Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Bruins

I am in the Bronx for the weekend visiting a friend of mine and I'll get back to the blog most likely on Monday.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Post-Game: Capitals vs Thrashers

Once again the Capitals jumped out to a two goal lead, this time they held on to it just long enough to get past the Thrashers.

  • Alex Semin (increased his trade value?) had a hell of a game getting a goal and two assists, all on the power play. The Caps are 6-1 when Semin has three or more points with the only loss coming against the Thrashers the first game of the year.
  • Michal Neuvirth had another solid performance against another struggling team in the Southeast Division. An ideal scenario for me would to see Neuvirth/Varlamov play in 3-4 games. while Jose Theodore gets the other 16-17.
  • If this was last year, Eric Fehr's goal would have been stopped. The kid's getting the confidence and lucky bounces he needs. He also got 10 goals in one season in less games (41 GP) than Brooks Laich last year and Tomas Fleischmann this year.
  • We need Viktor Kozlov on this team.
  • How about some secondary shooting? Laich with 7 shots, Sergei Fedorov adding in four more.
  • Kari Lehtonen kinda sucked this game. He really didn't show up for this one.
  • Toby Enstrom had six blocked shots...Nice. Probably the second best Swede who played tonight.
  • Ilya Kovalchuck is going to score 35 goals for the next eight (or more) years. He was one shy of 30 in his rookie season (65 GP), but there is nothing except for the horrendous team he plays for holding this guy back.
  • Finally, there was no Brashear-Bogosian bout, but Brash-Boulton made up for it:

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Thrashers

Last spring, I was fortunate enough to spend my spring break fully engulfed in hockey. The week started on Sunday went I went up to Hershey to watch the Bears play the Manitoba Moose. The Bears defeated the Moose after being on an extended road trip.

After visiting schools in that area, my father and I headed back to Arlington for a quick pit stop in the middle of the week. I one night that we stayed home, my friends and I caught a show at Black Cat. The Cribs were featured and have since become one of my favorite bands.

Thursday we took a plane down to Atlanta to meet up with some of my father's friends. This was right after that tornado tore through downtown Atlanta, but the Philips Arena was intact. After some sightseeing the first few days, we witnessed Alex Ovechkin's 60th goal in an impressive 5-3 victory. I took a few pictures while I was down there and here they are (like all hockey photo albums, my camera died in the 2nd period but its whatever):

And then there's this picture (somewhat NSFW/stalkerish)

Also, if you look really close, you can see my father and I in the crowd. As Ovechkin scores, look below the "ATL" on the top line for two fans who jump up and hold up white signs.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Post-Game: Capitals vs Flyers

Three third period goals and eight penalties later, the Caps lose to the Flyers, dropping to 1-2 against them on the season:

  • From the pregame, Philly is now 5-2-1 at the Verizon Center since the start of last season.
  • When Jeff Carter scores, the Flyers are 4-0-1.
  • Philadelphia is now 5-1 when scoring at least four goals.
On to the game:

  • Jeff Schutlz forced Jim Johnson (Flyers announcer) to compare Aaron Asham to Alex Ovechkin by having Asham dance around him for the insurance goal. Schultz has never been my favorite 'D' Man, and that will stay that way until he figures out how to use his body.
  • There's no room in hockey for what John Erskine did. The stick to the family jewels is what Flyers do classless.
  • Ovechkin had more than 10 minutes on the Power Play and only got an assist in seven chances with the extra man.
  • Jose Theodore likes starring at rebounds three feet away from him....Containing the rebound? Not so much.
  • Nicklas Backstrom continued his seven game point streak. Over that span, he has three goals and seven assists. (The Caps are 1-2 when he scores in that span).
  • The Flyers are now 3-15-3 when trailing going into the third period.
The loss drops the Caps to nine points back of Boston after their win over Buffalo. Next up is Atlanta, whom we've only played twice (weird)...

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our $145 Millon Dollar Men

Please. Never again.

