Number of People Nice Enough to Stop By....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recap 10/29 vs Vancouver 0 (for) Canada

Well it happened again.  Another loss.  So now we go from a winning streak to a (potential) losing streak. Not a reason to panic...yet.  But I did say there was a lot that needs tweaking in my last post did I not?  And tweaking there shall be.  But that's for the Bruce and staff to take care of as I are here to provide my own brand of (sometimes) witty commentary on what I saw.  Or in this case what I saw off and on as the game was on so freaking late.

I woke up early this morning and realized I'd missed the end.  Not that the first period had looked promising, but I was hoping they'd turn it around. I caught the score and cursed at the TV screen.  Surely they had played better than that?  Not so.

We begin in the net.  Tomas Vokoun had a terrible night and was justly pulled after surrendering 3 goals on 17 shots.  Wait...17 SHOTS?  Yes, seventeen.  A seven with a one in front of it.  Okay so maybe it wasn't all his fault, but he is supposed to stop at least 90-some per cent of whatever vulcanized rubber comes his way.  It does seem to be a hallmark of the Caps' play that they tend to rely on their goalie an awful lot.  Simple math, you cut down on the shots, you reduce the number of goals and at that, the Caps failed miserably. You could say that was part of it, but that first goal where Vokoun looked like he was trying to sell a vacuum cleaner didn't help things.  Not that Mikey Neuvy fared much better.

I'll just come out and say it--Sean Collins had a piss-poor night.  I mean, my God, I've seen a demolitions crew do far less damage than he did in his 9:07 on the ice.  You're telling me THIS is the best that the Chocolate Hoarders can send up?  Well, perhaps not and that's understandable because you don't want to shoot your farm club in the foot.  Let's just say that Collins hasn't done himself any favors in his time here.
I'd most definitely like to see a lot more Green in the backline.

It so happens that I have seven members from both teams on the Bumblers--that's my fantasy club for anyone new to the blog.  My two Alexes--Semin and Burrows both had a fairly quiet night in the midst of all this lunacy.  Figures.

Semin did have yet another violation of Rule 55 in the game.  Maybe he's auditioning for a role as a certain persistent Disney pirate.  Perhaps he's looking to get into the towing business and this is what he believes is the entry level.  It could be that he's daydreaming he's on a lake in Krasnoyarsk landing whatever fish swims there.  Or dare I say it, he's thinking this is some sort of spin on the world's oldest profession.  I have no idea, but I do know it has to stop because bad penalties by Bad Sasha can and often do lead to good scoring chances for the opposition.

Of course there were some good things to take away from the game.  You wouldn't know it from the stats sheet, but Karl Alzner and John Carlson keep on getting better.  The Hockey Gods permitting, among other elements, they will be the eminent pair for the Caps for many years to come.  Alex Ovechkin potted two goals in the game to tie for the team lead.  After a slow start, he's starting to look more like the Alex of old as opposed to the Alex of Auld.  The other goal leader, Marcus Johansson, also scored in the game and continues to impress.  But you have to wonder how the game would have turned out had he buried both of his golden opportunities.

So in all, this game should be looked upon as a learning experience as should all regular season failures.  The same themes cropping up, the same bad habits becoming the theme:  too many shots allowed, too many bad penalties taken, lackadaisical play at critical moments are all a cause for concern.  But after getting through an eighth of the season, 7 wins and 2 losses is still pretty good.  It also leaves a lot of time to look inward and change some of those bad habits.  Do that, and this team will come away with at least something from this brief road trip to our northern neighbor.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Recap 10/28 vs Oilers, Comedy Hour

So the other night I sat down to watch hockey.  It was to be an interesting matchup, the best team in the league against arguably the best young team in the league.  Little did I know a football game would break out.

How did a football game break out you ask?  BECAUSE THE CAPITALS PUT EIGHT MEN IN THE BOX, THAT'S HOW!! (frustrations anyone?)

Of course I'm talking about the penalty box.  This is just one reason why I said what I said after the last game.  It is far too early to get complacent and yet that's what we have here.  How else can such undisciplined play be explained?  Of course you could say there is a such thing as a "good" penalty--one that prevents a scoring chance and about the only one in the eight committed in the game might have been Karl Alzner's holding the stick call against Jordan Eberle.

