Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Caps @ Senators 1-30-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Ottawa Citizen: Win one for Gerber, baby steps for the backup, fresh start, Alexander Semin under the radar. Ottawa Sun: Big guns lead win, No Stuart for now.

Final Thoughts:

51 down, 31 to go.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Caps @ Senators 1-30-2007 Post-Mortem

You sometimes wonder just what has this franchise done to annoy the Hockey Gods to deserve what happens in games like tonight. Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • It took awhile for the Caps to establish themselves in the offensive zone tonight, but they're credited with 37 shots on goal. People who complain that we don't shoot enough can't complain about the number of shots that found their way on goal tonight. Add in 11 missed shots and 13 blocked shots and the Caps fired 61 times tonight.
  • The fact that Jamie "Home Run" Heward led all defensemen in icetime is normally enough to scare Caps fans but he did it with just 20:07. No other Caps blueliner came close to 20 minutes of icetime tonight. So what does that mean? #1, Nobody got benched (Mike Green) #2. The time was pretty evenly distributed amongst the defensemen which is unusual, especially when our bluline faces an offense as potent at the Senators.
  • A.O. netting #32 and extending his point scoring streak to now 12 games.


  • 0-for-5 on the Power Play and a blown 51 second 5-on-3 in the second period when they had their best chance to tie the game. Against a team like Ottawa, you have to cash in that kind of opportunity.
  • While taking 17 shots of your own in the second period is good, giving up 17 at the same time is not. The Caps were lucky to get out of the period down only two goals because the firewagon hockey is more Ottawa's game than it the Caps.
  • Remember how in my very first bullet point up there I said that it took the Caps awhile to get themselves established in the offensive zone? Well, that it clearly shown by the six shots on goal in the first period. No wonder the Caps didn't seriously threaten in the opening period. It would be one thing if the Caps were employing a bunker/ counter attack mentality, but nope, they gave up 2 goals on 12 shots.


  • What was the deal with the ice up there tonight? I can understand the puck bouncing like crazy in the Phone Booth but in Ottawa two days before February?
  • While Caps fans can't complain about the quantity of shots tonight, they do have a legitimate gripe about the quality. I know it is easier said than done but with Martin Gerber flopping in the crease, why didn't somebody get some lift on the rebounds he was giving up? I honestly don't know what was more frustrating, the bouncing pucks or the fact that we couldn't get rebounds up in the air and over the prone goaltender.
  • Nothing makes me appreciate the fine job Joe Beninati does as the play-by-play man for the Caps than when he isn't there and he's replaced by Al Koken. Please, can't we get somebody else better than Koken to pinch hit for Joe when he's off doing a game on Versus? Watching tonight's game was bad enough, but having to listen to Koken made it much worse.

I find myself nit-picking in a sense here because while this wasn't the Caps best effort, it was a good effort and they simply didn't get any bounces to go their way tonight. All three Ottawa goals came off of deflections or bounces that just simply broke their way. There isn't a much a team can about those things but try to keep their chin up. But with the Penguin Scum and the Ning both winning tonight, the Caps fall further back in the playoff race. I think General Manager George McPhee's decision on whether or not to be a buyer or a seller at the trading deadline is becoming clearer.


Caps @ Senators 1-30-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (21-29; 49 points; 4th Southeast Division, 12th Eastern Conference, 22nd Overall) @ Ottawa Senators (29-23; 60 points; 3rd Northeast Division, 5th Eastern Conference, 10th Overall):
Caps Game #51, Road Game #25, NHL Game #760

ScotiaBank Place, Kanata, Ontario, Canada. 7:35 pm. Washington TV: NewsChannel 8: Radio: WTNT 570-AM. Ottawa TV: Roger's Sportsnet East. Ottawa Radio: TEAM 1200-AM. French Canadian National TV: RDS. NHL Center Ice: Roger's Sportsnet East feed.

Tonight the Caps open up a three game road trip in Ottawa to face the Senators for the fourth and final time this season. Two weeks ago, the Caps got run over in Ottawa by a score of 5-2. The Caps have only won twice in the four games since then, both of them over the Carolina Hurricanes and most recently being this past Saturday night. The Senators have also won twice in four games since these two teams last met. However, they lost last night 3-1 in Montreal.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. .pdf game notes.

Open Source Intelligence:

Ottawa Citizen: Outburst downs Sens, Habs fueled by emotion. Ottawa Sun: Cursed by Dryden, 3 minute offence (those wacky Canadian spellings...), more aboot Dryden.

Neutral Views: AP Wire.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

Ottawa is finishing off a three-games-in-four nights with the second of back-to-back games tonight and have been improving lately in these situations. The Caps once again will have their work cut out for them because they are playing a more talented hockey team. They'll have to play another strong game in order to have any chance of getting two points. How much last night's emotionally charged game in Montreal will affect the Senators tonight is anybody's guess but Bryan Murray coached hockey teams are awfully tough to beat in January and February.

Caps Nut Official Washington Predict The Score Contest Entry:

Caps 3
Senators 4
Winner by Spezza


Monday, January 29, 2007

What Took So Long?

Barbaro Euthanized.

If you think the NHL has a bad reputation, horse racing's is even worse. It was said back in May of last year that when a horse sustains the type of injury that Barbaro did that the horse is usually euthanized pretty quickly because there is veterinarians can do for the animal, sometimes right on the race track. These incidents (along with some criminal mismanagement of the sport many years ago) has cast horse racing in a bad light because the athletes in question are often really treated like large pieces of meat.

Barbaro's story is going to do nothing to change that perception. While it was noble of his owners, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, to do just about everything they could to pull the horse through, it wasn't enough. As a matter of fact, they ended up unintentionally creating a public spectacle of Barbaro's attempted recovery. Second-guessing and questions will now abound over the treatment that the horse received and horse racing is going to continue to suffer as a result of it because you will hear commentator after commentator say that the horse shouldn't have received as much treatment as it did.

Hindsight is always 20-20 but deviating from the established norms is not always, but often a bad idea.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sunday Smorgasbord 1-28

