Friday, May 29, 2009

Maggie the Monkey Picks the Pens to Win Cup

Maggie the Monkey, who holds a dismal 4-10 record in picking the winning teams so far throughout this year's playoffs, has sided with Caps owner Ted Leonsis in picking the Penguins to win the whole enchilada.

HM just asked our cat Gabby (yes - named after our boisterous bench boss Bruce Boudreau) her thoughts on the outcome and she picked the Wings in 5. But of course she's a big seafood fan, so maybe it's just the octopus-swinging at Joe Louis Arena that influenced her decision.

Stanley Cup Lore

This is a very interesting look into how many misspelled names have been engraved on
Lord Stanley's Cup over the years...HM thinks maybe the League should let 2009 Spelling Bee champ Kavya Shivashankar do the proofing before they start engraving on one of the sports world's most coveted trophies!

Hmmm - other than Ovechkin, some of the other Capitals' names wouldn't be too worrisome for potential spelling errors. Green, G-R-E-E-N, just like it sounds. And Simeon Var-LA-Mov.
Hockey Mom, just doing a little daydreaming on a TGIF - hey, it could happen!

Hockey and Head Injuries/SCF Odds N'Ends

Hockey Mom wanted to pass on this interesting piece on hockey and concussions, particularly when it comes to young players. Speaking of young players, #7 in the photo is one of my twins - and yes, he does have his stick turned the wrong way (believe me - HM was yelling "turn your stick around" the entire tournament)!

In all seriousness, concussions are not anything to play around with - just ask the Caps' Brian Pothier. I saw a kid (a young guy, probably in Squirt division) get completely nailed this weekend and came off holding his head. The coach did not let him play another shift. That was unlike Chicago's Martin Havlat, who returned against Detroit, despite concussion symptoms resulting from having been "Kronwalled" in a previous game. Hockey is not a game for the faint of heart (or head), that's for sure.

In Capsland, Capitals' staffer Mike Vogel sat down with majority owner Ted Leonsis yesterday for a "State of Caps Nation" session. Check it out here:

And I know all you die-hard fans out there will still be watching (even though - gulp - still difficult as a Caps fan to sneak a peek at the enemy), here is the Stanley Cup Finals schedule:

Saturday, May 30 at Detroit - 8:00 pm (NBC)

Sunday, May 31 at Detroit - TBD-Evening (NBC)

Tuesday, June 2 at Pittsburgh - 8:00 pm (VERSUS)

Thursday, June 4 at Pittsburgh - 8:00 pm (VERSUS)

* Saturday, June 6 at Detroit - 8:00 pm (NBC)

* Tuesday, June 9 at Pittsburgh - 8:00 pm (NBC)

* Friday, June 12 at Detroit - 8:00 pm (NBC)

* denotes if necessary

The back-to-backs this weekend are a bad deal for the Red Wings, who are still a banged-up bunch. But they'll have their home crowd and octopus twirlers to get them fired up. One of the positives about this year's finals is that I think the Pens will give the Wings a better run for their money as opposed to last year (wait, did I just say that out loud?)...but hey, they have been enhanced with the likes of Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz, and former Cup-holder Ruslan Fedotenko, who as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning scored the only two goals in Game 7 against Calgary and went on to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup in 2004.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, HM threatened to stop patronizing my favorite Starbucks (have been going in there for 12 years now) when the manager was wearing one of the snow-fairy blue Penguins hats this morning. After some ribbing from HM, he assured me that he was only wearing it after losing a bet to another Pens-loving barista.

So who are all you Caps fans rooting for in the Stanley Cup Finals?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Capitals' Statements on Steriod Accusations

HM just got this media release from the Caps' PR team regarding the steriod allegations:

May 27, 2009
NHL and Washington Capitals Statements


“The Washington Capitals have no knowledge of any aspect of this allegation. Capitals players were subjected to no-notice testing three times in each of the past two seasons pursuant to the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and there was no indication of any improper conduct or wrongdoing.

“Even though there are no specifics provided in the story and we have no reason, at this point, to believe the allegations are true, the National Hockey League takes all matters of this nature very seriously and will conduct a prompt investigation.”

-- Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner


“We have no reason to believe there is any merit to this story, but the National Hockey League and the Washington Capitals take all such allegations seriously. Capitals players have fully participated in the NHL’s random drug testing program, and at no point has a Capitals player tested positive. In addition our players have been tested at international events, such as World Championships and Olympics. We welcome and will fully cooperate with the NHL’s investigation.”

