Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- December 30th

Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins fights with Tim Wallace of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boston defeated the Penguins by the score of 5-2. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Sabres

The last time the Caps played at HSBC Arena, Buffalo had an unfair advantage... Ya see, Washington was without Alex Ovechkin who missed a pair of games to start November (both Capitals losses).

Now Washington took the 5-0 defeat at the hands of Thomas Vanek (two goals) and Buffalo, but redeemed themselves on home ice last week, holding off the Sabres 3-2.

  • Chris Bourque has been called-up, while Simeon Varlamov was demoted yesterday. Tarik is reporting that Jose Theodore will start again tonight. Jose has not won in Buffalo since January 14, 2000.
  • Karl Alzner will sit out tonight's game with a hand injury. Shouldn't be too bad, but it could be, depending on how bad well Tyler Sloan plays.
  • Washington has out shot their opponent in five of the last six games (5-1) and is now 15-6-0 when registering more shots than their opponent.
  • Mike Green failed to record a shot for the first time this year in the Caps win against Toronto a few days ago. Green skated almost 21 minutes and picked up two assists.
At the beginning of the month, I examined how the Capitals fared when Alex Ovechkin does not get on the score sheet in the month of December.

This December, the Capitals have gone 10-3, with Ovechkin collecting 12 goals and seven assists in the Caps 13 games. Ovechkin was also named the first star of the week. Here's a look at Ovechkin's (and the Capitals') improvement:

December 2005: 8 goals, 11 assists, Capitals record: 5-6-1
December 2006: 9 goals, 14 assists, Capitals record: 6-7-1
December 2007: 11 goals, 7 assists, Capitals record: 7-2-3
December 2008: 12 goals, 7 assists, Capitals record: 10-3-0 (one game left)

I think Ovechkin is trying to impress me, because every Capitals game I go to, he puts on a show. In the games I've been to this year (opening night, Nov 26 vs Atlanta, Nov 28 vs Montreal, and December 28 vs Toronto), Ovie has scored eight goals, averaging two a game...So if anyone wants to give me tickets, I'm pretty sure I'm his good luck charm.

NHL Image of the Night- December 29th

New York Rangers forward, Petr Prucha is tossed aside by Bill Gurien of the New York Islanders. Prucha scored his second goal of the year and the Rangers held off the Islanders 5-4.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals vs Maple Leafs

On a night where one of the Washington Capitals' greatest was immortalized forever atop the rafters at Verizon Center, fans got quite a show from the Caps young stud winger: Alex Ovechkin.

  • Ovechkin tallied two goals, bringing his total to 25 for the year. That's good for second in the league on he's on track for 58 goals. Ovie fired seven shots and now averages over six and a quarter per game. If he keeps up his scoring pace, he's looking at a new personal record of 113 points.
  • Brooks Laich had his fourth career two-goal game (all Caps wins) and has been on quite a tear of late. He's no longer being "too cute" for Bruce Boudreau, and picking up those dirty goals like he's supposed to.
  • Nicklas Backstrom has 30 assists in 37 games, including the two he had last night. He didn't get 30 assists last year until January 21st...I'm just going on record as saying that Backstrom has been my favorite player since 'Day 1' and I wear his jersey to every game.
Being at the game last night was quite an honor to witness history. Mike Gartner played before my time, but from what Rod Languay, Yvon Labre, and Dale Hunter said, he was quite a guy both on and off the ice. I would compare him to Art Monk in the sense that he was so great, but sincec he never showboated, he flew in under the radar.

Watching the video tribute and his jersey being rasied (video), it really sends chills down your back.

  • Oh yeah, and for those who still don't believe in Jose:
Jose is set to start his fifth straight game tomorrow against Buffalo, and has won three in-a-row.

And you've gotta check out this story:

Finally, here are some images my friend and I took during the game:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- December 28th

Mike Gartner's jersey was officially retired as the Washington Capitals took down the Toronto Maple Leafs by the score of 4-1. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Maple Leafs

In past posts, I've whined about the Caps not getting healthy, or not winning because of injuries, or both...This ends today. It is what it is.

But at least all of our injuries are legit. Seriously Matt Stajan? Seriously? And this is no Lee Stempniak we're talking about, Stajan has actually done something this year.

Too harsh? Well he was supposed to be my fantasy sleeper last year and recorded 13 goals after scoring 27 the year before, so I think we're kind of even now.

  • Tomas Fleischmann has pneumonia...I blame David Steckel for coming to work with a cold and spreading it a few days ago. (What... you have to blame someone).
  • Someone had to have told Nicklas Backstrom to start shooting more. He's on track for 176 shots... a 23 shot improvement, and looking at a nine goal increase from last year's total of 16 goals.
  • Props to Jose Theodore who won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov 26-28. Theo is going to start tonight against a Maple Leaf team that he is 5-10-3 (ties)-2 against.
  • Alex Ovechkin has a five-game goal streak at home and and there have only been two home games in which the "Great 8" has not picked up a point at home.
  • The Capitals have the honor of playing against Vesa Toskala, which means fire from anywhere tonight boys...Literally anywhere. Even Leaf fans are getting a little annoyed.