  • Well Caps fans, get ready for a ticket price increase. Though, don't blame Ted, blame everybody's least favorite ex-owner of the Caps for the increase. Why you may ask? Well Dishonest-Abe want to renovate the Phone Booth. Sure the headline says he's asking the D.C. government for the $$$$$ but read closer, he's asking that the tax that the District charges on tickets to events at the Phone Booth be raised from 5.75% to 10%. Nats and Skins fans already pay a 10% tax to the District and P.G. County respectively. However, unlike Nats fans whose excise taxes are being used to fund the entirely new stadium being built, the Dishonest-Abe increase is being ticketed to upgrading the luxury boxes and replacing the "outdated" scoreboard. So the only benefit that the common fan will get out of the increased cost is a brand spankin' new scoreboard that is too busy as far as I am concerned and, considering low quality products currently being used in the Phone Booth, will be on fritz half the time. Nice to know that Dishonest-Abe still looks for ways to stick it to us.
  • I also noticed in that article that Dishonest-Abe and his trusty lackey La Sooze O'Malley are having trouble making the mortgage payments on the Phone Booth. This does not come as much of a shock to me as the mortgage on the building is paid directly by the revenue generated by the luxury boxes and club seats. No wonder Dishonest-Abe wants to renovate the luxury boxes so he can jack the rent up on them. However I wonder why Dishonest-Abe insists on leaving the club seats empty for Caps games? Dishonest-Abe controls those seats though Washington Sports and Entertainment and WSE refuses to put those seats up for public sale until the Caps are able to completely sell out the upper and lower bowls. WSE then does the Caps another favor by pulling their old "dump the tickets on tour companies" trick which brings in busloads of fans for the other team. That is of course, when WSE even bothers to sell the club seats for a Caps game. How about putting more of an effort into selling those club seats Dishonest-Abe? Maybe then you won't have to ask the local government to jack up the ticket prices for you.
  • I just got back from the Cable Box where I was attending the Maryland-North Carolina Women's Basketball Game. It was officiated in the typical fashion of your regular All Carolina Conference game. While 21 Terp turnovers did not help, I'm still trying to figure out how a coach can get a technical foul for arguing with a referee right in front of them from a referee at the other end of the court? I need that one explained to me. Though one thing that does not bode well for the Terps is that this was the second home sellout crowd in the history of Maryland Women's Basketball and so far, the Terps have lost both games. The Maryland-Duke rematch on February 18th is already sold out.
  • Because it is slow time of year right now, I thought I would share with you the players featured in the Washington Nationals 2007 calendar I bought when I finally got back from my Christmas and New Year's vacation. Livan Hernandez, Jose Guillen, Nick Johnson, John Patterson, Ryan Church, Jose Vidro, Tony Armas, Marlon Byrd, Brian Schneider, Marlon Anderson, Ryan Zimmerman, Chad Cordero. Of course, I know that four of those guys are long gone. Two aren't very likely to last very long this season and who knows about the rest expect of course for Zimmerman. No wonder everybody is getting so upset over the lack of player acquisitions this off season. At least they didn't put Frank Robinson in the calendar.
  • How bad is the boosterism for the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby? While watching a bit of the Atlanta-Philadelphia game today, the color commentator was talking about how seven of the Top 10 NHL goal scorers were from the much maligned Southeast Division. Of course Darren Ping-Pong-Pang felt the need to chime in from his seat between the benches at ice level that the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, was up there too. However if you look at the list you'll notice that the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, is not in the Top Ten in goals scored. Furthermore, Pittsburgh does not play in the much maligned Southeast Division so there was no reason other than boosterism to even mention the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, in that conversation. I was somewhat surprised that when Gary Bettman was in the booth during the second period that he mentioned A.O. first before of course getting in the obligatory plug for the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, but hey, accidents happen.
  • Ok, this week, the Caps take off on a three game road trip. First they head back to Ottawa to play the Senators for the final time this season on Tuesday night at 7 pm. They then head back down to Florida for only one game this time with just the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at 7:30 pm. The Caps are in Pittsburgh on Saturday to face the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, and his Penguin Scum teammates for a 1 pm matinee. The Caps are then home next Sunday for another 1 pm matinee as old Caps Brendan Witt and Chris Simon come in with the New York Islanders for the first time this season. The Terps Men's Basketball team hits the road for two ACC games, they'll be in Tallahassee on Tuesday night playing F$U and then head to Winston-Salem to face Wake Forest, both games are at 8 pm.
  • As always, please send all comments, criticisms, questions, corrections, suggestions, and insults that only a third grader would use to "capsnut" over at gmail dot cot.


A Question For Mr. Brooks

I read the Union Thug mouthpiece so you don't have to.

Considering your well known stated desire to return the NHL to its "Glory Days" of the 1970's and 1980's (if you consider being fourth among four major professional sports leagues, no National Broadcast television coverage to speak of, and eventually being kicked off of ESPN is your idea of "Glory Days."), why are you so upset over the supposedly chummy relationship between Ted Saskin and Gary Bettman? Weren't the "Glory Days" you so openly pine for also known as the "Iggy and Ziggy Show" referring to then NHLPA Head Union Thug Alan Eagleson and then NHL President John Ziegler and the cozy relationship they did share?

Labor peace is a good thing. The players are still getting paid a lot of $$$$$.


Caps vs. Canes 1-27-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times: Rooskies lead Caps, Caps Report.

The Neutral Observers: AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Raleigh News & Observer: Canes fail to execute, Minor issue.

Final Thoughts:

I think Brian Sutherby put it best when he said that the Caps buried the chances that they got (well, most of them anyway). Though it makes a huge difference when the chances land on the sticks of Alexander Semin and A.O. and not Ben "What A" Clymer and Donald Brashear. Not only are the Caps more likely to win, they are also going to post their largest margin of victory so far this season. 50 down, 32 to go.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Caps vs. Canes 1-27-2007 Post-Mortem

Well, that's how it needs to be done against a team like Carolina. Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...


  • Great individual efforts by both Alexander Semin and A.O. to stake the Caps to a 3-0 lead. After a game like last night's, it was exactly what the Caps needed to do put the Canes on their heels and to get a good effort all night long rolling.
  • When was the last time the Caps Power Play produced two goals in a game? For awhile there it looked like the Caps were going to pull their old trick of scoring on the first Power Play of the night and then get a roll of coins and phone the rest of the Power Plays in.
  • While I am sure that the free ticket and pizza for 368 college students had something to do with it, it was once again a nice Saturday night crowd. Now that the Redskins season is over, people are finally starting to take notice of this team and getting behind them.
  • Kudos to Eric Fehr on his first NHL goal. Now that it looks like he'll be permanently replacing Jakub "and Sons" Klepis in the lineup for the rest of the year, let's hope he has many more.


  • Horrific turnover by Mike Green that lead to the second Carolina goal. He knew it too as he slammed his stick on the ice right after it went in. Luckily the Caps did not blow a 3 goal lead tonight and with 8:22 of icetime, it looks like he once again ended up getting himself benched.
  • While the Power Play had two goals for the first time in awhile (look, it's late and I too lazy to go look it up right now ok?) they should have had more. A 1:34 5-on-3 in the second period was wasted when the Caps were nursing a one goal lead. That too could have been a turning point in the game.
  • What in the world was going on with that passing play in the third period? You all know what I am talking about. Score the freakin' goal guys and be done with it. Don't get all cute with the passing and trying to make the highlight reel. Just put the freakin' puck in the net and be done with it. Pretty goals count just as much as the ugly ones do so quit trying to show up the opposition and just put the puck in the net and be done with it.


  • Yes, I am going there again and you can't stop me because this is my blog; Rod Brind'Armour:

(It is a little known fact that it is now a felony to be as ugly as Rod Brind'Armour is in 29 states. Problem is, none of those states have NHL franchises... yet.)

The thing that tonight's game shows us Caps fans is just how scary good this team is going to be in a few years. The problem is that we have to wait a few years to see that on a nightly basis. Most Caps fans wanted to be scary good two decades ago. But overall tonight a good win to salvage a split of the home-and-home with Carolina. While a sweep was needed, at least the Caps responded in a strong way after taking one on the chin last night in Raleigh.

It has been... A TWO POINT NIGHT!!!


Caps @ Canes 1-26-2007 Wrap Up/ Caps vs. Canes 1-27-2007 Preview

The Local Yokels:


The Neutral Observers: AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Durham Herald-Sun. Raleigh News & Observer.

Final Thoughts:

I was worried last night that the Caps would come out strong and play a good hockey game but still end up losing. From what I saw in the first period, that is exactly what happened. I said after a loss to the Canes back in November that if the Caps are going to make the playoffs, this is the type of team that they would be playing. I don't know what good it would do for the Caps to make the playoffs this season and get swept in four games. 49 down, 33 to go.

Washington Capitals (20-29; 47 points; 4th Southeast Division, 13th Eastern Conference, 25th Overall) vs. Carolina Hurricanes (26-25; 2nd Southeast Division, 6th Eastern Conference, 11th Overall):
Caps Game #50, Home Game #26, NHL Game #743

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:05 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WTEM 980-AM. Carolina TV: Fox Sportsnet South. Radio: WWMY 102.9-FM. National TV: HD-NET. NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic feed.

