Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nick Backstrom on Grate Patrol

Reports from today's practice are that Nicklas Backstrom is "under the weather" but Caps sources are stating that he is not suffering from the dastardly swine flu. Swine flu sufferer Quintin Laing has apparently emerged from the worst of it and was back on the ice at Kettler this morning (good news)!

Our splendid young center Backstrom will be lending a hand to D.C.'s homeless population as he participates in The Salvation Army’s Grate Patrol program alongside Mix 107.3's Chilli Amar and Comcast SportsNet's hockey reporter extraordinaire, Lisa Hillary on Monday, November 2. The trio will help the Salvation Army by making stops at eight different locations in northwest D.C., delivering meals and blankets to those in need.

The Grate Patrol program started in 1985 and operates 365 days a year with service to more than 1,000 individuals each month. Originally the program offered meals alone, but today an outreach coordinator helps homeless get back on their feet.

The Washington Capitals would like to encourage fans to volunteer with the Grate Patrol program by either preparing or delivering meals any day of the week. Go to, Facebook, or Twitter for more information.

Meanwhile, the Capitals host the Columbus Blue Jackets for an early evening matchup tomorrow. The Jackets are coming off a loss at the hands of our arch rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout. Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason thought he'd gloved one on Sidney Crosby's shootout attempt, but lost sight of it and the puck with a mind of its own made a slow, wacky slide across the line. That bugger, let's hope the Caps can have the same kind of luck against Mason tomorrow. Washington and Columbus met twice last year and both games ended as 3-0 wins for the Blue Jackets. The Caps fired a combined 71 shots, which included 18 from the Great8, on the Calder Trophy winning Mason, but could not score. Let's bounce back from that loss to the Islanders boys and play a full-force 60-minutes tomorrow (and don't indulge in too much candy tonight - don't need any sugar hangovers)!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Caps/Isles Recap

Sorry sports fans for my total lack of coverage of last night's win over the Kovy-less Thrashers. I had to get my hair done and missed much of the game - ugh, the things we women have to sacrifice to be presentable!

So tonight the boys from the "Island" rolled into Verizon Center trying to avenge an overtime loss at the hands of the Capitals during their last meeting. The Caps didn't have much downtime between tonight's game and last night's match in Atlanta. HM hopes that the resulting fatigue of the quick turnaround played a part in the sometimes sloppy mistakes during the first and second periods. As Coach Boudreau noted during today's practice, "great teams need not be happy with mediocrity." The boys lost the puck too many times this evening, trying to be "too cute" (another Gabby exclusive) or skate the puck up the middle and not quite getting it out of the zone.

The positive spin is that the boys continued their streak of lighting the lamp first with a power play goal from none other than Alex Ovechkin. The Islanders' young talent Kyle Okposo tied it up shortly after with an impressive goal of his own against our Jose Theodore.
End of first period: Caps 1 - New York Islanders 1

The second period did not get off to a smooth start as Mike Green (again boys with the skating the gosh-durned puck up the middle) made an ugly giveaway right in front of Theo's residence, resulting in a goal by the Islanders' Frans Nielsen. A bright spot for the Capitals was their second goal, courtesy of Tomas Fleischmann - yes, FLASH is back in business! Flash netted his first goal of the season after missing training camp, pre-season and most of this month after being diagnosed with a blood clot in his leg.

About eight minutes later, Flash struck again on a power play goal to give the boys a very temporary lead. The Caps' defense continued to play without a sense of urgency (or consistency for that matter) and the Isles' Frans Nielsen netted his second of the night, sliding a ridiculously soft one past Jose Theodore. So many needless turnovers in this period, HM thought she was watching the Redskins (ouch!). End of second period: Caps 3 - Islanders 3

Caps fans held their collective breath midway through the third as AO appeared to take a puck off the ankle and skated off in obvious pain. But as the saying goes, "Russian machine never break" - right? Flash was absolutely all over the place trying to score in the third - love that guys energy! But in the end, the boys couldn't put it together against the Isles' elder statesman in net, Dwayne Roloson and once again, these two teams were headed to overtime. The Capitals failed to put it away and this year's numero uno draft pick, one John Tavares, made a nice behind-the-net pass to team mate Mark Streit for the Islanders win. Final Score: Isles 4 - Capitals 3

Gabby mentioned the breakdowns in the post-game press conference but did not appear to be as upset as we've seen him in the past. He gave the boys credit for a 60-minute effort but again with the "too cute" business. I'm sure he'll be all sorts of chatty at his book signing tomorrow!

Next up for the Caps, a tough Columbus Blue Jackets team led by poster boy Steve Nash. The Jackets are sure to put up a tough fight with the likes of RJ Umberger (our former pal from the Flyers), Antoine Vermette, Kristian Huselius (one of the best hockey names ever) and Steve Mason in net. So until then, HM is signing off and wishing everyone a happy, safe and swine-flu free Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Caps' Quintin Laing Has H1N1 Flu

Capitals' media is confirming that Quintin Laing (man that poor kid can't catch a break with the health issues) does indeed have H1N1 and is being kept away from the team. From their Twitter post this morning:

@capsmedia To clarify, Quintin Laing has been diagnosed with H1N1 virus and is being kept away from the team and treated.

Get well soon Quintin and let's keep our collective fingers crossed that this is an isolated case in the Caps' room. HM knows that the virus is spreading like wildfire through the youth hockey community and Laing is the third NHLer to be diagnosed. Coaches and parents, check out USA Hockey's guidelines for combatting H1N1. I know several kids who've come down with this nasty bug and it is nothing to fool around with. Until we get vaccinated, I will continue to douse my two in Lysol and antibac hand gel every time they come into the house (especially after leaving a germ-infested rink)....

Editor's Note

Hockey Mom in her post-work, doctor's appointment, hockey carpool, edge of the seat Caps/Flyers game state of exhaustion, listed Jose Theodore's number of stops in last night's win at 40. It was actually 41 - and my apologies to Theo, who totally rocked it last night!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Caps/Flyers Recap

No kids, those aren't jack o'lanterns, just those mean and ornery Philadelphia Flyers sporting the orange and black sweaters. The boys from Philly paid a visit to the raucous Verizon Center tonight hoping to return to the City of Brotherly Love with another win against the Capitals.

