Friday, November 30, 2007

Around the internets

Ouch. Thats what Boyd Gordon, Chris Clark and Alex Semin are saying this morning. I daresay that Caps players, management and fans are echoing that sentiment as well.

on player injuries:

Alexander Semin aggravated his sprained right ankle in overtime of the Capitals' 2-1 loss to the Panthers and did not participate in the shootout. In the third period, captain Chris Clark suffered a strained groin muscle and did not return. Checking-line center Boyd Gordon has an undisclosed injury and is listed as week-to-week.
Corey takes a look at Boudreau's new systems for the Caps:
"It is just a matter of sort of relearning, reboot and start over. Hopefully it won't take too long," defenseman Brian Pothier said. "It is a minor adjustment. It is not a huge change. I think we've all at some point in our careers played something similar to this. It is just a little more aggressive and a little more assertive. Instead of sitting back and letting them come to us, we are trying to initiate."
Sounds good to me. One of the things that has really bothered me about the Caps this season is that they seemed to be watching plays, rather then participating in them.

In other hockey news:

Scott Burnside discusses the new hockey schedule (which is really just the old hockey schedule).

And Mike Vogel says Quintin Laing is the call up from Hershey to help fill the hole caused by injuries.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

ECHL team bus in accident

From ESPN:

HARBORCREEK, Pa. -- A bus carrying members of a New York minor league hockey team struck the back of a tractor-trailer and went down an embankment, seriously injuring the bus driver and causing minor injuries to several players.

The Elmira Jackals of the ECHL were returning home after a 7-1 loss Wednesday in Cincinnati when the accident happened about 4:15 a.m. Thursday on Interstate 90 about 35 miles from the Ohio border, police said.

Lets hope that the bus driver is okay. The Jackals are an affiliate team of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Tip of the hat to Nicole for the heads up, who actually commented on my blog and strayed away from Google Reader. Baby steps.

Caps lose SO to Cats

Another shoot out loss. Some thoughts from last night's game:

- The first period looked completely different from the second and third. The beat writers say that the Caps were getting used to a new system in the first-- it was pretty obvious something was going on
- Olie Kolizig can still compete with the best out there. If you dont believe me, I will reference you to last night's game tape.
-Milan Jurcina played heavy minutes in the first period, then was benched. From where I was sitting, I saw him throw some hard hits and he was pretty defensively sound. Boudreau has made it clear that every player has a chance to play, so does this open the door for Eminger again?
- Brook Laich has really stepped up his game. I have consistently seen him playing his heart out this season, and last night was no exception. He was scrappy and hard working
- Alex Semin took a lazy penalty in the first, but that's nothing new
- Matt Pettinger didnt impress me on the second line
- I've had mixed feelings on the SO, but last night put me firmly in the "pro" category. For the only time during the game, the crowd was really engaged and on its feet.
- Mike Green is getting better and better, defensively and offensively

around the internets

From Tarik:

But losing the game wasn't the Capitals' only concern after two players suffered injuries late. High-scoring winger Alexander Semin, who has missed most of the season with a sprained right ankle, hobbled off the ice in the extra session after aggravating the injury, and thus left Washington without one of its best stick-handlers for the shootout. Semin is listed as day-to-day.

Chris Clark, the Capitals' captain, left in the third period with an undisclosed injury. It's not believed to be serious, a team spokesman said, and it's possible Clark will practice today.

Clark is supposed to practice this morning, and Semin is day to day, per Capital Insider.

From Corey:

Washington went 1-11 in the shootout last season but added Michael Nylander and Kozlov " both had as many shootout goals (six) in 2006-07 as the entire Caps roster combined " this offseason.

Other news:

The Edmonton Sun on the Caps tribute to Sean Taylor and other hockey going arounds.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pictures from Caps vs. Panthers

From the Caps' 2-1 OT loss to the Panthers:

____________ First period concentration

____________ Getting ready for OT

___________ Olie readies himself for Ville Peltonen

Images property of Cap Addiction

When hockey and entertainment meet

Mixed results when this happens.We got Slapshot, Miracle, etc out of it. We also got Milary. And now this riveting piece of journalism, titled "Saw" Dude Sued in Pucked-Up Hockey Deal:

The producer of the "Saw" movies has been sued for allegedly being shady during a deal to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team.

In the lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough County, Fla. and obtained by TMZ, several management and venture capital groups claim Oren Koules ("Saw" dude) broke an agreement by contacting and eventually purchasing the team -- without discussing it with the VCGroup -- which he was partnered with. Slapshot!

The suit seeks over $50 million in damages. Paging Jigsaw!
We referenced the Ning deal they are talking about in yesterday's news roundup, if you want some background.

Around the internets

Tarik takes a look at Matt Pettinger's scoring woes, and confirms he will be back in the lineup tonight after sitting out Monday's loss to the Sabres as a healthy scratch:

During his drought, Pettinger has experienced a range of emotions, from frustration to guilt, which stems from the firing of former coach Glen Hanlon. Hanlon was replaced by Boudreau on Thursday after the Capitals got off to their worst start in 26 years.

