Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bourque Reassigned to Hershey

Capitals forward Chris Bourque has been reassigned to Hershey and is in the lineup against Norfolk. Bourque has seven shots on goal and is -1 in four games played this year (Capitals are 2-1-1 in those games).

Hershey vs Norfolk

Post-Game: Capitals @ Blue Jackets

The injured Capitals team could not keep up with Columbus' young fire power and the Blue Jackets shut Washington out for just the second time this season by the score of 3-0.

  • Karl Alzner left in the second period with a wrist injury. Alz should be fine, but this left the Capitals with only five 'D' men.
  • Rookie goalie Steve Mason picked up his second career shutout, and is now 5-2-1 (2.09/.919) on the season.
  • Nicklas Backstrom had four shots (tied for season most) and had a TOI of 21:42, the most he has had this season for games that did not go into overtime. Alex Ovechkin saw his 10 game point streak come to an end, but is still fourth in the league in scoring. Ovechkin skated 9:19 in the first period and finished the with a game-high 25:18 TOI (avg 23:13).
  • Brent Johnson played well in the loss, but has lost three straight, with his last win coming November 12th against Carolina.
  • Columbus native and Ohio State graduate, David Steckel started the game and skated 12:37. Stecks has played two games against the CBJ but has yet to record a shot or a point.

NHL Image of the Night- November 29th

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin celebrate Crosby's third goal of the night against the New Jersey Devils. It was Crosby's second career hat trick, and the Pittsburgh Penguins went on to win the game 4-1.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Blue Jackets

Sorry for the late post, I have been busy most of the day, but let's get to it.

  • Columbus (9-10-3) has lost their last three home games and are just 5-5-1 at Nationwide Arena.
  • They are dead last in the power play (10.2%) and are near the bottom of the league in penalty kill (79.2%). The Blue Jackets are 0-5 when trailing after one period, and 1-9-2 when trailing after two periods. Columbus is last in second-period scoring, but second in the league in goals in the third period.
  • The Blue Jackets are led by Derick Brassard (8-11-19) and Rick Nash (10-9-19). The rookie Brassard was selected 6th overall in the 2006 Draft, two picks behind Nicklas Backstrom. Nash was chosen with the 1st overall pick in the 2002 draft.
  • Alex Ovechkin scored his first career goal...and his second career goal against the CBJ in his first career game. OV has four goals in two games against Columbus.
  • The Capitals will still be without Mike Green, Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov, and John Erskine. and Tom Poti.

Post-Game: Capitals vs Canadiens

Jose Theodore got revenge on his former team and picked up his first shutout of the year, blanking the Canadiens 3-0. Theo made 28 saves and the Capitals killed off all three of Montreal's power plays. Washington (13-7-3) is now 9-0-1 at home and Jose is 5-0 at home with a 1.77 GAA.

Tomas Fleischmann continued his torrid goal-scoring pace by picking up the game-winning goal in the first period. Flash prevented a Habs breakout and found the puck on his stick in front of Jaroslav Halak. Tomas passed to a wide-open Michael Nylander who waited then gave it right back to Fleischmann who put it into the net. Nylander skated 14:12 and registered two shots on goal, but he was booed on more than one occasion for taking his time skating the puck up and holding on to the puck for too long.

The score does not reflect how close this game really was. It was a one-goal game for more than 40 minutes until Alex Ovechkin scored at a nearly impossible angle. He kept his scoring streak alive and now has points in 10 straight (22 points, 11-11-22). Ovechkin is now tied for second in the NHL in scoring.

Five minutes later, David Steckel added another insurance goal. Sami Lepisto took a slap shot and Steckel had a very nice deflection that put it top shelf. Halak had no chance. Washington is now 9-1 when Steckel scores a goal.

Other Notes:

  • Last night Verizon Center was taken over by Canadiens' fans. Not to the point where their chants were louder than ours, but if 'horn guy' or 'Goat' weren't cheering on the crowd, the were Habs fans were audible... shouting and yelling (in French) all game.
  • Fleischmann's ninth goal ranks higher than players like Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuck, or Olli Jokinen.
  • Bryan Helmer's TOI was 16:42 and he was paired with Tyler Sloan. I thought Helmer played well. He was not really noticeable on the ice...which is a good thing for 'D' men. He played solid 'D' and finished +1. Karl Alzner skated 23:22 played okay, but I think he did better in his first game. Alzner was also +1 and got a shot on goal. An "Alz we need is Karl" sign was spotted. Sami Lepisto (15:33) recorded his second assist in as many games on the Steckel goal. Although he got on the score card again, I'm iffy on praising him at the NHL level. He played better this game, but he can do better.
  • Chris Bourque was on the ice for a little over 12 minutes and was solid. He definitely did better this game and picked up two shots on net. C-Bo hustled more and had more confidence working on the 4th line.
  • Bruce Boudreau became the fastest Capitals coach to win 50 games. Gabby is now 50-24-10 in 84 games coached...Caps trainer, Mike Smith "Smitty" was on the bench for his 1000th game.
  • The highlight of my night was probably meeting Lisa Hillary on the concourse. I immediately recognized her, but blanked on her name...So, what I managed to say was "Hey you're the girl from TV!" She started laughing and we were talking for what felt like 10 minutes (probably about 30 seconds). She's very nice, and down to Earth....And very pretty.
  • There was also an Alexander Semin sighting at Harris Teeter (Ballston) last night after the game. One of my friends called me and said that Semin was 10 feet away and asked me what he should say. I thought quickly and told him to say, "Good game, Sascha." It was about 10 seconds after I hung up that I remembered Semin hasn't played for two weeks. When my friend called me back, I reminded him that he did not play last night, and that answered his question of why Semin gave him a look. My buddy thought Semin did not understand/speak English...but he should have known.

