Thursday, April 28, 2011

Round Two of the Quest Starts Tomorrow

After a week of rest and watching their fellow Eastern Conference teams battle it down to the wire, the Capitals will be itching to hit the ice tomorrow against a familiar foe - the Tampa Bay Lightning. The NHL released the schedule for Round Two late last night after the Habs/Bruins and Pens/Lightning games wound up. Here goes, folks:

Friday, April 29, 2011 7 p.m. TB Lightning at Washington VERSUS, TSN

Sunday, May 1, 2011 7 p.m. TB Lightning at Washington VERSUS, CBC
Tuesday, May 3, 2011 TBD Washington at TB Lightning CSN, VERSUS, TSN
Wednesday, May 4, 2011 7 p.m. Washington at TB Lightning CSN, TSN
*Saturday, May 7, 2011 12:30 p.m. TB Lightning at Washington NBC, TSN
*Monday, May 9, 2011 TBD Washington at TB Lightning CSN, VERSUS, TSN
*Wednesday, May 11, 2011 TBD TB Lightning at Washington CSN, VERSUS, TSN

The Lightning held their own against a Penguins team that has suffered offensively since losing Crosby and Malkin. The Penguins' faithful actually booed their own team's pitiful power play last night - poor form people, obviously those fans have not read the Blonde Girls' Guide to fandom. Never.Boo.Your.Team....

Nonetheless, the Pens are toast and we can look forward to more colorful conversation between Bolts bad boy Steve Downie and Caps hero in residence Matt Hendricks. Steven Stamkos has regained his scoring touch, notching seven playoff points, while the pocket-sized but dangerous Martin St. Louis was just named a finalist for the NHL's Hart MVP Trophy. Sean Bergenheim has netted three goals thus far this playoffs, while the Pens series saw the first ever playoff tally from agitator Downie. Lightning netminder Dwayne Roloson (who at the ripe old age of 41, must be taking his vitamins indeed) earned the shut out last night and boasts a .949 save percentage. You'll recall the old man gave the Capitals fits earlier this season. Familiar indeed, but certainly not an opponent the Caps can take lightly as they learned during the regular season.

The Caps hope to see the return of both Mike Knuble and Dennis Wideman at some point in the series, but though both guys have been participating in practice, that remains to be seen. Get ready for Round Two action - a little more than 24 hours away!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Capitals Head for Round Two with Solid Win over Rangers

Caps fans welcomed the boys home to Verizon Center with a sea of red and chants of “We are louder” as they cheered the Capitals on in a potential close out Game Five.

The Rangers opened the contest with their thug line of Avery, Prust and Boyle against top line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and the always dashing Brooks Laich, who was tapped to replace the still ailing Mike Knuble. Dan Girardi blocked a sizzler from Marco Sturm as the Rags tried to elude an onslaught of shots by the Capitals in the first five minutes of the opening period.

Green scored  a power play goal from a wide angle at 5:59 as Dan Girardi slid into New Yorks goal crease to try and deflect yet another shot in a brave effort to help his goaltender out. After the goal, the pesky Brandon Dubinsky started an all-out melee in front of the net. Ovi and Arnott were on the side of the ice hugging in celebration, but quickly sped over to help out their mates in the line brawl. Penalties were doled out to Semin and Laich for the Caps and Drury and Dubinsky for New York. Vinny Prospal joined his fellow Blueshirts in the bin after he decided to mouth off to an official and drew a bench minor.