-- Dick Patrick, Washington Capitals president

In addition, Tarik El-Bashir has also had the chance to talk to Brooks Laich about this ruckus. The drug-dealing meathead that was arrested didn't specify names nor give any indication of when his supposed dealings took place (and apparently he's been dealing for at least ten years).

Pens Sweep Way to Second Consecutive Cup Final

Yesterday, I mentioned that the Carolina Hurricanes were downgraded to a tropical depression after being routed by the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Last night, they just became a plain ole rain squall after the Pens swept their way to a second consecutive Stanley Cup Finals appearance as the Eastern Conference champions. Despite getting on the board first against his bro's team, Eric Staal and pals just couldn't get it done. Never to be known as a bitter pill, Hockey Mom extends her congrats to the Penguins (and I guess that would include their fans as well, with the exception of my bandwagon-jumping sister-in-law who probably can't name any one else on the team other than Fleury, Crosby and Malkin). And you call yourself a fan - ha!

So Game 5 of the Western finals, which has become a penalty-laden free for all for the frustrated young Blackhawks, goes down tonight. The Red Wings may again be without the services of Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Lidstrom due to injuries. This team is crazy deep in talent, so their absences didn't affect the team's ability to win in the last game. Is it just me (HM stifles huge yawn) - or is anyone else getting bored of the Wings/Pens potential match up?

On to some wild and wacky Caps rumblings:

  • Some drug-dealing doofus in Florida was busted and claims to have sold performance-enhancing drugs to the Washington Capitals and the Washington Nationals. I have my own thoughts on this one. First, in the time that I've been following hockey, steroids have not been associated with the NHL, for one because the players need to be fast not bulked up. Secondly, dude - if the any of the Nats are using roids, then why are they so terrible? Of course, we'll keep you posted on the latest but for now I'm throwing down the "bs" flag on any Caps association.

  • TSN is reporting that another Capital may be headed home. Russian big rig Viktor Kozlov has reportedly signed a 2-year contract with a KHL team, but this has not yet been confirmed. Again, stay tuned...

Who said the off-season was dull? My big dilemma now is who in the sam-harry-hell to root for in the Cup Finals should (or make that "when") Detroit clinch a spot?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Feds Returning to Russia?

May 13, 2009 - this may be the last day that hockey fans saw the fabulous Sergei Fedorov in a Capitals uniform as rumors are flying that Feds may be going "home" to play in the KHL with his brother. As sad as HM is to see him go, I'm sure the young stars in the Caps' locker room will miss his veteran presence even more. Of course, HM's dear friend and new female hockey fanatic,
"Feds Fan", may have to take some extra vodka shots should her favorite player return to the motherland!

AHL Update: The Hershey Bears will face the Manitoba Moose (one of the greatest names for a hockey team ever) in the Calder Cup Finals. Stay tuned for schedule - HM might have to take the boys on a road trip this weekend.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend Musings

We're well into Memorial Day Weekend and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings are both well on their way to sweeping into the Stanley Cup Finals for the second straight year. The Wings beat the young Hawks handily yesterday, even without the services of Nick Lidstrom, Kris Draper and Lady Byng nominee Pavel Datsyuk, due to injury. HM didn't see the game as I was in Philly for a hockey tournament. The boys' team played hard and lost the finals to a team made up of kids one year up in age (and with a ginormous 6-ft. goalie)! Apparently, things got completely out of hand in the Wings/Hawks game and Chicago coach Joel Quenneville was dealt with a $10,000 fine for quipping about the officiating, stating: "I think we witnessed probably the worst call in the history of sports there. Nothing play."

"You know, they scored, it's 3-0. They ruined a good hockey game and absolutely destroyed what was going on the ice. ... Never seen anything like it." Game 5 might get uglier for the Hawks, if that's even possible. Watch the headhunting Hawks, and concentrate on playing your game.

Meanwhile, the Caps' much-disliked rivals, the Penguins, continue to roll against the Hurricanes, who were downgraded to a tropical depression after Saturday night's 6-2 thrashing. HM was blown away by Geno Malkin's over the shoulder goal (one of hat trick three) the other night. I am in agreement with Caps Chick in that if the Pens should hoist the Cup this year, Caps' faithful will be able to say that we stayed the course with the reigning champs (with the exception of Game 7 - but I'm going to take a sip of my poolside mojito and block that game out of my thoughts). Uncle Ted has some interesting musings of his own on the Capitals' 2008-2009 season and their fabulous future.

