Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Hockey New Year!

Hockey Mom wants to wish all of you great hockey fans out there a very happy (and safe) New Year! New Year's Day has traditionally been a day dedicated to college football, but in HM's household the day is all about hockey.

We kick off New Year's Day with the highly-anticipated NHL Winter Classic at Wrigley Field in Chicago. I absolutely love this idea of outdoor hockey - taking the game back to its roots. I hope that one of the Winter Classics in the coming years might feature our own Washington Capitals! Obviously it's not cold enough in D.C. to host it here but I'm not averse to traveling to a cold climate (heck, I spend half my life in an ice rink)!

Then at 7 p.m., the Caps will see another visit from division rivals Tampa Bay. Note to self: For an example of how to run a professional sports team into the ground, just google the Tampa Bay Lightning's new owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules.

But unlike the Lightning, Caps fans had much to be thankful for in 2008. Here's just a look at some of the highlights in the past year:
  • Caps won the Southeast Division championship last season and has a 10-point lead in the division this year

  • The Capitals reached the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 2003

  • The team posted a 31-6-3 home record at Verizon Center with 14 sellouts

  • Alex Ovechkin has scored 60 goals in 2008 (10 more than any other player), posted 113 points (second only to Evgeni Malkin, 124), won four major NHL awards, received the Key to the City of Washington, D.C., signed a new 13-year contract, played in the NHL All-Star Game, led Russia to a gold medal at the World Championship, won NHL First Star of the Month three times and launched his own designer clothing line

  • Bruce Boudreau was named NHL coach of the year and was selected for induction in the AHL Hall of Fame

  • Nicklas Backstrom played in the NHL YoungStars Game and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team

  • The team recorded three winning streaks of five games or more

  • The organization retired Mike Gartner’s No. 11
So 2008 was a record-breaking and exciting year for the Capitals and their great fans - Hockey Mom can't wait to see what 2009 brings for the team.....

Caps Break the Streak in Buffalo

HSBC Arena hasn't been historically kind to the Washington Capitals, where the team is 1-7-0 in their last eight visits to the land of Buffalo wings. But alas, the Caps set the record straight against the Buffalo Sabres with a solid victory in front of a bummed-out home crowd.

Brooks Laich continued on his smoking hot scoring streak, notching the first Capitals' goal in the first period. And a huge Hockey Mom toast to Chris Bourque, who scored his first NHL goal tonight - I'm sure his dad was sporting a huge smile! Nicklas Backstrom netted the third goal to make it a 3 - 0 contest into the third period. Net minder Jose Theodore, whose game seems to be improving as the season goes on, had another fine showing. Theo rendered the Sabres scoreless until late in the third when a shot by Adam Mair took a lucky bounce off the post (ping!) to make the score 3 - 1.

HM was eager to see Sabres' prospect Nathan Gerbe suit up for the opposition. Gerbe was the MVP of last year's Frozen Four and led Boston College to the 2008 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship. All of this, and he stands a mere 5'6. You know how Hockey Mom is always rooting for the little guys - especially in the NHL where the average player is 6 feet tall or over!

A flurry of action broke out with under 60 seconds in the third period, as Boyd Gordon scored on a short-handed empty net goal and then the Sabres' Clarke MacArthur slid the puck in on Theodore. So the Caps end 2008 with another win (final score: 4 -2) and head home for a string of games at the Verizon Center, where they've outscored opponents 59-31. Not a bad way to kick off 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

AO Notches Another Star

A big Hockey Mom high five to Alex Ovechkin, who earned the NHL's First Star of the Week for his highlight-reel performances last week, which have helped propel the Caps to the number two spot in the Eastern Conference! The boys are playing some good hockey and need to keep it up as they'll face a Sabres team looking for a win on home ice tonight.

And speaking of stars, check out Corey Masisak's piece on possible All-Star game nods for some popular Capitals players. Call me crazy, but the NHL should be put in the penalty box and feel shame for not including the League's MVP Alex Ovechkin in the All-Star game's starting lineup...

If you didn't catch the buzz earlier, there was an uproar over the rumor that the Montreal Canadiens fans were "stuffing the ballot boxes" via automated computer voting when the voting first opened to the public. I'm no mathematical genius (which is why I work in marketing) but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to question why the Hab's Alexei Kovalev sits at third place for All-Star forwards (with a record of 9 goals, 19 assists and 28 total points on the season) while Alex the Great is in fifth place with 25 goals, 24 assists and 49 points! You do the math and tell me if that makes a lick of sense...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Welcome Home Mike Gartner

Photo courtesy of Washington Capitals

As Hockey Mom's hockey boys are off the ice for the weekend, I am at the Phone Booth to celebrate the retirement of former longtime Capital and Hockey Hall of Famer Mike Gartner's number 11. This is my first retirement ceremony (and unfortunately Hockey Mom's retirement is light years away) and I have a great view of all the festivities from the press box.

Gartner is only the fourth Cap to have his number retired and it is a well-deserved honor for a player who ranks second in Capitals history in goals (397), assists (392) and points (789). And did I mention he had a slap shot that could take your head off? Many of Gartner's former team mates including Wes Jarvis, Yvon Labre and Rod Langway came out on the red carpet to honor this notorious and much-loved former Capital. To commemorate this momentous occasion, the current Caps all donned white retro jerseys bearing number 11 during pre-game warm ups. He was also presented with a several momentos of his fabulous career. After Gartner expressed his gratitude and thanked his family, the Caps organization and the great Caps fans, Mike Gartner's number 11 banner was ceremoniously raised to the Verizon Center rafters.

If you've never been to a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, I have to warn you that folks from Leafs Nation are some of the rowdiest hockey fans you ever want to meet. And apparently there were several bus loads of then on hand to help celebrate with Mike Gartner. The whooping and hollering from the blue and white faithful started before the two clubs even hit the ice.

Of course AO had one of the first shots on goal but was denied by Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala. The opening minutes saw lots of hard hitting, despite the absence of Leafs agitator Ryan Hollweg who was a scratch. And great news for Caps fans, both Jeff Schultz and Mike Green are healthy and back on the ice! Speaking of Green, one of prettiest scoring chances at 5:52 in the first period came from a #52 slap shot that came short of crossing the red line - but it was wicked regardless.

Unfortunately, the Leafs fans are raising all sorts of cain in the seats below me as their team scored first on a goal from Niklas Hagman. And a first for Hockey Mom, I have never witnessed a goalie get a misconduct penalty in a professional game (not that is doesn't happen - just that I've never seen one). But that's exactly what happened to Jose Theodore as he got cited for diving. So at the end of the first period, the score is 1 - 0 in favor of Toronto.

Early second period saw a Maple Leafs power play as a result of an interference call against the Caps but Jose Theodore made some pretty sweet saves to avert pending disaster. Brooks Laich (also recognized in the locker room as the Caps' reigning ladies man) netted his ninth goal of the season to tie the score at one apiece.

Captain (Chris) Clark took offense with the Leaf's Jonas Frogren late in the second period and a bout of very animated pushing and shoving ensued. Clarkie and his Leafs pal went to the sin bin and moments later, a fired-up Alex Ovechkin scored yet another of his beautiful goals to give the men in red a 2 -1 advantage. And yes, sports fans, you can use the terms 'pretty' and 'beautiful' to describe hockey plays. I have to add a feminine touch somehow as I am one of the few women on this side of the press box tonight (besides the lovely Lisa Hillary of course - who Hockey Mom would love to interview soon).

There was yet another diving call (c'mon guys - this isn't the Summer Olympics) in the third period from the Leafs' Andre Deveaux and the Caps' Sean Collins took an interference penalty, resulting in a 4 on 4. Meanwhile, Chris Clark seems to have returned full-strength to his physical, gritty style after returning from the injured list.

Brooks Laich lit the lamp for his second tally of the evening with an unassisted goal with about 3:10 left in the third, earning himself the team's red hard hat for the evening. Just to make sure no loose ends were left untied, Alex Ovechkin made the empty net goal for a final score of 4 - 1 in favor of the Caps.

Accompanied by my veteran blogger pal with Storming the Crease, Hockey Mom made her first foray into the Capitals' locker room post-game (I'd previously only been in the visitor's locker room). I laughed when one of the media members remarked about the not-so-fresh smell of the locker room and I have to admit I didn't even notice (reminds me of my car which carries two funky-smelling hockey bags in the back on most days). In the Caps' locker room, Brooks Laich was sporting his well-deserved red hard hat while granting interviews. And Mike Green reported that his shoulder is feeling quite well these days - he's excited to be back in the game and Caps fans are thrilled to see him back.