At around the six minute mark, Mike Green courageously laid out the body to block a shot from Matt Gilroy and appeared to take a puck in the head (screws from his helmet went flying on impact) – eerily reminiscent of the injury he suffered against the Pens in February that kept him sidelined for so long. Both Girardi and Green emulated the intensity that is the NHL playoffs – sacrificing the body and playing through injury for the ultimate goal. Green went off to the dressing room while Girardi (who went missing after the mid-period scrum) returned to New York’s bench with about a minute left in the opening period. Meanwhile, Marc Staal’s frustrations of being unable to contain the Caps (shots were flying from everywhere, though not making the net), were evident as he threw Matt Hendricks into the side of the net after a whistle. The Caps directed 13 shots at Lundqvist while Neuvirth stopped all six from New York.
End of First Period: Capitals 1 – Rangers 0

At 7:04 of the second period, Alex Ovechkin blew by the Rangers' defense (specifically Marc Staal) to net an absolutely lovely backhanded goal, sure to make highlight reels on sportscasts across North America. The Rangers’ frustration reached the boiling point as Brandon Prust made a late hit on big John Erskine less than a minute after Ovi’s goal. The Caps were not able to convert on the man advantage.

It was the home team down a man at the ten-minute marker when Matt Bradley got whistled for interference. The penalty unit took care of business but things got ugly in front of Michal Neuvirth. After the whistle, uber-pest Sean Avery took a blatant slash on Neuvy’s hand prompting Brooks Laich to step in. In the ensuing scrum, Avery ripped off his glove and yipped at the ref “He bit me” when we all really know he just wanted to show off his freshly lacquered playoff nails. John Erskine took the second Capitals penalty when he annihilated Brandon Prust in the corner and was slapped with interference. The great news is that Mike Green returned to the Caps bench towards the end of the period, even though he saw no action.
End of Second Period: Capitals 2 – Rangers 0

The Caps continued to do a good job of keeping New York hemmed in their zone during the final period as they held onto a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes separating them from advancing to the second round. The Rangers did have a few odd break outs with Brian Boyle and Erik Christensen having the best scoring chances that were absolutely stonewalled by Michal Neuvirth. Neuvy has been stellar and came into the game having played the second-most minutes among goaltenders in the playoffs (289:11).

It was Alex Semin who stuck the fork in the visitors and added the insurance the boys needed to go forward. His line mate Marcus Johansson evaded Dan Girardi and Semin picked up MoJo’s cross-ice pass and proceeded to roof it over Lundqvist, sending an already jubilant Verizon Center crowd into a frenzy. With their playoff hopes quickly fading and their goal tender on the bench for the extra man, the Rangers had a solid last minute shot to get on the board from Derek Stephan. But Neuvy made yet another incredible save in an attempt to preserve the shut out. Despite Neuvy's extraordinary performance, the Rangers finally lit the lamp courtesy of Wojtek Wolski with under a minute left in the game. Tempers flared once again as Ruslan Fedotenko tried to take on John Erskine.

Final Score: Capitals 3 - Rangers 1

The Caps shook the monkey of last season’s first round exodus off their collective backs and celebrated the hard-earned victory with their fabulous fans. The new emphasis on 'defense first' hit a few bumps in the road during the season but was key to victory against a hardworking and physical New York team. Speaking of Rangers, former Ranger and longtime Capital's enforcer Donald Brashear is focusing on a new career path where he can employ his finely-tuned "work skills."

In the meantime, Hockey Mom is off to celebrate this fabulous win with a glass of “red” wine as we await our next opponent and give the boys some much needed rest. Please join me in a toast – to the Caps!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Caps Headed Back to Big Apple for Crucial Game Four

The Caps are preparing to return to Madison Square Garden tomorrow night to face the New York Rangers for what's shaping up to be another hostile meeting between these two clubs. New York will most certainly have Gabby's recent comments dissing its landmark rat-poo infested arena (along with its accompanying Rangers fans) posted as bulletin board fodder. Washington's bench boss, in what seems to be an attempt to diffuse the focus from his players, also accused the thugnasty Rags of deliberately targeting Mike Green's recently healed melon and wanted the league to review Staal's late hit on Green. Never one to keep mum, Ranger's coach John Tortorella stuck to the "we just have to stay focused" party line when asked about Boudreau's comments.