Tonight the Caps and the Canes have thier return bout after splitting the last two games these two teams played in Carolina. This will be the third time in ten days that the Caps and Canes will have met and the fourth time in the last five games overall for both teams.

What The Natives Are Saying: .pdf game notes.

Open Source Intelligence:

Raleigh News & Observer.

Neutral Views: AP Wire.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

If the last two meetings between these teams has shown us anything, the outcome of tonight's game will have more to do with what type of effort the Canes put out than what type of effort the Caps come up with. Certainly, the Caps are not going to win tonight if they don't play a good all around hockey game, but even if they do, Carolina has too much talent for the Caps to overcome. In order to salvage a split of this home-and-home and to make a move towards a playoff run, the Caps have to hope the Canes left their game in Raleigh last night.

Caps Nut Official Washington Predict The Score Contest Entry:

Caps 3
Canes 2
Winner by Zubrus

Labels: ,

Friday, January 26, 2007

Caps @ Canes 1-26-2007

Washington Capitals (20-28; 47 points; 4th Southeast Division, 13th Eastern Conference, 23rd Overall) @ Carolina Hurricanes (25-25; 56 points; 2nd Southeast Division, 6th Eastern Conference, 13th Overall):
Caps Game #49, Road Game #24, NHL Game #728

RBC Center, Raleigh, NC. 7:05 pm. Washington TV: NewsChannel 8. Radio: WTNT 570-AM. Carolina TV: Fox Sportsnet South. Carolina Radio: WWMY 102.9-FM. NHL Center Ice: Fox Sportsnet South feed.

Tonight the Caps return from the All-Star break with a home-and-home set with the Carolina Hurricanes. The Caps are looking to reverse the slide that had them losing four of their last five games before the break. The lone win came against came in Carolina last Thursday. The Canes have lost their last two, the most recent being a gimmick loss to the Ning last Saturday night, giving up 5 goals in regulation in the process. These two losses have hampered the Canes attempt to chase down the Thrashers.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. .pdf game notes.

Open Source Intelligence:

Durham Herald-Sun. Raleigh News & Observer: Healthy D, Eye on the Canes.

Neutral Views: AP Wire.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

The last time these two teams met, the Canes were not happy with their performance as the Caps won 5-2. Canes head coach Peter Laviolette called the Carolina performance "brutal." The Caps had a similar 5-2 win over the Canes back in October and the next time the Caps played Carolina, the Canes pitched a 5-0 shutout. If the Caps want to make the playoffs, the two games this weekend against Carolina are about as close to "must wins" as games can get in January. Should the Caps get off to a poor start tonight or this weekend. Forget about all the talk about making the playoffs.

Caps Nut Official Washington Predict The Score Contest Entry:

Caps 3
Canes 2
Winner by Zubrus

Editorial Note For The Readers Of This Blog:

Because of a meeting I have to attend later (and I do mean later, as in 8:30 pm later) tonight, I will only be able to watch the first and part of the second period tonight. Therefore there will be no post mortem after the game tonight.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Say What?

Normally, I would stay out of a smackdown between two other bloggers, but a gem surfaced that is too good for me to pass up.

The Venerable Off Wing Opinion issued the challenge, and Tom Benjamin responded. The Venerable Off Wing Opinion has a rebuttal but I feel the need to jump in on his side because of this gem from Mr. Benjamin (emphasis added):

It is time for the Canadian teams to seize the day and to separate. To secede. To fire on Fort Sumter. To stop subsidizing the American market.



Ok, I'll grant you that Toronto basically prints Canadian Dollars (for what they're worth) and Montreal is on rather solid financial footing but the other four Canadian teams (especially Edmonton and Calgary) have been struggling with their revenues for years. As a matter of fact, w/o a salary cap being implemented, Edmonton and Calgary were in serious danger of relocation or folding. The NHL was sending $$$$$ to the Canadian franchises when they were getting killed by the exchange rate and that $$$$$ was coming from the American clubs. Furthermore we continually hear about how the league is trying to stabilize the financial health of its Canadian franchises.

Are there American clubs in trouble? You bet. Are there some American markets not yet sold on the game? Without a doubt. Should the NHL drop 2-4 teams? I'm all for it. But let's go forward rooted in reality and not fantasy land.

Caps At The Break

Tomorrow night the All-Star break officially ends as the NHL has 11 games that actually count and will feature more than just token defense on the schedule (21 goals, are you kidding me?). The Caps are 20-28 by my count and currently sit 3 points out of a playoff spot. Right where we want them huh? Well... maybe not.

The Penguin Scum, who currently hold the 8th playoff spot we're three points behind, have two games in hand on the Caps. The Caps have two games in hand and are 7 points behind the 7th place Ning. The Caps have three games left with the Penguin Scum, though two of those are in Kansas City (whoops, not yet) Pittsburgh. The Caps have four games left with the Ning, two at home and two on the road.

Division wise, the Caps are 15 points behind the Thrashers. That's going to be too much ground to make up. The Caps have only two games left against the Thrashers and both are in Atlanta. Of the 34 games left on the Caps schedule, 14 are in the Southeast Division and only six of those are on home ice. And speaking of home ice, the Caps right now are 11-14 at the Phone Booth and 9-14 away from it. On a side note here, after that disastrous 1-3 road trip that started with the team playing two games and spending four days in Florida, am I the only one concerned that half the team headed back down there for the break?

Despite the recent poor play, the Caps are an improved hockey team over the recent few seasons. The Power Play is ranked 16th and the Penalty Kill is ranked 19th. The Caps are 9th in the league in goals per game but 26th in goals allowed. The Caps largest margin of victory this season? A 6-2 win over the Flyers on January 9th, the Caps hung a touchdown on the Bluffaslugs but gave up four in the process.

Some people think that this team is "set" offensively and need to address the situation on the blueline. While I agree the blueline could use some work, the offense isn't as set as we would like to think. Imagine for a second what Alexander Semin would be doing if he had some linemates with him on the second line? Yeah, Semin is on the top Power Play unit and will occasionally skate with A.O. and Dainius Zubrus on the Caps top line. But Semin has more points (47) than his linemates Matt "Princess" Pettinger (23) and Kris Beech (17) do combined. Princess looks to be a disappointment, but he is actually on pace to beat his numbers from last year when he posted 20 goals and 18 assists. What is missing from his game right now is the shorthanded goals he scored last year when he had five; right now he has only two. But with Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom clearly and solidly in the long-term future plans of the franchise, Princess will either have to elevate his game or become a victim of a numbers crunch. Beech has pretty much played himself out of any further chances with any NHL club save for one that is looking to just simply field a team.

The Ben "What A" Clymer, Matt "Omar" Bradley, and Brian Sutherby (CBS) line has been plagued by injuries, position changes, and line combination shakeups. But what has been troubling is the lack of chemistry between these three when they have been on the ice together. The fourth line has for the most part served its role though Boyd Gordon rotates off of it rather frequently and even Donald Brashear isn't anchored to the line either. On a couple of occasions, this line has actually provided some energy to the Caps and gotten things going.

Defensively, what is needed the most right now is time and patience. It is easy to forget that Mike Green is officially considered a rookie and that Steve Eminger has just 168 NHL games under his belt. Shaone Morrrissonnn has played just as many games as Eminger, but different players progress at different rates which is why Morrrissonnn is skating on the top pairing. Brian Potheir is playing better than I expected for a free agent who is also stepping up his role. John Erskine Bowles, Jamie "Home Run" Heward, are Bryan Muir are what they are which is placeholders until guys like Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz and Sasha Pokulok are ready. Lawrence Nycholat looks be among the placeholders group but because of his age relative to the rest of the bunch, he could stick around longer than the others. I think Muir's time in D.C. is just about done.

