Sunday, November 28, 2010
Friday night's highlight was Washington's 6-0 destroying of the Tampa Bay Lightning who came in on a five-game winning streak that meant absolutely nothing to the Capitals. Alex Semin had his third hat trick of this season in this game - a natural hat trick at that - all in 4:29 in one period. The Caps clearly didn't care, and put on that killer instinct, scoring in every period of the game, including four in the second period.
Aside from the obvious offensive numbers that Washington is known for, the Capitals put on some spectacular defense. Along with Tampa's winning streak, they came in scoring the most power play goals in the league and a 32% efficiency rate during the five-game winning stretch. And yet, Washington held Steven Stamkos, the intruder in all things Ovechkin/Crosby, to no points for only the fourth time this year. The Lightning power play went 0-for-5. All the while, Semyon Varlamov only saw 17 shots, which is awesome because it's less work for him; thus, less likely to get hurt.
Varlamov looked much healthier though, and more confident, as his goaltending seemed more refined and polished. He had much better save selection, and didn't lunge at every rebound around him (and miss it). If he out-performs Michal Neuvirth, I'll be the first to congratulate him, but I'll wait. I'm waiting... I'm gonna sit here and wait... *looks at watch*
Saturday's main event for me was the late game in Los Angeles featuring the Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks where the Hawks took the game 2-1. This game had everything a neutral fan would want: hard hits, a close game between two legitimate teams that went down to the wire, huge saves, and uh... this (check the bottom part of your screen). Kevin Westgarth vs. John Scott
This certainly was one of the best fight moments I've seen in a while, as the refs decided to stand back and let the two players go, even though clearly Westgarth's face got shattered. Nonetheless, Westgarth still had some fight in him until he chose to exit the bout, tapping Scott and giving him the acknowledgment of his victory. Scott isn't that great of a player (like, at all) but I sure wouldn't want to take him on the ice... okay I'm not taking anyone on, with me and my 4'11'' self.
Anyway, the rest of the game, though slow right after the fight at a 1-0 Chicago lead, turned out to be a great one. The Hawks eventually scored another goal from Patrick Kane to go up 2-0, but the Kings' Anze Kopitar made it a one-goal match with about six minutes to go in the game. However, the Hawks held on for the 2-1 victory.
And if you haven't read it yet, I did a guest post a couple of weeks ago for the folks over at Hockey Community. Check out how to build a backyard hockey rink, and see what true love for hockey looks like! Video is courtesy of Ross Bergen from Massachusetts.
I hope you enjoyed all the pucking the past two days. We get less of a load on us tomorrow with only three games all starting at 5 pm. Find me on Twitter and we can chat about the games!
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Washington was coming off of a 3-game losing stretch, going down 5-0 in Atlanta Friday night, losing 5-4 in the shootout a hard-fought match with the Flyers at home, and then dying in New Jersey 5-0 again at the hands of the Devils. All we could do back home was go, "What the puck is going on here?!"
Bruce Boudreau apparently had no particular answer either, except for a comment about how Alex Ovechkin wasn't pushing enough pedal; seeing as Ovie was laughing, joking around with the enemy while being down a gazillion to nothing.
Hilariously enough, much was made about the incident and people drew to the fact that Ovie has been slacking in general, and hasn't been the same exciting player that we have all seen up to two years ago, and even last year. Many arguments can be made on this, but we'll save for another day.
So today comes and Washington is in Carolina. Ovechkin only did what the special players do, and that was rise to the occasion. He assisted on all three goals, set up a ton of opportunities, made a few bone-crushing hits and played a smart game overall. Ultimately, it all led to a Capitals victory. So suck on that.
All in all, the Caps seemed all right tonight, meaning that they continue to arguably be the biggest enigma in the NHL. Now tied with the Flyers for the league lead in points with 32, the Capitals have a lot wrong with them, but you can't quite put your finger on it if you don't watch them on a regular basis. Even then, you can't say it's one thing or another. Again; the team that's "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma," to quote Winston Churchill in reference to the Soviets in WWII..... Carry on.....
