Archive for the ‘2007-08 Washington Capitals’ Category

July 13th, 2008

Pictures From Camp: Capitals Development Camp

It was great attending the the Capital’s development camp this week. If you were there you will understand the tremendous energy and excitement for the team and upcoming season.

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From my vantage point across the ice from the stands I can confirm what everyone in the stands could feel, they were PACKED and there wasn’t an empty spot along the glass!

We have a bunch of pictures from Thursday and Saturday that we will be posting as we get through all of them. We now have our first group online, a few are here and the others will be posted to our complete development camp photographic coverage on our Flickr site.

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As always, if you are a blogger and would like to use our photographs please contact us.

www.flickr.com

Off Wing Opinion's 2008 Washington Capitals Development Camp (Allen Clark/OffWingPhoto.com) photoset Off Wing Opinion’s 2008 Washington Capitals Development Camp (Allen Clark/OffWingPhoto.com) photoset

 
June 18th, 2008

Blake Wheeler Heading to Boston; Phoenix Gets 35th Pick in ’08 Draft

After spurning the Coyotes contract offers, Minnesota Gophers forward Blake Wheeler has decided to sign a 2-year deal with the Boston Bruins.

Wheeler was the 5th overall pick in the 2004 draft by the Phoenix Coyotes. He spent a year in the USHL, then moved on to 3 seasons with the University of Minnesota. He chose to skip his senior year and go pro.

Because it has been 4 years since he was drafted, Wheeler had the opportunity to become a free agent instead of sign with Phoenix.

It’s an interesting NHL rule that seems like a lucrative move for many prospects. Instead of being stuck with the team that signs them, a top prospect can choose the team he wants to play for, and sign a big contract. The only problem is that the NHL puts a cap on entry-level contracts. An entry-level free agent must sign a two-year deal worth no more than 875,000 a season. Teams write in incentive bonuses that can increase a salary, but that’s the basic format. Phoenix GM Don Maloney had this to say about dealing with Wheeler;

 
April 30th, 2008

Boudreau Named Jack Adams Finalist

As Don Cherry announced the finalists for the Jack Adams trophy, the video board had three Family Feud-style sections that revealed the nominees. And sandwiched right between Mike Babcock and Guy Charbonneau was Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

While both Charbonneau’s and Babcock’s teams finished with the best records in their respective conferences, and both advanced past the first round of the playoffs, Boudreau can still be considered the top coach in the league.

While Babcock and Charbonneau have had full seasons with star-studded teams, Boudreau took a team of mostly average guys that was 6-14-1 and finished off 37-17-7, including winning their last 7 games to reach the playoffs. Over a full season that would have come out to 108 points for the season. That would have been better than Montreal and only second to Detroit.

The question comes down to “How do you define the best coach?” Is it a coach that keeps a great team running smoothly all season and into the playoffs? Is it a coach that returns a storied franchise to greatness? Or is it a career minor-leaguer that stepped up and turned around the fortunes of a promising team.

I’m just glad I’m not on the voting list. No man is a bad candidate, so it will be exciting to see who comes home with the hardware.

 
April 28th, 2008

Some Capitals Post-Season Housecleaning

Nothing says bad night like watching the Caps’ Game 7 heartbreaker, then going back to my room to write a paper due the next day. I think I’m still recovering. Also, it was a tough loss to swallow, but I would expect more out of Caps fans. I happened to watch the game at the Green Turtle with some friends who are Flyers fans, and twice on the way home Caps fans tried to physically fight them. I’m not grouping everyone in there, but in general it doesn’t reflect well. As much as it stinks, you’ve got to have some class.

Now to wrap the season up On Frozen Blog has the top ten storylines of the season for the Caps. While it might usually be tough to come up with ten notable things, this season was a gold mine for headlines for the Caps. Between Ovie’s dominance, McPhee’s trade-deadline day pickups, new coach Bruce Boudreau, and the drastic improvement of the team, there was no shortage of things to talk about.

Also, their first round bounce won’t be the last hockey played for 8 Caps this season. The World Championships are coming up, and several Caps will be participating. Says Tarik at the Caps Insider;

Mike Green (Canada), Cristobal Huet (France), Tomas Fleischmann (Czech Republic), Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden), Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Semin and Semen Varlamov (Russia) are all expected to play.