HM expects New York to continue the thuggery we witnessed on Sunday and the Caps will have to remain focused on keeping their cool. That and I'd have John Erskine, Matt Bradley and Matt Hendricks ready to smack down Brandon Prust, Brian Boyle and Vogue intern/runway model wannabe Sean Avery from the first face off. Though not nearly as offensively talented as the Capitals, the Rangers enter Game Four with a 198-214-8 record all-time in 420 playoff contests, including a 110-82-2 mark at home. New York has posted a 39-28 record all-time in Game Fours of playoff series, including a 5-0 mark in Game Four since 2007.

Of course this is the playoffs folks and with teams fighting for the coveted chance to battle for Lord Stanley's chalice, things are bound to get ugly. The NHL handed down two suspensions today to Tampa Bay's poster boy for bad behavior, Steve Downie, and Pittsburgh's Chris Kunitz. HM was watching the Vancouver/Chicago game and can attest that the Torres hit on Brent Seabrook was absolutely brutal - the debate on that one will continue for some time and Seabrook did not take the ice in tonight's Game Four in Chicago.

Finally, all you members of the Mike Milbury Fan Club (okay, all one of yuz) can rejoice! The NHL announced a new broadcast deal with NBC/VERSUS for the next 10 years - meaning that Mad Mike and Pierre McGuire will be gracing our airwaves for at least the next decade. The good news is that we hopefully get to see more of the funny and overemotional Jeremy Roenick - along with the ongoing evolution of Brian Engblom's fabulous mullet.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rangers Beat Caps in Broadway Battle

Michal Neuvirth has been one of the feel good story lines of this series so far and he started today’s game strong with a sweet save early on Matt Gilroy, as Gilroy took advantage of a pass from Ruslan Fedotenko in the opening moments of the first.

The Rangers were hitting hard with the irritating line of Prust-Boyle-Avery making the most noise. Brooks Laich had some choice words for the nail-polish wearing Avery after a late whistle. He later broke the bad boy’s stick during a face off, making the agitator even more agitated. The first Caps’ power play came at 15:01 when Matt Gilroy went off for a hook. The boys took 2 shots during the man-advantage but they fell back on some bad habits, shooting with most of those coming from well outside the circles instead of crashing the net.

The Caps didn’t have much luck on the power play but the penalty killers came up huge about two minutes later, when they had to kill of a Rangers’ 5-on-3. Matt Hendricks was whistled for goalie interference (even though it appeared he was pushed in by a Blueshirt) and in trying to clear the puck during the first kill, Mike Knuble swept it into the stands and joined Hendricks for some coffee and conversation in the MSG sin bin. The defense was sharp while down two mates, but Michal Neuvirth (who made 22 saves for his first career postseason shutout in the last meeting) remained cool and collected as he kept the Rangers off the scoreboard. Rangers’ sniper Marion Gaborik’s drought continued into the first period and he completely missed the net during their power play. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, New York’s Erik Christensen took an interference penalty and the Capitals would go on the power play again at the start of the second period. End of first period: Scoreless

The man advantage to start the second period didn’t last long. Mike Green was called for tripping, the boys played a bit of 4-on-4 and then the Rags went on their second power play. Marcus Johansson had a fabulous short-handed opportunity as he swept the puck and used his speed to get a shot off on Lundqvist, who swiftly gloved it. The action came to a halt when a referee had a mishap behind the net and fell awkwardly. The injured ref apparently hurt a knee and play stopped until the replacement stripes could get to the ice. Once play resumed, both teams were still playing hard with a chip on their shoulders. John Carlson lost his cool early on and cross-checked Marc Staal. The Rangers’ ailing power play found some life and New York lit the lamp first on a difficult shot from the side by Erik Christensen.

The Capitals seemed to lack the discipline that helped them win the first two contests. Ovechkin took the Caps’ fifth penalty of the game as he hooked Gaborik at the 8:50 mark. The refs weren’t calling it both ways though, as Scott Hannan got pegged with a pretty bogus holding call, giving the Rags their second 5-on-3 of the game (if only for 9 seconds). Meanwhile, the dastardly duo of Prust and Avery took runs at Michal Neuvirth after virtually every whistle. Ovechkin scored the tying goal with less than one minute left in the period, a tip-in right in King Henrik’s grill. Right before the play, Mike Green went down and appeared to be hit high – causing Caps fans around the country to hold their collective breath (glad to say he returned to the game).