NHL Image of the Night- December 27th

Daniel Carcillo of the Phoenix Coyotes is owned tossed to ice by John Zeiler of the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings recorded their second shutout in three games and blanked Phoenix 4-0. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals vs Sabres

Well I have begun saving my money for Stanley Cup playoff tickets.

This team is fo real.

Even with all these injuries, winning is not a problem. Having won seven of their last eight, Washington moved into a tie for second place with the Rangers (two wins in two meetings this year). The only team ahead of Washington is Boston, whom the Caps defeated earlier in December.

Coming back against the Rangers was unreal, and fending off the pesky Slugs Sabres to improve to 14-1-1 on home ice is just plain redonk.

  • Viktor Kozlov has picked up his play of late and scored again last night. He whiped a wicked wrister past Patrick Lalime before he could say "Oh mon deur." Koz now has four goals in as many games. I think this is what sparked Koz.
  • I've said this before, but good things happen when Boyd Gordon scores. The Capitals are now 16-2 when Gord-o scores.
  • If Joe B. and Locker keep talking about how deadly Thomas Vanek is...of course he's going to score! Seemingly seconds after the announcers were applauding The Amazin' Austrian for returning to action after blocking an Ovechkin blast with his ankle, TV put the puck in the back of the net for his 25th.
  • Alex Ovechkin was in the box for Vanek's goal that narrowed the gap to a 2-1 margin. The Capitals star had to do something, anything:

How's that rank Ovie?

"I don't know, I don't know. I mean, Top 20?"

Top 20?? Are you serious? What ever you say 'MVP'.

  • I couldn't finish the recap without mentioning my man Nicklas Backstrom. He's got 24 helpers in his last 24 and is Top 5 in the league in assists. He almost threaded the needle at the end of the second period with a dandy of a pass to Koz, but Viktor missed the point-blank shot.
  • Finally here are your three stars for the game, with the number one star being sent down earlier today:

Interesting seletctions... Helmer had a helluva game (feeding Ovie on his goal), Donald Brashear the second star? Okay... Ovie rounds out the top three, but no love for Jose Theodore (22/24 saves) or Backis (1 assist, +2 in 21 minutes).

NHL Image of the Night- December 26th

Max Talbot is jammed against the boards by Mike Rupp of the New Jersey Devils. Pittsburgh shutout New Jersey by the final score of 1-0. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Sabres

The Capitals will look to continue their miraculous winning ways tonight against a Buffalo team that dismantled Washington 5-0 in their first and only meeting.

Lots of thing have changed since the teams met on the 1st of November:

  • The United States has a new President.
  • Thomas Vanek and Alex Semin were statistical twins (to this date, my favorite blog post since I started the site back in October).
  • Jose Theodore was the clear cut number one goalie for Washington.
  • At least eight players from the Capitals who played in the first game will not play tonight.
  • Andrew Gordon, Bryan Helmer, Alexandre Giroux, and Varlamov have all been recalled for tonight's game.

Vanek has now gone onto to rank second in the league in scoring with 24 goals while Semin has gone onto skate in only 21 games (14 tallies).

Theodore has successfully lost all trust from everyone in Washington...especially Bruce Boudreau. Simeon Varlamov is waiting (and ready) for his chance to shine as Brent Johnson is still injured (what's new?).

  • Buffalo's Derek Roy has scored more goals (eight in 15 games) against the Capitals than any other non-divisional team. His nine game point streak came to an end in Buffalo's overtime loss to Pittsburgh before the holiday 'break'. He has seven goals in his past nine games against the Caps.
  • Theo redemmed himself in Washington's win versus the Rangers. After giving up three goals in the first handful of shots by the NYR, JT60 made some spectacular saves to earn the victory. Jose has not had a winning month of December since 2004 with the Canadiens.
  • Ryan Miller, on the other hand, hasn't had a losing December since taking the 1-0 overtime loss against the New York Islanders on the last day of 2002 as a rookie.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Big Hit by Stefan Della Rovere and an Amazing Goal by John Tavares

Huge blow by Delly on a player seven inches taller than him. Stefan Della Rovere is sure making a name for himself after being drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 7th round (204st overall) in the 2008 Draft.

Original post by GFH.

Closer Look at the Eastern Conference

Working on the holiday? You betcha. Just so I can pass this image along (stolen from Shaw Thacher and this Facebook group). If you can take the time to interpret it, it's great.

Happy Holidays and have a great new year guys! As always, thanks for visiting, tell your friends and support the blog.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Alex Ovechkin Called Up to Play for the Miami Dolphins

Alex Ovechkin has been called up to the NFL! This is great news because now Ovechkin will play in front of a crowd, receive a paycheck, and reach his dream of playing in the NFL!

Oh yeah...and I hear its a great cardio workout.

Apparently this video isn't as new as I thought it was...but its new to me and possibly to you too. A buddy of mine posted it on my Facebook page today, but Ted's Take had the post before me.