NHL Image of the Night- November 28th

Jason Pominville
of the Buffalo Sabres turns the puck over to Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pominville assisted on Paul Gaustad's game-winning-goal in the third period and Buffalo won 4-3. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Keep the Receipt to Your Karl Alzner #47 Jersey

According to Welcome To the Show, Karl Alzner has chosen #27 as his new jersey number. He wore the number during his tenure with the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL and idolizes #27 of the Anaheim Ducks, Scott Niedermayer.

Capitals Recall Helmer, Assign Mink to Hershey

In lieu of Tom Poti's groin injury, the Capitals have recalled 'D' man Bryan Helmer from Hershey. It will be the first action Helmer has seen in the NHL since the lockout.

Graham Mink has been reassigned to Hershey after just one game. Boyd Gordon will take his spot on the fourth line. Gordon is still recovering from back spasms but will give it a go tonight.

The Capitals will still be without Alex Semin (back), Mike Green (shoulder), and Sergei Fedorov (ankle).

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Canadiens

It's amazing what home ice advantage can do for a team. Washington (12-7-3) came off three straight road losses, and were up to their neck in injuries before returning home to face division rival, Atlanta. The Capitals beat the Thrashers 5-3 in a game that was really never that close.

A win over Atlanta is two points, but it's nothing to get excited about. Tonight the Capitals will welcome the Montreal Canadiens (12-5-4) who have been excellent on the road, posting a 7-3-2 away record. However, the Caps have been even better at home, with an undefeated in regulation mark of 8-0-1.

The last time these two teams met, Alex Ovechkin had one of the best games of his career. I'll let this video by Going Five Hole do the talking.

I was lucky enough to be in attendance for that game, and will be cheering the Capitals on tonight also. Montreal was my first choice for my one away game this year, but tickets are basically twice as expensive as Caps tickets are, and are about as easy to get as tickets to a Yankees/Red Sox game.

Here's what Montreal has got going for them:
  • Carey Price is 10-4-3 (2.34/.923) but his only game against Washington was the 5-4 overtime loss last season. Backup Jaroslav Halak is 2-0 against the Capitals with 2.00/.913 supporting numbers.
  • Alexei Kovalev leads the Habs with eight goals (8-9-17) and has had great success against Washington in his career. Washington is tied (with Carolina) for the most power play goals conceded to Kovalev in his career with nine.
  • Habs' center, Tomas Plekanec registered eight points (2-6-8) in four games last year against Washington. This year Plekanec has 12 points (5-7-12) in 21 games and is coming off a career year where he picked up 69 points (29-40-69) and missed just one game.
  • Ex-Cap Robert Lang will return to play his former team where he has 20 points (8-12-20) in 22 games against the Capitals. Lang was traded in 2004 for Tomas Fleischmann, a 2004 1st round pick (Mike Green), and a 4th rounder in 2006 (Luke Lyne).
  • The Canadiens have struggled with the extra man and are 18.6% on the road and just 11.4% at home. The power play is the only real "problem" with the Habs. They are 8-1-2 when scoring first and are even 7-4-1 when out-shot.
As trade rumors are still swirling around Michael Nylander, the injuries just keep piling up. Tom Poti left Wednesday's game with a groin pull, and will miss tonight's game.

Fight of the Week

Thursday, November 27, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- November 27th

Maple Leafs' forward Dominic Moore throws off his gloves as he starts a fight with Jason Smith of the Ottawa Senators. The Senators beat their rival in the shootout, 2-1 (2-0). Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Japers' Rink Doesn't Like the Wave??

So last night's game was the a "Student Rush Night" where people with a valid student ID can receive a lower level ticket and a free burrito from from Chipotle for $35. My buddies and I took advantage of this and purchased tickets at the box office mid-day.

When we got to 113, it felt like the student section at a college basketball or football game. There were kids that I knew from high school that were full of energy, a wanna-be 'horn guy', and even first-time hockey watchers that were intrigued by the sport. Of course there were those stupid, oblivious, drunk private school kids that were yelling and cursing for the first two periods...These kids were such idiots, not only underage, but they were passing around their liquor-filled water bottle while watching. Nobody noticed when the first kid threw up, but by the time the fourth kid puked, it took about five minutes for VC employees to escort the inebriated kids to the judicial office...But anyways back to the positives of the student section.

The kids sitting in front of the drunk kids (5-8 rows in front) were cool and I knew a few of them from sports in high school. They were cheering really loudly and then they would instruct the spectators on the start of section 113 to start the wave. It took our section about five minutes, but then we got it going! It went around a few times and it seemed like everyone was doing it! (well except JP). Seconds after the wave made a trip around the arena, Alex Ovechkin fed Viktor Kozlov who scored on the breakaway to extend the lead to 5-2.

Me, being one of the original starters of "the wave" at last night's game, can only assume that Kozlov's goal came directly because he was motivated after noticing "the wave" and the crowd cheering.

What's wrong with the wave? Can't see for the two seconds that the person in front of you stands? Try standing up yourself! "The Wave" re-emerged late last season during the playoff run, but this is the first time I've seen it this year. I think hockey fans need to be more like European soccer fans (except for the lighting stuff on fire in the stands part), singing chants while the team is playing, doing "the wave," and other little things that can give the Capitals an advantage.

Any thoughts on this? Post in the comments if you buy or sell "the wave."

Post-Game: Capitals vs Thrashers

Injuries? What injuries? The Capitals got off to a quick start and never looked back, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 5-3. Alex Ovechkin notched his sixth career hat trick and got help from Eric Fehr and Viktor Kozlov who also scored in front of a sell out crowd at the Verizon Center.

