Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Smorgasbord 10-19

  • We rocked the red like no other this weekend with the Cadets, Terps, Caps, and Redskins all playing this weekend and have to say, we could live to 150 and never understand High School Football playcalling. Why you run an option on Fourth and Inches is beyond us but even more amazing is throwing the ball on third down with a seven point lead late in a game where you've been running all over your opponent. But we digress...
  • About the Caps first because we missed last night's Post-Mortem; we are willing to admit that Sergei #3 Fedorov has by far the best breakout pass of any Caps defenseman, when he's playing as a defenseman (which is sad), but there's more to being a defenseman than moving the puck and Fedorov seemed to be trying to play both ends of the ice last night which will only wear him down more as the season goes on. Some of the lesser lights on the blueline had "tough" games last night and Brent Johnson didn't do much to create a goaltender controversy. Otherwise, it was pretty much a typical Caps-Devils game that was a little more high scoring than normal because Brodeur is clearing slowing down. He was beaten cleanly on a couple of occasions but the Caps were missing with their shots (so what else is new?). We're interested to see how this plays out later in the year.
  • So two weeks after being shutout 31-0 by Virginia, the Terps respond by shutting out Wake Forest 26-0. First we'll say that the Terps were greatly aided by the absence of Sam Swank who gave way to Shane Popham who missed from 40 and 47 yards. Those misses were huge because both allowed the Terps to escape two Da'Rel Scott fumbles without allowing any points. But the Terps still played a good game against a solid opponent and came away with the win. The good news for Maryland is that they currently have only two unranked teams remaining on their schedule. The bad news is that one of them, N.C. State plays in College Park next week for Homecoming which means, everybody knew the Wolfpack would be bad this season.
  • After what had to have been the most maddening loss in many years last week; the Redskins came back earlier tonight to down Cleveland 14-11. An untimely turnover by Clinton Portis (who otherwise had an outstanding game with 175 yards rushing) made the game a little more interesting (and trust us, it was needed after that first half...). Combined with Jim Zorn's late game play calling luck running out (couldn't get the first down needed to ice the game so it was turned back over to the defense), the Redskins showed today the signs of a good team emerging. We have to say that we're impressed with the play of both the defense and offensive lines but still remain concerned about when they will fall back to earth as they are relatively thin and have turned in some real clunkers in the past, even this season. But for now, the Skins are 5-2 and should be 6-2 after next week's glorified scrimmage against a Detroit team that is in total disarray right now. The Rams were a trap that gave the Skins a wake-up call, the Lions however are as bad as their 0-6 record indicates.
  • BTW, that loss last week to the Rams doesn't look as bad now that the Cowgirls got spanked 34-14 in St. Louis. The Rams had a pretty tough schedule having to play two NFC East teams to start the season and had a coach that nobody in the locker room wanted to play for. The Rams shouldn't be a factor in the post-season chase but they clearly are better than the team that Scott Linehan lost the first four games for.
  • And before anybody gets any ideas, we did NOT go to the Redskins game today even though we were offered tickets at the last minute. And yes, that was A.O. you saw in the crowd during the See-BS broadcast sporting the throwback NFL Helmet. Too bad See-BS had no idea who he was (thank you Mr. Bettman) and couldn't play it up. We wonder what some of our Redskins hating brethren think about A.O. turning up in Landover two weeks in a row now? The only question we have is will he join in the "We Want Dallas" chant in four weeks when the Cowgirls come to town?
  • We took our first look at the NHL Standings and wonder if Olie Kolzig is rethinking his decision not to retire this summer?
  • Alright, this week the Caps clear out the Phone Booth for the Horse Show and head out to Calgary, home of the World Famous Calgary Stampede. The Caps play the Flames on Tuesday night then head down to Phoenix on Thursday night for a game against the Coyotes before wrapping up this road trip with a stop in Dallas to face the Stars on Saturday night. Should the Caps get four points out this trip, we'll be very happy. D.C. United finishes off its MLS season on Sunday in Columbus needing a win and a lot of help to extend their season but will play out another CONCACAF Champions League game on Tuesday in the interim. As mentioned earlier, the Terps will host N.C. State for Homecoming on Saturday for a 3:30 pm kickoff that isn't being televised. The Redskins travel to Detroit to face the Lions on Sunday at 1 pm.
  • As always, please send all comments, criticisms, corrections, questions, suggestions, and other goaltender goal highlights to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Caps @ Penguin Scum 10-16-2008 Post-Mortem

Return of the Rally Caps??? Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • Another game, another four goals. How long will this keep up?
  • 21 shots on goal for the Caps in the third period alone after a combined 9 shots on goal through the first two periods. No wonder they scored three times in the period to take the win.
  • Alexander Semin stealing the spotlight again from A.O., Evgeni Malkin-Lindros, and Canadian Diving Team Captain, Secondary Assist (another one of those tonight...) Cindy Crosby. We've long believed that with Semin it was a matter of desire more than talent. Semin could very well take A.O.'s MVP mantle this season if he keeps playing like this and stays healthy.