The Capitals offensive threat was bolstered by the return of Alex Semin (uh, we're still not sure what exactly was ailing the temperamental sniper). But the boys went without the services of Eric Fehr (upper body injury), Boyd Gordon (back issues), John Erskine (hand) and Quintin Laing (flu, hopefully not the swine variety like Av's backup goaltender Peter Budaj). Semin was reunited on the first line with his pal AO.

The Caps came out with the gusto that Gabby's been looking for and with no love lost between these two, the hitting was fierce and frequent. It was astounding to think that the first penalty between these two rivals didn't occur until around the 17-minute mark of the first period! The Flyers' Ole-Kristian Tollefsen took a seat for a cross-check but the Caps' power play continued to struggle and the boys didn't even get a shot off with the man-advantage. Shots on goal pretty even and at the end of the first, this one was scoreless.

Early in the second period, the boys took their first penalty as Brendan Morrison took a seat for hooking. Despite a series of lovely saves by Jose Theodore, Rapunzel - oops, I meant Scott Hartnell fired a humdinger to score the first PP goal and tally of the game.

As per the norm whenever these rivals meet, the hitting and extracurricular activity ramped up in the second as Ovechkin made an absolutely beast of a hit on Mike Richards (HM has a feeling that these two will never be Facebook pals). The boys got a brief 5-on-3 opportunity midway through the second as the Flyers took a too many men call then Darroll Powe took a run at Jose Theodore. Again, the Caps were unable to score the power play goal and they certainly had no assistance from one Ray Emery, who did a great imitation of a wall despite all the traffic. The Flyers got another power play chance as Tyler Sloan got called for the hook and Braydon Coburn shot a rocket to take a 2-0 lead.

Not to be outdone, Alex Ovechkin netted a beauty of his own less than two minutes later, right over the shoulder of an unsuspecting Ray Emery. And yes again, two minutes after Ovie lit the lamp, it was Nick Backstrom's turn. When the Flyer's propensity for trouble drew them a hooking penalty, Caps fans got a glimpse of the power play we all used to know and love as Backstrom scored a fabulous wrister with help from Semin and Aucoin! That makes Nick's third three-point game of the season, let's keep it going shall we #19? End of second period: 2-2

Alex Semin gave the men in red the lead early in the third as his puck hit a piece of a Flyer's d-man and whizzed over Emery's shoulder. Tom Poti committed a major party foul shortly after by tripping up Darrell Powe en route to a breakaway attempt, leaving Caps fans on the edge of their seats on the resulting penalty shot. Jose Theodore stonewalled Powe to retain the lead.

With about 40 seconds left in the game, Alex Ovechkin got a stick on the puck and plowed it right into an empty net to put a fork in this one.
Final Score: Caps 4 - Flyers 2

My vote for tonight's MVP has to be Jose Theodore, who stopped a remarkable 40 shots. What a performance from Theo and not a shoddy night for Nick Backstrom either, who ended up with a four-point night! So congrats to the boys for an always fulfilling victory over the team we all love to loathe!

Former Caps Tough Guy Hosts Chat During Caps/Flyers

If you want to diss about the Broad Street Bullies during tonight's game with a gritty guy who has plenty of first-hand experience in playing it tough, join former Capital "Killer" Kaminski for a live chat hosted by Comcast SportsNet!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday Musings

Well another hockey-filled weekend is over and the Caps wait until Tuesday, when they host the always fun and friendly Flyers at Verizon Center. Speaking of the visitors in the Halloween sweaters, their fearless leader Mike Richards was the subject of controversy this weekend for a brutal hit on Florida Panthers player David Booth. Richards did not receive a fine or suspension (unlike Ovie who as you know by now, received a $2,500 fine for slewfooting Rich Peverley) but the subject of hits to the head once again has the hockey community buzzing. There was a plethora of very ugly hits across the league this weekend including one from Carolina Hurricanes' Tuomo Ruutu on the Avs' Darcy Tucker that earned Ruutu a three-game suspension. Here's the video of the hit on Booth and I assure you it is not for the faint of heart:

So needless to say, David Booth is out with a concussion and we wish him a speedy recovery. As Caps fans know all too well, the Flyers are no strangers to the sin bin and are sure to hand the Caps plenty of power play opportunities tomorrow night on a silver plate. Let's just hope that the boys can put their power play woes behind them and get the win! We should have more firepower in the line up as Alex Semin is expected to play.

In other hockey happenings:

  • Check out this mid-semester report card on the Caps from On Frozen Blog

  • Please to be welcoming another fabulous female writer to the hockey blogosphere: The Sassy Sharks Fan

  • Sour Grapes Don Cherry is back to his old tricks (and I do mean old) making xenophobic comments about Swedish players on the Canucks and ranting and raving about Ovie and how "he's gonna going to be very, very sorry one day because someone is going to cut you in half." blah blah blah....

  • The Capitals launched a new live web podcast called Caps on the Fly that will be taped at the Hilton Garden Inn each month - it made its debut tonight with guests George McPhee and Brian Pothier hosted by Mike Vogel

  • And finally, Coach Boudreau will be in the house at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday to sign copies of his new book, Gabby: Confessions of a Hockey Lifer, starting at 12:45 p.m. A must-read for any Caps fan!
  • Sunday, October 25, 2009

    A Hockey Legend - On the Other Side of the Bench

    One of my twins' teams faced the Pittsburgh Junior Penguins today led by none other than hockey legend, dad, NHL owner and Sid the Kid's former landlord, Mario Lemieux. Unfortunately none of us moms brought a camera (one of the moms never leaves home without hers - she even dubbed herself the "momparazzi") to document this historic meeting. But apparently, we were all rushing to get to the rink (and making sure we had the essentials: helmet - check; jerseys - check; you know the drill) and had no idea that Super Mario would be the bench boss for the other team!

    He leads a tough group of Bantam AAA players who sport the same black and gold as their namesake. While it was hard not to be a bit starstruck, our boys hung tough and played hard despite losing in a 6-3 decision.

