Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bondra Retires

Finally.

Much to the dismay of a certain cadre of folks in Darwin's Waiting Room, Peter Bondra has finally come to terms with reality and announced his retirement. He will now take over a GM of the Slovakian National Team.

Bondra was a great player on some Caps teams that didn't give him very much help. I remember a quote from Steve Konowalchuk who once said that the team expected Bondra to score a goal every night and the rest of the team would collectively chip one in themselves. How anybody thought that this would be a recipe for success is beyond me and I know that Jim Carey, Don Beaupre, and Olie Kolzig would have appreciated more help as much as Bondra did.

Bondra is still a fan favorite in Washington in part because he scored goals as spectacular as A.O. does and had as much fun scoring them as A.O. does. However, in fairness to A.O., A.O. is miles ahead of Bondra and A.O. should take Bondra's leads in just about every offense category in fewer games.

Bondra should also be remembered for his two hold outs and trade demands. We'll never know if all of that was orchestrated mainly by the player or by his agent, Rich Winter, who seemed to have a thing against the Caps. Bondra said after being traded to Ottawa for Brooks Laich in the 2004 firesale that he didn't want to be traded and pulled some serious shenanigans before signing with Atlanta after the lockout. He and his family still live in the D.C. area and from what I understand have no plans to move back to Slovakia. His contract with Slovakia runs through the end of 2008 so he isn't tied down in his new job for a long period of time.

However now, the rumors and wishes of Bondra's return as a player to the Caps should mercifully come to an end. Of the Caps who went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998, only Richard Zednik, Sergei Gonchar, Chris Simon, Ken Klee, Brendan Witt, and Kolzig remain in the NHL and only Kolzig is still with the Caps. Maybe the Caps will retire Bondra's number 12, maybe they won't. Bondra certainly did not get enough credit around the league playing on a Washington team that is considered an NHL backwater even before the firesale so he could have a long wait before entering the Hall of Fame if he ever gets there. But at least at this point in time we can wish Bondra luck as he opens a new chapter in his life and be thankful that pleas for his return will now end.

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Caps @ Maple Leafs 10-29-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL.com AP Wire. Canadian Press.

The Other Side:

Toronto Globe and Mail: boo-birds out, unhappy home. Toronto Sun: can't stop A.O., comparing A.O. and Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, Raycroft called in, home woes.

Final Thoughts:

If the Caps can keep things simple in the offensive end and continue to get pucks to the net, they will continue to get the results that they've been looking for. They as a team and we too as fans however can't get upset when they don't score 7 goals a night. There's still some work that needs to be done in our own end but for the time being, enjoy the win and take the confidence forward against two tough opponents coming up.

11 down, 71 to go.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Caps @ Maple Leafs 10-29-2007 Post-Mortem

I see Murphy was on the Leafs side tonight... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:

  • Congratulations to Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz on his first NHL goal and four other players got their first goal of the season.
  • 11 different Caps with 19 total points tonight. Michael Nylander (3 assists) and Matt "Omar" Bradley leading the way (1 goal, 2 assists) with 3 points each. That's rather balanced if you ask me especially with six different goal scorers tonight.
  • Since having his seven game point streak snapped against the Penguin Scum, A.O. now has multiple points in the 4 games since with 2 more goals tonight. He's now only one point behind Jeff Halpern for 27th on the Caps All-Time scoring list.
  • The special teams tonight were special in a good kind of way as the Penalty Killers were 5 for 5 getting a shorthanded goal for good measure and the Power Play was 2 for 5 and nabbed the Game Winning Goal.
  • Olie Kolzig made the saves he needed to in order for the team to blow the game wide open. Bit of a shame that his 31 saves didn't get him one of the stars in the game.
  • Despite the five goal lead, the Caps didn't let up in the third period, scoring once again and taking 11 shots on goal in the period.

THE BAD:

  • After jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the Caps gave up the tying goal just 31 seconds later. At least the Caps only did that once and didn't surrender the lead again all night.
  • Giving up 33 shots on goal and allowing the Leafs to take 16 and 11 shots in the second and third period respectively is a recipe for disaster and not a blowout win. Too many defensive breakdowns for the Caps as Olie had to make some big saves.

THE UGLY:

  • Pavel Kubina:


Stolen from NHL.com.

This is one of those games where even if you win, you just have to move on from it because while everything worked out well tonight, you won't win very many games in this fashion. Still, it is much better to be on the good side of a 7-1 game than on the bad side. The Caps were able to get seven goals tonight because they got pucks to the front of the net and banged in some rebounds and got some nice goals off the rush as well. Taking 30 shots on goal didn't hurt either. The Caps were not able to get a win like this until late last season but need to remember that they were facing a very bad defensive hockey team with suspect goaltending and can't let any of the confidence earned tonight turn into cockiness.

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

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Caps @ Maple Leafs 10-29-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (4-6; 8 points) @ Toronto Maple Leafs (5-7; 13 points):
Caps Game #11, Road Game #6, NHL Game #161

Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 7:37 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7 FM. Toronto TV: Leafs TV. Radio:CFMJ 640-AM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic feed.

Tonight the Caps head into Toronto walking wounded to face a high-powered Leafs team that needs to be because of their suspect defense and shaky goaltending. The Leafs have won two in a row but have lost their last two at home.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Toronto Globe and Mail: staying with Toskala, play better at home, reality check for Washington. Toronto Sun: friendly fire, Tucker rehab.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

This should be a high scoring game as the Leafs can both put the puck into the net and have serious problems keeping it out of their own. The Caps have been mounting third period comebacks this season that get them just short of forcing overtime so if the Caps get down by two or three goals, they certainly aren't out of it. However, the Caps haven't been forcing overtime lettalone completing the comebacks and winning the game. With roughly the same lineup that faced St. Louis for two period Saturday night, the Caps will have their work cut out for them tonight and will need to jump out to an early lead and keep scoring in order to have any chance to win tonight.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 4
Leafs 5
Winner by Kubina

(3-6 on the season)

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kolzig to Join Gonchar?

That's what Larry thinks.

Hoo boy... It's been awhile but Larry Brooks comes out with a doosy today saying that the Penguin Scum will be going hard after Olie Kolzig should the Caps be sellers (a foregone conclusion as far as Ol' Lar is concerned) at the deadline.

Aside from the total betrayal to Kolzig, the fans, and the franchise itself should such a trade be made by the Caps, I find it hard to believe that Kolzig could fare any better behind a Penguin Scum blueline that still boasts Sergei Gonchar on it's top pair and is relying on Darryl Sydor to shore things up. Certainly Marc-Andre Fluery has gotten off to a disappointing start and there has to be serious concerns about him in crunch time. But acquiring Kolzig would leave the Penguin Scum with only some $2.75 million in cap space to try to fix their blueline.