And a huge Hockey Mom bear hug to our own Hershey Bears, who are advancing to the Calder Cup Finals for the third time in four years after a 5-2 victory over the Providence Bruins! Spitfire Chris Bourque earned Player of the Game honors. But a sure highlight had to be the empty netter from my favorite Quintin Laing to nail it. Laing made an amazing comeback after missing 8-weeks due to a torn spleen he suffered in his one game this season as a Washington Capital! Stay tuned hockey fans to see who the Caps' gritty farm club will face in the Finals and congrats again to the Bears...

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day and make sure to remember those who lost their lives bravely serving this great country and pray for those who are currently serving!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Eastern Conference Finals Get Underway

Chad LaRose - Carolina Hurricanes

So the Conference Finals have gotten underway with Detroit defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in Game 1 yesterday. The young Hawks hung with the defending champs for the first two periods, but the Wings lit it up in the final period with three goals. Adam Burish and Kris Versteeg netted goals for Chicago. Burish suffered a cut to the neck from a team mates' skate that was eerily reminiscient of Richard Zednick's accident. Thankfully, Burish only got a scrape to the neck even though it was mere inches from being a more serious injury. The Red Wings got on the board courtesy of Dan Cleary (with 2), The Mule Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson and an empty-netter from Henrik Zetterberg. Detroit was successful in keeping the wonderboys Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews from showing off their offensive prowess, holding them scoreless. Game 2 goes down tomorrow night in Hockeytown - HM would love to see the Hawks give 'em a good contest!

And as yucky as it is to watch, I had to tune in to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. Of course, I am totally enthralled with the dynamics of the Staal bros playing against each other. I wonder how much, if any, smack talk goes on between Jordan and Eric. I know if it were my two (wow, don't I wish), they would be relentless! Man, what it must be like to be Momma Staal...

Game 1 got real fiesty real fast. Tuomo Rutuu left the game early with a lower body injury. Carolina's goalie Cam Ward was a wall and the Canes held Sid the Kid to a big fat zero shots on goal throughout the contest. The Pens saw scoring from Miroslav Satan and Evgeni Malkin in the first period. Chad LaRose, he of the most round deer-in-the-headlight eyes I have ever seen - sorry, I digress - lit the lamp for the Canes in the second period. The Canes lost some wind power when Erik Cole went out as a result of a knee-on-knee hit from former short-term Capital and major agitator Matt Cooke. Canes bench boss Paul Maurice later expressed his belief that it was an intentional knee-on-knee.

The ice fowl took the lead again with a late goal from Phillip Boucher. HM had to do some research on this fella as I don't know much about him. Apparently he was signed by Pittsburgh from Dallas Stars in exchange for defenseman Darryl Sydor back in 2008. The Cardiac Canes weren't done yet and scored late courtesy of Joe Corvo to make it a 3-2 game. The tenacity of this team is admirable - the Canes at least make it interesting to the last whistle! And since I don't have any horses left in the race, Hockey Mom has been practicing "Another Carolina Hurricanes goal! WOO WOO WOO!"

Friday, May 15, 2009

Odds and Ends...

The Conference finals are set after two more wild and wacky Game 7s in the NHL last night! The Bruins lost a heartbreaker on home ice in OT to the lesser-ranked Carolina Hurricanes. The B's have sat at the #1 spot in the East all season - just goes to show you that anything can happen in the playoffs.

And of course the defending champion Red Wings won against the aggressive Anaheim Ducks, scoring the GWG in the final minutes. So the stage is set for the young and inexperienced Chicago Blackhawks to meet the veteran Cup-holding Red Wings out West and the Carolina Hurricanes (with a hot handed Cam Ward in net) to meet the thorn-in-our-side Penguins in the East.

Of course it was hard as a devoted Caps fans to watch those two games go down to the wire last night. I couldn't help wonder what would have been harder: if the boys went out on a blowout loss (as was unfortunately the case) or if the loss would have been a one goal difference in OT? We are now finding out that several of our guys were playing with injuries, including the Great 8. But that is par for the course in the grueling run that is the NHL playoffs...

But those who rock the red can look forward to a bright future, as John Feinstein (another one of HM's favorite sportswriters) says it best.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sometimes the Wheels Just Fall Off the Bus...

As I was trying to surmise what to even say about last night's stunning defeat, a co-worker phrased it this way: "Sometimes the wheels fall off the bus." Unfortunately for our beloved Capitals, their wheels malfunctioned at the most inopportune time. And to make the sting even worse for HM personally, I have relatives in the Burgh who all of the suddenly become "real" hockey fans during the playoffs and feel the need to rub salt in the wounds. But no matter, because I love my team and the Capitals organization and we have so much to be proud of!