    And one of the greatest players of all time actually took the time after the game to come into our boys' locker room to congratulate them on a job well-done and signed each boy's hockey stick. What an incredible day for these kids and what a thrill to see one of hockey's greatest share his knowledge and passion with the young players!

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Caps Meet First Division Foe in Blueland

    The Capitals had their work cut out for them in Blueland this evening as they faced Southeast Division rivals, the Atlanta Thrashers. In a showdown of two of the best Russian snipers in the league (Ovie and Kovy), the party got started early with a goal from Eric Fehr (with an assist from Jeff Schultz). Atlanta answered shortly after with a power play goal from former Sabre Maxim Afinogenov (who was paired on the Russian power line throughout the game alongside Ilya Kovalchuk and Nik Antropov). Missing from the action for the visitors was fellow countryman Alex Semin, who was listed as "sick and ill" - not sure if he is sick or injured. Nonetheless, the Caps made up for his absence and then some with secondary scoring in the opening period. Alexandre Giroux, who was called up from Hershey, netted a second tally with help from Keith Aucoin. Not to be outdone (at least in the first period), Ilya Kovalchuk tied it up late in the first.

    But Gabby's been asking for secondary scoring and secondary scoring he got in the second period as the Caps lit it up! The boys netted three goals in a span of around 88 seconds but the one that started the flood was one of the wackiest things I've ever seen! Semyon Varlamov cleared a puck out his zone to Jeff Schultz, who proceeded to send said puck across the entire sheet of ice until it bounced into the Thrasher's net. Schultz had quite an evening, notching his first three point game in his NHL career (with his own wild and wonderful goal in addition to assists on goals from Matt Bradley and Eric Fehr). Matt Bradley lit the lamp at the 11:34 mark and then it was Captain Clark's turn at 11:48! Bradley later dedicated his goal to the arrival of his baby niece. After that Caps onslaught, it was "buh-bye" for net minder Ondrej Pavelec who was yanked in favor of Johan Hedberg. So at the end of the second period, the Capitals had a pretty commanding lead of 5-2.

    The bluemen (or make that men in garnet, rather, as they were sporting their red third jerseys) cut the lead by two early in the third. Young Zach Bogosian made a blistering short-handed goal on Varlamov, who really wishes he could've gotten that one back. Milan Jurcina went to the sin bin for interference midway through the third and Varly made a sharp series of stops against blazing shots from Kovalchuk and Pavel Kubina, as the boys killed the penalty. The Caps had plenty of time on the power play late in the game as Afinogenov and Kubina both went to the box. But no cigar as the boys went 0 for 7 on the power play this evening. And in the final minutes that left Caps fans on the edge of their seats, the boys started to lose it as one player after another was whistled for one infraction or another! In a nail-biting flurry of action, Ilya Kovalchuk whizzed one by Varlamov to cut the Caps hard-earned lead to one but that was the final tally for the Thrashers. Final score: Caps 5 - Thrashers 4

    Freight Train Willie Mitchell Levels Hawks Star Toews

    Now if you've been following Hockey Mom for awhile (and bless you for it!) -you know that my second favorite team is the Vancouver Canucks (on account of those stealthy Sedin twins).

    Last night saw a rematch of Western Conference playoff rivals the Canucks versus the young and offensively gifted Chicago Blackhawks. HM was watching this game for a piece but have to admit I was a lame fan last night and turned it off early. The boys over on XM Home Ice were discussing this monster hit from Vancouver's Willie Mitchell on Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. As brutal as this is, this folks is an example of a legal hit. Off Wing Opinion has more on this discussion, that's heating up the hockey airwaves this morning.

    Man, you really feel for Toews as you watch him struggle to get off the ice. But apparently he made it to the bench, dropped a word that can't be repeated on this family-friendly blog and said "I had my head down."

    Yep, that's a mantra in HM's household, especially now that the boys are playing a full-checking game against some kids who are about 6-feet tall at age 13. If you get the puck, KEEP YOUR HEAD UP. And here's hoping that Jonathan Toews doesn't have any lingering repercussions from last night's steamrolling.

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    Caps/Thrashers Preview

    So in case you haven't heard by now, Michael Nylander (who has yet to play in a game this year) has been sent down to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins for a conditioning stint. I would imagine that sitting up in the press box for three-four games a week would make you a little rusty for sure. Now my first thought was "Hmmm - aren't the Griffins the farm team for the Red Wings (who are loaded with some of the most talented players also from Nyls' home country of Sweden)...what does this all mean? Well, it still remains to be seen what this all means but CapsChick has a solid take (as always).

    So we'll have to wait and see what (if anything) happens to this ongoing drama that's now had almost a long a run as "All My Children."

    Meanwhile, the boys get ready for their first Southeastern Conference matchup against the Atlanta Thrashers. And this one certainly won't be a cakewalk, as the Thrash are off their hottest start in eons with a 4-1-1 record. Gabby will get to face his old pal from his days back at the farm as Thrashers coach John Anderson rallies his troops. But with gunners like Ilya Kovalchuk, Rich Peverly and young Evander Kane, I'm not sure how much rallying he'll need to do in Blueland.

    Currently Ovie's bud and countryman Kovalchuk, stands one spot below his pal the Great8 in goals with seven in six games. The off-season additions of Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina have bolstered Atlanta's scoring capabilities - both guys have four assists on the season while Tobias Enstrom and Brian Little have five apiece.

    Goaltender Kari Lehtonin is still out recovering from back surgery but Ondrej Pavelec has stepped in quite nicely thank you, boasting a .929 save percentage.

    Yes, things might get very, very interesting down in Dixie tomorrow evening. And the Caps will most likely be without the service of Alexander Semin (illness) along with Tomas Fleischmann and Boyd Gordon. Shaone Morrison is still day-to-day with an injury as well.

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Ladies Mark Your Calendars: Hockey N'Heels is Back

    Ladies, mark your calendars for November 19, as the Washington Capitals pay homage to their legions of fabulous female fans at the team's fourth annual Hockey N'Heels event. Last year's event sold out in 24 hours; this year's event is only open to Club Scarlet members so make sure to go to and join if you haven't already.

    Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau and former Capitals player Peter Bondra as well as current players will be at the festivities, which run from 6-9 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

    The evening will be divided into five sessions, with the popular one-ice demonstrations extended this year. Hockey ’n Heels will use both sheets of ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, giving the ladies an opportunity to spend more time with the on-ice activities than previous years.

    The first session will be an on-ice demonstration where the participants will learn the fundamentals of hockey. The second session will discuss the various forms of equipment. Participants are encouraged to try on some of the equipment and see what it feels like to carry approximately 20 pounds of gear. HM assures you that the equipment used at Hockey N'Heels does not carry the same funky odor as the stuff riding around in dingy hockey bags in the trunk of my car.

    The third session includes a Hockey 101 “Chalk Talk” discussing rules and a short question-and-answer session with Capitals’ alumni. The fourth session with coach Bruce Boudreau will help fans better understand how to dissect and analyze different aspects of the game. This session will demonstrate what the coaches and players do to get ready for their next opponent by breaking down video. The fifth and final session will consist of another on-ice demonstration lasting 45 minutes. The on-ice sessions are lots of fun as players and coaches give the attendees tips on the perfect wrist shot or glove catch. And you might get to see the not-so-sick skills of yours truly, who despite spending about 75% of my waking hours at a hockey rink, has absolutely no game when it comes to hockey! (All sessions are subject to change.)

    Members of the coaching staff, players and broadcast team will lead each session.

    Club Scarlet members interested in attending Hockey ’n Heels may purchase tickets by visiting the Club Scarlet website beginning at 10 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 26. Tickets for this year’s event are $50.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    No Surprises Here: Ovechkin Earns NHL Star of the Week

    A big Hockey Mom high-five to our own Alex Ovechkin, who was named one of the NHL's Stars of the Week after another stellar performance on Saturday night, where he netted all three of the team's goals including the very lovely shootout tally. And a stick tap to net minders Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes and Craig Anderson of the Colorado Avalanche, who have both led their teams to a scary hot start to the season!

    From the NHL's press release:

    NEW YORK (October 19, 2009) -- Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, Colorado Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson and Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin have been named the NHL 'Three Stars' for the week ending Oct. 18.


    Bryzgalov stopped 70 of 73 shots in posting a 3-0-0 record with a 0.95 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and one shutout as the Coyotes improved to 5-2-0 and first place in the Pacific Division. Bryzgalov recorded 26 saves for his ninth career shutout in a 1-0 shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks Oct. 12, stopped 22 shots in a 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues Oct. 15 and finished the week with 22 saves in a 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins Oct. 17. Bryzgalov has won five of six starts this season, leading NHL goaltenders in goals-against average (1.14), save percentage (.953) and shutouts (two).


    Anderson recorded four consecutive road victories with a 2.20 goals-against average and .928 save percentage as the Avalanche improved to 6-1-1 and first place in the Northwest Division. Anderson began the week with a sweep of Northeast Division opponents, recording 29 saves in a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins Oct. 12, turning aside 30 of 31 shots in a 4-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Oct. 13 and making 29 saves in a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Oct. 15. He finished the week by stopping 28 shots and two of three shootout attempts in a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Oct. 17. Anderson has started all eight games for the Avalanche this season, posting a 6-1-1 record with a 2.09 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and one shutout.


    Ovechkin led all scorers for the week with six points (four goals, two assists) as the Capitals (4-2-2) gained five of six points and moved into first place in the Southeast Division. Ovechkin began the week by notching two assists in a 3-2 shootout loss to the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 12. He recorded two goals in a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks Oct. 15 and tallied two more plus the shootout winner in a 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators Oct. 17. Ovechkin is the NHL leader in goals (nine), points (16) and shots (61) in eight games - all three on a pace significantly higher than his career average.

    And HM is happy to report that both my boys have all of their appendages in tact and neither is sporting stitches or a shiner after their two teams met for the first time yesterday. One team beat the other pretty solidly (no details forthcoming as I have to play Switzerland here)
    and I did see some smack-talking between the two the few times they were on the ice together (along with them trying to line each other up on the boards of course). But despite the lopsided loss, there were no punches thrown and the banter on the ride home was fairly light-hearted. Hey wait, who are you and where did you put my kids?

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    Post-Preds Musings

    "There are no easy nights in this league"
    -Defenseman Brian Pothier

    Lucky for the Capitals, last night's game had a good ending. On a cold and rainy evening, Caps faithful packed the house, probably expecting to see a pretty convincing win over a Predators team that's been struggling offensively of late - they've been outscored by opponents 16-2 in their last four outings prior to last night's meeting. And the league's leader in both points (16) and goals (9), Alex Ovechkin, got the party started early with two tallies in the first period alone. Yet after holding a 2-0 lead well into the second period, the boys let the Predators back in the game. Sharpshooter Shea Weber blasted a rocket past Semyon Varlamov after Nick Backstrom failed to stop him from breaking out of the Preds zone (luckily, this is a rare occurence on the part of our fabulous young center). And less than two minutes later, J.P. Dumont struck from a very sharp angle after Jeff Schultz did not clear the puck out of our end. Varly missed the boat on that one and in a game that should have been in the books for the Caps in the third period, we went on to yet another shootout.

    Varlamov saved the evening in the shootout by stopping Martin Erat dead in his tracks. And our own Alex Ovechkin kept the fireworks going with a magnificent deke on Preds' net minder Dan Ellis to earn the win. Next up for the Caps, their first Southeast Division meeting with the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday. The Thrashers are off to their best start in team history so this will not be easy going (again, reiterating the words of Brian Pothier) by any means.

    But in the meantime, you can relive Ovie's spectacular peformance from last night again here:

    Next up for Hockey Mom, my twins face other on opposing ends of the ice for the first time in their hockey "careers" in less than five hours. I will be watching from the safe confines of the pizza place inside the rink, calming my nerves with an adult beverage and hoping that those two don't drop the gloves. Not that that doesn't happen at least once a week in my living room, mind you. HM is hoping that I don't have to dispatch individual taxis to ferry them home afterwards rather than listen to all the smack that's sure to take place on the drive home. Ya, stay tuned - should be a good one...

