Friday, April 30, 2010

Random Friday Thoughts

And this morning that yucky feeling was - still there. But I am happy to report that the wonderful young man that works at Starbucks (who also happens to be a diehard Penguins fan; we exchange lots of colorful dialogue during the season), was exceptionally nice to me this morning and sincerely passed on his sympathies on the occassion of the Capitals' epic loss. It was a welcome change from the evil cheers and jeers I've seen from fans of the ice fowl in the past day since Game 7. Other than the select few (which includes some of the aforementioned Penguins fans and the so-called Caps fans who threw debris after the loss, including a full bottle of whiskey that hit a young man in the head), most hockey fans are good people. Back on the moronic bottle-throwing Caps fans, if that had been my kid, you'd not only have to deal with the wrath of Hockey Mom but I would have also gotten the law involved. Idiot...way to stay classy.

But to wrap up what's been a most trying week for the Capitals' faithful, here are a few random nuggets:
  • No surprises here - Alex Ovechkin has been nominated for the Hart Trophy for the third consecutive year. My prediction (though not a popular one) is that it will go to Henrik Sedin.
  • Brooks Laich is awesome - and a good citizen too. This feel-good story will bring a smile to your face and reinforces the reasons we love hockey players. Just regular Joes for the most part.
  • Sergei Fedorov shares his insight on the Capitals collapse over at Puck Daddy.
  • After the smoke clears, don't expect drastic firings in the Caps front office or massive changes to the Capitals roster. Small tweaks will hopefully do the trick.
  • Could this be the year the San Jose Sharks finally break their own President's Trophy curse? Thanks to help from a hot Joe Pavelski, the Sharks downed the Wings 4-3 in Game 1.
  • As far as the Western Conference goes, HM is sporting the Canucks blue as Vancouver meets their heated rivals the Chicago Blackhawks in a rematch from last season's playoffs. All of my readers know of my love for the dynamic duo of Henrik and Daniel Sedin (it's a twin mom thing I think, but whatever magical twin powers they've got going on, it's amazing to watch). Wonder twin powers - Release!
  • And on a not-so-happy note, the Capitals will return to Kettler today to clean out their lockers for a wondrous season that came to an abrupt end all too soon. Will share any interesting tidbits I hear from this sad rite of passage.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Morning After: Game 7 Heartache Still Fresh

As I watched the final secondsof Game 7 tick off the clock last night, my heart along with those of all the others who've so faithfully followed the Capitals for seasons past, fell to my stomach with that all-too-familiar pain. The pain of coming "this close" once again - only this year was supposed to be the year for the team that broke countless franchise records and earned their first President's Trophy. And this morning, well the pain is still just as fresh. In addition to being a single mom of twin teenage travel hockey and lacrosse playing boys and holding down a full-time job, Hockey Mom spends countless hours during the season following the Caps for both my blog and And I do it because I truly love this team - from the most authentic owner in professional sports in Ted Leonsis, to their great PR staff and above all, the individual players who've given us so much joy and hope during this past season. That's just one of the reasons I still have this feeling of emptiness deep in my gut...

There will be much fingerpointing and mud strewn in the aftermath of last night's loss and the abrupt shattering of yet another season's hopes of finally hoisting the Stanley Cup. Lots of media types (and of course the Crosby lovers) are placing much of the blame on Ovechkin. If you watched his post-game presser (where the distraught captain literally could find no words to explain the reasons for the loss), no one wanted it more than Alex Ovechkin. But unfortunately, therein lies part of the problem. As several of his team mates did not play to their potential through the entire series, the driven sniper tried too hard to make things happen on his own - not conducive to the "team play" concept. And that's the second problem. Stanley Cup winning teams tend to step up their games in the playoffs (especially their stars) and work more as a "team." That's where the underdog Montreal Canadiens beat us fair and square. There were no individual offensive stars per se shining for the Habs but their team work on the pk and one hot-handed goalie held the league's leading power play to a depressing 1 of 33. The Habs blocked 41 shots in the game last night - 41 freaking shots. How many did Mike Green block? Speaking of Mike Green, HM has been on the defense of the talented defenseman against Green haters for much of the season, but there's really nothing anyone can say (and that includes you, Coach) to defend his invisibility come crunch time anymore. Green just simply neglected to do his job - defending the puck - for the majority of this series. And on top of that, he handed the Habs two gift-wrapped opportunities resulting from his ill-timed, selfish penalties. Hockey Mom would have put #52 in time-out for the rest of the game after that first penalty. It really doesn't matter how many goals he scored during the regular season, he has now gained a reputation of not being able to hang with the big boys in the playoffs - which he will have to work his butt off to overcome.  And same goes with Alex Semin - though HM would not cry too many tears to see him gone in the off-season. As crazy talented as the Russian sniper is, he just doesn't seem to have the heart and is reluctant to get his nose dirty for those garbage goals that are all too important in the playoffs.

Yep, GMGM and the management group will have lots of difficult decisions to make in this off-season that started way too damn early. No secret, even more glaringly visible now, that we need more gritty help on the blueline. And maybe another veteran presence in that locker room (but God bless Mike Knuble for all his efforts) to shake some of these younger guys up. I don't know what the perfect answer is to building a team made for the playoffs, but I do know that this is going to sting for some time to come. Once I can even watch hockey again, I guess I'll be rooting for my Sedin twins and the Canucks. But for now, that's just too painful...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It All Comes Down to This: Game 7

All the puckhead pundits are slinging around all kinds of historical stats in anticipation of tonight's do or die Game 7 against the scrappy Montreal Canadiens. None of those statistics means squat at this point. As the legendary Phil Esposito said yesterday, "It all comes down to who shows up."

The Detroit Red Wings certainly showed up last night and put a whupping on the desert underdogs (sorry Coyotes, HM was cheering hard for you guys last night but you had a spectacular season and should be proud to have proved the naysayers wrong). As for the Red Wings, last night's performance is what winning teams do. They show up - every member, especially the stars. And the Capitals have more than enough talent to do the same thing.

Who is going to show up for the Capitals tonight? Hockey Mom's nerves are already getting the best of her, so I'll keep my pre-game musings brief:

60 minutes. Bang some bodies every chance you get. Crash the net. Garbage goals count. Screen Halak. Scott Walker. Go Caps!

That is all...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hot Halak and Habs Force Caps to Game 7

As expected, Gabby put his lines in a martini shaker and shook them up a bit to find the perfect chemistry needed to wrap up this long roller coaster ride of a series. Much has been said in the media about the virtual disappearance of Alex Semin and Tomas Fleischmann thus far against the Habs, two players who made huge offensive contributions during the regular season. The Canadiens, in a do or die Game 6, did a bit of the same by sitting Sergei Kostitsyn and calling up wonder kid P.K. Subban from the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Hockey Mom usually cheers for this fine young defenseman (who boasts 53 points in 77 games) but not tonight – no sir.

The boys came out firing with on all cylinders, giving Jaro Halak as much as he could handle and then some. And handle it he did – Halak was a brick wall against all 18 shots the Caps fired on him in the first period. The Capitals seemed to forget one of the big keys to beating the Habs, which is stay out of the sin bin! Shaone Morrisonn was whistled for a cross check early on and Mike Cammalleri took full advantage of the opportunity by getting his team on the board first. The rowdy Habs fans went wild and the home team underdogs seized the momentum. Cammalleri struck again at 9:09, with an assist from young Subban, to give the Habs a two goal lead and start the blood pressure rising amongst the Caps faithful. Two minutes later it was Mike Green’s turn to sit with an elbowing call. After a successful penalty kill, the boys went on their own power play, even getting a few seconds at 5-on-3 when Roman Hamrlik took a delay of game call. But the Caps’ incredible regular season power play is still apparently missing in action. End of the first period: Canadiens 2 – Capitals 0

The story of the second period was all Jaroslav Halak. The Habs net minder stopped all 32 shots the Caps threw at him by the time the clock ticked down to the two-minute mark. The Capitals’ power play: still missing. The Caps got another shot at the man advantage when Maxim Lapierre made an Oscar-worthy dive and the guys in stripes threw the bull manure flag at him. Towards the final seconds of the middle stanza, Eric Fehr crashed the crease hard and was cited for cross-checking, causing somewhat of an angry ruckus in the aftermath. End of the second period: Canadiens 2 – Capitals 0