So here's to another memorable night at the Verizon Center on so many fronts - congrats again to Mike Gartner and here's hoping the Caps continue on this nice run!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Match Up with Buffalo

Mike Green watches 12-year-old Bilal Gholson play with a Nintendo DS that Green gave Gholson for Christmas. Photo courtesy of Washington Capitals

Hockey Mom hopes everyone had a happy holiday and wishes our Canadian neighbors a happy Boxing Day!

Washington Capitals' defense man Mike Green helped make one local family's holiday a little brighter, delivering clothes and toys to 12-year-old Bilal Gholson and his 11-year-old sister Naimah and surprising Bilal's grandmother and mother with gift certificates.

Green connected with the family through Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities Family EMPOWERment Center, which was created to advance the individual and collective interests of people with mental retardation and other developmental disabilities in the Washington, D.C. area.

“This was truly something special, to see the children’s faces opening up their presents on Christmas Day, it just doesn’t get better than that,” said Green. “It was fun spending time playing with the children, listening to music and playing basketball. This was something I won’t forget.” The Caps do so many great things to help others and spread so much cheer (especially among the children) - keep up the great work!

So now that the holiday rush is over, it's back to all hockey - all the time, in HM's household. We're currently flipping the channels between watching the Caps take on the Buffalo Sabres and Team Canada contest Team Czechoslovakia in the IIHF World Junior Championships. Of course, that's all between testing out the new Guitar Hero World Tour that appeared under the tree yesterday!

Back to the Boxing Day match up with the Buffalo Sabres, who boast one of the NHL's leading scorers in sniper Thomas Vanek. Though the injury-depleted Caps are still missing Mike Green, Alex Semin, Tom Poti,
Jeff Schultz, Sergei Fedorov and John Erskine, the great news was that captain Chris Clark suited up and took to the ice tonight after being on long-term injured reserve. Feds will remain on long-term injured reserve until at least January 9th, allowing the team to keep Karl Alzner on the roster for the time being.

Both the Caps and the Sabres were scoreless through the first period but things got more exciting late in the second with Viktor Kozlov (who's enjoying a nice scoring streak) lighting the red lamp first. The Caps faithful thought there was second goal courtesy of the Great 8 minutes later, but the call was goalie interference on the part of Brooks Laich and the goal was called back. Donald Brashear (with help from Boyd Gordon) scored number two for the men in red to take a 2 goal lead.

Early in the third, the Sabres' Thomas Vanek was the beneficiary of a piece of Ovechkin's wicked wrist shot and was in obvious pain as he made his way to the bench. He wasn't set back for long as he scored for Buffalo on a power play.

With close to 11 minutes left in the third, Ovie showed us all once again why he is the Most Valuable Player in the NHL and a favorite of hockey fans world-wide with a magnificent display of stick work and speed to net number three for the Caps! Wow - his final third period goal is a highlight reel for the ages! I am forever using Alex Ovechkin as an example for my boys. Yes, he is ridiculously gifted but the thing that always inspires me is his resilience and work ethic. The guy NEVER gives up and plays all out, every shift - every second. He is a true role model in both his on-ice abilities and the enthusiasm with which he approaches anything thrown his way.

Sorry, I digress, but who doesn't just love watching that guy? At 1:49 in the third, Ovie's fellow countryman Maxim Afinogenov touched the puck while doing his "nine lords a leaping" imitation which took a lucky Buffalo bounce into Jose Theodore's crease to make the score 3 - 2. But after pulling goalie Patrick Lalime to add an extra skater, the Sabres were unable to score and the Caps notched another win with a final score of 3 - 2.

So on Boxing Day, all of the Caps fans rocking their new holiday red have one more victory to celebrate and big smiles on their faces. Next up, the team will honor the great Mike Gartner as they retire his jersey on Sunday night prior to taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Comes Early - Caps Stun Rangers in OT Win

Christmas came early to the "cardiac" Capitals as they miraculously came back from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the New York Rangers in OT at Madison Square Garden.

After a rough, no make that ugly start, in which Jose Theodore let in 3 out of 5 goals by the Blue Shirts, it seemed that the injury-depleted Caps wouldn't make it out of this one with the win. Theo was relieved of net duties for a brief stint by a sick Brent Johnson, and then returned to the crease to stop 19 attempts by New York. But the biggest star in Broadway tonight was none other than the reigning MVP Alex Ovechkin. Ovie started the scoring in the second period and his takeaway and resulting goal in the third made for a highlight reel for the ages! Pal Nick Backstrom had three assists and Viktor Kozlov and Tomas Fleischmann netted power play goals in the third in front of a Rangers team who had suddenly lost a 4-1 lead.

Shaone Morrison scored his first goal since last February to take the victory in OT and the Caps leave the Big Apple with their sixth win in seven games.

So see Virginia, there is a Santa Claus! As Caps' coach Bruce Boudreau noted about the win: "The good thing is we were down 4-0 early. It's almost better. If we could get one and start believing ... that's all we kept thinking about in the room. If you believe, it can happen."

How's that for Christmas spirit and a fabulous Christmas comeback?

"If you believe, it can happen..."

So congrats Caps for a thrilling contest and Hockey Mom wants to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and to all a good night!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bah Humbug! Caps Routed 7 -1

Photo courtesy of AP/Tom Mihalek

If there is one team in the National Hockey League that I pretty much despise, it has to be the thugnasty Filthadelphia Flyers. And to lose to them in front of their home crowd 7 - 1, despite the Caps having about a trillion shots on goal, pretty much sucked the holiday spirit and good tidings right out of Hockey Mom. The Flyers came out swinging as usual and the only good thing about today's game was that Donald Brashear attempted to rearrange Flyers' bad boy Riley Cotes' face (twice).

You have to give their goalie Antero Nittymaki credit for playing a fantastic game - it's been a long time since I've seen AO shut out like that. And how about glove-throwing Scott Hartnell - he of the Bozo the Clown hairstyle - with a flipping hat trick? Ugh... I dunno what else to even say about today's debacle, except that I hope Gabby makes those boys watch that horrible game tape over and over and that Mike Richards and his pals get coal in their stockings next week...not that Hockey Mom's bitter or anything. Hey, I never said I was a good sport all the time...especially when it comes to Philly. Bah humbug!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Blue Christmas for St. Louis?

The St. Louis Blues are in town to take on the rockin' red Capitals at the Phone Booth. The Blues have been bitten hard by the injury bug - something the Caps are all too familiar with - and the team just announced today that their captain Eric Brewer will be out indefinitely due to back surgery.

The Blues will have a big man in net in the form of goalie Ben Bishop, who stands tall at 6'7" (the same height as our man "Stretch" Brett Leonhardt)!
Simeon Varlamov will mind the Caps' goal with his proud papa watching in the stands.

In other BIG hockey news, Mats Sundin has finally gotten off his duff to make a decision to either play or retire and will join my other favorite twins (AKA Daniel and Henrik Sedin) as the newest member of the Vancouver Canucks. Sundin had his options narrowed down to the Canucks and the Rangers and in the end, signed a one-year, pro-rated contract for $10 million.

Hockey Mom is fighting off a bug and I'm hoping to make it through tonight's game in its entirety. Hockey moms don't get sick days and besides having the holidays around the corner, we have the Pee Wee version of the "Winter Classic" this weekend. Our guys are playing at an uncovered outdoor rink, which should be very cool (literally). Right now the forecast for Sunday is calling for a rain/snow mix, so I am pounding the Cold-Eez in anticipation of the busy weekend and cold weather.

This weekend will also see the Caps pay a holiday visit to a hostile Wachovia Center as they meet last year's playoff foes, the Philadelphia Flyers. I can assure you that there is no love lost between these two teams and they probably won't be wishing each other "Season's Greetings" if you see any on-ice chatter between them. The Flyers' Jeff Carter stands at second in the entire NHL in goal-scoring, so the Caps can expect to meet a tough crowd. Of course, Philly always makes for a tough crowd, right?

So the Caps took the early lead with a goal from Viktor Kozlov (his first of two on the night). Late into the third period, Varlamov had only allowed one goal on his net. Meanwhile the Caps saw more scoring from Kozlov, Fleischmann and Ovie to take a 3-point lead at 4 - 1. With 8:25 left in the third, a Blues pass took an unlucky bounce off of Ovie's stick to cut the Caps' lead to 2. This game got ugly after Alex Semin got completely roughed up (and the refs totally blew off a roughing call that even my Hockey Grandma could have seen). Ovie took matters into his own hands as he saw his pal in a heap on the ice, then the Caps sent out the big guns in the form of Donald Brashear. Jeez, I hope Semin is okay - we just got him healthy for crying out loud!