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Flyers

With all this rivalry talk going on after the Caps destroyed defeated the Pens on national television, let's not forget our rivals up I-95, the Philadelphia Flyers. Don't get me wrong, the Pens and Caps are fierce rivals, but Philly will be a threat come April. (Besides, we all know who (make that 'what') the Penguins' will be playing in spring).

For the Caps, their two meetings with the Flyers have been a tale of two cities. After a stellar first period by Antero Niittymaki, the Caps lost their will the rest of the game and left with a 7-1 embarrassing loss (which is why I voted "focus" on DMG's post regarding roadblocks for the Caps).

But I quickly rethought that answer after checking the schedule and seeing that the Caps won seven straight after that ugly loss...including a 2-1 redemption victory at home against the Flyers.

So what's been going on over the past two years (stats since the start of last season, including the playoffs) between the clubs when they meet?

  • Washington is 6-5-2 against Philadelphia.
  • In one goal games, the Caps are 5-1-2.
  • The Flyers are 4-2-1 at the Verizon Center.
  • Both teams are 4-1 when scoring at least four goals.
  • The Caps are 4-0-2 when Nicklas Backstrom scores.
  • When Sergei Fedorov plays less than 21 minutes, the Caps are 3-0. When he's on the ice for more than 21 minutes, the Caps are 0-2-2.
  • Shots have been pretty even, with the Flyers holding a 425 to 420 lead.
  • Philadelphia also leads in goals 44 to 35, which would put them ahead in shooting percentage: 10.4% to 8.3%.
  • When Jeff Carter scores, Philly is 3-0-1.
  • Caps are 3-0-1 when Eric Fehr has between 8 and 13 minutes.
A win and a Boston loss puts us five points back with Saturday's matinee match up just five days away.
BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Penguins

BallHype: hype it up!

Hershey Beats Philadelphia on a Buzzer Beater

The Bears were down 3-1 and again 4-2, but came back and Aucoin scored as time expired in the overtime period. Philly iced the puck and the Bears touched it with less than five seconds left forcing an offensive zone draw. Aucoin wins that and the puck lands on his stick after Giroux's shot is blocked.

Here are some pictures from the game:

Finally, Jay Beagle scores to tie the game up with under seven minutes left:

BallHype: hype it up!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is Alex Ovechkin in GTA IV?

Strolling the streets of Liberty City late at night, I recognized a face that looked familiar, so I checked it out, and sure enough:

This looks like they just slapped Ovi's picture up on the poster! (Okay not really, but the caricature looks A LOT like him).

What do you think?

Does the picture look like Alex Ovechkin?
Wow, it does look like him.
Uhhh, not really dude.
LOL. Not a chance! free polls

BallHype: hype it up!

Post-Game: Capitals vs Avalanche

"When was the last time we played down to our competition?" Boudreau said. "We've lost two games [in regulation] in our last 14 and [the Kings] won [four] games in a row on that road trip against good teams. We weren't playing down to them -- they were playing really well.

In defense of Colorado, they have beaten the Red Wings three times this year, but still find themselves in the cellar in the Western Conference. So I'm not sure if this counts as playing down to the competition, but a 4-1 loss on home ice against Andrew Raycroft should and can not happen:

  • After watching Nicklas Backstrom's hit at the end of the game a few times, he left his feet and it was late (maybe some elbow action too). You want to see aggression from all players, but within the rules and code of the game.
  • Nicklas Kronwall lead all players with six hits. How much you want to bet that he'd want one against Ryan Smyth back?
  • The net must have looked small tonight for Kronwall, Eric Fehr, and Alex Semin who all missed chances that would have gone in on other nights.
  • The 4th line was NOT good tonight. Matt Bradley was on the ice for three Colorado goals and Donald Brashear's (6:28 TOI) turnover in the defensive zone led to Tyler Arnason's third period marker.
  • Jose Theodore proved why he is the 27th best goalie in the league tonight.
  • David Steckel went 90% (9/10) in the face-off circle. And Backstrom must have read JP's article on him and face-offs. Nicky went 9/14 (67%) overall and 5/7 (71%) in the defensive zone.
  • Its hard to believe that Brian Willsie played in all 82 games and scored 19 goals in Alex Ovechkin's rookie season. Willsie has 16 goals in the past three years.
  • Caps had 16 giveaways compared to nine by the Avs. Turnovers lead to goals boys...
  • Next Western Conference opponent would be the Nashville Predators, who will host the Caps on March 10th. Maybe Taylor Swift will be there? (Taylor Swift will be in Melbourne on March 10th and not at the Preds/Caps game...Not like I'm scouring her tour dates to see when she's coming to the DC/MD/VA area or anything).
Finally some pics to finish this disappointing night:

BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Puck Daddy Has Gone Back in Time!

As if these guys couldn't come up with any more nifty ideas about the current state of the NHL...How about going back in time to change a few things? (Click to enlarge).

What will they think of next?

BallHype: hype it up!

Post-Game: Capitals vs Canadiens

What else can you say about Alex Ovechkin?

"You have to try something new," Ovechkin added about the play at the center ice. "Sometimes I try in practice and people say what are you doing? Sometimes I need to changed it and it's working. It was an important game for us, an important goal especially when they score right on power play."

What?! Ovi practices these things?? Then no wonder he can do this or this. It took less than one minute for the "MVP" chants to take over Verizon Center. He's got points in 10 straight, including TWO hat tricks in that span.

Other than the Great 8, there was a game to be played that the Caps at times seem like they would dominate, but at other times, ehh, not so much:

  • Nicklas Backstrom has only four shootout attempts? He's batting .500 and should be in Boudreau's top three for the shootout.
  • David Steckel was more excited about his goal than Ovi was for his. Stecks' goal tied things up with a little less than three minutes left. Stecks won the draw (64% on face-offs) and went right to the net as he should, and was rewarded.
  • Mike Green looked tired. His facial expression after taking an early delay-of-game penalty looked as though he was sleepy. If in fact, he wasn't sleepy, he is now after playing almost 30 minutes (!).
  • Jose Theodore had a rough game. He could have stopped the Habs' first two goals, but he was off tonight. He should be happy with the overall outcome...30 saves and a victory against his former team.
  • Donald Brashear showed tremendous restraint on not beating the crap out of fighting George Laraque. Besides, we all know how that one turns out.
  • All three goals scored on the power play? That's happened three too many times this year, and it needs to
The Caps are now nine points back of Boston and two ahead of New Jersey. Next up is Colorado, who Greener should love to play against:

Also check out a breakdown of Ovechkin's unbelievable goal.
BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ovechkin's Submission for "Goal of the Year"

Let's see what we got here:
  • Undress one defender via the self pass? Check.
  • Out-skate the second defender? Check.
  • Score as he's getting hooked? Check.
  • Celebrate before the puck goes in? Check.
  • Act as if nothing happened while celebrating on his keister? Check.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Canadiens

If the Caps win tonight, the player who scores the game-winning goal will receive one dollar and a letter from the 'No Habs No!' campaign at Sens Army. Sorry for the lack of posts, but there WILL be post-game news and notes

Monday, February 16, 2009

Q & A with Josh Godfrey

From Hockey's Future:
HF: With four defensemen tonight, did your coach tell you guys to conserve energy?
JG: You just kind of want to keep it simple. Unless you're going to make it a 3-on-2 or 2-on-1, you don't really want to jump up.

HF: Did you talk about that strategy ahead of time or is it something you just know to do?
JG: Well yeah, we should be getting the puck deep all the time. But more so now because we only had four guys back there. I think it plays into our style of game -- chip it in and go get it.

HF: Was it kind of tough to see the blue lines tonight with the pink ice (for women's cancer research)?
JG: Yeah, it was, on the faceoff circles and all that. I think the refs had a lot of trouble with that on the offsides. But both teams had to deal with it, so there's no excuse either way.

HF: How would you assess your personal season so far?
JG: I had a couple of injuries, but I've been doing what the coach asks me and doing what the organization think I should do, and just trying my best.

