Sunday, January 31, 2010

Perfect 10: Caps Tie Franchise Record

Caps' fans had a reason to toast this afternoon after the boys tied a franchise record for most consecutive wins, one the team hasn't seen in 26 years! Their 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning rose the roof on a red-rocking Verizon Center as the team earned their tenth straight win. Most people expected fireworks from the first faceoff based on the fight-filled last meeting between these two, but much of the action in the first two periods was a bit dull.

The Capitals held a 2-0 lead going into the third period, thanks to a power play goal from Nick Backstrom and a full-strength tally from Brooks Laich. The dangerous Martin St. Louis got the visitors within one when he scored with about 15 minutes left in the final period. The boys found themselves in trouble shortly after as Backstrom and Fleischmann were sent to the sin bin and the sparking Bolts tied the game with a power play goal from Steven Stamkos. Lightning goaltender Mike Smith pretty much frustrated Alex Ovechkin for most of the afternoon, but the reigning MVP kept up his barrage of shots and scored the game winner with less than seven minutes remaining! A huge Hockey Mom high five to the boys for this tremendous accomplishment (and without the services of  Mike Green). Let's make it 11 on Tuesday as you take on the team we met in the season opener, a struggling Boston Bruins club.

And in other hockey happenings, trade madness seems to be starting a bit early this year. The Toronto Maple Leafs made a significant trade today when they made a seven-player deal in exchange for human wrecking ball and former Calgary Flames defenseman, Dion Phaneuf. The Leafs also picked up a player who was a recent victim of the winning mojo at the Phone Booth, Anaheim goaltender J.S. Giguere. Things are just starting to get interesting...

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Caps Continue Their Streak with Win Over Florida; Green Suspended

 The Capitals' win streak continued after they declawed the Florida Panthers 4-1 in front of another sell-out crowd at the Phone Booth last night. The Cats came with their game faces on as they are still in the running for a playoff spot. The Capitals didn't exactly give one of their strongest performances against this feisty Florida team, yet came up with the win thanks to another great game from Michal Neuvirth and more third period fun from the goal scorers. Mike Knuble lit the lamp twice for Washington, the gritty fan fave has been unstoppable of late and currently has 18 goals to his credit.  Playmaker Nicklas Backstrom also tallied and d-man Jeff Schultz even got into the action with his second goal of the season!

The big story of the night was the knee-on-knee collision between Mike Green and Dmitry Kulikov. Green went down in a heap after the open ice crash and you could hear a pin drop among the sold-out crowd as they waited for him to get back on his feet. He was able to skate off with assistance and the fabulous news for Caps' fans was that his injury status is day-to-day, so the worst case scenario of a devastating knee injury evaded the star defenseman. But the even bigger news making headlines today also revolved around #52. Green was given a three-game suspension for a hit with an elbow against Panthers' forward Michael Frolik. Frolik played the remainder of the game and Green was slapped with a two-minute penalty. HM is in total agreement that the league has to eliminate hits to the head (especially after witnessing the recent Cormier incident in the Q), but think that this is yet another example of the lack of consistency in doling out punishment for major incidents on the part of the league. This season has seen its share of dangerous hits and boarding occurrences, but the punishments have not always fit the crime. Prime example is the lack of any suspension for Colorado's David Koci for an atrocious boarding of the afore mentioned Green, an action which could have had distastrous results. Now I am not saying the Green's hit was not over the edge and even dangerous, but that a three-gamer for a first-offender might be a little excessive. If you haven't seen the TSN Canada version of the hit, you can check it out here:

I'm just saying - you decide for yourself. Capitals Insider has more on the reaction to Green's suspension. HM is sure that Don Cherry will weigh in on this issue as he is spotlighted on this Hockey Day in Canada (and a very happy HDIC to all of our pals up North by the way)!

Now HM attended last night's game as the gracious guest of a business associate whose son is a Panthers' equipment manager. After the game, the Cats' gear guru welcomed his dad and me and we got a first-hand look at how hard these guys work to make sure each players' equipment is gathered and accounted for and then prepared for the charter flight home. HM joked with him that I cannot imagine the responsibility that comes along with managing all that gear as one of my boys actually made it to the rink for a game without his skates. Yes that's right, as I sped the twenty minutes back to my house to retrieve said skates, my head was spinning with my best Linda Blair in The Exorcist imitation. In all seriousness, many thanks to Bob Moody and his son, Chris Moody for a fantastic night of hockey.

My host has spent lots of time with the Panthers group and many of the players came by to say hello including veteran Corey Stillman. It's been said over and over again that hockey players are probably the most "regular folk" among professional athletes and every meeting I've had thus far with NHLers has reinforced that image. Now of course there are some of the wild and crazy youngsters out there (e.g., Patrick Kane), but hey, you only get to be a young, rich and cute hockey star once, right? Speaking of youngsters, the highlight of my evening was meeting David Booth, who I've written about several times and have been pulling for him to get back on the ice. He will is slated to return to action tomorrow against the Islanders and I have never seen a bigger smile on someone's face as he talked about his return to the ice. He is quite a fighter and an all around nice young man - HM is rooting for you #10, welcome back! He shares some of his excitement and a bit about his long road to recovery from his concussion in the clip below:

Back home in snow-covered D.C., the boys will aim to reach their first 10-game win streak since the 1983-1984 season when they take on the Bolts during a matinee game at Verizon Center tomorrow. As you recall, things got a bit chippy to say the least, the last time these two teams met. HM expects another spirited match up as the Lightning is one of eight teams trying to snag one of the last three playoff spots - puck drops at 3 p.m.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Help a Fellow Hockey Fan

I'm sure you all have reached into your pockets as we all have to help the victims of the recent devastation in Haiti. Now Hockey Mom wants to pass on a story of a fellow hockey fan close to home who is also in need of help. Please check out this post from the Peerless about an avid Hershey Bears fan suffering from cerebral palsy whose specially equipped handicapped van was recently stolen. Now we all know hockey fans are the greatest people in the sports world so hopefully everyone will take action and help this young man get back to the Giant Center to see his trophy-winning team soon!