The Habs started the final period on the power play. But it would be a five-on-five rocket from dive champion Lapierre at 4:17 that would give the bleu, blanc and rouge a commanding three-goal lead. Shortly after netting their third tally, both teams took dual penalties – Fleischmann for tripping and Gionta for (gasp) a second Habs diving call. Halak continued his jaw-dropping magical play, stopping 53 shots. 53 SHOTS – where did this guy come from? Eric Fehr was able to pierce a shot through Halak’s armor very late in the third period to avoid the shutout, but that would be it. The cardiac Caps didn’t get the job done and the Canadiens ensured the victory with an empty net goal. Final Score: Canadiens 4 – Capitals 1

So now the Flyers, Bruins and Penguins (who should all get a stick tap for playing out of their minds to get to Round Two) are sitting around and watching this epic struggle. The top-seeded Capitals are back in an all too familiar situation - having their entire magnificent season come down to one game to get them past the first round with all the unimaginable pressure that comes along with being in this precarious position. Ovechkin was interviewed post-game and commented that it's "just one game - not time to panic." Hockey Mom disagrees - maybe it is time to panic. Maybe instead of going in as the top team in the league - pretend you're the Phoenix Coyotes. Maybe it's time to put the lines back together - sit the guys who keep making errors in our offensive zone, give Theo the start and put gritty Scott Walker in front of Halak's grill all night long. But that's just my two cents worth. All I know is you'd better be ready to buckle those seat belts Caps fans - it's going to be "White Knuckle Wednesday."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jose Theodore Named Finalist for NHL's Masterton Trophy

After suffering one of most devastating losses one could imagine, Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore had a phenomenal season in the net and established Saves for Kids in memory of his infant son. The NHL has recognized his perserverance and dedication to the sport by naming Theo a finalist for this year's Masterton Trophy.

Here's the official release courstesy of the Caps PR staff:

Jose Theodore Named a Finalist for Masterton Trophy
Theodore could become first Capitals player to earn award

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Hockey League announced today that Washington Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore is one of three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is given to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. Theodore joins Tampa Bay’s Kurtis Foster and San Jose’s Jed Ortmeyer as the three finalists.

The Washington Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association nominated Theodore as the Capitals representative for the award at the conclusion of the regular season. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 23, during the 2010 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.

 Theodore could become the first Capital to win the Masterton Trophy since it was first awarded following the 1967-68 regular season. The Laval, Quebec, native and his wife Stephanie Cloutier lost their two-month old son, Chace, last August from respiratory complications related to a premature birth. Inspired by the memory of his son, Theodore created Saves for Kids, a fundraising program benefitting the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Children’s National Medical Center where Jose and Stephanie spent most of their time during their son’s 54-day life.

 This season, Theodore played 47 games with a 30-7-7 record, 2.81 goals against average and .911 save percentage. His winning percentage (.761) was the highest of any goaltender in franchise history. He finished the season 20-0-3 with a 2.58 goals against average and a .922 save percentage in games since Jan. 13, setting a team record for most decisions (23) without a regulation loss.

  A 14th-year professional and former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner, Theodore ranks seventh among active goalies in games played (548) and in wins (245). He is one of seven active goaltenders with 30-plus wins in each of the last two seasons.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Can Caps Make Game 6 an Early Mom's Day Gift and Wrap It Up?

I apologize to my faithful readers for the lack of hockey talk from Hockey Mom this weekend. To be completely honest, after Friday night's flub on home ice, I kind of felt a bit like Gabby and needed to "chill out" before posting pixels. I was at a gathering during Game 5 and a friend who is a total non-hockey watcher remarked, "Geez, the Capitals look like they're on vacation." Um yeah, pretty much. And Coach Boudreau summed up the situation perfectly when he called out some of his key players and noted that not everyone was on the bus for a full 60-minutes during the Game 5 loss. This is playoff hockey boys - this is it. Time to stop making defensive gaffes, find your league-leading power play (apparently working on that this morning) and demonstrate the dominance that earned you the President's Trophy. For a full 60-minutes. And then again in the next game. And the next game. And prove the naysayers like the greasy, schlumpy suit-wearing Barry Melrose wrong. Because I have faith in this team and when all the stars align, they are incredibly hard to stop. Don't be surprised to see Gabby mix it up a bit. Game 6 - wrap it up in Montreal tomorrow boys!

In other weekend hockey happenings:

  • By now, you've all heard about the misadventures of Eric Berlanger (DDS) and the totally missed high-sticking call on the incident that resulted in eight lost chiclets. The tough guy pulled one of the teeth on the bench, had his roots snipped and lip stitched up and then returned to the game. Returned to the game folks! No question that hockey players are the toughest guys in sports. Redskin's Albert Haynesworth, watch the video of the high stick on Berlanger and then watch him pull his own tooth and return to action - then feel shame for writhing on the ground everytime someone hits your out of shape frame. The Caps didn't get the call, but at least the Habs' Marc-Andre Bergeron said "sorry."
  • Yep, the Pittsburgh Penguins came from behind (again) to win their series against a Kovi-less Ottawa Senators team last night.
  • The Phoenix Coyotes forced a Game 7 against the Red Wings in a chippy affair this afternoon. Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader (who has by far one of the grooviest names in hockey) dropped the gloves with no less than two desert dogs in today's 5-2 loss.
  • Equal opportunity discipline? We'll see when the NHL reviews Blackhawk Marian Hossa's hit from behind on Nashville's Dan Hamhuis (eerily reminiscent of Ovechkin's hit on Brian Campbell that earned him a two game suspension). Ovechkin was tossed after his hit on Campbell, while Hossa emerged from the penalty box just in time to score the game winning goal for Chicago. Hmmmm...
So that's it from me for now - will keep my ears to the ground for any interesting pre-game news tomorrow. Hope you all had a happy hockey weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mike Green Named Norris Finalist

A Hockey Mom fist bump to Capital's defenseman Mike Green who was nominated as a finalist for the NHL's Norris Trophy today, along with 20-year old Drew Doughty of the L.A. Kings and the Chicago Blackhawk's Duncan Keith.

Here's the official scoop via the team's press release:

Mike Green Named a Finalist for Norris Trophy

NHL’s top offensive defenseman could win team’s third Norris Trophy

ARLINGTON, Va. – The National Hockey League announced today that Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy, which is presented annually to the top defenseman in the league. Green joins Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty and Chicago’s Duncan Keith as the three finalists.

Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Norris Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters announced as finalists. The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 23, during the 2010 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.

Green could become the second Capital to win the Norris trophy and first since Rod Langway won the award in back-to-back years (1982-83, 1983-84). The Calgary, Alberta, native led all NHL defensemen in goals (19), assists (57) and points (76) in 75 games this season. His +39 rating was second among NHL defenseman – trailing only defense partner Jeff Schultz – and he had at least a point in 56 of 75 games.

One of three active defenseman with a 70-point season, Green is just the seventh defenseman in NHL history to post consecutive 70-point seasons before turning 25. He posted three point streaks of at least eight games during the season – no other NHL defenseman had one – and led the league’s defensemen with 35 power-play points (10 goals, 25 assists).

Green won the “Espo Award” as the best defenseman in the league from Phil Esposito on NHL Home Ice for the second year in a row. This is Green’s second year in a row as a Norris finalist, the only one of this year’s finalists making his second appearance in the group. Last year Green was the runner-up to Boston’s Zdeno Chara for the award and was named to the NHL First All-Star Team.

Game Day: Can the Caps Wrap Up Series Tonight?

Happy Friday hockey fans! If you're like me, you're probably on your third cup of coffee (or if you're like Alex Ovechkin, your second round of smelling salts) after staying up late into last evening to watch the crazy three period OT game between the Penguinettes and the Senators. In case you fell asleep, Matt Carkner came through with the GWG for Ottawa forcing a Game 6 tomorrow! That Sidney fella added even more numbers to his playoff resume, netting his fifth goal and padding his league leading total of 13 points.

