the team in 1999 and brought the dreaded Jaromir Jagr (I never liked him) here and the Caps went nowhere.  After that, the agony of the Caps fire sale and the lockout made it tough to be a hockey fan in Washington. But, those actions resulted in the #1 draft pick in the lottery and the Caps picked Alex Ovechkin.    

From his opening hit that took out the glass to his two goals performance in that first game, from "the goal" to the 4 goal, 1 busted nose and 1 knocked out tooth performance against the Montreal Canadiens, from the goal he passed to himself and shot into the net while sliding on the ice on his butt to his all star performance this year, Alex Ovechkin is a joy to watch.  He loves playing hockey and I love watching him.

So, Alex do me a favor and stay around long enough to win a Stanley Cup with the Caps. Please.

Let's go Caps!

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