"We weren't producing offensively," Pettinger said. "Part of that is me."

Yet as dejected as Pettinger was after his blown scoring chance in Philadelphia, Clark considered it a positive, perhaps a sign of things to come.

Corey focuses on Boudreau's use of the whole Caps roster and the reason behind it:

Part of the reason for Boudreau's plan comes from his experience as a player. He was a prolific scorer in the American Hockey League, but he never played more than 40 games in an NHL season. He was shuttled back and forth between leagues and spent many nights watching from the press box when he was on an NHL roster.

“I know exactly what the players are going through, and it wasn't conducive to winning,” Boudreau said. “You sit in the stands for an awful lot, and whether you like it or not, human nature is, 'Oh, I hope they don't do well.' I want everybody to believe and to pull for everybody.”

In other hockey news:

Kukla's Korner has a link to a great article on the effect of the salary cap.

Gary Bettman is considering more NHL games in Europe, and rolling back the NHL's policy on shutting down NHL play so players can compete in the Olympics.

More speculation about Ovie leaving the Caps. Blah blah.

All-Star votes through Nov. 26

Thought it would be interesting to take a peek at All-Star East voting through Monday. Here are the top 15:

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh, 177,873
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa, 80,211
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay, 73,743
Daniel Briere, Philadelphia, 62,867
Alex Ovechkin, Washington, 55,692
Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta, 52,948
Dany Heatley, Ottawa, 47,957
Saku Koivu, Montreal, 46,554
Maxim Afinogenov Buffalo, 33,080
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh, 32,688
Chris Drury, N.Y. Rangers, 27,481
Jaromir Jagr, N.Y. Rangers, 26,267
Mats Sundin, Toronto, 25,683
Jason Blake, Toronto, 24,333
Alex Kovalev, Montreal, 23,922

I'll skip the Sidney Crosby joke about his mom voting for him (but I am thinking it) and just note the huge difference between him and the next person on the list, Daniel Alfredsson - 97,662. I'm happy to see Ovie rounding out the top five, but I'm even happier to see Chris Drury beating Jaromir Jagr. After this interview, Rangers fans should be happily clicking away for Drury.

You can see the whole list here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sutherby, Cali style

Forgot to throw this up here with all the holiday festivities. Looks like Brian Sutherby is doing well in CA and is happy to be there. Since he wasnt getting any playing time here, we hope he gets the chance he wants to prove that he was well drafted in the first round. We wish him luck with the Ducks.

"It's obviously nice any time you're wanted," Sutherby said. "When I was kind of in and out of the lineup there, I never really asked the question, 'What's going on?' It was more, 'OK, let's move on.'

"It was time for a change. I never really dug into it with the coaching staff or the general manager about why I wasn't in the lineup."

Around the internets

I gave you my take on the game in the post below, here is Tarik's:

The Washington Capitals came out with energy last night against the Buffalo Sabres, and for a while appeared capable of beating one of the league's hottest teams. But turnovers led to two second-period goals for the Jochen Hecht-led Sabres, who skated off with a 3-1 victory.
And Bruce Boudreau is a quote machine. On Semin:
"I've never seen him play," Boudreau said. "I have to believe he's going to be better."
On the game:
"We played as hard as [Buffalo] and as good as them," Boudreau said, "just not as smart as them."
Corey talks to Olie and Clark about the game:

"Until we clear that up, it doesn't matter who is behind the bench, it doesn't matter who we have in the net and it doesn't matter who is on the ice: We're not going to win hockey games," Kolzig said. "Until guys get it through their heads to get the puck deep and not commit these turnovers, we're going to have nights like this."

Added Clark: "Everybody has to buy in. It is a team thing. It is a pretty easy thing to do is to get the puck in deep. It is not hard. You don't have to be skilled. You don't have to smart. You don't have to be overly everything. ... It is just an easy hockey read sometimes."

And in other hockey news:

The sale of the Ning to the group headed by former Columbus GM Doug McLean is off. Or might be on. Or might be off. I am having Predators deja vu.

Corey has launched an NHL Report on Sundays with the WaTimes. Check it out. Its great to have an NHL wrap up from a major paper again.

NOTE: We are sad to report that the Redskin's Sean Taylor passed away this morning, from a gunshot injury he sustained during an armed robbery attempt at his Florida home.

Caps fall to Sabres, 3-1

The Caps defeat at the hands of the Sabres last night was an interesting game. I thought the Caps played three pretty different periods, and as we have seen with them this year, they looked less then vigorous in the third period. I have two thoughts coming out of last nights game: I think how the Caps respond to this defeat is going to go a long way to deciding how they respond to defeat the rest of the year (especially, under Boudreau). Second, the Capitals need to find a way to bounce back into the game after giving up the first goal. Time and again, they seem to regress after allowing a first goal. Last night, they bounced back pretty quickly from their 1-0 deficit with a phenomenal goal from Ovie...and then they turned over the puck twice to the Sabres. Its the same problem Glen Hanlon faced, and I hope Bruce Boudreau has the solution.