And to you losers who are responsible for this heinous action, well let's just say they have a "special" place for folks like you....

Game Day: Caps and Cats

The Capitals play host to the Florida Panthers tonight at Verizon Center and hope to continue on their red-hot win streak! Meanwhile, the Cats' play of late has brought up the age-old question of whether or not the feline species really does have nine lives, as Florida is clawing their way back into the playoff race, despite the absence of sniper David Booth (concussion). Good news for them is that Booth recently started full practices with the team - seems like he's been sidelined for ages since taking a brutal hit from Flyer's captain, Mike Richards. The Capitals may see the return of Jose Theodore to the crease tonight and on the other side of the ice, Panther's net minder Tomas Vokoun sits second in the NHL with six shutouts and is second with a .931 save percentage. HM will be in the house for all the fun-filled action!

Meanwhile, I have to give a  Hockey Mom shout out to a hockey pal of mine who was mentioned in today's Washington Post as head coach of local high school team, the Briar Woods Falcons. Coach Bill Hughes has implemented a dress code of khakis, dress shirts, ties and blazers for his team (not unlike the attire of NHLers when traveling to and from venues) which aptly conveys an appearance of professionalism as well as identifying the boys as part of a unified, disciplined team. Hughes has coached my twins in the past and I can attest that he is a fabulous coach and his passion for the game is contagious among his players and everyone he comes across. He also boasts a great team of assistant coaches on the bench. Good luck tonight Coach as your sharp-dressed men take on Stone Bridge High School!

And your Friday funny took place in last night's game between the Atlanta Thrashers and the thugnasty Flyers. In a game that saw our pal Daniel Carcillo score a goal on his 25th birthday (am sure his belated birthday card from Matt Bradley is in the mail), Atlanta goaltender Johann Hedberg found himself in a precarious situation as he lost his helmet and somehow got his jersey stuck over his head. Thankfully, no one was injured in this wacky incident, but let's ask him if he can do that cool turtle imitation again when Atlanta visits the Phone Booth next Friday, shall we? Check it out here:

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Caps Roast Ducks for Eighth Straight Win

Hockey Mom's computer is still in virus pergatory (but in the very capable hands of an IT specialist) so I apologize for the lack of live commentary of last night's feather-plucking of the Anaheim Ducks. I was surprised to see Jiggy (J.S. Giguere) in net for the visitors, but he was effective in holding back the Caps' sizzling offense, until the third period that is. The feisty boys from Disneyland had their game faces on, if just for a moment, and after the roasting began, they started getting nasty.

Ovi started the scoring, with a lovely goal less than one minute into the first period that pretty much smoked an unprepared Giguere. But then Jiggy started showing some of the old form that helped him win a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy, holding back the Capitals for the better of two periods. The hitting (as expected from the big boys from Anaheim) was "beast" - as my boys would say, and Ovechkin and veteran Duck leader Scott Niedermayer had a massive collision against the boards early in the contest. By the way, what is with all these Niedermayer to Washington rumblings I've been hearing?

The blowout began in earnest in the final stanza courtesy of some sweet secondary scoring from d-man Shaone Morrisonn, whose puck took a lucky bounce into the goal off of former Capital (and former Bolt, former Flyer, former PantherSteve Eminger. Less than a minute later, Ovi blew past Niedermayer to set up Mike Knuble for the third tally. Knuble is currently fifth in the league with nine goals in January. He also shares the lead among players 35 and older with 16 goals on the year - let's hear it for the senior citizens! And once Alex Semin's magic hands touched the puck, it was game over for Jiggy and his pals (but not before a little fisticuff action between our man Matt Bradley and mean Mike Brown). Semin finished off the Ducks to make it 5-1 with a power play goal at 11:47. So now both Alexs can boast nine two-goal games under their belts and the Capitals are the highest scoring team in the league! Michal Neuvirth deserves some love for last night's effort as well, stopping 30 shots.

So are these Capitals unstoppable? Seems like it and they are sure as heck are fun to watch! But every team that takes on the boys in red will be working even harder than ever to knock them down a notch, we'll probably see that tomorrow night as the Florida Panthers come to town. The Cats are clawing their way into a playoff spot and will be a formidable opponent for sure. HM will be in the house as a guest of someone who works in the Panther organization, but no worries, they have been forewarned that I will be rocking the red loud and proud!

Meanwhile, in last night's Dallas/Calgary game we get a little lesson in "hockey fights 101" - note to self: you cannot hit a guy with their own lid:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Capitals Recall Holtbey; Reassign Karl Alzner

To no one's surprise, the Capitals have called up goaltender Braden Holtby to back up Michal Neuvirth in light of Jose Theodore's injury status as day-to-day. Karl Alzner has been sent back down to Hershey for the time being.

From the team release:

Capitals Recall Braden Holtby, Assign Karl Alzner to Hershey

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have recalled goaltender Braden Holtby from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) and assigned defenseman Karl Alzner to Hershey, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Goaltender Jose Theodore, who played the first two periods of last night’s win at the New York Islanders, is day-to-day with an injury.

Holtby, 20, is a first-year pro who stands 6’1”, 209 pounds. He has split this season with Hershey and the South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) while also making an appearance as a backup for the Capitals Oct. 17 vs. Nashville.

Holtby has posted a 15-2-1 record with Hershey and leads the AHL with a 1.82 goals-against average. His .935 save percentage ranks third in the league and he has won four straight games for the Bears. In South Carolina Holtby posted a 7-2-1-2 record with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, earning a spot in the ECHL All-Star Game.

The Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, native was the Capitals’ fourth-round choice, 93rd overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Holtby, No. 70 with Washington, is available for tonight’s game against Anaheim.

Alzner, 21, has split this season between the Capitals (18 games, five assists) and Hershey (27 games, one goal, five assists).

Capitals Invade the Island with a 7-2 Win

Sorry that HM has been remiss in her reporting duties sports fans, but Twin B thought he was doing me a big favor when he decided to "clean my files" as instructed by the icon on my laptop and downloaded the world's nastiest computer virus. So I've been without the use of my laptop for a few days - thanks kiddo!