Event though this wasn't the prettiest of victories, the Caps pulled off a 4 -2 win and looks like St. Louis will indeed have a blue holiday with yet another loss and a bench full of injuries. Simeon Varlamov had another impressive game; I'm sure his dad is thrilled to pieces!

Let's all keep our collective fingers crossed that Semin doesn't go back on the injured list. See you all Saturday when the men in red take on the Flyers...

Monday, December 15, 2008

Need a Super Special Fan Gift? Bid on a Happy Hockey Holiday Basket!

If you're still looking for that extra special gift for the Caps fan who has everything, no worries - the Capitals and Capitals Wives Club have you covered! The Washington Capitals and the team's Wives Club will hold their annual Happy Hockey Holiday Silent Auction on Thursday, Dec. 18, when the Caps host the St. Louis Blues (minus one of HM's favorite players, Manny Legace). Bidding will take place at the community relations table located at section 104 on the main concourse, starting when doors open at 6 p.m., and will conclude when the puck is dropped to start the third period.

Capitals’ wives are creating and donating gift baskets with their husbands’ favorite things. Each basket will include at least one autographed item. The funds collected will benefit Washington Capitals Charities. Last season the wives club collected $12,000 from their Happy Holiday Silent Auction. Six of the baskets went for more than $1,000, with Michael Nylander’s raising the most money at $2,000. As you can see from Ovechkin's and Semin's basket, those 2 snipers must share a fondness for Snickers and Skittles!

So as you've all probably heard by now, anger management poster boy Sean Avery no longer has a hockey home with the Dallas Stars. I heard the news on the treadmill at the gym yesterday, when "Breaking News" came across the ESPN ticker. But no details were forthcoming at the time. Where was ESPN Hockey's man on the street (literally) Barry Melrose when we needed him?

Apparently, Avery is at some sort of "facility" seeking anger management treatment. The rumor mills are spinning as to where the sport's most-annoying pest might end up but don't be surprised if it's not another NHL team. Hey, maybe he can go over to Russia's KHL for a stint - their rosters are full of former NHL bad boys who couldn't play by the rules (see Chris Simon and Ray Emery). And apparently current KHLer Jaromir Jagr has already come to the defense of Avery, his former Rangers team mate. And so the drama continues....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Caps Visit Habs Land with New Face in Net

The Washington Capitals are in the hockey hotbed of Montreal to meet the history laden and injury plagued Canadiens. In the opening period, rookie goalie Simeon Varlamov exhibited the steel composure of a veteran in his first NHL stint between the pipes. The Caps lit the lamp first with a power play tally from Nick Backstrom assisted by his line mates, Alex and Alex.

Second period, Alex Ovechkin took a high-sticking penalty after practically being mauled by Tom Kostopolous, AO returned the favor by accidentally sticking Kostopolous in the schnozz. Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak got his bell rung (or was just milking it) midway through the second period when Alex Semin stormed the crease (with assistance in the form of a push from behind from some friendly Canadiens).

With less than 8 minutes left in the second, young Varlamov made a spectacular stop on a shot from Tomas Plekanec. The Canadien's Patrice Brisebois tied it up with an even strength goal near the end of the second period.

I love the Hockey 101 features conducted by assistant coach Dean Evason, where he demonstrates hockey fundamentals on the ice with various Caps players. This is a great feature for young hockey players as well as hockey newbies just learning the ins and outs of this great game.

Third period brought a slashing call against Alex Kovalev, who is one of those players that deserves a Golden Globe award for his on-ice embellishments and often dramatic exaggeration in trying to draw penalties. Alexandre Giroux had a sweet breakaway but was denied by Halak. Well into the third period, Varlamov was still enjoying his stellar debut, facing a flurry of shots from the Habs. Who says the kid's not ready for primetime?

At less than 3 minutes left in the final period, Michael Nylander had a goal reminiscent of the one Ovie made famous, scoring as he slid nearly into the goal on his back (though the puck may have taken a lucky bounce off of a skate in the process)!

So the Capitals earn another hard-fought victory, thanks to an unbelievable first NHL game from Varlamov. Varlamov fell to his knees (probably in exhaustion) at game's end and was mobbed with congratulatory hugs by the rest of the Capitals! It is absolutely the Year of Backup in the National Hockey League!

Way to go boys - here's a huge Hockey Mom toast to another big Caps win and also to commemorate Sergei Fedorov's 39th birthday!

Cap's Backup Goalie - A "Cinderella" Story

In case you've been under a rock or are completely hungover from holiday festivities, you've probably already heard about the situation the Washington Capitals found themselves in while scrambling to get their backup goalie (Simeon Varlamov from Hershey) on the bench for the Ottawa Senators game last night. After Jose Theodore became another statistic in the Cap's unlucky injury streak, the team scrambled to get Varlamov to D.C. from Texas in time for the game. Logistics issues made it obvious that he would not be in Verizon Center in time for puck drop so the Caps went to "Plan B" - which has become a Cinderella story of sorts. Only this Cinderella is a very big dude - about 6'7" to be exact.

Brett Leonhardt, a former college goalie and a Web producer for the Caps in his day job, got the call of a lifetime yesterday. Leonhardt, also known as "Stretch", took the warmup with the team and sat as the official team backup goalie until Varlamov was safely in the house. Hockey Mom actually would have loved to see the guy get to play a bit after the Caps were up 5 - 1, but either way it must have been the thrill of a lifetime for him. A huge HM high five to Brett and I hope to get the chance to see you in action sometime!

Check out his reaction here:

Spealing of Varlamov, Caps fans will get their first glimpse of the young Russian phenom in net as he will get the start against the Montreal Canadians at the hockey-crazed Bell Centre tonight. After standing on his head and various other phenomenal saves in the past 2 Caps' victories, Brent Johnson is a little dinged up with a sore hip (but can play if need be). He has been magnificent in his past few outings and I dare say that there should be no question who the #1 goaltender should be.

The Canadiens are dealing with their own rash of injuries. Among the down and out are goaltender Carey Price, captain Saku Koivu, Mike Komisarek, Christopher Higgins, Mathieu Dandenault and Georges Laraque (darn, no Brash/Laraque dance). Speaking of injuries, how great was it to have Feds and Green back last night - especially after a great Greener goal?

So tune in tonight at 7 p.m. as the two teams in red, white and blue meet in Montreal!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Senators Come Calling...Don't Forget Toys for Tots

Happy Holidays Caps fans! I'm sure many of you will be headed down to Chinatown tonight to watch the Caps take on the Ottawa Senators, who are coming off of a loss to the young Chicago Blackhawks. Lots of things going on tonight prior to face off, including Singles Night where you can mingle with other single Caps fans and try your luck at making a love connection through a speed-dating session at Bar Louie before the game. And don't forget to help the Caps make the holidays a little brighter for underpriviledged children by bringing a new, unwrapped toy for the Toys for Tots campaign. Players' wives and girlfriends will be collecting toys and in addition to helping those less fortunate, the first 2,000 fans to donate will get a poster of the Caps version of Santa Claus, Alex Ovechkin!

Hockey Mom will probably miss most of tonight's contest as I will be imbibing in holiday cheer at a social engagement (and it's rare that I get to go anywhere that doesn't involve an ice rink of some sort), so I wish the team well against a Sens club ailing with previously weak power play efforts. So go out and rock the holiday (and most importantly Capitals) red tonight puck heads and don't forget to bring your toy donations for a great cause!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Caps Take on the Big Man and Boys from Beantown

As the "tower of power", Zdeno Chara, and the rest of the boys from Beantown came to pay their first visit of the year, you could feel the tension in the air amongst the Capitals' faithful. With a bench depleted by injuries, the Caps were facing a Bruins team that has been on an offensive tirade which has earned them the number one spot in the Eastern Conference.

I know that my face broke out in a big, wide, stupid smile when I saw the return of Alex Semin and Tom Poti to the Cap's bench - welcome back boys, we've sure missed ya!!! Nick Backstrom lit the lamp first for the Caps with a tip in of an Ovechkin shot. And Brent Johnson had some absolutely spectacular saves including a beauty of a stop against a Chuck Kobasew breakaway! Another HM high five to Alexandre Giroux, who netted his first NHL goal this season to take a 2-0 lead in the second. And how much fun was it to watch Ovie fly around trying to annihilate big man Chara? He took him down good a couple of times - I swear Alex is a bull in a china shop when he hits that ice!