The general consensus is that should the Caps go out and get a clear-cut #1 defenseman to shore up the blueline. That my friends is a risky proposition. Remember after the 2000 playoffs and the general consensus was that all the Caps needed was another goal scorer? Well the Caps went out and got Jaromir Jagr to fill that role. We all know how that turned out. When it comes to our blueline, time and patience will do more for this team than splashy moves. Plus with some of the forwards that we have coming up the pipeline, we should be able to make a deal in order to get a veteran defenseman to solidify the unit.

It is frustrating to most Caps fans that the playoffs, while closer, are still out of reach. Before the season began I said I thought that the Caps were two years away from making the playoffs and nothing I have seen in the first 48 games of this season has changed my mind very much. The Caps are going to miss out on the playoffs this season and I think are no better than a 50-50 shot on making them next year. I know it is the stated goal of the organization to make the playoffs this year and I think it is a good idea to have lofty goals. They'll have some tough decisions to make in the coming off season but I don't understand why some people are so down on this organization and everything it does. The organization needed to rebuild and we've been very lucky that we've been able to accelerate it as quickly as we have. But make no mistake, there's still a lot of growing pains for this team to endure.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

2007 Maryland Football Schedule Released

Here's something else to chew on instead of mind-numbing debates about how to manage superstar players...

Here's a link from the ACC.

2007 Maryland Terrapins Schedule:

September 1st Villanova

September 8th @ Florida International

September 13th West-By-God-Virginia (Thursday night ESPN Game on a "short week")

September 22nd @ Wake Forest

September 29th @ Rutgers

October 6th Georgia Tech

October 20th Virginia

October 27th Clemson

November 3rd @ North Carolina

November 10th Boston College

November 17th @ Florida State

November 24 @ N.C. State

I have to say, even with having to play West-By-God-Virginia on five days rest Maryland has what looks to be a favorable schedule. West-By-God-Virginia has a game @ Marshall scheduled for September 8th. With that being an in-state rivalry game on the road, the Mountaineers will be in no better shape than Maryland and they have to travel to College Park for the game.

I'm not predicting a 12-0 season, but the Terps can't complain too much about this schedule.


It Must Be The Boredom...

Wow and to think I thought the summer months were tough on us hockey fans. However, an article in today's (Com)Post where George McPhee, Glen Hanlon, and Olie Kolzig take turns beating up on A.O. over his defensive play generates more commentary than you can imagine.

The Venerable Off Wing Opinion sees smoke in this and where there's smoke, there's fire. (He also says to check out the (Com)Post comment string. That's why I don't allow comments around here.) JP thinks this is a non-story type of story maybe a way to light a fire under A.O. when he returns. And I tend to agree with that this isn't much of a story but of course; the always reliable Chicken Little denizens Darwin's Waiting Room will pulverize this story until it is the microscopic remains of an empty glue bottle. It must be the boredom of having no real competitive hockey to talk about right now because I think this is being blown way out of proportion.

First of all, I don't think the tone of this story all that negative. "Everyone agrees that the 21 year old Russian's defensive decision making is better than it was a year ago." Of course, you have to get inside the article in order to find that. Furthermore, it has been no secret that the Caps want better defensive play out of A.O. and it is no secret that A.O. is working hard on providing that. As we've seen with the most recent obstruction crackdown from this past Saturday, old habits die hard.

Looking at the scoresheet of Saturday's debacle, A.O. was on the ice for only two of the Panthers' goal. First the shorthanded one and then the empty net goal. Both of those situations you expect him to be on the ice and both situations are more about offense than defense. I would be hard pressed to blame him for either of the two goals that went in the Caps net. Conversely Matt "Omar" Bradley, Steve Eminger, and Mike Green were all on the ice when other Panther goals were scored at even strength and they could be blamed for the puck going in the net.

Watching that awful Young-Stars game last night, I saw that the Pre-designated Calder Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin-Lindros was cherry picking all night. His final stat line, No goals, No assists, and a -2. Only Jordan Staal had less icetime than Malkin-Lindros did and even goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Peter Budaji both found the scoresheet for that turkey of a hockey game. Even the announcers were mentioning that the Hockey Gods don't like it when you cheat on defense as badly was Malkin-Lindros was.

But is A.O. being publicly "called out" a problem? There's no doubt that A.O. is the best hockey player on the team. So why shouldn't the Caps expect more out of him than they do of a Donald Brashear? Why shouldn't the Caps want to have their best players on the ice when the game is on the line? Hanlon says in the article he wants to give A.O. MORE ice time. Well, here's how A.O. can go and get it. Here's how A.O. gets the call to go out there when the Caps are protecting a one goal lead with 50 seconds left on the clock in the third period and Europe's "The Final Countdown" blaring over the loudspeakers.

Finally, it is also important to note that the article makes special mention of players like Steve Yzerman and includes a quote from Mark Messier. Messier himself says that A.O. has to get better in his own zone if he wants to win a Cup. So this just isn't the Caps "puking all over their star" it is simply an explanation as to why they want him to improve his defense and why they want to use him more but can't right now.

All-Star Game Day Thoughts

First of all, I will admit to not only not watching tonight's NHL All-Star Game, but I'll admit to not caring much about it either. I didn't program the DVD recorder at home and I'll be working tonight so if A.O. does something crazy, I'll have to see it somewhere else.

I know it sounds odd considering how much effort I put into getting A.O. into the All-Star Game, but that was for a different reason. As I said, it wasn't about being able to watch A.O. play on the same sheet of ice as the rest of the best of the NHL, it was about supporting our superstar player. Even if A.O. hadn't been voted into the starting lineup, he would have gone to Dallas anyway because every team gets at least one player into the game. Who else from the Caps would have been sent over A.O.? That list starts and ends with Olie Kolzig and I don't he would have been seriously considered as a reserve if A.O. hadn't been voted as a starter.

I've been soured on the NHL All-Star Game since the 1997 game when Owen Nolan "pointed" his shot for a hat trick. whoopee! One thing I love about hockey is the lack of obvious trash-talking and preening that is done by the players. There is a class that hockey players have that other professional athletes seem to lack these days. Yeah the goal celebrations by some players can go too far sometimes but there isn't the dancing and prancing after making a basic play that has become all too common in the other professional sports leagues. I thought Nolan's actions were bush league simply because the All-Star Game doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Would he pull something like that in the regular season or the playoffs? I highly doubt it.

But what really put me over the edge regarding All-Star games was sitting through the turd known as the 2004 MLS All-Star Game at RFK Stadium. What a joy it was sitting through that turkey in the hot sun all day as players weren't even going at a half jog all day long. I saw a similar effort in last night's yawner of a Young Stars game. As I said earlier this week, I don't find 9-8 hockey games automatically exciting to watch.

I figure the effort on the ice tonight in Dallas will be a little bit better from all the skaters involved but there won't much of any hitting (if any at all) and there will be precious little defense being played. Which segues nicely into my last point for this post, last night The Venerable Off Wing Opinion contrasted my known well known thoughts on Ultimate Fighting On Ice (UFOI) with somebody who believe that UFOI is needed to sell hockey. I'd to take a second here to (once again) re-iterate some points and make others clear. I don't care if you disagree with me or think that I am delusional, I just want to make sure that people know where I stand on this.

First of all, Franke properly admits that the UHL is not a pipeline to the NHL. So why should NHL rule changes effect the UHL? If the fans of the UHL want UFOI, let them have it. The AHL and ECHL should follow the NHL's lead because the AHL and ECHL are the pipe lines to the NHL for talent. I have to say, I really don't understand his complaint because if the players in his league are not heading to the NHL; why should they be worried about playing an NHL-style of game?

