Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rule of Eights, Part 3

Keeping things in perspective:

Divide the season into 10 8-game blocks (plus two "bonus" games); score 10 points per block for 100 points and a trip to the playoffs.

3rd 8: 3-4-1, 7 pts.
Grueling road trip produces enough injured Caps players to form an All-Star team.
2nd 8: 6-1-1, 13 pts.
Semin sizzling, Ovechkin-Backstrom getting hotter, and two, count 'em, two No. 1 goalies ... got our 10, plus 3 for the "bank."
1st 8: 4-3-1, 9 pts.
Injury-scrambled lines and a Backstrom-Ovechkin "dead zone" ... coming up 1 point short isn't too bad an effort.

TillyCaps Fan for CK

Making the grade: November

I can't recall the stat, but CSN had mentioned that the Capitals had not had a winning November since 1999 (maybe) or a few years before the lockout.

We can talk about the horrendous November-opening shutout and closing shutout but the reality is, this wasn't a bad month of Capitals hockey.

Let's re-cap the month a bit...

Ovechkin finds his shot, Backstrom returns to his crazy self and the Capitals continued to pile on the goals.

The Capitals special teams went from mid-bottom of the league to top 10 in the span of three weeks and some guy name Fleischmann is one goal away from his goal totals from last year.

If the voting goes as I see it, Ovechkin should be the month's first star, and Backstrom should at least be the third.

The defense was solid on some nights, and not so solid on others but the real story is that the Capitals goaltending was much improved over October. Johnson had his great run and when that fell apart, Theodore picked up the slack and started playing like his 4.5 million dollar self.

8-5-2 is not a bad month, considering where the team was last November. Did I mention the Caps still lead the Southeast?

Sure there are those games we wish we had won, and efforts that just weren't worth writing home about, but with how jam-packed the team's schedule was and the injury plague the Caps endured, any team would be happy with that record.

November grade = B

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Pre-cap: Capitals vs. Blue Jackets

Alexander the Great and King Karl played a large role in the Capitals latest statement win, and while fans of stay-at-home defensemen might be tempted to order a red #27, (hint hint) tonight's match will test the Hershey call-ups endurance.

Sure they have back-to-back games in the AHL, but needless to say, the AHL is not the NHL.

Who will get injured on the road tonight? Who will we call up to replace them? What the hell is our cap situation anyway?

Who cares when you're winning, pre-cap time!

Washington Capitals (13-7-3, last game 3-0 win over Montreal)
Columbus Blue Jackets (9-10-3, last game 5-3 loss to Detroit)

The story so far...
A huge night in net, rugged defensive play and a few lucky bounces put the Capitals over the Habs on Wednesday. While the Capitals dominate at home, their road trips leave much to be desired. The Capitals will need to dig deep and fight off last night's fatigue to get the win.

Key players
WSH: Chris Bourque
For most of the Hershey call-ups, tonight might be the last chance to show off their moves. While Bourque may stay around longer than tonight's game, some of the Capitals injured forwards will soon make their return to the line-up and somebody will have to go. Bourque has played well in the past two games, and has show a tremendous ability to be a small, pesky forward. While he may not stay with the Caps all season, here is a chance to shine on the road and show what he is made of.
CBJ: Rick Nash
NHL 2k9 cover boy and Columbus super-star Rick Nash will likely set the tone for the Blue Jackets tonight. He will provide the Capitals top defensive lines with a challange, and with the amount of ice-time Alzner is seeing, we will likely see Alzner defend against the Blue Jacket's top player. Nash has 4 goals against the Capitals in five games, but is a -4.

Saved by Theo! Start for Johnson
Tonight Brent Johnson will get the start (unless Boudreau flips the role as he has done before) despite Theodore's shutout last night. Makes sense, a shutout against one of the top teams in the NHL (an All-star team too!) and a road trip, a rested Johnson is the best start. Oh did I mention that Johnson is 9-1-2-0 against the Blue Jackets?

Hoisting the water bottle
As I mentioned before Rick Nash was the cover boy for NHL 2k9. Here is his commercial for the game.

Their last meeting
Last time the Capitals played the Blue Jackets, you could really accuse the refs of trying to influence the game. While skating backwards, Shaone Morrisonn was knocked over by a referee(McCreary) while defending the rush. Here's the highlights and the incident. McCreary inteferes around 3:30.

A top Ten list for you
Top 10 Rejected Blue Jackets Marketing Slogans
  1. Hey, It's Something To Do When The Buckeyes Aren't Playing
  2. At Least We're Better Than The Islanders
  3. We Promise To Crush Any Small-Time, Smart-Ass Publishers Who Write Papers About Us
  4. Give Us Five Years And Then We Might Be Good
  5. We've Never Been Dumped In The First Round Of The Playoffs
  6. Gary Bettman Thinks Columbus Is A Major-League City
  7. Don't Worry About Saving Up For Playoff Tickets
  8. We'll Make Everyone Forget The Cleveland Barons . . . Oh, Wait, Never Mind
  9. We're Not Losers, We're "Victory Challenged"
  10. We Have No Idea What The Hell A Blue Jacket Is Either
found at Section 303


Friday, November 28, 2008

Congrats to Theo on his first shutout!

I guess it would be fitting if I were to say that the Capitals were.....


Pre-cap: Capitals vs. Eastern Conference All-stars

Tonight the Capitals will square off with the Canadiens in a bout that will test their mettle, prove their worth, and showcase if the leading vote-getters in the NHL All-star balloting are worthy of their position!

Washington Capitals (12-7-4, last game 5-3 win over Atlanta)
Eastern Conference All-Stars/Montreal Canadiens (12-5-4, last game 3-1 win over Detroit)

The story so far...
Ovechkin fired up the oven on Wednesday night to roast the Thrashers, but will the Capitals and their chocolate-town call-ups rise to the challenge and dispatch the Canadiens? Strong special teams play coupled with an Ovechkin energized crowd will once again be the deciding factor in this game.