Brett Leonhardt Interview

Yet another Brett Leonhardt interview, but can this story really get old? Well not until Johnny and JT60 both get injured in the morning skate...


Post-Game: Capitals @ Rangers

"This is not going to happen again..."

That is what Bruce Boudreau was saying during his diatribe as his team fell behind 3-0 in the 1st period.

Just three days after a brutal beating on Broad Street, the Capitals were looking at another blowout by the hands of the Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers.

But this team is different than years past. This Washington Capitals team has only lost twice on three separate occasions, losing three in-a-row on of those times.

  • The Capitals outshot the Rangers in every period and Alex Ovechkin outshot the Rangers top line (Naslund, Gomez, and Zherdev) 13 to 10.
  • Viktor Kozlov has three goals in his last three games and is on track for his third 20-goal season.
  • Tomas Fleischmann was drafted in the 20th round...12 picks from Mr. Irrelevant in my fantasy draft, and i still scoffed when he was selected. Who did I pick in the 20th round you ask? Well...two picks after Flash went, I picked...wait for it...wait for it...John Erskine. What's that you say? Oh, no I was not drunk...thanks for asking. The season that Tomas is having is unbelievable. He picked up his 12th goal on a pretty deflection of a Nicklas Backstrom slapshot (<
  • Finally, a little mistake by the good folks at Yahoo! Sports:

Yeah we were down 4-1...but we were also down 4-0!

NHL Image of the Night- December 23rd

Shane Doan and some of his Coyotes' teammates warm-up before their game against the Colorado Avalanche. Doan had two goals, but the Coyotes' lost 5-4 in overtime. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Rangers

Washington just can't seem to get healthy, and will be missing the services of Alex Semin, Mike Green, and Tom Poti...and maybe even more. A call-up (or two) could be in the works as the Capitals travel up to the Big Apple for their annual December tilt with the New York Rangers.

  • Washington has not won at Madison Square Garden since before the lockout (0-5-1).
  • Despite being 4th in the league in points, the Rangers are 26th in goals-per-game. New York has scored exactly three goals in each of their past five victories.
  • For the Rangers, defense is the key. New York has only given up six power play goals at home and ranks first in the NHL with a home penalty kill rate of 90.5%. Although Henrik Lundqvist is just 3-5 in his past eight, Stephen Valiquette has steped his game up, and posts a record of 4-2 (2.40/.920/1 shutout). King Henry should get the start...He is 7-3-1 lifetime against the Caps.
  • The Rangers are led by talented young Ukrainian (and Russian) forward, Nikolai Zherdev. After spending four seasons in Columbus, the 2003 4th overall pick was shipped to New York. Zherdev has already racked up 12 goals and 32 points in 36 games. He has seven points in his past five games, but Washington is just one of two teams (Boston) that he has not recorded a point against (3 GP).

Monday, December 22, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- December 22nd

Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin celebrate Crosby's high sticking deflection that beat Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres in overtime. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Must Read: Viktor Kozlov Interview

Okay, so now that you've read all about Alex Semin and what he's been thinking, it's Viktor Kozlov's turn...

You can check out the full interview here.

NHL Image of the Night- December 21st

Travis Zajac scores the decisive goal in New Jersey's 3-2 (2-1) victory over Antero Niittymaki and the Philadelphia Flyers. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals @ Flyers

Well that sucked.

The Capitals won in shots, face-offs, but lost in the only category that matters--score.

Injuries, lack of energy, and weak goal-tending ultimately led to the Capitals demise.

  • Mike Green was -4 on the night, something he hasn't done in his 197 game career. Green's turnover at the blueline directly led to Jeff Carter's shorthanded goal in the second period.
  • Brent Johnson was pulled for performance reasons for the first time this year. Johnny stopped 10 of 13 shots through two periods, but did not look anywhere near prepared to play this game. Jose Theodore played the third and gave up four goals on 15 shots, but could hardly be faulted on some of the defensive breakdowns.
  • On the other end, Antero Niittymaki stood on his head the whole game, stonewalling the Capitals on 47 of 48 shots. The Finnish Wall is now 4-2 lifetime against Washington.
  • Tom Poti skated only 4:02 before leaving the first period with a groin injury. He is day-to-day.
  • Alexandre Giroux got schooled on Philly's first goal by Joffrey Lupul...and let's just leave it at that.
  • On to some positives: Brooks Laich picked up his eighth goal on the year and third in the past five games. Laich tallied his eighth goal last year 24 days into 2008.
  • Donald Brashear racked up 26 PIMs...Highest since March 2006. Brash pummeled Riley Cote, and you can watch it again, and again, and again, here.

NHL Image of the Night- December 20th

Bill Guerin of the New York Islanders gets called for goalie interference against Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. Rinne recorded his third shutout this season and the Predators won 1-0. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Flyers

In probably the most anticipated game of the season thus far, the Capitals could not be playing better. They have won five in a row, and seven of eight. In addition, they are 5-0-2 against the Atlantic Division this season.