Of course the big news here in Caps Land is that the boys are back in town and hope to wrap up the series against Les Canadiens with a Game 5 win on home ice. After scoring three goals in the first 111 minutes of the series (a 1.62 goals-per-game average), the Capitals have scored 16 goals in the last 142:08 (a 6.76 average). Washington is averaging a league-leading 4.75 goals per game after leading the NHL with 3.82 goals per game in the regular season. The boys have seen some great secondary scoring (including some sugar sweet shorthanded goals) and Ovi, Mike Knuble and  Nick Backstrom seem to be on a perfectly timed hot streak.  Knuble’s ninth and 10th career playoff goals Wednesday night marked the first multiple-goal game of his playoff career. After posting an assist in each of the first three games, the fan favorite some call "Obi Wan Knuble" carries a four-game point streak into Game 5. Meanwhile, Backstrom has eight goals and 14 points in his last 10 playoff games (20 points in his last 15). He leads the Capitals and shares the NHL lead with five goals in these playoffs and has nine goals in 10 games this April. Not too shabby! Now if someone can just wake up Alex Semin...

That said, expect the Canadiens to come out with everything they've got; tonight's game won't be a "gimme" for the Caps in any sense of the word. The scrappy Habs are rumoured to be putting Jaro Halak back in the crease - wonder if that has anything to do with Price's silly antics on Wednesday? Canadien Mike Cammalleri said yesterday that the key for the Habs is to remain loose and take the "we've got nothing to lose" approach. Meanwhile, the visitors will still be without defenseman Jaroslav Spacek who is suffering from an undisclosed illness. There are also rumors flying that wunderkid P.K. Subban could get a call up from the AHL but we shall see.

So we'll hope to see a full 60-minute effort from the Caps as they are cheered on by the fabulous fans who make up what I call the "Red Sea." Keep your wits about you boys and stay out of the box. Hockey Mom will not be covering tonight's game in detail (but best believe I will be watching with libations in hand) so be sure to visit Capitals Insider and the other phenomenal sources for all things Caps on my blog roll.

In other news, the Flyers are the first team to win their Round One series with a shut out last night against the Devil's legendary Marty Brodeur. A feisty Flyers club handed Brodeur and pals their third consecutive first round exit. Should the Capitals capture their own series this evening, looks like we'd be facing our familiar foes from the city of brotherly love for Round Two. The Flyers have been wild in the blocked shots department and last night saw Ian Laperriere block a shot with his face (triple ouch)! The uber tough guy got a face full of stitches (lucky that was all) after a very scary few minutes and swears he'll be donning a shield from this point forward. Despite losing big guns Simone Gagne and Jeff Carter due to injuries, the Flyers moved on thanks to some exceptional series play on the part of goaltender Brian Boucher.
HM wishes everyone a very happy TGIF and hope you're all rocking the red. in whatever style you choose! My worn Capitals car flag is proudly flapping in the wind (Mother's Day is coming up - HM needs a new car flag *hint hint) in my office parking lot. Counting down the hours until puck drops at 7 p.m. - let's go Caps!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Caps Beat Montreal in Second Road Win

The Capitals faced Carey Price instead of the familiar Jaroslav Halak minding the crease tonight for Les Canadiens. There were also a few new faces on the ice as Glen Metropolit returned from injury and Ryan O’Byrne was donning the red sweater in for an ailing Jaro Spacek. Quick to jump on the young net minder Price in last year’s playoffs causing him to go all “Patrick Roy” with the obscene gestures, the raucous Canadiens fans cheered him on the early part of the first period.

The Capitals were hoping to get the mojo back in their power play, which prior to puck drop was a dismal 0-14. The scrappy Habs gave the visitors the man-advantage early on (48 seconds into the game to be exact) as Tomas Plekanec was whistled for interference. The Caps went to work and their fans sat in front of their televisions with baited breath, waiting to see if we’d see more of the same. The boys didn’t score on the first PP chance, but the missing power play returned around the eight minute mark. Andrei Kostisyn took a seat for high sticking (though the refs completely missed another one that practically took off Joe Corvo’s beak) and once again, the boys tried to get the power play jump started. Alex Ovechkin got some help from pals Mike Green and Nick Backstrom and sizzled a steaming wrist shot past Price at 8:10 to get the Capitals on the board first and end the power play drought.

The Canadiens evened the score about a minute later as a crowd formed in front of Varly’s crease and Mike Cammalleri netted a backhander while the guys in white sweaters were looking I’m not sure where (I told you that one was a sneaky bugger). The final minutes saw Tomas Fleischmann skate off to the sin bin for tripping but the boys had a big penalty kill and went into the intermission tied. End of first period: Capitals 1 – Canadiens 1

Eric Fehr had a great scoring opportunity flying down the ice on all four cylinders and literally “crashing the net” in the early minutes of the second. Price and his cronies were none too happy with F-16 knocking the net off the moorings, but hey, it’s playoff hockey kids. Matt Bradley took a high stick on Andrei Markov and the Canadiens' scary power play unit hit the ice. Brooks Laich was working it on the penalty kill sacrificing the body to block a shot and Varly was absolutely spectacular with a highlight glove save on Cammalleri. Varlamov literally stood on his head with a series of magnificent stops (Montreal outshot the Caps 21-9 in the second). At the other end, a huge scrum ensued and Jason Chimera was the unlucky guy called for roughing. Brian Gionta was also seen in the scrum trying to mix it up with Tom Poti and he got his payback at 15:42 with a power play tally. Both teams had a well-trodden path to the penalty box as big Hal Gill was cited for a hold and in the madness that is the Bell Centre, the Capitals took a too many men call. As Alex Ovechkin served the two minutes, his assistant captain Mike Knuble tied the game with a shorthanded goal (thanks to some swift skating and the assist from Boyd Gordon). End of the second period: Capitals 2 – Canadiens 2

In the final period, the spotlight was definitely on the two young goaltenders. One of the Capital's best scoring chances came at the middle of the third period when Mike Green passed the puck to Knuble for what appeared to be a spot on goal. Carey Price stood tall for his team snatching the biscuit out of mid-air. Shortly thereafter, the momentum completely shifted in the Capital’s favor. The hard working Mike Knuble went to sit just a spell and Gabby put Alex Semin on the line with his pals Ovechkin and Backstrom. At around the 11 minute marker, Sasha passed the puck up to his partner in crime and Ovechkin roofed one over Carey Price. 52 seconds later, team mate Jason Chimera gave the boys some nice padding as he scored with help from fellow grinder Matt Bradley. At 17:33, Mike Knuble added even more extra insurance with an empty netter as Price sat on the Habs’ bench for the extra body on the ice. The Canadiens got a very late goal from Dominic Moore but it was too little, too late. Nick Backstrom put the final fork in the Habs with the Capitals’ second empty netter and Game 4 was in the books. Final score: Capitals 6 – Canadiens 3

Despite giving Montreal a few too many chances in the second period, the Capitals tightened up defensively and again, spread the scoring wealth around. You can’t say enough about Varlamov’s extraordinary performance tonight, stopping 36 shots. Speaking of goalies, Carey Price is most certainly not in this year’s running for the Lady Byng award (given to the NHLer cited for the best sportsmanship). After the Caps netted the second empty net goal, Price whacked goal scorer Nick Backstrom in the back of legs from his seat on the bench. Hockey Mom will most certainly use Messieur Price as a future example when lecturing my boys about being a “sore loser.” But on a more positive note, a big Hockey Mom toast to the Caps for a terrific Game 4 win - let’s wrap this series up at home on Friday!

Game Day: Counting Down til Big Game 4

Just in case you needed a little boost to get you excited for tonight's big Game 4 against Montreal, the Capitals have launched a fun,  new, easy-to-use application called Slapstick (in partnership with Slapstick Sports LLC, a division of Virginia-based advertising agency Williams Whittle) which will help generate online excitement and enable fans to digitally express themselves.

Fans can upload a photo to Slapstick at and select from three scenarios, a ranting player, coaching the team and answering questions from the media. Users can personalize their photo by choosing from various facial hair options, hats and head gear as well as their choice of home or away jersey.

