Saturday, March 29, 2008

From Daniel Alfredsson's lips... God's ear. Let the prayers begin, with four games left and a margin of error at zero.

Fifth-place Ottawa, which has won once in its last five games, could still earn home ice in the first round -- or miss the playoffs entirely.

"It's a possibility," forward Daniel Alfredsson said. "We know we could lose all three and Washington wins out and we could be out. And then we don't deserve to be in the playoffs, it's as simple as that."

Read the whole thing here, which also recaps the Bruins 4-0 drubbing of the Sens this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Surprise, surprise

As I am anxiously awainting the start of the Caps/Canes game (serious nail biting and antacid popping is taking place) I wanted to share a piece of hockey news that just shocked me. I mean truly really was unblievable........

Quebec Remparts goalie Jonathan Roy was suspended for seven games, and Remparts coach Patrick Roy -- Jonathan's father -- was suspended for five games following Saturday's melee between their team and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff.
Also, isnt it kind of weird that Jonathan Roy refers to his dad as Patrick?
"Patrick looked at me and told me to calm down," Jonathan Roy said. "I said to myself, 'He doesn't want me to go,' but when the line judge released me, I said to myself ... 'I'm going.'"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy 60th (sorta)

Congrats Alex!

Gay hockey fans uncomfortable at the Garden

A really interesting (and worrying) read from the NYT. I think we are pretty lucky at the VC to not have a lot of garbage like what is written below (at least that I hear):

During the final 10 minutes of many Rangers home games, the spotlights focus on Section 407 as Larry Goodman, a longtime season-ticket holder, pumps up the crowd with a goofy dance.

As Goodman’s routine is broadcast on the giant monitors above the ice, a familiar chant picks up momentum. “Ho-mo Lar-ry!” the crowd shouts. “Ho-mo Lar-ry!”

The chant is one example of what several gay hockey fans describe as a toxic atmosphere during Rangers games and that Madison Square Garden, which owns the team, is not doing nearly enough to address their concerns.

And if you think calling someone a homo is a good way to communicate, you are an idiot. Ahem, Rangers fans.

Tip to Nicole for the heads up.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

This and that

Lots of things to talk about today. I'll start in the order of thoughts in my mind, which is both illogical and scary.
Random thought #1. Steve Eminger: Oh man, do I feel bad for him these days. I know, I know, I was hard on him not too long ago. But I never thought that the Caps would totally screw him that way that they have. And make no doubt, they are screwing him. And please remember, I do have a lot of affection for Hair Gel.

So what brought this about? This tidbit from Tarik El-Bashir's online chat at the WaPo:

Washington, D.C.: Have you spoken to Eminger since the trade deadline? On deadline day you reported he was pretty sure he was leaving. And, now, he's still here and will be lucky to have played 1/4 of the games. Has he become more frustrated and bitter or his mood about the same?

Tarik El-Bashir: I speak to Steve a lot. He's actually one of my favorite guys to chat with.He definitely expected to be moved at the deadline, and is definitely not happy with his current situation. How could he be? A guy (Erskine) goes down, and instead of playing him, they call up Sami Lepisto.

Eminger is beyond frustrated at this point. Something tells me that on breakup day (whenever that arrives), he's going to have plenty to say.
No one can blame the guy for being frustrated right now. In November, I thought that Eminger was being ridiculous because he was for sure going to get more of a chance to play. Either through an injury to a teamate or simply giving him another shot, I thought that within another month Eminger would be fairly regularly rotated through games. That hasnt happened at all, and for all the talk that Eminger hasnt lived up to his potential (picked12th overall in 2002), he is definitely a top six D-man. In the few games he has appreared in, he has been solid. Not great, but not terrible. And its pretty tough to be great when you are mostly sitting in the press box and have no chance to get a rythym going.

I also cant help but look at Jeff Schultz's play and at times think that I would prefer Eminger. I think that Schultz is coming along, and has been pretty solid when paired with Tom Poti, but he is not a physical presence. And he isnt a good enough defenseman to be a skill guy like Brian Pothier quite yet. Some of the plays he makes leave me baffled (as do some of the plays he doesnt make). Not to mention, he is 6'6. For the love of God, gain a few pounds and start hitting some people.

I thought the Caps would move Eminger at the trade deadline, but now that they havent and show no interest in playing him at all, I cant help but feel that they should cut him loose. As Tarik points out, even with an injury in the lineup, they chose to call Lepisto up rather then give Eminger a shot. Lepisto has been playing well and ultimately the the team has to do what it must to continue its longshot run for the playoffs. But, give the guy a chance to play somewhere in the league. After all the work he has put into his career, he deserves better.