The Flyers have had win streaks of six and five games, respectively, and are 6-2-2 in their last 10. Philly is led by their lethal power play, operating at a staggering 26.6%. They lead the league in home power play goals (27) and are second in the NHL with a 35.1 conversion rate at the Wachovia Center...For those of you who have never been to a game, or noticed it, the Flyers have "Peco Power Plays" and the Capitals have "Pepco Power Plays."

It looks as though Brent Johnson--who played all of zero minutes in last year's playoff series--will get the start. Johnny is 2-6 against the Flyers, but is 7-0-1 in his last eight games in December.

Mike Green is also on the mend, doing his best not to miss the matinee meeting. Green was shaken up during the Capitals victory over the Blues, but has been practicing and should be good to go.

Alex Semin, on the other hand, looks as though he is out for a good couple games. He was in tremendous pain before he exited the Blues game, and is listed as doubtful.

  • Nicklas Backstrom currently has a six game point streak. This is the second longest in his career...He had a nine game point streak during the month of November. Backstrom has 12 points in 11 games against Philly and scored his second career goal against Philadelphia in Bruce Boudreau's first game as head coach last November.
  • Alex Ovechkin has 12 goals in 12 games against the Flyers, and had four goals in the playoffs last year.
  • Tomas Fleischmann played against Philadelphia in his first career game back in 2005...A game that Johnny can forget.

NHL Image of the Night- December 19th

Ales Hemsky of the Edmonton Oilers collides with the Anaheim Ducks' goalie, Jonas Hiller. Hiller made 51 saves and the Ducks won in the shootout, 3-2 (1-0). Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Meet Alexander Bouwmeester and Anze Semin

If you want to be freaked out even more, go here to see the rest.

NHL Image of the Night- December 18th

Panthers' forward Richard Zednik gets a boost thanks to Sergei Samsanov of the Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina defeated Florida in overtime, 2-1. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Alexander Semin Wants in a Woman

Check out the story here at Puck Daddy, or where it was originally posted, on Tuvanhillbilly.

Like all Semin interviews, this one is a must read.

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Blues

The Capitals return home to play St. Louis, before leaving for the weekend to face Atlantic Division rivals, Philadelphia and the New York Rangers. It will be the second game in a row that Washington has faced a club in last place in their respected division.

St. Louis comes in to the game with a mark of 12-15-3 and have lost their last four, giving up an average of over five goals in those games.

Goal tending has been a problem for the Blues who lost Manny Legace earlier this year to a mild concussion. With Legace out, Chris Mason has taken over as the starter, but is winless in his last six games played (0-5-1).

Brent Johnson should get the start against his former team...He dropped the last (and only) game he played against them early last season.

UPDATE Simeon Varlamov will start

Tarik is reporting that John Erskine is close to returning... And please take your time Johnny-boy. Even though Sean Collins committed two stupid penalties last game, still beats Erskine who has 10 penalties in 19 games this season.

The St. Louis Blues are the only team that Alexander Semin has not recorded a shot against...My prediction? That ends tonight. In two games played against the Blues (both losses), Sascha has a hooking penalty...and that's it.

Sergei Fedorov has played 88 games against St. Louis, good for second most against any team (Chicago with 96 GP). Feds has 28 goals and 50 assists against the Blues.

Viktor Kozlov has just one goal in 20 games against the Blues...St. Louis and San Jose (13 games played against) are the only teams that Koz has not scored multiple goals against in his career.

Matt Bradley played his first career NHL game against St. Louis way back in 2000. It was a 4-1 loss while he was still apart of the San Jose Sharks.

My last exam is tomorrow, and I am going to be on the road for the duration of the Capitals game, so no post-game for tonight's match, but I will do my best to attend every home game this winter break and post interesting stories/facts as much as possible. Thanks as always for reading!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- December 17th

Retired Vancouver Canuck captain and former Capital, Trevor Linden has his number raised to the rafters at General Motors Place on Wednesday night before the Canucks' game against the Edmonton Oilers. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Post-Game: Capitals @ Islanders

In a game that should have been over after the second period, the New York Islanders made this one too close for comfort. Cap-killer, Jon Sim tied the game up with less than three minutes left to send it to the extra frame. I could care less if the NYI stole a point, but the Washington Capitals should not need overtime to beat the New York Islanders.

Milan Jurcina scored his third goal of the season....His season total (in 32 games) matches the same amount of goals he recorded in his previous 110 games coming into the season. He is on track for 70 shots on goal--had 58 last year-- and 8 goals. His previous season-high in scoring came in his rookie season when he netted 6 goals in 51 games.

12 Capitals picked up points on the night. Alex Ovechkin has picked up points in five straight and has four goals in the Caps last three games. Brooks Laich made up for his bad day in the face-off circle (3/11) by scoring his 7th goal of the year. Probably the softest goal I've seen all season, Joey MacDonald poke checked at the puck, missed, and the puck slid through his gaping 5-hole.