Once the video has been personalized, fans can email it to their friends or post it to their favorite social media platform, including Facebook and Twitter. Creation of the personalized videos is free using the application’s text to speech function. For only 99 cents Slapstick users have the unique option of adding their own voice to their creation via a toll free number.

Of course, Hockey Mom had to check out this new digital app, so I made my own photo which you can check out here. What's that under my eye you ask? Well Tomas Plekanec was mouthing off again so Jason Chimera gave me free reign to go open up a can on him. Don't worry, I'm fine and I did manage to knock that smirk off his face (if only temporarily).

As we count down the hours until puck drop at Bell Centre (7 p.m.), here are some other nuggets surrounding the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs:

  •  Word is that Carey Price is set to start in net against the Capitals. Me thinks that's a bit of a gamble for Habs coach Jacques Martin but am hoping the dice roll in favor of the D.C. darlings.
  • The infamous Puck Daddy has his own opinions on the goaltender controversy in Montreal.
  • Speaking of Martin, he was apparently trying his hand as a CIA agent, spying on the Capital's practice (which focused on the floundering power play) yesterday.
  • As much as I hate to say it, the Penguins (and that Sidney guy especially) are kicking some butt in their series and looking pretty scary. There I said it, now am off to wash my mouth out with soap.
  • I think Patrick Kane's playoff mullet may be weighing him down as his Chicago Blackhawks are now down 2-1 against the Nashville Predators.
  • And finally, if you've never read his blog, be sure to check out Jason Bourne over at Bourne's Blog for some unique insight into these playoffs. Bourne is a former player whose dad won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders and I really enjoy his  hilarious point of view (along with the random cat videos).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Game Three: Caps Win Big in Hockey Mad Montreal

Make no mistake, Montreal is one of the toughest barns in the NHL for visiting teams. Steeped in the history of winning 24 Stanley Cups and playing under the banners of such legendary names as Guy Lafleur, Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Jacques Plante, Jean Beliveau, Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy, the Bell Centre is always sold out with hockey crazy Habs fans that have been following the team through generations. And as the Canadiens returned home for the first time in this series, about 22,000 of their closest friends were on hand to cheer then on. I’m pretty sure they were all kinds of ready to welcome their former golden boy, Jose Theodore, in a not so friendly manner. But Bruce Boudreau had to make the painstaking decision of who to start in net and it was Semyon Varlamov that would face the deafening Habs’ faithful.

 Varly showed that he was up for the task in the first period, stopping all ten shots he faced, including several cat-quick saves against Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez on Montreal’s power play. The boys played much of the first period with much more urgency but the power play continued to struggle. Both teams played with great intensity, bolstered by the cheers (and jeers) of the home crowd. Despite some end to end action, the opening period ended with no score.

The second period turned out to golden for this Caps club, who found themselves clawing their way from behind on Saturday night. Varlamov was spectacular from the first face off, particularly magnificent with a stop on Scott Gomez who was racing towards the net on a two-on-one with his pal Brian Gionta. But it was Boyd Gordon who got the party started at 1:06 in the middle stanza with a short-handed goal and his first playoff tally. After that, it was all Caps! The boys continued their barrage when Brooks Laich snapped a wrister past Jaro Halak less than four minutes later. Then it was Eric Fehr’s turn adding a third Capitals goal about five minutes behind Laich and Halak was off for an early shower. The unpredictable Carey Price got an early initiation in his first appearance in this series as none other than Alex Ovechkin (who was left wide open) sizzled a wrist shot into the net and fell to his knees in celebration. I tell ya, there is nothing like that gap-toothed smile in the seconds following a Capitals goal that can bring a hockey fan out of even the darkest mood! After the fourth Capitals goal, the Canadiens’ frustration reached the boiling point and they began to totally lose it like Hockey Mom on laundry day. Jason Chimera was a primary target of the feisty Habs most of the evening as they tried to goad him into dropping the mittens and he found himself in the middle of a Gionta/Gomez cross check sandwich. Gionta was cited with a cross check and Gomez garnered himself a game misconduct. Then off went both naughty Habs to the box. About three minutes later they’d be joined by Tomas Jagr Plekanec, who was whistled for interference and then his backtalk earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct. The period ended just in time for the history laden Habs to regain their composure and attempt to regroup. End of second period: Capitals 4 - Canadiens 0

The Canadiens finally managed to get on the board on a power play goal by the talkative Plekanec in the opening minutes of the final period. His surly mate Maxim Lapierre was itching for a fight all night long and he was escorted to the sin bin as the final minutes ticked off the clock, charged with a roughing call. The boys didn’t score on the resulting power play but the trusty Matt Bradley put the icing on the cake with his first playoff goal with less than a minute left! Final score in an eerily silent Bell Centre: Capitals 5 – Canadiens 1

A great overall effort by all the guys – we finally got the secondary scoring we’ve been looking for and Varly was tremendous, despite being in the Montreal pressure cooker! Let’s do it again on Wednesday boys…

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Capitales Beat de Montréal dans le gibier sauvage Deux

After losing their first game to the Montreal Canadiens, Bruce Boudreau made a few adjustments to his lines and Ovechkin took full accountability for his missing man performance on Thursday. From the sound of coach and player's comments after practice, everyone had their game face on and was ready to even the series. The French Canadian media had descended on the Phone Booth in droves – many of us watched the action from an overflow press area in the arena. HM noticed that many of the male members of the Montreal media pack were quite fond of the hair gel – they definitely had some well-coiffed reporters in the press box.  Pierre McGuire was also in the house - well coiffed? Well not so much...

Well things didn't exactly get off to a great start as pocket-sized Brian Gionta lit the lamp first for the visitors early into the first period. At the 7:58 mark, Andrei Kostitsyn of the nasty Kostitsyn brothers, evaded the efforts of Mike Green and Jeff Schultz and added the Canadiens' second marker. Gabby must have had visions of last year's Rangers series as he made the decision to pull Theo from the crease and replace him with Semyon Varlamov. Eric Fehr took full advantage of a breakaway opportunity and with help from his pal Flash, scored to get the Caps within one. Ovechkin’s presence was definitely felt in the form of several tooth-rattling hits and both teams managed to stay out of the box in the opening period. Shots on goal favored the guys in red (13-8) but neither team tallied for the remainder of the first. End of the first period: Canadiens 2 – Capitals 1

The boys opened the period by having to defend the dangerous Montreal power play for the first time in the game as Eric Berlanger took a seat for hooking. Thankfully they were able to deny the Habs this one but they weren’t so lucky a mere few minutes later. Andrei Kostistyn must have had something extra in his Powerade as he scored his second goal of the night at the 11:06 mark. Brooks Laich shuffled off to the sin bin for a tripping infraction at 17:54 and the Habs Andrei Kostitsyn tallied for the hat trick. The deafening noise in the Phone Booth dropped to a hush at that point as Montreal’s lead was padded by three. Nicklas Backstrom scored a lovely wide angle goal from the left side to get the Caps within two. Hockey Mom was bit confused after the Habs fourth goal as it went to review and after much deliberation, the refs declared that they had spent all that time reviewing an “earlier goal.” Huh, what were you guys watching another series, or maybe last year’s playoffs? Nonetheless, the middle stanza ended with the Habs up by a two goal lead and things were not looking too great for the home team favorites. End of second period: Canadiens 4 – Capitals 2

Ovi broke his short playoff goal slump in the third period as he poked a loose puck between the pads of Jaroslav Halak and in an instant; we had a whole new game. Seconds later, a mad skirmish took place in front of Varly’s crease. Brian Gionta thought he’d added to Montreal’s bottom line as the puck slid in at the same moment one of his line mates crashed into the Caps’ net minder and dislodged the net. The stripes said no goal and a melee ensued as Tom Poti and Scott Gomez proceeded to mix it up after exchanging pleasantries. Poti got a few choice jabs on Gomez as #91’s jersey got stuck over his face and blocked his view (hate it when that happens). Those two took a seat for fighting and a hot Nick Backstrom evened the score by picking up a lovely pass from Ovechkin and roofing it over Halak. With less than five minutes left in the game, Mike Green neglected to intercept a pass from Mike Cammalleri, who sizzled the puck to a waiting Tomas Plekanec for the fifth Montreal goal. But the Caps had yet another chance in the waning minutes as Benoit Pouliot was whistled for tripping and the Caps had a late power play. The boys didn’t score on the man advantage but “Captain Clutch Carlson” took a nice little feed from Nick Backstrom with 1:21 left in the third to once again tie this nail biter! HM cannot say enough about this kid other than if he’s this good now, just think about what a beast he’s going to be in another year or two.