New York thought they had taken the lead at literally the last second of the period but after heading up to Toronto for review, the officials ruled that the puck crossed the line as the clock hit the 0.00 mark. The call will certainly be the subject of much controversy amongst Rangers fans and other Caps haters but it stood at 1 -1 at the end of the second period. It even stirred controversy in my own house as one of my own kids (wearing a Hendricks shirt, mind you) kept quipping “that was a goal.” Nice…

Vinny Prospal gave New York the lead off an uncharacteristic Neuvirth rebound midway through the third period while the Caps trod a familiar path to the penalty box. Nick Backstrom took the team’s seventh penalty for tripping at 9:13. Bruce Boudreau commented on the officiating, angrily stating he thought there were some “ticky tacky” calls were made throughout the opening periods. Hockey Mom can only imagine what was going through Gabby’s hot head in the third – f-bombs galore I’m sure.

The penalty killers saved the day once again. This game got so chippy that even the normally serene Marion Gaborik got busted for a cross-check. The tempo changed once again as Mike Knuble scored a power play tally with help from Ovi and Backstrom to even the score. The rough stuff was by no means over, as John Carlson (who along with Mike Green, seemed to have a bulls-eye tacked to his sweater) tussled with Brian Boyle. But in the end, the Rangers emerged victorious in today’s battle, as a shot from Brandon Dubinsky (who I deem runner-up in the cheesy mustache contest – Sid is always first) scored on a deflection with under two minutes on the clock. Final Score: Rangers 3 – Caps 2

A disappointing day for Caps fans, but we’ve been in this spot before and Wednesday brings yet another opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead. The Hockey 101 key to victory: stay out of the box (even though some of those Rangers are as abrasive and annoying as fingernails on a chalkboard).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Caps Take Game One in OT Thriller

The Caps waited 82 games – some beautiful and some needing to be permanently banished from memory –to get to tonight: Game One of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Tonight saw the sixth postseason series between the Rangers and Capitals, with Washington having won three of the first five series, owning an all-time 15-14 playoff record against New York. The two teams last met in the 2008-09 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals, with Washington winning in seven games.

Michal Neuvirth shook off any rookie playoff jitters early in the first period when he did his best Mary Lou Retton imitation, going to the splits to stop a shot from Erik Christensen. Shortly after, the Blueshirts went shorthanded after being whistled for too many men. The Rangers displayed their shot blocking prowess by negating several of the quality shots taken by the warmly welcomed Mike Green (his first game back since suffering a concussion in February) and company during the power play. One of the things new hockey fans will note is the energy and physical play that goes along with playoff puck. Alex Ovechkin embodied the spirit of the playoffs with a tooth-rattling hit against Brandon Dubinsky in the first ten minutes – those two have a bit of a history and Dubinsky is like the annoying booger-eating kid at the sixth-grade lunch table.

The hitting ramped up significantly in the middle of the period and Mats Zucarello went a little overboard and went to the box for boarding at 10:13. The Caps’ power play was bolstered by the return of Mike Green but despite the boys’ best effort, King Henrik (with lots of help from his BFF – the goal post) ensured they stayed off the scoreboard. It was the Caps’ penalty killers’ turn to go to work in the final minutes of the period as Alex Semin put on his Bad Sasha mask (unbelievable – I know) and took a seat for one of his signature hooking moves. The boys kept the Rangers at bay and went into the dressing room with a 9-5 shots on goal advantage. End of First Period: Caps 0 – Rangers 0