The Capitals are 10-0 in the last 10 games that Boyd Gordon scores a goal...In Gordon's career, Washington is 15-2 when Gordo scores.

Brent Johnson is 5-0 in his last five and just 695,878 votes away from starting in the 2008 All-Star game. Johnny is 10-4-2/2.46/.920, while projected starter Carey Price is 13-4-4/2.37/.920/1 shutout...I've been voting for Johnny, have you?

NHL Image of the Night- December 16th

The Flames' Cory Sarich and the Blues' Cam Janssen get into a tussle during the third period of Calgary's 6-3 victory. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Islanders

After two days of much needed rest, the Capitals return to action facing the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Brent Johnson will likely be the starter tonight. Although I would want to go with the hot hand (Varly), Johnson has won four games in a row, including a 5-2 victory against the Islanders on December 4th. That was his first victory against the franchise (1-6).

The Islanders actually have not won since the Capitals defeated them earlier in December. The Isles are 1-8 in their last nine and are in a familiar spot at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.

Washington has yet to lose to the Atlantic Division in regulation, going 4-0-2. They have played every team except Philadelphia, who will host the Capitals this Saturday.

  • New York ranks last in goals for/against ratio in 5-on-5 play.
  • Tampa Bay (3-6-5) and the Islanders (5-8-1) are the only teams under .500 at home by three games or more.
  • The Isles rank 4th in penalty minutes behind ANA, VAN, and PHI.
  • Alex Ovechkin has the worst point-per-game ratio against the New York teams. He averages just one point a game against the Rangers (13 points in 13 games) and the Islanders (12 points in 12 games).
  • Viktor Kozlov has 24 points in 40 games against his former team...He played for the Islanders in the 2006-2007 season (51 points in 81 games).
Exam week is halfway home and as you can tell by the time stamp of this post, it is/going to be a long week...But it should be worth it in the end, and when the Capitals win it increases my spirits even more. Just three more days til I go back to my home in Arlington!

NHL Image of the Night- December 15th

Teddy Purcell (R) and Kyle Quincey celebrate Purcell's 1st period goal against the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks won the game in the shootout 3-2 (2-1). Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- December 14th

Martin Havlat takes one of his five shots on net against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Havlat finished with the game-winning goal in Chicago's 3-1 victory. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

NHL Image of the Night- December 13th

Zack Stortini of the Edmonton Oilers checks Jannik Hansen off the puck during the second period. Edmonton went on to defeat the Canucks. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Montreal Canadiens: A Little Cold, Eh?

Montreal Candiens' players: Christopher Higgins, Ryan O'Byrne, Carey Price, and Josh Gorges.

Post-Game: Capitals vs Senators

Injuries? What injuries? Brent Johnson was fine. Alex Semin was fine. Mike Green? He looked okay... Sergei Fedorov? Looked like Sergei Fedorov.

Of course these are all small understatements. Johnny made 32 saves and was less than three minutes away from his first shutout of the season. Of course I was praying to see Stretch enter the game, but it just wasn't meant to be.

Good things happen when Semin, Alex Ovechkin, and Nicklas Backstrom are on the ice at the same time. They connected for one heck of a goal early in the first. It was Semin's first marker since November 12th. The Caps never looked back from there, and contiuned their dominance over the other nation's capital, 5-1.

  • Brett Leonhardt stayed on the bench until about the 7:40 mark, when Simeon Varlamov emerged from the locker room. Varlamov will make his first start of his career tonight against the Habs, brodcasted on Hockey Night in Canada.
  • Brooks Laich must have heard all this talk about him not producing as much as last year...Laich tallied his sixth goal of the year (reached six goals on December 14th last year, in the Capitals 32nd game), and is now on track for 16 goals this season. Matt Bradley recorded his 100th career point on his assist to Laich's goal.
  • Both Laich's and Ovechkin's 2nd period goals were scored from long range with little traffic in front... I had to double check that Martin Gerber wasn't in net.
  • Washington had the 3-0 lead going into the third, and are now 12-1-1 when leading after the 2nd period.
  • The "Green Machine" (Steve Kolbe) had three points on the night, and a third period power play goal. Seven of Green's eight goals have been scored with the extra man, and he has four goals in his last six games...Green has 10 points in that stretch, and the Capitals are 9-1-2 in the last 12 games that Greener has played in.
  • Fedorov picked up three assists in his first game back from injury. Feds hasn't had a three point game since playing for Columbus against the Red Wings in 2006.
  • This is the seventh time this year Washington has scored five plus goals.
  • Last year the Capitals averaged 5.5 goals-per-game against Ottawa, winning all four meetings.
  • Gerber + Vermette + Phillips + mustache = stupid.
There's going to be no Pre-Game today for the Montreal game... Econ, Calc, and three other exams are just around the corner...But there will be Post-Game for the Habs game on Sunday morning, and of course the NHL Image of the Night every night.