And my final thought on this -- the Caps have been strangely silent about the Eminger situation. No thorough explanation of why he isnt playing. Maybe that means they think his play speaks for itself (and its not saying a whole lot) but I find it a bit odd. I hope they are being more communicative with Eminger.
Random thought #2:

So thrilling to see Sergei Federov score his first goal as a Cap. I'm not convinced that it was that thrilling for him (having scored plenty of goals in his lifetime, and a lot of them in the Stanley Cup finals) but I still feel excited everytime I see #91 flying around the ice.
Other random thoughts:
-Sami Lepisto is a pretty slick hockey player
-Cristobel Huet is a great goaltender and Bob Gainey must be senile. Except for the fact that the Habs are at the top of the East, so maybe Gainey is a secret genius?
-Brooks Laich is gonna get pretty popular with the dudes too if he continues to play score so many goals
-Everyone is oohing and aaahing over this quote from Laich:
"If you want money, go to the bank. If you want bread, go to the bakery. If you want goals, go to the net."
No shit Sherlock.What I wonder is why it took someone so long to actually do it, after I heard Bruce Boudreau mention it so much in his media comments that I was ready to jump on the ice and stand in front of the opposing goalie.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Simon wonders at lack of Pronger suspension...along with the rest of the world

In general, I find Chris Simon to be an idiot. But he might actually have a point on this one:

Chris Simon thinks there's something wrong with the NHL's system for handing out discipline.

After watching Anaheim's Chris Pronger step on Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and walk away unpunished, the oft-suspended Minnesota Wild forward wondered why.

"It would be nice to have things treated fairly, at least," Simon said after the Wild practiced on Friday. "I don't think in that instance it's fair at all. I couldn't believe right away that nothing was going to be done about it. I still can't believe it."

The play happened Wednesday night when Pronger and Kesler became tangled behind the Vancouver net. As Pronger turned to head back up ice, replays show him stepping on Kesler's leg as the Canucks forward lay on the ice.

That is pretty ridiculous. You cant suspend a player thirty games for an incident like that, then look the other way when the next guy does it. There has long been the feeling that the NHL doesnt have the clearest policy on suspensions, and this incident isnt going to help it at all.

UPDATE: As commenter Dan, Jr. pointed out, the NHL rethought not suspending Pronger and he is now on the hook for 8 games. What I still dont understand is why their wasnt an automatic suspension, and why the length is so much shorter then Simon's 30 game ban. This isnt just a double standard (remember, Pronger now has 8 suspensions in his career, and Simon has the same number), its actually a full blown mental fart.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bonjour, college hockey

Everyone agrees hockey is a sport best enjoyed live and in person. That is especially the case for US college hockey. In fact, this is usually the only way TO see games, because unless your cable package includes ESPN8 ("the Ocho!") or every regional sports station in the country, chances are you won’t see any games on TV. But lack of mainstream coverage is a part of what makes cramming into a hockey arena with a capacity of 2,300, and smells about the same as each of the team’s locker rooms, to watch a game so special.

Recently I returned to my alma mater, Colgate University, to see them take on Dartmouth. Colgate Hockey plays in the ECAC. While this is not one of the major college hockey conferences, compared to HockeyEast or the WCHA, the ECAC has its own charm and scrappiness. Not to mention it has produced some notable NHL talent of late: Erik Cole of Clarkson, Martin St. Louis of UVM (While UVM now plays in the HockeyEast, at the time of St. Louis tenure there they played in the ECAC) and Andy McDonald of Colgate.

There was no such talent on display last Saturday. It was a sloppy game with lots of stupid penalties. Being that the college game is much slower than the NHL, it places an even greater emphasis on special teams play. This was especially obvious in this game, as 4 of Dartmouth’s 5 goals came on the power play(ouch). As you can guess, Colgate lost the game, 5-2. The lone highlight for Colgate being a nice break away goal scored by Francois Brisebois. (Is that not the most awesome French Canadian hockey player name ever????)

But college hockey games are about so much more than just the box score. They are about packing into a small arena with bench seating. They are about yelling, screaming and the chants. (at Colgate, the tradition is after the announcer states “One minute remaining in the period” to yell “And [opposing school] still sucks!!!!!”). And of course, they are about running out during the intermissions to the stash of beer cans you hid in the snow behind the arena, and sneaking booze back in your soda cup.

VT is a college hockey fan, sometimes Capitals fan, and all the time Habs fan. Despite that, look for more posts from him in the future.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Brooks Laich: has officially made it...

He has a fan site.

Via Ted's Take, this is amazing. Just imagine a world where Chuck Norris and Brooks Laich can live together...

Holy Mother!