The boys continued the pressure into the second period but struggled to hit the net, with Jason Arnott dinging yet another post and Nick Backstrom missing a wide-open net. Neuvy matched Lundqvist’s heroics by stopping sniper Marion Gaborik stone cold at around the 12:00 point. Marco Sturm, who had his share of shots on net in the first period, threw a couple more at Henrik in the middle stanza. Meanwhile, Nick Backstrom had one of the better chances of the night as he had a clean breakaway and deked out Lundqvist. This time it wasn’t the post, but Henrik’s goalie pads, that swiped the puck from within millimeters of crossing the red line. Both the Caps and the Rangers would need some frozen pea bags during the break after their second period shot blocking extravaganza. End of second period: Caps 0 – Rangers 0

The Rangers lit the lamp first at 1:56 in the final period as Matt Gilroy beat Michal Neuvirth with a slap shot. The Caps got the equalizer 12 minutes later on an ugly goal that was the source of much controversy. Ovechkin and posse were hacking and whacking in front of the crease and the captain managed to push the puck through Lundqvist’s pads, then the net came loose. The Rangers thought the ref blew the whistle prior to the puck crossing the line but after review, the call went in the Caps’ favor.

End of shaking and baking third period: Caps 1 – Rangers 1

As if we needed more drama between these two foes, Game One required extra minutes. I almost forgot how my sleep total goes down and Starbuck’s consumption goes up during playoff OT games – often times running into the wee hours of the morning. Neuvy had to make a quick save early in OT on the dangerous Artem Anisimov. Marco Sturm and Marcus Johannson had a splendid scoring chance a little less than five minutes into OT as they both turned on the afterburners speeding towards the Rangers crease. King Henrik had his work cut out with him as multiple Caps, including Jason Chimera, Ovi and Jeff Schultz, peppered his crease. On the other end, Gaborik thought he’d netted the game winner with six minutes left, but he was stonewalled by a sharp Neuvirth. Both teams battled hard, with Brian Boyle blocking a Carlson slap shot, into the waning minutes of overtime. The playoffs have not been historically kind to Alexander Semin, who has seemingly disappeared in playoffs past. But the Russian sniper has been solid of late, especially under the mentorship of confident vet Jason Arnott, and tonight Semin finally shook off the playoff demons that have plagued him in seasons past. Sasha blasted a rocket (with help from pal Arnott)  at 18:24 past a dog tired Marc Staal and beleaguered Lundvqist to win a thriller and take Game One!

Final Score: Caps 2 – Rangers 1

Monday, April 11, 2011

Capitals First Round Playoff Schedule

The moment we've been waiting for all season is finally here - the chance to undo all the bad memories from last year's abrupt first round playoff exit. As far as my own personal playoff preparations: Caps flags on car - check; nails freshly laquered in OPI 'Russian Red' - check; the boys' playoff beards started - check, well maybe not so much (but even at 15 years old, I bet they beat Sidney Crosby in a beard growing contest)!

And finally, first round playoff schedule entered into the smartphone - check. For those of you who haven't marked your own calendars yet, here's the schedule the NHL released last night:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington (CSN) (VERSUS)

Friday, April 15, 2011 7:30 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington (CSN)

Sunday, April 17, 2011 3 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers (NBC)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 7 p.m. Washington at NY Rangers (CSN)

*Saturday, April 23, 2011 3 p.m. NY Rangers at Washington (NBC)

*Monday, April 25, 2011 TBD Washington at NY Rangers (CSN)

*Wednesday, April 27, 2011 TBD NY Rangers at Washington (CSN)

The boys will practice today at 10:30 a.m.and tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

In anticipation of the much anticipated first round, Hockey Mom was asked to join several other Caps media types in a playoff roundtable over at On Frozen Blog. Check it out here. The Sporting News' Craig Custance shares his thoughts on why he thinks the Caps will take the first round over the Rangers - makes for some good Monday morning reading!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

For the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:

The Washington Capitals will face the New York Rangers, after the Carolina Hurricanes were eliminated in a 6-2 rout by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hockey Mom is rocking the fresh, red pedicure and the Caps flags will go on the car first thing tomorrw. Stay tuned for the completed playoff sched but Game One will be this coming Wednesday or Thursday. Will this be the year?