Anywho, the Caps weren't the only team that played tonight. In fact, 12 other games were on tonight, so it was an all-nighter in terms of pucking. A good number of slumping teams got out of their slumps actually...
The Canucks had a four-game skid, but were able to break out of it winning 4-2 against the Avalanche tonight, who were actually doing fairly well recently on a four-game winning streak
The Sharks played at home in a good one with the Blackhawks, who have faced their own inconsistencies this year. With the Sharks uncharacteristically low in the qualifying group of 16 at 15th, they showed remnants of the usual Sharks in their 5-2 win, creating opportunities and scoring with the extra man.
The Blues got Barrett Jackman back from a knee injury, and it seems they'll be able to get a lot of guys back from injury soon, probably helping their cause for being relevant in Stanley Cup run-talks again. They won 2-1 over Nashville in the shootout.
Other teams weren't so lucky. The Western Conference leading Red Wings got whooped today by the Thrashers 5-1. Atlanta may not always be able to demolish the Caps 5-0 and get the Red Wings like this, but they seem to be making a good case for not being an Eastern Conference pretender.
Minnesota Wild lost 6-1 to the "I'm gonna establish my dominance in every damn game" Flyers, and the Kings lost to the Canadiens, who are also pulling major success (my love for Carey Price grows with each game). Tampa Bay also seemed to be picking up where they left off prior to coming to Washington, as they beat the "pretending to win for now" Rangers 5-3.
Other games included a 4-3 Blue Jackets win over the Islanders (more fail unfortunately for the Island); the first win in the Blue Jacket's new third jerseys that look ALMOST EXACTLY like the Panthers and Predators blue jerseys with the circle in the middle. But the subtle differences make the jersey still look pretty cool (I have the inside info like that *wink*).
Also, the Stars defeated the Senators 2-1, the Devils win over the Flames 2-1, and the Bruins beat the Panthers 3-1.
For Turkey Day, the only game that will be featured will be the Avs killing the Oilers. I certainly hope it's not a bloodbath like the Coyotes 5-0 win over Edmonton on Tuesday, the other one-game day (Read THW's Jim Neveau's piece on the Coyotes that he wrote last night to get an idea of where the Yotes stand).
It was a crazy fun day in hockey for sure. But what's even crazier for me still is the fact that I was notified on Monday, the 24th that I had been approved to receive credentials for the Bridgestone Winter Classic in Pittsburgh that will feature the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field! I will be representing The Hockey Writers, and you bet I'm extremely excited :).
I'm currently searching for plane + hotel deals that I shall figure out as soon as next week. But if anyone has any suggestions for things to do in Pittsburgh, hotel parties on New Year's Eve, hotels, deals, bars, anything, please let me know! Cause it would suck to be in my early 20's on NYE drinking champagne by myself in a hotel room XD. Nonetheless though, that's not the point. I'm there for a job, and a really cool one at that! I'm really excited and it'll be a great early birthday present for me!
Until next pucking session, pig out! Happy Thanksgiving!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
The Washington Capitals lose 5-0 on the road against the Atlanta Thrashers. Against a team who is second in the league in 3rd period goals allowed, the Caps were not able to pull anything against the usually struggling defense of the Thrashers. The Caps sure weren't the only team to get their asses handed to them tonight, as the Chicago Blackhawks lost 7-2 to the Calgary Flames (ouch!) and the New York Rangers were defeated 5-1 by the Colorado Avalanche.
Granted, the Caps have played poorly in their last game in Atlanta for the first game of the season in a 4-2 loss. The Caps also struggled mightily in the last two Thrashers games at home, winning 4-3 in OT after a comeback effort, and winning a wacky 6-4 match earlier this week. Of course though, none of them takes the cake like this one.
Bruce Boudreau, believing he is making some kind of magic trick, switches up the lines about 500 times a game, much less throughout a period of games. Well, tonight proved he was no Houdini, clearly getting no results on the board.