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    Caps Send Sharks Out to Sea

    In a highly touted primetime showdown, the Caps faced off with the offensively-loaded San Jose Sharks, hoping to correct the mistakes that have been plaguing them in their last four losses. The Caps last win against the Sharks came in 1999. Gabby aimed to reverse this unfortunate trend and continued to tinker with his lines, placing the two newest Caps Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison on the first line with the Great8. The second line was comprised of Laich-Semin-Backstrom, while the third was made of up one of my faves Keith Aucoin (called up from Hershey this afternoon as Boyd Gordon is suffering from back problems), Clark and Fehr. Quintin Laing, David Steckel and Matt Bradley rounded out the lineup.

    The Caps found themselves at a 5-on-3 advantage early on in the opening stanza as the Sharks seemed to have trouble with hooking, tripping and the like. Alex Semin netted a beauty on the man advantage, putting the boys on the board first. Heck, the Sharks' elite net minder Evgeni Nabokov even got into the penalty action, as we was whistled for a holding call. Nabby's penalty was served by Benn Ferriero, who lit the lamp for the fins with a speedy top-shelf goal on Jose Theodore. Both netminders saw plenty of action as the Caps took a total of 17 shots in the first period. End of the first period: Caps 1 - Sharks 1.

    Caps fans were in for a surprise as the guys hit the ice for the second period as Semyon Varlamov appeared in net. Apparently Theo was injured with an "undisclosed injury" at some point in the first. Varly immediately jumped into action by making a sweet glove save on former fins captain Patrick Marleau. And the momentum certainly turned in the boys' favor, as Alex Ovechkin lit the lamp twice in a span of about 28 seconds! The first came courtesy of his linemates for the evening, Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison. Those two beauties marked the fastest consecutive goals in Ovechkin's stellar career to date (stick tap to Capitals' PR). Ovie's goals tonight put him at the head of pack in total points among the NHL's leading goal scorers. Varlamov did a nice job of staving off the Sharks' eight shots on goal and the heavy hitting on both sides ramped up a notch. End of second period: Caps 3 - Sharks 1

    HM started getting a bit antsy at the start of the third as we all know the disturbing trend of losing the lead in the final period that's befallen the boys lately. But we got some reassurance when Professor Bradley and big man Milan Jurcina crashed the net, resulting in Brads' second goal on the season and a three-goal lead for the home team. The boys seemed to get the memo on the unacceptable number of penalties they've been taking in recent outings, with only three calls going against the men in red tonight. Shaone Morrison took two of those, the latter being a delay of game, but his pals were great on the penalty kill.

    The defense was on in the waning moments of the third with a terrific shot block by Brian Pothier. And Semyon Varlamov stepped in confidently on short notice, stopping 15 shots. Final score: Caps 4 - Sharks 1

    So the Caps finally put an end to an 11-year losing streak to the Sharks with a resounding win. They played a full 60 minutes of hockey and saw a much better effort from the defense, secondary scoring and a solid performance from both Theo and Varlamov. Well done boys!

    Tribute to A Great Lady Fan

    Over the last few years as my interest in hockey became a full-blown addiction, I've been fortunate enough to make the acquaintances of so many fabulous female fans who share my love for the game. One of those great gals is Lisa Ovens, who penned the hilarious book Hockey & High Heels. She and I have exchanged many e-mails and phone calls over the years regarding my beloved Capitals and her hometeam Canucks (HM's second favorite team actually - you know how I love the Sedin twins, get well soon Daniel).

    I recieved a sad e-mail from her today letting me know that her mom, Stella, recently lost her courageous battle with cancer. Stella was a Canucks fan extraordinaire and I thought I would honor her memory and unbridled passion for the game by sharing Lisa's tribute to her wonderful mom. I know the trips to GM Place will never be the same without her....

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Dangerous Waters: Sharks Visit Capitals in Rare Sighting

    Tomorrow night, the Capitals hope to put an end to the frustrating losing skid they've been on as they take on the rarely seen San Jose Sharks.

    These are not last season’s President’s trophy winning Sharks who shocked the hockey world by getting run out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round. After some off-season shakeups (which included yanking the captaincy from Patrick Marleau), the Sharks are doing their best to forget last season’s disappointing playoffs and re-emerge as the Western Conference’s most elite club.

    And they’re not off to too shabby of a start. New Sharks poster boy Dany Heatley was named the NHL’s First Star for the week ending October 11. He led the NHL in points for the week with eight as the Sharks recorded two wins in three games. Seems that he’s recovered from all the tomfoolery of this summer – which featured more rumors and paparazzi trying to discover his ultimate destination than a TMZ Gosselin/Lindsay Lohan marathon. Of course all this madness followed his demand for a trade and less-than-hasty retreat from the Ottawa Senators, after kvetching about his ice time and other matters under head coach Cory Clouston.

    Veteran Joe Thornton is hard-charging out of the gates as well, kicking in nine assists in six games. Center Patrick Marleau and defenseman Dan Boyle both have six points on the season, with youngster Devin Setoguchi closely following with five. And watching the Sharks crease is net minder Evegeni Nabokov with a .907 save percentage (Jose Theodore’s save percentage currently stands at .908).

    The Sharks stand second in their division behind the Los Angeles Kings (um, that sounds weird) with six points. Their last loss came at the hands of the resurgent Phoenix Coyotes, in a 1-0 shootout. They are at the start of a long East Coast road trip, which will pit them against the Caps, Rangers, Islanders, Lightning and Heatley’s old team, the Atlanta Thrashers.

    So in preparation for our infrequent visitors from the Golden State, Coach Boudreau has been doing some more of his line change experiments. Based on his performance against the Devils on Monday, HM expects to see Jose Theodore in net tomorrow night. While it’s not time to panic yet (HM keeps reminding herself where those pesky Cup-winning Penguins were in the standings last season – at the midway point, no less) – there's no question, we need a win, boys!