Friday, April 8, 2011

And Then There Was One....

Regular season game left, that is. The Caps are headed to the sun and sands of South Florida for their final game prior to the start of the long-awaited post season. The Florida Panthers proved to be no match for the Capitals on Wednesday and with the probable return of Mike Green to the line up and the Cats' Stephen Weiss and Tomas Vokoun on the shelf, the boys should be able to win another one and head into the playoffs on a high note. Gabby is playing his cards close to his chest in terms of saying who will be sitting out to "rest" tomorrow night. Meanwhile, the playoff picture is still murky as teams are scrambling for the final spots in the East.

Here's how it stands right at this very minute:

7th Spot: Buffalo Sabres (92 pts)
8th Spot: New York Rangers (91 points)
9th Spot: Carolina Hurricanes (89 points)

The Rangers lost a stinker last night (3-0) to the non-playoff bound Atlanta Thrashers. They'll get a chance to rest a bit then face another non-playoff bound team, New Jersey, tomorrow. Buffalo meets the Flyers (who are having their own mini-meltdown as of late) tonight, then close the season out against Columbus. The Hurricanes are hoping for two regulation wins against their final opponents, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, to grab that last dance card.

Meanwhile, Vancouver Canucks fans are celebrating their President's Trophy win and #1 in the West seed by tossing...salmon. Yep, in a game that saw Ryan Kesler hit the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career with a hat trick, some over jubilant fan decided to chuck a rather large salmon onto the ice. Dude, I could use that on my grill!

Seriously? (s/t to Puck Daddy)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Caps Clinch Southeast Divsion Title and Another Milestone for Great Eight

Despite a spectacular performance by Toronto's net minder, James Reimer, the Capitals clinched their fourth consecutive Southeast Division title last night in a 3-2 shoot out win against the Leafs. You'll recall that the Division title looked to be clasped rather firmly in the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning when the Caps were struggling back in the dark days of December. Toronto came out hard against the visitors last evening, but our big, bad d-man John Erskine came out even harder, with some bone-crushing hits and a rare second period tally.

Much to the delight of Capitals fans, Alex Ovechkin seems to be peaking at exactly the right time. The Great Eight notched yet another milestone with his 300th career goal  - a power play sizzler in the first period. Reaching the 300 mark also signifies that Ovi has averaged around 50 goals over his first six seasons as a Capital. He's on fire as of late, accruing points in 17 of his last 20 appearances  - lighting the lamp 10 times and kicking in 16 assists during that time frame! 

Of course, the game winning goal came at the hands of the trusty veteran Mike Knuble, when Gabby decided to line up the shoot out roster according to age. Yes sir, those elder statesmen Knuble and Arnott are aging like fine wine - Knuble has 23 goals on the season and both have vast playoff experience (with Arnott having actually hoisted Lord Stanley's vessel).

The Caps return to a playoff-ready Phone Booth tonight to meet the Florida Panthers. Rumors are swirling that tonight's game may see the return of Mike Green to the lineup. The race to the playoffs continues and the boys now occupy the top spot as the Flyers continue their late season struggles, falling last night to 14th place Ottawa. Philly has only two games left (against the Sabres and Islanders) to make up a two point deficit.

Though we love to loathe this team, HM has to applaud the Penguins (take note as this happens maybe once in never) for their new initiative to test local youth hockey players for concussion symptoms. The issue of head injuries has come front and center with Mike Green, Sidney Crosby, Marc Savard and a host of other NHLers suffering with the results this season, so it's vital that youth players, parents and coaches are aware of the signs and symptoms of concussions - which can be especially debilitating to youngsters.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Musings: Three Regular Season Games to Go