Alas, Bruins tough guy and current poster boy, Milan Lucic got away from the red defense men and netted an easy goal on Johnson. So at the second intermission, HM found this great NHL piece on Alex Ovechkin's passion for working with kids, specifically kids from D.C.'s Fort Dupont Ice Rink.

The third period started off with a flurry of action as Alexandre Giroux was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked on a breakaway. Unfortunately, his attempt looked like it pinged the goal post. Three minutes left in the third brought a scary moment as Alex Semin gave away the puck in mid-ice but once again, Brent Johnson denied the Bruins. And to put a fork in it, who else but the
Great 8, made it a one-goal game by racing to an empty net and scoring for the lead.

What a huge win for the Caps and kudos to Johnny for holding the league's scoring leaders to one, yes make that ONE, goal! Next up - the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

And for all of you single sports fans out there, don't forget Friday night is Capitals Singles Night. For $35, you get a game ticket, a shot at speed-dating and a coupon for a free Chipotle Burrito. On another note, I think I got an early Christmas present as I turned on the t.v. after work and all of the suddent I get the NHL Network! So now am watching the Flames-Red Wings game. Life is good!

Karl Alzner No Potty-Mouth

Photo: NHL/Washington Capitals

Capitals' rookie d-man Karl Alzner is no potty-mouth and has never uttered the "F" word according to D.C. Sports Bog. When I read this, I had to post and send a big Hockey Mom high-five to Number 27, for the lack of profanity is rarely seen in professional hockey and I'm sure once that adrenaline starts flowing and bodies start banging, it's awfully hard to refrain from spouting expletives! Heck, it's hard for HM sometimes, whether watching the Caps or my boys' team, and I'm just a fan.

I wish I could say the same for one of my guys who recently got a 10-minute misconduct for uttering a profanity (that he's never heard in my house) to an opposing player - within earshot of the ref, of course. Very smart, huh? The coach, who also happens to be his dad, benched him for a game and he had to sit in jeans and his helmet and feel shame. Bet he won't do that again anytime soon - the wrath of Hockey Mom and Hockey Coach combined with the embarassment of being benched should be deterrent enough, one should hope!

Anyway, good for Karl. Here's wishing the team the best as they take on the big bad (and top of the Northeast) Boston Bruins. Rumor has it that Tom Poti and Alex Semin (please, please) MAY be back tonight but will be a game time decision.

Til the puck drops at 7 p.m......

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Canes Blow Over Caps 3 - 1

After a solid victory in Toronto over a storied Maple Leafs franchise, the Washington Capitals ventured down south to meet their division rivals, the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately for the men in red, the list of players out due to injury increased by one, with the addition of Eric Fehr after last night's game. The Caps' roster currently has so many Hershey Bears' players on the list, you wonder if there's anyone left in Chocolate Land. That includes the AHL's leading scorer, Alexandre Giroux, who dressed for the Caps today in Raleigh.

Nick Backstrom lit the lamp for the Cap's only goal and Canes' goalie Michael Leighton had a stellar day shutting down Alex Ovechkin and the boys. Dressed in their not-so-hot black third jersey, the Hurricanes saw tallies from Ray Whitney (with 2) and Eric Staal. The victory puts the Hurricanes closer to catching up with the Caps for division lead, moving within 4 points.

So the team will have to regroup as they head home to face one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Division this week - the Boston Bruins. The boys from Beantown are stacked - and I mean stacked - with talent. Bruins' goalie Tim Thomas leads the League in GAA percentage and is already being touted as a favorite to win the Vezina trophy. Phil Kessel and Marc Savard have become scoring machines. And when Bruin's captain Zdeno Chara is on the ice, the Caps' better have their heads on a swivel - the guy is a monster at 6'9" (sans skates!) and boasts one of the hardest slapshots in the League. Another one to watch is new Bruins poster boy Milan Lucic, who is a powerful hitter and doesn't hesitate to drop the gloves if need be.

The contests between these two times got very chippy last season, with a fight breaking out after the very first face-off during one game. Hockey Mom hopes that the Caps can get some of the walking wounded back on the bench before Wednesday's game.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hockey Mom's Holiday Gift Guide (for the Female Caps Fan)

Tis the season and there are some great gift ideas out there for the female hockey fan on your list. Here are some of the fabulous gift ideas out there:

  • Jazz up her game day ensemble with a fun and flirty FanBangle handcrafted Swarovski crystal bracelet featuring her favorite NHL team logo in sterling silver.

  • You'd be hard-pressed to find a woman who doesn't like chocolate! How about custom hockey chocolates from The Chocolate Vault?

  • If your hockey-loving gal wants another wardrobe option other than a jersey, Reebok's Washington Capitals split-neck tee is a comfy and cute alternative.

  • For a fun bunch of date nights and a true game-day experience, surprise her with a Capital's Holiday 3-Pack, which includes 2 tickets to 3 games, 2 Caps hats and an autographed player puck - all wrapped up in a neat holiday package!

  • Give the gift of reading and laughter with the book Hockey & High Heels.

  • Perfect for her playoff watching party - a 3-piece set of bright Washington Capitals bowls for entertaining.

  • For the hockey mom - a fun "Hockey Taxi" t-shirt to thank her for all the trips to and from the rink. ChalkTalkSports.com has this plus many other great gifts for hockey fans!

  • Help her display her team pride year after year with these festive Capitals' Christmas ornaments!

  • She'll rock the red and brave the chill all at once with a red jersey Capitals' fleece-lined scarf from NHL.com.

  • Hockey-themed stationary and notepads are always useful - PaperHockey.com has a great selection of hockey writing accents, bookmarks and more!

Just a few fun ideas to get you all in the holiday spirit - meanwhile, happy shopping, happy holidays and see you all at the Phone Booth!

Sean Gets Six...Games that Is

The verdict is in - superpest Sean Avery has been handed down a six-game suspension by the NHL for his ridiculous comments in Calgary earlier this week.

We'll have to wait and see what the Dallas Stars do with him. The team's AHL affiliate has already said "thanks but no thanks" to the possibility of Avery being sent down to the minors.

Now if the NHL's disciplinarians can only get on the same page regarding hits to the head...

Speaking of hits to the head, if you or your youth player wears a Reebok hockey helmet you may want to check this out and make sure your helmet stays on the noggin where it belongs!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ya Want Mustard Wit Dat? Caps Versus N.Y. Islanders

The New York Islanders are in town to take on the Capitals and that can only mean one thing - Dollar Dog Night! To commemorate Dollar Dog night, there was a hot-dog eating contest at Verizon Center, where several media representatives including pucksandbooks from On Frozen Blog took part in the festivities. Hope they all remembered to pack the Pepto Bismol!

As you all probably know, the team is still without several key players including Green, Semin, Fedorov, Poti, Clark, Erskine and Schultz. The Islanders are still missing their all-star goalie Rick DiPietro who is recovering from knee and hip injuries. Their backup net minder Joey MacDonald has filled in for the Isles quite nicely, earning one of the NHL's Stars of the Month for November (along with Ovie of course). The Islanders are also missing cute little Hilary Duff's boyfriend Mike Comrie.

Speaking of Ovechkin, he opened the scoring in the first period. Less than 2 minutes later, Kozlov (or was it Fleischmann?) lit the red light to make it 2-0. There were some scary moments when it looked the the Great 8 might have joined the list of the walking wounded, but thankfully (exhale) he returned to action with a vengeance. The Caps had some serious penalty minutes tonight with a slew of hooking infractions and a boarding call on Ovie late in the second. The Islander's Mark Streit netted one against Brent Johnson to make it 2-1. Then in a wacky series of events, the Isle's Chris Campoli shot from the blue line and thought he'd tied it up. But alas, the puck went off one of the linesman's legs and they called no-goal. Hey, there's only so much help you can get from the zebras and scoring is definitely not included.

A big HM high five to Keith Aucoin who was just called up from chocolate land and had a magnificent first two periods (including a sweet breakaway). New York's Trent Hunter went on to score in the second to make it a tie contest at 2-2.

Meanwhile, the Sean Avery saga continues and the NHL hasn't decided how long they are going to suspend that heathen. It sounds like his team mates on the Dallas Stars are thoroughly disgusted with both his on and off-ice antics, despite his written and issued by a publicist bogus apology. Note to self Sean, if you really want to issue a heartfelt apology -- try doing it in person next time. I have a feeling that despite whatever punishment is handed down by the League, Avery won't be on the Star's roster much longer. My question is - why would they give him such a large contract to begin with? His history of "crossing the line" is no secret to anyone who follows hockey! For crying out loud, they had to create the "Avery" rule last season in response to his unconventional and obnoxious agitation tactics against goalie Martin Brodeur.