But as I've said before and I'll say it again until the point comes across. You can have physical play that doesn't land players in the penalty box without the hooking and holding, clutching and grabbing that slowed down the game. If fans of UFOI are to be believed, what you saw last night in the Young Stars game and what you'll see tonight in the All-Star game is the total "Bettmanization" of hockey. Sorry, not even I want to see NO hitting and NO defense being played. But there is a clear distinction between physical play and UFOI. During the much ballyhooed glory days of the NHL in the 1980's the NHL wasn't on U.S. broadcast television on a regular basis and ended up exiled to a cable network with 500 subscribers, so again, to proclaim this a disaster when it is not even two years along and still very much a work in progress is stupid.

Make no mistake, the transition for the NHL will not occur overnight. The NHL has to shed it's reputation before it can move forward and that is going to require a step or two backwards. But we know what UFOI brings to the table and it isn't enough to sustain the league. Until somebody can show me otherwise, I'll continue to believe this.

Finally, I find it odd that UFOI fans complain about the parade to the penalty box for all the hooking and holding and clutching and grabbing but at the same time say they don't want to go back to the days of the trap. Sorry, you can't have it both ways. You can't say you deplore the hooking and holding, and yadda, yadda, yadda and not want the penalties to be called for these infractions. We've seen this before too. Once the crackdown ends, the slowdown begins. The parade to the penalty box will end once players get it through their thick skulls that they can't do these things anymore. Either you want the slowdown style of play or you don't. Plain and simple.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Greetings Vistors!

After I put up that last post on Ol' Lar and his Ultimate Fighting On Ice fans, I noticed that I had logged over 300 hits today. Now I see that I am closing in on 800 for today which obliterates my old record.

Well, wherever you fine folks are from, Welcome! I hope you enjoy what you see and (even if you don't) that you'll come back and check this out on a regular basis. But in the meantime, Thanks for stopping by! I do appreciate the traffic.

Now if I can only find out why... This post along with some help from Dan Steinberg (remember when he wasn't sniffing Arenas' jock and actually talked about the Caps? So do I...) set the old record which is now history. Technorati is no help so if anybody knows why, please tell me so I can keep it up!!! :D

Are They Persistent or Just Thick?

While I am on record as saying that I don't agree with every single change the "new NHL" came out with at the end of the lockout, I think going to the well of "tradition" as your basic excuse to discount change is more than trite when we're talking about the NHL here. Yet that's exactly what Larry Brooks does every time a change is suggested.

Considering some of what is said in the article, it looks as if bigger nets are only a matter of time in the NHL. For years people were calling for the gimmick before they finally got it last year. Now the calls for bigger nets are following the same path. I have to agree with Brodeur, 9-8 isn't an interesting hockey game. Yet the marketplace has spoken and fans want to see offense, offense, offense. Whether it is in the NBA, NFL, MLB, MLS, or NHL; they want to see offense.

This is why the NFL makes pass defending so difficult, you used to be able to basically tackle a receiver at the line of scrimmage, but now if you breathe on him wrong it is an automatic first down. This why the MLB looked the other way on steroids. This is why the MLS had a gimmick of their own when they started the league. Though the best laid plans of mice and men often don't turn out as expected.

Remember when the NBA brought their three-point line closer to the basket? That caused a DROP in scoring as all sorts of hacks were jacking up three pointers and missing them badly. The NBA moved the line back to where it was and has officially done away with calling charges underneath the basket. Though traveling in the lane is still only rumored to be against the rules.

Should the NHL go to bigger nets? I don't think they should. I think Brodeur is right again when he says lets see how all of these changes effect the game before making new ones. And as I said, I don't believe that 9-8 counts as an interesting game but I'm clearly in the minority.

So when the NHL goes to their bigger nets, I won't sit here and decry the vanishing "tradition" of the game. The NFL moved their goalposts from the goal line to the end line in 1974. Western Civilization survived and the NFL continues to grow by leaps and bounds. So could Ol' Lar tell us just what he thinks of mandatory helmets for players and the two referee system, as they are not a part of the grand and glorious fourth place and ignored early tradition of the NHL? And while he's at it, I demand which Union Thugs feed him all of his information and what if anything they are paying him to continually attack Gary Bettman.

Finally, did you hear very much about the much ballyhooed "Take Back The NHL Protest" from this Saturday? I admit to being preoccupied but I can't find anything on Google news with Take Back the NHL or NHL protest in the search boxes. D.C. SportsChick made a mention of seeing two signs at the game on Saturday (which was two more than I saw). I think it is safe to declare this thing a royal flop. This is Waterworld territory here. Either the Ultimate Fighting On Ice (UFOI) fans have given up and don't care to "protest" the changes (we can only hope) or contrary to the beliefs of some, the internet doesn't spread the word as much as they like to believe. After all, The Venerable Off Wing Opinion interviewed the fearless leader of the protest and gave it coverage. But only two signs visible in the Phone Booth?

Anyway over on Hockey Fans Unite we're treated to an obscure article written by an obscure writer. If you've read Larry Brooks or anything else from the UFOI fans you've already read this re-hash of an article. And so I'll only re-hash what I've said before, we tried it your way and it failed. The NHL has to tear itself down and run off the UFOI fans before it will be able to get the casual fans that have ignored the NHL because they don't like UFOI.

Labels: ,

Was It T.O.? Jerry? Both? Somebody Else?

Parcells retires (again).

That's a rather rough AP report. Openly lumping Parcells with Gailey and Campo? OUCH! I thought Parcells was the savior of the Cowboys and could do no wrong?

Here's the real question though, considering that he hasn't won a Super Bowl since 1991 and hasn't been to one since 1997. Has his 34-32 record and no playoff wins in two tries in Dallas "tarnish" his reputation and cost him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

It occurred to me as I was watching some of the Bears-Saints game yesterday that the Fox announcers, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, had openly wondered during Dallas' Thanksgiving day game just how in the world the Chicago defense would be able to stop the Cowboys' juggernaut offense.

Maybe, just maybe, Bill Parcells isn't as good of a football coach as some have made him out to be. But considering that with the exception of his time in New England, Parcells has done nothing but coach teams that are the media darlings of the NFL. That alone will get him into Canton. Oh and his former beat writer for the Jints.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Smorgasbord 1-21