Then of course there's the return for Kolzig. It's no secrect that the Caps are looking for a right wing for the top line and I'm beginning to think that Michael Nylander's only role on this team is to mentor Nicklas Backstrom so maybe a top line center would be the required return for Kolzig (oh and we would need a goaltender too). But what in the terms of prospects do the Penguin Scum have to offer? The cupboard is relatively bare and quite frankly, the Caps are beyond taking draft picks for players, especially a player like Kolzig. That means that the Penguin Scum would have to give up a player off the NHL roster which, considering their position, kinda defeats the purpose. Furthermore, what would it do (not to mention say about) Fleury should the Penguin Scum bring any bonafide #1 goaltender in for a playoff run? Should the Penguin Scum be goaltender shopping at the deadline, they would be wiser to look elsewhere other than Washington.

Though there is also the PR factor in D.C. Should Kolzig be shipped out at the deadline this year, Ted Leonsis would have to go into hiding and George McPhee wouldn't be too far behind him. There are still fans who have not forgiven the Caps for trading Bondra in 2004 and not bringing him back after the lockout; so let's not even think about what the reaction would be if Kolzig were traded anywhere lettalone to Pittsburgh. Even if Kolzig said he asked to be traded to the Penguin Scum (who are in the Phone Booth after the trade deadline) in an attempt to take the heat off of management, who among the fans and players in the NHL take the Caps at their word anymore? The Caps fans would STILL blame Leonsis and McPhee for failing to put enough talent around Kolzig so that he could win a Cup with the Caps. If you think attendance is bad now, trade Kolzig and you'd be able to count the Caps fans in attendance with only a couple of extra hands.

But again, this is Larry Brooks we're talking about here. You'll remember Larry told the Penguin Scum that they had no choice but to trade Jagr to the Rangers and that once he was with the Caps, the Rangers were no longer interested in him.

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Caps @ Blues 10-27-2007 Wrap Up

There was no post-mortem last night because I went to the awful Maryland-Clemson game and did not get a chance to watch the entire hockey game.

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post: Caps fall, an extension for Alexander Semin. Times: Caps buried, Semin extension. Caps.com.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL.com AP Wire.

The Other Side:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Boyes lifts, different Johnson waived, Bluenotes.

Final Thoughts:

With the extension to Semin, the Caps now have over $24 million committed to about 13 players next season with of course, A.O. (who is now alone in 28th on the All-Time list and 3 points behind Jeff Halpern in 27th) and Olie Kolzig as the big names still needing contracts for next season. This year the Caps are spending roughly $40 million and along with A.O. and Olie, there are 10 other Free Agents to contend with but something tells me that Brian Sutherby and Steve Eminger are not in the plans for this team beyond this season.

10 down, 72 to go.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Caps vs. Canucks 10-26-2007 Wrap Up/ Caps @ Blues 10-27-2007 Preview

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times: Luongo still frustrates, big donation in Fay's name. Caps.com.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL.com AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Vancouver Province. Vancouver Sun: 60 minutes rewarded, Bieska skates hard, odds and ends.

Final Thoughts:

I forgot to mention last night, who knew the Canucks traveled so well?

9 down, 73 to go.


Washington Capitals (4-5; 8 points) @ St. Louis Blues (5-3; 10 points):
Caps Game #10, Road Game #5, NHL Game #154

Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO. 8:37 pm Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7 FM. St. Louis TV: KPLR Channel 11. Radio: KMOX 1120-AM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic feed.


Tonight the Caps take their banged up lineup to St. Louis to face the Blues. The Blues were shutout Thursday night in Columbus and have lost 2 of their past 3 after opening the season with five straight wins. The Blues also boast the 9th best Power Play in the NHL which will present a challenge to a Caps Power Play unit still looking to find its way.

What The Natives Are Saying:

Caps.com

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Caps making rare appearance (and writer making a ton of errors), preview.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

The Caps haven't won in St. Louis in 11 years but this isn't the same Blues team that had been a fixture in the Western Conference playoffs for over 20 years. The Blues are slightly better than expected getting off to a 5-0 start but (and you could say this about the Caps too) are starting to revert to form. Brent Johnson is likely to get the start in goal tonight against the team he was 76-46-12 for over 143 games in 5 seasons. Johnny has never faced the Blues and will need to build upon his strong performance against the Penguin Scum last Saturday. The Caps had a good game plan against the Canucks last night but were not sharp enough in executing it. They'll need to be sharper tonight especially if Captain Chris Clark and Tom Poti are out of the lineup.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 1
Blues 4
Winner by Tkachuk

(2-6 on the season)

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Caps vs. Canucks 10-26-2007 Post-Mortem

Make up your own pithy comment tonight... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • After a goal and an assist, A.O. is now tied with Dino Ciccarelli with 209 points for 29th All-Time on the Caps scoring list. Up next for A.O. at 28 is Jeff Halpern at 214 points in 438 games.

THE BAD:

  • You might be tempted to say that least the Caps made it interesting at the end but after 55 minutes of uninspired hockey, the last five minutes just really made me angry that they didn't give that kind of effort the whole game.
  • The Penalty Killers were 3 for 5 tonight and couldn't come up with a kill early in the game despite Boyd Gordon being in the lineup.
  • Please get well soon Tom Poti as your replacement John Erskine Bowles was in a death struggle tonight with Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz for worst defenseman on the ice. Erskine Bowles looked s l o w (even for himself) all night long while Schultz was constantly turning the puck over.

THE UGLY:

  • And speaking of turnovers, Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green's ugly turnover lead directly to the second Vancouver goal. Though looking at the replay, I can't figure out what Erskine Bowles was doing on that play but he certainly wasn't offering any support to Green or picking up a Canuck.
  • Despite the Power Play being 2 for 4 tonight I'm still picking on them because of Glen Hanlon putting all the eggs in one basket and placing A.O. alongside Alexander Semin at the point. While it paid off tonight, mark words, we will eventually be burned and burned badly if this continues. I'm hoping this was only because Poti was hurt and not playing.
  • Captain Chris Clark's injury was not only grizzly itself, but the Caps couldn't regroup after seeing their Captain go down. He could be out for awhile with that one.
  • While some might enjoy all the hitting that the Caps did tonight, it is pretty clear that isn't this team's game. I'm not saying we shouldn't hit people but A.O. missed more than a couple of pucks tonight because he chose the body and Semin shouldn't be the guy looking to stir the pot. I also thought Green was trying to hard to land the big hit. The Caps need to play within themselves in order to be successful.