They are all standout talents that deserve to play on the international stage. An added bonus is that with 5 nations represented, there’s a solid chance that at least one Cap comes back a champion.

A few blogs, like Japers’ Rink and The Peerless Prognosticator are doing post-season breakdowns of all the players. I won’t be following suit, as they will do a much better job than I, and I don’t have the time at the moment. But right now the theme seems to be centers, so I will make note of it.

The Caps seem set with Backstrom and Nylander as their 1 and 2 centers, and Dave Steckel will be back, presumably with the 4th line. Corey has the offseason depth chart mapped out, and it shows Boyd Gordon and Brooks Laich also looking to center a line, while both are Restricted Free Agents. Add to that a few prospects hoping to make the jump, and the Caps are deep at the pivot spot. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Sergei Fedorov sticking around, even in a minimal role. His addition late in the season greatly boosted the team’s face-off wins and scoring chances.

Lastly, posts may be scarce the next few weeks. With final papers due and finals themselves this week and next I’ll be quite busy. So here’s looking back at a good season, looking at the rest of the playoffs, and looking forward to the mini-camps and training camps that will signal the start of next season.

 
April 22nd, 2008

Caps and Flyers Back in the District One Last Time

“THEY’RE GONNA DO ONE MORE!”

With everyone extolling the “score first” necessity of last night’s game, I don’t know if any of us saw the Caps coming back from a 2-0 hole. But watching the rest of the game unfold in a room with both Caps fans and Flyers fans was pure heaven. And how great was it to see Ovie silence the critics and bury a few to lock up the game. Yes their penalty kill was less than stellar to say the least, but for once we can just let that go and celebrate our boys coming back home to try and finish out the series.

Both Poti and Green were slightly injured in last night’s game, but, showing just how important tonight is, they are both playing. From Green;

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. They would have to cut off one of my legs.”

And to get everyone in the mood, Japers’ Rink goes over last night and tonight, and we are again treated to the video of Dale Hunter’s overtime winner in Game 7 against, you guessed it, the Flyers.

 
April 21st, 2008

Caps Look to Continue Comeback

One game isn’t really a big indicator of where this series will go, but the Game 5 effort put forth by the Caps certainly hints at what they are capable of.

Through the first 4 games the Caps were essentially dominated. They stole a win in Game 1, and tried to match the physicality of Philly the rest of the way, but they never really put together a complete game the way the Flyers did.

Saturday, however, saw a different Caps team. They stepped up their play physically and limited the Flyers’ scoring chances. With the exception of Hatcher’s goal late in the game, the Caps defense was pretty solid. Alexander Semin continued to step up his play, although it’d be nice if he tried something other than the toe-drag every once in a while. The Caps moved the puck well, and did a decent job of staying out of the box.

Now they just have to do the same thing in enemy territory. Game 5 had the Verizon crowd behind the Caps; Philly will be a different story. But as long as the Caps focus on their game they should be fine.

There are a few things the Caps need to keep in mind coming into tonight’s game. Corey notes that;

One of the notes passed along by the Caps PR staff is teams that score first are 33-11 in these playoffs, with the team in this series a tidy 5-0. Guess that means the Caps should try to get on the board first tonight.

The Caps Nut believes that “The Flyers will be pumped up playing in front of their home crowd and should be open to counter attacks early on in the game.” So the Caps need to take advantage of the Flyers’ over-eagerness while preventing them from actually scoring. A tough job I know, but it’s what has to be done.

Even the players know how important the start of the game will be, as Tarik has this from Matt Bradley:

“They are going to want to set the tone and get the crowd behind them. We know how they are going to come out, and they’re going to come out strong. We have to meet their push. The first period, I think, is going to decide who comes out on top.”

So everyone knows what needs to be done tonight. Now they just have to do it. And so for motivational purposes we look to the spectacular jobs of On Frozen Blog and The Peerless Prognosticator, who have dug up just what the doctor ordered to get the boys in red all worked up.