    And all you fellow hockey moms and youth players out there will share my marvel at this ridiculously sick goal from a Pee Wee player in the Boston area. I sense a future NHLer in the making?
    (stick tap to the always fun and fabulous Puck Daddy)

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Caps Lose to Devils in Shootout

    The Caps came home tonight hoping to shake off the penalty troubles that have been haunting them the past few outings and walk away with a 'V' against the New Jersey Devils. Now the Devils' goaltender needs no introduction as Martin Brodeur is a future Hall of Famer who last season surpassed the record for the greatest number of wins in the regular season previously held by Patrick Roy.

    But Marty's fortress was not secured tight enough in the first period, as Mike Green (on his birthday no less) netted his first goal of the season and Mike Knuble pinged one right off of Brodeur's pad to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. Boudreau did a little tweaking of his lines putting Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble and Semin-Morrison-Laich together. Both those line combos had an impressive effort in the first period, which also saw a brief fight between the "Clarks" - Chris Clark and David Clarkson.

    The Devils eventually got on the board at 8:18 in the second period as Brian Rolston snuck one through assisted by former Duck Rob Neidermayer. Brodeur showed why he is one of the most respected net minders in the League as he made show-stopping saves on both Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green late in the second. However,the Caps kept the pressure on the visitors, outshooting them 18-13 at the end of the middle period.

    The men in red were gifted with a power play opportunity after Bryce Salvador took a seat for roughing about six minutes into the final stanza. Shortly after, Brodeur nearly took Brooks Laich's head off with an inadvertent high stick, giving the home team a brief 5-on-3. The Devils killed off the 5-on-4 but they continued to draw the wrath of the guys in stripes as they drew a too many men call shortly after. Nick Backstrom committed a hold of his own seconds later and both team went 4-on-4 for a spell.

    The Capitals could not clear the puck out of their end after a ridiculously long stint of offensive pressure by the Devils, resulting in a one-timer by tough guy David Clarkson to tie the game. Boyd Gordon took a slashing call (this is becoming a bad pattern for Gordo) and Jose Theodore was doing an Olympic gymnastics routine in his contribution to the successful penalty kill.

    And for the second time in six games, we were headed to sudden death OT. Two minutes into OT, Brendan Morrison took an ill-timed tripping call, putting the Caps on a crucial penalty kill. And in a nail-biting penalty kill, Jose Theodore and the boys did an absolutely incredible job of stopping the pesky Devils as they swarmed his net. The seconds ticked off the clock and this one was going to the shootout.

    Nick Backstrom was up first and in the words of one of my boys, made a "sick" shot against Marty. Shootout specialist Zach Parise was up next and scored. Alex Semin failed to net his slap shot, while Jamie Langenbrunner scored against Theo. And in a disappointing finish, Brodeur stopped the Great 8 to hand the Caps their fourth consecutive loss.

    Though the boys performance tonight was a big improvement over Saturday's loss to Detroit, they still blew the lead and there were too many frustrating instances of not being able to clear the puck out of their zone and not converting with a man-advantage. The President trophy winning San Jose Sharks with newcomer Dany Heatley (who currently stands at the number two scoring spot just behind you-know-who) pay a visit on Thursday. Time to win one and get back on track...

    October is Hockey Fights Cancer Month

    When the Detroit Red wings hosted the Caps at JLA on Saturday night, several players commemorated the team's third Annual Breast Cancer Awareness night by wrapping their pre-game warmup sticks in pink tape. These sticks will later be auctioned off to raise funds for this much-deserving cause. Their coaching staff also wore the trademark Hockey Fights Cancer lavender ties to support the League's unified effort in raising cancer awareness.

    The Capitals are also participating in their own inititatives in partnership with the NHL to educate the community about cancer and to raise vital funds for research in hopes to one day eradicate the disease. This year the Capitals are partnering with ZERO – The Project to End Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one of six men. This year alone nearly 200,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 27,000 men will die from the disease. However, if caught early enough, there is a nearly 100 percent survival rate for prostate cancer.

    Caps players, team personnel and front office staff will actively participate in the initiative. Players’ helmets will feature a Hockey Fights Cancer decal – lavender in color, representing all forms of cancer – throughout the month. You'll also see Gabby and the rest of the coaching staff support the cause by sporting commemorative Hockey Fights Cancer ties.

    During home games on Oct. 17 and 27, the Caps will host a player-worn autographed practice jersey auction. The jerseys will feature the player’ names and numbers screened in blue, the color representing prostate cancer, in addition to a Hockey Fights Cancer patch on the front. Twelve jerseys will be auctioned off each night, and all money raised will be donated to ZERO – The Project to End Prostate Cancer. There will also be an informational ZERO – The Project to End Prostate Cancer table at each of the games.

    Hockey Fights Cancer Night highlights the Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Month schedule. On Oct. 27, Caps fans that have battled, beaten, helped treat or been personally touched by prostate cancer will be honored in an on-ice ceremony prior to that night’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The participants will wear light blue T-shirts with the Caps logo on the front, the Hockey Fights Cancer logo on the back and the ZERO – The Project to End Prostate Cancer logo on the sleeve. Capitals players will also take part in the ceremony.

    ZERO will have its mobile screening vehicle parked at Verizon Center for free prostate cancer screening for fans from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 27. Early detection is critical, so the Capitals are urging fans to be screened. No appointments are necessary with the screening taking less than 30 minutes and consisting of a simple blood test and an optional physical exam.

    As the Caps take part, fans will also be encouraged to join the fight. Commemorative ties, ladies’ scarves, men’s and ladies’ caps and the book Reflections 2009—The NHL Hockey Year in Photographs will be on sale at the team store at the Verizon Center and at Hockey Mom has purchased this book every year it has been available (note to self: makes a great holiday gift for all the hockey fans in your world) and I can attest that the photos are incredible! In addition, there will be an online auction of autographed and other Hockey Fights Cancer memorabilia. A portion of all proceeds will benefit the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. Fans are also encouraged to join the fight by calling (800) 540-6500 or logging on to

    HM hopes all of you great fans out there have a chance to participate in these special events and join the Capitals to support this worthy cause and celebrate the true fighters who have survived, are currently battling or are working towards a cure for cancer.