In an 82 game season, teams are going to come out flat once in awhile. For most of the night you would have thought that the Caps were wrapping up a four game road trip, about to fly back across the country, and the Canucks were wrapping up a four game homestand about to head out on the road for three games. With the Caps having to play again tomorrow night on the road, they'll have to bounce back quickly and will need to be much sharper against the Blues than they were against the Canucks.

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Caps vs, Canucks 10-26-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (4-4; 8 points) vs. Vancouver Canucks (4-6; 8 points):
Caps Game #9, Home Game #5, NHL Game #140

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM. Vancouver TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific. Radio: CKST 1040-AM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic feed.

Tonight the Caps look to finish off their homsetand on a high note before heading out for a three game road trip when they host the Vancouver Canucks at the Phone Booth. The Canucks are wrapping up a four game road trip; losing their last two and four of their last five, most recently Wednesday night's 3-2 setback in Detroit.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Vancouver 24 Hours. Vancouver Province: losing identity, gotta shoot, two minutes with Mark...er... Rick Rypien, Glen Hanlon motivates. Vancouver Sun: Itchy trigger fingers, line shuffle, fun over, numbers.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

The Caps haven't defeated the Canucks in 6 and half years and have not beaten Roberto Luongo in nine games including last year's gimmick loss. The Canucks are coming to the end of a frustrating road trip where they've only beaten Columbus. The Caps need to jump on the Canucks early and keep the pressure on as Vancouver has been held to under two goals in all six losses so far this season. If the Caps can rediscover their forechecking and keep then Canucks bottled up, they'll increase the pressure on Luongo who hasn't been able to carry the Canucks so far this season.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 2
Canucks 1
Winner by Semin

(2-6 on the season)

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Caps vs. Ning 10-24-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL.com AP Wire.

The Other Side:

St. Petersburg Times: Still can't win on the road, Craig coming back. Tampa Tribune: Still win less on the road, Craig Laboring. Ning.com.

Final Thoughts:

The Caps had been talking about crashing the net and getting ugly goals. The two goal outburst at the end of the second period were exactly that. Let's hope they keep it up instead of sliding back into the pretty plays.

8 down, 74 to go.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Caps vs. Ning 10-24-2007 Post-Mortem

Always listen to the gamblers... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • I wonder how many Caps fans are cursing the instigator penalty tonight considering that it benched Vincent Lecavalier for the balance of the game with the Caps leading by two goals. It certainly would have been harder for the Caps to hold on had he been taking a regular shift. For the life of me I can't figure out what Shaone Morrrissonnn did to make him snap like that.
  • Captain Chris Clark return to the top line was a triumph tonight with two goals including the game winner. Though I have to say that it was rather unfair to expect him to put up 30 goals skating with Boyd Gordon and Matt "Princess" Pettinger who will never be mistaken for Viktor Kozlov and A.O.
  • Speaking of A.O., three points tonight including the empty netter. A.O. is now 2 points behind Dino Ciccarelli for 29th on the Caps All-Time scoring list. A.O. also had a great pass to give David Steckel a layup for his first NHL goal.

THE BAD:

  • Was it me or did the Caps seem to think that they could sit on a 1-0 lead for 54 minutes?
  • In addition to trying to sit on a 1-0 lead for 54 minutes, the Caps let the Ning quickly get back even after going up 2-1 with an ugly shorthanded goal allowed.
  • Alexander Semin taking the body tonight was about all he did as he played like a guy who hadn't played in three weeks.
  • BTW, what did Kozlov do to get benched in the third period? He finished 8-3 on faceoffs tonight which is beyond superb for him.

THE UGLY:

  • Once again the Power Play underperformed but they did generate 8 shots in 8 minutes of Power Play time. Semin on the point cost them the shorthanded goal that took the wind out of their sails. It is because of that shorthanded goal that the unit once again resides in the ugly department despite showing some real improvement tonight if not any goals.
  • Though what is as ugly as the Power Play tonight is the Caps forechecking. It's been pretty much MIA since the opening weekend.

This was the kind of win that the Caps needed. Two more players got into the goal scoring column tonight and the defense did a great job of containing and frustrating Lecavalier and St. Louis (8 shots and one goal between them, 6 of those shots and the goal go to St. Louis) as Olie Kolzig did not have to stand on his head tonight to keep the Caps in the game. However there were some very close calls on the Penalty Kill tonight and the Caps should have completely closed out the Ning after Lecavalier ended his night. At some point the excuse of inexperience on the blueline is going to run out. However, the win is a nice reward for their efforts tonight.

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

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Caps vs. Ning 10-23-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (3-4; 6 points) vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (4-2; 8 points):
Caps Game #8, Home Game #4, NHL Game #126

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM. Tampa TV: Sunshine Network. Radio: WDAE 620-AM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic feed.

Tonight the Caps look to end their four game losing streak and return to .500 when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Ning so far on the season have lost both games that they have played on the road and only one of them has been outside the state of Florida. Both teams have been off since Saturday and are kicking off a stretch of three games in four nights.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire

Open Source Intelligence:

St. Petersburg Times. Tampa Tribune. Ning.com.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

The Caps looked to be buoyed by the expected return of Alexander Semin to the lineup but probably the most important thing for the Caps is an increased pace to the schedule. The Caps, like the Ning, have only played six games in the first three weeks of the season and the Caps will have plenty of chances now to get themselves into a rhythm as the next three day break in schedule does not arrive until November 11th-14th. The Caps are also returning to divisional play for the first time since the home opener on October 6th while the Ning are playing their fifth divisional game this season which will tie them with Edmonton for the most so far this season. The Caps will have to jump on the Ning early and need to get their offense in gear in order to have a chance tonight because Tampa has enough weapons to score on the Caps.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 2
Ning 5
Winner by St. Louis

(2-5 on the season)

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Times Tackles Caps Blogging

The Washington Times today reported on the growth in Caps bloggers and while this blog was overlooked (The fact that I refuse to step into the press box being chief among them, so I can't meet the beat writers) Tim Lemke (who isn't the beat writer BTW) did bring up a point that has been gnawing at me for awhille.

And that is a problem that came up last spring when Ted hired local bloggers to come and work for him and cover the World Championships in Moscow. While me complaining about this may seem like sour grapes, the fact of the matter is, it does create a conflict of interest and I'm glad Lemke pointed it out.

While the guys at OFB who benefitted from Ted's generosity are entitled to decline comment, I do believe Ted is off when he tries to downplay concerns about conflict of interest. First of all just because you don't tell bloggers what to write doesn't mean that they don't on some level feel a need to show a certain respect to somebody who did them a huge favor. Secondly, as I said when the issue of bloggers in the press box first came up, if bloggers want to be treated as mainstream journalists then they needed to conduct themselves as mainstream journalists. The simple fact that nobody from the Times, (Com)Post, or NBC would even consider accepting an offer that the OFB guys got because of journalistic integrity means that there is a problem with the offer in the first place.

