Friday, October 31, 2008

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- October 30th

Steven Stamkos and Vincent Lecavalier celebrate Stamkos' first career NHL goal in the first period of the Lightning's 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Stamkos finished with two goals on the night. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Amazin' Austrian vs the Seminator

Saturday's match showcases two young talents in Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and Washington's Alexander Semin. Both are tied with Keith Tkachuck for the league lead in goals with eight. Semin and Vanek have a lot in common, more than most would think. (Click image for high quality).

NHL Image of the Night- October 29th

Ryan Hollweg of the Toronto Maple Leafs comes up on the losing end of a fight with New Jersey Devils tough guy, Michael Rupp. Toronto went on to win the game 6-5 in the shootout. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Checking in with Chocolate Town

Each week, I am going to sum up what the AHL's Hershey Bears are up to. The Bears are the Washington Capitals' minor league affiliate and are off to a fantastic start. Here are a few things you should know through eight games:

Upcoming Games:

October 29th at Hamilton Bulldogs
October 31st at Albany River Rats
November 1st vs Philadelphia Phantoms
November 2nd at Philadelphia Phantoms
November 7th at Albany River Rats

NHL Image of the Night- October 28th

San Jose Shark players are introduced before their 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of 17,496. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals vs Predators

The Caps take the extra point in the shootout against Nashville, 4-3, with goals coming from Alex Semin and Michael Nylander in the shootout.

The Capitals came out firing against the Predators, out-shooting them 19-4 in the first period. Viktor Kozlov scored his first goal of the season halfway through the first period to give the Caps the lead. That was short-lived as Ville Koistinen tied the game the Power Play at just 1:46 after Koz’s marker.

Michael Nylander was penalized just two minutes after the Backstrom penalty that led to Nashville’s first goal, but this time with a man down, there was a different outcome. Alex Semin proved why he is so lethal on the Penalty Kill, relaying a pass to David Steckel who connected for his second (short-handed) goal of the season.

Three goals were scored in 3:25 and Washington held the upper-hand, 2-1 going into intermission. Nashville is 0-3 (now 0-4) when losing after the first period.
The ageless Jason Arnott scored his fourth goal in just six games to even the score at two midway through the second period. Nashville matched Washington’s seven shots for the second frame, and it remained tied headed into the third.

Alex Semin tallied his league leading, eighth goal of the year on the Power Play just 1:58 into the third, with Joel Ward in the box for boarding. Semin ripped it top shelf, and Dan Ellis did not have a chance. Washington was 1-5 on the Power Play, while Nashville struggled to finish 1-7.

The Preds’ outplayed the Caps the whole period and were rewarded with Arnott’s second goal of the night at 12:24. Nashville had the upper-hand all throughout the final frame, out shooting the Caps 15-3.

After a scoreless Overtime period, the game headed into the shootout, where the Caps are already 1-1 in extra time. After three rounds, Semin’s goal was answered by Koistinen’s tally to send it into the sudden death rounds. Michael Nylander put the puck past Ellis on his attempt, and Martin Erat was stoned by surprise-starter, Jose Theodore to end the game. Theo was mobbed by the team and have now won two straight.

Quick Hits:

  • Jose Theodore was announced the starter, which was a surprise for most of us.
  • At one point, JT60 had stopped just 5 of 7 shots.
  • Before tonight, the Capitals last win without Alex Ovechkin playing was before the lockout.
  • In the second period, Nashville had a streak of over six minutes without a shot.
  • Alex Semin scored his first Power Play goal of the season.
  • Washington has committed at least 4 penalties in all games thus far.
  • Mike Green skated 29:28 with an assist and four shots.
  • Nicklas Backstrom has points in two straight games after being held without a point for 5 of the first 6 games.
  • John Erskine did NOT take a penalty and had a time on ice of just under 20 minutes.
  • The teams split face-offs wins, 32-32
Capitals Recap
Predators Recap
Box Score

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Predators

The Capitals (4-3-1) will take on the Nashville Predators tonight, playing for the first time since 2006 without Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin will be in Russia tending to his ill grandfather. The date of his return is still uncertain, but Alex will definitely miss Saturday night’s game at Buffalo, while the Senators’ game on Election Day is still in question.