There are no excuses that can be made for the Caps' performance and no one expected that outcome, especially considering how close the series was. The Penguins simply fought harder and did not make mistakes and the men in red did not play their game. The Pens had more shots on goal, no penalties (although that should raise a question mark) and their defense was on the mark. Marc-Andre Fleury made the saves he had to make, including the save of the game on an Alex Ovechkin breakaway attempt.

So unfortunately, our boys will be packing it up for the summer and our rivals will move forward. But as Caps' fans, it has been quite a ride and for that a huge HM fist bump to each and every player who made this season so remarkable! It has been a joy to watch this team this year, through both the wins and the losses. Gabby and the coaching staff have much to be proud of and an organization full of young and talented players who will be taking us deep into spring hockey for years to come. Of course, that includes Simeon Varlamov, who will most certainly help bring the Cup to D.C.
Though Varly had a bad critical outing last night, he was one of the big reasons this club made it Game 7 and he is going to be a goalie for the ages in the seasons to come! HM has decided that I will be sporting a Varlamov jersey when October comes around for sure.

Alex Ovechkin is sure to pick up more hardware during the NHL Awards next month and he will also be here as our marquee player, resident funny guy and room leader for the foreseeable future. Sure, the roster will change this summer and we'll say goodbye to some of the boys. Hopefully, they'll acquire some big defense men and more grinders like my faves Steckel, Laich and Bradley. The Caps and their faithful may be down right now, but this team will long be a force to be reckoned with. Their following and the buzz surrounding this team has helped make D.C. an official "hockey town" and the Phone Booth has been as loud as any Original Six venue in the NHL. Kudos to Ted Leonsis and Caps ownership, along with the team's marketing and PR folks for creating such an amazing environment in which to celebrate this team and the game we all love!

So Hockey Mom is going to take a short breather to recuperate from my emotional hangover and relax a bit. I'll still be here as I follow the rest of the playoffs, the Cup Finals and of course any Capitals happenings taking place over the summer.

In the meantime, thanks to all of the terrific Caps fans as well for rocking the red with pride and for all the great memories during this unforgettable season!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"It's Gonna be a Good War..."

Does it get any bigger than this? In what has become "the" series for puckheads and casual sports fans tonight, it will all come to a head tonight when the star-laden Capitals meet the hated Pittsburgh Penguins for a colossal Game 7 at the Phone Booth. Washington, which has won seven of eight win-or-go-home games under Gabby, is less concerned with the big picture and more focused on reaching the Eastern Conference finals.

And we all know about the lack of luck the Caps have had against the ice fowl in playoffs past. The Caps are seeking to beat Pittsburgh in a playoff series for just the second time in eight attempts. In three of the previous series that the Penguins have won the Capitals held a two-game series lead at some point (either 2-0 or 3-1). Hockey Mom says history be damned as these are so not your Grandpa's Caps (speaking of Grandpa - am thinking that Uncle Ted should have flown the boys' grandpa in and put him up in a box to root for Pittsburgh for Game 7. Told you he was bad luck for the Pens)!

The way the series has gone, HM predicts a tight game either way. Please no OT - or the Washington area hospitals will probably see a large increase in the number of calls to their cardiac lines due to playoff-induced panic attacks! As it's been said before, the boys need to play simple and safe (especially with knucklehead Bill McCreary reffing this game, oy vey).

So to kill the afternoon hours as we all work and go about our daily business with heart palpitations and palms sweatier than pinning on that first corsage, here are Ovechkin's musings on the pending mega-event:

Go Caps! Rock the Red! You CAN DO IT!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rally Caps Force Game 7!

Hockey Mom joined all the fellow hockey parents and Caps fans at the rink last night, all of us fraught with nerves at the possibility of the Caps’ season ending too soon. And then I had the boys’ grandpa texting me from a corporate box at the Igloo, attempting to trash talk my team. HM just texted back “I will talk to you after the game.” And man, was this a game for the ages!

The ice fowl got on the board first at 13:52 courtesy of veteran Bill Guerin. Despite having a 5 on 3 after Shaone Morrison went to the sin bin, that was all the scoring the Pens would get in the first. The home team was outshooting the Caps by 18-5 through the first but the boys held them to a solitary goal. HM was happy to finally see Cindy Crosby called (alert the media!) for interference at 12:12 in the first, along with Kunitz the Cross-Checker taking a seat as well.