The Caps blasted a flurry of shots towards Halak as the clock ticked down and Caps fans were gripping their seats as this game was headed into another sudden death OT (be still my beating heart)! And just in case your life as a true blue hockey fan wasn’t exciting enough, Nick Backstrom added a little more spice just 30-something seconds into the OT with the game-winning goal and the hat trick! HM has heard more than one hockey pundit predict that Backstrom could emerge as the MVP of this series for last night at least, they were right! Final  adrenaline surge score: Capitals 6 – Canadiens 5

Now this game took my blood pressure to new levels, but once again the cardiac Caps came through in the clutch. Let’s see last night’s third period effort for a full 60 minutes tomorrow night boys and we’ll be in business (and Mike Green, clear the puck please – thanks).

In the post-game press conference, Gabby had glowing words for Backstrom, saying: "Nicky is a great player and great players come to fore when you need them." He also acknowledged the less than stellar performances of Mike Green and Jeff Schultz. As Boudreau was winding down his comments on the podium, the night’s two stars who combined for eight points (Ovi and Backstrom of course) could be heard playing a pickup game of basketball on the Wizards practice court. Gabby, who’s always great for a funny sound bite, quipped “Are the Wizards still playing?” Nope, the Wizards are done but not the Washington Capitals, who will head into a packed hostile barn in Montreal tomorrow night aiming to take the series lead. We’ll have to wait and see who’ll be minding the net for the road team. Stay tuned…

Friday, April 16, 2010

Caps Drop Disappointing First Game to Hot Halak and Habs

The Washington Capitals secured their spot in the long-awaited Stanley Cup Playoffs back on March 11 and since then their faithful followers have been counting the days until Game One. Despite the fact that all of the higher seeded teams dropped their first games in last night's action, Caps fans were just raring to get this party started and were bolstered by the fact that the boys were opening at 20-11 all-time in Game 1 of a series and 13-5 at home.

The Caps came out wheels on fire and were the recipients of the game's first power play when Habs' defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron couldn't keep up with the speedy Jason Chimera. In his frustration, Bergeron attempted to slow the swift Chimera down via a hook. The Canadiens were a chippy bunch from the get go and their penalty killing unit kept the home team off the board while on the man advantage. But it was the Canadien's dangerous power play that helped them light the lamp first, on a goal from Mike Cammalleri who had 26 goals during the regular season. Habs netminder Jaroslav Halak was at top form in holding back the floodgates, as the Capitals outshot the visitors 19-7 in the first period. Both teams took a few too many penalties in the opening period and we saw an all too familiar stick infraction from Alex Semin and an uncharacteristic cross check from Nick Backstrom (after he was knocked down and mauled in the corner for crying out loud). But the boys in red lit the lamp about two minutes after the Habs' tally on a full strength goal from Joe Corvo. End of the first period: Capitals 1 - Canadiens 1

The tempo seemed to slow down for both teams in the second period and Alex Ovechkin was held without a shot on goal through the entire contest (huh?), thanks to having Roman Hamrlik, Jaroslav Spacek and the Sequoia tree known as Hal Gill stuck to him like glue. With about nine minutes left in the middle stanza, Jose Theodore made a statement to naysayer Tomas Plekanac and his linemates by denying a series of shots with some extraordinary acrobatics. He had to stand at attention in the minutes that followed as the Caps were unsuccessful in clearing the puck out of their zone (HM is quite sure that Gabby had plenty to say about that during the intermission). Les Canadiens took five more shots than the Caps in the second period but neither team scored by the period's final whistle. End of the second period: Capitals 1 - Canadiens 1

The Caps owned the third period this season and they started off the final period in their first playoff game in style with a goal from Nicklas Backstrom. Monsieur Mike Knuble made a lovely no-look pass to his linemate, who whizzed the puck past Halak for the tally. Scott Gomez, who has been been scrutinized by Montreal fans and media alike for his less than stellar numbers, evened things up for the Habs at the 7:34 mark. Rookie John Carlson, who has had quite a year so far, had an exceptional scoring attempt as the final minutes ticked off the clock, but Halak stood tall. In the game's remaining few seconds, Mike Green was cited with a delay of game and the blue-blanc-rouge would go on another power play. End of third period: Capitals 2 - Canadiens 2

 As the score was still tied at the end of regulation, the first game would go into a nail-biting sudden death overtime (with the Canadiens on a man-advantage). Unlike the brief overtime periods seen during the regular season, playoff OTs last twenty minutes with no shoot out. HM operates on lots of coffee and little sleep during the playoffs as I tend to stay up watching games (pretty much any game - it's like Christmas for hockey fans) well after my normal bedtime. The boys were spot on killing off the remaining seconds of Mike Green's penalty, getting lots of help from the red-hot Theo with some magnificent saves. Well I'll be darned (and believe me, I'd like to drop an expletive here) that late into the OT period, Tomas Plekanac of the pre-game trash talking, would be the one to score the GWG for the Canadiens. Final: Canadiens 3 - Capitals 2

Not exactly the start the boys were looking for to be sure, but as Matt Bradley pointed out "It's just one game." Boudreau called out his star Ovechkin (when's the last time you saw that), who will hopefully get his mojo back and exact his payback in Game 2 on Saturday night. Both goalies were incredible but you have to give credit to Halak, stopping an eye-popping 45 shots. Not to worry folks, HM is confident that it will be a different story tomorrow night. Disappointing, yes, but this journey is far from over.

On a closing note, if you need a little extra cheering up this morning, check this hilarious fan letter that was sent to my pals at On Frozen Blog. This is sure to make you laugh out loud!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting Ready for The Habs

Buffalo Sabres v Montreal Canadiens

Photo courtesy of Pic App

The Capital's first game of the Stanley Cup playoffs is just about 48 hours away and their opponents have already started with the smack talk, courtesy of Habs forward Tomas Plekenac. Plekenac gave the Caps their first piece of bulletin board fodder today when he quipped "It's not like we're facing (Martin) Brodeur or (Ryan) Miller. They don't have a dominant goaltender." These snitty comments were directed at former Canadien and current Capital starting goaltender Jose Theodore, of course. To which Jose replied: "Tomas who? Jagr? Oh Plekanec. OK. I thought you meant Jagr." Yep folks, it's playoff time - where the gloves come off and lifelong rivalries are formed.

Most people are picking Washington to win the series but Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak feels like there's much more pressure on the Caps, leaving room for a surprise upset. All the goalie talk aside, success for either team in this series will most likely come down to Washington's penalty kill (and staying out of the box, Alex Semin) or the Habs' impressive power play. The Canadiens' power play, which features the likes of Mike Cammalleri, ranks second behind that of Washington's (which of course boasts some of NHL's hottest snipers in Nick Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and wrecking crew).

So we'll just have to ignore the smack talk and let the boys get down to business starting Thursday. Nicklas Backstrom is apparently under the weather but Boudreau anticipates he may be good to go for Game 1. Get that boy some chicken soup and let's get ready to rock the red and start these playoffs already!

In addition to all the great information provided by all the fabulous hockey writers on my blog roll, be sure to check out the daily "Get to Know a Canadien" feature over at Japer's Rink. Also, D.C. Sports Bog is your source for lots of fun and totally uncoventional Capitals facts.

For the perspective from the "other guys" in hockey-mad Montreal, check out some of these sites that cover Les Canadiens:
And if you're able to get away from work or school, be sure to join your fellow Caps fans to help get the boys pumped up at the Capital One Bank Rock the Red Rally tomorrow (April 14) from 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Fans can watch the team practice as they get ready for the long-awaited Game 1. 106.7 The Fan will also be broadcasting live during the pep rally.

