Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hockey Mom Hangs Up the Skates

Well sports fans, I've proscrastinated as long as possible but HM has had to come to the difficult decision to hang up the skates. I'm hanging the "Closed" shingle out on Musings of a Hockey Mom after almost four fabulous seasons covering the Capitals and youth hockey. For those of you who've followed me along this journey (I am sending you all great big virtual thank you hugs right now), you know that I'm a single working mom of teenage twin boys - who travel far and wide with hockey, lacrosse and now golf. As the much as I loved this blog and the outlet it's provided, several realizations hit me over the course of this season, the main one being that unfortunately, I no longer have the time to dedicate to provide the type and frequency of posts that I feel Caps fans deserve. The second realization (in addition to increased responsibilities at my full-time job and adding one more sport to the mix in golf), is that the aforementioned boys are starting high school this fall. When they say kids grow up fast, believe it - I cannot comprehend that I only have four more years with the boys in the house :(  That said, I want to spend as much time as I can with them because I'm sure it will fly by.

So it's with a very heavy heart that I say goodbye. My passion for the Capitals and this blog has taken me places I never thought I'd go and actually helped me get through some tough times in my personal life. I'd like to think my blog provided a unique (and snarky) voice amongst the many who do such an outstanding job in covering our beloved Capitals. During my time in the press box, I've met so many wonderful people and have become fast friends with many including the gang at On Frozen Blog, Storming the Crease, Homer McFanboy, Capitals News Network, Ed Frankovic, Caps Girl and so many others who I will miss seeing on game nights. And countless thanks to Japers Rink for the link love over the years as well. Through my involvement with Scarlet Caps, I've met so many awesome women whose passion for the Capitals and the NHL is contagious.

In addition to my awesome readers, I also owe the growth of this blog and the opportunities it presented to the Capitals organization, starting with Ted Leonsis. I also want to send a heartfelt thanks to former Caps Communications guru Nate Ewell as well as Paul Rovnak, Kelly Murray and Sergey Kocharov for all of their assistance and support. I'd also like to thank the Caps' marketing staff for letting me share my love for the game as an integral part of their women's initiative.

I hope that someday soon, I'll be able to see the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup (meanwhile, am rooting for my second team, the Canucks this year). I've loved every minute and every pixel that went into Musings of a Hockey Mom and I will always adore this team. But now I'll be watching from the stands and waving to my pals up high in the press box. So as I ride my zamboni into the sunset, I thank you all again for your patronage and if you see me at a game, the rink or the yoga studio (I have to have some stress relief with twin boys in high school, right), be sure to say hi!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Another Heartbreaking Early Exit for the Washington Capitals

It's happened again. This team, loaded with more talent than it knows what to do with, got run out of the second round of the playoffs, quicker than this hockey mom can bandage a boo boo. Speaking of boo boos, everyone in Caps nation is feeling that old, sinking feeling in their hearts today after another stunning exit. The boys simply did not show up - especially those "young guns" - who get paid the big bucks to do just that.

Stanley Cups are won by a combination of talent, luck, team work, work ethic and probably most important of all - heart. The Lightning had much less offensive talent (and were missing a big key in the cog with the injury of Simon Gagne) but their heart and soul guys Sean Bergenheim and the pesty Steve Downie came up big when it mattered. Guy Boucher totally outcoached the affable Gabby and the Bolt's stars Lecavalier, Stamkos and St. Louis were game killers. So after a second season of finishing number one in the East and not getting to Conference Finals, what to do?  Here are some of my thoughts (just a thought, not a sermon folks):

  • Unfortunately, I think Bruce Boudreau's stint as bench boss should come to an end. They need a hardass in there who scoffs at the mere thought of an "optional" skate. Yes, Gabby was successful in transitioning the game plan to a more defensive style of play, but he apparently lost their attention as that plan went out the window in the Tampa series.
  • Alex Semin too - he's proved time and time again that he is ineffective in  post-season play.
  • Young guns: No more pictures of you partying all over D.C. during the season- agree wholeheartedly with PucksandBooks of On Frozen Blog who touched on this earlier- if you're seen out the night before a game, bag skate.
    Yes, Sidney Crosby might be a total nerd who stays home with his milk and cookies but in the playoffs (when he's healthy and all hockey fans hope that is soon), he schools opponents. Plain and simple.
  • On aforementioned note, more bag skates in general.
  • Ovi should not be the captain. I said it when they gave him the 'C' and say it again. Just because he is one of the most elite talents in the world, does not mean he is the guy to hold fellow players accountable for not stepping up. I hope that in the aftermath of yet another post-season undoing, the team can manage to hold onto Jason Arnott - who would be the perfect guy to wear the "C", or Mike Knuble.
Here are some other thoughts on the aftermath  from some of the Caps most recognized scribes: Tarik El Bashir, Stephen Whyno, Homer McFanboy  and of course, the boss himself.