 
April 19th, 2008

Caps Allow Goal; Start 3rd Period With 2-1 Lead

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Photo by Kate McGovern.

 
April 19th, 2008

Backstrom Scores, Caps Lead Flyers 1-0

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Photo by Kate McGovern

 
April 18th, 2008

Caps Try to Right the Ship at Home

Well last night certainly felt like a kick in the nuts. The Caps finally showed the grittiness and teamwork that they need to win this series, and they still couldn’t come away with the win. They even dent Briere to the box 3 times. Huet played his best game of the series, making a pair of killer saves to keep the Caps going. (Video here, Check the times at 3:23 in and 4:45 in)

But in the end they couldn’t put it away. The good news is is that the Caps have come back from down 1-3 to win before. Their opponent? The Flyers. It would be interesting to see if Dale Hunter makes a trip down to the Verizon for tomorrow night’s game.

This is a series of conundrums. Ovie is relatively cold while Semin is giving back almost more than he’s getting from the physical Flyers. The Philly powerplay isn’t hurting the Caps as much as people thought, although it doesn’t give the Caps the right to take multiple too many men penalties in one game. But the series is not revolving around the big factors people had predicted.

It all comes down to this: the Caps need to clear out the front of their net. Nearly every goal the Flyers have scored, including all 4 goals last night, have been from between the hash marks or closer. The Flyers are banging away right in front of the net, and chances are pretty good that you’re going to bang a few in from that close. The Caps defense needs to step up and clear out that area. One good moment I saw last night was John Erskine pitchforking a Flyer out from in front of the net. You’ve got to get dirty, but that’s how you prevent goals from in close.

 
April 16th, 2008

No Love In The City Of Brotherly Love For The Caps

Where did the Washington Capitals go? It couldn’t have been them that I saw last night. It had to be some sort of hockey team impostors.

For starters, the Caps are just too soft with their passes. If they feather one more D-to-D pass that gets picked off for a goal, I don’t know what I’ll do. Maybe file a complaint for fraud, because a real hockey team doesn’t do that a half dozen times per playoff games. I’d take a crappy dump along the boards and a turnover near their blueline to a cross-ice turnover on our blueline.

I want to dress for the Caps Thursday night. I don’t really want to play, I just want to start throwing punches at Biron. If the Flyers run Huet again, I want to see someone, anyone really, on the Caps at the least fight that person, and at the most run Biron in retaliation. And for that matter, do you start Kolzig in Game 4? Huet doesn’t exactly have the best save percentage in the playoffs, and Lord knows Olie won’t take any of the crap Huet has the past 2 games. It’s a tough call, but I imagine one game for Olie would be worth it.

And you have to feel bad for the penalty kill. Against one of the top powerplays in the league the PK has been outstanding, but it has not been matched by the Powerplay. The PP has failed to do much of anything, and it’s coming back to bite them in the keister. They move the puck well, but how about we cut the passing chain a few times and rip some shots. Can’t score if you don’t shot. And I’ve said it before; I’ll take 3-4 decent shots over 1 great shot any day.

The Caps have today to work things out before they hit enemy ice again tomorrow night. Coach Boudreau has his work cut out for him, but hopefully he can patch things up and get his team competing again.

 
April 14th, 2008

Monday (Powerplay) Quarterback

Well yesterday was certainly a disappointment. The Caps couldn’t put together much of anything, and they were lucky to just lose 2-0. They tried to do too much on the powerplay, and it ended up costing them. The Caps could barely make tape to tape passes, and instead of trying to improve that they all tried to go through every Flyer by themselves. We all know Mike Green can do work on offense, but let’s be real, he’s not going to finesse his way through 2 guys and score. Let’s just hope he realizes that and doesn’t try to do it again Tuesday.

On the plus side Huet was strong in net, allowing only 2 goals on 41 shots. The first was a breakaway that was the fault of the D, and the second was poor backchecking and a bad chip shot rebound by Philly that went over Huet. Also, the penalty kill kept that scary Flyers powerplay off the board, going 5-for-5 on the kill.