With 13:10 left in the third, the "Donald" Brashear clipped one in with an assist from rookie Karl Alzner to reclaim the lead - way to keep at it! Later in the period, Eric Fehr scored on a power play with a hand from Brooks Laich to pad the Caps' lead 4 - 2. An Ovechkin to Backstrom pass resulted in an empty net goal to seal the deal 5 - 2. Aggravated by the lack of energy from the guys in the loss against Florida, Gabby apparently gave the team a very animated talking-to. Not sure what he said (nor that it could be repeated on this G-rated platform), but whatever it was he obviously got through to them.

Another fabulous home victory for the men in red and Brent Johnson's first against Islanders!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Coaching Shakeup in the Southeast

Looks like another coaching shakeup is going down in the Capitals' Southeast Division. The Canes have relieved head bench boss Peter Laviollette of his coaching duties - check it out on TSN here...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Mouth of The NHL Temporarily Silenced (Or Suspended Anyway)...

Hockey Mom just stumbled across this article on TSN's Web site that the NHL has suspended the biggest mouth in the League - former NY Ranger and current member of the Dallas Stars - Sean Avery. This guy has absolutely no filters whatsoever and in my opinion, is a detriment to the game with his total lack of respect for his fellow players and for the game itself. This particular suspension is a result of disparaging remarks he made in reference to his former girlfriend (Elisha Cuthbert) dating Calgary Flames d-man Dion Phanuef.

Already facing the wrath of the Flames for obnoxious digs he made earlier in the season about team captain Jarome Iginla, Avery made these comments this morning in Calgary:

"I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada," Avery said on camera this morning in Calgary. "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight."

Personally, HM thinks they should have let him play. It would have made for a pretty intense game to watch Dion Phanuef and pals get a piece of that big-mouth.

Nice job, Avery. Meanwhile, some great news from Caps Land! Fans can't get enough of superstar Alex Ovechkin and today it was announced that he is launching a new Web site!

Here are details from the press release:

WASHINGTON, DC - NHL Superstar and reigning league MVP, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is pleased to announce the launch of his new official website – http://www.alexovechkin8.com/. The site will serve as the ultimate resource for Ovechkin fans
worldwide, as his global fan base continues to expand.

The site features Alex’s official news and announcements along with exclusive video highlights and an online store. Fans can also find out more about Alex’s “Crazy 8’s” community initiatives and upcoming online promotions via Ovi Nation, a dedicated social network channel scheduled to launch in conjunction with the NHL All Star activities in January 2009.

As part of the launch, Ovechkin has teamed up with IceRok Jewelry to produce a limited edition ‘Great 8’ silver chain and pendant necklace. The sterling silver necklace is the very same necklace Alex wears every time he steps on the ice. This limited time offer is only available at AlexOvechkin8.com and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Crazy 8’s program supporting underprivileged youth in the Washington DC and Moscow areas.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Stars Keep Shining on Ovie

A huge Hockey Mom toast to the Great Eight Alex Ovechkin, who was just named the NHL's first star for November. Not a bad way to kick off the holiday season!

Here's more from the NHL's press release:

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin, who led the NHL with 25 points in November, has been named the league’s First Star of the Month, the NHL announced today. Ovechkin is the second consecutive Capital to earn the league’s top monthly honor, as Alexander Semin was the First Star in October.

Ovechkin’s 25 points in 14 games included 11 goals and a +9 rating as he recorded points in 11 of 14 games and goals in nine of 14. Before Saturday Ovechkin recorded points in 10 straight games with 22 points (11g-11a) in that time, which was the longest active streak in the league.

Ovechkin has now won the NHL’s Player of the Month or First Star of the Month four times (Jan. 2006, Jan. 2008, March 2008 and Nov. 2008).

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin and New York Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald were the NHL’s second and third stars for the month of November, respectively.

I have a feeling that AO is not going to call his fellow countryman Geno Malkin to congratulate him on his star anytime soon! Let's just hope that the Caps can get our other NHL star-earner Alex Semin back in the line up this week!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bad Night on the Road

First and foremost sports fans, Hockey Mom must admit that I did not watch last night's Caps/Blue Jackets match up in its entirety as I was at a gathering for the twins' team (and a very festive one I might add!). I saw segments of the game and the few that I was able to catch (e.g. Rick Nash scoring twice on Brent Johnson) weren't so pretty. As you all know by now, the Caps were blanked on the road by Columbus' rookie goalie, Steve Mason in a 3 - 0 loss. Hopefully once the Caps' roster is close to being back to full-strength, the road results will improve. Let's hope...

Other than the sweet Montreal victory on Friday night, this was not a good hockey weekend for Hockey Mom and her brood. After last night's team soiree, we woke up at 6:15 on a cold and rainy morning to head to the rink to face a team from Brantford, Ontario (yes, Canada) in the last game of this weekends tournament. HM wants to know what exactly they feed those kids up north as more than a few of them were gigantic! The Canadian team was lining up to win the whole tournament in the Pee Wee division and I'd be shocked if they didn't. Their tape-to-tape passing was impressive and despite their size, they really didn't need to do much hard-hitting. The end result was a 9 - 2 victory in their favor but I was really proud of the way our boys hung in there and played tough. I was also impressed with the fact that the entire Brantford team skated over to our bench before the game even began to shake hands with our kids. I thought that was a great show of sportsmanship and I've never seen that in one of our tournaments before.

So once again, we had another hockey-filled weekend. I am thankful that my boys' team mates have a really fun group of parents considering we spend a lot of time together. Hockey is truly unlike any other sport I've been involved in. One of my guys has played lacrosse with some of the same kids for three years and I still don't know some of the parents! I have never found that to be the case in hockey. We all suffer through the early mornings and road trips together and in some ways, many of the hockey families bond together almost like a second family. So far, travel hockey has been a great experience for all of us and we've been blessed with a really great group. We are already formulating a survival plan for being on a 10-hour bus ride with 18 players and their younger siblings to the tournament in Montreal this spring.

As we look forward to this week and the Florida Panthers, let's all hope that the injured guys in the Caps' lineup are healthy and back on the bench soon. Unfortunately, this will be the second game this season that is not televised, so Hockey Mom will be sitting in her car in the driveway listening to it on my XM radio. Til then....

Friday, November 28, 2008

Les Canadiens Viennent de la Ville

The Monreal Canadiens are at Verizon Center to face the Capitals and from high up in the press box, I see that they've brought a couple of busloads of rowdy Habs fans with them. The Canadiens, a team steeped in history, are feeling the injury bug also with Mike Komisarek out of the lineup. Alex Tanguay and former Penguin Georges Laraque are also scratched - darn, a Brashear/Laraque tangle always makes for a great hockey game!

The Caps are still relying on the valuable services of several members of the Hershey Bears including Karl Alzner, Chris Bourque, Sami Lepisto and new call-up Bryan Helmer. D-man Alzner is sporting a new number this evening, donning #27. And as no game that Hockey Mom covers would be complete without a mention of brothers in the lineup, the Habs boast a set of siblings in Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn. Keep an eye on those two for sure!

Several minutes into the first period and Jose Theodore, a former Canadien has made several very nice saves, including a shifty one with the elbow. The game is already getting a little chippy with lots of hard hitting between the two clubs. And at 8:57 in the period, Tomas Fleischmann lit the red the light first for the Caps with an assist from Micheal Nylander.

And darn if one of those naughty Kostitsyn brothers didn't end up in the sin bin for hooking with less than five minutes in the period.

So, we're 1 - 0 (Caps' favor) going into the second. During the intermission, they showed a very fun video of several Caps players making gourmet hamburgers. The guys were wearing some really cool Capitals aprons. Hint, hint - I know one hockey mom who would love a Caps apron! Let's get those on NHL.com soon!

Early in the second, Alex Ovechkin had a spectacular breakaway and passed to an open Nick Backstrom, who was denied by Habs net minder Jaroslav Halak. At the other end of the ice, Jose Theodore has played a terrific game against his former hometown club. Maybe it's the new mask, who cares - just keep up the good work Theo!