The flood gates opened in the second period as Viktor Kozlov sent a Russian rocket through Fleury’s crease at the 6:27 mark. Also in the second, Pens took a too many men penalty – their second in as many games and a stupid mistake at this stage of the game…but thank you! Later in the second Tomas Fleischmann (Flash is back!) netted a backhand goal past Fleury with help from Big John Erskine and Alex Semin to give the Caps the lead. The Penguins seemed to be conducting diving practice at times in the second and Brian Pothier went to the box for interference with less than three minutes left. Just when you thought the guys had completed the kill, Mark Eaton scored to tie it up at 2-2. Oy vey, can my heart rate get any higher?

And you thought the second period was fun? Hope everyone was holding on to their rally caps in the third as the party was just getting started!

At 4:31, David Steckel was cited for a slash on Mark Eaton. Those blasted composite sticks breaking all the time! Kris Letang scored for the Pens on the resulting power play to give the Pens a lead that didn’t last for long. Moments later "Hooks" Orpik hooked Alex Semin and Sleeping Beauty Semin finally woke up 5 seconds into the Caps’ power play to once again tie it up! Less than a minute fellow Russian Viktor Kozlov slammed one in to take the lead again at 4-3! Make that two on the night for Kozlov! Crosby took direct aim at Varly with 10:33 left but was stonewalled like Jackson!

Varlamov continued to deny the Pens stars midway through third, saying “nyet” to both Cindy and Geno respectively. Fifteen of Varlamov’s 42 saves came against either Crosby, Malkin or Bill Guerin, the Penguins’ top snipers – Varly, you rock!

Mike Green neglected to clear near the 15 minute mark, turning the puck over for an opportunity for Cindy to score. And the pretty boy did score to tie it again at 4-4. At the 2-minute mark, the zebras called another ridiculous slashing call against the Caps and sent the boys short-handed. I thought Gabby’s head was going to implode on that one and I can’t blame him.

The Capitals (with yet another tremendous effort from Simeon Varlamov) did a great job on the penalty kill and with my stress level as high as Mount Kilimanjaro, both teams were looking at yet another OT decision!

At the end of this incredible game, it was once again the Laich-Bradley-Steckel grinder line that came through to ensure the boys brought it home for Game 7! What an amazing ending to a game that saw the secondary scoring that this team has been waiting for in this series. And a ginormous Hockey Mom high-five to the Player of the Game David Steckel, who won an offensive zone draw from Pittsburgh’s Maxime Talbot and then put it in the net!

One of the other highlights for me was Boudreau’s reaction on the bench after Steckel sealed the deal. Relive the excitement once again and celebrate with Gabby:

A fabulous job by all! I think tomorrow should be officially declared Rock the Red day in D.C. and let’s put the kabash on those pesky Penguins in our own house boys!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do It - Just Do It....

The Washington Capitals are back in a familiar place - with their backs against the wall in a must-win or go-home game tonight. The Boston Bruins were in the same spot yesterday, and pulled off a 4-0 shutout against a scrappy Canes club. Did you all see that sucker punch on Aaron Ward from the Hurricane's Scott Walker? Apparently it broke Wards' orbital bone. There are going to be some tempers flaring for sure tomorrow when these two meet again!

Speaking of tempers, it is time to unleash the fury tonight boys and fight like you've never fought before. And let's hope that someone wakes up Sleeping Beauty Semin and we see at least one of the magnificent highlight reel goals from Sasha that we've been spoiled with all season.

I also hope that Gabby resurrects that Bradley-Steckel-Laich line, as they've been fabulous in this series. The other looming question is whether or not he'll dress big Donald, who's time out is over as of today. Maybe that would be a deterrent to Cindy trying to annihilate Simeon Varlamov by taking another run at him tonight. The Caps had a tremendous effort on Friday and held Cindy scoreless - they just have do it again, plus a few more goals in net and the season goes on.

As far as history goes, Washington is 6-1 in the last two seasons when facing a win-or-go-home game (including the final game of the 2007-08 regular season). This is the third series in a row in which the Caps have faced elimination before the seventh game; the Capitals have forced a Game 7 in the previous two series, winning last round against the Rangers.

So Hockey Mom is wearing the same outfit I wore in the press box after the Caps' lovely Game 1 win, complete with lucky red necklace and earring ensemble. Plus, we have our other good luck charm, my boys' not-so-lucky grandpa, in attendance at the Igloo cheering for the Pens. Boys, you just bring it like you can and we are once again golden.

We'll be cheering and watching from the "inside tailgate" one of the great hockey dads organized at the rink. UNLEASH THE FURY!!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pivotal Game 5: Pens 4 - Caps 3

My apologies for the lack of a new post yesterday - HM was watching the game at a friend's and was flabbergasted by the results, to tell the truth. I was actually watching with some "hockey virgins", who interestingly enough kept asking "Why does it seem like the Caps are always playing defense?" Um - I didn't have a very intelligent answer for that one. It was just a yucky effort overall...