Last night's contest between normally gritty New York Islanders and the league-leading Capitals looked a little bit like a Squirt house game on the part of the Isles at times, as they literally seemed to be standing dead in their tracks and helpless to defend an absolute onslaught of goals (despite the mid-game goal tender change). Brendan Morrison started the party early (like 65 seconds into the first period) and no one on the visitors bench needed any smelling salts to keep the good times rolling at the Coliseum! Mike Knuble's exemplary net-crashing skills led to another first period Capitals' tally. And Alex Semin had yet another extraordinary performance, contributing two goals towards the high-scoring rout. Semin now has six points in his last two games (3g-3a) and points in six straight (4g-8a). Someone buy that kid a vodka shot already will you? Keep up the dazzling work Sasha - let's see more of that brilliant stick work tonight!

Alex Ovechkin was held without a goal and unfortunately one of his rocket-fired shots led to a very scary incident when it hit Islander player Jack Hillen straight in the face, resulting in a trip to the hospital. Ovi expressed his concern for his fallen opponent before he was taken out of the arena, and HM joins all hockey fans in wishing Hillen a speedy recovery. Isles net minder Dwayne Roloson got the hook after letting in four Capitals goals, leaving Rick DiPietro (who recently returned to action after a long absence following surgery) to mind the crease. DiPietro didn't have much success either as the Caps racked up another three goals to finish off the Islanders. Jason Chimera, Brooks Laich and big John Erskine all lit the lamp for the visitors and Erskine's goal was his first in 109 games. Jose Theodore left the game starting the third period, leaving Michal Neuvirth to finish it up. Theo has some sort of  "lower body injury" but no word on anything specific. A huge Hockey Mom high five to all the boys for a solid effort and sweet win, adding some padding to the points total and keeping them at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with 74 points.

The not-so-mighty Anaheim Ducks roll into D.C. tonight for a meeting at Verizon Center. They are coming off a loss at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers and will be without one of their key offensive players with Teemu Selanne on injured reserve. Despite being at the lower end of the Western Conference list, they still play a very agressive style of hockey and have some very big rigs in the likes of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and should not be taken lightly...goalie Jonas Hiller will most likely be facing the streaking Caps after pretty much unseating Stanley Cup winner JS Giguere early on in the season. The Caps will also see a familiar face on the opposing bench in Steve Eminger, who's pretty much played on half the teams in the league so far in his young career.

And not sure if you've been following the whole situation with World Juniors Team Canada's captain Patrice Cormier's suspension or not, but Puck Daddy is reporting that his Quebec Major Junior League team is going to appeal.  Hockey Mom has not written about the disturbing incident in which he basically tried to annihialate Mikael Tam with his elbow in what looked to be a pre-meditated hit, leaving Tam convulsing on the ground with brain trauma. You can "google" the video footage of this horrific incident at your discretion, but HM must warn you that it's one of the most nauseating hits I've ever seen in all my hockey watching. Cormier, a New Jersey Devils draft pick,  received a suspension for the rest of the season. Apparently, he doesn't "get" the serious nature of hits to the head and not sure that he's learned any lessons at all from this terrible incident...HM would throw the book at him!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Live from the Press Box: Capitals Host Coyotes

After the euphoria of beating the Pittsburgh Penguins on their home ice on Thursday, the Caps faced another formidable opponent tonight as the surging Phoenix Coyotes paid a rare visit to the Phone Booth.  While the Capitals boast an exceptional record of home wins, the desert dogs are one team who've had good luck on Verizon ice, having won three straight in The District and not losing to Washington since a 3-2 overtime Caps win on Jan. 28, 2000.

Tonight's contest gave Alex Ovechkin a chance to play (albeit "against") his Team Russia comrade, Phoenix goal tender Ilya Bryzgalov. And the boys saw another familiar face in an opposing sweater in former Hershey Bear, Sami Lepisto, who garnered the game's first penalty in the opening period. Mike Green was back in the lineup this evening, as was John Erskine, both coming off the injury list. The Capitals lit the lamp first on a power play goal by Brooks Laich with help from Alex Semin and Eric Fehr. Laich's marker gave him his fourteenth of the season!

The Coyotes got on the board to tie it with a goal from Lauri Korpikoski against a defenseless Michal Neuvirth, speaking of defenseless - there was a bit of a meltdown on the part of the Caps' defense leading to that tally. Neuvy made an outstanding play seconds later on what would have been a breakaway short-handed goal from Phoenix's Vernon Fiddler (now that doesn't sound like your typical hockey name to HM) and boy, was he mad when he got stonewalled!

The second period started out a bit sloppy on the part of both teams. Besides a solid penalty kill by the Coyotes in the first minute, both teams made several errant passes and a few "oopsies' early on. There was no doubt that this Phoenix team came to play however, as the hitting ramped up a notch and they seemed to get a bit feistier after the opening period.  Shaone Morrisonn went to the box for holding a Coyotes' stick (that's one way to stop 'em, unfortunately it's not legal) and the boys went to work on a successful penalty kill.

Scottie Upshall took his turn in the box shortly thereafter for a hook and the boys in red took a 2-1 lead with a wacky-angled behind the net goal from Eric Fehr with assists from Semin and Ovi. At 17:06, the Caps added a little padding to that goal total with Alex Semin's third point of the evening as he went top-shelf on Bryzgalov. But we all know that as brilliant as Semin can be offensively, he also has a maddening tendency to take penalties at the most inopportune time (not that any time is a good time, mind you). Such was the case in the waning minutes of the second period as he deflected a puck over the glass when pal Eric Fehr was already in the sin bin for tripping putting the boys at a 5-3 disadvantage for a spell.

Another Hockey Mom high five though to the penalty killers who kept the Yotes off the board starting the third period! Phoenix cut the lead to within one with another goal from Lauri Korpikoski midway through the period. Then Coyotes' vet Ed Jovanovski (also affectionately known as "Jovocop") punched Brooks Laich in the face at the whistle and the Caps went on another power play (but did not score). Now HM thought that should have garnered a tougher penalty, but that's why I'm not wearing stripes (plus stripes don't exactly flatter a female figure)!