Other thoughts from last night's game:

- Steve Eminger is not making a case for himself. He supposedly had an assist on Ovie's goal, but there is no doubt that goal was all Ovie and little Eminger.
- What happened to the Brashear, Backstrom and Bradley line later in the game? They played heavy minutes at first, and then faded. They were causing turnovers and throwing hard hits. Boudreau might have pulled them for lines with more offensive punch, but I thought they were putting some healthy fear into the Sabres
- I will never say a bad word about John Erskine. I am too scared of him
-Jeff Schultz, Matt Pettinger and Milan Jurcina were scratches. Is this Boudreau's sign to Pettinger to start scoring some goals?
- The Caps dont seem to have a problem shooting on goal, just a problem getting the puck in. They ended last night with 28 shots on goal, compared to the Sabres 31. This is pretty consistent with other games this year
- Official attendance was 11,204. About 10,000 of those were Sabres fans. This is better then last year, when about 11,000 of them were Sabres bandwagoners.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Its a Christmas Miracle!

I actually remembered to bring my camera to a Capitals game. In my world, this is no less then a Christmas Miracle.

Here are some pics from the game:

Images property of Cap Addiction.

around the internets

Since I was a lot closer to Hershey, PA then Washington, DC on Saturday night, I caught the Bears game. More on that later. It sounds like a missed a terrific game, and a second win under Bruce Boudreau. If the Caps continue to play this well, I think the "interim" part of head coach will be dropped pretty quickly.

on the Caps 5-2 win over the division leading Canes:

Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Michael Nylander had a goal and two assists as the Capitals controlled play for long stretches against one of the league's best teams. But the story was the power play, which hadn't scored three goals in a game since Feb. 27, a 6-5 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers.
And a bit of good news:
Capitals Notes: Alexander Semin missed his second consecutive game after tweaking his sprained right ankle in practice on Thursday. After suffering the injury during training camp, the high-scoring winger has returned three times only to sit out again. He said he will play Monday.
Tarik also talks to Ben Clymer about Boudreau (and wins the understatement of the year award talking about John Tortorella):
"They are both very good with X's and O's," he said. "Torts is a little bit more angry, and Bruce is a little bit more controlled and reasoning. But Bruce knows his stuff. Anyone who questions that doesn't know their stuff. He gets nothing but high marks from me."
And finally, if you still feel like reading, Tarik has some funnies from "Gabby".

Corey takes on the Caps PP -- with a good explanation of how its working under Boudreau:
"I think [assistant coach] Jay [Leach] saw a lot of stuff and has fed me some information," Caps interim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Maybe it is the different voice that they are doing it without balking. We haven't tweaked a lot, but we are being more aggressive."
David Amber looks at player contracts that are strapping clubs this season. Not surprisingly, the list includes Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe....and Michael Nylander.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Around the internets

were a lot of great things to come out of the Caps -Flyers game yesterday-- Backstrom's fantastic play, another "Thank God we have Clark" moment, a thrilling OT win, and some pie in the face. Check out Tarik for the full low down:

As the Capitals boarded a charter bus afterward and headed back to Washington for Saturday night's game against the Southeast Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes, they still were in last place in the league with a meager 15 points. But there was no way to measure the amount of confidence they gained when Backstrom's shot found the back of the net, giving them just their second win this month.

Corey thinks Backstrom made the difference for the Caps:

Boudreau, who was named interim coach Thursday when Glen Hanlon was fired, put Backstrom on the fourth line between grinders Donald Brashear and Matt Bradley, but he also promoted him to the top power play unit and gave him a couple of penalty-killing shifts.

Brashear scored his first goal of the season and fought Philadelphia's Randy Cote, while both he and Bradley were credited with three of the team's 15 hits. Backstrom responded with three points for his first career multipoint game and Boudreau considered his fourth unit the best line on the ice.

I'm still out of town for the holidays, so I wont make it to the game tonight. But, I am going to the Giant Center in Hershey to see the Bears take on the Phantoms.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Around the internets

Tarik had word on another tough day in Caps-land - Alex Semin is out of tonight's lineup versus the Flyers, after reinjuring his ankle at practice yesterday. Tarik also has a full length piece on Hanlon's ouster as Coach.

"For the most part this year, I thought we were a team that played hard but wasn't getting rewarded," McPhee said. "But the last few games, it looked like we had lost the team, and you can't ignore that."