  • Ovechkin capped his sixth career hat trick (three goals on first three shots) in the first minute of the 2nd period. There was about a five minute delay while the Ice Kids picked up the hats that were thrown on the ice. Although I was in throwing range of the rink, I decided to keep my hat (Is there a Man Law against this?). This is the second fastest OV has recorded a hat trick. Last season in Boston, Ovechkin scored three goals...all in the first period.
  • Tomas Fleischmann had an excellent night by picking up two assists, a shot on net, and extended time on the power play (one assist on the power play). Flash's great start has overshadowed another young talent in Eric Fehr. Fehr scored his second goal of the year and picked up four shots on net. His six points (2-4-6) in 11 games this year matches his total last year (1-5-6) that he attained in 23 games. Both players are having success lately but Fehr will most likely return to his "healthy scratch" position when the injured are healed.
  • Viktor Kozlov tallied three points (one goal, two assists) for the first time this year. Koz had three three-point games last season and now eight points in his past seven games. In that same stretch, Fleischmann has seven points (points in three straight).
  • Despite putting up a strong offense, Washington did the little things to win. The Capitals won 28 face-offs losing just 19 and were led by Nicklas Backstrom (8/12), Brooks Laich (8/15), and David Steckel (6/10).
Prospect Analysis

Karl Alzner- Karl's TOI of 21:06 was tops among the call-ups and Capitals 'D' men for that matter. Alzner was his usually self, fundamentally sound, on the back line and looked like he belonged. He was only on the ice for a power play goal by Bryan Little (three goals, two assists in two games versus Washington this year). Hopefully something will happen that will allow Alzner to stick around where he the NHL.

Chris Bourque- Bourque skated 11:42 on the third line with Laich and Matt Bradley, and frankly Chris has had better games. Chris did not have a bad game, but I've seen him play in Hershey and in the pre-season and had high expectations. He excelled at leading the breakout for Washington on multiple shifts and had three shots, but at times he had trouble corralling the puck in the defensive zone and he seemed like he was pushed around more than usual. Chris looked as though he could have done something to prevent Atlanta's last goal by Nathan Oystrick (first of his career), but Bourque was caught flat-footed and did not pick up a man.

Sami Lepisto- Sami was on the ice for 17:18 and paired with Shaone Morrisonn for most of the game. Lepisto picked up his second career assist on (the power play) Ovechkin's first goal. Even though he got on the board, I thought Lepisto could have played better defense. Maybe I'm just being harsh, but there were a few rookie mistakes in the Caps' zone and a few questionable passes. Don't get me wrong, I would take Lepisto over Shultz (or Erskine) any day, but I think nerves were a factor in Lepisto's play.

Graham Mink- Graham was on the fourth line with Steckel and Donald Brashear. Mink took four shots (three in the first few minutes), but was unable to register his first career point yet. Graham played his game, but was not very noticeable on the ice. Be sure to look for updates to his blog on what he thought of the game.

Fast forward to :45 for Fehr's beautiful goal thanks to Fleischmann via Michael Nylander.

NHL Image of the Night- November 26th

Colton Orr of the New York Rangers takes a blow from David Koci of the Tampa Bay Lightning. New York won 3-2 (2-0) in the shootout. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Thrashers

Tonight we will get a glimpse of the future Washington Capitals with the likes of Karl Alzner (2007 5th overall), Chris Bourque (2004 2nd round), and Sami Lepisto (2004, 2nd round). Graham Mink will also dress for the injured Washington Capitals.

They will face an Atlanta team that is 8-10-2 and has lost three of the last four games. The Thrashes are led by Slava Kozlov (11-8-19), Bryan Little (9-9-18), Ilya Kovalchuck (7-11-18), and Todd White (6-11-17).

Atlanta has struggled with goaltending since Kari Lehtonen went down with a back injury on the 1st of the month. Prospect Ondrej Pavelec (2-2/2.32/.913) sat on the bench watching Johan Hedberg (4-3/3.88/.884) tend the net in Atlanta's 6-3 victory over Toronto.

As for the Capitals, the new lines will look like this. I for one am excited to see what Alzner and Lepisto can do as replacements for Jeff Shultz and John Erskine. I was able to see both new-comers play in Hershey this season and they were fantastic, especially on the power play. I am not the biggest fan of Erskine...or Shultz for that matter, so any help on 'D' is good.

I will be in attendence for tonight's game, my second one of the season. I'm going to be catching up with all the guys from high school that I haven't seen in a few months so I'll end the post here. We bought the student rush tickets, a great deal includes a burrito (Moe's is better) and a 100 level seat for $35.

Capitals Recall Alzner, Bourque, Lepisto, and Mink

With injuries depleting their lineup, Washington was forced to call up 'D' men Karl Alzner and Sami Lepisto, along with forwards Chris Bourque and Graham Mink.

All will be in the lineup tonight, and all have seen NHL action except Alzner. Bourque and Mink have five career NHL games while Sami Lepisto has played seven games.

Jeff Shultz, Mike Green, Sergei Fedorov, Alex Semin, and Chris Clark will all sit out tonight's game against Atlanta.

Max Talbot Needs Acting Lessons

Just see for yourself...

Hell of a "Superstar Treatment" for Talbot who has 34 goals in 205 career games.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- November 25th

J.P. Dumont of the Nashville Predators jumps out of the way of a teammate's shot while Roman Polak of the St. Louis Blues defends. St. Louis won 2-1 in the shootout.

Post-Game: Capitals @ Wild

The Capitals give up four goals for the fifth straight game and take a loss in the final game of their road trip, 4-3. Washington attempted to make it interesting by scoring three goals in the final six minutes, but it was too little, too late.

Cal Clutterbuck (of all people) scored his first and second goals of his career in the first two periods and gave the Wild a 2-0 lead heading into the third. Goalie, Niklas Backstrom is something like 42-0-3 when leading after two periods.

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom kept their point streaks alive (eight and nine games, respectivley), but their goals late in the third served to pad their stats...Minnesota outplayed Washington, and without Jose Theodore's superb game in net, this game could have gotten out-of-hand early.