There are only three regular season games left, against Eastern Conference teams who don't have a chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks of making this year's playoffs (Toronto and Florida). The Stanley Cup playoffs will commence on April 13, with the memory of last year's abrupt first round exodus front and center in the players' minds. We can only hope that we see the return of Tom Poti and Mike Green (after they've had a chance to shake off the rust of course) for the first round. But what we hope not to see once that playoff puck drops, is an opponent skating through multiple Caps players to light it up, as did Les Canadiens last year. It took awhile for we fans to get used to, but the boys have had success with the two-way game and with the exception of an ugly, learning curve, have tightened up the defensive play and boast the lowest number of goals against in their division (192). But as these last few games have proven, the Caps still have some tweaking to do - longtime Caps' scribe Taril El-Bashir breaks it down best. Thankfully, the old guys in the room Mike Knuble and Jason Arnott, are taking the lead in addressing the areas needing improvement.

Until the first faceoff against the lowly Leafs tomorrow, here are some miscellaneous Monday musings:

  • On a very sad note, the hockey world sends condolences for the loss of Yale player Mandi Schwartz, who lost her long battle with leukemia yesterday, at the much too young age of 23.
  • Another youngster battling the insidious disease, William Shannon, got a smile and a signed sweater from Sasha during Fan Appreciation Night. (stick tap to Kings of Leonsis).
  • Alex Ovechkin has been on the celebrity circuit of late, first meeting the First Lady and most recently, the often jailed rap star Lil Wayne. In the words of my teens: That is SO chill.
  • Caps get some coverage for being tops in the East from the Canadian press.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Caps Face Sabres with Depleted Blue Line

Jason Chimera had the last laugh against his old team last night with his overtime game-winning goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets, but the win came at the expense of another Capitals blueliner. John Erskine took part in a pretty pointless fight in the first period, then left the game due to injury. Erskine is now listed as day-to-day, not good news for an already overtasked defense corps. Despite getting the win and surpassing the 100 point mark, thoughts in the post-game locker room were with team mate Dennis Wideman. TSN's Bob McKenzie reported late yesterday that Wideman (who's been one of the ice time leaders and a much needed cog in the power play since Mike Green's been out) is in a D.C. hospital with a serious hematoma. The injury was a result of the brutal collision between Wideman and Tuomo Ruutu on Tuesday. HM joins her fellow fans in Capsland in wishing him a speedy recovery and keep our fingers crossed that he's back (along with Mike Green) for the playoffs.

Speaking of Mike Green, there is good news to report on that front. Green has been skating with the team and may take on a full practice as early as Monday. Meanwhile, the boys take on the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow (in what may turn out to be a first round playoff match) without Green, Wideman and possibly Erskine. The Sabres are without their star netminder, Ryan Miller, who has been bitten by the injury bug himself. A win tomorrow could propel the Caps to the top spot in the East, as the Flyers fell to the Devils in a 4-2 loss this evening. Overseeing tomorrow night's festivities for his final night wearing stripes will be veteran  NHL referee Bill McCreary. The site will be appropriate as McCreary began his four-decades-spanning NHL career by working a Capitals home game. McCreary’s debut as an NHL referee was on November 3, 1984, when the Caps hosted the New Jersey Devils at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md. Tomorrow night’s game will be the 1,737th of his accomplished career.

McCreary’s long list of accomplishments includes refereeing 15 Stanley Cup Final series (13 consecutive from 1994-2007), the 1991 and 1994 Canada Cups, the 1994 NHL All-Star Game (New York), and the Winter Olympics in 1998 (Nagano), 2002 (Salt Lake City) and 2010 (Vancouver) -- drawing the gold medal game assignment each time.

And as we count down the hours until tomorrow's 7 p.m. puck drop, I leave you with some fun stuff courtesy of some of favorite Caps peeps:

  • Just one more reason to love the guys who represent this organization, get ready to break into a huge smile when you watch Semyon Varlamov minding the net against the adorable William. Thanks to Russian Machine Never Breaks, @rinkrebel and @itallfallsdwn.
  • Ovi is truly the man about town, hanging out with DJ Pauly D and now, Michelle Obama. Thanks to Capitals Outsider.