"He knew as soon as he saw me this morning," McPhee added, referring to Hanlon. "He said, 'I wouldn't have known what to do today.' "

And from Boudreau:
"The guys will get over it," Boudreau said. "They feel sorry, but in the end, they are concerned about their jobs. Because that's next. They've got to play to their capabilities. Hopefully the players get that message."
Corey gets some more out of GMGM:

Added McPhee: "[Hanlon] said, 'I don't have any regrets. I wouldn't have changed anything. I just couldn't get any more out of them.' And he said, 'I wouldn't have known what to do today.' As usual, Glen was pretty candid."

If you are interested, here are some clips of players, Boudreau, and GMGM from Thursday.

How is Boudreau doing so far? The Caps and Flyers are tied in the third period as of writing this post.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hanlon out, Boudreau named interim coach

Well, we all saw it coming and now it is official - Glen Hanlon has been fired as coach of the Washington Capitals. Tarik gets reaction from the players:

Ovechkin: "Of course I am surprised. I really like him, he give me a lot. It's hard for him, hard for the team. It's life. I've never been in this situation in my life, with coach getting fired. If team lose, guy who will be fired is coach. If we win, nobody talking about coach. If we lose, everyone talks about coach."

Of Boudreau, Ovechkin said: "He's more offensive coach. He tell us shoot the puck more, move quickly."

Clark: "I'm disappointed, I take a lot of the responsibility on myself as one of the older guys on the team to come through for a great guy like Glennie. I'm taking this really hard."

As for Boudreau's style: "Everything is to try to force the other team to make a mistake. You don't give them time, the liberty of skating with the puck. You want to make them make a bad pass."

Kolzig: "I left Glen a message and told him I was sorry, sorry that we weren't successful. Everyone's got to look themselves in the mirror and get it done.

"We had a meeting about all the mistakes we made against Florida the other day. It was pretty evident what we were doing wrong, and we went right back out in the second period yesterday and did the exactly the same thing."

I have a lot of respect for Glen Hanlon, and I wish him the best in his coaching career. I think we will definitely see him around the NHL again. I'll have more after the holidays.

around the internets

A brutal game tonight. Really really hard to watch. In my opinion, tonight was a must win night for the Caps. After Tarik and Corey's articles yesterday, it seemed like the Caps had turned a corner and were on the edge of breaking through tonight. And for the first period, it seemed that way. Then, the Capitals slowly started ceding the game to the Thrashers, until it looked like the Atlanta Thrasher vs....some team from the Q.

What made it hardest to watch of all was the fact that the Caps played like the team that they could be, before dissolving before the eyes of the crowd. There were a lot of boos, some fire Hanlon chants, and some legitimately bad calls from the ref. But at the end of the day, only the team and coaches can account for how a team can look so inconsistent period to period.

I've said my piece, and Tarik adds his:

"It's tough," Coach Glen Hanlon said. "Sports is really tough when these situations happen. That's why we've played so well in first periods, because we've had time to regroup for a couple of days, get away. You come in with renewed enthusiasm and you believe this is the night where it's going to happen."

"When something goes wrong," he added, "you revert back and think back on negative things.
Corey captures it pretty astutely:
Another night and another second-period meltdown meant another loss for the floundering Washington Capitals.
He also adds this quote from Bobby Holik:
“They played like they wanted to get their coach fired,” Holik told members of the visiting media. “But that"s another story.”
Dan Sernoffsky from the Lebanon Daily News seems to think that after tonight's loss, Dale Hunter might soon be in Glen Hanlon's slot.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll be too busy tomorrow eating tofu and watching sports, so this is an early HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The good, the bad, and the funny of hockey insults

I take on hockey insults over at HLOG. Check it out.

around the internets

Tarik has an article in today's WaPo that has me all fired up....and the Caps too it seems.

"There was a certain point [this season] where we could say, 'Poor us, we're playing well, and we're doing all these things well, but we're just not scoring," Hanlon said. "But the past couple of games that hasn't been the case. That's not other teams beating us, that's us beating ourselves."


Clark added: "It's not the coaches; it's the players. They go out and get us the information we need. We just have to execute it. It has to come from inside this room. No one else is going to get us out of this."
Being the eternal sports optimist, I believe the Caps are going to fix the problem tonight and come out swinging. I was supposed to depart for Casa Shmee's parents this afternoon for the holidays....but I am not (Shmee's parents dont actually know this yet. We will be avoiding that phone call as long as possible). I am staying in town for the game tonight. As a wise man who played for the Mets once said, " You gotta believe!" or as I would pronounce it, " Ya gawta believe".

I am stepping off my soapbox now, and turning it over to Corey at the Washington Times:

To focus on better ice management and eliminating turnovers, Hanlon split his team in half and simulated a 20-minute game of 3-on-3 at the end of practice yesterday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Giveaways were punished by allowing the other team an unimpeded offensive rush.