The real story of this game was the Capitals' injuries. With Alex Semin, Mike Green, and Sergei Fedorov already sitting out, they could not afford any more bumps and bruises. Unfortunately, the opposite happened... Jeff Schultz and Boyd Gordon skated just three minutes each and did not return after the first period. In addition, John Erskine left later in the game with a back injury. This forced Brooks Laich to play on the blue line and forced Tom Poti to play almost 30 minutes. Shultz is listed as week-to-week while the others are still day-to-day.

Here's what I also saw during the game:

  • Ovechkin took a slap shot to the ankle in the first minute of the second period and limped over to the bench. He was able to return, but that is our franchise player throwing his body around on the penalty kill. I love the fact he can get scoring opportunities while the Caps are a man down, but if the Capitals aren't careful about using OV, one of these shots will send him straight to the IR.
  • It looked as though Tom Poti caught former-Cap, Andrew Brunette across the face with his stick, but the refs missed this one... What they didn't miss was three "closing hand on puck" penalties. One was whistled on the Wild (Marek Zidlicky), and two on the Caps (Poti and Ovechkin). Zidlicky scored on the 5-3 while the before-mentioned Capitals were in the box.
The Capitals will return to Verizon Center to host the Atlanta Thrashers the day before the holiday, and the Montreal Canadians the day after the holiday. Expect a call-up by then (Lepisto? Alzner? I don't care, but we need both). Theodore had a good game, but has conceded 14 goals in his last three games (4.67 goals against per game). What Bruce might do is start Brent Johnson on Wedesday (the "easier" game) against Atlanta, and play Theo against his former team on Friday.

NHL Image of the Night- November 24th

Pavol Demitra and Sami Salo celebrate Salo's game-winning goal in overtime. Vancouver beat Detroit 3-2. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Wild

Washington will finish up their four-game road trip tonight at the Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild (11-6-1).

  • The last time these two met was the first game since the trade deadline. Brooks Laich, Eric Fehr, and Tomas Fleischmann combined for three goals and four assists in the Capitals 4-1 victory.
  • Tonight's game will be shown on VERSUS (everyone's favorite hockey network) where the Capitals are 2-0 this year. This year the Caps will have seven more games on national television. Minnesota played on VERSUS a few nights ago against Pittsburgh and looked like a very strong hockey team. They beat the Pens 2-1 in the shootout...And for the Wild that is a textbook win. They are defensively-oriented and are first in the NHL in goals against per game.
  • Minnesota has dropped their last two games and has averaged under two goals-per-game in the past eight games. The Wild rank close to last in goals for, but Niklas Backstrom (Finland) has been a stonewall in net. Backstrom (11-5-1/2.00/.933) is currently fifth in the All-Star balloting.
  • The Wild's penalty kill is ranked first (91%) and they have only conceded three power play goals at home. Minnesota is also 4-0 when leading after the 1st period... but they struggle at playing catch-up and are 0-4 when trailing after the 2nd period.
  • Washington will once again be without the services of Alex Semin, Mike Green, and Sergei Fedorov. This year the Capitals are 0-2 with Green out of the lineup and 1-2-1 with Semin sitting out.
  • The last time Minnesota beat Washington was February of 2002, but the last time the Capitals won at Minnesota was in 1993, so something's got to give...

NHL Image of the Night- November 23rd

Dainius Zubrus of the New Jersey Devils skates in to score on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Zubrus finished with four goals, a career high. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals @ Sharks

San Jose showed why they're undefeated at home and the best team in the NHL by dismantling the Capitals 7-2. Washington will now head to Minnesota and play the Wild Monday, on national television.

  • San Jose scored on the first shot of the game. This has been a re-occurring theme for the Caps... Although it's not as bad when the first shot for the Sharks came in the ninth minute, it is still a bad omen. Patrick Marleau found himself wide-open in the lower slot and zipped it past Brent Johnson.
  • Rob Blake led the Sharks with four assists. The 38 year old has not had a four assist game in over 10 years. Blake had a point in every period and added six shots, finishing +3 on the night.
  • San Jose scored twice in the final minute of a period. Once with 33 seconds left in the second (Marc-Edouard Vlasic) and once with 53 seconds left in the game (former Cap, Mike Grier).
  • Washington's 21 shots is tied for the least amount taken this season. The Caps attempted 21 against Los Angeles, scoring just twice.
  • Shaone Morrisonn found the puck on his stick on the Capitals own goal line in the 1st period, but was unable to corral the puck and it wound up in the net. The puck was bouncing like crazy and Ryan Clowe was credited with the goal. It was a rough night for Jeff Shultz as well. He was on the ice for five San Jose goals and finished -4. Shultz is now a combined -5 in his past four games.
  • Sergei Fedorov did not return for the second period, and skated under five minutes. Mike Green and Alex Semin sat out last night... and are missed dearly.
  • There were some positives from the game late last night... Tom Poti has been creeping into the offensive zone recently, and it paid off last night as he scored his third goal of the season.
  • Donald Brashear destroyed Jody Shelly in a fight early in the first period. Shelly checked Brash and they made eye contact and the two dropped the gloves. Jody had to return to the locker room after the fight to repair facial wounds.
  • Brooks Laich and Fedorov were a combined, 11/15 in the face-off circle. Face-off wins ended tied, 29-29.
  • Tomas Fleischmann continued his hot-streak, scoring his eighth goal of the year. Last season, his eighth goal came in February. Flash is now tied with Alex Ovechkin for second on the team in goals. Not bad for a player who was traded with a 2004 1st round pick (Mike Green) and a 2006 4th round pick from Detroit for Robert Lang back in 2004. The offensive surge has come at a cost... Fleischmann is a team worse -9.
  • I saw last night's game on TV (HD) for the first time this season (usually use the internet), and I must say that I am not a fan of Al Koken announcing. Joe B was M.I.A. (was he doing another game? sick day?) and Craig Laughlin was umm, Craig Laughlin.