The most interesting part of the game, and On Frozen Blog apparently caught on to this too, was when Pierre McGuire mentioned that the arena was nearly half full of Caps fans. This led to quite a bit of confusion as I read blogs from the game about how guys had never seen so few away fans at such a big game at the Verizon. OFB has a nice little vision test to help NBC’s man between the glass tell the difference between red and orange. It seems simple enough, but something tells me Pierre would have some trouble with it.

The Caps head to Philly tomorrow for a 7 pm start. Hopefully they can address the problems we saw yesterday, and come out stronger and grittier in the City of Brotherly Love.

 
April 13th, 2008

Final: Washington Capitals Fall To Philadelphia Flyers In Game 2, 2-0

Philly’s two first period goals were all they needed to defeat the Washington Capitals this afternoon, stopping the Caps’ undefeated streak at seven. “We can’t expect to come back from a two goal deficit every night, said Goalie Cristobal Huet.”

Flyer’s head coach John Stevens said this, “I thought our whole team played great.”

Cap’s Winger Matt Cooke looked at this way, “You gotta beat hot goalies in the playoffs to win. You just have to find ways and that means crashing the net or getting rebounds, you gotta get it done. We had enough opportunities offensively to win the game and we just didn’t.”

Cristobal Huet

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 13: Goalie Cristobal Huet of the Washington Capitals stops a shot by Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers during Game 2 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series hockey game on April 13, 2008 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allen Clark/OffWingPhoto.com)

More photos to come, be sure to check out this and other pictures from tonight’s game on our flickr page and also our Photoshelter account.

 
April 13th, 2008

Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers, Game 2 (Period 1)

Caps end the first period, down 0-2.

Nicklas Backstrom
WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 13: Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitalstakes a shot on goale against Martin Biron puck during Game 2 of the NHL’s Eastern Conference quarterfinal series hockey game with the Philadelphia Flyers on April 13, 2008 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allen Clark/OffWingPhoto.com)

More photos to come, be sure to check out this and other pictures from tonight’s game on our flickr page and also our Photoshelter account.

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April 11th, 2008

Capitals v. Flyers: OVIE Scores Game Winner

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Alex Ovechkin: “We don’t panic. We just keep it going, play our way and we gather it up. They beat us first and second period, but third period, we played our game and we don’t give them any chances.”

Photo by Ellen Blanchard

More photos to come plus be sure to check out this and other pictures from tonight’s game on our flickr page and also our Photoshelter account

 
April 11th, 2008

Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers (Period 3)

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Photo by Ellen Blanchard

More photos to come plus be sure to check out this and other pictures from tonight’s game on our flickr page and also our Photoshelter account

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April 11th, 2008

Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers (Period 2)

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Photo by Ellen Blanchard

More photos to come plus be sure to check out this and other pictures from tonight’s game on our flickr page and also our Photoshelter account

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April 11th, 2008

Washington Capitals v. Philadelphia Flyers (Period 1)

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Photo by Ellen Blanchard

More photos to come plus be sure to check out this and other pictures from tonight’s game on our flickr page and also our Photoshelter account

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April 11th, 2008

Capitals-Flyers Finally Under Way

After what seems like an eternity for Caps fans, their first round series against Philly gets underway tonight. Over the past week we’ve broken down goaltending, defense, and offense, and the results fail to clear up anything. Both teams play different styles of hockey, but neither really has the advantage in the series. Some pundits have called for the Caps to win the series in 6 or 7 games, while others think Philly will take it.

If anything this will be an exciting series. Both teams do have explosive offenses and quality netminders, which will lead to heaps of scoring chances, and some spectacular saves I’m sure. When asked about the Flyers trying to knock Ovechkin off his game, Boudreau noted that;

“We’ve seen what happens when he gets into it and plays physical. It doesn’t hurt him as much it might hurt other players. Montreal played physical [against him] and he scored four goals. Guys are going to come at him, but I don’t want to stop Alex in any way. That’s the way he plays.”

On an interesting note, Mike Green went down to DC101 radio studios to get a playoff mohawk. I’m not quite sure that will catch on, but there is one other fashion style that the Caps will get to see for the first time in a while: the playoff beard. While some, like Ovechkin, sport the scraggly look normally, it will be fun to see some of the other guys putting a little scruff on.