NHL Image of the Night- December 12th

Henrik Lundqvist collides with teammate Dmitri Kalinin, while Brian Gionta attempts to score. Gionta finished with one goal and three assists for the New Jersey Devils who knocked off the Rangers 8-5. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Senators

One game after scoring his first game-winning goal of his career, Alexandre Giroux will face the team that drafted him in the 7th round--213th overall, 1999--the Ottawa Senators. Giroux never suited up for the Sens at the NHL level, and this will be the first time he is playing against them...

Oskar Osala meanwhile played 11:15 in his NHL debut. Osala became the first Capitals player drafted in the 4th round or later to play in the NHL in nine years. The Hershey Bears, by the way, ended their franchise-best streak of winning 11 in-a-row. The Bears lost to San Antonio 3-0 in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

It looks as though the Capitals might get some help back tonight, with both Sergei Fedorov and Mike Green itching to play. Sean Collins is still traveling with the team...for now...but would likley be the scratch if Greener is able to go. Washington is 11-4-3 with Green in the lineup, and 5-6 without him.

  • Ottawa is one of four teams in the Eastern Conference with a record below .500.
  • The Senators are last in the league in goals for (63). Washington is seventh, with 91 goals for.
  • Ottawa averages 1.82 goals-per-game in away matches.
  • Ottawa has scored the first goal of the game in eight of the last nine games (4-2-3). The only game that they did not score first in that span was a 2-0 loss to Chicago on Wednesday night. Ottawa is just 1-7-1 when trailing first.
  • The Sens have not won at the Verizon Center since March 2006.
Check out the Sens Army and their ingenious campaign, No Habs No!

Fight of the Week

NHL Image of the Night- December 11th

Michael Leighton of the Carolina Hurricanes is unable to stop Mike Richards of the Philadelphia Flyers during the shootout. Richards scored the game-winning goal and the Flyers won 6-5 (2-0). Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- December 10th

Matt Niskanen of the Dallas Stars dives, but is too late as Martin Hanzal of the Phoenix Coyotes' scores the game-winning goal. Phoenix won the game 5-3. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Osala Recalled

With Tomas Fleischmann doubtful for tonight's game, the Capitals have recalled AHL rookie, Oskar Osala. Tarik is also reporting that Keith Aucoin and Bryan Helmer might have been sent back down to Hershey.

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Bruins

Washington Capitals Preview---AP Preview---Boston Bruins Preview

Tonight, the Washington Capitals will be healthier, kinda. Tyler Sloan will return to action, Tom Poti will be listed as questionable and Mike Green's return is right around the corner.

Frankly the Capitals will need more than just Sloaner to take out the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.

Boston is 17-2-1 in their last 20, and have a stellar road record of 9-3-3.

Here goes the laundry list of Bruins stats:

  • #1 in 5/5 goals for/against ratio (1.72).
  • #1 in team plus/minus rating (+31).
  • #1 in goals against (55).
  • #3 in goals scored (92).
  • #5 in power play efficiency (23.5%).
  • 13-3-2 when scoring first.
  • 5-0 in games that Phil Kessel has more than one point.
  • Tim Thomas stat line: 11-3-3/1.90/.940%/2 shutouts.
Yeah...These guys are good.

Shaone Morrisonn (1st round, 18th overall) and Milan Jurcina (8th round, 241st overall) were both drafted by Boston in 2001 and played for Boston before suiting up for the Capitals. Mo has 2 assists in 12 games vs the B's and Milan is +4 in 6 games against his former team.

Brent Johnson should be in net today, and is 2-3-1/2.94/.904 against Boston. Johnny has yet to lose in regulation at home, sporting a 5-0-1 record at the Verizon Center.

Boston won the previous meeting between the two teams in the shootout earlier this season. Washington will be without eight players that played in that game.

NHL Image of the Night- December 9th

Mitch Fritz of the New York Islanders is banged up after a fight with Riley Cote of the Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia came back to win the game 4-3. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Gilbert Arenas Video

I just had to post this. I could not stop laughing during it. If you want to see the originial post, click here.

NHL Image of the Night- December 8th

Ryan Hollweg gets twisted around during a fight with Nate Thompson of the New York Islanders. Toronto went on to win the game 4-2. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals @ Hurricanes

Matt Michael (inside joke, don't worry if you don't understand) Leighton was pretty much flawless tonight, stopping almost everything that came his way. Nicklas Backstrom was able to beat him top shelf on the power play, but Leighton had no chance.

Washington fired 39 shots on net, and as Locker would say, Leighton was a " on a hot tin roof." tonight. Leighton has now faced 76 shots in two games versus Washington this year, giving up six goals.

Godspeed to Mike Green (among others) for a speedy recovery. It's just not fair having Sami Lepisto out on the ice. Lepisto was -2, took a penalty, and turned the puck over to Eric Staal who netted the game-winning goal seconds later.

Meanwhile, I did not notice Sean Collins that much...which was a good thing. He just might be my new favorite Capitals defender. The only time when I did notice Collins, was when he was breaking up scoring chances in the third period.

Alexandre Giroux notched two shots on goal in just under 12 minutes...not much going on here though. If he sticks around, he should find a groove, but I don't expect him to last too much longer at this moment.