NHL Image of the Night- November 22nd

Los Angeles Kings' forward, Alexander Frolov celebrates his goal in the second period to cut the Avalanche lead to 2-1. The Kings came back, but fell 4-3, losing in the shootout. LA showed off their new jersey last night and Getty Images was able to capture the photo.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Sharks

San Jose (16-3-1) will put their undefeated (in regulation) home record on the line against a Washington Capitals team (11-5-3) that has split the first two games of its four-game road trip.

  • San Jose has outscored opponents 42-22 at home thus far. Their only loss came in overtime against Nashville on November 11th. Last year San Jose won 23 games at home and their first loss in regulation came in their first home game of the season.
  • The Sharks are 6-0-1 when leading after the 1st period and are tied for third in the league with 22 goals in first periods this year.
  • San Jose has six players with six or more goals and is led by captain Patrick Marleau (9-13-22) and by the eighth pick in the 2005 draft, Devin Setoguchi (11-11-22).
  • The Sharks lead the NHL in shots, averaging almost 40 per game. They are also second in the league in shots allowed (26 shots allowed per game).
  • Brian Boucher (6-1-1/1.87/.930) will make the start in place of Evgeni Nabokov who suffered a lower-body injury on November 7th. Boucher has not faced the Capitals since 2006, but has two shutouts in his past five games against Washington.
  • Meanwhile, Washington has struggled on the road and in general against the Sharks.
  • As rumors still swirl around Nylander to the Blackhawks, Washington will (most likley) be without Alex Semin and Mike Green.
  • San Jose, along with Los Angeles and Minnesota, are the only teams that Alex Ovechkin has not scored against. Ovechkin has 4 shots and is +1 against the Sharks in two career games.
  • If Brent Johnson (7-1-1/1.54/.928 against SJ) were to get the start, the goalie match up would be a re-match of the Capitals and Coyotes game on January 16, 2006.
  • The Sharks unveil "BlackArmor" tonight. San Jose will play 14 games (12 home games and two away games) this season with their new third jersey.
Washington Capitals Preview

San Jose Sharks Preview

STATS Preview

NHL Image of the Night- November 21st

The Panthers' Nick Boyton throws a punch at the Bruins' Milan Lucic. Boston won the game 4-2 and is now 11-1-1 in their past 13 games. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Capitals Face an Uphill Battle at San Jose

As if a 10-0-1 home record isn't good enough for the Sharks, they have dominated Washington at the HP Pavilion (aka "The Tank") in recent years.

Since 1994, the Washington Capitals are 0-7-1 (tie) playing at San Jose.

Post-Game: Capitals @ Kings

Man this west coast trip is killing me, staying up this late night after night...just to watch the Capitals lose 5-2 (it was really 3-2) at the Staples Center.

I missed the first period (Thanksgiving dinner, college style), but I saw the last two periods.

  • The Caps played decent, killing off a 5-3 and scoring on the power play for the fifth straight game.
  • Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin kept their point scoring streaks alive at seven and six games, respectively.
  • I am going to miss Michael Nylander...I just feel as though I will wake up tomorrow and see him in a Blackhawks jersey. Either way, if he does not stick around, more cap room for the future of the Caps (Alzner, Bourque, etc..)
  • Whoa, Washington doubled their shots in each period...three in the first, six in the second...and yeup, you guessed it: 12 in the third! Grand total of 21 shots on net, their lowest total of the season.
  • Looked as though Tom Poti attempted to dump the puck through a Kings' 'D' man, who settled the puck and set-up Dustin Brown for a goal as Poti was trailing the play.

I get to go back home tomorrow for Thanksgiving break! I'm pretty excited, I havn't been to a Capitals game since opening night, but I'll try to get out and watch either the Atlanta Thrashers or Montreal Canadians next week. I also plan on purchasing Capitals Road Crew tickets for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes later this year.

Here at "Simply Sensational!", we would like to be known for esoteric, yet relevant stats, so check back on Friday and Saturday for interesting statistics about San Jose, Minnesota, and whatever else is related to Washington Capitals news and notes.

NHL Image of the Night- November 20th

Minnesota's Brent Burns falls on top of Ryan Kessler of the Vancouver Canucks during the Canucks 3-2 victory. Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Anze Kopitar: The Pride of Slovenia

Tonight the Washington Capitals will face the Los Angeles Kings for just the second time since 2005.

In that year's draft class, The Kings selected Anze Kopitar with the 11th overall pick. In his career, Kopitar has 151 points in 171 games, which ranks third behind Paul Stastny (164 points) and Sidney Crosby (316 points) for players in that draft year.

Kopitar recently signed a 7-year contract extension worth over 47 million dollars, and will be in a Kings jersey until 2016.

Kopitar is a fan favorite and the FIRST player from Slovenia to play in the NHL.

He has one goal in one game in his career against Washington.

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Kings

Washington (11-4-3) will carry a seven game point streak (6-0-1) into the Staples Center, a venue that the Caps have only played at once since the lockout. The last meeting there was a 3-2 Washington victory in 2005 when Jamie Heward (of all people) had a two goal game.

Los Angeles (7-8-2) has been a streaky team thus far...They won four in a row recently, but are currently on a two game skid. Goal scoring has been a big problem for the Kings: They rank near the last in the league in goals-per-game, 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio, and total goals scored. The Kings leading goal scorer is Dustin Brown with six goals... Meanwhile the Capitals have four players with more than Brown's total.

Erik Ersberg should get the nod tonight and has been pretty successful this season. Ersberg has only allowed more than two goals once this season, and has put up a 1.95 GAA. Although his record is just 4-3-1, that can be attributed to the Kings averaging 2.14 goals when in games that Ersberg starts.