  • Poor officiating all around tonight. In the first two periods, no cheap call against the Caps went unmade and the crowning achievement wasn't the bogus Delay-of-Game call on John "Coach's Pet" Erskine Bowles which gave the Penguin Scum a 5-on-3, but the refusal to eject Malkin-Lindros for his boarding on Semin. We've seen lesser hits get a 5 minute major and a game misconduct but this only worth two minutes. We know if it had been the other way around it would have been a match penalty and 10 game suspension for Semin. Follow that up with an "anything goes third period" and you have to wonder what Steve Kozari and Kevin Pollock were doing tonight.
  • Matt "Omar" Bradley showed why fighting after scoring a goal is a bad idea.
  • The special teams certainly were "special" again tonight. We can't blame the Penalty Killers too much for some of the goals they gave up, one on a bad bounce and the other near the end of an extended 5-on-3 but Power Play was rather useless again. Not only should the Caps be in the market for a stay-at-home defensman who will make opposing forwards think twice on the attack but they need another Power Play quarterback on the blueline.


  • We don't begrudge Joe Beninati for wanting to do national television work. However, must the Caps use Al Koken as his replacement? Koken is so bad, he makes the crew look like a A-Team. Case in point, Tom Poti had 4:23 of ice time in 8 shifts tonight all in the first period. But Koken didn't notice one of the Caps leaders in ice time was missing until the third period. He constantly gets players names wrong and is just all around painful to listen to. Can't we get Mike Forens out of mothballs?
  • And depending upon how long Poti is out, so much for saving cap space as the Caps will be forced to recall a defenseman from Hershey for their upcoming Western Road trip.
  • Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore didn't have much to do in the third period tonight facing only six shots but that's no excuse for his bad turnover with two minutes remaining and the Caps nursing a one goal lead which led to a prime scoring opportunity for the Penguin Scum. Didn't the first goal teach him that the Caps always face bad bounces against the Penguin Scum? Why was he tempting fate like that? That our friends is the John "Coach's Pet" Erskine Bowles Bonehead Play of the Game for tonight.

Yes it is only five games into the season but we strongly recommend that if you're going to follow this team this season that you stock up on the Rolaids, Tums, Maalox, Jack Daniels, or whatever you use to settle down your stomach. You could tell that some were equivocating the Caps 2-1 opening weekend by mentioning that the Caps were facing a Playoff team for the first time in the young season. Well there's no equivocating the Caps start for now and they're showing the signs of a team who doesn't arrive to play until the second period. So folks, stock up, it is going to be a wild ride.

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

(Didn't forget that tonight...)


Monday, October 13, 2008

Caps vs. Canucks 10-13-2008 Post-Mortem

Darn you Alex Burrows... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • First things first, when the Caps set the old record for fewest shots on goal , which was 11 on November 3rd, 1995 against the Florida Panthers at the old Capital Centre, they managed to lose the game (typical for this franchise). Tonight the Caps set a new franchise record for fewest shots allowed and actually won pretty easily.
  • Adding to the fun was the chasing of Roberto Luongo. Luongo had won his last ten starts against the Caps.
  • Not that it will matter to his detractors, but we saw Jeff "Sergeant" Schultz throwing a few hits tonight in the defensive zone. We'd rather see that than Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green trying to throw hits.
  • John "Coach's Pet" Erskine Bowles gets his first healthy scratch of the season, the Caps get their first easy win of the season, and set a franchise record for fewest shots allowed in the process. Coincidence???
  • We liked that not only did Alexander Semin come to play tonight but that the Caps didn't spend 35 minutes trying to force feed him a hat trick and took 10 shots on goal with the game well in hand in the third period.


  • The Sergei Fedorov experiment of the blueline wasn't a total disaster tonight but we're not thrilled with idea in the long term. While we like the idea of Erskine Bowles being relegated to the Press Box where he belongs, we do wish the Steve Eminger situation had worked out better or at least the Caps were willing to give one of the younger guys a look.
  • Yeah, he only faced ten shots on goal all night, but Brent Johnson let the first one he faced go in and had some harrowing moments moving the puck.


  • Roberto Luongo:
  • We understand why, but counting Michael Nylander's Penalty Shot goal as a Power Play goal (because the Caps were on the Power Play at the time it was scored) is just downright cheap.

Lost in the shuffle is that the Caps have scored at least 4 goals in every game so far this season. The last time they did that was 1997-1998 when they started off 4-0 beating Toronto 4-1, 6-2, New Jersey 4-1, and the New York Islanders 6-3. 1988-1989 was the the only other times te Caps offense got off to a hot start like this. While we don't expect the Caps to continue to score this many goals, the fact that the defense could shut down an offense as bad as Vancouver's (those 11 goals in two games before tonight were against the same opponent) is a good sign. We only wish the Caps could have kept them from reaching double digits.