There also was a rectangle put down on the ice with black spray paint near the benches to force players to wait for teammates to get off the ice before hopping over the wall. If anyone got caught cheating, there was a 30-second penalty assessed, and the team played 2-on-3.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hockey, gay men, and Canada

Last week, Breakfast with Scot opened in Canada. The movie is about a gay couple -- a hockey news caster and a current player -- raising a nephew. Since I doubt my one sentence synopsis does the movie justice, check out the trailer below. The movie looks pretty funny, and I am hoping that a theater in the area picks it up eventually. I have to add that this movie has done the impossible...I have stopped actively disliking the Maple Leafs. The Leafs allowed their logo and branding to be used in the movie, which is a pretty courageous thing to do in the conservative hockey world. Kudos to them.

Around the internets

Tarik talks up last night's game (if there is anything to talk about):

"It's not a matter of not caring or not trying," Coach Glen Hanlon said after the team dropped to 2-6 at home. "There was likely some nervousness out there. They're looking at it as everything is on the line. It was almost a tale of two different teams, the team that started the game and the team that ended the game."

Hanlon became the target of a group of disgruntled fans, who late in the second period began booing and chanting, "Fire Hanlon." Hanlon has been behind the bench since December 2003 and presided over some lean times for the franchise.

Corey on last night:

"I'm sick of being asked about coaching changes," Kolzig said. "That is the furthest thing that needs to happen here. How many shocks do you need?"


Goalie Olie Kolzig, still sitting in his pads about 15 minutes after the game, made it clear he didn't think the Capitals need a coaching change.

"It's not a lot of fun right now," Kolzig said. "Guys were just being a little too tight. we just need to relax and Glen stressed that after the second period. Guys need to lighten up, loosen up -- it's a hockey game -- and when we did that you saw how we played in the third."

I havent been able to make it to a game in a while, due to work travel. After hearing the same from the Caps locker rooms for the past couple weeks about not scoring goals, I was hopeful that being on home ice would break the dry spell a bit. The Caps did score three goals, but still lost the game. And more then that, they were pretty messy out there. There were some brutal plays, and some flat out lazy plays. Not to mention, checking seemed to have disappeared from the Caps play for a couple periods.

Some thoughts:

- Jeff Schultz and Nicklas Backstrom need to gain some weight and start hitting people. I have consistently seen Schultz getting shoved around a bit this season, and not doing a whole lot back. Its more understandable with Backstrom, but he needs to start throwing his weight around more.

- Alex Semin...I should cut him some slack, since its his first game back. So I wont go on about how he looked lazy out there for the first two periods.

- Caps defense - - there were definitely way too many breakdowns out there. I stopped counting how many times I saw Olie with one side not covered by a defensemen, but with a Panthers player standing there.

- I am not part of the "Fire Hanlon!" group. I think he has done the most that he can with what he has....but if the Caps dont pick up the pace, they might be seeing their "players coach" go out the door

Monday, November 19, 2007

Brian Sutherby trade

Tarik has the full word on it, but Brian Sutherby has been packed off to Anaheim. The Caps get an 09 draft pick for him, and Sutherby gets a second chance.

I caught Sutherby on his cell phone a little while ago. He's at the airport waiting for a flight to Anaheim, where he'll practice with the Ducks in the morning and then travel with the team to Dallas for their game Wednesday night.

Here's what he had to say:

"I've been expecting something to happen for a while now. Every day I came to the rink not knowing if something was going to happen. So I guess it was just a matter of time."

"There's a lot of emotions. Right off the hop, you're excited about getting an opportunity to go play, and for a very good team. Then you sit back and think about all the good times you had here, all the guys and good teammates I've played with."

"It's obviously exciting in that aspect, but it's tough to leave the guys."

Sutherby didn't have any unkind words for anyone here. He just sounded happy to be getting a chance somewhere. He also said Anaheim is one of the few teams in the league where he doesn't know anyone, though he skated with Chris Pronger a few summer summers ago

You, Brash, and beer

From the Capitals:

Want a first-hand account of what's happening with the hometown hockey team? Want the lowdown on all things on and off the ice? Here's your chance! Join forward Donald Brashear at ESPN Zone on Tuesday, November 20 at 6 p.m. for a dinner-time question-and-answer session. After the Q&A, Brashear will sign autographs for all fans on hand for the event. Don't miss your chance to get up close and personal with the Capitals! It's all happening at 6 p.m. on November 20, only at ESPN Zone. For more details, visit ESPNZone.

around the internets

Well, Tarik says it best this morning:

Nearly three weeks after re-injuring his right ankle in St. Louis, Alexander Semin is expected to return to the lineup tonight as the Washington Capitals attempt to reverse a season-threatening slump against the Florida Panthers.

If Semin plays, Coach Glen Hanlon will have his full complement of players for the first time since Oct. 24th against Tampa Bay, and for only the third time all season.

Great news on Semin....but is it coming too late? Tarik also has word on John Erskine replacing Milan Jurcina in the lineup (anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that Jurcina is one of my favorite players, but he has been playing like he forgot to take his adderall).

Corey has Glen Hanlon "giddy" about Semin's return. Can you blame him?