With under three minutes left to play, Nick Backstrom was called for cross-checking. Michal Neuvirth made an outstanding glove save on desert dog captain (and apparently a huge fan of the new "hockey" flick, The Tooth Fairy) Shane Doan as he went for the power play goal. Tempers boiled over in the final minute as scrums broke out after every whistle, earning the squeaky clean Jeff Schultz and Shane Doan roughing calls for their respective teams.

But Ovi netted an empty netter for the second time in a week - putting a fork in this one with a final of 4-2. A terrific performance by the special teams and Neuvirth, who shook off the pre-game nerves and the memories of his play against Florida and Tampa Bay and saved 28 shots for the win. A super Hockey Mom stick tap to Alex Semin (we can forget that silly puck over the glass thing) for his goal and three assists. When asked in the post-game press conference whether he thought Alex Ovechkin's new role as captain has had any effect on Sasha's level of play, Coach Boudreau said that he didn't know if there was a direct correlation but added that Semin "is on his game right now."

So another win against a tough team - they'll have to keep up the effort when they meet the New York Islanders on Tuesday. We all remember how scrappy those worker bees from the Island can be! HM is signing off - early to the rink tomorrow and it looks like I'll be spending the better part of the day there (and that is new how?)....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bad Memories Be Gone: Caps Rout Pens 6-3

The Capitals hopefully banished the very bad memory of last year's dreadful Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a resounding win last night over the currrent Cup champion Penguins! Despite a rocky start where Jose Theodore went a little Carey Price (minus the fisticuffs) out of his crease allowing the Pens the first goal, last night's game saw an absolutely stellar performance by almost everyone wearing a white sweater. Mike Knuble tied it up shortly thereafter with the assist from the Great8.

The boys were without the services of Mike Green, but youngster John Carlson filled in quite nicely and earned his first NHL point (Hockey Mom high five for that one)! No official word yet on what exactly is ailing the Green Monster but hope to see him against the desert dogs at Verizon tomorrow.

This game lived up to the massive hype for most of two periods with the two bitter enemies trading goal for goal. One of the Pen's goals was scored by another youngster, Nick Johnson, who was also called up from the minors. Can you imagine scoring your first NHL goal against the Capitals? Speaking of Johnson, former Caps' goal tender Brent Johnson got the nod for the Penguins and in the third period it was evident that the Capitals had his number. Particularly in the third period, when the league's power play leaders opened the flood gates.

This one was tied at 3-3 in the final period when Tomas Fleischmann scored with a sick wrister courtesy of an even sicker Alexander Semin pass. And less than two minutes later, Pens' veteran Bill Guerin (who was sporting a groovy "Slap Shot-esque" mustache) went to the box for interference and the league's leading power play went to work. Nick Backstrom netted a lovely power play tally with help from his pal Flash and the Caps were in possession of a significant 5-3 lead. The mutual dislike between these two started to boil over late in the third when Geno Malkin (who probably should have been whistled for goalie interference in the incident) came way too close for comfort to Theo and Caps' d-man Tom Poti stepped in to protect his territory. Of course, this being the Penguins and all, much whining to the refs on the part of the guys in the bird sweaters followed.

The Pens pulled Johnson in the final minutes for the extra skater but how appropriate that Crosby's nemesis, Ovechkin, tallied the final empty net goal to a chorus of boos from the haters in Mellon Arena.

Jose Theodore quickly redeemed himself from his first period gaffe, stopping 35 shots for the 6-3 victory - and what a sweet victory it was! An outstanding effort from all the boys (HM has to also add a stick tap here to Shaone Morrison on his two assists) and hopefully this hard-earned win all but banished last year's painful memories!

Up next, the Caps face the resurging Phoenix Coyotes, who are armed with Team Russia goal tender and FOO (friend of Ovechkin), Ilya Bryzgalov. This will be another test for the Caps, as the Coyotes sit in the number four spot in a very tough Western Conference. Hockey Mom will be in the house for all the action but until then, hope you all savor last night's fabulous win!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So I Heard There Was a Hockey Game Tonight?

Yep, only one of the biggest, most-hyped regular season match ups between two of the most bitter rivals in the NHL. The Capitals visit Mellon Arena and the much-disliked Pittsburgh Penguins tonight for the first meeting of the season. The pestiferous Pens dashed the Caps' hopes of advancing in last year's playoffs in a blowout  home ice Game 7 that players and fans alike still have etched in their memories. And the mutual animosity between the the two Eastern Conference powerhouses captains, Sid and Ovie of course, is certainly no secret to anyone in the hockey world. These two leaders are blazing ahead of the pack in terms of goals and points among all NHL players; Crosby leads Ovechkin in goals by a mere two. Meanwhile Ovechkin has amassed more points than Sid with 65 points to the kid's 63.

The Pens are coming off a huge win against the New York Islanders (where Isles' Andy Sutton got a two-game suspension for brutally boarding Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis) where they had a season-high four power play goals. The Capitals meanwhile were a stellar 5 for 5 on the penalty kill Tuesday night against a dangerously offensive Detroit club.

The Caps recalled John Carlson from Hershey this morning so look for more good things from Team USA's golden star. Meanwhile, expect to see a familiar face in net for the ice fowl, as Brent Johnson will most likely be between the pipes in place of an injured Marc-Andre Fleury. That is going to be very strange indeed.

Yes sports fans, this one's a biggie in the truest sense of the word. For more from the Penguin's fan perspective (if you care), check out SB Nation's PensBurgh. And if you're ready to get fightin' mad and riled up for the game (several hours early), read this enemy propaganda from The PensBlog.

As if you're not already psyched for hockey, you'll love this one (HM has a special affinity for goalies who'll drop the gloves, even when they deserve to get rocked). Check out Canadien's goal tender Carey Price (who is so far out of his crease he might as well be in the Molson/popcorn line) getting ready to dance with St. Louis Blues' Cam Janssen.  Awesome...