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


With Keen Insights Like This, He Really Belongs on a Messageboard

Just two games into the respective seasons of the Caps and Blackhawks and our old friend Larry Brooks has already declared the goaltending shuffle a bust.

Just to recap if you're slow (or Larry), the Caps matched Christobal Huet's demands before the UFA season started and UFA moved the goalposts, thereby showing not much interest in staying in Washington. On the other hand, Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore wanted to play for the Caps and (though we don't know for certain) very likely took less $$$$$ for the privlege. Funny isn't it how Ol Lar' talks about the cap being squeezed by the NHLPA's laziness this year but doesn't realize that the Caps are one of the teams right up near the cap. Had the Caps matched or beat the contract that the Blackhawks gave Huet, somebody currently on the Caps roster would have been gone. Finally, while Huet backstopped the Caps into the playoffs last year, he did it against teams that didn't make the playoffs and once he faced a playoff team in the playoffs, his play dropped considerably.

As for the Blackhawks, Khabibulin's numbers speak for themselves. You could say that he's "improved" since his first year in Chicago and you can also discuss the differences between the defense he played behind in Tampa vs. Chicago but the bottom line is this, he has yet to provide the type of goaltending you would expect for somebody who is getting paid $6.75 million a season. In case you didn't notice Larry, he was placed on waivers recently and nobody claimed him.

Don't you think that there are teams out there that could use a goaltender? Columbus has about $7 million in cap space and could have easily picked him up but passed. So could have the Maple Leafs. They went and got Curtis Joesph out of moth balls to be the backup this season.

There's a reason for that Larry, quit reading the message boards. They aren't insightful.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Smorgasbord 10-12

  • Well, once again a trap was set for a local team and they fell right in as the Redskins gacked big time today 19-17 to the previously winnless St. Louis Rams. We shouldn't be too surprised, the Redskins had played two very physical and emotional games and the Rams were coming off a bye week where their coach had gotten fired. Take a look at the stat sheet and you'll notice that the Redskins did pretty well. 368 yards of offense to 200, 22 first downs to 8 for St. Louis, and 181 yards rushing with Clinton Portis having 121 of those yards. You'd think the Redskins would come out winners, but the offense finally turned the ball over and boy did they made up for lost time. Four times today the Skins fumbled the ball and three of them were lost including the one that was returned for St. Louis' only touchdown of the day. Two interceptions were dropped and the five drives that ended in punts were because of penalties or other mental errors. Let's not forget, there's only one team in the history of the NFL to go undefeated in the modern era and winning seven straight (which is what many were predicting after last week's win in Philly) is very difficult if no other reason than the parity in the NFL. What should worry Redskins fans the most however is the severity of Ladell Betts' sprained knee. Without him, the Redskins really don't have anybody to give Portis a break and he becomes more vulnerable.
  • The Redskins weren't alone in "shocking" losses today. The Cowgirls also dropped to 4-2 with a loss in Arizona to the Cardinals. After some poor play on the part of Arizona to get the Cowgirls back into the game late, the Cards pulled off an OT shocker by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown. (T.O. meltdown in 3, 2, 1...) We've said before and we'll say again, we aren't sold on Tony Romo and the allegedly best team in the NFC now sits two games back of the Jints which translates to, solid Wild Card position. Though this loss to the Cardinals could be a tiebreaker that goes against the Cowgirls where the Skins loss to the Rams and the Iggles loss to the Bears aren't as likely to be tiebreaking factors.
  • Just when you think D.C. United is left for dead, they spring a 0-0 tie tonight in Houston. The winless streak has grown to 10 games now, but considering the state of United's lineup, we can't complain too much about the two ties this week. The only bad thing is that United could still sneak into the playoffs which would not be a good thing.
  • When the Caps were auditioning their Ice Squad, they mentioned an ability to dance, but clearly an ability to throw a T-Shirt over the glass and the use of a slingshot weren't on the list. Maybe they should have been...

  • We wonder what Slapshot is thinking looking at this display...
  • This week, the Caps host the Canucks at the Phone Booth tomorrow night then head up the Pittsburgh to face the Penguin Scum on Thursday night before hosting the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. This could be a rough week for the Caps because they'll need to get some points at home before heading out on their annual October road trip to make way for the Horse Show. The Terps will host Wake Forest at noon on Saturday on local syndication (It is cruel and unusual punishment to inflict Rick "Doc" Walker on the rest of the country, just the ACC viewers). The Redskins have a 4:15 kickoff next Sunday at home against the Cleveland Browns.
  • As always, please send all comments, criticisms, corrections, questions, suggestions, and captions for the above picture to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Caps vs. Blackhawks 10-11-2008 Post-Mortem

The more things change... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • A.O. finally got himself on track with two goals in vintage A.O. style, snapping a snap shot past a befuddled goaltender.
  • Jose "Alvin, Simon" Theodore got off to yet another shaky start tonight but found his groove and backstopped his first win as a Capital. Some of the problems remain communication but Theodore's confidence level was clearly very low early on but looks to be improving.
  • With some shaky goaltending, the Caps went 5 for 5 on the Penalty Kill tonight, no small feat.