At the start of the third and it was still 1 - 0, Caps. In the meantime, I got an update from my boys' game, which started at 8:20 (I know, I am being a very bad hockey mom missing a game but I swear it's only the second one I've missed in three years). And from the sound of things, this might have been a good one to miss as they're playing a really big, really fast team who is up by four goals at the end of the first. OUCH! Just keep your heads up and play hard boys!

Back to the Caps, Alex Ovechkin netted a beauty with an assist from Backstrom early in the third to make it a two-point lead. Minutes later, two Canadiens went to the box to feel shame, both for hooking. And man did the Habs goalie face a relentless barrage of shots from the men in red. Despite Price's best efforts, the Caps added another tally at 8:42 from David Steckel with an assist from Sami Lepisto. And as you all probably know, I am always rooting for Chris Bourque to have a great game. A Hockey Mom observation, for a guy who is shorter than the average 6'2 NHL player, this guy has a wicked slap shot!

Theo has played one of the best games he's had in a Capitals uniform. HM high five to the team, who despite the loss of too many players to injury, sealed a nice 3 - 0 victory over the French-speaking visitors from up north. And to coach Bruce Boudreau to become the fastest Capital's bench boss to achieve 50 wins...

Shut outs are good!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lots to be Thankful For!

Photo: Washington Capitals/NHL

Despite the daily barrage of bad news blasted at us daily, we as Americans still have lots to be thankful for. And the resurgence of Washington as a hockey town has given Caps fans even more to be thankful for! Here are just a few of the things Caps fans can be thankful for this years:

  • Majority owner Ted Leonsis who is probably more in tune to the fanbase than any owner in the League and who fully supports non-traditional methods such as new media to reach out to fans

  • Fantastic coaching from Adams Trophy winner and soon to be AHL Hall of Famer Bruce Boudreau and his staff

  • The League's MVP Alex Ovechkin who brings his unrivaled talent and unbridled enthusiasm for the game not only to the delight of Caps fans but for hockey fans all over the world

  • Team chemistry - you can easily see that all of these talented guys truly respect each other on and off the ice - chemistry is hard to create, just ask Barry Melrose!

  • Last but not least the fabulous fans whose spirit and love for this team is contagious!

For more reasons that Washington sports fans can be thankful this year, check out today's Kids Post. Yes, Hockey Mom reads the Kids Post!

So again, hope you all have a wonderful holiday and everyone goes around the table telling what they are thankful for - a Hockey Mom family tradition started my late mom (who I am positive would be the honorary senior member of the Caps' Red Rockers were she still with us!).

Hockey Mom will be rocking her red (in the form of pinot noir) along with the turkey and fixings and will raise a toast to the team and all of my fellow fans out there!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Caps Fans!

With the reinforcements in from Hershey and a hat trick from Alex Ovechkin, Thanksgiving Eve is shaping up quite nicely! After a nice glass of wine and a dinner that I didn't have to cook, Hockey Mom settled in to watch the Caps take on Southeast division rivals, the Atlanta Thrashers. The bluemen looked pretty tired, after a string of back-to-back games. And the fact that AO was on fire, didn't help their situation much.

Eric Fehr had a sweet goal to give the Caps a 3 - 1 lead but the Thrashers' Slava Kozlov tightened it up to make it 4 -2 going into the third period. A side note here: how about Patrick Roy's other son getting a 15-game suspension for high-sticking another player during a Quebec Remparts game? High sticking? From HM's review, it was more like a Chris Simon "I'm going to decapitate you with my stick" move. I'm thinking that this family could benefit from some family anger-management sessions, huh?

I am thrilled to see Karl Alzner and Chris Bourque in the lineup. Alzner stated that he felt like he might throw up prior to his first NHL start. Let's hope he overcomes those pre-game jitters and lays some major hits! I think I speak for many Caps fans when I say we'd like to see much more of Alzner at the Phone Booth.

Early in the third, big man Viktor Kozlov netted his third of the season to make the score 5 - 2 Caps. But the Thrashers didn't lost their will and cut the Cap's lead to 2 with a goal in the third by Nathan Oystrick.

Final score: Caps 5 - Thrashers 3 - a happy Thanksgiving Eve, indeed! Congrats to Ovie for his hat trick and also to the great work of Bourque, Lepisto, Mink and Alzner for their contributions to tonight's victory. Alex Ovechkin, always the team player, added his kudos to the callups, saying "The guys from Hershey played a great game and they deserve to be here." So a fabulous effort by a team down several key players and coming off of a brutal road trip.

Hope all of you great hockey fans out there have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I know that I have lots to be thankful for: healthy kids, great friends and family, a roof over my head, a good job, and so much more!

The Caps will again be helping others this Thanksgiving. Three Capitals players – Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Brooks Laich - will spend Thanksgiving Day with more than 400 underprivileged children and their families at District ChopHouse & Brewery in Washington, D.C., for the sixth annual Miracle on Seventh Street event. The Capitals have participated in the event all six years. Miss Virginia, Tara Wheeler (a former Penn State women's ice hockey goalie and a mighty tough one, I might add) will also be in attendance helping serve meals.

The District ChopHouse & Brewery is working through the Rock Bottom Foundation and partnering with the Gospel Rescue Ministries, the Division of Youth and Recreational Services and individuals identified by the Washington DC Metro Police Community Outreach program, for their sixth annual Miracle on Seventh Street event. This is the first time that the event is being held on Thanksgiving Day; in the past the District ChopHouse has held the event on Christmas Day.

For the third straight year Green will participate in the event while this will be Laich’s second visit. Volunteers from organizations throughout the city will serve families traditional Thanksgiving meals complete with all the trimmings from noon-4 p.m.

Fresh Troops on the Way to Take on Thrashers

With a number of key Capitals banged up from the recent rough and tumble road trip out West, the club has recalled several players from the AHL affiliate Hershey Bears for tonight's match against the Atlanta Thrashers.

The blue men, despite a not-so-hot record, are not ones to take lightly, especially after they "thrashed" the Toronto Mapleleafs last night in a heated 6 - 3 victory. Ovechkin's pal and fellow countryman Ilya Kovalchuk was especially feisty last night, dropping the gloves with Leaf Ian White. And let us not forget former Penguin Colby Armstrong who also had an especially nasty hit against Toronto in last night's matchup.

No indications yet as to which guys will dress tonight but here's the press release from the Cap's media relations team:

Capitals Recall Karl Alzner, Chris Bourque, Sami Lepisto and Graham Mink from Hershey

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Washington Capitals have recalled defensemen Karl Alzner and Sami Lepisto and forwards Chris Bourque and Graham Mink from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Alzner, 20, is a 6’2”, 205-pound first-year pro from Burnaby, British Columbia. The former captain of the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League was the Capitals’ first-round choice, fifth overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Alzner is tied for second in the AHL with a +15 rating in 20 games with the Bears and ranks second among Bears defensemen, trailing Lepisto, with nine points (two goals, seven assists). Alzer, who will wear No. 47 with the Capitals, is poised to make his NHL regular-season debut tonight against Atlanta (7 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, Capitals Radio 1500 and 820 AM) after recording two assists and a +3 rating in five preseason games with Washington.

Lepisto, 24, is a 6’1”, 195-pound native of Espoo, Finland, who made his NHL debut last season and played seven games with Washington, recording one assist. Lepisto leads Hershey defensemen and ranks tied for fourth among AHL defensemen with 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 20 games. Lepisto also stands tied for fourth in the league with a +14 rating. Lepisto was Washington’s third-round choice, 66th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and wears No. 42 for the Capitals.

Bourque, 22, is a 5’10”, 177-pound native of Boston, Mass., who has played five games with Washington in the past two seasons. Bourque ranks tied for sixth in the AHL with 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 18 games with the Bears. His 16 assists are second-best on the team and tied for fifth in the league. A fourth-year pro, Bourque is coming off back-to-back seasons of 25 or more goals for Hershey. Bourque, who wears No. 56 in Washington and last year became the 23rd son of a Hockey Hall of Famer (Ray) to play in the NHL, ranked third on the Capitals in preseason scoring this season with six points (three goals, three assists) in six games.

Mink, 29, is an eighth-year pro who stands 6’3”, 218 pounds. The Stowe, Vermont, native has played five career NHL games, all with Washington, but none since the 2005-06 season. He is tied for 10th in the AHL in goals (10) and points (21) in 19 games. Mink, No. 38 with Washington, rejoined the Capitals organization as a free agent on July 2, 2008, after spending two seasons playing for the AHL’s Worcester Sharks.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Minnesota Goes Wild

Unfortunately, the Minnesota Wild snapped their offensive scoring drought tonight and the Washington Capitals were the unlucky recipients of their many tallies. Youngster Cal Clutterbuck (with a name like that, sounds like he'd be in the PBR on Versus rather than the NHL on Versus) began the scoring for the Wild and netted 2 goals.