Although he has only accumulated 5 points in 8 games (regular NHL player standards=great, Ovechkin standards= what’s wrong with AO?), his presence on the ice will be missed greatly. This means that Brooks Laich will most likely be paired with Backstrom and Kozlov on the first line. The second line and defensive pairings are still up in the air. There is a possibility to put Fedorov on the blue line, inserting both Eric Fehr and David Steckel into the second line to accompany the NHL’s leader in points, Alexander Semin.

Nashville (4-4) comes into D.C. for the first time since beating Washington 5-2 in 2005 . They have won two of the past three games and sport a 4.2 goals-per-game average in their last five games.

Dan Ellis will be the likely starter for the Preds who have conceded 23 goals in the past five games. The Predators' problems don’t end there as their Power Play (17.1%) and Penalty Kill (75.6%) both rank in the bottom half of the league and are both worse than Washington’s special teams.

Brent Johnson will get the start, giving Jose Theodore a break after starting all three games on the road trip. Johnny owns a 5-2-1 (one tie) career record against Nashville with a 1.60 GAA and .937 save percentage. In addition, Johnson earned a shutout against the Predators in 2003, his last shutout recorded as a member of the Blues.

Game Changers


Sergei Fedorov- Sergei has six points in his last six games, including a two goal performance in the win against Dallas. He has the most games played against Nashville among active Capitals players and averages 1.1 points-per-game on Tuesdays (how’s that for useful statistics?).

Tomas Fleischmann- I think this is the year that Fleischmann has a break-out season. In just eight games, he has already compiled 30% of the goals he scored in 75 games in all of last year.


Jason Arnott- Jason averages close to a point a game verses Washington. Also, Arnott has seven points in just five games played this year (missed three games with a broken finger).

Patric Hörnqvist- Hörnqvist was “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2005 NHL Draft (same round as Sergei Kostitsyn) and has spent the past three years playing in the Swedish Elite League. Now in his first year, he leads all rookies in shots on goal and is among the top 5 in rookie points and top 5 in average ice time for rookie forwards.

Note: I thought about using this picture, but decided against it...

NHL Image of the Night- October 27th

Jarkko Ruutu of the Ottawa Senators fights with Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres during the Sens 5-2 victory. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Capitals: Ovechkin-less vs Preds

Capitals Insider and report that Alex Ovechkin has returned to Russia to be with his ill grandfather. This will force OV to miss Tuesday's game against Nashville. Ovechkin has not missed a game since his rookie season, a streak lasting 203 consecutive games.

Once again Bruce Boudreau will have to shuffle the lines. Brooks Laich should replace Ovechkin on the top line, and either David Steckel or Eric Fehr will be inserted into the lineup for Tuesday night's game.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- October 25th

Tyler Sloan scores his first career NHL goal in the third period against Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars. Washington won the game 6-5 in Overtime. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press and Matt Slocum.

Post-Game: Capitals @ Stars

The Capitals win a wild one out west, 6-5 in Overtime. The win ended the Capitals three game losing streak and ended their road trip on a positive note, finishing the trip with a record of 1-2.

Washington had stellar performances from the supporting cast Saturday night as Sergei Fedorov and Tomas Fleischmann both chipped in a goal for each of the first two periods.

Once again, Jose Theodore had a spectacular game, turning away shot after shot. I think Capitals' fans no longer have buyer remorse as JT60 is living up to the hype.

The Caps had a 4-3 lead going into the third frame, but that did not even last one minute. Loui Eriksson scored his fourth goal of the season 56 seconds into the period to even the game up. Momentum was changing, but not if Tyler Sloan could say anything about it. Eriksson turned it over in the offensive zone and Viktor Kozlov (we missed you) scooped up the puck and had a 2 on 2 with Sloan on his left. They criss-crossed halfway through the offensive zone (looked choreographed) and when Koz's rebound went straight to Sloan, he put it away for his first career NHL goal.