  • The Caps can't keep getting off to a slow start. Hopefully whatever it was has gotten out of their system and they'll get out to a lead on Vancouver on Monday night.
  • The Power Play is already in mid-season form, 0 for 4 tonight.
  • The Caps had another block party, having 15 shots blocked and 10 that missed everything. Add them together and they're more than the shots that actually made it on goal.


Certainly a better effort overall tonight, but we noticed that the Caps were rushing their shots in the offensive zone. It seemed as if there would be two hand offs in the corner on the cycle and then the puck would go to the net. There were also way too many cross-ice passes through the box at even strength for our taste. We know that Bruce Boudreau likes to put the pedal down and go full throttle, but there needs to be better patience and not so much frantic activity. Of course, not having to play from behind would also be an immense help. But either way, the Caps won't get to an 0-3 start and that is a good thing.

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


Pitbulls without the Lipstick

As some of you may already know, Republican Vice Presidential Candidate and Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin will drop the ceremonial first puck tonight in Philadelphia before the Rangers-Flyers game. And like with just about everything else with Governor Palin, the response to this news has been measured, muted, and most of all very reasonable.

Our old friend Larry Brooks is in a lather over this because Flyers Owner Ed Snider's Republican leanings were not disclosed when this event was originally announced and claims that this event will be some sort of political rally for the McCain/Palin ticket. Even Ted Leonsis agrees with Larry Brooks on this one saying that "I don’t think it is a good idea to mix politics and sports."

Well, we've been to a few political rallies in our day and we can assure you that this is going to be one of the shortest and lamest political pep rally in the history of political pep rallies. Governor Palin will have a full minute, maybe two, of ice time in the public eye as she walks out, waves to the crowd, drops the puck, shakes hands with both captains, smiles for a photograph, waves again, and walks back off the ice.

She will not give a stump speech to the assembled crowd and anything she does say into a microphone will only be heard by the Greatest Sports Fans in the History of the World after they sober up and watch TV and/or listen to the radio later. Furthermore, none of the people in attendance tonight will be donating $$$$$ to the McCain/Palin campaign for the privilege of seeing Gov. Palin spend that one-two minutes in the limelight.

So what's the problem here? Well we happen to know the answer which is why we're here. First of all, before anybody squawks, yes, we're no fans of the Obamessiah and his devine ticket and in the interest of full disclosure; we are not too much higher on Senator McCain either. We are however very impressed with Governor Palin and do believe that she will one day be President of the United States barring a "Girls Gone Wild" photo surfacing (which would have surfaced by now anyway considering the incredible scrutiny she's been under).

The problem is that as Puck Daddy has shown us is that Liberal Hockey Moms and Liberal hockey fans have taken great pains to make sure that everybody knows that they do not under any circumstance accept Gov. Palin as a compatriot. And in fairness to the offended hockey masses, they are not alone in disowning her. She's long been noted for looking like a "Naughty Librarian" which is why I saw a "Librarians Against Palin" Bumper Sticker recently. Hades, the woman has been practically kicked out of sisterhood altogether because she isn't a fellow Liberal.

We mean come on, can't you see why she is such a detestable character and an embarrassment? She's had the audacity to have five children, including one with down syndrome when every Liberal knows that you maybe adopt a child and if you do decide to have one of your own, you immediately abort any that will become what some consider to be an "undue burden." She likes to hunt, fish, and do other things that are murder on your skin, hair, and nails. She also went out and built a political career on her own, taking down the old boy network that was hard at work against her. She didn't ride the coattails of her husband up the ladder of success as all great women in politics do.

But seriously folks, we don't see a difference between what will happen tonight and what happens at sports arenas around the country when a politician either already in office or running for office shows up to make what amounts to a novelty appearance. As a matter of fact, this town specializes in them. Presidents have long thrown out the first pitch in Washington, D.C. to get the baseball season underway, even in campaign years. And of course, fans have booed said politicians of all stripes at these venues. We were at a Bowie Baysox Game once when Bob Ehrlich threw out the first pitch during his campaign for Maryland Governor in 2002 against Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Nobody cared to complain about the "mixing of politics and sports" that night either and as a matter of fact, politicians are a fixture at various sporting events inside and outside of Washington, D.C. constantly showing up in the various owners boxes. If we're offended by politicians ans showing up at sporting events now, will we next target the lame bets that city Mayors make all the time between each other over a sporting event involving their cities?

This isn't a big deal and the fact that people are laying odds on various "potential occurrences" is beyond absurd. Was there a line on President Bush "throwing a strike" on the return to baseball in Washington, D.C. back in 2005? If there was, the people who placed a bet on that and Sarah Palin "running off in tears" need to seek help professional help immediately.

What this really is folks is our friends on the left showing once again how they as assiduously uphold the principles of tolerance and diversity for all which is what they're all about.

