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 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'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!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Caps Fans Donate a Ton of Food at Recent Food Drive

Hockey Mom salutes all of you fabulous Caps fans who donated at last weekend's food drive prior to the Caps/Rangers contest. The drive brought in more than a ton of food for needy families in the region - way to go Caps fans!

Here's more from the team press release:

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals and WFED 1500 AM hosted a canned food drive at the Caps game against the New York Rangers at Verizon Center on Nov. 8, to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. Caps fans donated 2,708 pounds of food, which more than doubled what was collected at last year’s drive. The Capital Area Food Bank also collected $2,248.31 at the drive, including a $1,000 check from Washington Capitals Charities. In total, nearly 9,500 meals will be provided with donations collected by the Caps.

Capitals players’ wives Sasha Bradley, Danielle Johnson, Gwen Pothier and Didi Steckel greeted fans at the F Street entrance along with volunteers from the Capital Area Food Bank. Fans who provided nonperishable food or monetary donations received a poster featuring Caps star defenseman and canned food drive spokesman Mike Green.

“The Capital Area Food Bank couldn’t be more thrilled with the cooperation, communication and support provided by the Washington Capitals at the recent, highly successful food and funds drive,” said Capital Area Food Bank Chief Operating Officer Brian Smith. “We appreciate the support to this organization and the impact on this community.”

The Capital Area Food Bank is the largest public nonprofit food and nutrition education resource in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Last year, the Capital Area Food Bank distributed 20 million pounds of food, including six million pounds of fresh produce, to more than 700 partner agencies. The Capital Area Food Bank has served the National Capital region for 28 years.

Now that's a phenomenal showing of true team spirit!

You the Man - Alex Chases Down the Canes

So once again Hockey Mom had kid hockey obligations (which included digging through the rink's Lost & Found for a lost jock - um, that was nasty) which caused me to miss half of the first period's telecast of Caps versus Canes, Round 2. I'm happy to report that we found the funky missing jock and that by the time I turned on my telly, the Caps were up by 3 with tallies from Semin, Ovechkin and Green (hmmm, looks just like the NHL All-Star ballot)!

Alex Semin - you the man! 4 points already and not even into the third period yet! Perfection is not without its flaws, however, he had a few too many needless hooking and tripping penalties. That said, huge high five to Alex for continuing to lead the league with his scoring prowess.

It was good to see Viktor Kozlov back too. Unfortunately, Brent Johnson left the ice in the second period after a traffic jam of Canes players in the net took some liberties in repeatedly whacking at his leg. No word yet on the extent of Johnny's injuries.

It was also great to see Carolina's Brandon Sutter back in their line up after suffering a concussion a few weeks ago. I have to say I was surprised to see him back so soon. If you haven't seen the hit from Islander's Doug Weight (which was ruled a legal hit), here it is:

For all of you hockey newbies, one of the first things coaches tell you when you're old enough to start checking is to "keep your head up." Unfortunately in that instance, Sutter had his head down in reaching for the puck and got sideswiped. So you can from the sheer force of the check he took why it's so great to see him back....

So the Caps continued to put the hurt on the Canes with additional goals from guess who - Alex Semin and a first this season from young Nick Backstrom to wrap it up with a final score of 5 - 1.

Next up, our Pee Wees hit the ice at the Phone Booth at 3 p.m. this Friday followed by the Caps/New Jersey game. I'm looking forward to getting my Bruce Boudreau bobblehead to add to my growing collection of Caps collectibles -my favorite is still the Caps Mr. Potato Head. It's all hockey all the time in my house - but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

More Post-Game Musings and Hurricane Watch

Photo: Washington Capitals

First off Hockey Mom wants to salute all of our heroic veterans on this Veterans Day and say thank you for your sacrifices and service to this great country!

As the buzz over last night's highly anticipated contest and Olie's first homecoming wains, I had a few more notes on the evening. I also wanted to give a big shout out to PucksandBooks and DC Sports Chick from On Frozen Blog, Rob from Storming the Crease and Aneesa from Love the Game, Don't Like Puck Bunnies for helping me find my way through the bowels of Verizon Center!