Despite some magnificent saves on the part of Jose Theodore, the Caps took too many penalties and the Wild took full advantage of their many power plays. 2 more Caps players were added to the growing list of injured players; Jeff Schultz suffered a broken finger and Boyd Gordon left with undisclosed injuries.

The Caps finally got on the board late in the third period and it looked like we finally had a game! Matt Bradley scored and was followed by another goal from Alex Ovechkin only 84 seconds later. Soon after, the Caps' Nick Backstrom beat netminder Nick Backstrom to make it a 4 - 3 game. Alas, despite the last minute push, that was the final score...

So time to come home boys. Hopefully the guys can get some rest and the guys that are banged up are back on the ice soon. Next up are the Atlanta Thrashers and the always tough Habs (that's the Montreal Canadiens for all of you great new hockey fans).

Hockey Mom also wants to wish Nick Backstrom a happy 21st birthday!

Congrats Gabby!

Capital's coach Bruce Boudreau has earned accolades once again and will be inducted into the American Hockey League's Hall of Fame as a member of the 2009 class of inductees!

From the Caps' media relations team:

Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau – a legendary player and coach at the American Hockey League (AHL) level before joining the Capitals – has been selected as a member of the class of 2009 for the AHL Hall of Fame, the league announced today. The Class of 2009 will be honored as part of the festivities at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic. The induction ceremony will take place as part of the AHL All-Star Classic Luncheon on Monday, Jan. 26, in Worcester, Mass.

“It's an absolute honor that I can’t describe,” Boudreau said before the Capitals’ morning skate on Monday in St. Paul, Minn. “The American league, with its history, it’s overwhelming that this could happen to me. When they phoned me last week and told me, I couldn’t hide by exuberance. I told them I would be there if I had to come from Alaska.

“To me, individually, it’s as high an honor as you can get,” he added. “The NHL is the NHL. But to be thought of like that by my peers, in a league that’s been in existence for more than 70 years, that’s pretty darn cool. If wasn’t for that league, I’m nothing, both as a coach and as a player.”

Boudreau’s 799 career points and 483 career assists both rank 11th in AHL history, while his 316 goals are good for 14th place. Of the 72 players in AHL history with at least 500 career points, Boudreau ranks second with an average of 1.26 points per game. He played for seven AHL teams in his career, including a 116-point season with the Springfield Indians in 1987-88 when he led the AHL in scoring and became just the second player to post three 100-point seasons. He had more points than any other AHL player in the 1980s.

Boudreau spent eight full seasons as an AHL head coach, reaching the Calder Cup playoffs each year and compiling a career record of 340-216-56-43. In 2005-06, his first season with the Washington Capitals organization, he led the Hershey Bears to the Calder Cup championship. They returned to the Calder Cup final the following season and 15 games into the following season – a year and two days ago today – he was promoted to the Capitals.

Boudreau led Washington to the Southeast Division championship last year and was the 2007-08 Jack Adams Award winner as the NHL’s coach of the year.

Congrats Gabby for this fabulous and much-deserved honor - couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

One More Stop on this Road Trip for Capitals

What the sam harry hell happened last night in that yucky 7 - 2 loss against the Sharks? The Sharks are a very, very good team - the best in the league right now actually. But I honestly thought that despite the injuries, the Caps would play a closer game. This has been a tough road trip for the men in red, made even tougher with the spate of injuries. And tomorrow's contest against the Minnesota Wild won't be any cakewalk. Nicklas Backstrom will face the other Niklas Backstrom, the Wild goalie who sits in fourth place for save percentage and GAA among the league's leading netminders.

Although the Wild will be without their leading man Marian Gaborik, who is on the injured list, they still have some dangerous playmakers in captain Mikko Koivu, Anti Miettinen and Andrew Brunette. The good thing about this game is that it will be televised at a normal hour - yippee! My kids travel team is the WILD with same colors as Minnesota's. It will be hard to watch the boys take their team photo tonight without growling in anticipation of that other WILD team tomorrow...

Some positive news from this weekend's hockey action to report - the Sedin twins led the Vancouver Canucks to a victory over the Penguins at the Igloo yesterday. As a twin mom and Capitals fan, you have to love that! I'd be interested to glean Alex Semin's thoughts on the Sedins' twin super powers!

And Hockey Mom has a bone to pick with the NHL's inconsistent disciplinary actions. Yesterday, the New Jersey Devils' Mike Mottau was suspended 2 games for an elbow hit to Islander's Frans Nielsen. Nielsen suffered
multiple leg injuries as a result and will be out for 8 - 12 weeks! Once again, HM thinks this suspension is way too lenient. Even though Mottau is not known as a cheap player, the lack of consistency in league-mandated suspension is one of the reasons that certain players will continue to take dangerous shots, especially to the head, which could seriously injure or even end another player's career. Come on Colin Campbell, you guys need to send a much stronger message on what the NHL will and will not tolerate and this suspension just doesn't cut it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Caps Visit the Shark Tank

The Capitals have a game of monster proportions ahead as they take on the San Jose Sharks at the Shark Tank tomorrow night. And they might have to battle without leading scorer Alex Semin, who is still sitting due to injury. Rumor has it that the boys might (and that's still a big "might") see the return of Mike Green and Sergei Fedorov.

But the Sharks might see the return of their all-star net minder Evgeni Nabakov as well, which could give the already on top of the world (and the Western Conference) Sharks an even bigger boost. Plus they will be playing in their fancy new third jerseys, which will make their home crowd debut tomorrow night, adding even more excitement to this highly anticipated match up.

If HM can manage to stay up tomorrow night (have a 6:30 a.m. wake up on Saturday for the twins early game), I'm looking forward to seeing one of my personal favorite NHLers, one of the few who is not a Capital. That would be American-born NHL veteran Jeremy Roenick, who's been in the league forever and a day, still plays a tough game and is a very funny guy!

Other dorsal fins to watch out for tomorrow night would be Devon Setoguchi, Jonathan Cheechoo (not to be confused with the Pred's Jordin Tootoo), captain Patrick Marleau and veteran Joe Thornton.

So more to come tomorrow on the Caps' injury situation.

In the meantime, enjoy this funny clip of Caps players talking about room mates on the road. I especially love it when Donald Brashear drops the "f" word. No, not that one - the one that has to do with expulsion of bodily gasses. Donald would fit right in my guys on that one - very big vocabulary word for 12-year old hockey players (and 30-something year old enforcers)! Too funny, Brash!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hollywood Lights - Caps Meet the L.A. Kings

Hockey Mom is usually lights out early (kind of like someone dumb enough to drop the gloves with the “Donald”) but for some reason I found myself awake in the middle of the night and of course, HAD to turn on the game. Just in time to see 2 Caps go to the box for sticking infractions against the L.A. Kings. Of course we rarely get to watch the guys in purple much here on the east coast, but HM’s brood kind of digs their marquee player Anze Kopitar as one of my twins sports the same number 11.

Second period, Brent Johnson and friends killed off the 5 on 3 with a monster effort by Brooks Laich, who without a stick, stopped several blazing shots with his glove hands. I love that guy – way to take one (or two or three -for the team)! Guys, way too much time in sin bin tonight….

Calder trophy candidate Drew Doughty tallied one for the Kings and Cap’s Nick Backstrom (currently on a sick scoring spree) scored yet again for the Caps to make it a 1 – 1 game. But the boys from Hollywood fought back late in the second with a power play goal from Patrick O’Sullivan.

What am I doing up blogging in the middle of the night? I wish I was dreaming that Sergei Fedorov, Alex Semin and Mike Green were not still injured…but good to see Shaone Morrison back on the ice.

In the middle of the third, AO took an interference penalty after getting knocked a bit woozy from one of his powerful hits, and the King's Dustin Brown netted another pp goal. The man of the evening Brooks Laich cut the King's lead with a red light goal of his own. But the Kings made 2 empty netters including one from Kopitar for a final score of 5 - 2 on the second stop of the Capital's western swing. So after a physical victory against the Ducks last night, the boys drop one on this three game visit to the land of stars and cars.

On a side note, a big high-five to the Cap’s marketing team for the new holiday commercial - what a great ad! I love the Caps drum set under the tree and especially Santa missing his front tooth – way cute! Speaking of ads, I’m thinking the league might want to pull the one featuring Carrie Milbanks with the Lightning’s former coach Barry Melrose. What drama down in Tampa, huh?