Marty Turco had a shaky game in net for the Stars. He made a few big saves down the stretch, but JT60's performance out did him. Turco does not look like himself this year as his GAA is up by 2 goals from last year, and his save percentage is down 6%.

Dallas wouldn't give up just yet. Down by 1 with one minute left, they pulled Turco and charged ahead. The Stars dumped the puck behind Turco and out-worked the Capitals to win the puck along the boards. With his head up, Brendan Morrow found Mike Modano wide open infront of the net for the equalizer.

The Caps did not look fatigued in Overtime, and continued to press. Boyd Gordon won the puck down low and handed it off to Semin. Semin's pass to the middle was broken up and came right back to him. Out of options, he threw (shot) the puck at the net. It painted the upper corner and slipped beneath the cross-bar and over the blocker pad of Turco. Caps players dog-piled on-top of Semin as the Capitals celebrated "instant victory."

Quick hits:

  • Let's give a big "Hip-Hip Hooray!" to Tyler Sloan, who scored his first NHL goal and is quickly turning into a fan favorite.
  • Donald Brashear returned to action and got into a scrap with former Capitals draft pick (4th round, 1998) Krys Barch. Advantage: Brashear
  • The Capitals gave up three goals within 1 minute of the end/start of the period, including the game-tying goal with 56 seconds left.
  • Sergei Fedorov passed Alexander Mogilny for most career goals by a Russian. Federov now leads Russain-born players in every major offensive stat category.
  • Tomas Fleishmann scored two goals in one game for the second time in his career. Capitals fans haven't like Flash this much since last March.
  • Alex Semin scored again for his seventh goal of the year. Caps fans will be happy to know that he is on pace for 71 goals. This just in: Semin took a hooking penalty (really? that doesn't sound like him...)
  • Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both picked up an assist in the game, but Backis still has not scored a goal this year, while Ovechkin's only two tallies came in the first home game of the season.
  • Washington converted on 1/4 Power Play opportunites and killed off 3/4 of Dallas' extra-man chances.
  • Although the game went to Overtime, Mike Green played 29 minutes. The next closest Cap was Ovechkin with 24 minutes of icetime.
  • The Capitals were out-hit, 35-12.
  • Boyd Gordon (replacement for the scratched David Steckel) won 13/17 face-offs. Expect him to be in the lineup on Tuesday against Nashville.
Predictions Revisited


Viktor Kozlov- 0 Goals, 1 Assist. Comments- I said he would score, but I'm pretty sure he is happy with assisting Tyler Sloan on his first NHL goal.

Mike Green- 0 Goals, 1 Assist. Comments- I said he would get a goal AND assist, but he only got an assist on the game-winning goal. He was a big factor skating almost 30 minutes.

Jose Thoedore- 28 saves. Comments- Huge game for Theo. He now has a winning record with Washington and his GAA is going down as his save percentage is going up.


Mike Ribeiro- 0 Goals, 1 Assist. Comments- Ribeiro had a tough game assisting on only Loui Erikssons' goal at the beginning of the third period. The Caps did a great job holding Mike without a shot.

Sean Avery- 1 Goal, 1 Assist. Comments- Started the scoring in the first off a big rebound. He did pick up a high-sticking minor with five minutes left in the third period that could have cost the game for Dallas.

Brad Richards- 0 Goals, 0 Asissts. Comments- Richards was invisible out there. Some nights he decides to play, others he doesn't.

Final Thoughts- If you look back at the previous post, you'll see that I correctly predicted the game would need overtime (I'm getting good at this!). I also said Fabian Brunnstrom would score. Although I did not guess the winning team, every time I pick the Caps to win they lose, and everytime I think they will lose, they win...Check back on Tuesday to see who I think will win.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Stars

The Washington Capitals (3-3-1) try to end a three-game losing streak and salvage their west-coast road trip as they take on the Stars in Dallas. The last time the Caps won in the Lone Star State was 3-2 in OT on December 28, 2001. Since then, the Capitals are 1-5 against Dallas with a -15 goal differential.