Looking forward to tomorrow's visit with the Carolina Hurricanes - jeez, didn't we just see these guys? Look for them to play a much tougher contest as they can't be at all happy with the the way the Caps stole the show in the final minutes of their last meeting!

One more exciting event happening in Hockey Mom's packed schedule this week takes place this Friday, when my twins' team will play an exhibition game on the Verizon Center ice! I wonder if I can pretend I'm Versus' Chris Simpson and interview the young guns between periods? All kidding aside, it will lots of fun to see our guys on an NHL sheet of ice. But there won't be 18,000 of my closest friends filling the seats (the game is at 3 p.m.) to help me cheer on the troops! I'll have to be extra loud - believe me, that has never been a problem for this hockey mom...

Then at 7 p.m., we get to see the men in red take on the New Jersey Devils minus the recuperating Martin Brodeur. I personally am looking forward to seeing backup goalie Kevin Weekes.

So gotta run and catch the end of practice (Pee Wee that is)... hurricane watch starts tomorrow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Live from The Press Box: Olie the Goalie's Return to D.C.

So tonight was my first official stint in the Washington Capitals' press box -(Hockey Mom high five to the very helpful Caps' media relations staff for helping this rookie find her way)!

I didn't catch any of the men in red meandering the halls pre-game but did see Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone (former Pens grinder), former Cap Steve Eminger and first round draft-pick Steven Stamkos. But nothing was more surreal about this outing than seeing Olie Kolzig, and I mean actually seeing him, in the Bolt's crease during warmups. And from high above the ice in the press box, I see lots of fabulous female fans in the house to see #37 and to rock the red. The chants of "Olie, Olie.." started right after the pledge of allegiance.

AO wasted no time in putting the hurt on Tampa Bay's Vaclav Prospal. Moments later Brash put a whomping of his own against Andre Meszaros. All this hitting has resulted in a stoppage in play to fix one of the glass panes. Capital Tom Poti netted his second goal in the last 2 games against his former net minder to put the Caps on the board first (with a Donald Brashear assist, I might add). D-man Mike Green made it 2 - 0 minutes later with a beauty of a top shelf goal. The crown went wild during the break between periods as highlights of Kolzig's amazing career as a Capital were played on the jumbo tron - to the music of "Godzilla", what else?

Now an update on the state of Tampa Bay coach Barry Melrose's mullet as promised: as greasy as ever and flecked with more grey on the sides. The hair goes nicely with the suit though, Barry. And I swear I just saw 5'7 Martin St. Louis try to lay a hit on a Cap but man, is he fast!

The late period goal by Eric Fehr made it 3 - zip. At 1:24 left in the first, Olie made a fabulous sprawling save against Alex Ovechkin, who earlier in the day joked that the best way to score against #37 was to "make him mad" - he's probably getting pretty hot under the collar by now with his team trailing by 3.

So far with about eleven minutes left in the second, there hasn't been any scoring but this period has seen the first 2 penalties of the game with the "Donald" called for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct. Speaking of unsportsmanlike conduct, expect a Hockey Mom post on that very subject soon, inspired (or uninspired, rather) by a recent string of game misconduct penalties on the part on one my guys.

The Lightning erased their goose egg with a goal from former Penguin Gary Roberts. Johnny denied another threatening Tampa Bay biscuit with 34 seconds left in the second period. One of the other highlights of my evening was meeting the real-life Puck Daddy - ya'll know HM is always ranting and raving about his fabulous and fun-fact filled blog for Yahoo Sports. I asked him to keep posting those great videos of vicious Pee Wee hockey hits!

Early in the third, it looked like Alex Semin would deke out Olie but he was turned away at the gate. (Note to hockey newbies: A 'deke' is a stick-handling maneuver where you control the puck so it looks like it's going in one direction and then 'deke' it on the last second in another direction in an attempt to trick the goalie.) Midway into third, big ole Donald Brashear was lying prone in Olie's crease after the Caps made an unsuccessful 'stuff' attempt. There was a lengthy t.v. timeout with about six minutes left in the game to repair another cracked pane of glass right behind Kolzig. I was quite surprised to see former Cap Steve Eminger playing crazy physical with Donaled Brashear.