  • The postings yesterday and today are/were late and light because every year my parish hosts kids who come to D.C. to participate in the March For Life. I've been helping out at parish taking care of these high school and college students whose mother, like yours if you're reading this, choose life.
  • Though there isn't much to talk about tonight. The Terps are playing the Hokey Pokies in the second half in Blacksburg and the NHL has gone into the All-Star break. At some point this week I'll post what I think of the Caps season so far seeing as how I missed the natural halfway point of the season in the first place.
  • In what sports news there is right now, congratulations to the Chicago Bears for winning the NFC Title and the right to be the NFC's cannon fodder for the AFC in Super Bowl XLI. I didn't see much of the game for the reason cited in the first point above. However I do want to take the chance to beat Dan Steinberg to the punch and fire up the wayback machine to link to this which of course will become the most watched You Tube clip in the next two weeks. Of course, I was only 9 when it first came out and didn't really care about Da Bahres so I was surprised to see that it actually almost six minutes long.
  • The bad thing about Chicago making the Super Bowl is that we get to spend the next two weeks hearing about Lovie Smith is the first black head coach to make it to the Super Bowl. Well woop de freakin' doo. He'll also be the first black head coach to lose a Super Bowl (in Black History month no less). Until we learn to overcome the past and have a true forgiveness we'll continue to genuflect at the altar of political correctness and get nowhere in race relations.
  • In another indication on how light things are today, I feel the need to comment on the George Solomon article in the (Com)Post today. A few things stick out to me. First of all is "La Sooz" commenting on her star player. Nope, he isn't a great athlete and great guy, he just helps fill her single track minded goal. Thank God Ted bought the Caps and got us away from that clown. For that alone he gets a lot of slack from me.
  • Secondly, Solomon mentions that Peter King now supports the Art Monk For the Pro Football Hall Of Fame campaign. I was already aware of his, even before e-mails started rolling in alerting me to it. I like to follow the sage advice of Presidential Great Ronald Reagan, "trust, but verify." But when dealing with a former beat writer from the New York Giants who believed that Harry Carson deserved to be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer and that Monk simply didn't belong period, I'll believe it when I see it. If you've heard King bash Monk over the years, wouldn't you be curious as to his change of heart?
  • Finally, I am sick and tired of these stupid rumors that the Redskins are/will/could move back to D.C. at the RFK Stadium site. It is a pipe dream folks. The Redskins own that stadium in Landover and while he's got a license to print $$$$$, I don't think Snyder is going to spend on a new facility. After the baseball battle, there's no way the City Council and Mayor will agree to spend even more $$$$$ to build a football stadium. Furthermore the RFK site is contaminated and MUST be cleaned up before any new construction can take place on the site (EPA regs) and the neighbors are some of the strongest NIMBYists you've ever seen. These folks got a fireworks show planned for the night the Nationals played their first game in D.C. in 2005 killed. Remember the Cadillac Grand Prix of D.C.? They killed that too. There's no way they're going to be bulldozed into allowing a 100K plus stadium (Cooke Stadium now holds over 90K and why would the Redskins build a smaller stadium or have little to no increase in capacity?) to built right next to their homes.
  • This week, the Caps are off until Friday night when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes. The return bout is the very next night in Washington, D.C. and both games start at 7 pm. The Terp men will host Georgia Tech on Wednesday night in the cable box in their only game this week.
  • Finally, as always please send all comments, questions, corrections, criticisms, and Michael Jackson parody video clips to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.


Caps vs. Panthers 1-21-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times: Caps punished, Caps Report.

The Neutral Observers: AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Miami Herald: A lift before the break, getting the message.

Final Thoughts:

48 down, 34 to go.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Caps vs. Panthers 1-20-2007 Post-Mortem

Well the Caps decided to start their All-Star break a little early. Onto the late Battle Damage Assessment.

  • Other than the shorthanded goal he gave up in the second period, Olie Kolzig played well today and avoided the snowball effect that did him in last week. Olie kept this game much closer than it really was. This game could have easily been as bad as last week's was.
  • You gotta give the penalty killers some credit. They kept the #5 Power Play in the league off the scoreboard on 10, that's right, 10 chances. Referees Bill McCreary and Craig Speda called as tight of a hockey game as I've seen in a awhile. (Could this be why?) While Ultimate Fighting On Ice fans don't like it, at least the refs were also calling the rougher stuff too. On more than one occasion I've seen refs call every hook, hold, and trip and let elbows, cross checks, and high sticks go unpunished. It was a very tightly called game and while some calls were flat out missed, it balanced. It was just as tight for the Caps as it was the Panthers.


  • A 1 for 7 performance by our own Power Play unit. While I won't complain about "botching" the 29 second 5-on-3 (the second one we got in the first period) the Power Play had trouble establishing itself all day.
  • Just like last week, the Caps got very little pressure and contact on their forechecking. Some might complain that the amount of special teams time today had an effect, but the Caps seemed to have precious little jump in their skates today.
  • When it became very obvious that the referees were calling everything today, the lack of adjustment on the part of both teams was downright stunning. You know if it close he's going to call it, so why are you still doing it then?


  • First of all, let me say that I HATE the idiots who yell "SHOOT! SHOOT! SHOOT!" whenever the Caps have the puck in the offensive zone, but the Caps were credited with only 18 shots on goal. They had 9 missed shots and Florida blocked 9 more. That ads up to only 36 times the Caps pulled the trigger today. To make matters worse, the Panthers third (and backbreaking) goal was a direct result of rushing your shot. I believe it was Steve Eminger who instead of passing to his partner, Mike Green, rushed his shot and had it blocked. It went the other way and ended up in the Caps net. Not only did the Caps seem averse to pulling the trigger, they also choose bad shots too.
  • The second period doldrums returned today as evidenced by the 18 shots on goal the Panthers took in the second. The Panthers also got off 16 in the third period when they were nursing a one goal lead. The Caps got half their shots on the third period alone which, while overkill on this issue, is just sad.
  • I can't think of a single blueliner tonight for the Caps who had a really good game. Is Brian Pothier really that important to our blueline?

The Caps are off from practice until Thursday and they don't play again until next Friday night when they visit a Carolina team who will be looking for revenge. While it may be best for them to forget this kind of performance, they have no choice but to sit and stew on this game for almost a week.


Caps vs. Panthers 1-20-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (20-27; 47 points; 4th Southeast Division, 13th Eastern Conference, 23rd Overall) vs. Florida Panthers (17-32; 44 points; 5th Southeast Division, 14th Eastern Conference, 26th Overall):
Caps Game #48, Home Game #25, NHL Game #717

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 1:05 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WTEM 980-AM. Florida TV: None. Radio: WQAM 560-AM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic feed.

Today the Caps will get an early jump on the All-Star break by getting up early for an afternoon matinee with Florida Panthers. The Caps of course laid an egg one week ago in Sunrise, Florida when these two teams last met. Since then the Caps were able to snap their losing streak on Thursday night in Carolina after dropping a game in Ottawa. The Panthers on the other hand have lost two in a row, both by a score of 3-2. The most recent loss was at home against Toronto on Thursday night.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. No game notes yet.

Open Source Intelligence:

Miami Herald.

Neutral Views: AP Wire.

What Do I Expect Today?:

Any boost the Caps picked up from Thursday night's big win will be played out today. Since that awful performance in Florida one week ago, the Caps have been playing better and have admittedly been streaky all year. The last time the Caps played a matinee they didn't fare so well against the Coyotes, though that was on New Year's Day. The Panthers on the other hand have lost six of their last eight with the two wins coming over the Caps and the Penguin Scum. Florida looks to be throwing Ed Belfour back in net again today which surprises me because I thought he died five years ago.

Caps Nut Official Washington Predict The Score Contest Entry:

Caps 4
Panthers 2
Winner by Semin


Friday, January 19, 2007

Warm Up The Moving Vans

I think they're trying to tell you something.

When the politicians don't bother showing up until after the reception and dinner circuit is over for the evening, it says you aren't very high on the priority list.

And even if you aren't high on their priority list, they don't like it when you waste their time by not bothering to show up yourself.

A meeting that starts late + a key figure missing in the talks + "ending quickly" + nobody talking = a meeting that went poorly and will produce nothing but bad news.

Caps @ Canes 1-18-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times: Caps end losing streaks, Caps Report.

The Neutral Observers: AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Raleigh News & Observer: Canes brutal, turning point, sitting at ice level.

Final Thoughts:

Well it looks like the trap was sprung to perfection. The Caps played well, Carolina didn't, and the Caps got some fortuitous bounces. It all ads up to two badly needed points in the standings. 47 down, 35 to go.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ah, Gotta Love NHL "Justice"

Kudos to the NHL for "cracking down" on the unnecessary thuggery by fining New York Islander Jason Blake for his spearing of Penguin Scum and Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby. I'm sure he'll really, really miss that $1,000 out of his $1.558 million salary for this season...