For some pre-game inspiration, we’ve got several ideas.

From On Frozen Blog, a montage of the season set to a great song.
A pair of Caps promo videos, with some great tracks (here and here)

And finally, we’ll leave you with a simple question from Japers’:

“Are you Red-y?”

I know I am…

 
April 8th, 2008

Caps Defense Benefits From Friday Start

We all know that the Caps have an explosive offense, and part of their remarkable turnaround has been a jump in goals-per-game. But another big contributor this season has been their defense, which was reinforced with the pickup of Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline. But with both Shaone Morrisonn and Jeff Schultz listed as day-to-day, the Caps are currently with only 4 healthy, regular blueliners – Green, Poti, Erskine, and Jurcina – although some may not count Erskine as any help. And with the offense pretty even, it looks like the series may come down to defense.

Did you get all that?

Morrisonn has been a big loss as he has spent most of the season paired with Green as the top D pairing. In an article by Tarik back in January, Coach Boudreau noted that “Shaone Morrisonn deserves a lot of the credit for allowing Mike Green to do what he’s doing. Shaone is the constant security blanket back there.” Credit Green and Boudreau for making things work with his mix of new partners, but the lack of Morrisonn out there is still noticeable.

Jeff Schultz has been a solid lockdown defenseman, with a +12 on the season, including being a +6 in the Caps last 12 games. Much like Morrisonn with Green, Schultz’ pairing with Tom Poti has allowed Poti to move the puck forward when need be without being a risk.

According to Corey, both Schultz and Morrisonn skated a workout session after the team left the ice today, and may be ready in time for Friday’s game.

Both termed their status day to day, but they obviously hope to benefit from the series not starting until Friday. Schultz admitted his status would be dicey if the series started Wednesday night.

If they come back and the Caps have their normal blueliners for the first round, Caps Chick puts the defensive advantage firmly on the Caps’ side. The good thing for the Caps is that both Eminger and Lepisto are solid fill-ins, so there shouldn’t be any significant drop-off should Morrisonn and Schultz miss a game or two.

So while every other series kicks off Wednesday or Thursday, the Caps can prepare for an extra day, and get an extra night’s sleep before suiting up for game 1 in their own building. And what a rocking building it will be.

 
April 7th, 2008

Monday’s Blogging Roundup

It’s gonna be a long week for Caps fans. To pass the time, you might want to jump over to On Frozen Blog and relive the final week of the Caps’ regular season. According the the schedule, the Caps don’t kick off until Friday night. On the plus side, Versus and NBC have tagged this as the series to watch in the East, so the first 6 games will be televised nationally on either Versus or NBC.

If anyone wants to think of the first round as a matchup that’s been decades in the making, “But as I’m sure you’ve noticed, it has been 19 years since the Caps and Flyers met and 20 years since the Caps last eliminated Philadelphia from the playoffs.”

CapsChick breaks down the offenses of both teams, and the conclusion is that, while distinct, they’re pretty even. Philly comes in with their scoring spread among several players, which makes shutting down one or two guys less of a factor for Washington. It also means they don’t have that one go-to guy in the clutch. The Caps offense is the opposite, revolving around Ovechkin and, to a lesser extent, Backstrom and Green. On paper if Philly shuts them down, the Caps will have trouble scoring. But we’ve seen this season that it’s not that easy to shut down those guys. Bottom line, and I agree with Caps Chick, is that while both teams come into this series with different scoring makeups, they are pretty even.

And on defense, it sounds like both Schultz and Morrisonn might be playing in game 1 on Friday night. According to Tarik;

If one or both are unable to play, however, the Caps will have to make a recall, which would likely be Josef Boumedienne or maybe prospect Sami Lepisto. Just in case, it’s possible one or both could be at practice tomorrow.

Finally, in anticipation of Rockin’ the Red, or making it a Red Out, or whatever the Caps decide to call it for the playoffs, The Peerless takes a historical look at the color of blood and fire.