And I'm thrilled to report that the brief scoring drought for Alex Ovehckin is over as he nailed a sweet one in the net to solidify the Cap's lead at 4 - 1. Bolt's Gary Roberts cut the lead to two with his second of the night.

So another terrific effort by the boys in red against a Tampa Bay team that's given them fits in the past. And of course, welcome back Olie - it's always good to see ya!

Johnny Named NHL Star of the Week

Cap's goalie Brent Johnson was named one the NHL's Three Stars of the Week for his recent stellar performances against the Carolina Hurricanes and the Eastern conference-leading New York Rangers. A huge Hockey Mom high-five to Brent, who of course will be between the pipes facing his old pal Olie Kolzig tonight.

Here are the specifics from the team's press release:


Making three consecutive starts for the first time since March
2007, Johnson posted a 2-0-1 record with a 1.63 goals-against average and .953 save percentage as the Capitals collected five of six available points. He made a season-high 42 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss at Ottawa Nov. 4, stopped 32 shots in a 3-2 victory over Carolina Nov. 6 and made 28 stops in a 3-1 victory over the New York Rangers Nov. 8. Johnson improved his season record to 3-1-2with a 2.12 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in six appearances. Since Bruce Boudreau was named head coach on Nov. 22, 2007, Johnson is 9-3-3 with a 2.19 goals-against average and
.925 save percentage as a starter.

Let's hope that Johnny's "hot hand" keeps sizzling as the team takes on some familiar faces on the Tampa Bay Lightning roster tonight! More from Verizon Center later....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Caps Battle Guys from Gotham

The New York Rangers are in the house tonight at the Phone Booth with a bunch of new faces in their line up. The Caps had the momentum in the first period with a goal apiece from Brooks Laich and Tom Poti. Both goals were questioned by Ranger's coach Tom Renney (who was doing his share of whining this evening) and went to review but were deemed solid goals. With 3:25 left in the second, Caps held the lead at 2-0, consistently playing the type of gritty hockey that Gabby's been looking for.

The Ranger's Aaron Voros has been all up in Brent Johnson's crease all night but Johnny is still making some terrific saves despite being pestered. Tampa Bay's goalie Mike Smith got sick and tired of Voros invading his crease the other night and hit Voros repeatedly in the back and helmet!

Speaking of Tampa Bay, looks like the Caps might be facing yet another of their former team mates when the two clubs meet on Monday night. Former Capital Steve Eminger (who up until last night was a Philadelphia Flyer) and fellow thugnasty Flyer Steve Downie were both traded to the Lightning. And rumor has it that Olie Kolzig will get the start for the Bolts in this highly anticipated match up. Hockey Mom will be covering the Lightning game from the press box with all of the exciting details (including the state of Bolt's new boss Barry Melrose's world-famous mullet!

In the meantime, I've been waiting for Donald Brashear and Colton Orr to drop the gloves in this current bout. Ovie has been hitting like a mad man and laid a wicked check on Marc Staal but still remains scoreless.

The third period opened on a Caps' power play. Noticeably, the Russian power line from Thursday's victory is minus an injured Sergei Fedorov, who was replaced on the line by Nicklas Backstrom. And the blueshirts got on the board with a goal from the pesky Aaron Voros, who did the Ovie celebration against the glass, but with his stick. Ranger's captain Chris Drury (who is a dead ringer for actor Luke Wilson), was hooked by Ovechkin and awarded a penalty shot, which Brent Johnson poke checked away with a big "not in my house!" Johnny made another lovely save on a Ranger's power play with 55 seconds left in the contest. Funny moment when Chris Drury leaned on his stick which snapped in half, dumping the Ranger's leader in an awkward face plant - classic...

In another exciting Cap's finish, Alex Semin skated out of the penalty box and scored an empty net goal from the other side of the rink. Sasha has earned this year's title of "game over" for sure!

This was a huge victory against a New York team that is currently at the top of the Eastern Conference standings! There should be no doubt that Bruce Boudreau has found his starting goalie - will be fascinating to see Brent face off against his old pal Olie in just a few days. Another fabulous win - way to grind away boys!

As Hockey Mom has been up since the crack of dawn for games on yet another weekend morning, I am signing off for now. Keep rocking the red, Caps fans....