Players to watch
WSH: Karl Alzner
King Karl was second on the team in ice time, behind Ovechkin. He was solid and with his first-game nerves shaken off, tonight's game against the Habs will be a true litmus test of the first round draft picks talent. Don't expect any points, but keep an eye on his ice time and if he plays during key situations, such as the penalty kill. If Alzner wants to stay in Washington for a few more games, his best chance to earn the spot is tonight.
MTL: Saku Koivu
The Canadiens point leader, and Captain has thrashed the Capitals for 27 points in 20 games in his career. Leading the Habs in +/- and points, Koivu will be the go-to set-up guy for the Canadiens. While Caps fans eyes should be on Alzner, it's likely you will see Alzner and Koivu face off pitting a skilled veteran against a starry-eyed rookie.

Admirable comeback
In case you don't know, Saku Koivu is a cancer survivor. His story has made him a hero in Montreal, around the NHL and for anyone fighting cancer. Here's a great video about his fight against the illness.

Whose next? Carey Price?
Tonight is the return of Jose Theodore to his former team. With the acquisition of Theodore this summer, the Capitals have had both former starting goaltenders for the Habs from the past 5 years. (Huet and Theodore).

Russian firepower
Alex Ovechkin will get to face-off against his gold medal national team friends tonight. Andrei Markov and Alex Kovalev were both members of Russia's team at the 2008 IIHF finals along with Semin, Ovechkin and Fedorov. And of course, when Ovie is facing his countrymen, he almost always brings his A++ game.

100 years in 10 minutes
Great photo montage set to the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers showcasing the Canadiens greatest moments in their 100 year history.

And your main event!!!!
Think that NHL enforcer heavyweights Donald Brashear and George Laraque will drop the mittens tonight? I'd put my money on yes. Here is their last bout when Laraque was a Penguin and Brash endured a barrage of punches to land a sick haymaker for the win.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a (pre)-Thanksgiving miracle!!

Per Tarik

Q: When and how did you find out you were Washington bound?
A: "When Sami got called off the ice earlier in the day ... I knew what the situation was [in Washington] and that there were a lot of guys hurt. I know a lot of you guys have heard about my wishing at 11:11. I usually make multiple wishes. But [yesterday] I just made one wish, and it was that I got called up. And I found out later."

Pre-cap: Capitals vs. Thrashers

You smell that? Not it's not pies sitting in the fridge for Thanksgiving, or a warm fire crackling in the fireplace.

It's the smell of vengeance.

The Capitals recent slide has stirred sour emotions from the fans and the team. Who better to let it out against than the team that spoiled opening day?

So to those headed to "the phonebooth," for tonight's game. Be loud, be proud, and unleash the fury.

Washington Capitals (11-7-3, last game 4-3 loss to Minnesota)
Atlanta Thrashers (8-10-2, last game 6-3 win over Toronto)

The story so far...
Fresh off a 6-3 domination of the Maple Leafs, the Thrashers are making up for early losses. Think the Capitals are the most exciting team in the Southeast? Atlanta might have something to say about that. Tonight will be a display of high-powered offenses featuring two of Russia's premier forwards. Solid goaltending early will be key, but in the end, I would bet that special teams decide the match-up.

Key players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin
ATL: Ilya Kovalchuk
When putting together a "players to watch," feature, it's easy to always pick Ovie. Tonight is more or less a night he deservedly should be a key player. While the Ovie/Kovalchuck rivalry is not as "hot" as the Malkin feud, Ovechkin loves holding bragging rights over his national team comrades.

Post-lockout pre-Thanksgiving bouts
In 2007 the Capitals got the snot beat out of them by the Thrashers 5-2 the day before Thanksgiving.
In 2006 the Capitals lost to the Thrashers 4-2 the day before Thanksgiving.
In 2005 the Capitals lost to the Lightning 4-3 (SO) the day before Thanksgiving.

Who is the beast of the Southeast?
Don't look now, but the Atlanta Thrashers are unbeaten in regulation against Southeast division foes (4-02). A win for the Capitals tonight means they would hold victories over four of five teams in the Southeast. The Capitals play the Florida Panthers next week.

The fight you won't be seeing...
Sadly Capitals enforcer Donald Brashear will not get to have round two with Zach Bogosian tonight. Like a over-hyped prize fight, we are left wanting more. Let's re-live Bogosian's "introduction," to the NHL.

I see what you did there
Anyone else notice the similarities between the new Thrashers marketing campaign and the new Stolichnaya vodka ads? It seems that if a Russian is your star, then you should go all Motherland with your ads.




Monday, November 24, 2008

Bruised and bloodied: What's a GM to do?

Pothier - D - Out indefinitely
Semin - F - Day to day
Green - D - Day to day
Fedorov - F - Day to day
Schultz - D - Broken finger
Gordon - F - Injured in first, did not return

The Capitals trek out west did more damage to the team than it did to their place in the standings. Despite going 1-3 in the past six days, the Capitals are still the Southeast Division's top dog. The Caps can thank the Hurricanes for that.

But the situation now isn't so much getting back to winning ways, but more or less filling the holes on the roster. With the team already at the salary cap roof, there isn't much wiggle room for the Capitals.

Couple that with the creative line combos Boudreau had to throw together (Laich, Flash, Ovie, Nylander, Sloan) and you have a recipe for fan panic.

So what is GMGM to do?

Option #1: Call up the most inexpensive players on the roster.

Japers Rink provides us with this great tool to let us know who might get the call-up salary wise.