But most of the trips to the sin-bin were from simply lazy (and sometimes mind boggling) play. Slashing, diving, shooting (puck over glass).  All sounds like some goofy triathlon.  Most ridiculous of all was the closing hand-over-the-puck call again Marcus Johansson. Marcus--that is NOT the "hands-on" training you are supposed to be getting just so you know.

Just as bad, if not worse, was their total failure to take advantage of the three power plays given to them in the third period.  A buddy of mine at work, Bryan, said it best--you're given that many chances like that you've got to bury at least one.  I couldn't possibly say it any better.

But you know me, once I get started I gotta flip over and see the other side of allow me to be Johnny Sunshine for a minute.   I got five words for both teams--the kids are all right.  If you're a follower of the NHL then you already know that the Oilers haven't done well for a few seasons.  That results in high draft picks which, like certain herbs and other plants are properly cultivated, can develop into something very special.  So it should have come as no surprise that Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and the guy they call the "Nooge" Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all scored points in the game.  This team isn't quite there yet but it's taking the first baby steps towards greatness.

For the Caps, well there was the anointed shutdown pair of Karlznerson (haven't quite figured out a good "bennifer" single name for those two but I'm working on it).  They played well on both ends of the ice.  Alzner got the only goal and the Alberta version of the Young Guns could have easily gotten more.  Did anybody ELSE hear that loud CLANGGGGGG in the first period?

Next up is Vancouver and the struggling Canucks.  Seems like they're suffering from a post-Cup Final appearance hangover.  Here's hoping the Caps can keep on bringing the pain.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

ReCap 10/22 vs. Detroit: Staying Perfect?

Last night's game was thoroughly enjoyable.  It was a wonderful roller coaster ride full of excitement because this game had it all: solid defensive play, heart-stopping goaltending, good and bad penalties, awesome special teams work, and above all else, goals, goals goals.  By more than just the top two lines, in fact the Bruce ended up rolling all four lines towards the end of the game.  And I loved every single minute of you know what's coming up next......

That's right, it's time for a reality check, folks.  Yes, I'm excited that the Caps have won their first seven out of the gate.  Of course it's kick-ass that they beat, no make that trounced, the Detroit Red Wings, long regarded as a Western Conference contender---and looked damn great doing it.  The power play clicked, they killed off a 5-on-3, and when they needed it most, Evil Kounevil came up huge.

But this is still only October my fellow Caps fans.

Trust me, I want to go crazy right along with everybody else and proclaim the Caps' supremacy over the hockey world as we know it.  But we all know it's not the truth.  Not with the playoffs still so far away.  Listen, I'm not trying to be a downer here.  But it is good to throw cold water on something before it gets overheated.  A 7-game win streak to start the season is a beautiful thing to be sure.  A 7-game win streak in late April, May and/or June would be even sweeter.

Shouldn't make a difference you say?  Every game is the same, you say? Not hardly.  Only the newest of followers would dare think that and if that's the case you would be forgiven.  (Yikes, I forgot this was Sunday!)  I don't think it would be wise to start believing that this team can just steamroll into April and do what it did last night.

Here's some reasons why:  First and foremost, it's a long grind just to even get to the Road to the Cup.  We're still in the third week of the season for crying out loud!  Little things like slumps, injuries, trades, and a whole lot of other good and bad things can and will happen over the course of an 82-game season.  I know I'm probably preaching to the choir (there I go again, must be my Baptist upbringing), but it's all too easy to get over excited when in reality, nothing has been won yet.

Another reason is that there is still much tinkering to do.  Last year the Caps finished second in penalty killing. So far this year, they are something below the middle of the pack.  A decent PK should click at about 83 to 85% of the time and the Caps are off that pace, but not by too much.  They have their masterful moments, and then their not-so-great moments.  Steady goalies like Vokoun and Neuvirth will help a lot.  But the key to any successful penalty kill is speed.  (You heard it here first, SPEED KILLS...penalties)  Speed and skill to match to be precise.  Marcus Johansson leaps to mind as one such player, Brooks Laich is another.  And with our endless cadre of D-men who can handle such duties, there's no reason why this penalty kill unit shouldn't be at least humming along at 84% or better, but 90% is the ultimate goal come playoff time.  Work on it, boys.

So while you can easily say that this team is good...okay very good, there is still room for improvement--and a whole season's worth of time to get better.  That is something we can all get excited about.

But lest we forget, some kind words for the worthy opponents.....