The Caps will start (re)emerging star, Jose Theodore in net who has put up a 2.04 GAA on the road trip, while compiling both the loses. Although Jarome Iginla's goal probably should have been stopped, Jose has been spectacular the past few games and was the reason the Caps had a chance to win against Calgary and Phoenix.

On the other hand, the 3-4-1 Dallas Stars will put struggling star, Marty Turco in net tonight. Marty has picked up all seven decisions and has a GAA of over 4 and a save percentage of under .850 (ouch!). But he his facing the Caps, a team that he has never lost to (3-0, 1.21 GAA).

Washington has good news as Victor Kozlov returns to the lineup tonight. Although not 100%, Koz's absence has been felt on the first line as Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have combined for only six points through the first seven games. John Erskine is also back in the lineup after missing the Coyotes game. He will be paired with Milan Jurcina along the back line (according to Capitals Insider).

The key for the Capitals is again going to be the Power Play. The Caps are 6/36 (16.7% )with the extra man, which is about ten percent lower than what they are capable of. Although the PP is struggling, the Penalty Kill should not be overlooked. Washington has allowed the most power play goals (tie) this season and will be without penalty killer, David Steckel who along with Eric Fehr will be healthy scratches.

Tonight's game would be a good time to improve those dismal numbers as Dallas ranks near the bottom of the league in the Power Play (15.8%) and the Penalty Kill (77.5%).



Victor Kozlov- 1 Goal, 0 Assists. Comments- Although not completley healthy, Koz on the first line is a much better idea than sticking Chris Clark up there.

Mike Green- 1 Goal, 1 Assist. Comments- Look for "Game Over" to get back on track tonight. Both his points will come on the re-vamped Power Play.

Jose Theodore- 24 Saves. Comments- JT60 with another great game. Without him, this game could get a little lob-sided.


Mike Ribeiro- 1 Goal, 2 Assists. Comments- This guy is the real deal, coming of a 5-point night against the Islanders, he's going to get on the board early and often.

Sean Avery- 0 Goals, 0 Assists. Comments- It's Sean Avery, he's going to be a problem for the opposing team every night.

Brad Richards- 0 Goals, 2 Assists. Comments- The former Tampa-Bay Lightning forward has 29 career points against the Caps, and is going to rack up a few more tonight on the Power Play.

Final Score

Washington 3 Dallas 4 (OT)

Comments- The Capitals WILL get their Power Play back on track, BUT Marty Turco is just too much for the Capitals tonight. His outlet pass to Rookie of the Year candidate, Fabian Brunnstrom will end the game in Overtime.

NHL Image of the Night- October 24th

Marcel Goc of the San Jose Sharks is in hot pursuit of the puck against the Florida Panthers. Florida came from behind to win 4-3. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Friday, October 24, 2008

NHL Image of the Night- October 23rd

Sean Avery sends Sean Bergenheim air-born during the Dallas Stars 5-3 victory over the New York Islanders in Uniondale, NY. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press.

Post-Game: Capitals @ Coyotes

Caps lose at Phoenix, 2-1. Another dissapointing loss as the chances were there but Mikael Tellqvist played a great game compiling 31 saves en route to the victory.

Telly stole the spotlight as Jose Theodore played another great game for the Washington Capitals who just can't seem to get it right on offense, converting on 1 of 4 power plays.

Brooks Laich started off the scoring in the second period on the Power Play, with assists from Semin and Backstrom. The Power Play looked improved with more passes and less time holding the puck.

The 'Yotes got on the board early in the third period thanks to a defensive zone turnover by Tyler Sloan. Olli Jokinen picked up the puck, then passed to Mikkel Boedker who squeezed it by JT60. Four minutes later, Phoenix got a 2 on 1 odd man advantage and Shaone Morrisonn got beat back door by young star Peter Mueller.

The Capitals blew another lead on the road to make it two in a row, they will try again in Dallas in two days before returning to face Nashville on Tuesday.