On the forward side of the situation, you have Keith Aucoin, Quintin Laing, Chris Bourque and on defense, Patrick McNeil and Sami Lepisto.

McNeil is more or less an enforcer so he is unnecessary with Bradley and Brashear in town, but Lepisto has already seen NHL action and would be a good Band-Aid for a team that sorely misses Mike Green.

Laing and Aucoin are the cheapest players on Hershey available for call-up and have been successful at the AHL level. Aucoin leads the Bears in points while Laing is having the type of season you'd expect of a grinder.

Option #2: Trade Nylander

The rumors are out there, and with the Capitals deep at center the only thing barring the move that we know of could be Nylander's no-movement-clause. Although if the Capitals were to ship Nylander out of town, it would free up $4.875 million in cap room, but would likely bring in an equal amount in the form of other players.

Option #3: Get creative

There is only so much you can do with the current stock of players, but with the team at the cap roof there may not be another option. Sure a player might be called up, but beyond that, someone might have to fill a role that they are foreign to.

So what do you do?

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Wild

Fresh off his nomination to the AHL Hall of Fame, Bruce Boudreau will try to salvage what could turn out to be a terrible road trip.

Washington Capitals (11-6-3, last game 7-2 loss to San Jose)
Minnesota Wild (11-6-1, last game 2-1 loss to St. Louis)

The story so far...
The visits to Los Angeles and San Jose resulted in nothing more than butt-whippings that could have been closer contests. This is only the third time during Boudreau's reign as coach that the Capitals have dropped back-to-back games, and tonight the team's resiliency will need to be on display against a staunch Minnesota defense.

Key Players
WSH: Nicklas Backstrom
MIN: Niklas Backstrom

Brick-wall defense
The Capitals are one of the NHL's most dangerous offensive teams, as are the Pittsburgh Penguins. But when Sidney Crosby and company visited Minnesota, the high-powered Penguin offense was held to only 1 goal. With key cogs Alex Semin and Mike Green not playing, the Capitals will need to find the back of the net early and often. The last thing Minnesota wants is Ovechkin taking control of the ice and, as seen in the bout with the Penguins, they are capable of shutting down offensive superstars.

The importance of scoring early
The Wild's win percentage when leading after the first period? 100%. Ouch. Their win percentage when trailing after one? 25%.

The Backstrom story...
Get to know the man who will probably frustrate Caps fans for 60 minutes.

Battle of the Backstroms
Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom is a hot goalie at the moment. At 5-2-1, with a 2.21 GAA, Backstrom has been the backbone of the Wild's defense. On the other side of the rink, you have Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals' top center. On the road, he is 4-11-15 and is currently riding an eight-game point-scoring streak.

Screw Oh Canada, this should be Canada's national anthem
The Minnesota Wild's fight song, The State of Hockey.

Test for the special teams
The Wild are the league's best penalty killers and have only given up six power play goals this season.


Dress like Don Cherry

Tip of the hat to The Red Skate for this gem.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Sharks

After a tired and poor effort, the Capitals travel to San Jose to play the only other undefeated-in-regulation team at home.

Will San Jose play like Great Whites or will the Capitals make them look more like a Nurse Shark?

Looks like we're gonna need a bigger pre-Cap!

Washington Capitals (11-5-3, last game 5-2 loss to Los Angeles)
San Jose Sharks (16-3-1, last game 4-1 win over Nashville)

The story so far...
Back-to-back games, on the road, in California. That was the recipe for disaster that earned the Capitals a loss to the Kings. While the Kings are no slouch of a team by any means, the Capitals should have won. Now they face a team that is among the NHL elite, and a half-asleep effort will only result in another loss. Have the Caps woken up?

Key Players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin
Ovie has scored against every NHL team except the Kings, Sharks and Minnesota. The Caps' next opponents are the Sharks and then Minnesota, so Ovie might be wanting to cut his list down to one. His goal streak ended Thursday, and so did the Caps' point streak. The correlation should be clear: When Ovie scores, the Caps usually earn a point; keep him off the board and the chance to lose is greater. With Semin still out and Green ailing, Ovechkin will be the focal point of the Capitals offense.
SJS: Devin Setoguchi
The Sharks have been a dominating team so far this season. With 73 goals for and 49 goals against, the Sharks are the best offensive team and among the best defensive teams. Setoguchi has played a large role in that. Coming in to tonight's game, he has 11 goals and 11 assists, leading the team in goals and second in assists. Setoguchi has never played the Capitals in his young career, so it will come down to the Caps defense to shut him down, but when you're surrounded by other stars such as Patrick Marleau and Joe Thorton that's easier said than done.

Shutdown specialists
The Sharks have a potent offense and a tough defense, so tough that if the Sharks lead after the second period your team is likely toast. The Sharks have a .923 win percentage when leading after the second period. When the Sharks lead after one? It doesn't get any better: They are .857.

Boom! Headshot!
Remember awhile back when Ovechkin dented Devils goalie Scott Clemmenson's helmet? Well, Sharks Goalie Evgeni Nabokov is no stranger to pucks to the face, only this one was a little messier.

Getting back on the horse
The Capitals injuries are slowly beginning to heal as Sergei Fedorov may return tonight. Mike Green is no longer wearing a sling, and Shaone Morrissonn is playing. Alex Semin still remains out, but according to Boudreau, "has not been ruled out for Monday." Yeah, right.

Just how missed was Green?
Want an indicator of how Green's play helps the Capitals? Let's look back at the first period of the Kings game. The Capitals only took three shots in the first period, had trouble setting up in the offensive zone and couldn't convert on two first-period power plays. Green's specialty? Rushing to the offensive zone, shooting from the point and quarterbacking the power play.

San Jose is known for two things. Dominating the regular season and then falling in the playoffs. Here's a great parody song about it. Song starts about a minute in.