Back to the team we all know and love, the Capitals will face off against the Penguins at 7:30 - looking for the boys to unleash some fury on our pals from the Steel City!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Theo Saves the Day as Caps Squeak Past Red Wings

For the better part of last night's hockey game, the Washington Capitals got schooled by the former Stanley Cup champion Red Wings. They were outshot and outhustled, missing too many opportunities to crash the net and to clear the puck out of Jose Theodore's grill. But luckily for the home team, Theo played an absolutely spectacular game, saving 44 shots and earning the win! His confidence is brimming after losing a few starts to youngster Michal Neuvirth and his performance was nothing short of phenomenal.

After out shooting the Capitals 15-3 in the first periond and 16-11 in the second, the Wings lit the lamp first with a goal by Dan Cleary early in the second period. Our own Professor Matt Bradley, grinder extraordinaire, tied it up late with help from pals Boyd Gordon and Mike Green.

The third period was when things really started getting interesting (and by interesting I mean that's when my blood pressure started going through the roof as I chewed off my formerly lovely manicured nails). The Wings' Brian Rafalski netted another tally for Detroit, banging in a rebound. But Nick Backstrom answered the call around the 13 minute mark with assists from the Great8 and Theodore. Less than two minutes later, David Steckel banged in his fourth of the season with assists from Alex Semin and Karl Alzner (who'd just made the trek from Hershey yesterday afternoon)! The boys held on to sqeak by with a 3-2 win despite a lackluster performance, but a win is a win and we'll take it! So a huge Hockey Mom high five for the win and especially to Theo, who recieved a thundering and well-deserved standing ovation from the Caps' faithful!

And there's no need to remind anyone what's next for the Caps - tomorrow night brings the long-awaited showdown with the archrival ice birds from the Steel City. The Penguins are coming off a big win against the Islanders, where Sidney Crosby recorded six points and Geno Malkin had a hat trick. It will be a much hyped meeting between two hockey heavyweights with the two biggest stars in the league wearing the "C" for their respective teams. So let the trash talking begin and let's blow into the Igloo with memories of Game 7 and show them what you got boys! Hockey Mom is waiting for the weekend to refurbish her hockey-watching damaged manicure - oh wait, my boys have a full slate of games this weekend. What's the point?

Speaking of the boys, Twin A had lots of stories from last weekend's trip to Ottawa. Apparently one of the Canadian teams they played went to the Don Cherry school of hospitality, as a team from Toronto taunted our kids calling them "stupid Americans" after beating them 5-0 and moving on to the Finals. Our boys were the only American team in the tournament and held their own against some very talented competition from Canada and should be very proud of themselves. Speaking of Don Cherry, my son said they ate at his restaurant and it was the worst food he's ever had. It must have been really bad as that kid will eat just about anything!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Alzner Recalled as Wings Fly into Town

The Capitals have recalled defenseman Karl Alzner from Hershey as the struggling (but still dangerous) Detroit Red Wings swoop into Verizon Center tonight. From the team's release:

The Washington Capitals have recalled defenseman Karl Alzner from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Alzner, 21, is a second-year pro who stands 6’3”, 206 pounds and has recorded four assists in 14 games with the Capitals this season. The Burnaby, British Columbia, native has played 27 games for Hershey this season and has one goal, five assists and only 10 penalty minutes. His +17 rating is tied for 10th in the AHL.

 Meanwhile, the Caps have a sizzling hot win record at home thus far, boasting a 16-3-3 record at the Phone Booth, and their three regulation home loses are the fewest in the league. The Red Wings lost some of their firepower in the off-season with the departure of Marian Hossa to the rival Chicago Blackhawks and Jiri Hudler to the KHL. And their locker room has been dessimated at times by the injury bug - their work horse, Johan Franzen (appropriately nicknamed "The Mule") has been down and out for quite some time with a torn ACL. When they face the red-hot Caps tonight, they'll be without the Mule, along with Tomas HolmstromJason Williams and Niklas Kronwall

Some naysayers are even going so far as to predict that the Wings might even narrowly miss the playoffs this season, while others are forecasting a surge towards regular season's end. Regardless of all the media chatter, the Caps can't take these guys lightly - Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard has pretty much unseated Stanley Cup winning net minder Chris Osgood and is the hot hand with a .928 save percentage. More from Hockey Mom later (after she crams three boisterous teeange boys and three hockey bags in the car for the rink run)- puck drops at 7 p.m.!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Capitals Top Flyers 5-3

The Caps have scored two goals in each of their last five periods and today was no different, but it seemed to be a tad more rewarding as the two goals in the final stanza were against those hated fellas in the Halloween sweaters (AKA the Flyers). Hockey Mom and Twin B (Twin A is on the long bus ride home from Ottawa) were in the house for a game that had a playoff aura surrounding it from the get-go. It's no secret that these two teams share mutual dislike for each other and that was evident in the number of hits, as well as their intensity.

To my surprise (and Twin B's dismay) there were no fights between these two rivals despite the efforts of Flyers' uber-thug Daniel Carcillo to get under the skin of just about every guy in a red sweater. And the Flyers were on their best behavior (or at least they weren't getting called; HM counted three blatant Flyers penalties that the guys in stripes ignored), only going to the box twice. Of course one of the visitors taking a trip to the box was he of the flowing red locks, Scottie Hartnell - for roughing of all things (Hockey Mom gasps and feigns major shock). It even appeared that former Flyer Mike Knuble was exchanging words at times with his former mates, but he took his frustrations out on Ray Emery's net by scoring the first Caps goal in the opening period.

Brooks Laich certainly emerged from his scoring slump of late with his own marker in the first period. Very interesting that the loud Flyers fan about two seats from me suddenly started simmering down in the second and third periods (I promise I did not threaten bodily harm although I thought about it a few times). Alex Semin (who had some not so pretty passes in this one) gave the boys a one-point lead going into the locker room after the second period.

