Wednesday, April 23, 2008


I have had a work project for the last few weeks that has kept me in the office about 18 hours a day. Not a lot of time for blogging in there. I managed to catch most of the Caps games on TV, and all of them in person.

I suppose I thought the forced days of hockey exile would inoculate me a bit if the Caps lost tonight. That's not the case, at all. Like every other Caps fan, I am heartbroken. I'm grateful for the most amazing season of hockey that I have ever seen. I'm grateful to have seen Alex Ovechkin undoubtedly take over as the super star of the NHL, have my heart lift at the sight of Sergei Federov flying around the ice one more time, and watch Olie during what will probably be his last season in Washington. And most of all I am grateful for the amazing effort that every member of the Caps put forward.

But my heart is still a little cracked.

Monday, April 14, 2008

From flying high to crashing low, all in one weekend

Hm. I was too hung over to post anything about the Caps edge-of-your-seat win on Friday night. And now I am glad I didnt.

As I have mentioned, there are some aspects of the Capitals' collective game that make them successful. Consistent play and a good forecheck are the two most present factors in the Capitals wins. Unfortunately, neither of these two showed up for very long on Sunday (if at all), and the Capitals lost an important game on home ice. They now go into Tuesday's game in Philadelphia under the gun -- they have to win at least one on Philly's turf in order to return to DC with the series even. A much better prospect then returning with three losses, and their head on the chopping block if they should lose one more game.

Here is what sticks out for me the most:

I've got to give it to the Flyers, they found a way to shut down Ovie, sneak some past Huet and keep the game under their control. The Caps looked as nervous as a virgin on prom night, which certainly helped the Flyers keep their game going.

Give me Steve Eminger over John Erskine. John Erskine has got two inches and six pounds on Steve Eminger. Steve Eminger has got a brain. I'll take Eminger, please.

It was pretty plain to see that the Flyers were picking on Cristobal Huet. In the third period, Huet was finally fed up and tossed around some healthy shoves. Good for him, but the Caps d-men need to do a better job of kicking those Flyers out of the crease. Scott Hartnell was parked there for so long, I memorized every wrinkle in the back of his jersey.

Ovie might have been shut down offensively, but defensively he did a pretty good job. In that category, he is a ton better then he was last season.

Milan Jurcina. Not sure what to do with him. When he uses his huge size, he is scary and effective. But more often then not, I see him playing too tentatively for a guy who is 6'4 and 230 lbs. Consistency and confidence issues are what got him booted out of Boston, lets hope they dont continue to haunt him here.

I would give anything to see Scott Hartnell stop being a little bitch and actually fight Donald Brashear. It would be the ass kicking of a lifetime.

So, anyone braving Philly for a game?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Flyers vs. Capitals, Game 1


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Too much hype

Dear ESPN, TSN, Pierre McGuire, Don Cherry, etc:

Stop talking about my team. Pretty please? Stop talking about our "Cinderella run", how under-rated we are, how hard working, how we are definitely going to trounce the Flyers. Please, please, stop. Have I officially lost it? Maybe. Read on, then judge.

I've had Caps season tickets for two years and watched them on and off for a handful of years prior to that. What I have liked most about being a Capitals fan (and this is essentially selfish) is our little community. Yeah, there isnt a huge hockey community in DC but its a loyal one that has been selling out homes game. But the community here is tight and we all sort of recognize each other, going in and out of the metro to the Verizon Center for six months. We see each other at practice, nod hello on VC escalators, comment each other to death on blogs. And since DC is a classic band wagon town, we'll see a our ranks swell when the Caps are on a run, then even out again to the loyalists. Its as intimate an experience as you will ever get in professional sports.

But all of sudden, the Caps are everyone's team. And after watching a painful rebuilding process for the Caps, I cant help be a little weary of all these new accolades coming our way. As Shan pointed out, where are all the gloating Caps fans? Well, we are hiding behind our computers and vintage Langway jerseys, hoping that all this sudden attention doesnt distract our very young team, the majority of whom have a season or two under their belt and no playoff experience. I cant help but be a little fearful when I hear that the press box can hardly contain all the out of town journalists, after the press box used to ring if not emptily, then at the least was a bit lonely with beat writers from the Washington Post and Washington Times as the only print news regulars.

I also want to add the caveat here that I am not worried about all the chatting blogs are doing about the Capitals (including, of course, my own). I'm superstitious about all the talking heads claiming that the Flyers are going down because the Capitals are hot, hot, hot. And Cinderalla. Or some version of that.

Its entirely possible and likely that I am being paranoid, and as the Caps are consummate professionals, they will go into the playoffs with the same vigor and determination they showed in the last weeks of the off season. But I hope you dont blame me for being just a bit scared, and crossing my fingers every time I see the words "Cinderella" and "Capitals" in a story.