Alex Ovechkin had a chance to tie the game when he was awarded a penalty shot. The 'Canes must have done their research, because as soon as OV got a step, the 'D' man took him down, and the ref signaled for a penalty shot. OV was 0-4 in his career, barely got a shot off, and is now 0-5...He skated 26 minutes (waayyy too much), and this is the third time this season he has hit double digits in shots (11 tonight).

Next up is the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins (four game win streak) on Wednesday.

NHL Image of the Night- December 7th

Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers pushes Adam Pardy of the Calgary Flames into the boards. Calgary won the game 3-0. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Hurricanes

I have tons of school work today, the Capitals game to watch, and the Redskins game to watch, so I will keep it relatively short:

  • After scoring his AHL-leading 18th goal of the season, Alexandre Giroux, was rewarded with a call-up. He last played in the NHL in 2007. Washington is 2-7 with Giroux in the lineup, and 2-0 when he scores.
  • The Capitals will have 11 former Bears players in the lineup tonight. I'm intrigued to see if Giroux and Keith Aucoin can keep their chemistry going like they had in the AHL. Aucoin leads the AHL in points, and Giroux leads the AHL in goals.
  • Jose Theodore will get the start tonight...It looked as though Brent Johnson might have pulled/tweaked something before conceding a goal to Nik Antropov last night. JT60 is 2-0 at the RBC Center in his last two outings.
  • Carolina is currently second worst in the power play (13.5%) and bottom six in home penalty kill. The Hurricanes average a low 2.5 goals-per-game and are tied for last with just 16 1st period goals...The Capitals are second in the league with 31 goals-for in the opening frame.
  • Nicklas Backstrom has 10 points in 10 games against Carolina. His last game against the Canes, he scored a goal and added three assists.

Post-Game: Hershey Bears vs Hartford Wolf Pack

On the annual "Teddy Bear Toss," the Hershey Bears did not disappoint, beating the Wolf Pack 4-2.

In fact, Hershey scored before we even got to the arena...The roads were covered in snow and I was driving a car with literally no traction. But we made it to the Barn a minute or two after Maxime Lacroix scored (5 minutes into the first period).

For only $18 (with the Giant Bonus Card discount...different than the Giant stores in the D.C. area) we got seats in the fourth row.

The Bears played okay for the most part, but it was a sloppy game and we were a little disappointed with only four goals scored. But, on to what I noticed in the game:

  • Chris Bourque looked like the best player on the ice. He was his usually self, hustling up and down the ice, skating by 'D' men with ease. Although he did not record a point, C-Bo fired a game-high 7 shots on goal.
  • As I was watching the game, I was thinking to myself who would be called up if another Cap went down. I narrowed it down to Alexandre Giroux and....Alexandre Giroux. Now I didn't actually expect him to be called-up, it was just a self-imposed hypothetical question. Giroux has prior NHL experience and looked great last night.
  • The Oskar Osala-Francois Bouchard- Mathieu Perrault line did not disappoint. In the second period, Osala relayed the puck to Perrault who was on a 2 on 1 with Bouchard. Perry froze the goalie and saucered it to Bouchard who had the whole net to score. Definitley the prettiest goal of the night, Perry, Osala, and Bouchard now rank 3rd, 4th, and 6th in rookie points.
  • Other than Perrault, my favorite player in the Capitals system has got to be Josh Godfrey. I was lucky enough to watch him this summer in Arlington, and with all the injuries occuring to the Caps, this has given Josh to opportunity to play at the AHL level. Josh has got a helluva slapshot and a great hockey IQ to boot. Unfortunately Godfrey had a target on his back for the last 15 minutes of the 3rd period after "late" hit on Jordan Owens. Owens passed to Tommy Pyatt --younger brother of Taylor Pyatt-- who one-timed the puck past Simeon Varlamov who never saw it. Owens stayed down for a few minutes after the big hit, while Hartford players got in the face of Godfrey...Josh eventually left with a shoulder injury.
Prospect Analysis

Artem Anisimov- A towering figure at 6'4", 205, he picked up a garbage goal in the second period. I was somewhat disappointed with his performance, because of my high expectations. He needs to work on his skating if he wants to make it to the next level. He only registered 2 shots, and I think he just had an off-game. I think he's good enough to play in the NHL, but he's still pretty raw. This is his second season in North America, and he could use one more after this one. Expect to see him in the NHL around 2010.

P.A. Parenteau- This guy is going to be a solid player in the NHL one day. As I mentioned earlier, injuries hindered the start of his career. Parenteau has great patience and great eyes. On the power play, P.A. likes to have the puck on his stick and usuallly finds the open man. He reminds me of Nicklas Backstrom in the sense that he is a pass-first kind of player, but if he just shot it more, he would be fabulous...Don't get me wrong, Pierre-Alexandre had 34 goals last year, but he has the potential for 40 or 45 goals this year if he decides to shoot more often.