Detroit's Ian White was one of only two Red Wings (the other being Darren Helm) to finish at Even for the game.  Not bad for being on the wrong side of a 7-1 loss.  And with a 21:51 TOI total to boot.  I've said it before, this guy is good.  Under the guidance of the legendary Nick Lidstrom his learning will be complete. White will be a good Padawan learner, so hopefully Justin Abdelkader won't turn into Vader.

And speaking of the the Sublime Swede, much was made of his 1,500th game last night.  Not many have reached that milestone so the fuss was warranted.  More so in Lidstrom's case because the guy is a virtual lock for the Hall of Fame.  Once again, we Caps fans showed our class by saluting a legend properly.  Awesome sauce, Caps fans...who says we don't know hockey?

I'll close with a non-hockey note--did you see the broadcast crew, the coaching staff, and the players rocking the lilac last night?  Of course it was all for Hockey Fights Cancer, always a worthwhile cause.  Anthony Holley, a 12 year old cancer survivor and Caps fan dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff.  It was great to see him be able to take in the whole experience on the ice surface.  It's what the game's all about.

Friday, October 21, 2011

ReCap 10/20, Caps Down Flyers, Alex Shows he's got a Pair

Going to keep this once brief as it's pretty late where I'm at now.  Besides, I think the results really speak for themselves.  In fact, I'm in a kind of cowboy mood so we're going to break this down Clint Eastwood style:


Alex Ovechkin's got his groove back, two goals and a plus one.  Surprisingly no hits though. You would think somebody that has a pair would come out swinging.

Roman Hamrlik finally got on the board slinging one in from the point.  The game-winner to boot. day before I waive him off my fantasy roster that he figures out how to shoot again.

Power play is galloping along at a 27% clip.  Good for us, bad for the rest of the league.

Tomas Vokoun stopped 40 of 42 in yet another outstanding performance.  Bad-within-a-good: This is the second out of the last three games Evil Kounevil has had to stop 30+ shots. The Caps cannot, I repeat, cannot, fall into a dependency on their goalie bailing them out.  Their hallmarks must remain their ability to outscore their opponents and their willingness to outwork them and wear them down.  Not that I don't trust Vokoun to keep up his torrid .952 Save percentage pace, I'm just saying the last line of defense shouldn't always be the the line of defense.

Probably the closest thing to a complete game the Caps have played all year--and, as was pointed out at Japers' the best is yet to come.


Se├▒or Sasha made a boo-boo that led to the Claude Giroux goal to open the scoring.  Muy malo Sasha.  Good-within-a-bad though...with the moves Giroux put on, we ought to be glad the game didn't go to extra curricular activities.  Check out the highlight replay if you doubt me.

Scott Hartnell's late hit on Matthieu Perreault just as he released the shot that would open the scoring for the Caps.  Poor sportsmanship at its finest.  Feeling your innocence slipping away, Scott?  Starting to feel a bit warm under the old glutes on the bench?  You will be if you keep that crap up, courtesy of Sheriff Shanahan.
And if that doesn't do it, more games where you score a minus 3 sure will.

Speaking of officials, can't help but agree with the Bruce when he hollered profusely at Tim Peel (me like a grape) the second time Brooks Laich got clobbered in the schnozz with a high stick.  Should have been four minutes.


Just why is it do the Flyers feel as though it is their God-given right to hurl themselves into the goal crease at will?  Is it some sort of team rule?  Every other scoring chance they had last night resembled the first minute of an NCIS episode--a body splayed unnaturally all over the crease area.

Looking for Mr. Irrelevant?  Look no further than #68.  No points, no nothing.  Had Matt Bradley been on the team when #68 was, he'd be bitching loudly about how Jagr didn't care.  Of course it would be even more obvious.

You want ugly?  Did anyone else see the look on Chris Pronger's face when he got called for that penalty in the first period?  He looked like a teenager getting busted for lifting a credit card--mad that he got caught.  What a punk.

I know I mentioned this before but it's worth another reference--BROOKS LAICH'S NOSE!

Lots of fun this game was, I'm hoping the Caps can keep it up.  As tough as the Flyers were, and even larger test looms tomorrow night against the only other lossless team in the league....the Detroit Red Wings.  (Insert dramatic music here)  This will be good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Game ReCap 10/15: Filibustered by the Senators

I came into last night's game a bit excited because I thought we would finally get to see the real Caps play.

So who were those guys in Red that showed up (or didn't) last night?