The Mike Wise Show with Holden Kushner from 106.7 The Fan will broadcast live Wednesday from Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The Capital One Bank Rock the Red Rally will feature a variety of fun, interactive activities and include post-practice comments from Coach Boudreau. Capital One Bank will be giving away rally towels to fans while Slapshot will be distributing prizes throughout the morning.

Hockey Mom Style Alert: Facial Hair En Vogue for Men

Yes fellas, it's that time again. The best time of year to be a hockey fan and if you're of the male persuasion, a time for low-maintenance manscaping. One of the many great playoff traditions for the players involves not shaving their beards from the start of the playoffs until they are eliminated or hopefully, hoist that beautiful big Cup at journey's end. The New York Islanders started this tradition back in the 1980's and it has grown to include the ranks of minor hockey teams as well as college players. For a true female hockey fan, there's nothing sexier than a man celebrating his team's presence in the coveted post-season than by sporting the scruffy Grizzly Adams playoff beard. Even hotter when they look like the dudes from ZZ Top at the end, meaning they had a long and successful playoff run!

The Washington Capitals, along with media partners 106.7 The Fan and Comcast SportsNet, are encouraging their many fans to participate in one of hockey’s most visible traditions by growing their own playoff beards.

Fans may elect to grow a beard themselves or make a financial donation in support of a Capitals player or a fan who has elected to grow a playoff beard. HM is thinking that Nick Backstrom and Alex Semin may need some extra donations (or facial Rogaine) to boost their beards, while Alex Ovechkin will be quite fine, thank you! The Capitals’ Beard-a-thon is an opportunity for fans to grow their own beard and raise money for charity, as all proceeds will benefit Fort Dupont Ice Arena. Fort Dupont Ice Arena is the only full-size indoor ice arena in Washington, D.C.

Participants in the Capitals’ Beard-a-thon can invite family members, friends and business associates to pledge money for their playoff beard. Some of the participants in the Beard-a-thon are 106.7 The Fan’s John “Cakes” Auville from the Sports Junkies, Chad Dukes from the Lavar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes. Capitals’ arena announcer Wes Johnson will also participate in the Beard-a-thon. Money will be donated to Fort Dupont Ice Arena for every day that a fan maintains his beard. Fans who do not wish to or are unable to grow a playoff beard can participate by pledging a donation to your favorite Caps player or personality. For more information or to enroll in the Capitals’ Beard-a-thon, log onto

The fan who raises the most money will win a Caps VIP Game Experience, which includes four tickets on the glass, a ride on the Olympia and a postgame meet and greet with the Capitals player of their choice next season. All donations for the Capitals’ Beard-a-thon are tax deductible.

“The Beard-a-thon is a fun and creative way for Caps fans to celebrate a great hockey tradition and to give back to the community at the same time,” said Capitals director of community relations Elizabeth Wodatch. Last season, nearly 800 Capitals fans participated in the Beard-a-thon and raised more than $43,000 for charity.

Hockey Mom can attest that Fort Dupont runs an outstanding program for local kids, who may never have the opportunity to experience the great game of hockey otherwise. So put down those razors boys and help the Capitals commemorate their playoff run while raising money for this new crop of young hockey fans and talented players! I personally can't wait to see all the players and fans alike sporting their beards with pride.

About Fort Dupont:

Washington Capitals Charities will be donating all proceeds from the 2010 Beard-A-Thon to Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena. Fort Dupont is the only public indoor ice arena located in Washington, D.C., and the only skating facility in the area that provides free or subsidized skating programs to children. Its Kids On Ice program provides free figure skating, hockey and speed skating lessons to economically disadvantaged children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn these sports. Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena partners with public and private schools, summer camps, churches and local community organizations to promote and deliver its programs to more than 10,000 children per year.

Monday, April 12, 2010

First Round Playoff Schedules Set

And after a long, thrilling season of incredible achievements, both for individual players and the Capitals organization as a whole, the reason for the season is finally here. Round One of the Stanley Cup playoffs officially kicks off this Wednesday. The Capitals begin their final journey for Lord Stanley's Cup on Thursday in front of their thousands of Cap-crazy and dedicated fans, who make the Verizon Center one of the toughest places in the NHL to play! After securing home ice advantage, the Capitals will face the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1 on Thursday at the Phone Booth.

Here's the rest of the schedule courtesy of Nate Ewell and the rest of the team's outstanding PR staff:

SERIES A TIME (ET) #1 Washington vs. #8 Montreal

Thursday, April 15, 2010
 7 p.m. - Montreal at Washington

Saturday, April 17, 2010
 7 p.m. - Montreal at Washington

Monday, April 19, 2010
 7 p.m. - Washington at Montreal

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
 7 p.m. - Washington at Montreal

*Friday, April 23, 2010
 7 p.m. - Montreal at Washington

*Monday, April 26, 2010
 7 p.m. - Washington at Montreal

*Wednesday, April 28, 2010
 TBD - Montreal at Washington

(* if necessary )

And while our beloved Alex Ovechkin missed earning the Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies by the slimmest of margins, HM would like to offer her congrats to this year's winners (it's all about good sportsmanship folks; at least that's what I tell my boys). A Hockey Mom congrats to the phenomenal youngster Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay and to Sidney Crosby (yep, we know this guy all too well) from Pittsburgh for tying for the Rocket Richard honors. And my readers know about the special place in my heart for the Sedin wonder twins - those guys are just darn scary good. Honestly, I have my own twins watch their highlight reel goals where they make crazy no-look passes to each other. Hey, a mom can always dream big right? A big HM high five to Henrik Sedin for becoming the first Vancouver Canuck to ever win the Art Ross trophy with an incredible 112 points on the season.

Look for a breakdown of the competition and details on the Capitals Beard-A-Thon contest to come shortly. Meanwhile, has the league's television playoff schedule available so you can start marking your calenders and setting that DVR. I just love this time of year!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Capitales à Face Canadiens en première ronde

It's official - the Capitals will face the Montreal Canadiens in round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The schedule will be released later tonight. The Caps' first round opponent was determined by the outcome of the Flyers/Rangers bout, which was a nailbiter for their respective fans. HM was able to catch the latter part of this intense rival game, which was ultimately decided by a shootout. King Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular throughout three periods, but was unable to stop the crafty Daniel Briere and pals with their slick shooting skills. So looks like Round One pits the red-white-and-blue against the bleu-blanc-and-rouge. Stay tuned for details!

And as if anyone needs any more motivation towards getting excited for an epic Cup run, that Sidney guy just overtook the blasted lead for the Rocket Richard with 51 goals. The Penguins and Islanders are still only in the second period, but HM had to turn the game off. Suddenly I feel like I've had enough hockey for one day.

Playoff Bound Caps Meet Bruins on Fan Appreciation Day

Hockey Mom was in the press box as the Capitals met the Boston Bruins today in the last regular season home game for the guys in the red sweaters. The fans (the focus of Fan Appreciation Week) were mush more spirited than usual in anticipation of the playoffs. Slap Shot is also rocking a new red do just in time for the playoffs - he looks a bit like a cardinal instead of an eagle, but don't tell him I said so! After clenching their spot with a win yesterday (which included three short-handed goals on one penalty kill) the Bruins decided to sit some of their key role players, including the hulking Zdeno Chara. Their hot-handed goaltender, Tuukka Rask, also got a rest from the action and the Bs went with Tim Thomas, Eric Fehr and Tomas Fleischmann sat this one out for the home team, in addition to John Erskine, Quintin Laing and Tyler Sloan. But you can bet today's Washington Post's cover boy, Alex Ovechkin, was raring to go in hot pursuit of the scoring title. Young Steven Stamkos became the third youngest player to ever reach 50 goals and is giving Ovechkin a run for his money.