The Caps were on a penalty kill early in the third but instead of capitalizing on the opportunity, the Flyers gave up the puck to a blazing Brooks Laich, who netted a lovely short-handed goal to pad the Caps' lead by two. Alex Ovechkin was the recipient of a penalty shot after getting tripped up with less than four minutes left in the final period. AO hasn't had the best of luck when it comes to the penalty shot in his career (prior to today, he'd missed all five of the penalty shots he'd taken), but today he had Ray Emery's number. After a dazzling display of stick handling, he roofed one over Emery's shoulder to stick a 5-2 fork in the tough guys from Philly.

The win moves the Caps back to the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 66 points. Way to go boys - what a game! Ran those nasty Flyers right out of town! It'll be a tough week ahead as the Caps will face both teams in last year's Stanley Cup finals within days of each other. The Detroit Red Wings, who've been bitten by the injury bug quite frequently this year, come to Verizon Center on Tuesday and Thursday the boys will face the arch-rival Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time this season.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Is the Capstronaut a Gift from Space? Caps Blow Out Leafs

Is the "Capstronaut" the Caps' lucky charm from galaxies far, far away? The wild and wacky hockey nut from outer space made a stop in the owner's box during last night's Caps/Leafs game after a personal invitation from Uncle Ted himself. Whatever the story is with this mysterious moon man, the Caps' home record with rocket boy in attendance is an impressive 5-0! So Hockey Mom hopes he brings the moon mojo for tomorrow's game against the much disliked (not nice to say "hated") Flyers, as they are sure to be feistier than normal after being blown out by the Leafs two days ago.

Coming off the high of a shut out against the Flyers two days ago, the Maple Leafs found the Capitals to be a much, much tougher opponent last evening. As a matter of fact, Vesa Toskala may as well have had his hands tied behind his back when it came to stopping Ovie, Nick Backstrom, Mike Knuble (with those two lovely signature crash-the-net, in your face goals of his), Eric Fehr and Tom Poti from netting six goals against him. The frustration got the best of the Leafs' net minder in the second period as he got called for a delay of game penalty.

Ovie had another brilliant performance with a career-high four assists (for which he got just as excited as if he'd scored them himself - that's why he's our captain and head cheerleader)! He now joins team mates Nick Backstrom and Mike Green on the list the top 14 players in the League in assists, making the Caps the only team with three players on that elite roster!

And a Hockey Mom high five to John Carlson, who can boast that he earned the hard hat to add to his gold-medal bling collection for his outstanding performance after being called up from Hershey at the last minute late yesterday afternoon. Jose Theodore deserves some love too, looking solid and stopping 28 shots with the exception of the one goal scored by Leafs' d-man Tomas Kaberle.

Theo will most likely get the nod tomorrow against the Flyers. Unfortunately, the boys will be missing the toughness of Jason Chimera against thugnasty Philadelphia, as he recieves an automatic one-game suspension for the instigator penalty resulting from fighting during the final five minutes of a game. Gabby will get slapped with a $10,000 fine as well for that one. Ouch and ouch.

So great job boys - keep racking up those points and heading toward the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings. See you tomorrow at the Phone Booth!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Game Day: Caps Host Maple Leafs

The Caps will get the boost of a raucous red-rocking crowd tonight as they return home from a trip to freezing Florida to host the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are coming off of a shut out win of 4-0 over the thugnasty Flyers (who will be paying us a visit on Sunday), with Leafs' net minder Vesa Toskala making an impressive 38 saves in the process. Caps' goalie Michal Neuvirth won't soon forget his last meeting with the Leafs, as he faced the wrath of an offensive assault resulting in a 6-3 loss to a struggling Leafs team. The youngster has been a bit shaky in his last few outings, getting the hook early on in both of his last few games, so we'll have to see who gets the start this evening. Regardless, bolstered by the legions of Cap-crazy home fans and unique characters such as the 'astronaut', our boys are still hard to beat on home ice. HM will be watching as the puck drops at 7.

Meanwhile, HM's Twin A (that's how they identified my newborn twins almost 14 years ago when they were mere 4 pounders - wow, has time flown) is having the time of his life on the other side of the border (no, not Tijuana)! His team is in the Canadian capital of Ottawa to play in a holiday weekend tournament and are off to a great start. They beat the first Canadian team they faced (after a 10-hour bus ride, mind you) by a commanding 8-2 - so take that Don Cherry! Off to a great start but the competition will only get tougher from there - stand tall boys...

In closing, HM also wants to wish  Capitals Chief Marketing Officer Tim McDermott best of luck as he goes to work for the Philadelphia Eagles (yes, even though it is the Eagles). Tim previously worked for  Eagles organization and will be reunited with his brother Sean, who is the team's defensive coordinator. And you know how I love seeing brothers working in unison - something that doesn't happen so much in my house!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Caps/Lightning: Fisticuffs at the Forum

In a game that only be described as fugly, the Tampa Bay Lightning finally got a "W" (their last one coming in November of 2007) against the rival Capitals. HM was a bit under the weather last night, so apologizes for the lack of minute-by-minute coverage of the game, which turned out to be extraordinarily entertaining in the final stanza. The Caps' defense certainly suffered their share of brain gas last night, seemingly unable to clear the blasted puck out their zone and giving the Lightning a 4-1 advantage in the first period alone, courtesy of the dapper Vinny LeCavalier, Steven Stamkos (2 goals) and Stephane Vellieux. Alex Semin scored the lone tally for the visitors in the opening period. Now while Vinny LeCavalier is not putting up the kind of impressive numbers we've seen from him in seasons past, he is still a force to be reckoned with, as his is pint-sized pal Martin St. Louis, who netted his own rocket in the second period. Michal Neuvirth was yanked from the net for the Caps after the first period and Theo stepped in for relief.

While the visitors cut this game close several times thanks to goals by Semin, Mike Green (2) and Eric Fehr, they shot themselves in the foot by taking a ridiculous number of penalties (including an uncharacteristic cross check from Nick Backstrom). Gabby's head must have been ready to explode post-game for sure - I can only imagine. The Bolts' power play opportunities contributed greatly to their final goal tally of 7 - with three of those coming from the man-advantage.

