Saturday, October 24, 2009

Capitals-Islanders Winners & Losers


Jose Theodore. Theodore looks really, really good. He also had a great game. Counting the San Jose game where he was taken out with back spasms after the first period, he's allowed two or less goals in four of his six starts. If Theo remains healthy, the Theolamov combo is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Mike Green. He could have taken a shot on the final play instead, he chipped it at a streaking Brooks Laich who re-directed it behind Dwayne Roloson (who just might have made it to the the locker room before the Capitals emptied their bench to celebrate). MGGO also scored his second of the season with a laser beam in the second period. Not too bad for a guy who was on the receiving end of a vicious knee-to-knee hit earlier in the game.

Keith Aucoin. When he wasn't trying to stick handle with his bum on the ice, Aucoin had a solid game. Tons of energy and throwing pucks on net defined tonight's performance. Keith now has three goals in his past 10 games for Washington dating back to last season (two have come against the Islanders).

John Tavares. This kid is freakin good.

Caps Fans. The Road Crew was there, the Fan Club was there, and the guy with the red cape was there. Awesome.


Craig Laughlin. I'm happy that little Timmy scored for his soccer team. I'm less happy that it took you five minutes to explain what happened while Smokin' Al was trying to call the game.


Power Play. Another 'O'fer on the night. Tisk, tisk. It's nice to see guys like Giroux and Aucoin 'earn' time, but it's also nice to see a power play goal once in a while. Someone needs to figure out two units and stick with them. Gabby can mess with the 5-on-5 lines all he wants, but I think line consistency with the extra man is the key.

Face-offs. Yahoo! says 20/66, NHL says 17/50. Not sure what's going on here. Not to single anyone out or anything, but David Steckel didn't win a draw in the third period (0/4) and was 4/15 overall.

Eric Fehr. Please learn how to take a hit and hold on to the puck. Please?

Other Thoughts

  • We all knew Nate Thompson is a fighter. Now we all know that he's a dirty player.
  • Brendan Morrison just might be is the most underrated free agent pickup of the year. There, I said what everyone's thinking.
  • Capitals shots: 24. Capitals shots that were blocked: 21. Good defense or bad shot selection?
  • The Caps were outplayed and probably didn't deserve to win. Washington is going to get blown out of the water if they play like this in their next game (Tuesday vs. Philadelphia).
  • We'll end things on a photo of Alex Giroux's best chance. Com'on Rooster, eyes on the puck!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Happy Birthday.. us!

It's been one crazy first year on the blogging scene, but if you're new to this site, here's what you missed since October 20, 2008:

[October 20, 2008] Apparently I did not revise posts back then to correct grammar mistakes.

[October 30, 2008] Believe it or not, Alexander Semin and Thomas Vanek are, in fact, the same people.

[November 10, 2008] I erroneously report Chris Cooley attends his first hockey game. Yahoo! Sports links..AOL Fanhouse links... Japers' links... and my credibility drops from 0 to -837656.

[November 11, 2008] I almost make up for it by finding a helluva stat about the fourth line.

[November 18, 2008] Don't let Ryan Getzlaf get a multi-point game.

[November 29, 2008] I find out that this is not 2005 anymore and that I can't quit life and make a steady income off Google Ad Sense. Damn Joel Comm, you were so convincing!

[December 6, 2008] Waaaay too many (former) Ohio State players playing for the Caps. Must. Sign. Wolverines.

[December 7, 2008] In Hershey to watch the Bears play against guys like Anisimov, Del Zotto, and Bobby Sanguinetti. The prospect analysis could not be further from more true.

[January 17, 2009] I accept a position with The Hockey Writers. Now I can quit life and make a steady income blogging.

[February 21, 2009] After hours of mindlessly shooting up Liberty City in GTA IV, I seriously found someone who looks exactly like Alex Ovechkin. Go look right now, that's him. Seriously.

[February 22, 2009] If you ice the puck when you are up one goal with five seconds left in the game, you probably won't lose. Probably. Go Bears.