So tomorrow is HM's 21st birthday (cough cough- just go with it) and of course Mother's Day for all the fabulous moms all the world over, and I was hoping that our men in red would deliver an early gift with a "W" at home. The Pens were of course without d-man Sergei Gonchar, who suffered a knee injury resulting from the collision with AO. Make that a little reckless, but certainly unintentional collision - at you Brooks Orpik (he who almost ended Hurricane Erik Cole's career with an intentional and nasty hit from behind). Orpik and Ovie (along with their respective pals) certainly had some words towards the end of the first period. The boys showed lots of jump, despite their quick turnaround from last night, in the first period. Shots on goal through the first were pretty much even, unlike the fiasco last evening. But neither team could light the lamp and both clubs went into the locker room scoreless.

The Caps took it up a notch in the second period, laying more hits and being much more aggressive. The visitors finally got on the board first as Jordan Staal scored with an assist by (could it be.... Satan? Sorry, couldn't help myself). But Ovie answered with a phenomenal shot of his own at 6:16 to tie the contest at 1-1. And right in Orpik's grill to boot!

The Penguins suffered a brain freeze and had six men on the ice, resulting in a too many men penalty and the Caps made them pay. Nick Backstrom netted a nice goal on the resulting power play to take a 2-1 lead. Coming into tonight's game, Backstrom matched a Capitals playoff record with points in seven straight games, including goals in each game in Pittsburgh.

Ruslan Fetotenko snuck past Varlamov early in the third to tie it at two apiece. Be still my beating heart - not again! 30 seconds later, former Capital and agitator Matt Cooke took advantage of a juicy rebound to give the blasted birds a 3-2 lead. Our kitten Gabby, named after the Caps' fearless leader, was too nervous to watch at this point (and she loves hockey) and turned away from the tube!

With under 4:08 left in the third as HM bit her nails to the quick, the Great 8 nailed another beauty with help from Mike Green and Nick Backstrom! Heck of a game from Backie...

Just when I thought my heart couldn't take any more excitement, this crucial Game 5 went into OT. Cindy Crosby almost decapitated Varly as he slid into him and knocked his helmet off. The youngster shook it off and the action continued. Milan Jurcina took a tripping call, sending his team short-handed. Then in a flash, Geno Malkin took a shot that seemed to deflect off of Tom Poti and in an instant, the Penguins had the victory. Hockey Mom and all the Caps faithful breathed another huge sigh of dissappointment (and disbelief) as the boys truly stepped up and played well tonight.

Game 6 goes back up to the Burgh on Monday. The boys' grandpa will be in attendance (cheering on the obnoxious ice fowl). If history is any indicator, my boys' team lost the last game he came to watch - hopefully the Penguins will do the same.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Caps/Pens Brings out the Moronic in Some

The Capitals/Penguins rivalry usually brings out the best that hockey has to offer, especially in terms of fan passion from both camps. Unfortunately, this playoff series has ignited the hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) moronic tendencies in some. Case in point:

  • Some idiotic teenage Penguins fan (imagine?) made death threats against the Great Eight on a message board that are being investigated by local police. Seriously son? In this post 9/11 world, to make threats online does not automatically make you anonymous and I hope the authorities take this very seriously.

  • Mike Milbury, not exactly known as a "smooth talker", used Coach Boudreau's keys to the game white board to create his own talking points. Not unusual for Milbury to run out of anything interesting to say on his own, but pretty low coming from a former NHL coach.


Not much more can be said about last night's fiasco at the Igloo that hasn't already been said. Basically, AO and Varly seemed to be the only guys that showed up to play (besides Feds, of course, despite getting pitchforked in the ribs). I don't know if I would go about getting too cocky just yet though, Penguins and your flock-o-fans.

HM followed the game at a local restaurant while celebrating a friend's belated birthday. I was actually taking notes but put the pen down in the third period as I was tired of watching the boys skate around the ice fowl as if the guys in black were on a 20-minute power play. To make matters worse, relatives in the Burgh kept taunting me with text messages (as if - it's only one game and that does not a series make as we all know). One message about Alex the Great referred to him as a "cocky (insert expletive here)" - oh no sister, those are fighting words! So HM did not even grace that with a reply about Cindy being a whiner or the fact the refs swallowed their whistles last night.