Not Sharks-related at all
But so funny you just have to see it.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Kings

OK, that picture is a little bit wrong, but it's all in good fun.

Tonight we get to see a team that has finished its rebuild against a team that is in the middle of one. If you remember, the mid-rebuild Capitals were a tough, never-give-up team and you can expect that out of the Kings.

Yes, the Caps should win, but you know what happens when you start acting like you should win games. Let's hope the boys don't fall asleep tonight.
Washington Capitals (11-4-3, last game 6-4 win over Anaheim)
vs. Los Angeles Kings (7-8-2, last game 2-0 loss to Anaheim)

The story so far...
Talk about a game of extreme highs and then lows. The Capitals rushed out to a three-goal lead, then gave up two. The second period faired better, but then again in the third it seemed as if the Capitals were saying, "Go ahead, we don't want these two points anyway." Fortunately they did, and we got them. The Ducks are a physical team that tries to drain you, so after what could be described as a draining game the Caps face the Kings, who have some pretty playmakers of their own.

Key Players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Tomas Fleischmann
LAK: Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll

Super PP, meet your match
The Capitals power play last night? Awesome. Against the Ducks' ninth-ranked PK, it was impressive to see the Capitals finally burying the puck on the man advantage. Now they face a bigger test. The Kings have the third-best penalty kill in the league. The Kings PP isn't any better, they rank 18th.

Not the right way to rebuild
The Kings are learning how to win, but hopefully not from this guy:

Spreading it around
The problem isn't that the Kings aren't putting the puck in the net, but more that they haven't had a single player emerge as the catalyst for the team's goal scoring. Center Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 11 assists, but two players lead the team in goals with only six. Spreading the wealth is always a good thing, but having two players you can rely on for goals is another thing.

Los Angeles Kings! COME ON DOWN!!!
The Kings appeared on "The Price is Right" to promote a hockey showcase.

So bad, it's awesome.

Secondary Ovie?
It's no lie, we give Sidney Crosby hell for the amount of secondary assists he racks up. Truth is, Ovechkin could be charged with that too, especially after last night's game. Ovechkin was the secondary assister on all three goals scored in the first period. During Ovechkin's goal drought, many of his points were from secondary assists.

For your X-mas consideration
Wii? Xbox? Playstation? HDTV? None of them can top this.

That's actually one of the best hockey commercials I've seen recently.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Ducks

Fire up your Nintendo Entertainment System television, it's time for the Capitals to go duck hunting.

(Insert Dick Cheney hunting joke here) Here's your pre-Cap!

Washington Capitals (10-4-3, last game SO loss to New Jersey)
Anaheim Ducks (10-7-2, last game 2-0 win over Los Angeles)

The story so far...
It was a whirlwind week for the Capitals, and after a dramatic last-second goal by Ovechkin some rest was due. Now the Caps are on the road out West. Will the team dominate like it did last weekend, or will they still be jet-lagged?

Key Players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom
ANA: Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne

All banged up
Semin? Doubtful. Fedorov? Game-time decision. Morrisonn? Game-time decision. Pothier? God knows when.

Do players spend their free time playing video game hockey?
Seems like Teemu Selanne does...

And your ex-Cap for the night
None other than Brian Sutherby. Sutherby was traded last season for a Ducks second round draft pick in 2009. The Capitals then turned that draft pick into Cristobal Huet. Sutherby, a 1st round, 26th overall pick, never quite panned out for the Capitals. He is currently sixth on the Ducks in scoring with 3G and 3A.

If at first you don't succeed...give Finnish kids candy.
Candy from a stranger is bad, but when it's from Teemu Selanne, well I guess THAT's okay. Finnish translation, "This is my thing, this is what I'm good at."

The question is, who's in net?
At the moment, the decision of who will start in goal is unanswered. Johnson and Theodore have been playing well recently, each one deserving of the start. Johnson is coming off a minor injury and would like to get back to where he was last week. Theodore is making highlight saves and, despite a 5-goal game, Saturday, looks solid.

To give you some perspective, here's the career totals for both against the Ducks.
Johnson: 6-3, 2.20 GAA, .906%
Theodore: 5-4, 2.72 GAA, .917%

Interesting facts...
The Ducks have not lost this season when leading after two periods. They have not won when trailing after one period. The highest +/- on the Ducks is a 7. Alex Semin leads the Capitals in five stats (G, A, P, +/-, OTG)

Really hate the Ducks? Enjoy.
Duck Hunt for the PC


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The +/- effect

In case you haven't noticed, the Capitals have four players in the top five +/- leaders.

The stat not only shows the dominance that the Semin-Ovechkin-Backstrom (S.O.B) line has enjoyed recently, but might also be a sign of things to come.

For example, last year, the Red Wings had had four players in the top 10 +/- leaders, three in the top five.

The result? A Stanley Cup.

At the end of the 2006-2007 season, the Ottawa Senators had five players in the top 10 +/- leaders.

The result? A trip to the Stanley Cup Finals but a loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

The correlation is obvious. Teams with players who can produce and play solid defense, typically perform well in the postseason.

So if the Capitals (and the S.O.B line) keep on this course, Verizon Center could be rocking the red in the middle of May.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Third jersey?

Saturday, the San Jose Sharks will debut their latest money-making scheme jersey against the Capitals. They call the jersey BlackArmor

The question must be asked: Will the Capitals ever consider a third jersey?

Believe it or not, mockups are already being sold over the Internet, such as this Rangers knock-off below.

Also on Ebay is this hat featuring a vacuum-cleaner-style logo. Looks more like an Oreck than the Capitol.

So in conclusion...

Dear Caps,

We love our red and white jerseys. You know what team doesn't need a third jersey? The Red Wings. Why? Because they already have two solid jerseys.

So do we.