Now don't get upset at me, I'm not the one who wants to be in the Caps press box. I've said over and over I don't understand why a blogger would want to act like a mainstream journalist in the first place. The Venerable Off Wing Opinion has attempted to come up with a certification program for bloggers seeking to gain access to press boxes. All this does in my opinion is make bloggers more like professional journalists. And if a blogger wants to turn himself into a professional journalist; that's fine with me as long as you stop trying to be a blogger when it suits your purposes and a professional journalist when it suits your purposes. Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, is dead wrong when he says transparency is key. So what if bloggers are totally transparent? The fact that they do not act like mainstream journalists is what keeps all bloggers down and their reputation in the dumpster, at least when it comes to public opinion.

Maybe public opinion of bloggers will turn around, but it won't come anytime soon. In an attempt to provide more clarity, Ted provides further remarks however Ted still misses the point. While the MSM (especially dead tree publications) may be bleeding $$$$$ and cutting staff left and right because ratings and circulation are down; they're STILL a large player in setting public opinion and getting the word out in general. Bloggers have yet to reach that level of influence and won't be getting there anytime in the near future, if ever. Antagonizing the MSM is not a good idea as Ted learned when Steve Czaban embarrassed him. (just consider WTEM as already taking your new advice to reach out to niche audiences instead of the old method of trying to be all things to all people)

Finally, I'd like to point out to Ted that at one point in time, I was recommended reading according to him. Now, I'm not. Why is that Ted? You say today that you can take the heat and yet I'm no longer listed on your blog's listing. It can't simply be because I have few readers. Peerless Prognosticator has a larger audience but has been critical of you in the past like I've been and you don't link to him either. You directly told me once I did a great job, while I've been busier in the past few months than before and I admit the quality here has slipped, it still doesn't explain the freeze out.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Caps vs. Penguin Scum 10-20-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL.com AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Backdoor win (make your own jokes at home people), Penguin Scum Notebook, more notes. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Hanging on, notebook.

Final Thoughts:

7 down, 75 to go.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Caps vs. Penguin Scum 10-20-2007 Post-Mortem

Well, at least it was an exciting game... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • I have to be honest, not a whole lot to complain about tonight. Just couldn't get some bounces (and calls) to go our way.
  • When Brian Pothier is dropping people, the Caps are hitting everything in sight and the Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby was getting knocked around like a rag doll all night long.
  • Brent Johnson played a good game tonight and for the first time in three games, the Caps got the big saves they needed in the third period.

THE BAD:

  • What was Mike Hazenfrantz calling boarding on Shaone Morrrissonnn in the second period? The player he hit wasn't anywhere near the boards and barely touched them after sliding into them. Michael Nylander's goaltender interference call was a total joke too.
  • How in the world did all four officials miss Jordan Staal's high sticking of Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green? Though I have to say, I thought Green would be tossed after he got Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby, with a high stick.
  • So much for simplifying things. While I won't complain too much about the attempts at pretty plays in the offensive zone, I don't want to see these quick passes in front of our own goaltender ever again. Three times tonight we made those high risk passes and on one of them, Johnny had to be on his guard.

THE UGLY:

  • The Power Play (0-3 on the night) was outshot once again. This is getting to the point where I think the refs are doing us a favor for not calling penalties on our opponents (especially when goaltenders throw their blockers in the face of our forwards).

Much to the chagrin of a number of Penguin Scum fans, this was a game between two evenly matched teams. As a matter of fact, I think you could easily say that the Caps outplayed the Penguin Scum but came away with a loss because of bad luck. A loss like tonight's is something that gives Caps fans hope for the future because with all the over hyped talent of the Penguin Scum, the Caps aren't too far behind them if at all.

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Caps vs. Penguin Scum 10-20-2007

Washington Capitals (3-3; 6 points) vs. Pittsburgh Penguin Scum (3-3; 6 points):
Caps Game #7, Home Game #3, NHL Game #108

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:37 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7 FM. Pittsburgh TV: Fox SportsNet Pittsburgh. Radio: WXDX 105.9-FM. National TV: HD Net. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic feed.

Tonight the Caps look to end their three game winning streak when they host the Pittsburgh Penguin Scum. The Caps are reeling from injuries to key players and are looking to get back on track after falling to .500. The Penguin Scum are coming off a gimmick win last night at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Penguin Scum, like the Caps, are beginning to fret over high expectations placed on them before the season even started as some of the Penguin Scum's numbers are not very good for a team that considers itself a serious Stanley Cup contender.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Gimmick win, notebook Part I, bankruptcy payout Version I. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Penguin Scum tame Canes, notebook Part II, bankruptcy payout Version II, scouting the Caps.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

When you turn on your TV to watch tonight's game, despite the fact that the Caps are wearing their white jerseys and that you'll be hearing plenty of drunken Penguin Scum fans in the background, tonight is a home game for the Caps. All joking aside, it would be rather trite to say that the key to tonight's game will be the special teams and leave it at that. The Caps will also need better goaltending than they've gotten in past two games (which of course will help the Penalty Killing which is facing the #6 Power Play in the league). Look for some firewagon hockey tonight as the Penguin Scum have given up at least 3 goals in every game they've played so far this season and have a neat little Loss, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win thing going right now. They won last night (albeit in a gimmick) so they should be in line for a loss tonight as they wrap up a three games in four nights stretch, especially if the struggling Marc Andre-Fleury starts in goal.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 5
Penguin Scum 4
Winner by Kozlov

(2-4 on the season)

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Strike Brewing?

Our old friend Larry Brooks just couldn't contain himself last week reporting about the hiring of a New Head Thug for the NHLPA. However a more sober reporter, TSN's Bob McKenzie, says Kelly is truly independent and won't be a lap dog for the factions that Brooks is a mouthpiece for. McKenzie also points out (and said on TSN during the Florida-Montreal game on Tuesday night) that any labor stoppage in 2009 would have to come from a player strike and not another owner lockout.

I just figured Ol' Lar was shooting his mouth of again but before I left for the game last night, I read this article and I'm beginning to wonder, is Ol' Lar just shooting his mouth off? It's easy to discount Ol' Lar because he'll contradict himself in the same column but I don't know much about Bruce Dowbiggin. Is he a Union Thug mouthpiece like Ol' Lar?

Oh Caps Nut, you're just being paranoid, there's no way the NHLPA will reopen the CBA and call a strike in 2009...