HF: Can you go over your injuries? You were also ill, correct?
JG: I got sick up in Hershey and separated my AC joint in my shoulder twice (where the clavicle and collarbone meet). And I had this little accident with the skate (points to cut on ankle). But it hasn't hindered my play too much.

HF: With the AC joint injury, does your shoulder hang lower now?
JG: Yeah, it's a a little lower than my other one.

HF: But it doesn't hurt anymore?
JG: No.

HF: What were your instructions from Hershey when they sent you down?
JG: They had eight or nine defensemen up there so they just told me they wanted me to come somewhere that I could play and stay on the ice. I was young so I didn't need to be rushed into anything. The main thing is they wanted me to keep playing.

HF: They didn't say they wanted you to work on 'this thing' in particular?
JG: Well, being a young player, a lot of young guys have to work on their defensive play. That's a big part of defense, obviously, and that's what I'm trying to work on down here most.

HF: Do you think you'll be here the rest of the year then?
JG: We'll see what happens. If Washington has injuries, you never know what can happen. Play were they want me to.

HF: A guy who you played with last year in Sault Ste. Marie, Michael Fine, is eligible for the draft this year. Can you tell me about him?
JG: Yeah, he's a talented player. He was a young guy who came in last year, was a third or fourth line center for us. He can win draws, he can fight. I'm kind of looking forward to the draft to see how high he goes because he's a very good player. Flies under the radar a little bit.

HF: Why don't you think he gets noticed?
JG: He's not a guy to be flashy on the ice, he just makes simple plays. Sometimes players like that don't catch your eye. But at the end of the night, he's the guy who's always going to get the puck deep and make smart plays.

HF: In the NHL, would he project as a checking line guy then?
JG: Yeah, third, fourth line center, and he can play wing.

HF: I noticed that for an offensive defenseman, you don't have a lot of curve on your stick. Have you experimented with a curvier stick?
JG: I used to use almost a straight blade. But you kind of want to keep the puck down. I feel if I put too much curve on it, it's going to go over the net all the time. I still have trouble with that sometimes, as straight as it is.

HF: But don't you have more control over it if it's curvier?
JG: Yeah, but if you're rushed taking a shot or it's a one-timer, you don't really have time to get set for it and the puck's going to go up with the curve of the stick. If you have a big fish hook on it, it's going to go over the net.

HF: Do you think your accuracy has gotten better this year?
JG: Yeah, especially my last couple years in junior. I went from scoring four, five goals to 24 the next year, so I could always shoot the puck hard but I kind of worked on my accuracy in summer skating.

HF: Have you taken a little velocity off to get it more accurate?
JG: No, not necessarily. Maybe in the beginning, but once you get comfortable shooting from your normal spots on the ice, like on the power play shooting from the middle, you can put more and more velocity on the puck.

HF: I noticed that you did something with your stick on the net at the start of periods, what's that about?
JG: Just a superstition -- post, crossbar, post. I don't know, I've done it since my first year of junior.

HF: Have you ever forgotten to do it?
JG: If I forgot about it, I wouldn't know about it (laughs). I'm sure if I forgot it wouldn't be the end of the world. I have a couple other little things, but it's nothing.

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Post-Game: Capitals @ Lightning

In a game where it seemed like everything could happen, everything did happen.

First off:

  • Props to Mike Green on setting the NHL modern day record for consecutive games with a goal. 2/3 of his goals have come on the power play. Taking a quick look at the Caps schedule, and Green has got at least a goal against all of the Caps' opponents this month except Pittsburgh. Green has two assists in 11 games in his career against the Penguins.
  • Props to Michal Neuvirth (remember the "hard" 't' at the end of his name) on his first NHL win in his first NHL game. His dad flew in from Czech Republic to see his son play. After the game, a fan asked for a picture with him and he responded by saying, "I flew in from Czech Republic yesterday." Maybe his son will take the time to teach him english.
  • Props to Eric Fehr who has five goals in his last six games. Eric even had a game and career high of six shots on net in 13:00 minutes of ice time. He's starting to show much more confidence in the past few weeks.
  • Props to RED NATION...or whatever Caps fans in other cities want to be called. The lower bowl was noticably red tonight, with Caps fans everywhere. Heck even Caps Road Crew was in attendance.