Caps Fans.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Devils

The sky is falling for some Southeast Division teams (cough Tampa cough), but now is not the time to bring up failed mullets. The Capitals' assault on the #1 slot in the Eastern Conference continues with the second game in a home-and-home series with the Devils.

Washington Capitals (10-4-1, last game 3-1 win over Devils)
New Jersey Devils (7-7-2, last game 3-1 loss to Capitals)

The story so far...
Nylander sat, Semin groaned, and Theodore closed the door. Oh, and some guy named Alex Ovechkin got an empty netter for his fifth goal. Another thing, let me gloat: Tomas Fleischmann, called it! A great team effort in front of some great goaltending catapulted the Caps ahead of the Devils. Can they do it again after a quick trip up 95?

Key Players
WSH: Jose Theodore, Tomas Fleischmann
NJD: Zach Parise, Patrick Elias

Dropping the ball
For the Devils, playing without Brodeur in net is like riding a bike without training wheels. Without their security blanket of a goalie, the team has been on a steep slide. The Devils have dropped four in a row, but during the time without Broduer the GAA only jumped to 2.6 from 2.5. So who is responsible? A tandem of back-ups or an offense whose third best goal scorer has only two goals?

Don't look now...
Word is Jose Theodore will get the start tonight. It was possible Johnson would start but after Theodore's performance last night, and considering how long Boudreau played Johnson for similar efforts, the start would be justified.

Get to know the man who robbed Jose
Let's face it. We have been giving Theodore a lot of crow for his play, but last night, he deserved a shutout. Then a horrible line change and a Elias shot burned Theodore and ended his four-period shutout (dating back to the Carolina game). Here's a nice piece on Elias.

Stuff your face for only a dollar...
I really hope that if some multi-million-dollar hockey team owner in D.C. were perchance mulling over this site, he'd consider this fan promotion. Nathan's hotdogs for only a buck? I imagine the catch is the condiment bar now costs $5 to use.

Dragging in the towel...
Think dragging toilet paper from the bathroom on your foot is bad? Devils defensemen Jay Pandolfo knows your pain.

Solid like a rock
How about that Tyler Sloan and Tom Poti pairing? The last time each was a negative on the plus-minus for a game? For Sloan, it goes back to Oct. 28 against the Predators, but keep in mind he was returned to Hershey for a bit. For Poti it goes back to Oct. 13, but keep in mind he was injured for a strech, too. Even with the injuries/call-up, the two have been one of the best defensive pairs for the Caps this season.

Gimmick Infringment
Devils fans, be sure to rock YOUR red. What's next, unleash YOUR fury?


Friday, November 14, 2008

Rule of Eights, Part 2

Keeping things in perspective:

Divide the season into 10 8-game blocks (plus two "bonus" games); score 10 points per block for 100 points and a trip to the playoffs.

2nd 8: 6-1-1, 13 pts.
Semin sizzling, Ovechkin-Backstrom getting hotter, and two, count 'em, two No. 1 goalies ... got our 10, plus 3 for the "bank."
1st 8: 4-3-1, 9 pts.
Injury-scrambled lines and a Backstrom-Ovechkin "dead zone" ... coming up 1 point short isn't too bad an effort.

TillyCaps Fan for CK

Thursday, November 13, 2008

NHL All-Star voting debacle

In case you don't already know, the NHL All-Star game's online voting campaign began recently.

The idea is novel: Let the fans choose the starting lineup, make them register for the new in the process, and then let them vote as many times as they want.

Yes, as many times as your heart desires.

Which is where the Montreal Canadiens fans have stepped in to take advantage of the voting system in a way a politician could only dream of.

Thanks to an auto-voting script, the Montreal Canadiens are the front-runners for all six starting slots on the Eastern Conference All-Star team.

So I decided to take it upon myself to see how easy it was to set up an auto-voting script. With no computer programming skills, and not wanting to invest much time into the process, I just did a simple Google search for Montreal Canadiens All-Star voting script.

Results were quickly returned, and I was taken to the Canadiens board, where I was directed to this message (below) about how to set up FireFox to auto-vote for me.

It was actually quite easy to set up. I followed the directions and, next thing I know, Saku Koivu is getting an unlimited amount of votes from my computer. Here's the best part: You can open multiple windows, say 10, and run the script in 10 separate windows, each casting votes.

This isn't the first time an auto-voting script has been used to rig the results of an online voting campaign. Just recently, users from the online message board 4chan voted Rick Astley (of RickRoll fame) the "Best Act Ever."

So what should the NHL do? They are allowing multiple votes from a single computer, so it's not like Canadiens fans are breaking the rules. But, at the same time, does Saku Koivu really deserve to be a starter over say Sidney Crosby or Alex Semin?

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Devils

The Capitals start a home-and-home series with the Devils tonight, putting a four-game win streak on the line. Known for defensive hockey, the Devils have found themselves in unfamiliar territory with All-Star goalie Martin Brodeur sidelined for at least 3 months.

Washington Capitals (9-4-2, last game 5-1 win over Carolina)
New Jersey Devils (7-6-2, last game 5-2 loss to New York Rangers)

The story so far...
You couldn't ask for a better night from the Capitals top line Wednesday night. All four members of the "Young Guns" poster contributed multiple points. Energized by an early Ovechkin goal, the Caps cruised to victory. With Brodeur out tonight, the Caps will want to exploit the weakness in goal while playing solid in their own end.

Key Players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Jose Theodore
NJD: Brian Gionta, Zach Parise

Big shoes to fill
Scott Clemmensen, the Devil's third-string goalie, will be getting the start tonight. Clemmensen has only faced the Caps twice as a starter and averages a 2.61 GAA.

How it happened
Chances are you may not have actually seen how Brodeur was injured. Here's the video of the incident.