[April 16, 2009] Jeff Schultz does not appreciate being selected to be punched in the face.

[June 24, 2009] Uncle Ted likes the blog.

[July 17, 2009] Brett Flemming is selected as the first hockey player to ever be interviewed by myself. Congrats Brett!

[July 23, 2009] First of many awesome Caps license plates.

Thank you for all for visiting the site, I really appreciate it. Here's hoping 2010 will be as fun as 2009 was.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Capitals-Rangers Winners & Losers


Nicklas Backstrom. It took Backstrom 17 games last year to get two goals. This season, he beat that record by just a few games. One goal was nice (above), and one goal was a gift (below). Either, or, we'll take 'em as they come.

Tyler Sloan. I was a little iffy on how he would do tonight, but he came out with great energy and played a vital role on the forecheck. He finished with one assist and he is my nomination for getting a jersey for next game.

Brian Pothier. Helluva pass. That cross-ice assist was Backstrom-esque on Semin's first period goal.


Alexander Semin. Another goal scored, but even more opportunities. Semin stayed out of the box and is now tied with Ovechkin (and Mike Richards) for league-lead in goals.

Alex Ovechkin. He put nine shots on net but there was at least one instance where he should have been more selfish. Opting to pass to Chris Clark instead of shooting on Lundqvist from point-blank range was a mistake. Ovechkin knows this, and it should not happen again.


Jose Theodore. It's like night and day for Caps' goalies this season. Maybe Theo was screened a few times, maybe not, but the point is that if the puck is trickling by the goalie and slides across the goal line, it's most likely the goaltender's fault. Let's not start the Neuvirth conversations just yet because there is no point in hitting the panic switch just four games into the season.

Power Play. Nine opportunities with this squad should translate into at least two or three goals and throw in a 5-on-3 advantage and the outcome of this game should have been much different. There is too much talent on the ice for the Capitals to convert only once.

They have a day to re-couperate then it's game time at Joe Louis to face the Wings. The Caps now know where their problems are and it is up to them to fix it before other teams exploit them.

5 Burning Questions: Rangers at Capitals

5 Burning Questions (Winners & Losers is the new format for post-game, we'll try this one out for pre-game)

1.How will Varlamov respond?/How will Theodore play in front of the home crowd?

Boudreau has not made an announcement for tonight's game as I'm writing this, so we'll look at both possibilities.

Varlamov is a very good goaltender. But, in the past few outings, his play has been very enigmatic. If Bruce gives him the nod, what does that say about Theodore? Varly lets in a few softies, gets pulled, but is back in the lineup the next game? So if Varly is named starter and he lets in a goal he should have stopped early on, do the home fans boo him for a lackluster start to the game? Probably not, unless he played for that other D.C. sports franchise up in Landover.

Coach may be pushing the kid too much, which is why I think he'll revert to Theodore for tonight's game. If Theo was in fact named 'starter' at the start of season, then he should hold that position until he is out-performed. Boudreau will eventually go with the hot hand, and right now it's Theo. Go with Theo.

2. Is a good defense a good offense?

No, it's not. So while it might seem like all fun and games, goals-against are quickly becoming a major problem. Be it a rough start for Varly, or questionable defensive pairings, something needs to be done. The next few opponents look like: NYR, @DET, NJ, and SJ...all playoff teams from one year ago. Four goals should win a hockey game, if we need to score six goals to defeat an opponent, we're doing something wrong.

3. How will Sloan play on defense as a forward?

I have to imagine he will be skipping on some shifts and helping out the D-men. A 7-man rotation is risky (what if a forward goes down?), but it has its benefits. If a pairing is not working out like Boudreau envisioned, changing partners will be a sinche. Sure Sloan will play forward, and as long as he does not take any unnecessary penalties or have any glaring mistakes, keep him in there until Fehr returns.

4. Who will be the referees?

Not really. My only gripe is if a player (Example: Chris Clark, last game) is pushed from behind into the goalie, is that really a penalty? Like in football, the refs might let a roughing-the-passer penalty go if the player has no control and is forced into contact. Apparently in hockey, if you have no control and you are forced into contact, it is still your fault. Ba humbug.