Maybe I am being paranoid but I remember the run-up to 2004-2005. There was talk two seasons ahead that the NHL was heading for another lockout and that it could very well cost the NHL an entire season (which it did). And while we do have sober reporters saying it won't happen, who knows what is going to happen over the next two years. That is more than enough time for the dissidents to increase their support. 2009 sounds about the time that another round of misguided expansion will be coming into play, putting more $$$$$ on the table for the players and more players into the union to dilute their hard liner factions. But if the NHL is going to expand for the 2009-2010 season, they need to get the ball rolling on that one sooner rather than later and award the franchises sometime after the New Year.

But let me say this. Should the NHLPA reopen the CBA and call a strike, I will shut down this blog, cancel my Caps season tickets, and NEVER pay any attention to professional hockey ever again. If you think I'm joking, go ahead and try. I don't care if the Caps win the Stanley Cup in June of 2009, if there is a strike in 2009 (or later for that matter) I'm leaving and I won't be coming back. Ted can invite me to all the events he wants, I won't go and I won't even bother watching hockey on TV anymore.

I did not like the 1994 and 2004 lockouts but I understood that the NHL was trying to bring some fiscal sanity to help the small market franchises. Considering the amounts of $$$$$ the owners were (and still are) losing because of the lack of real TV revenue, it only made sense. The other option to bring salaries under control was contraction of some sort which is a total non-starter for the owners, players, and fans.

However, in 2009, the CBA will mandate a MINIMUM salary of $500,000. That will put a player in the 10% of ALL income earners in the United States. (For my left wing friends out there, these are the people that you hate seeing get tax cuts) While NHL players have only a limited amount of time to capitalize on their talents, these guys aren't hurting for income while they're playing. The largest source of revenue for NHL teams (which directly fund their salaries) is ticket revenue and that is not changing anytime in the near future. I cannot and will not justify paying higher ticket prices so that already rich hockey players get even richer playing a kids game.

And make no mistake; should the NHLPA talk a walk, it won't be about greater free agency, it won't be about benefits for themselves or former players. It will be about lifting the salary cap so that the handful of financially viable teams can inflate the salaries for the rest of the league and the players can demand more $$$$$. Gone will be the "hockey players are the most down-to-earth athletes around" persona they've spent so much time trying to build. They will be no different than the baseball players who shut down their sport over a few bucks. Baseball has had trouble rebuilding itself from that disaster and I know I won't be alone in giving up on hockey should the NHLPA do the same thing.

McKenzie points out that there needs to be some serious housecleaning at the NHLPA first. That should show us what direction the NHLPA will head in and let's hope that this talk of reopening the CBA and going on strike in 2009 dies a quick death. Because this is sounding too much like the run up to the lockout in 2004.

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Caps vs. Islanders 10-18-2007 Wrap Up

My computer at home refused to cooperate last night (Norton told me this morning it found a virus which was odd and didn't seem to fix what the computer was trying to do last night instead of cooperating with me) which is why there was no Post-Mortem.

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times: Powerless, Caps report. Caps.com.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL.com AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Newsday: Guerin hat trick, notes. Islanders.com.

Final Thoughts:

Here's a quick rundown of what I was going to post last night. Joseph Motzko Ball on the point on the Power Play makes me long for the return of Alexander Semin on the point (and that is NOT a good thing). Olie Kolzig really let the team down with his play in the third period. Just like Saturday night, the Caps tried to mount a comeback in third but the goaltending couldn't give them the big save that they needed to sustain it. A.O. extended his point streak to 6 and has goals in the last three games. He's now 5 points behind Dino Ciccarelli for 28th on the Caps all time scoring list. Dino had 209 points in 223 games. I'm glad to see Glen Hanlon say they're going to be working on the Power Play because the only time the Power Play looks dangerous is when Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green takes it upon himself and tries to beat everybody by himself. However, Hanlon and his staff better figure out how to beat a high pressure forecheck quickly because while the Islanders aren't as fast or as talented as the Buffaslugs, they were able to frustrate our breakout all night. I'd be shocked if other teams sit back in the neutral zone and let us come out with speed and under control. Though it took the Islanders some time to establish that forecheck because the Caps got off to a great start; it only lacked a goal or two but that sometimes happens. Finally I wasn't so upset with what the Refs were calling on the Caps as much as I was upset about what they let the Islanders get away with. The first Islanders goal was started when Green lost the puck after being tripped up. If the refs are going to call a tight game, they need to call it tight on both teams.

But hey, at least we outshot the Islanders...

6 down, 76 to go.

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Caps vs. Islanders 10-18-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (3-2; 6 points) vs. New York Islanders (3-3; 6 points):
Caps Game #6, Home Game #2, NHL Game #91

Verizon Center, Washington, D.C. 7:37 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM. New York TV: Fox SportsNet New York 2. Radio: WBBR 1130-AM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic feed.

After back-to-back ugly losses on the road last weekend, the Caps open up a four game homestand tonight by hosting the New York Islanders. The Islanders have also cooled off after their 2-0 start going 1-3 since with one of those three losses being last Monday to the Caps on Long Island. The Islanders are wrapping up a three game road trip where they've been outscored 11-2 so far, most recently a 3-1 loss in Philadelphia.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Newsday. Islanders.com.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

Two teams with two game losing streaks and can't be very happy about the losses they've taken recently. In a perfect world, we would have two teams with lots of jump in their skates looking to reestablish themselves but both teams have been idle since Saturday. Odds are rather good that tonight's game will be a slow paced game as both teams are adjusting to lineup changes. The key tonight for the Caps is to keep the Islanders under 2 goals as the Islanders have been held to only 1 goal in all three losses so far this season. Also don't look for the Caps Power Play to get on track tonight as the Islanders are ranked 5th in the NHL in penalty killing.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 4
Islanders 1
Winner by Nylander

(2-3 on the season)

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Schultz Recalled

As noted by Tarik earlier today Jeff "Seargent" Schultz has been recalled and Alexander Semin heads to the IR retroactive to October 7th.

Tarik also notes that John Erskine Bowles is heading to the Press Box to allow Schultz to play this time. That's about the only way the recalling of Schultz would make any sense. It did him no good to be a healthy scratch for three games.

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Hartley Gone

An 0-6 start isn't good news as Bob Hartley has been fired in Atlanta. So those of you who had Hartley in the "First Coach Fired" pool, you can collect your winnings.

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise as many different bloggers (too many to link here right now at least) saw this one coming. However, Mike Vogel makes a case (at least unintentionally) that GM Don Wadell deserves to be shown the door as much if not more so than Hartley.

But in the interim, Wadell will once again slide behind the bench and will try to make sense of this. But as I said before if Ken Klee is an upgrade to your blueline, it doesn't matter who you have behind the bench, it just isn't going to work. Hartley is nothing more than a scapegoat right now.