Bobby Sanguinetti- Here's a player who can make the jump to the NHL as soon as a player gets injured or struggles. Sanguinetti is an offensive threat on the blue line and has great skating abilites for his 6'1" frame. He needs to add more weight (178, 183 depending on where you look) and use his body more. Bobby had 29 goals (in 61 games) last season for Brambleton of the OHL, and this is his first full year in the AHL. Sanguinetti is New York's second best prospect and I can't wait to see him play in the NHL.

NHL Image of the Night- December 6th

Atlanta Thrashers' forward, Joey Crabb goes to the locker room for repairs after a fight in the third period of the Thrashers' 5-1 victory against the New York Islanders. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Smart Maple Leafs

Toronto's Lee Stempniak (Dartmouth) and Dominic Moore (Harvard) both attended Ivy League schools...Other active NHLers who attended Ivy League schools are included but not limited to: Jeff Halpern (Princeton), Christopher Higgins (Yale), and George Parros (who would have guessed that he attended Princeton?).

The Ohio State Connection

Capitals center David Steckel is one of many Buckeyes in the NHL...Steckel played at Ohio State from 2000-2004. In his senior year, he played with Sean Collins. Collins was recently re-called, and could make his NHL debut tonight. Collins played from 2003-2007 at Ohio State. Taking Sean Collin's place in Hershey is Johann Kroll. Kroll played with Collins at OSU and was there from 2004-2008.

Pre-Game: Hershey Bears vs Hartford Wolfpack

To be honest, going to college in Harrisburg, PA does not have many perks...but I have the privilege of being 20 minutes from the Giant Center and the Hershey Bears. Tonight will be my fourth Bears game (third this season), and Hershey has yet to lose in my presence.

The Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers) will come to 'The Barn' looking to end Hershey's 9 game winning streak.

  • Hershey leads the AHL with 37 points (18-5-0 OTL-1 SOL) and has not lost since November 9th. Hartford (10-10-1 OTL-2 SOL) is tied for last place in the Atlantic Division, but just six points out of first place.
  • The Bears are 9-2 at home (best in the league) and own the third best home power play rate at 26%.
  • Hershey recalled Johann Kroll from South Carolina of the ECHL. Kroll played his college hockey with Sean Collins and will be playing in his fifth AHL game.
  • Hartford is 7-1 when leading after two periods.
  • The Wolf Pack are led by Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau (11-12-23). Originally drafted by the Mighty Ducks in 2001, Parenteau broke his wrist in Anaheim's 2005 training camp, and was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks a few months after the injury. After making his NHL debut in the 2006-2007 season, Parenteau was traded to the Rangers in October of last season.
Check back tomorrow for prospect analysis on:

Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Artem Anisimov (really excited to watch this guy)
Miika Wiikman
Bob Sanguinetti (great offensive defense man)
Dane Byers (here's a fight versus Mr. Bahamas himself)

And whoever else is impressive.

Here is a preview of PA Parenteau:

Toronto Maple Leafs by Nationality

Toronto brings an international flavor to tonight's game, with players born from 10 different countries:

Canada- Curtis Joseph, Jamal Mayers, John Mitchell, Dominic Moore, Matt Stajan, Luke Schenn, Mike Van Ryn, and Ian White.

United States- Jason Blake, Ryan Hollweg, Lee Stempniak, Jeff Finger, and Jaime Sifers.

Czech Republic- Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina.

Finland- Niklas Hagman and Vesa Toskala

Sweden- Jonas Frogren and Anton Stralman

Bahamas- Andre Deveaux

Germany- Mikhail Grabovski

(Glorious Nation of) Kazakhstan- Nik Antropov

Russia- Nikolai Kulemin

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Maple Leafs

Earlier today, the Capitals recalled defense man, Sean Collins...Who?

With Tyler Sloan questionable for tonight's game, Collins will skate in warm-ups and make his NHL debut if Sloan decides not to play. Collins played in college with David Steckel and spent most of last year in the ECHL.

On to the matter at hand:

  • Toronto (9-11-6) is returing from a three game west coast road trip where they beat Los Angeles, before falling to San Jose and Phoenix.
  • Toronto is one of seven teams without a winning record at home (4-4-4).
  • The Maple Leafs have the fifth worst home penalty killing rate. This, added with the fact that Toronto is penalized the fourth most in the league, can strongly benefit that Capitals, who have a 19% power play conversion rate on the road.
  • Toronto has players from 10 different countries...Probably the most in the NHL, not 100% on that one. Countries that are represented are: Canada, United States, Russia, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Ukraine, the Bahamas, and the glorious nation of Kazakhstan.
  • Alex Ovechkin has a four-game point streak against the TML.
  • Brent Johnson is 2-1 at Toronto and is coming off a successful outing in the Capitals 5-2 win against the New York Islanders.
  • Shaone Morrisonn made his NHL debut against Toronto back in 2002 as a member of the Bruins.
  • The Capitals will face their former coach, Ron Wilson. Wilson had three 40-win seasons in five years (1997-2002) as the Caps head coach. He was 192-159-51-8 (OTL).