 
April 4th, 2008

Photos From Caps vs. Tampa Bay

Fans of Alex Ovechkin

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 3: Fans of the Washington Capitals celebrate after Alex Ovechkin’s 65th goal of the season during a NHL hockey game with the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 3, 2008 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allen Clark/OffWingPhoto.com)

Alex Ovechkin

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 3: Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates following his second goal of the night during a NHL hockey game with the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 3, 2008 at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. (Photo by Allen Clark/OffWingPhoto.com)

See more photos from the game soon by visiting our Photoshelter gallery or our Flickr gallery.

If you are a blogger and would like to use our photographs please contact us.

Photos by Allen Clark/Offwingphoto.com

 
April 3rd, 2008

Coincidental Contact?

Early in the game a Capitals goal against Tampa Bay was waved off due to “coincidental contact”. The call looked a little shady and both the fans and the guys in the press box thought it should have been a goal.

“I worry that we’re going to lose the physicality of the game. We have to find that fine line of eliminating the cheating, but still allowing the coincidental contact and the one-and-one battles in the corners that make this game great. I talk to (Stephen Walkom) all the time. He’s a good man and we’re all trying to figure it out.”

That quote
is from none other than Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella. Something tells me he doesn’t have a problem with coincidental contact now.

 
April 3rd, 2008

Hockey Night in Washington; Caps vs. Bolts

The press box is a little less crowded tonight, as the large contingent of bandwagon writers have apparently decided not to stick it out here. It seems the arena is a little thinner than Tuesday as well, and it certainly doesn’t look like we’ll have a sellout. On the other hand, I’ve been told that Saturday night’s game is already a sellout.

Tonight will be about the special teams. Tampa’s powerplay goes through St. Louis or Lecavalier, while the Caps scoring is a little more spread out, with Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, and Semin getting at least 19 points each. The Caps have the 6th best home powerplay percentage in the league, while the Bolts have the 22nd best road percentage. So if the Caps can capitalize on their opportunities while a man up, they should be in position to get the W.

It will also be interesting to see if the Caps come out with the same intensity they had Tuesday night. The crowd, at least so far, isn’t as big, and the rivalry tonight isn’t as strong as Caps-Canes. Last time these teams played the Caps needed overtime to pull out the win. Let’s hope tonight they finish things off a little sooner. So with all that said, it’s about 10 minutes until the puck drops. So LET’s GO CAPS!

Update: While there’s definitely less people than Tuesday night, the crowd is nearly as loud. Looks like it’s going to be a good night.

Game Summary after the jump…

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April 3rd, 2008

Thursday’s Blogging Roundup

Per order of the boss himself, the RED OUT has been extended for the final two games of the season. While just plain old looks bada**, there’s also evidence that shows it gives our boys a winning edge.

The anthropologists surveyed four sports at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece, and found that

 
April 2nd, 2008

Wednesday’s Blogging Roundup

What a win last night. Where do I start? Well to start things off, both the seats in the arena and the seats in the press box were chock full, as the crowd was a sellout and the addition of so many bandwagon reporters filled the press box to capacity. While many people have just caught on to the Caps, those of us who have been following the team all season have had the feeling that the finish would be this close. In fact, The Peerless’ playoff meter won’t be changing from “elevated” until after the final regular season NHL game has been played – that I’m sure of.

While it was mentioned last night, everyone is still talking about the playoff atmosphere in the building. CapsChick nailed down exactly how it felt last night.

And then there was the crowd. The mythological 7th man, if you will, loud and boisterous and primed for battle before the puck even dropped…It wasn’t just the sheer volume of the crowd or the fact that everyone seemed to buy into the “Red Out”, although the impact of those things in combination should not be overlooked…But it was the dull roar during the offensive rush, the applause for the simple act of clearing a puck, the oohs and aahs and groans when a brilliant play connected or went awry.

It was the hearty boos for the Hurricanes when they stepped onto the ice, and the resounding cheers when a Cap planted the opposition into the boards. It was the standing ovation at the end of the first. And the second. And the third.

And I had to cut out a lot of praise. Odes could be penned about last night’s crowd. I’ve never been to an NHL playoff game, but I can only imagine that’s what it feels like. It’s a feeling I’d like to experience more of.