    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    Welcome to Hockeytown: Wings Host Capitals

    As the Caps tried to regroup after a disappointing loss to the Rangers (complete with an uncharacteristic rant from a frustrated Bruce Boudreau, they were off to Hockeytown to take on the Detroit Red Wings. Both teams had some personnel changes as the Caps welcomed back Eric Fehr (who had surgery on both shoulders during the off season), while the Wings suffered the loss of The Mule (Johan Franzen) to a torn ACL for up to four months (ouch and ouch). The Caps finally got the secondary goal scoring they've been waiting for as Matt Bradley netted the first goal of the game early on in the first (with help from pals Tom Poti and Boyd Gordon). Jose Theodore had some stellar saves in the first and the boys looked much more in sync. Ovie had a blazing shot on Chris Osgood's goal in the first but Ozzie displayed the kind of bravado that's helped him lead his team to the Cup finals the past two years. And boy did Matt Bradley get the memo - he had a great showing in the opening period with a goal and a beautifully blocked shot. Must be that new Cascade helmet - nice job Professor Bradley!

    The Wings' Ville Lieno lit the lamp for the home team late in the first period and we had ourselves a tie game. Alex Semin found himself in some hot water in the penalty department in the second period with high sticking and interference infractions. The second penalty resulted in a second Wings goal, as Jason Williams shot a rocket as Theo was being screened. Ovie was doing his normal imitation of a wrecking ball, checking Tomas Holmstrom into the visitors bench. He had nine shots and seven hits in 13:07 of ice time. The Caps started the third period on a power play after Wing's captain Nick Lidstrom took a seat for hooking. The Caps' penalty woes continued as Mike Green took a hooking penalty late in the third, which resulted in yet another Red Wings goal by Tomas Holmstrom. Despite a burst of activity with the extra man aimed at Chris Osgood's net in the final seconds of the game, the Caps fell just short at Joe Louis Arena. Final score: Red Wings 3 - Capitals 2

    The defense looked better and there was more hustle on their part in tonight's contest compared to their less than stellar performance on Thursday. And Jose really stepped up his game, making an impressive 37 stops against the Wings. Next up, the boys face the best goaltender in the NHL as Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils pay a Columbus Day visit to the Verizon Center.

    Friday, October 9, 2009

    From the Press Box: Caps Host Rangers

    For HM's first foray into the Press Box this season, it's deja vu from where we left off first round playoffs last season. Except Jose Theodore is minding the net, Sean Avery is off nursing a dinged up knee and Donald Brashear is wearing is wearing a blue jersey. The home crowd cheered loudly when Avery's name was announced as a scratch - that guy gets the love in every arena he walks into, I tell ya.

    In case you missed it, the new them for this year is "Unleash the Red." The first five minutes saw Theo standing on his head to deny both Vaclav Prospal and Marian Gaborik at the doorstep. The Rags' Brandon Dubinsky took the game's first penalty after he hooked Nick Backstrom. The Blueshirts had luck on the PK with plenty of help from Henrik Lundqvist (he of the dreamy blue eyes, sorry just sayin'). Matt Bradley took the second penalty shortly thereafter with a high stick. Not to worry, the boys killed it off an proceeded to light the lamp with a another beauty from Alex Semin. Assisted by Brian Pothier, Semin netted his fifth of the season!

    Brooks Laich was well on his way to a short-handed breakaway attempt when he was the victim of a Ales Kotalik hold (this after the Caps took another hooking call courtesy of Jeff Schultz - now boys, didn't we cover that already?). With close to five minutes left in the first, the Rangers took a too many men penalty. Ovie had a humdinger of a check on Brandon Dubinsky in waning minutes of the frst period and Theo made another lovely save on sniper Gaborik. The Caps' d-men seemed to get the memo, at least in the first period, and kept Gaborik in check. End of the first: Caps 1 - Rangers 0

    The Rangers' penalty troubles continued in the second period as Michal Rozsival went off, followed by Chris Drury for high-sticking. Unfortunately, Mike Green took a tripping call of his own seconds later. Despite being on a 4-on-3, Ryan Callahan was able to evade Brendan Morrison and went five-hole for an unassisted Rangers goal. And what seemed like mere seconds later, the Blueshirts took the lead after some fancy passing in front of the net resulting in an Ales Kotalik goal. Late in the period, the Ranger's rising star rookie Matt Gilroy had a nice attempt, but Theodore was able to keep their lead to a lone goal. The Caps got yet another power play opportunity, thanks to interference on the part of Christopher Higgins. The Caps followed with a too many men call of their own (silly, silly penalty) and both teams went 4-on-4 for a spell. End of the second: Rangers 2 - Caps 1

    Third period - started out with a swift glove save from Theodore on Chris Drury. At 16:43, our own Nick Backstrom showed he can do more than assist as he netted an absolutely beautiful goal from center ice no less! Tyler Sloan helped give Nick his first goal on the season and tie the game at 2-2.

    And what a night for Nick Backstrom as he scored his second on the season on a power play goal after Aaron Voros went off on a holding call. This game was starting to go back and forth like the fun we had with the Flyers on Tuesday, as Marian Gaborik scored another for the Rags, less than a minute after the Backstrom goal.

    And Gaborik struck again, less than two-minutes later, on another five-hole. And at that, disregard my earlier comments on the
    great job of the defense in covering that shifty guy. With 5:06 left in the game, Donald Brashear went to his second home in the sin bin after tripping former team mate Mike Green.

    But ultimately, tonight on the Caps got outworked and they fell short with a final score of 4-3 and their first loss at home. The power play was dismal and to state the obvious, we still have some holes in the defense.

    To say that Gabby wasn't a happy camper in the post-game press conference would be a major understatement. He called out the defense, who left Theo out to dry on one too many occasions, and emphasized the fact that these are not rookies (Jeff Schultz being one of the youngest with four years in the NHL) and the errors are unacceptable. He also mentioned that he reiterated to the boys "Individual play gains individual results." 1-for-9 on the power play and not converting on 5-on-3s is just not going to cut the mustard either for that matter. HM is thinking there might be a bag skate on this morning's schedule after seeing Boudreau's reaction post-game.