The Capitals started this one on the right foot as Alex Semin blasted a wide angle shot right past the left glove of Thomas. Shortly thereafter, the situation on the ice turned to complete chaos. As Jason Chimera went in deep to the net for the puck and got mauled by the net minder. Both teams went at it and after the dust cleared, Thomas was charged with roughing and Chimera took a seat for goaltender interference. The Bruins tallied on a power play goal from Michael Ryder to tie it up. The animosity from the melee was far from over, as the officials sent Chimera to the sin bin again for a ten-minute misconduct (for jabbering with a Bruins player for crying out loud). A total Pee Wee hockey call there ref, just my opinion. Later in the period, Ovi was called for a high stick and Michael Ryder scored his second goal of the period with five minutes to go. No worries Caps fans, as the boys evened it up seconds later with a spectacular goal from Eric Berlanger, who shot the puck as he was falling to the ice! End of first period: Capitals 2 - Bruins 2

Ovi opened up the second period by taking several successive blistering shots at the Bruins' net but Thomas stood tall and did not allow the Great8 to breach his net in the opening minutes. The Caps went on the penalty kill once again when John Carlson was whistled for hooking The penalty killers shut down the guys from Beantown and Carlson had a nice little scoring chance as he exited the box. The chippy Jason Chimera took his third seat of the day for cross-checking one of the visitors. Despite big boy Milan Lucic's attempts to screen Varlamov on the Bruins power play, the Caps' PK unit once again took care of business. It was the Capitals' turn to enjoy a man-advantage at 14:37 when Dennis Wideman was called for interference. Alex Semin appeared to have gotten dinged pretty hard when he was hit with a shot but remained on the bench. The boys were unable to tally on the power play and the score remained tied at the end of the period. End of the second period: Capitals 2 - Bruins 2

The opening minutes of the third period saw some outstanding defensive performances from Joe Corvo and John Carlson as the Bruins buzzed around Semyon Varlamov. At 9:59 mark, the Capitals gained the lead as Mike Green blasted a wicked shot from the blue line and Mike Knuble directed it into the Bruins' net. And of course then it was time to "Unleash the Fury" - the red-clad fans went absolutely bonkers!

The Bruins weren't done for the afternoon though, as Marco Sturm netted a rocket with less than five minutes remaining in the game, tying it at three apiece. Varlamov had to show off his acrobatic skills in the final 30 seconds as the Bruins made the last ditch effort to seal the deal. His efforts paid off as he held them back and extended the regular season into another five-minute overtime. The hometown darlings put on quite a show in the defensive arena staving off Boston in the extra minutes, with Mike Green blocking a Bruins shot while laying his entire body out on the ice and Semyon Varlamov using his cat-like reflexes to block pucks.

Neither team scored in overtime so to extend this last day of the regular season party just a bit, they had to base the final results on the shootout. David Krejci and Miro Satan netted goals for the Bruins while Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon weren't able to get past Tim Thomas for the goals. Final score: Bruins 4 - Capitals 3

Now we all just have to wait to see what transpires between the Rangers and Flyers tonight to see who we'll be meeting in the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs. We'll be sure to keep you all posted and guys, time to start growing those playoff beards!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Capitals Notch More Milestones in Big Win Over Atlanta

Friday night's big win against the Atlanta Thrashers set yet another round of records for some of the stars on this team - a spectacular ending in the second to last regular season game in a season that's been nothing short of phenomenal thus far. After accepting the franchise's first ever President's TrophyAlex Ovechkin marked the occasion by tallying two goals, putting his regular season total at 50 and giving him the lead in the points and goals race. The Great8 now joins legends Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy as the only players to reach at least 50 goals in four of their first five NHL seasons. And the party didn't stop there - no sir! Ovi's best pal Nicklas Backstrom had an assist on one of Ovechkin's goals which gave Backstrom his 100th point on the season. The two snipers became the first two to ever record 100 point seasons in Capitals history!

So a huge Hockey Mom high five to both and to the team for a big win - a nice win streak to head into the post season boys! I'll be in the house tomorrow for the final regular season home game against the Bruins. The Eastern Conference playoff picture is still jumbled for those final spots as the New York Rangers beat Philadelphia last night. Go figure, uber-thug Dan Carcillo got a four-minute penalty giving the Rangers the opportunity for a power play goal.

In other hockey news and notes:

-Congrats to Kevin Aucoin of the Hershey Bears for being named the AHL's most valuable player! Nothing like a little depth on the Capital's most excellent farm team.

-HM loves hearing about the unbridled hockey passion of female Caps fans and this gal blows me away in the dedicated fan category. Check out the distance super-fan Melissa Allen goes to rock the red and cheer on her Caps as told in this interview with my pal DC Sports Chick over at On Frozen Blog!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Alex Ovechkin Getting the Love He Deserves

If you're a fan of Alex Ovechkin (and even if you aren't, you have to admire the guy's otherwordly hockey talent), you're going to thoroughly enjoy this piece on the game's most spectacular and personable star by Charles McGrath for The New York Times. Enjoy puckheads!

Friday Fun Stuff

TGIF, hockey fans - we made it to the end of another week and almost to the end of another regular season!

The Capitals have two regular season games remaining and unfortunately for Gabby (who's monitoring the Eastern Conference race very closely), looks like we won't know our first round opponent until Sunday. The Bruins moved themselves into the sixth spot last night with their 3-1 win over Buffalo, while the Rangers and Flyers will duke it out twice this weekend to determine which one gets to go to the big dance. Personally, HM is putting her money on the Broad Street Bullies - despite their goaltending issues, looks like Jeff Carter will return to the lineup giving them an offensive boost. So as we wait for another puck drop at Verizon Center where the Capitals take on the Thrashers tonight, here's some Friday fun stuff for reading enjoyment:

- The Capitals will will celebrate their first Presidents’ Trophy at tonight's game against the Atlanta Thrashers. The Capitals will have a brief pregame on-ice ceremony unveiling the Presidents’ Trophy – given each year to the team with the best record in the NHL – before the game then share it with their fans at Verizon Center and Kettler Capitals Iceplex the next two days. The trophy will be on display throughout Friday’s game on the concourse between sections 107 and 108 and during Sunday’s game against Boston behind section 119. The trophy will also make a trip out to Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., on Saturday for the Capitals’ 11 a.m. practice. The trophy will be on display at Kettler Capitals Iceplex from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Fans will be able to take photographs of the trophy while it is on display free of charge at either Kettler Capitals Iceplex or Verizon Center. HM can't wait to see what that bad boy looks like!

- Sidney gets 50? Nope. (But he did reach the 500 point mark darn it)

- Jose Theodore gets a well-deserved nomination from the Washington chapter of the PHWA for the Masterston Trophy. Great piece on Jose and his nomination over at Japer's Rink - but be forwarned that you may need a tissue box nearby before you start reading. We are proud of you Theo!

-One of the greatest American-born players to ever play the game gets emotional during a thunderous standing ovation from Dallas Stars fans. Mike Modano has hinted that last night may have been his last game as he ponders retirement - he relives some of the highlights of his spectacular career to the cheers of thousands last night and fittingly, scored the GWG in a shoot out:

- Congratulations to all the teams participating in the 2010 Pee Wee Ice Hockey Nationals locally here in Ashburn and Reston, Virginia. HM  is sending a special shout out to the 1997 Ashburn Xtreme team - go kick some butts boys! Also, a big Hocky Mom high five to one of the best youth coaches we've had the pleasure to work with as he was named  the Loudoun County High School Coach of the Year.

- And finally, there's just something about a goalie fighting that tugs at HM's heart strings. Check out the Lightning's Mike Smith attempt to beat down Ottawa bad boy Chris Neil - next time Smith needs to foil up his knuckles:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Capitals’ Wives Visit Children’s National Medical Center

Kari Erskine helps decorate a crown with one of the patients at Children’s National Medical Center.

You know the saying "behind every good man is a good woman." Well, nothing could be more true, especially when it comes to the great gals (the wives and girlfriends) behind the on-the-move Washington Capitals players. While their significant others are at the rink or flying from city to city breaking all kinds of franchise records, these energetic women are keeping everything in check at home. While their loved ones are away, they are the ones having to call the plumber for a clogged toilet, going the grocery store, driving the kids to and from their sporting activities, managing work responsibilities - the same daily madness that we all deal with. In addition to juggling their crazy schedules, the Capitals wives and girlfriends always find time to enthusiastically reach out to the community and help those in need. This week the women paid a visit to one of the organization's favorite places - the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

In the second visit the Capitals have made to Children’s National Medical Center this season, the group had a wonderful time making spring-themed arts and craft with many of the hospital's young patients. Angela Corvo, Kari Erskine, Rachel Fehr, Deanne Harefah, Mackenzie Keeley, Aimee Laing, Erin Morrison and Diondra Steckel  helped the children make beautiful crowns, door hangers and headbands to celebrate the arrival of Spring and brighten up their day.