Putting it simply, the game was spectacular in being unspectacular.

I took a look at the standings and not only is Ottawa having a tough year, but their goals against is among the worst.  Naturally I figured we'd all get sunburned by the red light switch.  Not so. And not to knock Alex Auld, but he's, well....Alex Auld.  So I figured we were in for a nice blowout that would result in a half priced pizza the next day courtesy of Papa John's.  I hate paying full price for my pizza, must be why I'm in such a blah mood right now.

At least the power play knocked one in--from Nick Backstrom no less.  In fact, it could be said that the Swedish pivots and Tomas Vokoun had the only good games of the bunch.  Everybody else looked at least a little flat.  All right, I'll throw in Knuble as an exception well, since he seems to be on a roll.  Two assists, that's like a record for him, isn't it?  Just kidding, Mike.

Speaking of the power play, it was even more interesting who was out there as opposed to the result.  Captain OV was benched when Backstrom opened the scoring, as was pointed out in the Japers Rink recap.
Also, the point was occupied by Mike Green and Dennis Wideman.  I think most will agree that it's good to have a Wideman on the point if you don't want the puck to slip past.

Dressing DJ King--was this the Bruce's version of closing the barn door after the animals have escaped?  Could have used him to bash in a few faces Thursday night.  Too bad he's such a liability going the other way that we can't risk dressing him every now and then in the bigger games. Wonder why he didn't try to start anything with Chris Neil?  Oh that's right, because Chris Neil was, for once, smart enough to not try and start something on his own.  Of course his first of his two dumb penalties let to Backstrom's goal.

I hate to admit something else, but I was actually bored for just about the whole second period and most of the third.  Yeah I know....pretty bad for a die-hard.  But I didn't switch off the game and I wasn't tired enough to fall asleep, so I started making up my lineups for this week for my fantasy team.  Yep the Bumblers are back in play in the Ice Warriors League.  And thanks in no small part to Mr. Vokoun, I am back in the top half of the ladder.  Which is to say, sixth place.  Well, it's early....

Anyway, I kept peeking over at the screen to keep up with what was going on and I realize it's two-thirds of the way through the third.  About 7 minutes and some change left, and it's still 2-1 Caps.  Good.  Except now the Senators were bringing it to the Capitals. And as I found out a little later, they'd been doing so since the opening faceoff of the second period.  Uh oh.  Fortunately Vokoun was equal to the task, turning aside everything that was thrown at him.  Except of course for that end-of-period marker that got past him back in the first.  No idea what he was thinking, diving for that one....he looked like a demented swimmer flailing around in a pond.  Sure wished he'd have stayed on his feet, would have gotten the Caps (and the Bumblers for that matter) their first shutout of the year.

They say a win is a win.  While this is true, I've said it before--the regular season is a breeding ground for bad habits.  Bad habits like giving a 20 minute effort in a 60 minute game.  And this is far from the first time we've all seen this happen. They say art imitates life, and we all like things neatly wrapped up in convenient packages.  But this isn't a half-hour sitcom where everything can go to crap and yet be all right again within 25 minutes.  No, this is an 82 match march for the right to win 16 more games.  Two points is good, but you have know how to get there; those that take shortcuts often find themselves lost.

By the way, I haven't lost sight of the fact that the Caps are now 4-0 to start the season.  But I'll take a few losses here and there if it gives this team some character.  After all, we want the real prize, not some shiny trophy named after an office that no longer exists.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cherry Smashin' on Asham

Going to handle things a bit differently today than the usual ReCap.  Lots of things to be happy about (mainly yet another win in Steeltown and Ovi's first goal) and still others to be concerned about, but I'm going to focus on one peculiar event that's causing a lot of controversy---the Beagle/Asham fight.

Let me start out by mentioning that I'm not at all opposed to fighting in hockey.  As a lover of the history of the game, I appreciate the role that it has.  It can, and often does, affect the outcome of a game and at the very least brings a team together when they need it most.  Sorry to those of you who think it doesn't belong in the game but even the Commish himself has been on record as saying it's not going anywhere.  No, what I am opposed to is blatant violations of the time honored code.  Put another way, even in fighting, there's a fine line between decency and outright barbarism and Arron Asham pole-vaulted over it last night.