Yesterday, Washington's power play scored multiple times for the first time in over a month, but success with the extra man will be a little more difficult tonight. First off, the Kings rank third in the NHL in penalty killing at home... And the Capitals could be without Mike Green and Alex Semin.

On the Capitals end, fans should be ecstatic with the way Tomas Fleischmann is playing. He scored his seventh goal last night and is just one tally behind Alex Ovechkin. At this rate, Flash will finish with his first 30-goal season. (Last year Tomas had 30 points)...And oh by the way, the only three teams that Ovechkin hasn't scored a goal against are the Capitals next three opponents.

Hopefully the defense can step it up this game as parts of last night's game were hard to watch. One of the goals was scored as Green was skating back from an offensive rush. I understand that's what he's paid for, but his teammates need to recognize this, and cover his spot when he goes on the attack. I also noticed on the second goal, Jeff Shultz attempted to punch the puck out of the defensive zone, and he hit it right to the stick of Bobby Ryan, who fed Ryan Getzlaf who had all day to do what he does best.

The banged-up Capitals' 'D' needs to shut down the LAPD line (Anze, Patrick, and Dustin) and continue to provide offensive power (4.33 GF in last six games) if they want to take down a Kings team that is peppered with young talent.

Washington Capitals Preview

Los Angeles Kings Preview

NHL Image of the Night- November 19th

Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks walks out for pre-game warm-ups during the Canucks game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. Sedin finished with an assist and the Canucks won the game, 6-3.

Post-Game: Capitals @ Ducks

The Capitals win a wild one out west by the score of 6-4 thanks in part to Alex Ovechkin's fourth career four-point night.

The win came with a cost: Mike Green was knocked out of the game by a huge hit via Chris Pronger (surprisingly without an elbowing penalty). Green skated only five minutes, but picked up a goal and an assist in his limited ice time.

The Ducks continued to take penalties that resulted in three Washington goals off nine attempts. Anaheim was able to convert one goal on five opportunities. Overall, there were 20 infractions on the night.

Washington scored three goals in the first frame for the third time this season, and have scored three or more goals for seven straight games (6-0-1).

It's getting late, so I am going to keep it short, but here are a few other notes:

  • Bobby Ryan scored his first and second goal of the year (two games played). He finished with three points (+2) and a TOI of 16ish.
  • Jonas Hiller was yanked after six shots, giving up three goals in the first seven minutes. J.S. Gigure replaced him and made 25/27 saves.
  • Yesterday I had a cool stat about Ryan Getzlaf...Good news for the Capitals is that Anaheim is now 51-5-4 when Getzlaf has a multi-point game. He finished with one goal and one assist.
  • Alex Ovechkin took a spear in the baby-maker from Steve Montador in the third period, but he recovered. The spear looked Briere-like.
  • David Steckel had just his second career game with more than one point. Stecks put up five SOG (one goal, one assist) in 14 minutes on the ice. Eric Fehr also played well, registering four shots in nine minutes.
  • The Capitals are now 19-0-1 in the past two seasons when either Donald Brashear, Boyd Gordon (one assist), or Matt Bradley (one goal) score a goal.
Up next is Los Angeles who plans to start Swedish netminder, Erik Ersberg who has never faced the Capitals before.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Ducks

Washington returns to Anaheim for the first time since Alex Ovechkin recorded his first career hat trick and led the Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the "Mighty Ducks" in 2006. The teams have only met once since then, with Anaheim blowing out the Washington 6-1 at the Verizon Center.

Anaheim (10-7-2) is 6-2-2 in their last 10, but just 1-2-1 on their current five-game home stand. Their only win came against their rival to the north, the Los Angeles Kings. Rookie goalie, Jonas Hiller recorded his first NHL shutout in the Ducks' 2-0 win. Hiller is now 3-1-1/2.18/.926 on the year.

The Ducks have uncharacteristically struggled at home where they are 5-5-2. They have already lost more than half of the home games they lost all of last year when they went 28-9-4 and led the league in victories at home.

The Capitals should press in the 1st period, and when they score first, Washington is 6-2-2. In addition, the Ducks are just 1-5 when trailing first. It's going to be tough keeping Anaheim scoreless seeing how they are in the top six in the league for goals in the first period and goals for in the second period.

Anaheim is statistically the most undisciplined team in the NHL, committing 146 penalties, 11 more than the closest team. That, added with the fact that they are tied for the most goals conceded on the power play, should work well for Washington who is in the middle of the pack for the power play away from home.

News and Notes

Alex Semin
will miss tonight's game...Joining him on the sideline will be former Duck, Sergei Fedorov and 'D' man, Shaone Morrisonn.

On Anaheim's end, Bobby Ryan was recently called up from the AHL's Iowa Chops. Ryan had 10 goals in 14 games for the Chops before the call-up and put up 10 points in 23 games for Anaheim last season.

Washington Capitals Preview

Anaheim Ducks Preview

NHL Image of the Night- November 18th

Jacques Lemaire gives orders to his players before the start of the overtime period. The Minnesota Wild went on to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in the shootout. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cool Ryan Getzlaf Fact

Anaheim Ducks Center Ryan Getzlaf is off to the best season of his young career, having already put up 22 points in 18 games, good for fifth in the league.

Getzlaf was drafted 19th overall in the 2003 NHL Draft and broke into the league in 2005.

Since the start of his career, the Ducks are 51-4-4 when Getzlaf has a multi-point game.

That stat alone should be motivation for Capitals defenders to shutdown the Ducks' main man.

NHL Image of the Night- November 17th

The New York Islanders salute firefighters before their game against the Vancouver Canucks. Frans Nielson scored the first and only goal of the shootout and New York won the game 2-1. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Report: Blackhawks Turndown Byfuglien for Nylander Offer

The Edmonton Journal is reporting that the Chicago Blackhawks have turned down the Washington Capitals trade offer of Michael Nylander for power forward Dustin Byfuglien.