Angela Corvo and Aimee Laing make headbands with patients at Children’s National Medical Center.

“If we can take the kids’ minds off of being in the hospital just for a little bit of the day then we have done our job,” said Rachel Fehr, wife of Caps forward Eric Fehr. Hockey Mom would have to say that by the looks of things, both the kids and adults alike had a fabulous time together and am sending the kids best wishes and hugs of my own!
Children's National Medical Center is a proven leader in the development of innovative new treatments for childhood illness and injury. Children’s National has been serving the nation's children for 140 years and is ranked among the best pediatric hospitals in America by US News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Put the Broom Away: Caps Sweep Pens to Take Regular Season Series

The hockey world's favorite rivalry was renewed in full force tonight for the final regular season matchup between the President Trophy winning Capitals and the defending Cup champion Penguins. The winds of change seem to be blowing in the Cap's favor this season. Washington was 1-7-1 in the first nine meetings with Pittsburgh after the 2004-05 work stoppage. Since then, coinciding with Bruce Boudreau’s time behind the bench, the Caps are 7-1-2. With a win tonight Caps were hoping to sweep the season series with the arch rival Penguins for the first time.

There were some pivotal players missing from both benches as Mike Green and Evgeni Malkin were both out nursing minor ailments, notably absent from their perspective teams. Semyon Varlamov got the nod to try his hand against the Pens and was on his game through the opening period. The Capitals lit the lamp first courtesy of an Alex Semin hockey school against a stumbling Alex Goligoski. The speedy Russian sniper spinned and deked his way around the Pittsburgh defender to get the Capitals on the board. The Caps marked yet another milestone this evening reaching the 300 goal mark, becoming the first team to score 300 since 2005-06 (Ottawa, 312, and Detroit, 301)! Yet another round of applause for this latest extraordinary achievement!
End of first period: Capitals 1 - Penguins 0

The Capitals started out the second period on the right foot with a goal from Mike Knuble less than a minute after the opening face off. Knuble caught Marc-Andre Fleury out of position and smoothly slipped the puck in as Fleury was flush left in front of his crease. Unfortunately, Knuble would go to the box for a hook which would give the Pens the man-advantage at the 5:35 mark. Despite an absolutely lovely Capitals' penalty kill in the first period, the uber-hated captain of the ice birds, Sidney Crosby, beat Varlamov to get the home team on the scoreboard. The league's leading offense would strike again less than 20 seconds later courtesy of Tomas Fleischmann and that would be all she wrote for Marc-Andre Fleury. Pittsburgh's net minder could not contain his frustration as he made his way to the dressing room after being replaced in goal with former Capital Brent Johnson. HM was seeing visions of a Tuukka Rask type meltdown as the Flower banged his stick on his way through the tunnel. The middle stanza was a high-scoring one as the Penguins tallied for the second time with a goal from recent acquisition Jordan Leopold that took a fluky bounce. It looked as if the Pens had another one but the refs had blown the whistle before the puck trickled past Varlamov. Of course the guys in black and gold were not in the least bit happy with that call and somewhat of a melee ensued in front of the goal (of course Matt Cooke was in the vicinity). The Caps' offensive threat was bolstered by more secondary scoring as everybody's favorite grinder, Matt Bradley, tipped one in to give the boys a two-goal lead in the waning seconds of the middle period. End of second period: Capitals 4 - Penguins 2

This matchup always has the aura of a playoff game, no matter when these two teams play during the regular season. Tonight's game was no different with the momentum shifting at a moment's notice. The Pens struck first to open the final period with Jordan Leopold's second marker of the evening - a wicked slapshot to beat Semyon Varlamov. And Alex Ovechkin's brief slump came to an end in fitting fashion, less than fours seconds into a Capitals' power play. After Bill Guerin took a seat for high-sticking Shaone Morrison, the best power play unit on the planet went to work. Nick Backstrom got the puck to Ovi right off the face off and his powerful wrister got him right back into the race! In addition to scoring, Ovechkin was a virtual wrecking ball in the third hitting everyone that got in his path - including super villain Cooke. Both Johnson and Varly made several eye-popping saves in their third period efforts. Eric Fehr paid a visit to the sin bin late in the third for a high stick, but again the Caps' penalty killing was solid at a crucial point.
As the final minute and a half ticked off the clock, Brent Johnson went to the bench for the extra attacker but to no avail. With two seconds remaining, the Great8 took aim with an empty net looming in front of him and the fat lady starting singing at the top of her lungs. Ovi's goal put him right back in the forefront of the Rocket Richard race and the win gave the Capitals a glorious series sweep against their heated rivals.
Final Score: Capitals 6 - Penguins 3

Monday, April 5, 2010

Capitals Clinch First-Ever President's Trophy

The Capitals weren't even on the ice when they won the franchise's first President Trophy, thanks to a San Jose loss at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche last night. Please join Hockey Mom in a toast (albiet with coffee as it is early morning) to congratulate the boys on this shining occasion!

The President's Trophy gives the Caps home ice advantage throughout the playoffs and tops off what has been a brilliant regular season (yes, of course we all have our eyes on that big post-season prize). Some of the other notable milestones the team has recorded this season include setting the franchise record  for wins (51) and points in a season (114), as well as wins (23) and points on the road (53). Let's keep this train rolling and our focus on that bigger silver statue that awaits the league's ultimate champion - meanwhile congratulations Caps!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Busy Week Ahead for Capitals

HM wants to close out this glorious weekend by wishing all you great fans out there a Happy Easter and Happy Passover! I am back from a wonderful trip to New York City, where I am pleased to report several sightings of my fellow Capitals brethren. My boys were apalled as I high-fived a jogger sporting a lovely red Caps t-shirt in Central Park out for a jog on a beautiful day and later struck up a conversation with a man and his young son in a Capitals Convention shirt. But then again, they're teenagers now so pretty much everything I do is embarassing.  Unlucky for them, HM has never met a stranger (especially when it comes to talking Caps hockey)! It's how I roll. And it just so happens that I didn't even have to miss the game against the Thrashers while I was out of Comcast SportsNet range. We caught the first part (including the thugnasty hit by Colby Armstrong on our beloved Mathieu Perrault - not nice) on the many screens at the flagship NHL Store and was thrilled to see the game on VERSUS back at the hotel. As you all know by now, Armstrong since got a two-game suspension for that hit and the Caps took the win.

And it wasn't pretty, but the boys won on the road last night against the feisty Columbus Blue Jackets (former home to Caps funny guy Jason Chimera). The Caps' 51st win, which saw goals from Alex Semin, Mike Green and Tomas Fleischmann along with another outstanding effort in net from Theo, set yet another franchise record in what's been a year of extraordinary milestones. In addition to getting one baby step closer to claiming the organization's first President's Trophy, Mike Green's goal set another career high for points with a total of 74 for the defenseman thus far this season. Despite all these fabulous accomplishments, former Flyer and current Blue Jacket, RJ Umberger, still thinks the Capitals are overrated. If my memory serves me correct, RJ, Washington has competed head to head quite well with Western Conference teams this season, but thanks for the vote of confidence.

Meanwhile, this last week of regular season action for the team is shaping up to be a busy one. The boys will take on the Bruins tomorrow night - Boston is coming off a close OT win over the Leafs yesterday, led by the hot hand of the milk-crate throwing Tuukka Rask. The Bs are fighting to keep their number six spot in the Eastern Conference as they are tied with the Flyers with 84 points. And of course Tuesday brings the last regular season meeting with our favorite team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, as the boys travel to the Burgh to face Crosby and pals. As always, it'll be a spirited affair as Washington has a shot at sweeping the season series against their bitter foes. Get ready for a great final regular season week of hockey Caps fans!