I'm sure you're with me when I say I'm pretty tired of hearing "wait til next year".....

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Lightning Strikes Down Caps in Game Two

    After a lackluster performance resulting in a Game One loss (despite the fact that Tampa Bay suffered the loss of Simon Gagne and Pavel Kubina during the course of the game), the Capitals got a chance to even the series on home ice last night.

    The offense was bolstered by the return of Mike Knuble to the lineup and fans hoped to see the net-crashing action that was amiss Friday night. Apparently John Carlson was questionable after getting dinged up in Game One, but the defensive dynamo was ready and raring to go. The Caps came out with much more energy than we saw in Game One but the floundering power play continued to plague them. The first period alone saw three consecutive power plays for the home team, of which they converted zero. Despite outshooting the Bolts 11-6 in the opening 20 minutes, the Caps could not permeate the crease of grizzly old timer Dwayne Roloson. Roly the goalie, in his elderly state, proves to be as nimble as kids half his age and kept the Caps off the board in the first. It was a penalty-filled affair, including several missed calls. Martin St. Louis, who’s already lost three pearly whites thus far these playoffs, was again hit right in the choppers. The speedy right-winger helped get his team on the board first at 19:01, with a sweet pass to captain Vinny Lecavalier, whose slap shot earned the Bolts a power play goal.

    End of first period: Lightning 1 – Capitals 0

    The Caps had a few prime opportunities in the second period, including shot that went wide, attempted by Marco Sturm as he took advantage on a breakaway. His mates continued to go hard to the net though and their efforts paid off at 14:52. St. Louis failed to clear the puck and John Erskine redirected it to a waiting Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom, who has yet to score a goal of his own these playoffs, got the puck to Brooks Laich who beat a solid Roloson to tie the game. The Caps continued to pour the pressure on Roloson, directing 11 shots his way as Neuvirth only faced three from the Bolts.

    End of second period: Capitals 1 – Lightning 1

    The third period saw another swing in the Bolts’ favor at the 7:35 mark as St. Louis flipped the puck across the net, and Mike Green was in the right place at the wrong time. As Green tried to ensure nothing went into the Caps' net, St. Louis's shot deflected off of Green's skate to give Tampa Bay the lead.

    At 8:32, Green found himself again at the center of attention as he went to hit Steven Stamkos and raised his elbow. The nasty impact resulted in a roughing call against Green. Meanwhile, Stamkos ans crew had the better chances in the third period, outshooting the Caps 11 to 5.

    Gabby made the decision to pull Neuvirth with 1:43 left in the final frame and Alex Ovechkin took a feed from Jason Arnott and crashed the net, scoring to tie the game with 1:07 left on the clock.

    The crowd unleashed the fury once again as this one was headed into a nail-biting OT.

    As sloppy as the Caps were at many points during this contest, it was the sloppiness of a poorly timed line change that proved to be their undoing. While Caps players were scrambling for the change, Vinny Lecavalier went top shelf off a wide pass from Teddy Purcell to give the Bolts the win and their fifth road victory in a row (as Jeff Schultz totally missed his coverage doing his best scarecrow imitation).

    Final Score: Lightning 3 - Capitals 2

    Now the Caps are down 2 games in the series and have lots of making up to do - starting Tuesday night in balmy Florida.

    Here are some other takes on the loss from Caps News Network, Japers Rink, CBC and Capitals Insider.

    As disappointing as this loss was, the mood in the nation’s capital changed from frustration to jubilation as shortly after the game, the news of the death of Osama bin Laden at the hands of U.S. forces was announced. On Frozen Blog has some commentary on the contrast, while RMNB has photos of Caps fans joining the celebration in front of the White House.

    This news certainly brings the playoffs (and really, sports in general) into perspective as in light of this historic event, we remember those who’ve lost their lives – both military and civilians- as a result of 9/11 and other terrorist acts across the world.