Other quick hits:

  • Mikael Tellqvist picked up his first win in his first start of the season.
  • Mikkel Boedker scored his first goal of the season.
  • The Coyotes first round pick in 2008,Viktor Tikhonov only played 2:21 after leaving the game in the first following a collision with Mike Green.
  • Nicklas Backstrom got his first point since opening night.
  • Jose Theodore lost for the first time in Phoenix since 2001.

Predictions Revisited


Alex Ovechkin: 0 Goals, 0 Assists. Comments- Had a chance late, but could not roof the puck. He did manage 7 shots on goal. Be patient Caps fans, it's only a matter of time.

Alex Semin: 0 Goals, 1 Assist. Comments- Had a very nice toe drag that led to the Caps only goal.

Michael Nylander: 0 Goals, 0 Assists. Comments- Starting to see extended Power Play time, so the assists will begin to pile up as soon as the Alex's decide to start scoring.


Olli Jokinen: 0 Goals, 1 Assist. Comments- He intercepted Sloan's clearing attempt and fed Boedker for Phoenix's first tally of the night.

Mikkel Boedker: 1 Goal, 0 Assists. Comments- I called it. Received a nice feed from Jokinen, and put it between the arm and body of Jose.

Kyle Turris: 0 Goals, 0 Assists. Comments- Not much you can do in only 10 minutes of ice time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Coyotes

The Caps return to Arena for the first time since 2006, when Alex Ovechkin scored "The Goal," and the Capitals won, 6-1.

The Capitals and Coyotes are much different teams this time around as both of them offer exciting young players to compliment veteran leadership.

Phoenix chooses to go with Mikael Tellqvist tonight, who will get his first start of the young season. Telly sports a 1-1 record against the Caps with a save percentage just under .900.

Washington will counter with Jose Theodore who is beginning to look like the Jose Theodore of past years (Montreal Jose).

The biggest concern for Capitals fans is wondering when "it" will click. Nicklas Backstrom has struggled at the start of his first two seasons, but Alex Ovechkin is struggling as well. When these stars are playing up to potential, and the power play is clicking, who knows how good this team can be.



Alex Ovechkin: 1 Goal, 1 Assist. Comments- He will make a memorable return to the venue of the 2005 Goal of the Year.

Alex Semin: 1 Goal, 0 Assists. Comments- This will be a "Sportscenter Top 10" goal and give the fans another 'Alex' to be in amazement at. Hopefully it will make up for the dumb slashing penalty he will take.

Michael Nylander: 0 Goals, 2 Assists. Comments- Once the Capitals realize that Nyles belongs on the Power Play, good things will start happening.


Olli Jokinen: 1 Goal, 1 Assist. Comments- This Cap-killer has a stat line of 14-15-29 against Washington.

Mikkel Bodeker: 1 Goal, 0 Assists. Comments- Absolutely love this Danish kid. He will be a big name in the years to come.

Kyle Turris: 0 Goals, 2 Assists. Comments- Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008-2009 Rookie of the Year.

Final Score

Washington 4 Phoenix 2

Comments- I correctly predicted last game that the Caps would take bad penalties and the Flames would score on the Power Play, but this game will be different. Washington will be a little more discipline, and if they can stop Phoenix's young fire power, they can get the win.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Post-Game: Capitals @ Flames

Caps take the loss on the road against the Flames, 2-1.

Well at least Jose Theodore did not allow a goal on the opponent's first shot.

Frankly coming from a Capitals fan, that was torture to watch. The Capitals went on a 9:00 minute powerplay (does that even exist??). Unable to capitalize on what ended up as 7:05, with the extra man, the Capitals were lackluster with the man advantage. Gabby opted to put the energy line out on the powerplay that included the likes of Bradley and Brashear...

Fed got on the board in the first with a nice deflection off Shultz's shot/pass, but that was one of few bright moments from the Capitals end.

Calgary scored two quick goals in 1:42 to start the second period and had a lead that they would not relinquish.

In the third, the PP looked out of sync once more. The passing lanes just were not open tonight as the Caps went 0-5 on the night. Although it wasn't as dismal as the Flames' 1-10 Power Play, zero goals on five attempts is unacceptable.