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For The Record

I have to say, these four day breaks in the schedule are a killer when it comes to trying to fill time on your blog. Even if I didn't have a day job, going out and covering watching paint dry practice just isn't my cup of tea. Now I'm not putting down those that do go out to watch paint dry practice but about the only way I would do it on a regular basis if I was a person being paid to do it.

Then of course, there are days like yesterday when there isn't any paint drying practice to watch at all.

Maybe this is why our comrades Mike Vogel and The Peerless went out and wrote about how everything will be fine this season. I don't even have to check, I know they're responding to the denizens of Darwin's Waiting Room more than anything else. However, just on the off chance some of this was aimed at me, let me remind them, I picked the Caps finish fourth in the Southeast and don't think this team will make the playoffs.

Yes, 3-2 is rather nice compared to the nightmare brewing in Atlanta (I saw the end of the game against New Jersey on Saturday night, and let me tell you, that's a loss that will take a long time to get over) and a good start is much better than a poor one. However, there are some very troubling signs from the past two games.

As I mentioned in the Post-Mortem Saturday night the transition game has once again disappeared. We can equivocate and say that the Buffaslugs are an elite Eastern Conference team, but that doesn't excuse the poor showing. Maybe we should lose to the Buffaslugs, but lose by four goals and get outshot by 27?

I also find it interesting that Vogel points out that the Caps are 12 for 12 in the penalty killing department with Boyd Gordon in the lineup and just 10 for 15 without him. First of all, IF El Gordo is that vital to the Caps Penalty Killing success, let's start the Frank Selke campaign right now because he should be a shoo-in. Secondly, this goes to another problem I pointed out before the season started about the lack of depth (though in fairness to all involved, that has more to do with the salary cap system than anything else. The Skins are deep trouble for the same reason, injuries are killing them and the cap prevents them from stockpiling any depth to weather the storm). Finally, Vogel undermines this point when he points out that five games isn't a good sample set for a team's start. Vogel (and others too) thinks you need about 15-20 games in order to get a good read on a hockey team. If that is the case, how you can judge the penalty killing unit and who the vital cog is on that unit after only 5 games seems a little silly.

Then there's the number crunching Peerless (who does a good job BTW) who tells that one game under .500 in October isn't a kiss of death. Yet by Gary Bettman standards, the Caps were one game over .500 in October last year going 4-3-4 and still missed the playoffs. Montreal was 6-2-3 under Bettman (6-5 in the real world, still over .500 no matter how you cut it) Toronto was 6-4-3 (6-7, one game under .500 in the real world, like the Rangers, Ning, and Senators who made the playoffs) in October last year, and they too missed out on the playoffs. Better, yet, at the end of October last year, the Caps, Candiens, and Leafs all had more standings points than the Rangers, Ning, and Senators.

Now this isn't to say that playoff teams and championship teams don't have bad stretches in an 82 game schedule. Anaheim lost 4 games in a row twice last season (only one of those eight losses came in a gimmick) and Carolina lost three games in a row once in 2005-2006.

But the here problem is two fold, it wasn't that the Caps lost last weekend, it was the way that they lost. They were standing around on the penalty kill on Friday night and Saturday they couldn't get out of their own zone. It was a flashback to the play of the past two seasons. If the Caps had played hard both nights and came up on the short end of the stick, most people wouldn't be looking to jump off the bandwagon. What makes it all the more infuriating is what took place the opening weekend. There was no hint of a poor transition game and the Caps were the ones bottling everybody up in their zone. We see the glimpses of just how good this team can be and when they don't do it consistently, you begin to wonder if the team really has the potential some say that it does.

But people are all jazzed up about this season because of the talk from the team that started last April and is all a continuation from last season. For over a year now we've been hearing from the Caps "we're going to make the playoffs" "we want to make the playoffs" "we expect to make the playoffs" but the play on the ice looks to remain the same. If the brass in the Caps front office think they had PR problems with the way last season ended, they'll long for those days if the Caps finish 14th in the Eastern Conference again this season.

Sure, things could "turn around" and we could stay on the three wins out of every five games pace that will yield a minimum of 98 points and safely secure a playoff spot. But performances last last weekend have to be blips on the screen and not the normal run of play.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Canadian Funding

In what has become a rather under reported story in the NHL is the continued strength of the Canadian dollar. For the first time since the 1970's, the Canadian Dollar reached parity with the U.S. Dollar almost a month ago and is actually worth more than a U.S. Dollar.

Now, I'm not an economist by any stretch of the imagination and I'm sure there are plenty of you out there willing to correct me on this but with the Canadian Dollar trading over the U.S. Dollar, the impact for the Canadian franchises in the NHL is huge.

While the Toronto Maple Leafs will continue to be strong no matter what happens, teams like Calgary and Edmonton will find themselves on better financial footing because while Canadian franchises bring in revenues in Canadian Dollars, they pay their players in U.S. Dollars. When the Canadian Dollar was weak, the Canadian franchises (especially in the small markets) were at a distinct disadvantage. Now that disadvantage has been erased and as a matter of fact has turned into a minimal advantage.

How long this will last is anybodies guess, but what this does mean is that Canadian franchises for the time being cannot lean upon a weak Canadian Dollar as an excuse for insolvency and go looking for a handout to get by.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Caps @ Buffaslugs 10-13-2007 Wrap Up

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL.com AP Wire.

The Other Side:

The Loserville...er...Buffalo News.

Final Thoughts:

Instead of piling on the Caps I think I'll comment on the Buffaslugs here. It is now apparent to me why the Buffaslugs have flamed out in the playoffs for the last two years and it is because of their high pressure, up tempo style of play. The NHL season is a six months and the playoffs are another two months. That's eight months of a demanding physical style. While I have no doubts that the Buffaslugs are well conditioned athletes, there is a breaking point or a "wall" that you will eventually hit no matter how great of a shape you are in. The lesson that is to be learned from this is that the season is a marathon and not a sprint. 5 down, 77 to go.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Caps @ Buffaslugs 10-13-2007 Post-Mortem

Don't worry Cox Subscribers, you didn't miss very much... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • A.O. continued his point streak to the start the season and has now passed the Secretary of Defense, Rod Langway, for 29th on the Caps All-Time scoring ledger. Next up at 28th is Dino Ciccarelli with 209 points.
  • The Caps were 39-26 on faceoffs tonight, winning 60%

THE BAD:

  • While it is way too early to call the free agent signings of Viktor Kozlov, Michael Nylander, and especially Tom Poti a bust, the Caps could not handle the Buffaslugs forechecking pressure tonight. These three guys, especially Poti, were brought in for their ability to handle the puck and retain possession, yet the if the Caps were not turning the puck over at their own blueline, they were turning it over in the neutral zone all night along. That more than anything else is the biggest reason why the Caps had only 10 shots through the first two periods and only 26 for the game.
  • The Caps inability to handle the Buffaslug forecheck also led to the Buffaslugs getting 24 shots in the second period alone. That right there is a game's worth of shots in only 20 minutes. While Brent Johnson admirably handled the onslaught for about 35 minutes, it was only matter of time before the floodgates opened up. Johnny giving up a soft goal (which turned out to be the game winner) didn't help either.
  • The Penalty Box Parade continued tonight and boy did the Caps pay for it. The Buffaslugs were 2 for 7 and had two long 5-on-3's.