Labels: ,

Friday, October 10, 2008

GAME ON! Caps @ Thrashers 10-10-2008 Post-Mortem

You want sarcasm??? Ok, we'll give you sarcasm... Onto the Battle Damage Assessment...

  • It's only one game...
  • Despite being on the ice for two Thrasher goals (including the game winner where he was caught flat-footed) John "Coach's Pet"Erskine Bowles posted an even rating tonight.
  • 72% of the shots the Caps took tonight made it on goal.


  • Correct us if we're wrong, but we thought Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore came here because he wanted to help us out?
  • Bruce Boudreau deploys only one defenseman on the Power Play, and he's the only one of the nine players on the two units who can score a Power Play goal.
  • If we told you that we would hold Ilya Kovalchuk to just one lone assist and a -1 rating (one of only two minus Thrashers tonight) you would think we would win the game.


  • How often does A.O. have more PIM's than points?
  • While the Penalty Killing is supposed to "work" at a higher percentage than the Power Play, it isn't a good thing to have roughly a 38 percentage point difference between the two.
  • Once again, Erskine Bowles shows why he is so valuable to the Caps when he made the brilliant decision to step up in the neutral zone after David "Bolt Cutter" Steckel got the Caps within one with a huge shorthanded goal in the second period. As a result of the slow-footed, dim-witted defensman's gaffe, the Thrashers scored a Power Play goal just 20 seconds after the shorty and Theodore's night came to an end. That our friends is the John "Coach's Pet" Erskine Bowles Boneheaded Play of the Game.

You could tell from the drop of the puck tonight that the Caps were not only relieved but also clearly overjoyed to finally get the season underway and pick things back up from where they left off last year. But hey, since it is now impossible to win our first three games of the season, we can be spared the premature talk of a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Your 2008-2009 Washington Capitals Preview

Reasonable people may differ, but it is pretty safe to say that this is the most highly anticipated season of Washington Capitals Hockey in the history of the franchise. The expectations are as high as they were when the 2001-2002 season started and the Caps were introducing Jaromir Jagr into their lineup. But please forgive us if we see some disturbing parallels to the 1998-1999 Washington Capitals.

The 1997-1998 Washington Capitals surprisingly ended up in the Stanley Cup Finals, a place where nobody had expected them to be, after missing the playoffs in the previous season. The town had fallen in love with the team again and despite the disappointing finish, there was a universal belief that the team had finally arrived. A few cosmetic changes were made to the lineup with most of the playoff rentals being allowed to walk away and the season quickly turned into a disaster. The promise of the previous Spring didn't carry over, the team traded away fan favorites, and even Dishonest Abe got out as he sold the team to Ted Leonsis.

While the 2008-2009 Washington Capitals are significantly younger than the 1998-1999 team, there are things people need to remember. While the Caps improbably made the playoffs after getting off to a dreadfully slow start that cost Glen Hanlon his job, the Caps still needed a 7 game winning streak at the end of the season just to make it into the playoffs. The Caps beat 5 teams in that streak that missed the playoffs. One of those wins was in a gimmick, another was in OT to the worst team in the NHL last year, and another required an improbable third period comeback on the road. Yes, the Caps woke up in time to force a Game 7 but still didn't have enough to get the job done when it counted most.

Even more troubling to us is that the needs of this franchise have not been addressed. We give credit to General Manager George McPhee for keeping together a young and exciting team under the constraints of a salary cap. But who is the stay-at-home, shutdown defenseman that will cause opposing teams to worry about venturing into our zone? Who is the right side scoring compliment to A.O. and Alexander Semin? The Caps are hoping that a healthy Captain Chris Clark and Eric Fehr can get the job done up front but even when Clark was healthy, the Caps were looking for a scorer opposite of A.O. and Fehr has yet to prove himself at the NHL level. There are no new answers at least on the backline and the constant attempts to make a silk purse out of the sows ear that is John "Coach's Pet" Erskine Bowles continues to frustrate us.

The bad news does not stop there, vital cogs Mike "BEAM ME UP" Green and Semin start new lucrative contracts this season. Will they have the same motivation that they did a year ago? Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore takes over in net, but how long will his adjustment period be? Better yet, will he provide at least average goaltending? What will the sophomore slump of Nicklas Backstrom look like?

There are some reasons for optimism of course. A.O. of course is the reigning MVP and scoring champion. Michael Nylander is healthy and Sergei Fedorov provides the kind of leadership and depth that a young team like the Caps desperately need.

The biggest challenge however for the Caps are the high expectations and the pressure they will bring. Now generally considered one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, gone are the nights when teams will take the Caps for granted. If Caps get off to another slow start, will they disintegrate like they did last season?

The one thing we will learn about the Caps this season is whether or not Bruce Boudreau can live up to his coach of the year title. Opposing teams have had a full summer to look at almost a full season's worth of tape on him and his systems. Will Boudreau be able to adjust to other team's attempts to stop him or are the Caps talented enough that it doesn't matter what other teams do, the Caps will run their systems to success?

For the Caps to be successful, the Power Play MUST improve over last seasons inconsistent squad. The Penalty Killing was ok but improvement there is not nearly as important on the Power Play. Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann need to show that they belong at the NHL level. Jeff Schultz and Milan Jurcina need to have Mike Green like breakout years and Erskine Bowles needs to stay in the press box as much as possible. Theodore needs to regain his Vezina and Hart trophy winning form.

Last year we said that the Caps would miss the playoffs and while we were happy to be wrong, we still think that the Caps remain a playoff caliber team. But as we indicated last night, we aren't sold on the Caps becoming one of the NHL's elite teams overnight. The lack of salary cap space will make it hard to make the deadline deals that energized the Caps last season, so what you see now is largely what you'll see come April In other words,the pieces that are missing now, will remain missing all season, especially the piece on the blueline. At the very least, it should be fun and very well could end up breaking every body's hearts again in the Spring.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

2008-2009 NHL Season Preveiw Part II: The Eastern Conference:

And we march on...

Atlantic Division:

Pittsburgh Penguin Scum: (47-35; 102 points; 1st Atlantic Division, 2nd Eastern Conference, 4th Overall; Lost in Stanley Cup Finals to Detroit): Clearly they feel that it doesn't matter who they put around their star players, but that theory will not be tested much in overrated Atlantic Division even without Sergei Gonchar and that Scumbag Ryan Whitney

New York Rangers: (42-42; 97 points; 3rd Atlantic Division, 5th Eastern Conference, 9th Overall; Lost to Pittsburgh in the Second Round): Gone are old guys Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan. In are old guys Markus Naslund and Wade Redden. Some things never change though the Rangers identity becoming a little more clear.

New Jersey Devils: (46-36; 99 points; 2nd Atlantic Division, 4th Eastern Conference, 6th Overall; Lost to New York Rangers in First Round): One of these days Genius Manager Lou Lamoriello will realize that just Martin Broduer is not enough. Another team "putting the band back together," only Joisey can get away with it in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.

Philadelphia Flyers: (42-42; 95 points; 4th Atlantic Division, 6th Eastern Conference, 11th Overall; Lost to Pittsburgh in Eastern Conference Finals): Back with a vengeance last season but will have trouble repeating the performance again with just Steve Eminger new on the blueline. Unless of course the officials intervene...

New York Islanders: (35-47; 79 points; 5th Atlantic Division, 13th Overall, 26th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): Out is Ted Nolan and in is a youth movement. The only good news is that there isn't too far for them to fall.

Northeast Division:

Montreal Canadiens: (47-35; 104 points; 1st Northeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 3rd Overall; Lost in Second Round to Philadelphia): Should have lost in the first round to Boston but pulled it out. Carey Price is good but he isn't Patrick Roy, so will he last in Montreal because Patrick Roy didn't.

Buffaslugs: (39-43; 4th Northeast Division, 10th Eastern Conference, 18th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): Still bleeding talent but the upside is that everybody else in their division save for Montreal is worse than they are.

Ottawa Senators: (43-39; 2nd Northeast Division, 7th Eastern Conference, 13th Overall; Lost in the First Round to Pittsburgh): Ray Emery is gone but the downward spiral continues as they try to recover from one of the more spectacular collapses ever seen. Bryan Murray still doesn't have a clue.

Boston Bruins: (41-41; 3rd Northeast Division, 8th Eastern Conference, 15th Overall; Lost to Montreal in the First Round): Enigmatic franchise made the playoffs last year despite what were considered devastating injuries. Expected to seriously contend but aren't built to handle the pressure.

Toronto Maple Leafs: (36-46; 5th Northeast Division, 12th Eastern Conference, 24th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): Yes we took a shot at Coach Ron Wilson a short while ago, but you have to recognize that he'll improve this team enough to the point where they will contend for a playoff spot but not make it which will continue to hamper their rebuilding efforts.

Southeast Division:

Carolina Hurricanes: (43-39; 92 points; 2nd Southeast Division, 9th Eastern Conference, 16th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): Barely missed the playoffs for the second year in a row. You have to think they'll be focused for the entire season and some good health couldn't hurt either.

Washington Capitals: (43-39; 94 points; 1st Southeast Division, 3rd Eastern Conference, 12th Overall; Lost in the First Round to Philadelphia): We'll explain this more tomorrow.

Tampa Bay Lightning: (31-51; 71 points; 5th Southeast Division, 15th Eastern Conference, 30th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): New owners claim they'll win the Southeast Division this year but a more realistic goal will be finishing first in the state of Florida.

Florida Panthers: (38-44; 3rd Southeast Division, 11th Eastern Conference, 22nd Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): If anybody can figure out what this team is trying to do, please let us know. Thanks!

Atlanta Thrashers: (34-48; 76 points; 4th Southeast Division, 14th Eastern Conference, 28th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): How bad are things in Atlanta? They really are trying spend confederate $$$$$ for players. Not because nobody wants to play there despite having Ilya Kovalchuk and Kari Lehtonen but because they have no other source of funds... But seriously, nobody is going to be mistaking John Anderson for Bruce Boudreau.


2008-2009 NHL Season Preview Part I: The Western Conference

Sorry boys and girls, all we have this year is pith.

In predicted order of finish:

Central Division:

Detroit Red Wings: (54-28; 115 points; 1st Central Division, 1st Western Conference, 1st Overall; Won Stanley Cup): Back in the old "not rebuilding but reloading mode" is Hossa enough to cover for an aging backline and goaltending and fewer games against Central Division cupcakes?

Nashville Predators: (41-41; 91 points: 2nd Central Division, 8th Western Conference, 17th Overall; Lost to Detroit in the First Round): As if things couldn't get anymore chaotic for Nashville with their ownership situation the good news is that it doesn't seem to be a distraction. For now...

Chicago Blackhawks: (40-42: 88 points; 3rd Central Division, 10th Western Conference, 20th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): "New" ownership has revitalized interest and the team. However they're still a work in progress and continuing to overspend on unrestricted free agent goaltending won't help matters.

St. Louis Blues: (33-49: 79 points; 5th Central Division, 14th Western Conference, 27th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): A young team looking for a spark from underperforming and past their prime vets is not a recipe for success in the loaded Western Conference.

Columbus Blue Jackets: (34-48; 80 points; 4th Central Division, 13th Western Conference, 25th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): A franchise in dire need of a playoff appearance heads back to the drawing board with another infusion of youth and cast off talent from other teams. Will probably make it once the power shifts back to the Eastern Conference which means, not any time soon.

Northwest Division:

Minnesota Wild: (44-38; 98 points; 1st Northwest Division, 3rd Western Conference, 7th Overall; Lost to Colorado in First Round): They seem to have the regular season figured out but can't get over the hump in the playoffs. May have problems with roster turnover this season.

Calgary Flames: (42-40; 94 points; 3rd Northwest Division, 7th Western Conference, 14th Overall; Lost to San Jose in the First Round): We don't have much respect for Mike Keenan as a coach but we do know this, in the first few years with a team he does great things with the talent he has. A ton of new players to incorporate this year, let's hope they can give Kiprusoff some help.

Edmonton Oilers: (41-41; 88 points; 4th Northwest Division, 9th Western Conference, 19th Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): Still singing the small market blues but should have a shot at sneaking back into the playoffs with the drop off of some of the teams ahead of them.

Vancouver Canucks: (39-43; 88 points; 5th Northwest Division, 11th Western Conference, 21st Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): Roberto Luongo has to be wondering why the teams he plays for refuse to provide him with the goal scoring they need to win. There's only so much one man can do.

Colorado Avalanche: (44-38; 95 points; 2nd Northwest Division, 6th Western Conference, 10th Overall; Lost to Detroit in the Second Round): They bring back an impressive lineup that includes Joe Sakic and Adam Foote. Problem is, this is 2008 not 1998 and Patrick Roy is still retired.

Pacific Division:

Dallas Stars: (45-37; 97 points; 3rd Pacific Division, 5th Western Conference, 8th Overall; Lost to Detroit in Western Conference Finals): Larry Brooks' crush Sean Avery joins a team that is trying to emerge from the heavyweights in the Western Conference. Could be enough of a pest to get them over the top.

Anaheim Ducks: (47-35; 102 points; 2nd Pacific Division, 4th Western Conference, 5th Overall; Lost to Dallas in the First Round): It is now or never for Anaheim who faces a huge cap problem in the coming off season. Should have fewer distractions but the fear is gone.

San Jose Sharks: (49-33; 108 points; 1st Pacific Division, 2nd Western Conference, 2nd Overall: Lost to Dallas in the Second Round): We're not the biggest fans of Ron Wilson you'll ever find, but we don't believe for one second he was the problem here. Why is Roenick still hanging around?

Phoenix Coyotes: (38-44; 83 points; 4th Pacific Division, 12th Western Conference, 23rd Overall; Did not qualify for the Playoffs): Slowly but surely getting better and very, very glad that Los Angeles is in their division.

Los Angeles Kings: (32-50; 71 points; 5th Pacific Division, 15th Western Conference, 29th Overall): So inept, they couldn't even finish dead last overall with the worst roster in the NHL and could repeat that feat again.

Eastern Conference Coming up...