Washington Capitals coach Glen Hanlon's cheerful, bordering on giddy attitude yesterday after practice could have meant only one thing.

"Go ahead and ask me. Ask me that question you've been asking me for about a month," Hanlon said.

The question was "Is Alexander Semin ready to go?" and Hanlon could barely wait to reply, "Yes."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Some more from Steinz

Dan Steinberg talked to Michael Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom about Bruce Sringsteen, the Swedish Embassy, and of course... cheese.

Plus, Backstrom comes over to the Nylanders two or three times a week; he went to Nylander's son's hockey game last weekend. "I'm not the babysitter; I'm his seventh kid," Backstrom said.
And jeez, the kid has good taste:
If you're curious, Backstrom's favorite song is "The River," and his second-favorite is "Streets of Philadelphia."

Friday, November 16, 2007

If you are in need of some cheer...

before the Caps face Vinny and the Ning tonight, check this out from Dan Steinberg. It has nothing to do with hockey, and it is one of the funniest interviews I have ever read. Make sure you read it to the end. Here is Fred Smoot's reaction to Dan asking him to explain Redskin player's nicknames:

I (Dan Steinberg) asked about Jimmy Farris, the new guy. "I don't know him," Smoot admitted. Someone else said his nickname was Paul Wall, and Smoot said he had indeed heard that one already. I asked how to spell Paul Wall.

"You don't know nothing," Smoot said. "You know what you need to do? You need to go on, do your research. I've got 12 movies you need to watch, too, that's the only way I can bring you up to par. It's 2007. Seven. Here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna write you a list of 15 movies. You watch these movies. I'm gonna give you three or four Web sites to go to. And then, by three weeks, you should be brought up to par on today's talk and why people do stuff."

Peter, Jr.

CBS Sports takes a look at Nicklas Backstrom, the "young Forsberg":

But even if the launch of Nicklas -- that's with a "C" -- Backstrom's NHL career has come without the kind of fireworks that some might have anticipated, the soft-spoken Swede who turns 20 next week hasn't exactly disappointed anyone around the Washington Capitals either.

"He's right where we want him to be," said Washington coach Glen Hanlon. "If you expect him to be a 50-goal scorer, well that's not going to happen because he's not a goal scorer. He's a playmaker and a two-way centerman who will always be in the right spot at the right time."

Around the internets

Tarik will be back covering the Caps tonight in Tampa but last night he ceded Caps beat duty to Amy Shipley (you can catch her on Comcast Sportsnet occasionally). What Amy found in Florida last night wasnt pretty:

Washington, loser of six of its last seven games, started a grueling stretch of 10 games in 17 nights with a performance that was not just disappointing, but also confounding. The Capitals failed to convert four power-play chances, including two in the final period. They got one goal from Alex Ovechkin and nothing from everyone else. They faced one of the league's least feared franchises and lost -- as usual.
Corey has his own take:
Two days before this game, Caps defenseman Tom Poti sat in his stall after practice and said it seems there has been one big mistake in nearly every game, and it has ended up in the back of his team's net. He proved to be prophetic.

Kamil Kreps made it 2-0 on a breakaway early in the second period. Kreps intercepted a cross-ice pass from Poti in the neutral zone and put a backhanded flip past Kolzig for his second goal of the season.

"I made a bad play," Poti said. "I tried to get it by the guy through the middle, and he picked it off and went in and scored. I made a mistake."

Ever the eternal sports optimist, I am not seeing gloom and doom yet. Lets see what the Caps look like at the end of this road trip.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Around the internets

Tarik takes a look at the "millions and millions of problems" facing the Caps. Ouch.

Corey (via JP) has some info on Michal Neuvirth being traded from Plymouth, and USA Today does a little Panthers-Caps preview. Olie offers this:

``We've talked about it enough the last couple of weeks,'' he said. ``It all comes down to individuals knowing what they have to do and that's it. If you need somebody else to tell you to get motivated, you're probably in the wrong league.''

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dude, Shut Up!

Congratulations to Steve Eminger! He is Capital Addiction's "Dude, shut up" award winner for the week of November 11th.

How did Steve get to be our lucky winner? Lets review:

Steve decides to unleash his "frustration" by giving a few choice quotes to Tarik El-Bashir, Caps beat writer for the WaPo. These include -

"It's past frustrating," he said following yesterday's practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. "It's just a matter of them putting me in the lineup, and putting me in there for more than one game, or moving me to somewhere I'm going to play. Because clearly I'm not in their plans."
and then
"There should be room for guys on this defense to come in and out of the lineup," he said. "It's not Anaheim where there's Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Francois Beauchemin, who are complete locks to play. It's a situation where it's a young team and there's going to be a lot of mistakes. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I thought I would have been given more of a chance."

So Steve is frustrated and unhappy. Yup, we all get it.