5. How many goals will the Alexs' score?

We already know Ovechkin will score two goals, the real question is how many will Alex Semin score? If it's also assumed that Brooks Laich/Mike Knuble gets a tip-in and Nicklas Backstrom records at least three assists, that leaves an extra goal for either Brendan Morrison or Mike Green. Green has yet to score, let's give it to him. /knock on wood

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Capitals-Flyers Winners & Losers


Alex Ovechkin. Holy crap. We are all witnesses, people. Enough with this "Ovechkin is on track for ___ goals", because there are no signs he will slow down. So yes, he will end up with 136.94 goals.

Nicklas Backstrom. A wise man once said that Nicklas would finish among the top five in points this year. Eight points in three games and he's well on his way. Now about those face-offs Nicky... 4/13 (31%) is boarder line- "So how can we get this guy ice time without letting him take draws?"

Alexander Semin. Another two goal game for Alex and he didn't even take a hooking penalty!


Jose Theodore. I thought he should have started, but he did excellent after filling in for Varlamov. He stopped everything he should have in a valiant effort inside the hostile Wachovia Center.

Brendan Morrison. He scored 10 times in 62 games last year with Anaheim (not including those 19 games in Dallas) and he's now got two goals in three games. B-Mo is just an all-around good, hard-working athlete...probably grew up playing soccer, too.

Matt Bradley. Two assists and a fight is a very productive night. Questions surrounded how the Capitals would react to Philly's toughness, and Bradley answered the bell. Matt also recorded his fourth career two-assist game... three of those games have come against the Flyers.

Quintin Laing Jeff Schultz. Four blocked shots. Cha-ching.


Semyon Varlamov. Maybe all the goals scored on him were not his fault (Erskine, get out of the way!), but that last goal definitely was. Boudreau said this would be a 'test' to see if Varly could play in this environment. Test = failed. Chin up, kid.

Boyd Kane. 4:53 TOI, 2 PIM. Go awayyyy.

John Erskine. He was on the ice for five of the six Philly goals. Johnny also picked up two penalties to boot. Someone just nominated them self for the position Tyler Sloan played tonight.

Penalties. 10 Power Plays! And the Capitals took five penalties in the second period alone. You know you've got a problem when Boyd Gordon is getting sent to the sin bin.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Capitals-Maple Leafs Winners & Losers

Thankfully, we only play three periods in hockey as T-Dot came storming back from an early deficit. Either way, another check in the 'W' column comes with a 6-4 victory:


Alexander Semin. Five points in two games is foreshadowing big things for the Sascha. The top line of this Capitals' team is going to put up big numbers (as it should). Which begs the question, which line is the best in the NHL? He also won both draws he took.

Alex Ovechkin. For scoring less than two minutes into action. If you're a D-man and you get Ovechkin 1-on-1, it sucks to be you. He was also credited with four hits, including a dandy on Jason Blake. He is on pace for 123 goals... But he's also on pace for 164 PIM.

New Editions. Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison both made a great first impression on the bandwagon fans at Verzion tonight. Knuble comes as advertised and B-Mo's goal was a thing of beauty. Keep it up newbies.


Brooks Laich. Highlight of the night goes to Brooksie's killer deke that pretty much finished Vesa Toskala's night. He was also awarded the third star of the night. Probably a toss up as to which is more important to him.

Semyon Varlamov. Maybe he gave up a bad rebound on one goal, but he was solid the rest of the night. He stopped all the shots he was supposed to and that's all you can ask for. So who starts Tuesday in Philadelphia? Jose Theodore? Varlamov? Neuvirth?? I'd go with Theo.


The 3rd period. Had there been a fourth in hockey, this might have changed the outcome of the game. Six shots against and three goals allowed is not fun. It is a bit less nerve-racking if you are spotted a five-goal lead, but unacceptable either way. Lack of focus could be a problem this year.