It's not like the Caps played THAT badly either tonight. Braden Holtby, who I say should become the Caps backup netminder, made some small rookie mistakes that resulted in 3 goals on 7 shots. Such mistakes included lunging after a puck about 5 feet from the crease, and not watching the player with the puck. The defense probably did a better job tonight than they did Wednesday night against the Sabres.
This game was just one of those games. The Caps clearly looked like they just didn't really care and were just looking forward to tomorrow night's matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers at home. Throw-away game much?
The Capitals are arguably "the worst-best team in the NHL" this season, having only less than a handful of definitively won games. When they do win, it looks like a fat kid trying to run to the top of a hill, and making it to that very top just before they pass out. I don't know. People say take the two points and run, but I'm pretty sure that won't get the Caps further than they've been in the playoffs.
Yes, there goes that word again: playoffs. People say, "They'll turn it on in the playoffs. They'll peak later in the year. You don't want to peak too early after all." But the question is, do you want to suck until you get to the playoffs?
That's what nobody wants to hear or talk about in Caps Nation, because it's been talked about, and people get high-up in emotions about it. Who wants to complain about their team all day after all? Caps fans should not be mistaken with Cubs fans, or Leafs fans for that matter.
Nonetheless, it'll be on their minds. A proper attitude might get you somewhere, but I'm going to say it again and again: there are pieces the team needs before people can legitimately talk about playoffs. Package: Varlamov and Fleischmann.
Awww crud! One more thing: Alex Semin's point streak comes to an end after tonight.
But not to worry. I'm not one of those people who like to complain about their team after one game! So before I pass total judgment on the Caps, I'd like to see some trends. So meet me at The Hockey Writers tomorrow for that.
For the Caps' sake let's hope there's less "pucking" around in their own zone against the Flyers. We all know what happened to them last game.... *channel inner 1974 type offense*
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Aside from THW, classes and the Post though, I've gotten a nice opportunity to write a story for another publication. I'm sure you've heard of the good folks at USA Hockey Magazine before, right? Well I'm doing a nice little story for them that I should be finished with by next week on the 8th of November.
"What's it about," you ask? Well, remember last December where I wouldn't tell you all about the Fort DuPont story? This year...
I'M NOT TELLING YOU EITHER!
It's all out of love though, and once it's published, I will redirect you to the original publication of the story. I'm just doing a lot of running around and it's hard to have a moment like this to sit down and go on here (after all, this is all-nighter time anyway).
So I look forward to seeing it done, and ready to share. But for now, sit tight until the story is complete, and probably read the latest at TheHockeyWriters.com where I wrote my last piece on the Caps' recent road trip.
People are knocking the Capitals for winning 2 out of 3 games on this trip, but as I was talking to the Goalie Guild's Justin Goldman, we agreed that any hockey team's goal is to go at least .500 on a road trip; especially on one as long distance-wise as this last one across timezones. For Washington to have to play in Carolina as hard as they did, and then in less than 12 hours play a trap-defense team on bad ice in another time zone is a lot for any hockey player of any caliber.
It's a dumb argument considering the day after the Caps played like crap, they went and kicked the Calgary Flames out of their own building 7-2. It was very fun to watch while out on Halloween trips as well.
But hey, you're either kissing ass when you praise the Caps when they do well, or you're too harsh on them when they play poorly. That's the view of people, especially the Caps own fans, when writers report what they saw. I saw upside from the trip, and all of a sudden, I'm being too positive O_o... Everyone is afraid of being the honest one, and would rather remain skeptical for no reason, just to be safe when the Caps, in fact, lose it all. However, I recommend doing this NOT at the expense of seeing the team from all sides. So folks loosen up... it's only been 11 games this season!
And congrats to the San Francisco Giants for defeating the Texas Rangers four games to one in the World Series... too bad I only watched one game because Texas wouldn't make it interesting. Hmph. Oh well... Red Sox 2011!!!!!