Next up, the Caps visit the Shark Tank– where the San Jose Sharks will be circling with a 10-0-1 record at home. I hope that all the guys are back to full health – now back to catch more zzzz’s.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Twin Telepathy and Caps Goin' Back to Cali....

You all know my fascination with the Sedin twins - check out this great post at Kukla's Korner that discusses everything from their "twin telepathic powers" to their almost identical scoring record! I keep trying to get my twins to watch footage of these two playing...it's amazing how the one just knows where the other one is on the ice (the Sedins). My twins play on the same line too and they could definitely learn some lessons watching these 2 twin wonders!

On to tonight's big contest at the Honda Center against the Anaheim Ducks. Unfortunately, this next string of games will be televised really late for this hockey mom, who has too many early mornings as it is! Caps fans, be sure to check out Dump and Chase and Capitals Insider for the very latest as both guys are on the road with the team; hopefully Mike or Tarik will get an interview with Snoop D-O-double-g who will undoubtedly be in the house to cheer on Chris Pronger and friends!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright...Cheers to Nick and AO

It's official - Nicklas Backstrom was named the NHL's First Star of the Week! Meanwhile, the Second Star goes to the player who celebrated Backstrom's goal against the Devils with more exhuberance than Nick himself - who else but Alex Ovechkin? HM is still cheering about that wild goal of his with less than one second left in the game!

Congrats to both Caps and keep those sparks igniting on this road trip against the Ducks, Kings, Wild and Sharks!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Caps' Stars Keep Shining...

A big Hockey Mom fist bump to Nick Backstrom who was named one of the NHL's Scotiabank's Stars after his 5 point game last night! This is the third time this season that a Capital has recieved recognition as Backstrom is joined by Brent Johnson and Alex Semin.

The Caps will have to bring the fighting spirit they demonstrated last night as they face some tough Western Conference teams in the week to come. The Anaheim Ducks are 4-5-2 at home and sit at the fifth spot in the competitive Western Conference. The Caps will see a familiar face on the Ducks roster in former Cap (and Hockey Mom fave) Brian Sutherby. The Ducks will be missing one of their big d-men as Francois Beauchemin tore his ACL during a game and will be out of the line up for up to six months. And don't be surprised to see Snoop Dogg in the house as his Ducks have a rare meeting with Ovie and friends - the Snoop loves his hockey:

Let's hope that all of the guys including Fedorov, Morrison and Semin are all back on the bench for this highly-anticipated road trip!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Devil of a Time - Caps Visit The Rock

The New Jersey Devils came out with much more chutzpah tonight in their second meeting with the Caps, after their loss to Ovie and friends last night. The Caps were minus sizzling Semin, who is still feeling the effects of the injury he suffered last night.

The Devils started the scoring with a goal from tough guy David Clarkson. But the Caps, who were out-hitting their opponents, made it even at 3 - 3 going into the third with tallies from Ovie, Fleischmann and Kozlov. Jose Theodore made some outstanding saves and there was a bit of scare late in the second as he was very slow getting up after one of those terrific saves.

The Devils' goal suffered a wardrobe malfunction in the second period when the red goal light would not stop going off. That must have been totally annoying to Theo. Too bad fellow New Jersey resident Tony Soprano wasn't in the house to fix that thing with a baseball bat...

Third period brought another goal from Devils' Patrick Elias - who was wide open, despite Mike Green's efforts to stave him off. Ovie had a bear hug for Nick Backstrom, who netted the Caps' fourth goal minutes later. Theo faced a shooting gallery with about 8 minutes left, resulting in another Devils' goal by Brian Gionta.

In a heart-stopping, last-second effort, Alex the Great was left solo on the left side of the net and blasted one in to tie it and force overtime. Excuse me, HM just fell off the couch on that play - no worries, I'm okay. Back on the couch for another sudden death overtime. And then, back to the edge of the couch for a nerve-wracking shootout. The Devils won the game with the shootout goal from Zach Parise.

Hockey Mom hopes that Nicklas Backstrom gets the red hard hat tonight for a fabulous 5-point evening.

So by now, everyone has heard about the firing of former Tampa Bay Lightning coach and mullet extraordinaire Barry Melrose, after only sixteen games with the club. Although I'm not exactly the biggest Melrose fan, the new owners of the Lightning seem to make too many impulsive decisions. Drop a ton of cash, pick up some of the best talent in the league and you're next in line to win the Stanley Cup, right? Unfortunately, lots of money, talent and a gritty coach do not equate to team chemistry. So, we'll see how Vinny and friends respond to interim Bolts coach and Gretzky pal Rick Tocchet and if he can get the team moving in the right direction.

Another exciting hockey weekend and not over yet - one more Pee Wee game tomorrow so up and at 'em early. More Caps hockey next week as the men in red hit the road to meet the Western Conference Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks.

Big Game(s) at the Phone Booth

As all you great Caps fans know, that picture of the scoreboard of the Verizon Center doesn't reflect the final score of last night's Caps/Devils contest. That was the final score of the twins' team as they took on another Pee Wee team on the Verizon Center ice. It was such a kick to see how excited these guys were to play on NHL ice and 6 of our players notched goals in a professional arena. And of course, Hockey Mom's twins each took a stint in John Erskine's hot seat, the Cap's penalty box.

Capital's mascot Slapshot was in the house and he had a great time chastising all those naughty kids who ended up in the sin bin! A great time was had by all - thanks to Tim Bronough and the Caps staff for making this game possible!

Of course the whole team was in attendance for the Caps/Devils game. Ovechkin netted 2 goals including an empty-netter and Jose Theodore was on his game in a 3 - 1 victory against the boys from Tony Soprano's stomping grounds. The victory didn't come without a price as league-leading scorer Alex Semin did not return for the third period with an "undisclosed" upper body injury. Latest news on that situation is that he is day-to-day and might be a "game-time" decision as the Caps take on Devils tonight at The Rock in New Jersey.

Gotta run to practice - more on tonight's contest and HM's thoughts on the Barry Melrose firing later...

Friday, November 14, 2008

"You Got Schooled!" Lessons in Hockey

Capital's Matt Bradley and Jeff Schultz and Assistant Coach Dean Evason kick off Caps Hockey School.

The popular phrase these days among the adolescent set is "you got schooled!" I remember a recent tournament my guys played where a rather husky kid with nacho cheese all over his mouth tried to ignite some pre-game fireworks by taunting our guys and saying "you're gonna get schooled."

Well yesterday, middle schoolers from H.B. Woodlawn Middle School in Arlington actually "got schooled" by Cap's players Matt Bradley and Jeff Schultz along with Assistant Coach Dean Evason as they kicked off the Caps Hockey School program. This is a fabulous program bringing the great game of hockey to kids and hopefully recruiting a future class of hockey fans at the grassroots level.

Bradley and Schultz participated in a question-and-answer session with the students and Evason led a skills demonstration with both players. The assembly ended with a brief scrimmage between students. The Capitals will donated a new set of NHL-branded street hockey equipment to the school.

Last season, the Washington Capitals successfully launched Caps Hockey School through a partnership with Arlington Public Schools (APS). Five APS middle schools received an interactive clinic hosted by the Capitals.

During the 2008-09 season, thousands of middle school students will graduate from Hockey School presented by Chevy Chase Bank. Students will benefit from question-and-answer sessions with Caps representatives, including Caps players and coaches, where they will share information about their hockey backgrounds and fun facts about hockey and the team. The Caps will teach skills through verbal instruction and demonstrations and allow students to sharpen their technique during the interactive clinics. At the end of each visit, students will receive hockey 101 booklets, squishy pucks and autographed player cards to signify that they graduated from Hockey School presented by Chevy Chase Bank. Keep spreading the puck love to those youngsters, Capitals!

On another topic, D.C. SportsBog gives us the inside scoop on Tom Poti's dueling black eyes. Hockey Mom was wondering what happened there - Poti has definitely had his share of black eyes this season. Poor guy's starting to look like that kid from The Little Rascals! Just keep scoring Tom....

And today is the big day where my twins' team will take the NHL ice at Verizon Center. HM hopes that one day they can take the ice for real like the Sedins, but hey, let's get real here. So today I will relish in the moment and take lots of pictures (much to their dismay)! My one twin (unlike Alex Ovechkin) refuses pictures unless his hair is all in place - which is impossible after taking off a schweaty helmet.

We'll be in the stands to cheer on the Caps as they take on the New Jersey Devils. Full details later!