On Frozen Blog and The Peerless have postgames of their own, with both making one amusing comment I too noticed last night. In a sea of red, the reddest one of all just might have been Carolina coach Peter Laviolette.

 
April 1st, 2008

Hockey Night in Washington; Caps vs. Canes

Welcome everybody, as the Carolina Hurricanes come into town to face our Washington Capitals. With the ice surface being put back in so recently, neither team had a chance to partake in a morning skate at the Verizon. With our boys being able to skate at Kettler, hopefully that gives us a little bit of an edge coming into tonight’s game.

It’s clear that the fans have gotten the note about filling the arena with red. Down by the glass during warmups red jerseys and t-shirts fill the lower parts of the sections, while the upper areas are starting to fill in with red. And apparently the Canes fans heard, because I’ve seen a whole lot more white jerseys than red for them.

As the warmup wraps up Semin, Ovie, and Green are still working on the ice, and Kolzig is talking to Coach Prior by the bench. Then the buzzer sounds, and the 4 of them join the rest of the team in the locker room. After all the hype coming into this game, we’re only about 15 minutes away from the puck drop. All we can do now is wait…

Games notes after the jump.

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April 1st, 2008

Tuesday’s Blogging Roundup/Caps vs. Canes

Christmas came early this year. Or late, I’m still not sure. But Eric just called me asking if I could step in for him at tonight’s game. Hmmmm. The biggest game of the season. Let me check my schedule. Let’s see…life-saving surgery at 6:30. Well we can push that to sometime later this week. Because tonight’s game is automatically more important than anything anyone anywhere has to do – except for Eric, but I guess we can let that slide. As OFB puts it;

Incredible as it may seem,…the Washington Capitals tonight are playing their most important hockey game since the Stanley Cup finals of 1998. At home.

Both teams are hot. The Caps are 8-1 over their last 9, the only blemish a 5-0 loss to Chicago. The Canes are an equally impressive 12-3-1 over their last 16 games. The only thing that could tip the favor is that the Caps beat Carolina 3-2 just a week ago.

So lets see how the Caps and Canes stack up on the ice.

Goalies

While the Canes may have a goalie tied for 4th in wins, he is also 30th in GAA (2.72) and 33rd in SV% (.905). Japers’, on the other hand, breaks down how the Caps are between the pipes.

Of course, Cristobal Huet gives the Caps a chance to win even if they do run into some discipline problems – he’s 8-2-0 with a 1.82 GAA and .931 save percentage since arriving in D.C. But if the Caps can stay out of the box, it’s likely game over for Carolina – Huet’s GAA and SV% at even strength since coming to town are a staggering 1.04 and .954, respectively, as he hasn’t allowed a single even strength goal against in half of his starts as a Cap and has allowed only nine even strength goals overall in ten games.

Edge: Caps: Huet has been lockdown since coming to Washington.

Forwards

Canes: Three of the Canes’ top 5 forwards are out – although one may be back tonight – but the duo of Eric and Erik have been picking up the slack. Even Sergei Samsonov has been pitching in, although he has been cool of late with 1 point in 4 games. Beyond that they are getting a little help from guys like Scott Walker and Tuomo Ruutu.

Caps: Everyone knows the offense revolves around Ovechkin. He has elevated the play of those around him, and Nicklas Backstrom and Viktor Kozlov have been having huge seasons. There is a bigger disparity in scoring between Ovie and the rest of the Caps than there is between Staal and the rest of the Canes. But the Caps have been picking up their play late in the season, and Kozlov, new addition Federov, and Laich, among others, are playing bigger and better than their numbers indicate.

Edge: Draw. Washington is better at the top-end, but Carolina has a more balanced attack.

Defense

Carolina: has beefed up the offensive aspect to their D with the acquisition of Joe Corvo. He automatically became the biggest point-getter on the Carolina blueline. Frantisek Kaberle has also been a help on the offensive side of the puck. Corvo is also a plus-19 (with plus-6 coming with Carolina), while Bret Hedican is a plus-18.