THE UGLY:

  • As bad as it is to give up 53 shots on goal, it is even worse to give up 7 goals. Everytime the Caps tried to mount a comeback, the Buffaslugs scored again and any momentum was lost. While blaming Johnny for this game would be way out of line, he did not come up with the big saves late in the game when the Caps needed them the most.

I think I can safely say that whatever positives the Caps earned last weekend has been all but erased by this weekend. The transition game is still in tatters and as long as the Caps continue to be unable breakout of their own zone under control, this team is going to have a very tough time making the playoffs and forget about winning in the postseason. Sometimes the defensemen hold onto the puck too long, sometimes the forwards fumble passes or cough up the puck too easily, sometimes the passes from the defensemen are way off the mark. We saw this all of last season and just watched sixty minutes of it again tonight. The sad part about this is that the Caps effort was rather good tonight. There was some jump in their skates and the intensity was good. But the big problem was that the Buffaslugs were everywhere tonight. Until the goal barrage began I was thinking that the Buffaslugs were working harder while the Caps were working smarter at least on defense. But the Buffaslugs have too much talent and Caps gave them too much rope tonight.

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Caps @ Rangers 10-12-2007 Wrap Up / Caps @ Buffaslugs 10-13-2007 Preview

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times: penalties doom, Caps Report.

The Neutral Observers:

NHL AP Wire.

The Other Side:

New York Daily News. New York Post. Rangers.com.

Final Thoughts:

When even Larry Brooks says that the Martin Straka goal (which turned out to be the game winner) should have been wiped out by a "blatant" goaltender interference that wasn't called, you know the Rangers got away with something on the play. But in the long run it didn't matter because even if that goal had been wiped out, it would not have bailed out the Caps pitiful performance last night. We'll get to see tonight if the games last Friday and Saturday night were a true picture of what the Caps really are. 4 down, 78 to go.


Washington Capitals (3-1; 6 points) @ Buffaslugs (1-2; 2 points):
Caps Game #5, Road Game #4, NHL Game #63

HSBC Arena, Loserville...er...Buffalo, NY, 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Plus. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM. Loserville...er...Buffalo TV: MSG B, Radio: WWGR 55o-AM. NHL Center Ice: MSG B feed (my sincere apologies folks, nobody deserves that kind of torture from Rick Jeanneret. I do believe the Geneva Conventions should be amended to stop it).

Tonight the Caps are back at it facing a team that, like the Caps, are looking to cut down on the number of penalties they've been taking. The Buffaslugs were whistled for 13 penalties in their 6-0 rout of the visiting Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night. The Buffaslugs are adjusting to life without Chris Drury and that scumbag Danielle Briere (who now wishes to be known as Dani) and are off to a 1-2 start after dropping a home and home set to the Islanders to start the season.

What The Natives Are Saying:

Caps.com.

Open Source Intelligence:

The Loserville...er...Buffalo News: new center, Buffaslugs notebook.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

Two teams talking about cutting down on the number of penalties usually means that two teams played very lazy games the last night out. Either that or they were stuck with referees who were calling everything in sight. Either way, the danger here is thinking that because of the top end talent drain in Loserville...er...Buffalo that this game will be easy. What will determine the ease of this game more than anything else is the play of Buffaslug goaltender Ryan Miller. If the Caps can get to him early, they stand a much better chance at winning. If the Caps can't, they then need to hope that Brent Johnson can get off to a much better start than he did the last time he was in Loserville...er...Buffalo. The Buffaslugs are still a fast, talented, and deep team so the Caps could very well have their hands full tonight if Miller is on his game.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 1
Buffaslugs 5
Winner by Vanek

(1-3 on the season)

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Caps @ Rangers 10-12-2007 Post-Mortem

All good things... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

THE GOOD:
  • Congrats to A.O. who scored his 100th goal tonight and was one a few Caps to actually play a solid game tonight at both ends of the ice. Of the 25 shots on goal the Caps were credited with tonight, he had 7 of them, by far the most on the team.
  • Excellent job by Olie Kolzig keeping what looked to be a rather disinterested Caps team in the game with 38 saves.

THE BAD:

  • The Rangers hadn't scored a Power Play goal all season and the Caps hadn't allowed one before tonight. Should have seen the Rangers Power Play goal just 1:33 into the game coming from a mile away.
  • The Caps gave up 41 shots tonight, 20 in the first period alone.
  • Well the revamped Power Play went 1 for 4 tonight. But the one goal was more a result of a great individual effort by Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green and another great individual effort to finish the play off by A.O. Once again, the Caps are outshot on the Power Play 4-2.
  • 25 shots on goal for the night for the Caps and 11 of them came in the third period. The offense never really got on track and the much vaunted puck possession just wasn't there tonight. Neither were the breaks and bounces.

THE UGLY:

  • While everybody has been carping on the two goals allowed in a three game stretch for the first time since 2004, what they didn't tell you was that in the next two games, the Caps gave up 8 goals. By all rights, the Caps should have given up that much tonight with the non-existent defensive effort they put out tonight.
  • The aforementioned previously perfect Penalty Killers were 3 for 6 in the first period tonight and finished up 5 for 8 on the night. You might be tempted to blame the sheer number of penalties but the three scores came on the first five Power Plays. The best you can say about the unit tonight is that the Caps finished up strong on the Power Play.
  • Regardless of how well the Penalty Killers were not playing tonight, the Caps still took too many stupid and lazy penalties. That was something they had been avoiding until tonight.
  • You know the offense is bad when John Erskine Bowles is tied for second place on the team with 3 shots on goal.

For the second game in row, the Caps came out with little intensity and jump in their skates. They weren't just on their heels in the first period, they were just standing around and spectating for the most part, especially around the crease. While the Caps got away with a bad first period on Monday, they couldn't tonight and odds are very good that they won't tomorrow night either. The only silver lining in tonight's loss is that the Caps have to get back out there tomorrow night and can erase the damage of tonight.

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Only 25?

Well, the NHL has handed down it's sentence to Jesse Boulerice and it is a rather predictable 25 games.