Photo blatantly stolen from DC Sports Bog

Warning: This has nothing to do with hockey.

Can someone please please report back from this party? I figure that at least Ovie has to be getting an invite, right? I am desperately hoping that Dan Steinberg attends and reports. Since there are never any big sports parties in DC, and this one has so much potential to be a complete shit show, I am gonna need a full report. I can easily see the following things happening as a result of this party:
-Kim Kardashian sex tape, part two
-The Hoyas show up with a keg and peer pressure Richard Jefferson into doing a keg stand
-Someone decides throwing things at passing cars is a good idea and we get some great mugshots out of that. On the other hand, I shouldnt judge the Wizards on the actions of albino Canadian farm boys.

I'll have actual hockey news tomorrow, but this was too good to pass up posting about. By tomorrow I'll also have convinced myself to not post about my wild conspiracy theories around Gary Bettman's agenda against the Caps, to be played out by refs making bad calls. All in my head? Possibly, but this is the internet, so I can post all sorts of crazy thoughts!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Still speechless

Ok, not really speechless. I can bitch, which is what I am about to do. Its also ten times better then the profanity laced tirade I was going to unleash on the internets on both Saturday and Sunday afternoon.

Un-fucking-believable (a little profanity was called for). Saturday's horrific loss, and Sunday's massive fuckup were completely winnable games. Yeah, I feel bad for Nicky and the own goal. That sucks, and was a complete accidental fuck up. But I saw one Capital crashing the net all night, and low and behold....he scored a goal. Congratulations Brooks Laich.

Saturday's loss was hard to swallow, through a maze of bad calls and some serious lack of discipline. But the lack of urgency I saw from some of the Capitals on Sunday was even harder to cope with.

I've been sitting on this post all day, so I am finally going to stop wrestling with my thoughts and hit publish. But I do it very sadly, and with dimmed hope for April/May.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

While watching the Bruins game...

A couple thoughts really stick out. No, not the opening fights, or hard hitting game, or Brooks Laich's continued (surprising) offensive push.

First, the Caps should never show this commerical again. Ever. I am as big an Ovie fan as you can find, but even I think this is a ridiculously bad...and not in a good way:

Two: Was GMGM wearing a mock turtleneck during the Nicklas Backstrom special with Lisa Hillary? I think he was, which completely cancels out any points he got for his superior wrangling skills in getting Cristobal Huet for a second round pick. And not just a mock turtleneck, but a pinstriped suit on top of that. I think someone's closet it still stuck in 1988, when Michael Keaton, mock turtlenecks, and men drinking red wine was hot.

PS: Matt Cooke...I'm not sure I believe that knee on knee hit to Allen was an accident.

PPS: Ouch. Chara just hurt his shoulder and went to the lockeroom. If I'm a Bruins fan, I'm flipping off the game and hurrying to Church for some Hail Marys.

PPPS: No, I didnt mean to live blog the game. Sort of happening by accident, inspired by that bad commercial and the mock turtleneck.

PPPPS: A triple minor on Brash, a penalty for Erskine, and a penalty for Poti. $%&^!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Not a hockey town?

Monday night game
I meant to post this on Monday, but I was beer.

I hear a lot of crap about DC not being a hockey town, about DC not being able to support a hockey team, about DC only being a football town...blah blah blah.

I hope some of those naysayers watched the Bruins/Caps game on Monday night. A Monday weeknight, gorgeous weather, the Caps playing a team that doesnt necessarily have the draw as teams like Toronto, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. The factors werent exactly ideal for a rousing crowd, in most cities. My seatmate and I both thought that there would be usual crowd of about 12K in the Phone Booth.

We were pleasantly surprised shocked.

The place was packed, and not with a bunch of yellow sweaters either. It was packed with Capitals fans. Yes, on a Monday night, with gorgeous weather, playing the Bruins. And not only was it packed, it was electric. I dare those naysayers to speak up now. The crowd was on its feet with every call, oohing and aahing with every swish of blades, hard slap shot, and curving wrister. They were passionate and involved and everything that you could ask a sports fan to be.

Bandwagoners? Maybe. The Caps are certainly providing the most exciting run in DC sports right now. And what individual is more exciting in DC sports then Alex Ovechkin? So I dont want to hear any BS on DC not supporting a hockey team. Those fans on Monday will have somthing to say about that.

Wilson High Update
THANK you to everyone who came out for Friday's fundraiser. Nearly 100 people raised over 2K for the Wilson High team...the ONLY varsity team in the District. Some of the Wilson players came with their parents, and they were terrific. One exclaimed to me that he couldnt believe that all these people cared enough to help support his team. Heck yeah, we really care. So thanks again for your generousity and you can still donate to the team here.