  • I did not approve for the Morrisonn over Alzner decision, but it paid off with Mo's goal. The Caps need their 'D' men to push each other, and with Alzner knocking on the door for playing time, Mo stepped up.
  • I did not notice Kronwall a lot tonight, but when I did, it was bad. His man scored on the only goal, but other than that mishap, he fared well in tonight's game.
  • Matt Smaby really decked out Ovechkin on a few nice hits tonight. He finished with a game-high four hits.
  • Nick Backstrom was 3/13 on face-offs. Tisk, tisk. Backstrom MUST improve on this by late spring. He added two assists, but face-offs are crucial and 23% is pathetic.
  • Semin with the goal. Semin with the hook. Every (explitive) game!
  • I've noticed Tom Poti is taking more chances and skating with the puck deep into the opponents zone, but hasn't been rewarded yet. And the opponent has taken advantage of him being out of position...yet.

All in favor of starting Neuvirth tomorrow against Florida? Well, maybe not, but he looked darn good making 31 saves. Varlamov made the same amount in his last start and the goalie position looks pretty solid for the years to come.

BallHype: hype it up!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Lightning

Here's hoping for at least one more game of this for tonight:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Post-Game: Capitals @ Rangers

It's hard to believe that Marek Malik's incredible shootout goal against Washington happened more than three years ago at the Garden. Only five Capitals remain on from that team (plus Poti and Nylander from the Rangers), and unfortunately for Washington, it only took New York four rounds to beat the Caps this time:

  • Mike Green. I knew something was special when he scored that coast-to-coast goal against the Avalanche in 2006. Enough with the "He's not a true 'D' man." I could care less. He's got as many goals as Sidney Crosby does....and Sidney is spotting him 12 games. Just give him the Norris already.
  • Milan Jurcina looked out of position on one two three of the Rangers goals. But then again, why am I surprised?
  • Shaone Morrisonn is playing his way out of a spot. The Caps got an extra defenceman for a reason, and ShaMo might be that reason.
  • Alex Ovechkin was contained pretty well by Marc Staal and the rest of the Blueshirts. His 13 hits were more than double the highest hit total for a NYR player.
  • Jay Beagle played pretty solid in his NHL debut...Look for a post coming up real soon about him. (Just 2/7 on face-offs, but its hard to fault the kid).
  • It's about time Donald Brashear does something...He seems to like fighting against the Rangers. Was Bradley's fight really necessary? Oh well, the Caps need more fighting anyways.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pre-Game: Capitals @ Rangers

A week ago, the Capitals found themselves in second place, one point above the Devils who were hosting the Caps on February 3rd. A loss and Washington would drop to third place, a win and the Caps would continue to push forward in hopes of catching the Boston Bruins. Solid goaltending and five goals scored against one of the league's stingiest defenses proved to be too much for the Devils.

A week later, the Caps find themselves in the same position. A win against the Rangers and Washington can retain second place. But if the Devils crush beat the Islanders tonight, they can take over second place.

The Rangers are struggling mightily and have the same number of goals (five) in their last five games as Washington does in their last four periods. They can't score at home and their last win against a top eight team in the east was December 13th against Carolina...and they needed a shootout to do it. At this point, the Rangers do not look like they have what it takes to make the playoffs.

On the Caps' side of things:

Alexander Semin is injured. That's probably the 50 billionth time I've typed that sentence, but sadly it's true. So I'm guessing no Semin-Staal rematch. Or Semin could play when he should be recovering from an injury, its not like he's never done that before...

Countdown to Michal Neuvirth's first start it T-minus three games away (maybe/hopefully)...

Jose Theodore
is 11-8-2/2.41/9.16 lifetime against New York and has a seven game win streak at Madison Square Garden dating back to March 2002...

