I know it’s been a long while since the Panthers were any threat to really anyone, but do the Capitals realize that when they win, it damages our playoff chances? The Southeast Division is so extraordinarily awful that only one team may make it (that’s “may” in the sense of “has permission to,” otherwise none of us would make it at all).
We get Ovechkin back next game, which is super-awesome if only he had someone to pass him the damn puck. Mike Green spoke to the media, which doesn’t address the issue in the aforementioned sentence (tl;dr — 4 to 6 weeks).
GMGM has made some moves (only 25 shopping days until the trade deadline!): Matt Ford to Philadelphia for Kevin Marshall and Mike Carman to Colorado for Danny Richmond. This is all very exciting for AHL fans. Speaking of, we’re giving Joel Rechlicz an extended looksee, having sent Cody “Redheaded Stepchild” Eakin back to Hershey.
Finally, in minor league news that interests only me, BAVARIAN Philip Grubauer is the ECHL Rookie of the Month!!!!!!!!!! I feel very close to him, because we both had mononucleosis in Munich at the same time.
Next game is Saturday at 2!
Woof. The winter blues have really gotten to me. In the past week and a half I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve stayed up all night, I’ve stared into the abyss, and I’ve shouted “WHY??” at the heart of the world. But enough about finals. Let’s talk Capitals hockey, shall we?
» Continue reading “The Capitals Getting Their Feet Back”
Just a few days ago, I remarked casually to my father, “You know who a great coach for the Caps would be? Dale Hunter. I think he’s coaching the London Knights right now.” We both rolled our eyes (even as I remembered GMGM not giving Boudreau his full confidence a week ago) and went back to watch the horrible shellacking we were currently witnessing (pick any of the last few games, except Winnipeg). You can’t catapult a coach straight from the OHL to the NHL, right? Although he would instill a level of toughness missing on the ice, and he’s coach quite a few young superstars, as well as John Carlson and Dennis Wideman back in the day, and he’s beloved by Caps fans…
Then last night I dreamed I blindsided someone and they disappeared. If that’s not portentous, I don’t know what is.
» Continue reading “BOUDREAU FIRED, HUNTER HIRED”
Anyone else momentarily freak out and wonder what year it was when they heard Jagr’s name in the Flyers game yesterday? Just me? All right then.
There does not appear to be a preview for tomorrow’s game up on the Official Capitals Website, but Japers’ has our back as always. There’s a plethora of links, though I would give special notice to the Washington Times special pull-out section, which definitely leads the league in silly drawings, though the Post preview gives them a run for their money (D7-10). Although I think it’s a bit silly to still call our core the Young Guns.
Here are the storylines I will be watching out for:
» Continue reading “Season’s Eve”
Some final round-up notes before I plunge headfirst into the IIHF tournament and replace Alex Ovechkin with Alex Owetschkin:
-Well, no better place to start than the news that Ovie accepted Russia’s invitation to play at Worlds. Luckily Germany already beat Russia when all they had was Nabokov and Kovalchuk. Russia still has one spot free on the roster, but neither Varlamov nor Semin were invited to take it. Popular thought is they’re waiting for the Red Wings to lose so they can invite Datsyuk (or, in German, Dazjuk).
-The burning question is, of course, whether or not Bruce Boudreau will get canned. George McPhee says no. Ryan Lambert (of The Two-Line Pass and regular contributor to Puck Daddy) says no, and you’re a moron for thinking that. Now I’ll admit that my knee-jerk reaction to pretty much every loss is FIRE BOUDREAU, but when I’ve sobered up I realize he’s not really the problem. Who took the team from sad sack to Southeast Division champs? Who won us a President’s Trophy? Who shook us up after dropping a 7-0 laugher to the Rangers, transforming us from “you score 5, we’ll score 6″ to actually having a modicum of defensive responsibility? His only failing as a coach is not being able to get the message to stick in the thick skulls of a hockey team. Besides, who would replace him? Ken Hitchcock? No thank you.
-Injury reports from Whyno: “Knuble had broken thumb, pins in it; Carlson hip pointer, Green him flexor, Ovechkin (undisclosed) worse than let on.” Knuble and Green both sat for games and Carlson was a little sloppy (though still one of our better defenseman), but I don’t buy the Ovechkin excuse, mainly because he’s going to Worlds. Of course, he also showed up for the Lightning series, so he doesn’t really have to make an excuse.
-Utterly without excuses: Nick Backstrom. I guess it’s honourable he’s not saying “well I had a broken hand and a bum knee and the chicken pox” but that just means we’re left asking what the hell happened. He did say his play was “so f**king frustrating,” but that doesn’t really help us, does it? (Edit: Apparently he re-injured his thumb during the New York series.)
-Mike Vogel says Wideman would’ve been ready to go if the series had gone to six or seven. Well, that’s great, Denny. Again, doesn’t really help us.
-According to Slava Malamud (of Russia’s Sport Express), Varlamov would like to return, but doesn’t know what he’ll do if a big offer comes from the KHL. He is also torn up after being benched for the “first time in his career” and doesn’t seem to be dealing with it well. Varly apparently said it was a “good experience,” and I’ll let Malamud take it from there:
He started out saying PC thing (in English, no less), then smiled and repeated it sarcastically.