Walking the walk
On Oct. 31, Alex Semin's famous comments about Sidney Crosby were published by PuckDaddy. Since then, he has amassed 5 goals and 6 assists in 6 games. As for Crosby? He has 1 goal and 5 assists in 4 games (not including Thursday's Flyers bout). Jan. 14 can't come soon enough.

Getting to know your opponent
With Brodeur out, the Devils will have to adjust their defense-first style to a more offensive system. The change might not be as hard as some think: With third-year star Zach Parise leading the Devils in points, teams might find themselves burned if they think the Devils are a one-trick pony. Get to know Parise in this video.

11 days
That's how long it has been since Jose Theodore started a game. Theodore, who came off the bench Wednesday to stone the Canes on all shots faced, will start Friday's game. Johnson, if healthy, will likely start Saturday's game.

Remember fans...
Tonight it's ROCK THE RED; tommorrow it will be ROCK YOUR RED.


Capitals De-motivators

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Random Thoughts: Caps and Canes (11/12)

What a game, right? Well here's some musings I had during the game.

Powered by Ovechkin
I've said it before and I'll say it again here. When Ovechkin gets on the scoreboard early, his enthusiasm infects the entire team. His electricity after the 1st goal could have powered that arena and ultimately set the tone for the night.

That's what I call clutch
While I may have been dogging Jose Theodore recently for poor play, he really stepped up tonight and saved the win for Johnson. He was awarded the hard hat award, and I couldn't agree more.

Credit Brooks Laich with a morale-assist. His screen of Leighton is the reason Green's goal was scored. Now if only we could do that every PP.

Boo-bird infestation
There is really nothing sweeter than hearing an opposing team's boos on the road, especially when they are directed at their own team. Also, did anyone else notice that the fans were booing when Semin was holding the puck? I guess that late goal still stirs some emotions.

Raise your hand if you're a jerk
Seems like the refs called everything tonight. Could have used that a few days ago.

Hard Hat honorable mention
If I had to choose one other player for the Hard Hat Award, It would have to be Tomas Fleischman. His game has elevated, and his hustle is superb. While he may not have the scoring hands of Semin, he is generating chances on the rush on his own. Mark my words, he is a sleeping volcano and one of these games he is going to erupt. Boom!

Who do you call up?
Depending on the severity of Johnson's injury, the Capitals may call up a goaltender from Hershey. While many fans would love to see Russian Simeon Varlamov, I imagine it would likely be Daren Machesney. One, Varlamov can't speak English well, and two, he is still getting used to the North American game. I want to see Varlamov as much as the next person, but Machesney is the safe bet.

S.O.B. Line

Semin Ovechkin Backstrom

Why should they be called the S.O.B. line?

Because that's what the opposing team's coach is saying when they score.

"SON OF A B*@!%"

Semin - 2G, 3A - 1st 5-point game in career
Ovechkin - 1G, 2A
Backstrom - 1G, 3A - Ends 20-game goal-scoring drought

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Hurricanes

With a chance to stake full claim to the Southeast Division top slot, and riding a three-game win streak, the Caps travel to Carolina for the first time this season.

Will Ovie unleash a few dragons into the net? (I'm going to make this slogan common vernacular, I tell you!)

Washington Capitals (8-4-2, last game 4-2 win over Tampa)
Carolina Hurricanes (8-5-2, last game 5-2 loss to Atlanta)

The story so far...
After shellacking former Capital Olie Kolzig in the first period Monday night, the Caps now face a younger goalie with a considerably better team surrounding him. Oh, did I mention the Capitals won the last meeting with 10 seconds left? This Southeast Division rivalry is in full swing, and it's only November.

Key Players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Brent Johnson
CAR: Cam Ward, Eric Staal, Michael Leighton

Some food for thought
When Ovechkin is exiting a slump, he usually does it with bundles of goals. The Peerless Prognosticator details this in his gameday post. Ovie's longest drought before this? 7 games. The aftermath? 6 goals in 3 games.
If you thought the "Learn Swedish with Professor Backstrom" video was bad, just wait until you see current Cane (former Blackhawk) Tuomo Ruutu ask fans to spell Finnish words.

Johnny on the spot
In four consecutive starts, Brent Johnson has a 1.5 GAA. He was named third star of the week last week and first star in the game against the Lightning. According to interviews on Caps365, Johnson recalls the last time he started this many games in a row was in 2007 when Olie Kolzig was injured. Before that, 2001-2002, when he was the starter in St. Louis.

It doesn't matter which hand he beats you with
As I have stated, this Southeast Division rivalry is boiling quickly, and last week's fight between Brookbank and Brashear could very well be revisited tonight. Check it out from a fan's perspective in this video.

Brass Bonanza
If you're in the mood for a little hockey history lesson, go check out Brass, to revisit the Hartford Whalers' (not the Hurricanes') glory days.

Semin and Ovie aren't the only pillow fighters in this town...
In the Semin interview that never ends, we learned Ovie and Semin have some pretty "crazy" pillow fights on the road. Seems like Eric Staal and Jordan Staal make for some good pillow fighters too. Maybe we can throw some on the ice and have one at center ice...or not.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"We sang Kum Ba Yah"

Is the slump REALLY over?

Yes, I know. We are all excited Ovie finally scored a goal. Let's not be so quick to say the slump is over, though.

Remember this: On opening night against Atlanta, Caps fans were wondering why Ovechkin couldn't bury the puck in the net on shots that usually light the lamp. The next night he puts down 2 goals against the Blackhawks and an aging Nikolai Khabibulin. While exiting the Verizon Center, I turned to my father and said, "I'm glad we have Ovie back." Oh man....

Ten games and more than a few frustrated groans later, Ovechkin puts one in off a nice feed from Semin and suddenly the slump is over?