Boyd Gordon
has two goals on nine shots in his career against the Rangers. That's 22.2% for you math majors...Shoot Boyd, shoot!

A season sweep of the Rangers would be the first in Cap history.

BallHype: hype it up!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Post-Game: Capitals vs Panthers

I went old school on this one and listened to it on the radio (not my choice), so there will be no post game :( .

Pre-Game: Capitals vs Panthers

While the Capitals are trying to figure out how to narrow the gap with the Conference-leading Bruins, the Panthers have crept into the 8th playoff spot and would cut the Caps' Divisional lead to 10 points with a win. Florida has failed to pick up a standings point in only two of their last 14 games. That includes a 7-2-3 month of January.

The Panthers have been extremely successful against the division, going 7-1-2 in their past 10 within the Southeast. In fact the Caps haven't even beat the Cats this year, losing the only match 5-3.

Its going to be interesting to see how (if) Staffan Kronwall and Alexandre Giroux play. Kronwall has yet to play in an NHL game this season and Giroux still leads the AHL in scoring. Washington is 9-2 in games that Giroux plays in, but 'Rooster' has just six points in 22 NHL games (one with the Rangers).

Tomas Vokoun should start tonight for Florida. Craig Anderson has only won twice since December 13th and got yanked after allowing three first-period goals in a recent game. Vokoun has struggled also, going 4-10-1 (3.22 GAA) away from Sunrise Fl. He is 6-6 lifetime versus Washington.
By now everyone has seen Richard Zednik's highlight-reel goal...Now check out what Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said about the former Cap (via Miami Herald):
''That was a great play, definitely highlight-of-the-night material,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. ``He's scored a few like that this year. He's a guy I haven't given enough credit to lately. He's starting to get rewarded at the net. . . . He's a game-breaker. Your best players have to be your best players down the stretch, and he's in that group of guys. Right now, he's delivering.''

It will be one year to the day on February 10th that Zednik suffered that freighting skate to the jugular.

BallHype: hype it up!

Stat of the Day

Did you know the last time that Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green all scored and the Capitals lost was October 21, 2006 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. When the trio scored, the Caps were 6-1... That was until Washington lost their last game to the Kings on Thursday.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, February 6, 2009

And the Capitals Blog Rankings Are In...

DC Pro Sports Report put out reviews on as many Capitals blogs as possible, and "Simply Sensational!" made the list, getting 4/5 stars! I'm so proud of how far this blog has come from its origin during a west coast road trip in the middle of October. Here is what DCPSR had to say:
I like this blog. We have added it to our Link page. Good, solid coverage, enjoyable read. We encourage you to check it out. Consistent posting, good, active blog. Rank: * * * *
Thanks for reading, tell your friends, and Go Caps!

Note:I'm doing double duties of late writing here and for The Hockey Writers. I've posted another injury-related article that you can read here:

Johnson Out for the Year

Post-Game: Capitals vs Kings

Some games you lose, and that's that...Other games you lose and you have that sour taste in your mouth. Tonight's game was more of the latter.

  • 15 seconds in, I thought the game was over. Great hustle by Brooks Laich and a great finish by Alexander Semin for his 20th. I'm sure the Caps thought they were going to run away with this one also, but the Western Conference has been their kryptonite: The Caps are 7-9 in non-conference games.
  • I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but the power play needs to play defense also. Giving up shorthanded goals and breakaways are momentum killers and good teams don't allow chances when the other team is a man down.
  • How many times has a hot goalie on a mediocre team (See: Steve Mason) come into our house and stifle our sharpshooters? Jonathan Quick stopped 41 shots, and listeners had to deal with lame puns every time Quick moved side to side.
  • Alex Ovechkin's nine shots were a game-high and Ovi was rewarded with his 200th goal in his 295th game.
  • Jeff Shultz- Tisk, tisk. Yeah just keep backing up, let the King's best player have his space and time to pick his target. Great scouting.
  • Eric Fehr did have five shots, but didn't look that good. No worries (see image below).

BallHype: hype it up!