Caps: Mike Green has emerged as a solid offensive defenseman this season. He is tied for the league lead in goals among defenseman, and is top-10 in points. His pairing with Shaone Morrisonn allows him to push up and not get burned, giving him the confidence to do his thing. Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz have been a solid #2 pairing, and Poti has improved his work on the powerplay tenfold since the start of the season. Erskine and Jurcina round out the D. While both have less than 10 points, neither have a plus-minus in the red.

Edge: Caps: Corvo and Green are the same type of defenseman, but the Caps have a little more depth. This allows them to choose the right pair depending on the situation.

Coaching

Canes: Peter Laviolette has led Carolina to a Stanley Cup, and has done a great job of getting the most out of his boys after losing leader Brind’Amour.

Caps: Everyone knows what Coach Boudreau has gone through to get here. And he has taken a team from last in the league to within reach of the Southeast Division title. He has rejuvinated a team left for dead at Thanksgiving. If the Caps make the playoffs there are several experts who agree that BB has a shot at winning Coach of the Year.

Edge: Caps: Boudreau has been a lifesaver for this team. It’s questionable whether anyone else could have done what he has this season.

So when it’s all said and done, it looks like the Caps have a solid advantage. But since the game is not played on paper, we’ll have to wait until tonight to see if that translates into an advantage on the ice. The energy will be high, and the building will be electric. So don’t forget your red, and LET’S GO CAPS!!!

 
March 31st, 2008

Monday’s Blogging Roundup

The good news is as the games become less and less, the Caps’ playoff math becomes easier and easier. If they win out, and either the Canes, Bruins, Flyers, or Sens lose at least two, the Caps are in. If you want to get more technical you can, but that’s the simple breakdown.

This all starts with tomorrow night’s game against Carolina. According to Corey;

There was a pretty common theme with the players in the room after practice. It doesn’t matter if they are young, old or in between, there is a lot of anticipation and excitement about tomorrow night. Brooks Laich laid out the scenario pretty well, saying if they win tomorrow there is a good chance they will make the playoffs, but if they don’t it will be awfully, awfully tough.

Tarik echoes that sentiment, noting that;

I just left the dressing room here at KCI, and if there’s any tension, I sure didn’t feel it. The Caps looked and sounded loose and excited about the challenge that is before them.

Hopefully being loose and ready is the key to victory. It’s nice to see they aren’t getting too wound up beforehand. But don’t be fooled, when it’s time to drop the puck they will be hungry for blood.

 
March 28th, 2008

Friday’s Blogging Roundup

Another game, another close win for the Caps. After quick goal off the faceoff by Semin to tie things at 4 late in the 3rd, Flash nets what might as well be an empty netter in OT for the W. Semin’s goal just goes to show how important Federov has been in the faceoff circle for the Caps since his acquisition.

The general consensus is that the Caps didn’t play with any sense of desperation last night. Here’s what some of our favorite bloggers thought about the game.

It was a game that included stretches of the Caps outplaying their opponent intertwined with stretches where they looked either disinterested or hemmed in.
Caps Chick

It didn’t seem to me that the Caps were playing with a whole lot of desperation last night. The Caps certainly weren’t flat but seemed content to just match the Ning’s level of play. Twice in the third period, the Caps were beaten to icing touch ups in their own end. That’s a sure sign that a team isn’t playing hard enough.
Caps Nut

There was a curious lack of urgency in the Caps

 
March 27th, 2008

Thursday’s Blogging Roundup

If we just went through “Super Tuesday”, what does that make tonight? Philly is off, but Boston goes up against Toronto in the back half of a home-and-home, while the Caps are down in Tampa Bay. Florida and Buffalo also play, but if anyone on the Caps is worrying about them they should be reminded who they’re chasing, not who’s behind them.

According to JP, the Bolts are doing everything they can to tank the rest of the season without making it look obvious. And it’s not like the Bolts are playing that well to begin with. The Peerless breaks down their shortcomings, which seem to be in nearly every statistical category. These won’t exactly be an easy 2 points, but they are well within reach for the Caps. With every game an elimination game for them, they have to come out hard and play to win. You can’t lose when you give 100% every shift. According to Tarik, Huet will get the start, and Cooke will add some forechecking power to the 2nd line. So now that we’re set, let’s go Caps.