Friday, November 7, 2008

Broadway Blues Come to Washington

TGIF sports fans! The Caps are in store for a big, and I mean big weekend, as they take on rival New York Rangers tomorrow night at the Phone Booth. The Rangers (affectionately known by their fans as the “blueshirts”) will be a tough opponent as they are at the top of the Atlantic division in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

Even though the Rangers are minus the original mullet - former not-so-popular Capital and current KHL player Jaromir Jagr - they have been a scoring machine with the likes of Markus Naslund, Nikolai Zherdev, Brandon Dubinsky and Scott Gomez. BTW, they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning like a drum last night with a score of 5 – 2.

So the Caps will have to bring their A-game in what has become a pretty heated rivalry. Will be curious to see who Bruce Boudreau starts in goal opposite the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist (who, take note lady fans, is quite a looker). I just don’t see how you can’t go with Brent Johnson. Hopefully Feds will be back from his undisclosed lower body injury and the guys can set off the light when presented with a power play opportunity, which hasn’t been happening enough of late!

For all of you fab fans going to the game tomorrow, don’t forget to bring your canned food donations to benefit the Capitals’ food drive for the Capital Area Food Bank. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and every donation helps…

Before I sign off, just a moment for another Hockey Mom Public Service Announcement: The Caps will announce the launch of their annual Courage Caps at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center Fisher House this Sunday, November 9, from 2 - 4 p.m. The Fisher House Foundation provides comfortable temporary housing for families of soldiers at Walter Reed in need of housing for an extended period to be near their loved ones. The team will donate 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Courage Caps, team-issued and branded hats, to Fisher House Foundation. Courage Caps will be on sale online through the Caps' Web site and during games. To kick off the sale of Courage Caps, several Capitals players will join Fisher House families and Wounded Warriors to help paint and landscape some of the Fisher House homes. So Caps fans, be sure to pick up your Courage Cap to show your team pride and help these soldiers and their families who have given so much for our country!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Storm Watch: Caps Take on Hurricanes

So Hockey Mom is rushing home from the gym to catch tonight's contest between the Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes when I must have suffered a moment of hockeymom-nesia and forgot my darn gym bag in the locker. So I had to turn around and retrieve it and listen to the first few minutes of the game on the radio -thank goodness for my XM radio!

Once again, the opposing team scored first at 2:58 into the first period with a goal by Scott Walker. Gabby is mixing things up by featuring the power Russian line of Oveckin, Semin and Fedorov. At the end of the first period, the Caps had taken bunches of shots on goal but the Cane's net minder Cam Ward denied them all. The "Donald" tried to spice up the game and energize his team by taking on Wade Brookbank in a brief heavy-weight fight. I know that a lot of sports fans don't like the fighting in the NHL, but there truly is a legitimate reason for it. I highly recommend the book The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL by Ross Bernstein for all of you new hockey fans.

About 4 minutes into the second period, the Russian line took off and tied the score with a Sergei Fedorov fabulous top-shelf goal, assisted by Ovie. After making a sprawling save against the Canes, goalie Brent Johnson allowed a "big-oops" five-hole goal from Tuomo Ruutu to give the Canes a 2 - 1 lead. The action really started heating up late in the second, with some monstrous hitting going on. Milan Jurcina nearly knocked a Canes player through the boards (in a legal hit, I must add) and Brooks Laich blocked a stinging shot for the team.

The Caps had several power play chances but were not able to score on the man-advantage. Scary moment midway in the third when the Cane's Eric Staal (of the blessed-with-crazy-hockey-talent Staal family) had a breakaway but he was denied once again by Johnny. Yet with 2:43 left in third, our October Star of the Month Alex Semin whipped a sweet goal over the shoulder of Cam Ward to tie the game at 2 - 2. Then the Russian boy wonders put a fork in it with 10 seconds left in the third with yet another phenomenal Semin goal and Ovie assist to win it 3 -2!

Way to go in front of the home crowd boys - another great effort by Brent Johnson and Alex Semin is totally rocking! Next up - New York Rangers...

More Fodder from Semin's Crosby Comments

So now Pittsburgh Penguins' coach Michel Therrien adds his input into the fray regarding the Caps' Alexander Semin's not- so-complimentary comments about Pen's susperstar and young captain Sidney Crosby.