Don't get me wrong. I'm as happy as the next red-clad fan to see the Great Eight scoring, but I don't think one goal against Olie Kolzig will single-handedly end the slump.

Wednesday night's game against Carolina will be a true test to see if the slump is shed. Ovechkin will face a goalie who is not only younger, but has a considerably better team around him.

The drought is over, the slump is in the process of shedding.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New slogan for shooting...

A very special pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Lightning

It's finally here, the first Capitals and Lightning bout. While this Southeast Division rivalry has been a bit cold as of late, a new story line emerged during free agency when Olie Kolzig joined the Bolts.

With Olie facing his former team, and his former team full of rocket-wristed shooters, it's safe to say this game could get ugly. For the Caps or the Bolts.

In honor of Mr. Kolzig, I'm donning my 37 jersey on campus today. Hoping for a good show but ultimately a win for the guys in red.

Washington Capitals (7-4-2, last game 2-1 win over Rangers)
Tampa Bay Lightning (5-4-4, last game 2-1 win over Flyers)

The story so far...
Both teams are riding four-game point streaks and, with Carolina's loss last night, both teams can make up ground in the Southeast Division.

Key players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Brent Johnson, Alex Semin
TB: Martin St. Louis, Olie Kolzig, Steven Stamkos

Alex Ovechkin 2.0?
With the first overall pick the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted Steven Stamkos. His ownership deemed him akin to Alex Ovechkin, although his rookie season stats are more a reflection of current Alex Ovechkin. Sitting at 2 goals and 2 assists, the rookie has a long road ahead of him if he wants to claim the Calder.

St. Louis and Lecavalier playing "hockey's newlywed game."

Johnny vs the Bolts
We all know Kolzig's record versus the Capitals, but what about Johnson's? Johnson is 5-2-1-2 with a .917 save percentage. He averages a 2.43 GAA but has remained unbeaten on home ice this season.

It's a glitch
I hope this is what the Bolts players are saying if Ovechkin exploits Olie's notoriously big 5-hole.

Still...not-so special teams
Tonight pits some powerplay bottom feeders against each other. The Capitals rank 22nd with a 15.5% PP while Tampa is farther down the list at 26th with a 14.6% PP. The Caps PK on the other hand is rising as they now rank 14th with a 81.4% PK. The Bolts are 21 with a 79.7% PK.

Classic Olie Moments

LET'S GO CAPS (we still love you, Olie)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mr. Kolzig goes back to Washington

With Olie Kolzig rumored to start against his former team on Monday, let's break down some possible scenarios and how to react to them.

#1: Kolzig gets blown out and/or yanked in favor of Mike Smith
As an Olie fan, I hope this doesn't happen. With Tampa Bay's owners already trade happy, an embarrassing game for Olie could mean we never see him start against the Caps again. Also I fear that the Verizon Center crowd may serenade him with the classic "OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLIIIIIIIIIEEEEE" that has haunted him in Penguins games.

#2: Kolzig plays to a one-goal loss, overtime or shootout
A good showing for Olie would be nice to see. He hasn't been terrible this season but his best days are behind him. With a possible match against his friend Brent Johnson, who is on the rise, a goaltender's duel would be a real treat.

#3 Olie Kolzig records a shutout.
If Kolzig shuts out the Capitals, then the Verizon Center must do this:

Which scenario do you think will happen?

Wes Johnson is a nuclear psychopath

If you have checked out Fallout 3, the new video game for the PC, 360 and PS3, you might like to know that Capitals events announcer Wes Johnson has a role in the game.

The game takes place in a post-apocalyptic D.C. where nuclear war has turned the capital into a wasteland.

Johnson plays Mr. Burke, a man who gives you the option of detonating a dormant nuclear bomb in a small town.

Here's some video of Johnson in the game.

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Rangers

It's a new era in New York, an era without some guy named Jaromir Jagr.

So who are we going to boo now?

Either way, the license plate to the left is hilarious despite the fact the Rangers lead the Atlantic Division. Crafty Islanders fans!

Time for your pre-Cap.

Washington Capitals (6-4-2, last game 3-2 win over Carolina)
New York Rangers (11-4-2, last game 5-2 win over Tampa)

The story so far...
The Cardiac Caps are back! At least for one game, and while the excitement from Thursday's game is sure to energize a near sold-out Verizon Center, we can only wonder which team will show up against the Eastern-Conference-leading Rangers. Once again, all eyes are on Brent Johnson, who makes his third straight start.

Key players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Brent Johnson
NYR: Nikolai Zherdev, Markus Naslund, Scott Gomez

Controversy brewing between the pipes?
Tonight will be Brent Johnson's third consecutive start of the season. After two solid games, Johnson is more than making a case that he can handle the top goaltender duties, but the jury is still out on Theodore. Johnson enters tonight's game 1-0-0 against the Rangers but has two career games against them. Meaning he was yanked out of net in an earlier game. How great a story would it be if Johnson got his chance at a #1 spot, led the Caps to the Stanley Cup and joined his Hall-of-Fame grandpa Sid Abel in hockey glory?

Special team woes
The Capitals now rank 27th in the NHL on the power play. Too cute and too much, the Capitals only convert 14.8 percent of the time. Washington is middle of the pack on the penalty kill, sitting at 15th in the league.

Because we just can't get enough Johnson
Let's check out his house. Go get some Johnsonville brats for tonight's game.

The puck stops here
Tonight, the Capitals face world class goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who hasn't give the Capitals much in terms of wins. He is 7-2-0-1 in his career against the Capitals with a 2.52 GAA. Alex Ovechkin, on the other hand, has been a consistent threat to the Rangers, scoring 13 points in 12 games.

Dancing queen
Sorry but that title was too hard to resist. Here's a video of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist throwing down some moves for Swedish TV.