Other quick hits:

Boudreau sported his glasses, which haven't been seen since November of last year

Mike Green looked like he had something to prove as he was doing way too much.

Sergei Federov is now tied for most goals by Russian players with Alexander Mogilny

Tyler Sloan had the hit of the night that induced a 9 minute power play in the first period. Sloan, along with Shultz and Green all grew up in Calgary.

Predictions Revisited


Alex Ovechkin- 1 Assist, off by two goals. On another night the puck could have bounced his way as he had his chances.

Mike Green- +/- of -1, no goals or assists as predicted. Missed a few opportunities by sending multiple shots wide

Flash-Nyles-Brads Line- Not together the whole game and did not live up to my lofty expectations, but did combine for 1/3 of the Capitals shots.


Dion Phaneuf- If it wasn't for a great save by JT60 in the opening minute, Dion would have got a tally. No goals, but 4 shots in 30 minutes of ice time.

Jarome Iginla- One goal (as predicted), a soft one at that...but then again Theodore stops the hard ones, and lets in the easy ones.

Miikka Kiprusoff- 31 saves. Good game, challenged a few times, but with the amount of Washington PPs and the lackluster attempt on those Power Plays, Kippy got off easy tonight.

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Flames

The Capitals start the first of their three game road trip against the Flames tonight. The last time these two played, Olaf Kolzig picked up his 300th win. This win came three days after a crushing defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins (with help from Nicklas Backstrom).

With the win against Calgary, the Caps finished the season with an 11-1 record.

The Capitals are going to go with Jose Theodore in net. Jose looks like he is feeling a little more comfortable in net after a shaky start. As Japer's Rink points out, Brent Johnson has played more minutes than JT60 so far.

This game will showcase some of the most exciting talent in the league as Ovechkin, Green, Semin, Iginla, Phaneuf, and Kiprusoff are all household names.

Now would be a good time for AO to play like the AO we all know. He is on track for under 50 points which is a half (maybe a third) of what he is capable of. Theodore will most likely play the next three out of four games, either resting in Dallas, or the first game home against the Preds.

Each game, I will offer up three predictions for players from both sides and compare my forecast with actual stats in my post-game blog.



Alex Ovechkin- 2 Goals, 1 Assist. Comments- He'll give fans their loonie's worth.

Mike Green- 0 Goals, 1 Assist. Comments- No goals in his homecoming, but watch for bone-rattling hits from Mike "Game Over" Green.

Fleischmann-Nylander-Bradley Line- 2 Goals, 4 Assists. Comments- This line will click instantly. Nyles will love feeding the puck to the rejuvenated Flash, and Bradley is the prefect compliment for those two with his fore checking and grind-it-out style.


Dion Phaneuf- 1 Goal, 0 Assists. Comments- He'll pick up his first goal of the season and double Mike Green's hit total.

Jarome Iginla- 1 Goal, 2 Assists. Comments- With all of his points coming on the power play, Washington will continue to be a victim of delaying the game and laying the lumber.

Miikka Kiprusoff- 34 Saves. Comments- Calgary would be blown out if it wasn't for this game changer. With Kippy in net, Calgary has a chance to contend in every game.

Final Score

4 Calgary 3

Comments- Goals aplenty as shaky defense and bad penalties plague both teams. Capitals play catch-up again and score twice in the third period to pull out another close victory.

Monday, October 20, 2008

First Post!

Okay, after religiously reading some of my favorite Capitals blogs for the past few weeks including: Japers' Rink, Storming the Crease, and On Frozen Blog to name a few, I decided to make my own.

In my blog, I will cover Capitals news, notes, and information relevant to the team. There will be pre-game and post-game analysis for every Capitals game, and I will occasionally touch on the Hershey Bears as well.

The name of my blog came from the popular saying by Capitals color announcer, Joe Beninati who started saying the catchy phrase in 2005-2006 after "The Goal." I hope to update the blog as much as possible and look forward to "Simply Sensational!" to becoming a household name. So until then, Go Caps!