Additional Thoughts:
  • Should Jeff Schultz be playing? If so, who would he replace? Pothier played well, Erskine played times (and avoided a pointless fight in the first period). No Cap defender has played their way out of a spot thus far so it will be interesting as to who will be scratched when Shultzie is in the lineup. For what it's worth, the Caps are 11-6 dating back to last year in games Schultz has not suited up for.
  • "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...It's all you're fault!!" is brilliant. Keep it up guy in the lower level who starts the chant directed at the opposing goalie.
  • If he's not already, Mike Knuble will become a fan favorite in no time.
  • Quintin Laing on the Power Play? Might as well put Boyd Kane on the PK while you're at it... (Okay it was only 23 seconds for Quintin, but still).
  • Speaking of the PP, the Caps don't mess around like they did last year. A shot from the point immediately follows a face-off win. None of this 'too cute' stuff (yet). This year's unit should finish in the top five assuming this continues (3/7, 43%).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Capitals-Bruins Winners & Losers

First off, realize that this post-game format is a cheap imitation of Mr.Irrelevant's Winners & Losers.

Dap given, now let's get on to the Capitals' impressive 4-1 win:


Jose Theodore
. Theo circa 2002 showed up for tonight's game and displayed tremendous poise throughout the game. In some games last year, Jose looked rattled and uncomfortable between the pipes. But tonight, his composure was where it should be... at an NHL level. It's like the cliché goes, 'Competition makes everyone better'.

Brooks Laich. Dating back to March 27th last season, Laich has picked up 18 points (8+10) over the span of 21 games. Laich notched his sixth career two-goal game with both goals coming on the doorstep with the man advantage.

Alex Ovechkin. In four of his first five seasons, Ovechkin has picked up a two-goal game in either the first game or second game of the season. Two goals isn't too shabby for just five shots on goal. The Backstrom-to-Semin-to-Ovechkin passing exhibition that set-up Alex's first goal was a thing of beauty. If only every team gave Ovechkin a 10-foot buffer zone to pick his corner.

Nicklas Backstrom. Nicky B. is going to make a killing by feeding Ovechkin and company. It took Backstrom eight games last season to reach three assists, something he did for the 10th time in his short career. Offense aside, 3/8 (38%) on face-offs is unacceptable.

Special Teams. 2/4 with the extra man is great, but killing off all five Boston power plays is even more impressive. Boston was ranked 5th last year in PP efficiency and we should be thankful to have guys like David Steckel and Quintin Laing on the PK.

Face-Offs. 61% (30/49) will work every night. Backstrom was the only Capital with a sub-60% efficiency. Other than Nicklas, here's how the other guys fared:

Brendan Morrison - 8/11 (73%)

Boyd Gordon - 5/7 (71%)

David Steckel - 11/18 (61%)

Brooks Laich - 3/5 (60%)


John Erskine
. He dropped the mitts when he had to and got in some good jabs in a fight that ultimately ended in a draw.

Boyd Kane
. Earlier, Bruce Boudreau said of Kane: "You're asking a guy to play the best nine minutes he can." Well, Kane finished with 9:12 of TOI and was completely unnoticeable...Meaning he had a fantastic game. Somewhat of a pleasant surprise for the 48th most valuable Cap.

New Additions. Even though they were the only two forwards on the first two lines not to pick up a point, Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison both had solid games. I did not see Knuble as much as I thought I would, but when I did see him, he was right in Tim Thomas' grill. B-Mo also played a sound offensive game, and only lost three draws the whole night.

Possession. It might have been me, but there were times when it looked like Boston controlled the tempo and play in the Caps' zone. Most noticeably during the first five minutes of the game and right after Patrice Bergeron scored. The Caps were playing good defense and were not allowing many quality shots during these short segments, but the more time spent chasing the puck, the more likely something bad will come of it. Other than this, I could not really find anything to include below...


. For not being a part of my cable package and for not showing more Junior Seau, the Capitals new equipment manager. It's actually for his new TV show, but ya'll knew that.

Notable Stats: