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Caps Fan

After eight months together, Trotz and MacLellan ‘on the same page’ posted by Caps Fan

Last weekend, as the Washington Capitals arrived in Dallas long after midnight General Manager Brian MacLellan marveled at the mental fortitude of his employees.

After all those years spent scouting and overseeing player personnel inside the Capitals’ front office, MacLellan was learning the day to day operations. When serving as George McPhee’s assistant general manager, he popped in and out of town, spending most nights tracking teams coming through Minneapolis. But now, he was on the road, flying on the plane, watching the games, just being around.

“I don’t know how the coaches, for one thing, because they were there, and I don’t know how the players did it,” he said. “It was tough for me. You get to Dallas at 1, 2 in the morning, then you get up and you’re still thinking about the Nashville game.”

The old job also created an adjustment to the “managing” aspect of “general manager,” and for this, MacLellan could lean on his most experienced hire, once the longest-tenured coach in the NHL.

“Yeah, I mean, I think he’s awesome,” MacLellan said of Barry Trotz. “He’s great … If I had a rookie coach, it would be a lot different.”

 “He recognizes the areas of need and areas of concern down the road, not only this year but for maybe a couple years,” Trotz said. “We’re trying to think long-term and we’re not thinking about, you know, certain things that are immediate sometimes. You have to put it in perspective. Obviously everything from how our team’s going and what are we thinking in terms of where our lineup will finish to the trade deadline to needs, what’s out there, keeping us informed of stuff that may be out there in terms of for the trade deadline. He’s been really good that way. I enjoy working with Mac.”

Continue reading "After eight months together, Trotz ..."

Oilers Fan

Oilers score twice late, defeat Capitals in shootout posted by Oilers Fan

Not since early November had the Edmonton Oilers won consecutive games.

On Tuesday, trailing by two goals with five minutes remaining in regulation, it seemed they would stumble into the All-Star break without that modest winning streak.

But the Oilers scored twice to tie it, and then defeated the Capitals 5-4 in a shootout for their second straight victory.

"We can definitely take some positives out of this," Oilers coach Todd Nelson said. "It was a good character win. The guys stuck with it, but there are also things we still have to work on. Our power play has to be better than it was tonight (1-for-6). We had plenty of opportunities to get back in the game. All in all I think there's a lot of room for improvement, but we're happy with the way the guys stuck with it."

"Throughout the year we've been strong [at protecting leads]," Beagle said. "We've been working on it and we were a lot better. In the last three games, we got away from it a little bit. I think we take our foot off the gas and kind of let teams creep back in. It's a learning process and we've just got to make sure we learn from it and make sure this doesn't happen again."

The Oilers were the more aggressive team in the third period, and the Capitals certainly played a part in Edmonton's 14-5 shot advantage. Washington committed three penalties in the period and five straight between the second and third.

"It was a pretty weird hockey game," Nelson said. "[Purcell's] goal really sparked our bench and gave us an opportunity to tie it up."

Continue reading "Oilers score twice late, defeat Capitals ..."

Avalanche Fan

Old habits have Colorado Avalanche back in playoff race posted by Avalanche Fan

The Colorado Avalanche enter Washington to face the Capitals on Monday night just four points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is pretty remarkable given it’s the Western Conference and the Avalanche were written off as early as November. 

Truth be told, they never were that far off the pace: Five points away from the wild card on Dec. 1, for example. But they just seemed that far off the pace, because the punditry was right and the Avs’ style of hockey that proved successful last year proved unsustainable this season.

And yet here we are, with the Avalanche nearing a postseason slot, because they’re playing that same style and getting bailed out by the same guy. 

Semyon Varlamov is 4-1 in January with a 1.97 GAA and a .947 save percentage, good enough for second in the recent NHL player of the week pronouncement. Since returning from injury on Dec. 23, he’s faced 240 shots in eight games, and he’s yielded 16 goals, pitching two shutouts.

Conversely, the offense is getting going: The Avalanche have scored about their season average in goals per game (2.55) in four of nine games.

One deviation from last season's formula: The penalty kill. Colorado was No. 24 in the league last season at 80.7 percent. They're sixth this season at 85.4 percent. 

The Avalanche have been pretty great all season on the PK, but especially so with Varlamov healthy recently. He’s faced 43 shots; he’s given up just three goals. They were perfect on the kill in their last three wins, with Varlamov starting each one. The one game he didn’t start since his return? The Chicago Blackhawks scored two power-play goals against Calvin Pickard in a 5-2 win over Colorado. 

Continue reading "Old habits have Colorado Avalanche ..."


Caps Fan

Washington Capitals Strength and Weaknesses and Stanley Cup Chances posted by Caps Fan

The Washington Capitals finished the season 17th overall in the NHL league and also failed to make it to the playoffs. A few changes have been made to the leadership of the team. The main one being the departure of General Manager George McPhee, who had been with the team since the late 90s.

New Staff

The team has a new manager and a new coach. The manager has already made a few significant expenditures in acquiring new talent. The new coach Barry Trotz who was with Nashville last season, will hopefully deliver what Adam Oates failed to last season.

Power play is the biggest strength for this team at the moment, particularly if last season’s results are factored in. Washington Capitals had the highest power play in the league, a position they tied with the Penguins where both of them have a 23.4% power-play score. The score was exceptionally good, if you factor in the average score for the league, which was 17.9%.

Players with Potential

The team has a good number of players who can deliver numbers. In the previous season, seven of them registered double digits points. Two of the key factors in the team are Nicklas Backstrom

and right wing Alex Ovechkin.

Washington Capitals has a number of problems that they need to fix if they are to make it to the playoffs. One is that they lack possession. They lack depth and this is a problem hurting an otherwise good team. The other is that cannot seem to play consistently from season to season.

Conclusion

Given their history and lack of consistency, they are likely going to have a hard time making it to the playoffs this season. The change in leadership may prove to be a challenge as they struggle to gain footing in the coming season.

Continue reading "Washington Capitals Strength and ..."


Jeff Ponder

Meet the New Washington Capitals posted by Jeff Ponder

About halfway through the third period of the Capitals and Rangers series opener, Capitals fans started feeling the same disappointment that they have felt for the past few post-seasons.  But things changed in a hurry.

Alexander Ovechkin found the back of the net at 13:44, finally solving Rangers’ netminder Henrik Lundqvist for the Capitals’ first goal of the game.  The Capitals continued pressing for the winner in the third, but the dazzling play of Lundqvist and his defense would not allow any more goals in regulation. 

Alexander Semin struck at 18:24 of overtime, after teammate Jason Arnott batted down a Marc Staal clearing-attempt and slid the puck to Semin who one-timed the shot from beyond the hashmarks.  It was Semin’s first goal in 14 playoff games.

The most amazing part of Washington’s victory is that it was not won by swarms of offense by Ovechkin and company.  Rangers defenseman Matt Gilroy stunned the Capitals crowd early in the third to take a 1-0 lead, but after that the Capitals settled down and won this game by a well-balanced attack and commendable defensive play.

Washington goaltender Michal Neuvirth only had to make 25 saves on the night, earning the 2-1 victory.  Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik was stopped on four shots, and Gilroy’s attempt for the game-winning goal early in overtime resulted in a point-blank save by Neuvirth. 

The Washington defense limited Gaborik’s shots to jam-away chances in front of Neuvirth.  Capitals defensemen Scott Hannan and Jeff Schultz kept Gaborik from setting up in the slot most of the game, which will be key if the Capitals plan to win this series.

Continue reading "Meet the New Washington Capitals"


Jeff Ponder

Washington Acquires Milan Jurcina from Columbus and Joe Corvo from Carolina posted by Jeff Ponder

Rumors swirled that the Capitals were looking for another defenseman to make a serious playoff run; how about two of them?

Reports stated Tuesday night that the Capitals were in discussions with many teams about bringing in a defenseman.  The number one rumor (found on NHL.com) was that Capitals GM Mike McPhee was talking with Blues' GM Larry Pleau about bruiser Barret Jackman.  A deal seemed imminent until it was announced that Jurcina was brought in from Columbus for a sixth-round pick approximately ten minutes before the deadline.  It was announced a half hour later that the club also brought in Joe Corvo from the Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Brian Pothier and an undisclosed draft pick.

Jurcina adds size (6'4” 236 lbs.) and grit to the Capitals blue line.  The 2010 Slovakian Olympian has just one goal and two assists in 17 games this season for Columbus, but his ability to stay in the play and take the body is probably the most impressive skill that Jurcina adds to the team.

Corvo is more of the offensive defenseman acquired today, scoring 212 points in 468 career games played.  His offensive numbers are not impressive this season (4-8—12) but has proven in the past that his passing ability and puck control can more than benefit five-on-five or on the power-play.

The Capitals came out ahead in both deals.  Acquiring two quality defensemen for just two draft picks and a number four defensemen is not too shabby.  This doesn't mean that Columbus and Carolina didn't get a goodContinue reading "Washington Acquires Milan Jurcina ..."

Jeff Ponder

Washington Trades Seventh-Round Draft Pick in 2010 for Scott Walker posted by Jeff Ponder

If you would have told Scott Walker four years ago that he would be traded for a seventh-round pick, he may ask you how many you have had to drink.

Walker, the gritty 37-year old winger, will be joining his fourth NHL team.  Just three seasons ago, Walker accumulated 51 points in 81 games.  But how the veteran has fallen.  He has added just three goals and two assists in 33 games this season.  While he is not adding the scoring that he used to, he still adds a physical presence that makes the opposing defenses shake in their skates. 

The Capitals have added yet another piece to their 2010 playoff drive, and get the nod in this trade.  While Walker may not add the points to the score-sheet, he does address a team toughness and depth issue.  Plus, only giving up a seventh-round pick can't hurt too badly.Continue reading "Washington Trades Seventh-Round Draft ..."


Frederick Barry

Ovechkin Drops Gloves with Downie, But Bradley Does Dirty Work posted by Frederick Barry

There was no shortage of excitement last night when the Washington Capitals took on the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The best moment came late in the game when the gloves were dropped by Alex Ovechkin and Steve Downie.  Interestingly enough, Ovechkin and Downie never got down to business.

Things got heavy between Downie and Ovechkin early in the third period.  As Downie swept in to make a move, Ovie made a move of his own by cruising in to crush the right wing with a hard hit.  However, Downie's teammates contend that the hit was dirty because Ovechkin may have used his knee in the collision.

Tampa's Center Jeff Halpern said of the hit, "Downs makes a move. [Ovechkin] sticks his knee out, leaves his knee out there...it's not the cheapest hit in the world, but it's still a dirty hit."

That said, it was not a penalty and some players never even noticed the controversial knee.  Even though Downie didn't comment after the game regarding whether or not Ovechkin stuck his knee out, he certainly behaved in-game as if that was the case.  After the collision, Downie took a swing at Ovechkin who swung back, clearly ready for a fight to ensue.  At this juncture a fight was not to happen, though, as the ref quickly stepped in and sent both men to the box for roughing - a two minute penalty.

After spending time in the box the penalty was in the past,  but the mens' agitation stayed high.  Ovechkin and Downie shared some words and the intent of the men became clear as Downie threw his gloves to the ice.  Answering the call, Ovechkin followed suit and even removed his helment in preparation for the throw-down. Little did Ovie know he wouldn't have to throw a single punch.

Continue reading "Ovechkin Drops Gloves with Downie, ..."


Andy Charles

Ovechkin won’t change his ways posted by Andy Charles

You do just have to wonder how long a career Alex Ovechkin is going to have in the NHL if he carries on behaving the way he has over the last few weeks.

Ovechkin is about to return this week after a knee-on-knee clash with Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason in an incident that earned him a game misconduct, a two-game suspension and a knee injury at the same time.

The game’s most exciting player says the ban could only act to make him even angrier, and while that might be a worry for his opponents who fear him scoring at a quicker pace than he already does, it could be a bigger worry for his coach Bruce Boudreau and fans in the capital.

Boudreau has already had his say on Ovechkin’s style of play, claiming him to be reckless, and it’s hard not to agree with the veteran coach who continually has to worry about him being available on a nightly basis.

It’s not just the worry of injury as well, because the NHL’s powers that be will not look lightly on a player who could be seen to be going out on the ice with the intention to harm opponents – we know what has happened to players like that in the past and it has not always been pleasant to watch.

But while some worry, NHL Betting Predictions have Ovechkin down as easily the biggest draw in the game, regularly bringing out the rare attendees to games just to see what he is going to do next – he already has 18 goals and 30 points in 21 games this season.

But how long can he go on without an injury that is going to cost him significant playing time while he continues to throw himself all over the ice? And would Capitals fans be as interested in him if he was to calm his ways?

Continue reading "Ovechkin won’t change his ways"


Goon Squad

Legend Of The Goon Squad pt.2 posted by Goon Squad

Violence has been a part of hockey since at least the early 1900's. According to the book Hockey: A People's History, in 1904 alone, four players were killed during hockey games from the frequent brawls and violent stickwork. 

Early hockey in particular was noted for its extreme violence, to the point where two players were killed in three years during brawls.
In both cases, the accused assailants were acquitted, but these and other bloody incidents led to calls for the sport to clean up its act or be banned with the likes of cock fighting.

The worst of the violence waned, particularly with regulations for quasi-legal fisticuffs, though incidents continue to occur from time to time.

Billy Coutu was the first player banned from the NHL for life when, in 1927, he attacked referee Jerry Laflamme in a Stanley Cup game between the Bruins and Senators - in which several players complained about the officiating, supposedly at the request of Bruins coach Art Ross before starting an all-in brawl.
NHL president Frank Calder, the League's first president, expelled Coutu from the NHL for life on March 29th, 1929; the ban was lifted after five years, but Coutu never played again in the NHL.
Billy Coutu - an OG Supreme! (Original Goon)

Other incidents include the December 12th, 1933 event when Eddie Shore hit Leafs player Ace Bailey from behind.
Bailey never played hockey again.
Another OG.

Somewhat recently, controversy and criminal charges have resulted from violent attacks by Marty McSorley, Todd Bertuzzi, and Chris Simon.

Continue reading "Legend Of The Goon Squad pt.2"

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