We all know by now how it all started.  Why wasn't Asham satisfied with the call that they did get?  Was he even aware that they were ABOUT TO GO ON THE POWER PLAY?  And don't even tell me wasn't aware of that--I'll never buy it.  You're telling me an 11-year NHL veteran knows not what the refs called while he was on the ice?  Bullsnot.  Sorry Pens fans, this was an assault, pure and simple.  Forget the taunting afterward, what Asham should really be apologizing for is the act itself.  There just wasn't any reason for it.   His teammate got his lid knocked off--so freaking what?  There's worse that could have happened. Though he does get props for being a man and admitting he was classless about the taunting.  But that hardly negates baiting someone into a fight who had no choice but to participate.

Beagle was properly penalized for what he did; he got 2 minutes for roughing.  Why in God's name did Asham feel he had to take it to the next level?  There's fighting someone to teach a lesson, then there's fighting to hurt someone.  I'm opposed to the latter.  But that's what this was--clearly an intent to injure.  Ovie was right to criticize him after the game, it proves you don't have to act like a goon to stand up for your teammates.  Besides, that's what a Captain should do--nothing hypocritical about that.  And so the stupidity continues--read Asham's drivel here.  This guy is unbelievable.  Talk about revisionist history.  This guy clearly has no respect for the code.  By the way, if you heard what he actually said , he wasn't criticizing your taunting, dummy, so how could he be a hypocrite?

So this would be where Grapes (Don Cherry) comes in.  I'm sure he wold approve of all this crap.  Even more so since it's Ovechkin's team that was involved and we all know that he believes no one outside of Ontario is worthy of lacing up skates.  He would be the ultimate hypocrite if he did, since he so loudly disapproved of Ovechkin's infamous "hot stick" goal celebration.  But somehow I think he'll be Asham's loudest cheerleader when he next gets his mug in front of the camera on Coach's Corner.  

I used to have so much respect for Don Cherry because he used to stand up for what has always been good about the game--honor, toughness, camaraderie, intensity and the men who played the game with those qualities.  Even if his xenophobia was shrill at times, he was still good-natured enough otherwise so that you could look past that.  Now he doesn't seem to stand up for anything except what goes against the growth and progress of the game.  Now I hear that some of those tough guys he says he used to admire so much are nothing but "pukes" in his opinion because maybe, just maybe they have enough guts to disagree with him about fighting and the damage it potentially does.  It's truly gotten to the point where he's going to run out of friends and supporters and what will he do then?  Idiots like him and Bill Clement just simply need to go away because no one really cares what they think anymore anyway.

Once more with feeling--I am NOT opposed to fighting in hockey.  But if guys like Chris Nilan and Stu Grimson who once made their living by it are speaking out about possible long-term effects, I don't think it would be such a bad idea to at least listen.  But that discussion is for another day, another post.

Now for some things to feel good about:  It looks as though the top line has finally got it in gear as all three collected points in the game.  And Mike Knuble didn't even have to touch the puck to get his goal.  Now that's talent.  And how about Dennis Wideman's sweet shot to end it in OT?  We truly are blessed to have not one but two mobile defensemen who can bring the point shot when it's called for.  Tomas Vokoun was a human sponge absorbing just about everything thrown at him. I'm not even mad at the two goals the Steeltown Turkeys did get--they were both scored by James Neal and he's on my fantasy team.

Another game of ups and downs but it was yet another character win for the men in Joe B put it best, the PK rallied around the injured Beagle and killed off his penalty.  So if the Pens had any ideas about sending a message, I got one for them--message received, loud and clear.  Now hear ours:  We got the two points.

Your move, Penguins.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Game ReCap--Number Two

Before I get started a but of administrative stuff here....

I had the pleasure of opening up Le Blog this AM and found that my counter read 3000 hits exactly.  I want to take this opportunity to thank those out there who made this possible--all four of you.  Took two years plus...not bad, eh?  Maybe I should change my name to this guy.  God rest his wonderful soul.  TBOP thanks you all who were kind enough to stop by...keep it going.

Now to the business at hand.  Take a look at the title above.  Notice it says "Number Two."  That, ladies and gentlemen, describes the game the Caps played last night in more ways than one.  

Don't get me wrong.  Of course I'm happy they won.  But naturally what bothers me is that they just as easily could have lost.  Which they damn near did several times in both regulation and overtime.