Note: I regularly blog over at Hockey's Ladies of Greatness, and this is a piece originally written for that site. Be sure to head over there and check out a great hockey website, written entirely by fangirls.

Note 2: I may have blogged too soon! Here is another article on the Caps, and its nice to see some love for Tom Poti.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

McGrattan likely out of Ottawa after post season

The Ottawa Sun has an interesting piece on Sens enforcer Brian McGrattan, which features some pretty candid quotes from McGrattan:

"I understand my role here. I don't have a great education. My brother has a university degree, but I hated school. I couldn't wait to get out. I have a choice: Back home working in the steel mill or fight for 20 seconds with 20,000 people cheering. The people love it. I really don't care what some people's negative perception of me might be. They can think what they want."
I have to admit that I have a soft spot for enforcers (not to be confused with goons because there is a difference). McGrattan doesnt feel sorry for himself at all, but you can tell that he yearns to play for more then 3 minutes a night or be a healthy scratch more often then not. I cant blame him. There is no doubt that big, physical players belong in the league, but post lockout there seems to be a sense that there is very little middle ground for these guys -- they are either meant to keep the other team in line, or to be benched.

With all the focus on small, speedy players after the lockout, many of these enforcers have been put in the position of trying to validate their role. Just look at our own Donald Brashear, who astutely assessed where the NHL was headed after the lockout and made sure that he showed he was much more then just ice police. Brasher has played a vital role for the Caps, including energy guy on a line with Matt Bradley to shake up the opposing team's forwards with hard hits and has most importantly played the role of enforcer competently (ahem, John Erskine). I'm not scared that Donald Brasher is going to make a foolish mistake every time he steps off the bench, which I'm note sure that Flyers fans can say about Steve Downie or Rangers fans about Colton Orr. Dont tell me that players like Brash should be on the ice for a maximum of three minutes a game.

Wow, I guess that was more of a rant then a post on Brian McGrattan, but I do hope that he finds a team that can value his play and give him a role similar to Brashear's. Something tells me that Brian McGrattan will surprise a lot of people as a solid fourth line center, once he gets a fair shake.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dan Steinberg, mad Caps blogger

Steinberg once called me a mad Caps blogger (it brought to mind images of 1998, which is the last time I can remember using the term "mad"), so I am going to throw it back at him. Lately this guy is covering the Caps like nobody's business - which is awesome - so I'll just point you in the direction of his blogging and let you have at it. This must be what it feels like to be a Wizards fan and read DC Sports Bog.

To recap:

-Don Brashear has a blog (I'm scared not to read it)
-Mike Green thinks he can grow a beard (I'm not even sure that Mike Green can shave, but ok)
-Someone is roaming around with a mohawk

And some more goodies. Go check'em out.

The Caps are mainstream!

After years of being laregely ignored by the Washington Press, the Caps have made it. How do I know? Sergei Federov made it into The Reliable Source:

· Sergei Fedorov celebrating the Caps' playoff-clinching victory Saturday night with a dinner for about six or seven at Teatro Goldoni. The newly acquired center came in wearing a baseball cap but politely removed it.
Or maybe the Caps made it when the powered their way into the playoffs and the Washington Press is just catching on....

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Lecavalier to have shoulder surgery

Something tells me that Matt Cooke isnt going to be on Big Vinny's Christmas card list this year:

Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent Lecavalier will have surgery to repair damage to his right shoulder.

Lecavalier was hurt in Thursday's game at Washington. His shoulder was dislocated when he fell awkwardly after a hit by Washington's Matt Cooke.

Personally, I saw the hit and thought it was clean. Cookie (a perfect nickname for a top instigator, no?) was fined $2,500 for it, but that seemed more of a "OMG, how could someone hurt NHL superstar Vinny?" type of deal to me. The refs didnt call anything on the play for a reason.

In other news, the Caps will play the Flyers in the first round of the playoffs, most likely to start on Thursday. I'm still flying high from yesterday's win, but when I come down, I'll have lots to stay about the league's dirtiest team. Most of it will start with the letter F.


An unbelievable and unforgettable night at the Verizon Center.

To the Washington Capitals players, coaches and staff -- thank you for an amazing season. Watching the team come full circle has been a wonderful experience as a fan and one I will never forget. No matter what happens this post season, I promise to keep believin'.

Photo courtesy of ESPN

Saturday, April 5, 2008

A perfect opportunity

For many of the Washington Capitals, tomorrow's game will be the biggest of their career. With Carolina losing its last game of the season to the Panthers tonight, they are stalled at 92 points. If the Caps will against the Panthers tomorrow, they will win the SE Division outright and a ticket to the playoffs as the third seed.

Pressure? Maybe just a bit. So what do the Caps have to do to win?