For the love of Pete sports fans, enough already. I'm guessing that some of what Semin said was taken out of context. And if he did mean what he said (basically, what's the big deal about Crosby?), then here's the beauty of democracy -he's entitled to his opinion! Here's a guy who doesn't talk to the media because his English is not as smooth as Ovechkin's and he finally opens up a little in an interview (which was translated from Russian for Puck Daddy). Either way, it will make the next bout with those ice birds a lot more interesting!

P.S. Puck Daddy: HM is loving the Pee Wee hockey highlights you've been featuring. Hopefully some of my twins' teams' hits will make your highlight reel soon!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day: Capitals Battle Senators

How ironic that on one of the biggest election days in American history, Washington D.C.'s red, white and blue Capitals take on the Ottawa Senators who reside in Canada's capital! So far, the return of Alex Ovechkin seems to have energized his team mates and at the completion of the first period, goalie Brent Johnson has made some tremendous saves for the Caps (including a "not in my net" against a Daniel Alfredsson breakaway.

Alas, about 2 minutes into the second period, the Senator's Dany Heatley snuck one in on Brent Johnson but the men in red got on the board as a result of a sweet pass from the NHL's October star Alex Semin to Tomas Fleischmann to put in net. Nice goal, Flash!

While we're on Alex Semin, Hockey Mom raises her glass to Semin, Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin for their nominations on the NHL All-Star ballot. So Caps fans, be sure to log on to from Nov. 12 to Jan. 2 to make sure the Caps are represented at the 2009 All-Star game in Montreal. Congrats guys!

Hockey Mom must have voted about a thousand times (for Ovie of course) last year - I was certain I was going to win the all-expenses paid trip for 2 to the 2008 All-Star game in Atlanta. Guess it's a good thing I didn't win; how do you tell one twin he can't go because you only won 2 tickets?

Late in the third period, Ovechkin goes to the sin bin for decking Ottawa youngster Jesse Winchester. That was the second time in the game that Ovie's laid the kid out; those two have been exchanging words all night and I have a hunch they weren't talking politics!

The Cap's penalty kill unit did a great job of staving off the Sens when Sergei Fedorov went into the penalty box towards the end of the second.

Things got a bit more exciting when Michael Nylander had a breakaway on a Senators turnover but didn't score. Minutes later, the entire goal came down on Brent Johnson. So, with seven minutes left in the third, this is still a tie contest. "Johnny" has looked very comfortable in net throughout the game and has made several key saves.

So after three periods this race is tied and "too close to call" and we go into sudden death overtime. A quick goal by Mike Fisher (who had been having a rough go of it before tonight in scoring) ends it abruptly for the Caps on the road.

I guess it's back to watching the election results come in - darn, another loss stings and I'm not talking about the elections. Caps are back home on Thursday to face conference rivals Carolina Hurricanes.

Hockey Mom is signing off - it's gonna be a late night!

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Other Alex Earns NHL Star

Hockey Mom proposes a big toast to the Capital's other Alex, Alexander Semin for being named the NHL's first star of the month in October!

We all know that Sasha has been on fire these past few weeks, (minus the nap he must have been taking during the Sabres game) but the press release from the team states the particulars. His 16 points in nine games included eight goals and a +7 rating as he recorded points in eight of nine games and goals in six of nine. He matched Dale Hunter (one goal, 15 assists in 1991-92) for the most points by a Capital in the first nine games of a season.

Alex Semin becomes the sixth Capital to be named the NHL’s Player of the Month or First Star of the Month since the awards were first presented in 1980-81. So a big HM high five to Sasha and hope he keeps the lighting the lamp tomorrow night in Ottawa!

Meanwhile, I'm watching the Sabres (ugh) take on the New Jersey Devils. Hockey Mom has a tendency to root for the underdog so I'm thrilled to see the Devil's backup goalie Kevin Weekes in the net in place of an injured Marty Brodeur. HM is a huge Kevin Weekes fan - poor chap never gets to play. He is doing a spectacular job for the Devils so far - too bad he's not on the market!