But you know what else I get? That Steve Eminger has had THREE seasons to prove himself. Was he rushed up from the minors? Sure. But so were defensemen Mike Green and Jeff Schultz. And Mike Green and Jeff Schultz are learning from the mistakes that they made in their rookie seasons and have improved considerably. While they are still working on their games, every time I see them skate, I see an evolved player from last year. That makes it really hard for me to have a lot of sympathy for a guy who has had THREE seasons to define himself for the Capitals. Steve Eminger is still really young, and I think he has a future in the NHL ahead of him, but I am unclear on how such a public temper tantrum is helping him.

And to be fair, I asked myself last night what Steve Eminger was trying to achieve. Will giving this interview help him get playing time? I dont think so. Will it put him in the good graces of his coach or GM? Definitely not. Will it be helpful in a lockerroom that is already trying to battle through losses? No, and in fact it is pretty selfishly timed. Will it help him get traded? In his interview, he claims that he is not ready to be traded. So all this article ends up being is an illtimed tantrum. Not to mention that GMGM has a good point in Tarik's article: part of building a good team is having solid depth players. The Caps learned this the hard way last season when they were decimated by injuries, and had no one to turn to.

So Steve Eminger, we have one thing to say to you: Dude, shut up.

NOTE:Hair Gel, you should be very proud of yourself. This week, you had to compete with Sean Avery, Darcy Tucker, and Maxim Kondratiev in order to win.

around the internets

Tarik confirms that the Cap'n is back -- Clark says he will play tomorrow in Florida. Tarik also does a few paragraphs on Tomas Fleischmann, and his resurgence after being benched. Per Tarik, Flash has had three goals and five points since his Oct. 26th benching. Thats nothing but good news for the Caps, who can use the O.

From Flash:

"When I was scratched against Vancouver, I started to think to myself, 'Do I want to be scratched all season, or do I want to play?' " said Fleischmann, whose game has
flourished since being put on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Viktor Kozlov. "I know I can play. So I want to prove it. I'm trying to push myself to the level. It's in the head. It's good I figured it out now rather than later."

Corey profiles Ovie's new role on the power play and the solid results its bringing in for the Caps.
Ovechkin has a different plan. He forgoes the skating backwards, cautious defensive play in favor of taking a direct path toward the offensive player and bowling him over. In every instance so far, Ovechkin's strategy has proven effective.

"It is a pretty risky play," Poti said. "If the guy sidesteps you a little bit, he's pretty much in all alone against the goalie. It's definitely not the safest route, but he's getting the job done. I guess you've got to do whatever works."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Around the internets


Tarik has Steve Eminger going off on his playing time (definitely worth reading). From Eminger:

"There should be room for guys on this defense to come in and out of the lineup," he said. "It's not Anaheim where there's Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer andFrancois Beauchemin, who are complete locks to play. It's a situation where it's a young team and there's going to be a lot of mistakes. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but I thought I would have been given more of a chance."

Um Steve....I dont know if borderline insulting your teamates is the way to go.

Tarik also has news on Clark and Semin -- both are skating again, with Clark fully practicing.

Corey managed to catch John Tavares in action, and found a good hockey player, not a great one.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back in action

I'm back from the road, and playing catch up on the Capitals. The best part of traveling for work? Going to a city with a hockey team and getting to catch a game. A hockey road trip for free....except for some of those really overpriced tickets (ahem, NJ Devils).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Around the internets

Tarik looks into the Cap's 2-1 OT loss to the Thrashers, which tied the Caps for last place in the Eastern Conference. Steve Eminger returned to the lineup, while Milan Jurcina was a healthy scratch. On a positive note -- Brent Johnson continued his strong season in goal, which is good since Kolzig isnt getting any younger and our G prospects are still a few years off. Plus, Tom Poti returned to the lineup and skated about 25 minutes.

Both Tarik and Corey point out this OT play:

The Caps tried to clear the puck out of their own end to no avail in the extra session. After Michael Nylander lost a race to the puck near the Caps' bench, he stayed there for a change. Slava Kozlov collected the puck near the top of the offensive zone and fed White with a beautiful saucer pass, and he put it past Caps goaltender Brent Johnson for his third of the season and 100th of his career.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The spark plug we need?

Stranger things have turned the tide for teams:

Chris Bourque has been recalled from the Bears and is expected to make his NHL debut tonight in Atlanta, where the Caps are facing a critical game against the Thrashers. They've lost three straight, nine of the past 11 and have scored only two goals over the past 193 minutes.

So why recall a 21-year-old player with no NHL experience for such a big game? I guess it's gotten to that point for the Caps.

Bourque, who is generously listed at 5 foot 9, 173 pounds and is the son of NHL Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, has three goals and five points in eight games for the Bears. He was among the last players cut in training camp, so there was always the expectation that he would get a lookat some point this season.

As Tarik mentions, Bourque was a cut that went down to the wire during training camp, so we were expecting to see him in red, white and blue....just not this soon.