Why is this predictable?

Well it is what Chris Simon got for his stick swinging last year and with teammate Steve Downie already serving a 20 gamer, I guess you could say that Downie reset the counter to zero for everybody.

But if you ask me, Boulerice deserved at least 30 if not more because of his past. Quite frankly I also think it is high time that these Head Coaches and franchises start getting penalized for this nonsense as well. Coaches would rethink their tactics if they knew they were facing suspensions as well if a player "reacted badly." We've seen the end of the bench clearing brawl because not only does the first player off the bench get 10 games, the head coach is slapped with a 3 game suspension as well.

And while a franchise like the Philadelphia Flyers can afford it, hitting franchises with huge fines will also increase the pressure to end this nonsense. It is bad enough that the NHL only makes headlines when somebody "reacts badly" but how much longer will it be before people stop paying attention to even the outrageous incidents such as this out of the NHL?

And to think, the Ultimate Fighting on Ice Fans love this kind of stuff. Sure, they condemn it with the rest of us, but they insist that more fighting will "clean this up" and that these ugly incidents have nothing whatsoever to do with fighting (except of course, fighting preventing them in the first place). Besides, if there aren't cheapshot artists running around taking cheapshots, then there's nobody for the "enforcers" to beat up on.

Simply put, we've tried it this way and it has failed. Nobody wants to see somebody get killed, yet that is exactly where we are heading unless the NHL gets serious about this.

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In The Spirit Of Diversity

A blogger recently said "diversify or die" so I am heeding that advice today with this blog posting about Algore's Nobel Peace Prize.

When the worst President (and Ex-President) in the History of the United States, Jimmy Carter, won the award in 2002, voting members of the committee flatly stated that they gave the award to Carter as a rebuke to President George W. Bush.

Despite the protestations of the Committee Chairman, the award has been handed out for political reasons before and has been done so once again today. Algore won his prize for his "documentary" which was recently ruled to be political propaganda by a British Judge.

Alfred Nobel must be spinning in his grave.

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Caps @ Rangers 10-12-2007 Preview

Washington Capitals (3-0; 6 points) @ New York Rangers (1-2; 2 points):
Caps Game #4, Road Game #3, NHL Game #57

Madison Square Garden, New York, NY, 7:37 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM. New York TV: MSG. Radio; WABC 770-AM. NHL Center Ice: MSG feed.

Off to one of their best starts in history, the Caps open up a back-to-back set on the road in the Empire state by playing the New York Rangers. The Rangers haven't gotten off to the start expected of them and are already preaching patience and things will take time. The Rangers not only face the undefeated Caps tonight, but will get the Ottawa Senators at home tomorrow night who hold the best record in the league right now. This could be a make or break weekend for the Rangers.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post. Times. Caps.com.

Open Source Intelligence:

New York Daily News. Rangers.com.

The Idiocy of Larry Brooks:

New York Post.

Neutral Views:

NHL.com AP Wire.

What Do I Expect Tonight?:

With three days off hearing about how good they are and what a surprise they are and noting the renewed commitment to defense, the Caps tonight walk into a classic trap scenario. They're playing a team that is complaining that it's offense isn't working and the defense isn't strong enough to pull the team through. The Caps are on the road again and will be without Alexander Semin this weekend. The Caps will need to jump on the Rangers early and cultivate their growing frustration.

Caps Nut's Official Prediction:

Caps 3
Rangers 2
Winner by Nylander

(1-2 on the season)

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

More Crock

Courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers (are you really surprised?) and Jesse Boulerice.

Now I'm sure the usual suspects of the Ultimate Fighting on Ice (UFOI) crowd will join the rest of the hand wringing crowd in roundly condemning Boulerice's hit on Ryan Kesler. There will even be a few that will once again insult our intelligence and insist that this has nothing whatsoever to do with fighting.

But as we learned when reading about "The Crock"...er... "Code" this summer the universal "Let's go!" sign is a tap on the shoulder. Any doubt's that Boulerice was trying to "call out" Kesler with a tap on the shoulder? Boulerice even said he was upset with Kesler trying to hit Flyers defenseman Randy Jones which is why Boulerice went after Kesler. (Because we all know that in the rough and tumble sport of hockey where there is nowhere to hide, you absolutely positively cannot hit another player without that player's explicit consent. And even then, it isn't allowed.)

And if you still want to attempt to maintain the innocence of fighting, notice that Boulerice's gloves are almost off after the hit. Boulerice wanted a fight with Kesler but got a little too amped up about calling him out.

Furthermore, Jesse Boulerice isn't any stranger to stick swinging and thuggish play. He was suspended for an entire year in the OHL for a stick swinging incident (he was also charged with assault).

Look folks, follow the tags below, I've said it before and I'll say it again that if you get rid of fighting, you get rid of the fighters and you get rid of this kind of nonsense. It isn't the skill players running around doing this stuff. It is the fighters. It is the thugs.

And now the NHL will for the second time in a month and for the third time in less than year hand down a double digit length suspension. It is pretty clear to me that 20+ games isn't enough of a suspension for these guys. Hades, the most recent suspension, Steve Downie's 20 games, was handed to Boulerice's teammate and even Boulerice's ejection didn't stop another Flyers thug, Ben Eager, from running over Vancouver's backup goaltender Curtis Sanford to set off a line brawl in the final minute of a 8-2 rout the Flyers were winning. It just goes to show you how much the Flyers listen to their coach.

That is of course, if you're gullible enough to believe that John Stevens is upset about this whole thing and said that stuff was no longer needed in a game that was well in hand. Stevens was drafted by the Flyers organization and has spent a considerable amount of time in the organization as a player and coach. Needless to say, I have my doubts about his contrition.

I seriously guess these UFOI people won't be totally happy until somebody gets killed. Even then they'll say, "hey, it's a part of the game, leave it alone."

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Picture From Opening Night

Submitted without further comment:




Credit to myself and myself alone...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Schultz Finally Sent Down

As I first saw from JP this morning (I had work to catch up on which is why I didn't get around to this sooner), Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz was sent to Hershey which is where he belongs if John Erskine-Bowles is going to play every night. And with the team at 3-0 and only giving up 2 goals on the season to this point, there's really no argument to change the lineup.

While Erskine-Bowles is no favorite around here, as long as he keeps his game simple and does not go running around looking for the big hit, he's ok as a 6th or 7th defenseman and nothing more. (Plus it is fun for the time being to point out that a hack like him is currently leading the reigning scoring champ from last year, Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist Cindy Crosby)

This also gives the Caps the ability to bring Steve Eminger off of IR if and when they chose to do so. Though again, here's another kid who needs to play if for no other reason than to showcase his talents for the trading market.

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