No, I am going to wait until tomorrow night and hope and pray that last night's lunacy enrages the Caps to the point of no return and we see a repeat of Game 4 from the Rangers series.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Quote of the Day

Hockey Mom's quote of the day comes from none other than Capitals majority owner Ted Leonsis, when trying to describe the essence of Alex Ovechkin (courtesy of this Michael Wilbon piece):

"Sid is the best white wine the restaurant has to offer. Alex is a Denver Slammer, a shot of tequila in a glass of champagne. You whack the glass so that the fizz is coming up and you just shoot it."

Hockey Mom absolutely loves this description and I have my own comparison of the two (which I've shared before) relating to food.

Sidney Crosby is plain vanilla with just a few of the chocolate jimmies on top (in a plain sugar cone, please).

Alex Ovechkin is two scoops Cotton Candy, two scoops Chocolate Double-Espresso and three scoops of Pistachio (with extra hot fudge, whipped cream, a half-pound of colored sprinkles, extra cherries for the rocking the red and a birthday sparkler on top)!

No Ruling on Kunitz's Antics

The NHL, in their typical non-sensical way of doling out discipline for major infractions, decided against taking any action against the Penguins' (and former Anaheim Ducks' thug) Chris Kunitz. And Caps' star Alex Ovechkin certainly has a right to be mad, as Kunitz visibly cross-checked Simeon Varlamov to his throat last night. What, do you have to draw blood to earn a suspension around here?

In the meantime, all the guys we love to hate (including Sean Avery, of course) are on SI's list of dirtiest players (as voted on by their fellow players around the NHL). Go figure...

That Was Sick Game! Caps 4 - Penguins 3

"That was sick game!" - Alex Ovechkin's reaction when asked how he felt about the two biggest stars in NHL (himself and Sid the Kid, of course) netting their first playoff hat tricks on the same night. Another gem of an AO quote: "There's red all over this town. I am scared to go home probably!"

Yes, indeedy - there is red all over this town and no louder place on earth than the Phone Booth last night! Hockey Mom was not in the house for the occasion, but of course I was watching along with the other fabulous hockey parents and Caps fans at the ice rink for practice.

In case you've been under a rock for the past 24 hours, here is a magnificent segment of last night's Ovie show:

Some other thoughts on the game:

  • The Chris Kunitz cross-check on Varly late in the third will not soon be forgotten by Caps players, even though the stripes turned a blind eye

  • Defense needs to do a better job of clearing the puck out of their zone - too many times it looked like the Pens were on the power play

  • The Steckel-Laich-Bradley line rocks!

  • Caps need to tighten up on the retaliation penalties for sure - Clark has been in the box way too much in his last few outings

  • Love that Crosby was whining about the barrage of hats that flew to the ice in droves after Ovie's hat trick. He's just pouting because he only got one hat (and a couple of purses)

  • Varlamov's circus act rocks - how many times can this kid stand on his head to make another spectacular save?

So the ice-waddling Pens are going to be out for revenge and the stage will be set for Game 3 tomorrow night at the Igloo. This series just keeps getting more and more thrilling!

Monday, May 4, 2009

John Erskine May be Sidelined for Game Two

The Capitals' scrappy defenseman, John Erskine, who has been a major factor in the playoffs thus far, may be out of tonight's Game Two after taking a shot to the leg on Saturday.

Both Tyler Sloan and Karl Alzner were called up from Hershey - the farm club told them that they had the "flu." Seriously fellas, you don't want to be joking about any kind of flu these days, right? Nonetheless, one of those youngsters may see some ice time tonight and according to Tarik, both are sporting the essential playoff beard!

HM hopes to see big bad #4 back soon!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Let the Fun Begin: Caps - Pens Game One

David Steckel Rocks the Red Hard Hat

From high above the ice in the press box, HM can tell you that the Phone Booth was shaking to its foundation with the loud cheers (and boos for Cindy and pals) before the first puck even dropped. After the puck dropped, the first few minutes saw heavy hits from Milan Jurcina, John Erskine and Matt Bradley. Mike Green made like a freight train and flattened the Pens' Maxime Talbot on an open ice hit. Unfortunately, the diving captain himself, Sid the Kid, got on the board first. The opening minutes of the first period were eerily remiscient of Games One and Two versus the Rangers.

Later on, Sid got knocked on his keister by big, bad John Erskine, who sent the Pen's captain's helmet flying. At 10:44, Feds was called for interference and the Caps went into defensive mode. There were few times where the guys looked like they were playing putt-putt in their failure to clear the puck to the other end. The men in red killed the penalty with lots of help from Simeon Varlamov.