I also heard an interview on XM's NHL channel with Capitals' owner Ted Leonsis. I recently expressed my opinion on over-the-top fans who push the limits of bad behavior, including cursing and insulting opposing fans, throwing things at fans and players, and the most ignorant: setting off smoke bombs in a crowded arena. So I loved Ted's response when asked how the team tries to head off this kind of behavior. One of the suggestions he made was establishing a G-rated zone exclusively for families. I think that's a fabulous idea although they already do a great job of promoting a family-type atmosphere.

Unfortunately, you can't always regulate rude fans from visiting teams but you can try to control the amount of alcohol an individual consumes, which always exacerbates the bad behavior. But my favorite part of Ted's interview was when he said "Just because you purchase a ticket does not give you the right to act like a moron." True dat!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Gabby - Not a Happy Camper

Now this is not one of Bruce Boudreau's happy faces. The coach expressed his frustration at last night's lack of effort against Buffalo and put the boys through some tough paces today at practice per Tarik El-Bashir. Alex Ovechkin should be back for Tuesday's game against Ottawa, but even without him, this team had enough talent to beat a struggling Sabres club. Like I tell my boys, it's about showing up and giving 110% every shift you get on the ice. You can never underestimate another team as was evident from last night's embarassing shut out. So let's all hope that the team is ready to rock in Ottawa on Tuesday...

Speaking of my boys, both of them spent so much time in the penalty box during today's game that I was wondering if I should rent it out for our next vacation - we can spend some quality family time in the sin bin! Our team won and one of my guys got a hat trick (which did not excuse him from getting his hind handed to him for lipping off to a ref).

While we're talking about the penalty box, I think everyone knows how Hockey Mom feels about the Dallas Stars' instigator Sean Avery - who has probably spent half of his adult life in the penalty box! In case you missed it, check out some of last night's contest between the Stars and the Boston Bruins. This game turned into a total slugfest and of course Avery is right in the thick of things:

So another hockey-filled weekend has come and gone. Don't forget to get out there and vote on Tuesday!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Caps Meet Buffalo Sabres

To commemorate tonight's game in Buffalo, Hockey Mom and fans had buffalo wings for dinner. Three minutes into the second period with the Sabres ahead 3 - 0, maybe in hindsight the buffalo wings were bad luck. Sabres sharp shooter Thomas Vanek scored about a minute into the contest. The Caps continue to make too many silly penalties and Brash has been in the sin bin twice. The Sabres second goal went in from almost behind the net on Jose Theodore and the third one was a wicked five-hole. (Note to newbies: Five-hole is when the goal is scored by the puck going between the goalie's leg pads through the open space in the middle).

Of course Alex Ovehckin is still in Russia with his ill grandfather (word has it that he'll be back with the team for Tuesday's meeting with the Ottawa Senators). So far, Alex Semin and the rest of the guys have not been able to make anything happen offensively. The Sabres' goalie Ryan Miller stopped a barrage of Caps shots aimed his way early in the second period to no avail. Mike Green must have taken at least three consecutive slap shots (and he has a mean, fast slap shot) against Miller, but it was no go.

It is great to see Sabres defenseman Teppo Numminen back on the ice. The guy is amazing; he's 40-years old and missed most of last season after having open heart surgery. Hockey Mom's dad had open heart surgery and I know how incredibly difficult that recovery is for a normal person; I can't even imagine how difficult it must have been for Numminen to not only recover, but to get into high-octane shape in time for this season. So a huge HM high five to Teppo.

Late in the second, the Sabres scored yet AGAIN to make it 4 - 0. Ouch.
Unfortunately, with less than nine minutes left, the boys in red haven't been able to even buy a goal. The Sabres' Paille, reminds me of "paella", just scored another one on Theo to make it 5 - goose egg. This from a Sabres team that's lost their last three games! Come to think of it, those chicken wings aren't sitting too well right now.

So this game was a complete bummer. Now the guys will have to regroup upon OV's return to take on an Ottawa team that has a lot of firepower, including Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and their captain Daniel Alfredsson (who just signed a nice 4-year contract). C'mon team - let's hope for a better showing on Election Day. Which reminds me - all you great hockey fans, don't forget to vote on Tuesday!