But everything started to unravel late in the third, just as HM was starting to doze. Enraged by the lack of a slashing call on former Flyer thug Steve Downie, Alex Ovechkin took justice into his own hands and laid a thundering hit on Downie at his first opportunity. Downie retaliated and part two of the drama started there, with both players going to the sin bin to chillax for a few. But after their release, Downie kept instigating and our captain threw down his gloves and was more than ready to go with the tough Bolts enforcer. Hey, Flames captain Jerome Iginla has been known to throw them down once in awhile! But Matt Bradley would have none of that, and like Clark Kent out of the phone booth, swooped in out of nowhere to spar with Downie on behalf of his captain! After a referee roundtable that seemed to last longer than the current congressional health care debate, Brads was ejected from the game (but a huge Hockey Mom high-five to one of my favorite players for dancing with that nasty Downie character)!

But the shenanigans didn't stop there - in addition to lots of extracurricular activities after just about every whistle in the final period, David Steckel got into a little bout of his own with a Lightning Bolt. Final score: Lightning 7 - Caps 4.

Let's hope the boys keep their wits about them and remember one of the keys to a penalty kill is clearing that black rubber puck as far away from your goalie as possible as they meet the Florida Panthers tonight. Good news from the Panthers team - David Booth, who I've mentioned was the knock out victim of an absolutely brutal hit from Flyers captain Mike Richards early in the season, recently returned to non-contact on-ice practice. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he makes it all the way back!

Meanwhile, if you missed the fisticuffs during last night's wacky contest, take a look:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Capitals' Birthday Blowout in Blueland

Yesterday was Cap's coach Bruce Boudreau's 55th birthday and to commemorate the occasion, the boys blew out the Atlanta Thrashers at Blueland with a final score of 8-1! Happy belated birthday Gabby - and HM hopes the boys got you a nice cake (along with your favorite: garden salad)!

The victory made this team the fastest team in Capitals franchise history to reach the 60 point marker and almost everyone in a white sweater seemed to get their shot at adding to the impressive goal total! Mike Knuble and Alex Semin each lit the lamp twice (as a result, Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg got the hook to the bench in the second period), while Nick Backstrom, Tom Poti, Jason Chimera and David Steckel each tallied a goal. Poti's gave him his first of the season, while Chimera's marked his first goal as a Washington Capital. And while those boys were launching an offensive assault on the Thrashers, Caps' goaltender Michal Neuvirth gave an amazing performance of his own in the other end, pretty much standing on his head for much of the first two periods and stopping a total of 38 shots! Very well done boys, enjoy your day off and we'll see you on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Vinny LeCavalier and pals.

On another note, Sour Grapes Don Cherry is at it again, this time pretty much dismissing the incredible significance of Team USA's recent gold medal win in the IIHF World Juniors finals by dissing USA Hockey's National Development Program. Clad in my grandmother's drapes circa 1973 and accompanied by a freaky dancing Toronto Maple Leafs hamster, Grapes once again is unable to give credit where credit is due. Check it out at about the 4:34 mark:

When is someone going to take this guy and sit him in a corner with the rest of the relics?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Caps Once Again on Cutting Edge of Technology

If you're like me, you might find yourself singing one of the many rockin' fan-rousing songs that play before and during Caps games at the Phone Booth. I for one am always trying to find the titles and artists of said music to put on my IPod - nothing makes you want to run that extra mile at the gym than a great head-banging hockey tune. Well, once again the Capitals, always on the forefront of new technology, have jumped ahead of the pack with the announcement of the new Capitals Radio Player!

Kudos for yet another groundbreaking idea and HM can't wait to hear all the player's and fans' favorite songs. Here's the official release from the team:

Capitals Launch Radio Player

Capitals partner with American Media Services Interactive, LLC

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals are partnering with American Media Services Interactive to launch “Capitals Radio,” a customized audio-on-demand player on “Capitals Radio” will play Capitals’ podcasts and other digital streaming content. Click here to listen to the Capitals Radio player.

The custom audio-on-demand player will give fans access to high-quality streaming music featuring Capitals’ arena favorites, music from the locker room featuring artists and songs selected by Capitals players. Fans will also have the opportunity to search channels, artists and genres, Capitals archived press conferences, post-game commentary and other audio highlights throughout the season. Fans that have recorded their own songs can share them with the Caps community by uploading their music through the player either by just clicking on the fan band link or going to

The player is the first of its kind in the Eastern Conference and second in the National Hockey League.

Audio and video segments featured on have proven to be extremely popular with fans looking for more Caps content. The site saw its monthly visits increase by 95% in 2008-09 and its audio and/or video podcasts routinely draw audiences in the thousands. Capitals Radio is the latest expansion of multimedia efforts on the team’s acclaimed website.

American Media Services Interactive LLC, launched by the founders of American Media Services LLC, is a digital media firm whose services include leading edge solutions for emerging media, engagement strategies for audio/video streaming, customized and branded music channels, HD radio formats, content management systems, custom application development, website programming and design and corporate/retail “Store-casting” at point-of-purchase. Visit their websites at, and

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Game Day: Caps Host Senators

After Tuesday's exciting game against the Montreal Canadiens, the Capitals will face another foe from the Great White North as the Ottawa Senators roll into Verizon Center this evening. Two Caps will be celebrating their contract extensions, David Steckel and Tyler Sloan, while d-man Karl Alzner won't see action tonight as he was sent back to Hershey yesterday. The boys expect to see Brian Pothier back in the lineup after being injured with a cracked rib.

The Senators are coming off a 4-1 whupping at the hands of the Boston Bruins on Tuesday and their coach has expressed concern about the recent performances by their net minders. For their sake, they'd better pray for improved efforts tonight from whoever is in net as the Caps' offense was on fire Tuesday night. The Senators do have some lamp lighters of their own however, in the form of Carrie Underwood's dreamy fiancee Mike Fisher (15 goals), Milan Michalek (16 goals) and Alex Kovalev (AK27 with 11 goals). And historically, they can get a bit chippy in the process courtesy of the thugly Chris Neil and Jarko Ruutu. Speaking of antonagonists, how about uber-pest Sean Avery's 4-point night against his former Dallas Stars team last night? Maybe some payback for the whole "sloppy seconds" drama last season...who knows?