- Dont underestimate the Panthers. Yeah, they are out of the playoff race. But, the Cats are a dangerous team. Until the Capitals eliminated them from playoff contention a week ago, they were still making a run for it. Much like the Capitals, the Panthers have been trying to rebuild and are slowly - at times painfully - getting there. After tonight's win against a Canes team that had once ruled the SE Division and were desperate for a win, the Panthers are going to feel pretty confident. And when you are out of playoff contention, whats more fun then playing spoiler?

- Get physical. When the Caps are throwing their weight around, are aggressive on the forecheck and pass the puck well, they are very very good. Milan Jurcina, Tom Poti, Matt Bradley, Matt Cooke, Donald Brashear and of course Alex Ovechkin are all capable of bone jarring hits. The trouble with the Caps is that they often dont maintain their physical play through the game, which leads to...

- Consistency. What has made me the most hopeful about the Cap's recent run is that they have become more focused and consistent for all 60 minutes. Yeah, there are some blips here and there, but for the most part their minds are wholly in the game. If the Caps can be consistent in playing their game, they'll emerge the SE Division champs.

- Alex Ovechkin. No doubt, AO has carried this team all alone at times. Now that he is getting some more help from the likes of Brooks Laich, Matt Cooke, Sergei Federov, and Victor Kozlov, AO can relax...just a little. For the Caps to win tomorrow and in any playoff round, the AO machine must continue on track, and there certainly isnt an indication its slowing down. Something tells me the pressure of the playoffs would only ignite Ovie some more.

- Secondary scoring. Ok, ok...I just said that Alex Ovechkin's scoring was one of the key points of the Caps recent streak. And this point also very much pertains to any games that the Caps would play in further rounds but the likes of Brooks Laich, Matt Cooke, Sergei Federov, and Victor Kozlov must continue racking up the assists and/or goals. Defensemen will be on Ovie like a puck bunny at a player's party, and he'll need some help.

At the end of the day, the Caps know what they must do to win. Carolina handed them a perfect situation tonight to show the NHL how far the Caps have come in a short period of time, and I dont think anyone on that team is going to give up that opportunity.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I never thought I would say this

Thank you Pittsburgh Penguins. For today, you are off my shit list. If you lose to the Flyers on Sunday, you are back on. Actually, you are back on no matter what but enjoy these few days of less hatred being aimed at you.

And Crosby, this was unnecessary.

Photo blatantly copied from ESPN

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Thats the word Alex Ovechkin used here to describe tonight's 4-1 win over the Canes and I couldnt agree with him more.

If someone claims that the Phone Booth wasnt as loud tonight as one of those "hockey towns" like Calgary or Montreal, that person is a tool.

From the blanket of red that covered Verizon Center to the chants of MVP to the great saves by Cristobal Huet to the bone crunching and at times emotional play to the last joyful celebration by the Caps on the ice, it was all unbelievable.

I can hands down say that tonight was one of the best live games I have ever attended, for any sport.

The Caps came out with a hard, desperate edge, fully aware that their playoff hopes were hinged on tonight. That tonight would determine if every painful injury and long road trip was worth it. That tonight would help prove that they had graduated from what many last season considered an AHL team playing in the NHL, to a full fledged playoff contender demanding of respect. And they did it.

Matt Cooke's first goal took the edge off, but as the Caps seemed to be resting on their laurels a bit too much in the beginning of the second period - which resulted in a Canes goal to cut the margin to 2-1 for the Caps - they came alive. Its as if the Caps came full circle in tonight's contest, with many of those tough calls that happened in Boston and Pittsburgh losses finally falling to our favor. They let the Canes re-dominate the play a bit again in the third but most importantly, they once again pulled themselves back from that edge and finished the job. Exactly what they will have to do if their season should continue past Saturday.

No doubt that there is a tough road ahead. The Canes play the Ning in Carolina tomorrow, then the Panthers in Carolina as well. Should the Canes win both those contests, and the Caps win their next two contests as well, the Canes will still win the SE Division due to having one more overall win on the season then the Caps. The Caps are currently at 41 wins, the Canes at 42.

Philly and Boston remain tied in the 8th and 7th slots with 91 points. They also each have a game in hand on the Capitals. Should they each win their next three games, even with the Capitals winning their next two as well, Philly and Boston would still beat us with 97 points to the Caps 94 points. The Rangers stand at number 5 in the East with 93 points and three games while the Senators stand at number 6 with 92 points and two games remaining (one against the Bruins in Ottawa).

But for now, we are still alive and tonight was still unbelievable. For tonight, that's all that matters.

Please. please.please.please.please.please

Thats how my sentences are starting lately and will likely continue through 9:30pm.

We MUST win this game. I dont have to add anything else, its all been said (and hopefully will be said again in the Caps lockeroom before the game).

I am going to spend the rest of the day at work, containing myself until tonight.