Sloan is back!
Tyler Sloan was recalled for tonight's game following the injury suffered by Shaone Morrisonn. He scored a goal and a huge hit in his first few NHL games,;perhaps he can add to that by helping lead the Capitals to a shutout victory with solid defensive play.

Come for the funeral, stay for the second rounder...
The Rangers are looking to replace recently deceased prospect Alexei Cherepanov but are asking that they be compensated a draft pick because of his death. Check out the story here.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Boudreau sure knows how to sell a car....and bobblehead

Our best offense, is our defense, which is our offense

Another one for good measure.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Hurricanes

And you thought ice girls were bad!

The Capitals play host to the Carolina Hurricanes, and because D.C. was not part of the South, Southern hospitality does not apply.

Washington Capitals (5-4-2, Last game 2-1 OT loss to Ottawa)
Carolina Hurricanes (7-3-2, Last game 5-4 OT win over Toronto)

The story so far...
Another 2-1 loss. When will the Capitals learn to win games when the goalies are hot? Johnson looks to keep himself between the pipes, and his play will likely be the story to follow tonight.

Key Players:
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Brent Johnson
CAR: Eric Staal, Rod Brindamour, Cam Ward

Dueling net-minders
Cam Ward has quite the success rate against the Caps. He is 10-4-0-1 with a 2.52 GAA. On the road, Cam Ward is 3-0-2, meaning he is yet to lose in regulation. Yup, not stating that fact in an attempt to jinx him, yet to lose in regulation...
Johnny on the other hand is a meager 4-5-0-1, with a 2.94 GAA. Right now he is the only Caps goalie with a save percentage above .900. At age 31, it's not impossible that Johnson could steal the spotlight from Jose Theodore, but that controversy is at least 5 wins away from getting serious.

Terrorizing players
Keep your eyes on Carolina's aging center Rod Brindamour. He has 78 points in 91 games against the Caps, numbers that are somewhat lower because he missed most of last season due to injury. Ovechkin is a terrorist to the Canes: He averages well over a point per game when playing the Canes. In 24 games, he has 17 goals and 12 assists.

It's kind of a rivalry, I guess...
Well it's a forced rivalry. Partly because for awhile the Capitals and Canes were the only two competitive teams in the Southeast. But with last season's dramatic playoff run, we might see some more fireworks between these two clubs. Keep in mind the Canes missed the playoffs by one point.

Reality check time
Want proof the Capitals are not playing to their potential? Well, if the season ended today, they'd miss the playoffs. OK, it's a bit early to make that point, but here's an alarming one. The Caps are tied in points with the Tampa Bay Lightning...ugh.

Sometimes the goalie has to be the enforcer
Everyone loves fights, but how much do you love it when goalies fight? Cam Ward isn't afraid to drop the gloves. Here's some video. Did I mention these guys are teammates now? Leighton is Ward's backup.

"Swirl of wind and...whatever!"
Great interview with Eric Staal. Sounds like he missed science class a bit.

Staal in the family
As of now, there are three Staals in the NHL. A fourth is on the way. Must be hell as a parent: Which one do you love the most? Whose game do you go to? How did you react when your son came out of the closet as a Pittsburgh Penguin? Here's a new NHL ad featuring Momma Staal and Poppa Staal.

Let's Go Caps!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Senators

Could this be a new rivalry in the making? After sweeping the Senators in dramatic fashion last season, the Capitals might find themselves unwelcome guests in the capital of Canada.

You're not seriously going to watch CNN from 7:30 to 10 are you? Read your pre-Cap instead!

Washington Capitals (5-4-1, last game 5-0 loss to Buffalo)
Ottawa Senators (4-5-2, last game 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa)

The story so far...
Under the watchful eyes of GMGM and Ted Leonsis, Boudreau put the Caps through a two-practice hell. Will the return of Ovechkin and the fear of an angry Boudreau put the Caps over Ottawa?

Key Players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Jose Theodore
OTT: Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson

Goalie history
Theodore: 7-12-2-1, 3.20 GAA
Gerber: 5-3-0-1, 3.61 GAA

Do we want the first goal?
Here's a stat to think about. The Capitals are one of the leagues WORST teams when it comes to winning after scoring first. The Caps are ranked 29 but Ottawa is in the same boat. They are ranked 21. Not a good stat for either team.

Back in the U. S. of A.
Ovechkin's back, and could he possibly arrive at a more oppurtune time? The Capitals looked sorry on Saturday, Semin is talking trash, Theodore has let more rubber between his legs than his former fling (yes I went there) and the Caps are behind Carolina by 3 points.

So what team could the doctor possibly prescribe to end Ovie's scoring slump and revitalize the Caps? Oh how about the Senators, who Ovechkin has terrorized throughout his career! Ovie has 10 goals and 9 assists in 12 games against the Sens.

Psstt...the Rebels won
Tonight's netminder will likely be "Darth" Gerber. Martin Gerber earned his nickname for wearing a black mask.

Try to keep this out of your head all day:
Funny Adam Sandler Chanakuh song parody about the Sens.

Usually I Google and search YouTube for fun videos about the opposing team's star players. Usually it results in some fun videos (see Dion Phanuef's walking video) but sometimes the videos aren't so fun. Just ask Sens center Daniel Alfredsson about this one.

Speaking of elections...
The NHL has had its All-Star voting online for the past few seasons, but this year the ballot will be live and online for all to see. Anyone else with me to nominate Matt Bradley to the All-Star game so he can win it for the east in the 12th round of the shootout?

This message approved by Capitals Kremlin
Thanks to a View from the Cheap Seats for this great video! There are more there, be sure to check them all out.

Remeber to vote!
Whether it be for John McPenguin...

or Barack Roll.

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