Uh, but inquiring minds also want to know, why wasn't that Buffaslug Scumbag Daniel Briere similarly fined for doing the same thing to A.O.? You mean to tell me that the NHL couldn't find a video clip of it?

Sorry, but this comes across more like a mixed message instead of a strong message.

And before you Penguin Scum jump up in unison, yes, I am well aware that your Scumbag Ryan Whitney was fined more $$$$$ than Blake was (but only $500 dollars more). Which only further underscores my point that the NHL isn't taking this stuff seriously enough.

Take Your Best Shots

Yep, once again, I'm late to the party, but pictures of the much maligned "new NHL'" new uniforms are being circulated. Ok folks (and you know who you are), here's your chance to take your potshots.

Tell us how these jerseys are an insult and a slap in the face to the tradition of hockey. Tell how this further "Bettmanization" of the game that will not only ruin the once grand and glorious NHL that people couldn't get enough of, but also bring an end to Western Civilization as we know it. Tell us how.... ah forget it, you all get the point now and I need to get back to work...

Though one point I would like to make a concession on, I do see the point Kyle McLaren makes about injury tape jobs. But conversely, everybody would be able to see a player intentionally targeting an injured area on another player. I can't imagine many referees and players would allow something like that to occur very often.

Caps @ Canes 1-18-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (19-27; 45 points; 4th Southeast Division, 13th Eastern Conference, 23rd overall) @ Carolina Hurricanes (25-23; 55 points; 2nd Southeast Division, 6th Eastern Conference, 11th overall):
Caps Game #47, Road Game #23, NHL Game #702

RBC Center, Raleigh, NC. 7:05 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WTEM 980-AM. Carolina TV: Fox Sportsnet South. Radio: WWMY 102.9-FM. NHL Center Ice: Fox Sportsnet South feed.

Tonight the Caps first road trip of 2007 comes to a merciful end. The Caps have lost their last three games and their last six in a row on the road. The Caps are starting a stretch where they will play 4 straight games and 5 games out of six against a Southeast Division foe. Four of those games are against the Carolina Hurricanes who are currently ahead of the Caps. The Canes have won four of their last five though their only loss was in a gimmick to Atlanta last Saturday night. Most recently, the Canes won in Florida on Tuesday night 3-2 in overtime.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. .pdf game notes.

It was announced during the Comcast SportsNet broadcast on Tuesday night that the Caps beat writer for The Washington Times, Dave Fay, is having some medical issues which is why he has not been writing for the Caps for the past two weeks. It was announced that Dave Fay would be going under the knife today and I would like to extend my prayers for a safe operation and a speedy recovery. I look forward to seeing the old curmudgeon return to Times and reading his articles once again. Get Well Soon Dave!

Open Source Intelligence:

Durham Herald Sun. (The Division winners get a first round bye? Did I miss a memo or something???) Raleigh News & Observer: Canes coming together, Eye on the Canes.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

The last couple of times the Caps have faced the Flyers, I've said that the Caps had to be careful of falling into a trap. The Caps had to be careful to not take an opponent lightly and end up losing to them as a result. Well tonight it is the Caps turn to spring a trap. The Caps have not been playing well recently, they just lost another one of their regular defensemen, they've lost three games in a row, and their last six on the road. The Canes have been playing well recently, they're playing at home, they have a 12-4 record against the Southeast Division this season, and they are pulling into position for a fight for the Southeast Division lead. This is another game that the Caps cannot be favored to win. However, this is the same situation that faced the Caps on Tuesday when they played Ottawa. Carolina is a hockey team going to the playoffs where the Caps aren't. It is entirely possible for the Caps to play a good hockey game tonight and still not win.

Caps Nut Official Washington Predict The Score Contest Entry:

Caps 3
Canes 4
Winner by Staal

Editorial Note For The Readers Of This Blog:

Normally my class is on Monday night, but because of the Federal Holiday this past Monday, my class for this week was moved to Thursday night. Therefore, there will be no Post-Mortem after the game tonight.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Green out, Schultz In, and A.O. Drunk

Bad news for the Caps per Tarik of the (Com)Post; Mike Green is out indefinitely and Jeff Schultz has been called in as a reinforcement. (Personally, I was hoping for some more icetime for Timo Helbling but oh well...)

And in other "news" on an off/travel day; In an interview with NBC, A.O. claims he "warms up" with five beers before a game and that's why he plays like such a crazy man. (So that's his secret...)


Caps @ Senators 1-16-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times.

The Neutral Observers: AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Ottawa Citizen: A.O. shut down, Sens targeting Buffaslugs. Ottawa Sun: Sens pass Habs, action photos, even better with Spezza, Phillips wants to stay.

Final Thoughts:

With the All-Star break coming up, crunch time is just around the corner. You can't say that the Caps are out of it, but they'll have to avoid the roller coaster that this season has been. That being said, I still don't think this team has what it takes to make the playoffs. I'd like to be wrong about this but I can't see how this team makes the playoffs. 46 down, 36 to go.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Caps @ Senators 1-15-2007 Post-Mortem

Well folks, looks like despite still being on West Coast Time and still feeling the lingering effects of what my doctor tells is an "abnormal organism" (I can only imagine what a "normal organism" would have done to me) and not the flu; I called this one perfectly. Well, enough gloating, onto to the abbreviated Battle Damage Assessment...

  • Definitely a better effort tonight than Saturday night's stinker. Yeah, the Caps could have played better, but with the roll that Ottawa is on right now (and some of the bounces they got tonight) I don't think it would have been enough for the Caps to win.
  • Again, while not nearly as bad as Saturday night, the forechecking was still largely MIA. A good bit of it had to do with Ottawa's ability to move the puck quickly thereby making it tough for the Caps to get in deep and bang the Senators defensemen around. Again, when the Caps can get forechecking pressure, they usually do well, especially in the offensive zone.
  • 30 shots on goal is good and about what you want in an average game. However, A.O. (5), Dainius Zubrus (2), and Alexander Semin (2) clearly need to key the offense in order for this team to win. All three were held without a shot in the first period and Semin didn't record a shot on goal until the third. Goals from Captain Chris Clark and Steve Eminger are nice, but the skill guys have to get the job done. That being said, nights like tonight are going to happen from time to time.

I'm not going to complain too much about tonight's game. When all is said and done, Ottawa is a playoff team and the Caps aren't. The Senators are on a roll and the Caps have been in a funk lately. It is easy to forget that the Caps are a work in progress and there's still miles to go here. Yeah, you like to win games and need to have a lofty goal such as making the playoffs, but there are still teams who have more talent than us and all the hard work in the world isn't going to change that a bit.


They Are Persistent Part I

Editorial Note: Rather than post what amounts to a 6-7 page post in one posting, I've broken this down into three parts. I'm posting them "backwards" in order to allow you to read them all at once by just continuing to scroll down instead of having to scroll down and then up to scroll down again.

The Ultimate Fighting On Ice (UFOI) fans aren't going down without a fight themselves, and yes, that pun was intended.

Before I take off on this rant let me first say that I too hold no love for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. I believe that his departure from the NHL is long overdue, especially since the end of the lockout almost a year and half ago now. I believe that Gary Bettman has taken the NHL as far as he can, the only thing he can do now to move the NHL forward is to step down as Commissioner and let somebody else run the NHL. It is long past time for some new leadership in the NHL Front Office.

Furthermore, back in October, I posted 5 things I think the NHL should change in addition to Bettman's resignation. As you can see, it wasn't my idea, Garrett over at Puckhead's Thoughts came up with the initial list, but as far as I can tell, we were the only ones to post our ideas.