Here's the rundown as I saw it:

Might as well start at the top.  The top line, that is.  Mike Knuble had a solid game and that's where the good news ends.  Collectively they were a minus four with no points.  Horrible game.  I listened to Elliot in the Morning this AM and a caller noticed that Ovi looks a step slow.  Elliot agreed and so do I.  Not sure what it is, but it is only 2 games.  Now, if we're still having this conversation a few games from now it might be time to panic.  Nick Backstrom looks awful as well---when he's noticeable.  He still seems to be suffering from whatever made him vanish last spring.

The Power Play continues to be suckage.  Lots of guys standing, not a whole lot of movement.  And I seem to recall saying this during a certain playoff series two years ago, but I guess I wasn't heard then.  So here goes: YOU CANNOT SCORE IF YOUR SHOT IS BLOCKED.   That is the purpose of cycling the puck and I'm seeing very little of that.  You cycle the puck, you get the opposing PK unit to move a bit and space opens up.  I'm seeing two guys hanging on the point playing catch.  If this garbage keeps up, a complete personnel change for the PP unit might be in order.  Dominant five-on-five play is one thing, but a good power play can mean the difference in most games.  It's a weapon not being used very well, and that's a shame.

Don't even get me started on the goaltending.  Yes Tomas Vokoun redeemed himself in the circus sideshow shootout, but was simply barf-making during the game.  I give him props for at least being man enough to admit that he played, in his words, "an ugly, ugly game."  Uglier than my last hemorrhoid.  Several let in from impossible angles--yuck.  But he sure did come up big when he needed to, especially in OT.  I like that trend, and I like even more that we have not one, but two money goalies that can be relied on.  Take that as your silver lining.

The parade of undisciplined penalties continue: caught with too many men on the ice two times, two senseless penalties by Backstrom, and a mind-boggling hooking penalty (I've seen better hooks on a street corner) by Alex Semin in overtime.  What bothers me most is the too many men on the ice penalties.  When the Bruce first took over, this team couldn't stop committing that penalty, but they soon got better.  Two in one game is pure baloney sauce; there's simply no excuse for it.  I don't really care who's to blame, the coaches or the players, but get this crap fixed.  Now.

Thankfully, not everything was bad otherwise there wouldn't have been a win.  And here be the roll call of solid performances:

Joel Ward--a force in front of the net.  Call him Mr. Big Screen.
Karlson (Karl Alzner/John Carlson) --shutdown pair doing what they do best as the Big Guns for Tampa got diddly.
Marcus Johansson--an absolute beast at both ends.  He played like a mini-Peter Forsberg, hitting, scoring, drawing penalties.  Guess he didn't like the view from the Press Box in the opener.  That's okay, MJ90, keep up the awesome play and you'll never warm that seat again.  Work on those faceoffs and you'll be unstoppable.
Troy Brouwer--hits and has a good touch around the net, who could ask for more?
Matt Hendricks--did all the little things right, sweet PS goal.
Mike Green & Roman Hamrlik--not a spectacular game, but good enough from a 1A pair.  Hammer had 4 blocked shots and that's no BS.
Dennis Wideman--hard to believe this guy is a "depth" D-man.  Hell of a shot for the goal.
Matty Perreault and Brooks Laich--similar in a lot of ways except one, Matty is gosh-awful in the faceoff dot and Laich isn't.  No matter, they both get the job done in the offensive zone.

...and lest we forget....

JASON CHIMERA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bust-out game for the speedster. THIS is what the Caps expected when they traded for him, a fly-all-over-the-ice, trouble-causing, scoring and hitting machine.  It'll be interesting to see if he can keep it up for the whole season, but right now he's helping to carry this team.  Chimmer looks like he loving the game and why not when you're playing like him.

Lots of good, lots of bad.  Yes it's still early, but there's much work to be done.  Let's hope they nip most if not all the bad habits in the bud.

Another character win.  Another come-from-behind effort. Two wins out of two and there's only 80 to go before the playoffs.

I'm enjoying this...a lot.  Even if my cardiologist isn't.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Game ReCap---Surviving a Hurricane, or Three

So naturally we're all excited to see the new look Caps start their 38th NHL season.  So many expectations, so much buildup, so much to live up to....

So why was the first period so disappointing?  I mean it was nice to get the win, but I guess it wouldn't be the Caps if they didn't make us sit on edge for all 60+ minutes, eh?

It's not that they came out flat at least, they played inspired hockey and had a lot of good looks at the beginning.  Joel Ward in particular got off a good chance.  But overall the play could have been a lot less sloppy.  A for effort, C- for execution.  Michal Neuvirth looked a bit shaky in his first couple of tests, but soon calmed down. He sure did come up big when he had to.  More on this later.