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Smorgasbord 10-5

  • You may have noticed that while we've returned, we haven't been very active. Well, the upheaval is ongoing but seems to be slowing down. Though wee were able to get our pooter replaced which was sorely needed before we could return to blogging. We also said we'd be back around this time and we like to keep our word if at all possible. However we are now working at a new place of employment (and being grossly overpaid) and have been blessed with a 45 hour weekly schedule along with the occasion "on call" weekend. Work comes before play though we have every intention of cobbling together a preview of the upcoming NHL season and the Caps. However, gone for at least this season are our World Famous Game Previews and Wrap Ups. Simply put, we don't believe we would be able to make it into the office on time if we attempted to read and digest for you every article written about the games before we left for work in the morning. Because our employer restricts internet access at the office and some websites take their time in updating their daily articles, we do not believe that we would be able to meet the slipshod standards that you've come to know and love from us. We still intend to do the Post-Mortems as long as we can stay awake after the games. We're sorry to have to make these changes because we know what has made us so useful is our posting of articles from other cities in relation to the games. But we'll try to overcompensate with additional pithy and sarcastic comments in the Post-Mortems.
  • And speaking of Post-Mortems, we thought about doing one on Friday after the Caps-Flyers pre-season game on Friday night and had all kind of pithy comments (well, we won Game 9 but still trail 5-4) and trotting out some oldie but goodies (Power Play already in Mid-Season form) but decided against legitimizing an exhibition game. Same goes for tonight's 5-4 gimmick loss to the Bruins. The good news about the Caps preseason is not the 5-2 record, but that the Caps got through the pre-season without any devastating injuries. Last year, Alexander Semin sprained his ankle and spent over half the season out/trying to get back into form. Nicklas Backstrom torqued his ankle before camp started this year but seems to have recovered, which again is the most important thing.
  • There was a considerable amount of blood everywhere on the Washington Sports Scene this weekend. We'll start with D.C. United losing yet again last night. We reiterate that this season can't end soon enough for United who are just a disaster to watch whenever they take field. What exact changes need to be made, we don't know but it is pretty clear that whatever they're doing isn't working and the constant adding and subtracting of players isn't building any kind continuity.
  • And speaking of soccer, we do admit to being kind of disappointed that the Caps are opening up their home schedule next Saturday night. If the Caps weren't opening up the home schedule this Saturday night, we so would have bought a ticket to the U.S. vs. Cuba World Cup Qualifying match at RFK Stadium this Saturday night. We would have been easy to find not because of our light-up stove pipe hat, but because we would have brought a sign that said "Defectors, Welcome to the USA! Line forms to the right."
  • The other big blood letting this weekend was down in Charlottesville where the Terps laid a 31-0 egg. There's no sugar coating this one and it is probably a good thing that the game was on ESPNU (available only in sportsbars around the country) because we don't know how much we could have stood to watch anyway. Renewed calls for the head of Ralph Friedgen and Chris Cosh from the Terp "faithful" were out before the first half even ended. What is the most troubling for the Terps is not that they don't know what the problem is; it is that they know that they play down to the level of their competition and yet still fell into the trap. Luckily for the Terps, there's only one more truly terrible team on their schedule and they'll play N.C. State at home.
  • And speaking of traps, the Redskins have set up a perfect trap scenario for themselves next week after today's 23-17 win over the Iggles in Philly. We'll talk about next week at the end of this but when the Skins fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter (thanks to a blown call on the punt return) we remembered a game when the Skins went up 21-0 on the Iggles at RFK in the first quarter only to end up losing. So while we weren't too surprised to see the flat start after last week's emotional win, we had a feeling that a comeback was very much possible. What was the most impressive to us was not the second largest margin of victory for the Redskins this season, but that the Redskins got the ball with 7:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and ran the clock out. Yes, they were greatly aided by Clinton Portis' run on 4th and 1 but the fact that the Iggles only had one possession in the fourth quarter which they entered trailing by two scores speaks volumes. The Redskins still haven't had an offensive turnover this year (and only one total) and Jason Campbell set a team record for most pass attempts without an interception. Now with the winless St. Louis Rams coming up next at home and with a new head coach, the Redskins could very easily be trapped now that they have every body's attention with their 4-1 start. That start by the way was the best you could have hoped for with a schedule of three divisional road games in the first five games on the schedule. Only Larry Michaels or a crack addict (same thing really) would have predicted a 5-0 start for the Skins.
  • No, we did not forget to mention that we saw the much balleyhooed Caps Ice Squad on for the first time on Friday night. Mocking these people is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel. Was it us or did the new M.C. seemed to get a darker sun tan between Friday night and tonight? Either way, she needs to lay off the bottle bronze. Furthermore, while it is bad enough we now have a Dance Squad we don't need Slapshot leading them in their lame dance routines. Oh, were the "professional designers" of the outfits Sears and Roebuck?
  • This week, the Caps open up the 2008-2009 season when they travel to Atlanta to face the Thrashers on Friday night at 7:30 pm. The Caps are home on Saturday night when they raise the Southeast Division Champions Banner against the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 pm. D.C. United plays out the string in the CONCACAF Champions Cup with a visit to Deportivo Saprissa on Thursday night before traveling to Houston to play the Dynamo on Sunday night. The Terps are off this week to lick their wounds while the Redskins host the St. Louis Rams at 1 pm.
  • As always folks, please send all comments, criticisms, corrections, questions, suggestions, and offers for discount watches to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.