Oh boy. And because every poop sandwich needs a pickle, he wasn’t invited to Worlds because “Bykov is taking a harsh anti-NHL stance.” That sound you hear? It’s my heart breaking.
-With Nabokov out, the new Russian goalie is Vasiliy Koshechkin, whose name means “kitty” in Russian. There’s a delightful article about his mask at Puck Daddy. What does this have to do with the Capitals, you ask? Absolutely nothing, but who are you to argue with a kitten-themed goalie mask?
-Here’s the Pensblog Eulogy of the Caps on Puck Daddy. Like last year, instead of laughing and rolling my eyes, I nod my head sadly as I agree with nearly every word.
-Tom Poti’s career might be over. This is a self-indulgent bullet point, but I genuinely like Tom Poti for a lot of not-really-hockey-related reasons, and I wouldn’t like to see his career end on such a sour note.
-Are you rooting for team Germany at the IIHF WM? No? Well, would you like a reason to? Swing on by Hockey Abroad to check out my coverage of za Chermans.
In my notes for this game recap, I had the working title of “a pun involving the word ‘storm.’” I was badly hoping it would be “Capitals weather the storm.” Instead, it has been changed to reflect reality.
What is there to say? A team has only come back from a 3-0 deficit 4 times in Stanley Cup history. The only reason we think it’s a legitimate possibility is because the 4th time was last year, in a move that really doesn’t seem like it’ll be replicated by the Caps or the down 2-0 Flyers. Nevertheless, Ovechkin says:
We’re gonna fight and we’re gonna win.
Power plays are obviously a sticking point for us. Coming off 0-for-5 and 0-for-6, it was crucial that we actually convert this game. The first power play of the game was a heartbreaker, watching Roloson kick it in only to be mid-way through a too many men to make it a four-on-four. To add insult to injury — or rather injury to injury — Brooksie took one on the chin and spent the rest of the game looking like he’d really, really enjoyed a jelly bread sandwich. We desperately needed the opening goal for momentum, and not only did we fail to get it, we failed in such a spectacular fashion that I’m surprised we didn’t just throw in the towel then and there.
Incidentally, I found that eerily reminiscent of the Bruins too-many-men in 1979 that resulted in Don Cherry being fired (okay, okay, it was just an excuse used by the GM Harry Sinden who was none too fond of Grapes — can you tell I just finished a hockey history book?). Now GMGM has always been defensive of Bruce Boudreau and generally quashes rumours of his dismissal immediately, but rather than a knee-jerk reaction, this idea has percolated for the entire season so far: without significant playoff success, Gabby is donezo. “Significant playoff success” has generally been defined as not taking every series to 7 games, and I’ve always considered it going to the EC Finals. Getting swept out of the second round would not qualify under that definition.
But back to the game: Tampa’s first goal 2-on-1 with a bewildered Mike Green between them. Beauty passing play followed up by a little dangle by Bergenheim. The Bolts played their share of sloppy defence, allowing Ovechkin 2 breakaways, neither of which directly resulted in a goal.
Our goals included Knuble crashing the net for a goal and Carlson with a pretty one-timer that got past a screened Roloson. Our final marker of the game was finally a power play goal by O Captain, Our Captain who took advantage of heavy confusion in the crease to lift one roof daddy. All of these involved net persence of some sort, which we’ve long agreed was a key to this series. There was good pressure in the second, when we were able to cycle for at least 30 seconds sans power play, with 27+74 manning the points — I’d like to see them keep that up. The main key is momentum — you know, what got sucked away when the Lightning scored twice in about 20 seconds. That’s also something we should probably try to contain.
And my devotion to our goaltending means I gotta ask the question: who should be starting tonight’s game? Well aware that Neuvy isn’t remotely the problem (in fact it’s my favourite skater BÃ¤ckstrÃ¶m who is), but does it hurt to give Varly a shot? We’ve sent him in cold and unprepared before. Maybe we need exuberant and instinctual saves rather than calculating and efficient ones. Maybe everyone in the Lightning locker room will get a stomach flu!
Next game is actually today at 7pm. Do or die.
(Psst! Rumours afloat that there will be some IIHF World Championships coverage on Aerys! Once I figure out where it is, stop on by for all the German National Men’s Ice Hockey Team needs! Fun fact: they are doing so well that random Germans with no interest in icehockey whatsoever have taken notice.)
More important than any sort of playoff speculation: the news that Mike Knuble has signed a one-year extension with the club. As per blah blah blah we don’t know the exact figures yet (Edit: our boy SWhyno reports $2 mil), though Cap Geek remains your number one resource for such information. My thoughts? (squeals with incoherent delight)
He’s a first-line garbageman who gets all up in a goalie’s crease for the tap-in. He consistently works hard and he’s not afraid of physicality. He’s an important team leader (“this won’t be another fucking 7-0 laugher!”) whose veteran presence is needed to ground a group of young un’s. He prefers Big Macs and considers them the best food ever created by man or machine.Â When he retires, I will cry, but I hope he retires with us.