Some other notables during the game:

I expected more out of the first line.  I didn't get much, at least not until much later into the game.  Can't really remember them even getting a quality chance until about five minutes into the third.  In fact, as a unit that's pretty much all they would muster.  It wasn't until they were broken up into their Power play units that the individual parts would begin to contribute.  Time to go juggling again, Gabster?

Speaking of special teams, not a bad overall effort from the Power Play--same story as the top line, slow start, but big finish.  And another Mike Green OT winner to top it all off.  However.....

the Penalty Kill MUST improve on their awful 2 for 4 effort tonight.  To be sure, not every night will be like this.  But when you were ranked among the league leaders last season, this isn't a good way to begin.  I didn't like what they were doing they were either running around too much or just standing still.  On both ends, special teams will be key to a long postseason, so we have to see more from the PK, and I don't mean Subban.

By the way--put a body on Staal next time!

If Alex Ovechkin is to get back to his 100+ point form, he'll obviously be doing it without the help of the on-ice officials.  He was tossed around like a rag doll at times, yet the refs may as well have broccoli in their hands instead of whistles.  Or it could have been a bit of jet lag.  As long as there's no lag when he plays the Jets.

OK, I admit it, Brooks Laich is a fine player.  But let's see him keep that spot on the #1 PP unit for the whole season.  If he can, we just might have something here.

Jason Chimera has taken a bit of heat for his inability to finish.  And he may not have last night, had it not been for his speed.  His momentum literally carried the puck over Brian Boucher's shoulder and into the net.

Good Sasha...damn good Sasha. (and a damn fine stretch pass from John Carlson)

Your Ice time leader?  Roman Hamrlik.  It only sounds weird until you consider the fact that he was Mike Green's partner for the night.  The question is will he be able to continue to keep on munching the minutes at his age?  I for one sure hope so--those guys looked pretty good out there.  Not to take anything away from the Alzner/Carlson pair who had a decent night themselves.

Matthieu Perreault got the nod over Marcus Johansson this night.  Look for the reverse Monday night against Tampa.  Matty P had the jump in his legs, but didn't quite make the impact he wanted.

Six hits from newcomer Troy Brouwer, which was to be expected...but I would have like to have seen more from the rest of the crew.  Later games should show more of this team's willingness to get down and dirty, at least they better.

You've got the like the fact that this is yet another character win--they fell behind, blew the lead not once but twice, then win it in OT.   A team building exercise you don't see in corporate training rooms.

Finally, for my money, the best player was Michal Neuvirth.  Sure he looked a bit shaky in the beginning, but quickly shook off the rust to turn away 28 of 31.  And two of those you can't really fault him for as the Penalty Kill failed to keep up with Carolina's attack.  Did anybody else see those two scary chances he flipped aside in the OT session?  Moneypuck.  Sick stops in the third when Carolina closed in.  And he's only the 1A goalie!

Game one is in the wasn't pretty, but it was a win.  Eighty-two to go until the playoffs.

We'll take it.

Season Opener, the Quest for the Cup Begins

Ladies and gentlemen of the Red...from the District, Virginia, Maryland and all Caps fans everywhere--it is time:

For all fans of the Washington Capitals to come out of our long summer hibernation and celebrate that time of year where we watch a team that knows how to win.

Time to see how the wheeling and dealing of one George McPhee has finally taken effect--time to see if the Caps have retooled or simply regressed.

It is time for another season of hope that feels more like a season of promise than ever before.

It is time to see two goalies, one master and one apprentice do battle for one job and to find out who they will ride all the way through April and beyond.

It is the time for El Capitano to shake his critics, take this team by the reins, and lead it to the promised land, no matter what it takes.  It is time for him to finally BE THAT GUY.

It is time for Nick Backstrom to rebound from a sour spring and bounce back to his old form.  If he can do what Andrei Nikolishin did in 1998, this team will go far indeed.

It is time for Sasha to be as Good as he can be, no matter what anybody says.

It's time for a certain coach to use everything he knows about getting a team through adversity and apply the hell out of it in a season and post-season that may well be fraught with bumps along the road.  Because if he does not, his time will run out.

Ladies and


E ROCKIBUS REDUM to all, and let's all hope we're seeing Red come April.  (not on your tax returns of course!)