The main component in the deal not being done is cap room. Nylander's 4.875 million through 2011 would push Chicago over the cap limit. Byfuglien's cap obligation is just 3 million through the 2011 season.

The rumored deal would have given the Capitals about 2 million in cap room and a good prospect in Byfuglien.

Backstrom and Ovechkin both NHL Stars of the Week

According to Tarik, Nicklas Backstrom has been named the 1st star of the week and Alex Ovechkin has been named the 2nd star.

Backstrom had 11 points (2-9-11) and Ovechkin had a goal in every game last week, finishing with 10 points (5-5-10).

The full story is now available here.

Weekend Recap of the Capitals vs the Devils

I got back from NYC this evening and now am just getting caught up on Washington's recent news. If you were wondering... I did rock-the-red in the Big Apple, drawing strange looks from Bruins and Rangers fans that were going to the game on Saturday night, but I could honestly care less. The Rangers ended up winning the game in the shootout, 3-2. I did not attend but the game was pretty exciting and came down to a replay that (correctly) disallowed goal by Patrice Bergeron. And that is all for pro-Rangers hockey talk...

As for the Capitals, I looked at the box score of Saturday's game and thought nothing of it...and when I finally watched the highlights, I was going crazy. That is the definition of stealing a point. Ovechkin's tally as time expired was unreal. I'm not sure the last time Washington scored with (less than) one second left, but after watching the highlights, I immediately thought of Jaromir Jagr's last-second goal to tie Calgary in 2004.

From various sources, the Capitals played like crap, and did not deserve a point. Be this as it may, the Caps were able to gain a standings point and now have points in nine of ten (7-1-2).

Alex Ovechkin now has 13 points in his last six games while linemate Nicklas Backstrom recorded his first five-point game and has 12 points in his past five matches. Backstrom just craked the top 10 in leaders in assists and it is also noteworth that Evgeni Malkin took over the lead in points posting a four-point night on Saturday. Malkin has points in all but one game and is currently on a 13-game point streak that started with a loss to Washington back on October 16th.

Alexander Semin scored one goal and had an assist in that game, but sat out Saturday's game after leaving Friday's game with an upper-body injury.

So now the Capitals will travel on another west-coast road trip. facing Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Minnesota.

Washington will then play host to Atlanta and Montreal before going on the road to Columbus for their final game in November...Here is what last year's November looked like compared to this one (through seven games).

1-5-1, points in 29% of games.

5-0-2, points in 100% of games.

That also reminds me that the Capitals are now the only team left that is undefeated in regulation at home in the Eastern Conference (7-0-1). The only other team that is unbeaten in regulation at home is the San Jose Sharks. San Jose's next home game? November 22nd versus Washington.

Remember to check back often for recent Washington Capitals news and updates, including pre and post-game analysis, news from around the league, and the Image of the Night.

NHL Image of the Night- November 16th

Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues yells as he battles Andrei Kostsitsyn for the puck. Kostsitsyn scored once and the Montreal Canadians won the game 3-2 in the shootout. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- November 14th

Andrew Peters of the Buffalo Sabres checks Michael Peca of the Columbus Blue Jackets during the Blue Jackets 6-1 victory over the Sabres. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Post-Game: Capitals vs Devils

Okay so I missed most of the game tonight, but you can check in on the highlights here. I also recommend this new site for Washington Capitals news and notes.

I am going to New York City tomorrow and have an early train ride in the morning so I'm not going to elaborate on the win... I'm getting back Sunday night and will update the blog then.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lightning Fire Melrose, Tocchet Takes Over

Barry Melrose was fired today after just 16 games. Associate Coach Rick Tocchet has been promoted in interm head coach. This is what Executive Vice President and General Manger Brian Lawton had to say:

"It was a tough decision to make," Lawton said, "Barry is a good man and we have a great deal of respect for him. We wish him nothing but success. However, the results were unacceptable and the players have to understand that we need to be better. Hopefully this change will push them."

Melrose was the sixth coach in Tampa Bay Lightning history and compiled a 5-7-4 record during his tenure.

Fight of the Week

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Devils

Washington (9-4-2) will look for its fifth straight victory tonight playing against Scott Clemmensen (Who?) and the New Jersey Devils (7-6-2). The Devils are looking to find any way of winning without their injured star, Martin Brodeur. New Jersey has dropped three of four since Marty injured his elbow November 1st against Atlanta.

New Jersey has been struggling offensively only producing 2.47 goals-per-game, which ranks in the bottom four of the league. The Devils only have two goal scorers with more than three goals (Zach Parise with 11 and Patrick Elias with four). New Jersey also has the second worse power play, and have only converted on 4/22 extra man opportunities on the road.

On the Caps end, Michael Nylander is going to be a healthy scratch tonight. This means that both Eric Fehr and David Steckel will be inserted into the lineup as Sergei Fedorov will be out of action for at least the weekend.

Jose Theodore will get the start against the Devils for the first time since taking the loss in a 5-0 blowout against Buffalo. In his career, Theo has compiled a woeful record of 4-13, but does have respectable supporting stats of 2.69/.910 and one career shutout.

Capitals Preview

Devils Preview

NHL Image of the Night- November 13th

Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins collides with Alexei Kovalev of the Montreal Canadians in the first period. Boston won the game 6-1 and they are now in first place in the Northeast Division. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Did You Know?

The New Jersey Devils are the only team in the Eastern Conference that Alex Ovechkin has not had a multi-point game against.

Ovechkin has 98 career games with one point or more. In addition, he has 13 games played against the Devils, tallying three goals and 10 assists. OV currently has an eight game point streak against the NJD (1 goal, 7 assists).

The last time Alex Ovechkin failed to record a point against New Jersey was December of 2006.

NHL Image of the Night- November 12th

Paul Gaustad of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates assisting on the game-winning-goal in the third period. Jay McKee (L) and Chris Mason are visibly disappointed by the outcome. The Sabres beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals @ Hurricanes

The Washington Capitals score three goals in the first period for a second straight game and dominated the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-1.
  • Brent Johnson did not return for the second period. Johnny looked as though he hurt his hip making a save late in the first period. Brent made 13 saves on 14 shots in the first, and Jose Theodore saved all 13 Canes shots he faced.
  • The Young Guns combined for five goals and nine assists and were the only Capitals players to record points. Granted there were some times where the guys were getting "too cute" like always, but I don't think Gabby can bring that up with the top line's overall performance.
  • Nicklas Backstrom scored his first goal of the year (finally). Alex Semin has scored in the past five games against Carolina. Sascha now leads the league in goals... again. Mike Green moved into sole position of second place for goals by 'D' men. Alex Ovechkin scored for the second straight game. This line is hands-down the best in the NHL, and if they can keep it up on a night-to-night basis, the Capitals will be playing hockey in June.
  • The only negative aspect that Caps fans could take away from this game is the penalties. The Capitals were flagged for seven minors (three by Milan Jurcina, two by Semin, a rare minor by Boyd Gordon, and a trip by John Erskine). Carolina only capitalized on one, thanks to some great penalty killing. The PKers even killed off a 5-3 for over a minute in the first period.
  • Washington has now won their past four games and got points in seven of the past eight games. This brings them atop the Southeast Division, two points ahead of Carolina. Up next for the Caps is a home-and-home game against the New Jersey Devils before traveling out west for a four game road trip.
One last thing: Tonight I watched the game online through the Hurricane's feed. I could handle the announcers mispronouncing "Nylander" or even them ragging on Semin's ability to speak English, but honestly how could the network mess this up?

Sorry for the bad quality, but the old Capitals logo at the end of the clip is inexcusable... Every Capitals replay concluded with their OLD logo flying across the screen. C'om on, seriously?

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Hurricanes

Washington will go for their fourth straight win tonight at the RBC Center playing against a Carolina team that they defeated 3-2 less than a week ago.
  • Carolina is 0-2 playing within the division... the Capitals are 2-1.
  • The Hurricanes are one of seven teams that does not have a winning record at home( 3-3).
  • The Canes are 5-1-2 in one-goal games.
  • Michael Leighton (4-1/2.37/.921) will make the start for the Hurricanes tonight. (Personally one of my favorite goalies...we share the same last name, no relation though).
  • Carolina's penalty kill is only 76% at home, but 85% on the road.
  • The Caps are 2-6 the past two seasons at the RBC Center.
  • Brent Johnson (4-1-2/2.10/.931) will make his fifth straight start, something he has done only once since 2003.
  • Viktor Kozlov will return to the lineup tonight, and should be on the same line as Michael Nylander and Tomas Fleischmann.
  • Alex Ovechkin scored the most goals (7) and took the most shots (52) against Carolina compared to any other team last year.
  • Washington can take sole position of first in the Southeast with a win tonight.
Capitals Preview

Hurricanes Preview

NHL Image of the Night- November 11th

Kris Letang can not stop the puck from crossing the goal line after it hit off Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh scored four third period goals to force overtime, and scored in the extra frame to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 7-6 in a rematch of last year's Stanley Cup finals. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Closer Look at the Energy Line

It’s easy to root for Ovechkin to break out of his goal slump, or Semin to stay on track for the league lead in points and goals, but which players’ goals are directly linked to wins?

Surprise, surprise: The fourth (energy) line of Boyd Gordon, Donald Brashear, and Matt Bradley. Since the beginning of the 2007-2008 season, when one of those three players scores a goal, the Capitals are a combined 18-0-1.

Although the trio only combined for an assist on the first goal last night (a nice one at that), the importance of their grind-it-out type goals should not be overlooked.

NHL Image of the Night- November 10th

2008 Hall of Fame inductees from left to right: Jeff Chynoweth, Glenn Anderson, Igor Larionov, and Ray Scapinello pose for a picture at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals vs Lightning

The Washington Capitals gave Olie Kolzig an unpleasant homecoming, scoring on the first two shots of the game, and eventually winning 4-2.

  • First of all, hats off to Brent Johnson who had a hell of a game stopping 34/36 shots. He is now 10-3-3 under Bruce Boudreau. Johnny has started four straight, but it is still unclear who will get the nod Wednesday night in Carolina.
  • Tom Poti scored has scored goals in two straight games for the first time since 2003. Poti had two goals in 71 games last season.
  • Donald Brashear picked up his second assist of the season. Brash has not got a point since the home opener.
  • Mike Green also scored, adding his fifth goal of the year. He is now tied with Sheldon Souray of Edmonton for second in the league.
  • Eric Fehr scored his first goal of the season. It was his first regular season goal since February 26th of last year.
  • Alex Ovechkin ended his goal drought, scoring on a tip-in from Alex Semin late in the 3rd period.
  • Gary Roberts tallied his first goal of the season in the 2nd period...And his second goal of the season in the third period.
  • 11 different Washington players recorded a point on the night.
  • Former Capital, Steve Eminger was on the ice for all three of Washington's first period goals.
  • Tampa Bay converted on 2/5 power plays, while Washington went 0/4.
  • Ryan Malone left early in the game with a lower-body injury and did not return.
  • The Capitals played without the services of Sergei Fedorov, Viktor Kozlov, and Shaone Morrisonn.
  • Washington's win streak against Tampa Bay is now six games in-a-row.
  • The Lightning had 17 blocked shots, compared to the Caps' eight.
  • Washington remained undefeated in regulation at home (6-0-1), and improved their overall record to 8-4-2.