The Caps take to the ice against Ottawa tonight at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, one of HM's twins will be visiting the home of the Senators next week as his team will play in a Canadian tournament in the lovely city of Ottawa over Martin Luther King weekend. Sadly HM will miss the trip as the boys are on different teams this year and I pulled the short straw to stay home with the other boy (who gets to accompany me to the Caps/Flyers game as a consolation prize - not a bad deal, huh?). The team and families will be headed up on a 14-hour bus ride commencing at 4:30 in the morning - now that part I won't miss! Hope to get some great pictures from my fellow fabulous hockey moms to share...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Magical Night for Team USA at World Juniors

The big news last night in Washington (other than the buzz that the Redskins will be hiring yet another new coach - Hockey Mom stifles huge yawn here), was the introduction of Alex Ovechkin as the Captain of Washington Capitals.

But many miles away in frigid Saskatoon, Team USA was in a game for the ages and defying many naysayers, ended Canada's gold medal streak by defeating them in a nailbiting overtime game by a final score of 6-5. Last night's game was hockey at its best - with Canada scoring two goals a minute and 14 seconds apart to take the battle into OT. The Cinderella story belonged to Team USA's 17-year old net minder Jack Campbell, who was sent in cold in the second period and helped USA win its second World Junior Championship gold medal. And of course we can't forget the beautiful game winning goal, netted by none other than future Capital John Carlson, last night was one that will be forever etched in his memory!

A huge Hockey Mom congrats to Team USA for an incredible run - enjoy your hard-earned glory and you made us all proud!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Caps Name Ovechkin as Captain

Prior to tonight's meeting with Les Canadiens, the Washington Capitals bestowed the honor of donning the "C" to none other than the "greatest hockey player on planet Earth" (the exact words of team mate Brian Pothier), Alexander Ovechkin. The announcement came as little surprise to Caps faithful and puckheads around the globe as most saw the Great8 as one of the most obvious choices.

Ovechkin, 24, is the first European-born captain in Capitals history and the second-youngest captain in team history (Ryan Walter was 21 when he captained the 1979-80 team). The Moscow native is the sixth Russian-born player to be an NHL captain and joins Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk as the only active Russians to captain their teams (Pavel Bure, Alexander Mogilny, Alexei Yashin and Alexei Zhamnov are the previous ones). Ovechkin, who has been one of Washington’s alternate captains since his second season in the league, succeeds Chris Clark as captain following Clark’s trade to Columbus last week.

Many notable hockey types and well-known former and current Capitals alike weighed in on the new captain and the extraordinary talent and personality that made Ovi a no-brainer to fill the role:

“Our team has adopted Alex’s personality, and the energy, passion and drive to win that are his hallmarks have become our team’s as well. He sets the tone, on the ice as well as off. He’s respectful to everyone and a great ambassador for our team and our sport. We look forward to him leading the Washington Capitals for a long time.”
- George McPhee

“Alex is a great player and a great choice for captain. He is the best player in the NHL and I love his combination of skill and physical play. He finishes his checks and hits hard.”
– Former Capitals captain Dale Hunter

“I think he’s got all the qualities you look for in a captain, and to see that in someone so young is incredible. He’s been a leader since he’s been here, and he leads by example. If he gets upset, you can see him start to take over a game. There’s no doubt he’s deserving.”
– Former Capitals captain Yvon Labre

“He’s the best player in the world and he’s the face of the franchise. Plus he’s a great teammate. The Caps organization should feel proud to name him captain.”
– Former Capitals captain and current Tampa Bay Lightning center Jeff Halpern

Please join Hockey Mom in proposing a toast and congratulating Ovi as the team's "official" fearless (not!) leader...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Caps Rap

This should bring a smile to the face of all of you in Caps Land as you head back to work and school after the holidays. Check out the Caps Rap - this is fabulous!

(a big Hockey Mom stick tap to Paul at Kukla's Korner for the link)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sunday Musings

Well the New Year's revelry has wound down (Happy New Year to you all by the way, as I have been remiss of my blogging duties these past few days) and it's back to the grind - and in our case, the rink. Several of my son's team mates were at the Winter Classic and regaled me with tales of the festivities and chippy action. They even made my day by bringing me a souvenir cup! Hopefully we'll be rocking the red for Winter Classic 2011!

HM was able to catch just a few brief moments of the Caps rare showdown with the Western Conference-climbing L.A. Kings on Saturday. One of my boys had a doubleheader and I was running in and out of the rink to catch the score between periods. As you all know by now, the Caps lost a close one with a final score of 2-1, minus the services for much of the contest of our brilliant center Nick Backstrom. HM is hoping that Nick is feeling much better, as he left yesterday's game suffering from a wicked migraine.

So yesterday's loss to LA gave the team their third consecutive loss in a row, a stat that Caps faithful haven't seen in awhile. But it's a new year and the boys return home for a meeting with the Habs on Tuesday, which will hopefully see the return of a healthy Semyon Varlamov. Varly was in the net up in Hershey today and stopped 28 of 29 shots against the Adirondack Phantoms. Yup, looks like our young man is getting his groove back and cheers to the outstanding effort by Michal Neuvirth minding the Caps crease the past few weeks as well! *But apparently as I penned this post, it was reported that Varly has suffered another undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day - grrrr!

Meanwhile in other hockey happenings, Canada is headed to the finals and will compete for its sixth straight Gold medal at the IIHF World Junior Championship. The roster of talented youngsters which features the likes of Nazem Kadri, Brayden Schenn, Alex Pietrangelo, Stephan Della Rovere and Taylor Hall, blasted the Swiss team in a 6-1 victory to advance to the final round. They'll face the winners of the United States/Sweden showdown taking place later tonight. You could tell our boys spent much of their holiday vacation watching the World Juniors, as evident from the increased number and caliber of the hits during both of yesterday's games. Should be an exciting final on Tuesday night for sure - my household will be channel flipping between Caps game and World Jr. Finals!