PS: The game is blacked out due to a TV scheduling issue, but right now (9:15pm EST) the Caps and the Thrashers are tied in the 3rd period. Nyls and Kovalchuk have the honors for their respective teams. In the 2nd period, the Caps took 4 penalties.


Sidney Crosby, on hitting Rick DiPietro in the eye, which forced him out of the game:

"He (Islanders defenseman Radek Martinek) lifted my stick under his mask," Crosby said. "I had no control over it."

Crosby was given a four-minute penalty for high-sticking.

Around the internets

Tarik takes a look at the beating the Caps took last night (it was a cringe worthy game, and its a cringe worthy article), while Ovie managed to hit another one of his teamates.

Alex Ovechkin hit Pettinger on the side of the helmet with a wrist shot during a second-period power play. Pettinger, who escaped with only bruised cheek, was far more fortunate than Clark was. He was hit on the left ear by an Ovechkin slap shot 11 days ago and hasn't played since.

On a good note, the Caps did get 35 shots on goal, although none managed to find the back of the net. So now I am asking the same question as all Caps fans -- who cursed us, and how do we get rid of it? Snake bit doesnt even apply anymore. This is just plain, old fashioned voodoo.

Corey offers his take on the game, and GMGM isnt happy:

"Obviously we have some scoring out of the lineup and that hurts, but there [are] other clubs who are playing it tight and getting points," McPhee said. "It is self-inflicted. Good teams don't do that. We have to play it tight with some of the scoring out and stay out of the box."

In other news:

Tarik has word on the Caps signing prospect Josh Godfrey, who is expected to join the Bears after his junior seasons ends (Karl Alzner is also expected to do this).

Peter Forsberg says he is close to quitting, after failing to play for the Swedish National Team as part of his injury rehab.

The Bears are facing their own scoring problems.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Funny stuff around the NHL

One would think that Coaches had better things to do:

Is Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella on the NHL hot seat this week? The Ottawa Sun, quoting NHL insiders, reported he might be.

Tampa went into Saturday's game under .500 (5-6-1), the club is 0-6 on the road. The Sun reported Tortorella was so upset at one point, he took the team for a bus ride around Manhattan in their equipment.

And more:
This can't be true: Did New Jersey coach Brent Sutter really send one of his assistants to G Martin Brodeur's room at 11 p.m. to do a bed check on the road?

Around the internets

Unfortunately, I had to miss Friday's game, and I will be traveling on business next weekend, missing the game against the Ning. Too bad, because I would love to see a re-match of Morrisonn and Lecavalier. I might be biased, but if Morrisonn wasnt blindsided, he would have won that bout.

Anyway, Tarik wraps up Friday's loss, and takes a look at the Cap's roadtrip that begins tonight in Carolina.

Corey talks about the surprising amount of Capitals shots that have been blocked this season, and team efforts to get the puck into the goal. Per Corey, Semin and Clark are out, and Poti has made the trip with the team but will decide after practice if he can play.

I would rather see us let Semin, Clark and Poti heal as much as possible, rather then rushing them back out in an effort to stem the tide of losses. Are we in a bit of a jam? Sure. But, who knows what can happen, especially with a team as resilient as this one. I always figure that as a fan, you gotta have hope. Corey supplies some today:

One number I will point out from last night: 221. As Mike Vogel astutely pointed out to me, that is the number of goals the Caps ar projected to allow after yielding 35 in 13 games. Last year 11 teams allowed 221 goals or less, and all of them made the playoffs. The team that yielded the fewest without making the playoffs was Columbus with 244. While there seem to be a couple of defensive breakdowns at key junctures on a lot of nights, the defense is clearly not the problem.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A late Halloween treat

From the latest issue of ESPN Magazine:

Q: What was your favorite Halloween costume?

Ray Emery:
I went as Tina Turner when I was 9 or 10. I wore stretch pants and fake breasts and a big wig. It was pretty embarrassing but funny. No singing, though.

Around the internets

Tarik breaks down the Caps loss against Jagr & Crew, and TSN serves up this tidbit from Hank:

''Another night at the office,'' Lundqvist said. ''It was an intense game. It felt like they were all over us a little bit.''
Ignoring his "another night at the office" quote, Hank is right - the Caps were all over them a bit. But after scoring 7 goals in their last game, they couldnt get anything over the crease this time around. No doubt that Lundqvist had something to do with that, but so did a PP that couldnt produce all night.

Around the internets

Tarik talks to Chris Clark (apparently it was closer to 80 stitches to put his almost severed ear back together) who is not playing tonight in NYC. He joins Tom Poti and Alex Semin on that list.

Corey talks about Brian Sutherby's new role this year, or lack thereof.

"I knew right away early on in camp — I only played in three exhibition
games out of seven, and I played well in those games — it was something that
seemed like it was already decided before the season started and before training
camp even started," Sutherby said. "It seems like there was a plan going into
training camp, and I wasn't a part of it."