At 13:15 in the first David Steckel netted his first playoff goal of this series going five-hole on Marc-Andre Fleury, with help from his pals Matt Bradley and blazin' Brooks Laich! After former Caps Sergei Gonchar took a seat for interference the home team went on a power play - which we all know is lethal. Another former Capital Matt Cooke took a seat as well after hooking Ovie and gave the Caps a 5-on-3. The Penguins paid dearly for those errors, as Backstrom passed to Semin, who passed to AO, who proceeded to smoke MA Fleury and steal the lead 2 goals to 1. So the Caps went into the locker room at the end of the first with a lead but started the second short-handed after their leader, Chris Clark went to the sin bin.

The Penguins got several lucky bounces at the start of the second as a bunch of Capitals' shots slid through the blue paint right by Fleury, but never crossed the red line. Ovie was a bull in a china shop, pounding Sergei Gonchar into the glass and later making a sweet pass to Fedorov, who took a direct shot at Fleury's glove. At around the 11-minutes mark, Captain Clark took another penalty and the Caps had another magnificent penalty kill. Of course they had lots of help from young Varlamov, who made several outstanding saves. The crowd went nuts for the young net minder every time he denied the rival ice birds! The Bradley-Steckel-Laich line was on fire today - well done today boys.

But alas while Caps' d-man Milan Jurcina was busy giving Geno Malkin a face wash, the Penguins' Mark Eaton slid one by Varly's glove to tie the game at 2-2.

The save of the game (and highlight reel play for sure) came at the three-minute mark when Chris Kunitz passed to Crosby on a breakaway and just when you thought the puck was a goner, Varly kicked it out with his stick within ONE SECOND of it crossing into the land of no return!

Third period, the Caps got on the board to again take the lead. This one was courtesy of Tomas Fleischmann (who's rocking the red with his own new red playoff beard) with assists from Nick Backstrom and Alex Semin. I have to say that HM has never heard this building as loud as it was today (okay so I wasn't here for Game 7) - the noise and passion in the Phone Booth gave me goosebumps!

The hits definitely seemed to ramp up toward the middle of the final period; Brooks Laich got steamrolled by ice fowl Brooks Orpik. The Caps' penalty kill closed out another Penguins' power play after John Erskine went off for a trip - fabulous effort by those guys. The Penguins' frustration finally reached the boiling point at the five-minute mark, ending with a spirited scrum in front of Varly's house. Also worth noting, Hart trophy nominee Evgeni Malkin was held in check today, but HM knows that he is going to break out eventually.

Once the boys got their momentum going after some shaky play in the first period, their offense, penalty kill and remarkable play from Varly led to the celebration of a 3-2 Game One victory!

When Sidney Crosby was asked in the post-game press conference if he'd ever had a better save made on him than the one made by Varlamov today, he quipped "Yeah, I try to forget them though," drawing some laughs from the media gallery.

So a great way to kick off this series - Monday brings a new day and a new game. Until then, hope all you great Caps fans have a great weekend and relish this sweet victory over our rivals!

Game Day Quote...

The quote of the day comes from one of the Washington Redskins' most colorful personalities, Fred Smoot:

Q: Fred, why do you go to Caps games?"

A: "Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin. I wanna see him put that pretty boy Crosby against the glass!"

Right on Smoot - see ya at the Phone Booth!

In other playoff news, check out this nasty hit on Red Wing's Jiri Hudler from the Ducks' Mike Brown (who was ejected in the aftermath):

If Brash got a six game suspension, it will be interesting to see what Brown gets - that was brutal!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Less Than 24 Hours til Showtime Folks...

The media circus has rolled into town and the sound bites from the NHL's poster boys, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, are inundating the airwaves (even on ESPN, not particularly known as a hockey-friendly sports outlet). In less than 24 hours, the Phone Booth will be rocking like an ACDC concert and the puck will drop on what promises to be a playoff series for the hockey history books.

We all know about the bad blood between Cindy Crosby and AO, but both teams have other incredibly talented players, making this one even more exciting if you can imagine! Penguin's Hart Trophy candidate Evgeni Malkin made peace with fellow MVP nominee Ovie after last season's bitter rivalry. But Hockey Mom has to wonder how long this truce will last as these two competitors battle for goals and the action on the ice gets heated? Add in gritty forward Chris Kunitz, picked up from the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline, who plays that nasty brand of Ducks hockey and me thinks that this series is going to be wild!

Of course HM will be in the Phone Booth for all the excitement tomorrow. Just in case you want to keep up with what the enemy is saying, I've included some sites for your bedtime reading:

Fodder from the "dark side" to get you fired up for tomorrow - as if any of us needed more motivation from the outside for this series!