Now, getting back to the UFOI fans, they have a misnamed website Hockey Fans Unite (I'll explain why later) and they plan on launching "protests" at NHL arenas this coming Saturday night. The Caps will be hosting a matinee at the Phone Booth against Florida on that "day of protest."

Yes, I've been aware of this coming protest but I've ignored it and haven't paid it much attention until last night. The leader of this protest was interviewed on Off Wing Opinion yesterday and well, let's just say that the idiocy spewing forth rivals anything ever written by Larry Brooks. Even then I felt I should ignore them and not give them the attention they desire. Fisking this would be easier than taking candy from a baby. While Matthew Sigafoose says things that Larry Brooks didn't put in his column, I didn't think it was enough for a new post of its own and I would have ended up simply recopying an earlier post. I think doing that is boring and a waste of my time. Besides, why give somebody like this attention? It isn't worth it.

But the fates conspired to have me go against my initial gut feeling. I read that Off Wing interview last night before I settled in to watch the NFL Network's rebroadcast of Super Bowl XXII. The idiocy was fresh in my mind as I watched the Redskins "ambush" Broncos for the first time since the game itself took place 19 years ago. And I realized just how wrong Larry Brooks, Don Cherry, and their disciples/UFOI fans like Matthew Sigafoose really, really are.

As you saw in my earlier post, I said the NFL used to be as wild and wooly as the NHL. Well, on the OPENING KICKOFF off Super Bowl XXII, Redskins Wide Receiver Ricky Sanders received the kick. He ran up the field, cut towards the sideline and when he got near the sidelines, he was hit. Sanders was then thrown to the ground FIVE YARDS OUT OF BOUNDS and took out a referee in the process. Guess what? There was no flag for a late hit on that play. As a matter of fact, I saw two other hits out of bounds THAT DIDN'T GET FLAGGED in the first half of Super Bowl XXII. Furthermore, ABC announcers Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, and Dan Dierdorf commented about a new rule for the 1987 NFL season. No longer were defenders allowed to take two steps to clobber a quarterback after he threw the ball. Defenders were now allowed to only take one step before hitting a quarterback who had thrown the ball. The Redskins got flagged twice for that. Nothing at all was said about shots to the head of anybody.

Remember folks, this was just 19 years ago. This was during the halcyon days of the 1980's that UFOI fans lionize and desperately wish the NHL would return to. The NFL was cutting down on the gratuitous violence then and has grown by leaps and bounds as it continues to do so. The NHL has lost ground to not only the other four major professional sports leagues, but to NASCAR, and gets regularly beaten in the ratings by Poker.

Yet Don Cherry said Saturday night that the NFL is "going tougher" while the NHL is expected "to go softer." Yeah... (I lost a lot of respect for Don Cherry on Saturday night because of that. Sorry Don, you have no clue what us Americans want.)

However, make no mistake; Mr. Sigafoose uses some weasel words in his imploring for more violence in the NHL. He talks about the lack of "emotion," "passion," and "intensity." What he really means though are fights. Look at his own words, some of his fondest memories are of fights. Not of goals, not of saves, not of great defensive plays. Nope, he waxes poetically about the fights. He mentions some sidebar stuff like players and arena staffers throwing pucks into the stands for the fans. But make no mistake, what he misses the most are the fights. Mr. Sigafoose isn't a fan of hockey; he's a fan of UFOI. This is why his website is misnamed.

Mr. Sigafoose even goes onto complain that the Caps and Thrashers actually played a hockey game on December 15th, 2006. So what a great hockey player like A.O. single-handedly beat another hockey team? (Which is always a rare occurrence when it happens) So what a player like Ilya Kovalchuk was throwing his body around like he had never done before and hasn't done since? Nope, sorry folks, Mr. Sigafoose says there was no "passion," no "emotion," and no "intensity." In other words, Mr. Sigafoose wanted fights, carnage, and blood and didn't get it and he's angry about it.

Of course the NHL called the teams before the game and told them to behave. Of course the referees were under strict instructions to clamp down on stuff before it got out of hand. Does Mr. Sigafoose and the rest of the UFOI fans really think the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident was a good thing for the NHL? Do they really want to see that happen again? Remember, that whole incident was "payback" for a hit in an earlier game. I applaud the NHL for nipping this stuff in the bud. The NHL should have thrown Bertuzzi clear out of hockey for what he did, but the least the NHL can do is take every step it reasonably can to prevent it from ever happening again.

To Be Continued...


They Are Persistent Part II

Now, Mr. Sigafoose isn't just complaining about there not being enough violence in the NHL, he also demonstrates an alarming stupidity about other things. He complains about the unbalanced schedule and how it is designed to save $$$$$.


He missed the entire 2004-2005 lockout. He missed the statements from owners that they would lose LESS $$$$$ if the 2004-2005 season wasn't played than they would if it was. He's missed Ted Leonsis' constant comments about how he's losing less $$$$$ now than he was before the lockout, but he's still losing $$$$$. He missed Mary-Oh!'s comment/warning to Penguin Scum fans last year that he could sell every ticket for every home game in the regular season and the first two rounds of the playoffs and he would STILL lose $$$$$ on the Penguin Scum.

Nope, Mr. Sigafoose is too busy looking for the fights on the ice and lamenting that they are becoming a rare.

Why shouldn't the NHL do things to cut costs? The NHL has a national TV contract in the United States that is on par with Arena Football. Not the National Football League, Arena Football, not the National Basketball Association, Arena Football, not Major League Baseball, Arena Football.

Has the message gotten through yet?

The NHL is not like the other three major professional sports leagues in the United States. The NHL is entirely dependant upon gate receipts. The NFL, NBA, and MLB live off of their TV and radio contracts, both national and local; their gate receipts are gravy. Yet the NHL will only see $$$$$ from NBC IF the NHL and NBC can charge advertisers enough $$$$$ to make a profit on the broadcast and a vast majority of NHL teams HAVE TO BUY THEIR AIRTIME on local television and radio stations.

Simply put, the other leagues have the networks fighting/willing to buy their TV rights and local broadcasters shell out the $$$$$ as well. The NHL on the other hand has to give away its TV rights for free in the U.S. and buy their airtime locally. But the NHL is dead wrong to produce a schedule that cuts down on the travel costs for its teams coming off a year where the NHL didn't play a single game at all??? Am I the only one who thinks this does not compute?

Better yet, we get complaints from Mr. Sigafoose about the new NHL jerseys before they even come out. They're called "a slap in the face of the tradition of hockey." I mean, are you freakin' kidding me? Again, let's go back and repeat myself with the NFL. "Facemasks are for sissies." Better yet, let's look at the Super Bowl 19 years ago. Every player on the field was wearing a jersey that was "loose" by today's standards with give in the shoulders and torso that could be clearly seen on TV. Every single player had sleeves that hung down. Look at football players today. The jerseys are often at least two sizes too small. The idea behind that is that opposing players have nothing to grab onto in order to hold up a player or to tackle him. Mr. Sigafoose says he does not want to return to the "old NHL" of the clutching and grabbing and hooking and holding that clogged up and slowed down the game, BUT he's tired of the parade to the penalty box because the NHL players have not fully adjusted yet. (They're probably waiting for the latest "crackdown" to end...) Well, wouldn't "skintight" jerseys make it tougher to hook and hold and clutch and grab out on the ice? You'd think...

On a side note, my personal favorite in this stupid debate over the jerseys is Jonathan Cheechoo. He's complaining that the new jerseys shows exactly where the gaps in his pads are. First of all, every hockey player I've ever talked too already knows where the gaps in the players pads are, because they are wearing the same pads themselves. It says something to me that Jonathan Cheechoo needs to have it outlined for him or is Cheechoo currently wearing "non standard" equipment under his jersey?

To Be Concluded...