    The Caps travel to Hockeytown tomorrow night to take on the storied Red Wings, who'll be looking to make up for their recent slow start against the St. Louis Blues. In the meantime, I leave you with some supposed shenanigans from one of HM's least faves Ronald McDonald (oops, I meant the Flyers' Scott Hartnell). Very nice....

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Caps Fall to Flyers in a Thriller

    The Caps ventured into the never-friendly Wachovia Center tonight to take on the rival Flyers in a highly-touted Eastern Conference showdown.

    The Flyers were minus Riley Cote and Arron Asham as healthy scratches, but their absence certainly didn’t make this game any less physical. Nicklas Backstrom showed he’s not afraid of big bad Chris Pronger by checking his mug into the boards and one of the boys (a big HM high five to ya) crushed Scott Hartnell , he of the flowing orange locks.

    Both goalies were tested early on and the Caps went to a power play minutes into the first as a result of a Flyers trip. The Flyers had a successful PK against Ovie and pals while Varly denied Captain Orange, Mike Richards, on a short-handed goal attempt.

    At about the 12-minute mark, a Flyer took a major run at Mike Green and Matt Bradley dropped the gloves with enforcer Ian LaPerriere in a brief retaliation. Darell Powe also mugged Mike Green from behind and the Caps went on their second power play of the night. The boys in the Halloween outfits killed that one also and the Caps were 0-2 on the power play. At 13:45, Chris Clark went to the sin bin for goalie interference to give the home team their first power play opportunity and Scottie Hartnell proceeded to plant his derriere in front of the Caps’ crease- his favorite spot. The Caps were successful in denying the Flyers a scoring chance on their power play.

    With two minutes left in the period, the Flyers took yet another penalty. Chris Clark took a nice feed from Mike Green on the ensuing power play and took a nice slap shot that was blocked by Ray Emery.

    In the second period, Mike Green took a silly cross-checking penalty which led to a Mike Richards power play goal to give the orange and black the lead. But they wouldn’t hold it for long, as Alex Ovechkin tied it up about a minute later assisted by Matt Bradley and Nick Backstrom. The Flyers proceeded to fire up the home crowd with a second goal, courtesy of Kimmo Timonen.

    The Capitals second goal was a result of some quick footwork by Nick Backstrom, who hustled the puck up the middle and passed it to Ovechkin. Ovie went top shelf with a beauty of a goal to tie the score at two apiece. Mike Knuble nearly netted a short-handed goal as the Flyers went on a power play after a Milan Jurcina hook.

    The Caps took the lead in the second period when Alex Semin schooled Braydon Coburn with some super Sasha stick handling. Needless to say, the Alexes had a fabulous game. The Capitals penalty troubles got the best of them as Brooks Laich went to the box on a questionable interference call. Mike Richards scored on the resulting power play and then beat Semyon Varlamov again a mere 18 seconds later for a home opening hat trick. Matt Carle kicked in four assists on four Flyers goals. After that unfortunate string of events, Varly took a seat on the bench and Jose Theodore took over in the crease.

    And just as Hockey Mom shakes her head at the Caps well-trodden path to the penalty box, John Erskine headed off for a holding call. Score at the end of the second: Flyers 4 – Caps 3. The penalty woes continued into the third period as Boyd Kane went off for a hook. The Caps finally got a power play of their own midway through the third and peppered Ray Emery with shots. Finally, a snipe from Alexander Semin (assisted by who else, Ovie and Backstrom) tied it up at 4-4.

    Brendan Morrison followed up with a goal that went to review as the officials thought it may have been kicked. But no sir, B-Mo just had a clean hockey stop and the puck went in on its own accord. Caps took the lead 5-4. And shortly after, the Caps took yet another penalty with Boyd Gordon heading off for holding. Theo saved a shot with a kick save but Tom Poti couldn’t clear the Scott Hartnell rebound that tied this game once again at 5-5. Excuse me, HM needed to go get a blood pressure pill – gaahhh!

    With about 53 seconds left in the game, the Caps finally got another power play as Alex Semin was tripped on a breakaway. This game was an epic – with lots of shots on goal, a playoff type atmosphere, heavy hitting and a plethora of penalties. And alas, it would go into OT with Washington on the power play with a minute remaining.

    OT brought a flurry of action with both teams going end to end. With seconds left in overtime, the birthday boy himself, Danny Briere (don’t say I didn’t warn you about that shifty guy), scored to win the game. The Caps defensemen floundered in front of the goal and could not clear the puck out.

    Final score: Flyers 6 – Caps 5.

    So we saw some glorious goals by the top line in the league but we also saw some glaring defensive errors and way, way too many penalties. And Ovie was not stymied by Chris Pronger, despite all the hype.

    Up next, the New York Rangers visit the Phone Booth on Thursday. HM will be in the house for all the fun and games…

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Caps/Flyers Preview

    Tomorrow night the Caps take on the rival Philadelphia Flyers at the always hostile Wachovia Center. And as if they needed any more, the Flyers got a fresh new infusion of nasty with the addition of snarly Chris Pronger and scrappy Ian LaPerriere in the off season. The thugnasty Flyers have also been the beneficiaries of several outstanding performances from goaltender Ray Emery, who is taking advantage of his second chance at an NHL career after his stop in Russia's KHL last season. In his first game as a Flyer, Emery stopped 28 shots against the Carolina Hurricanes and on Saturday, he helped the team to a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils.

    Expect to see d-men Pronger and Kimmo Timmonen swarming like hornets whenever the Great 8 is on the ice, as they aim to put an end to his recent scoring streak. Speaking of Ovie, to no one's surprise he was named the NHL's First Star for his outstanding performances against Boston and Toronto last week. Mike Knuble will surely be looking for another outstanding performance of his own as he faces his former team for the first time this season.

    As we know too well, the Flyers also have their own arsenal of offensive weapons. Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell and captain Mike Richards have netted two points apiece on the season thus far, while youngster James Van Riemsdyk has kicked in three assists in two games. Not one of HM's favorites, you always have to keep an eye out for that sneaky little Danny Briere.

    It's sure to be a rough and tumble affair with the likes of brawlers Riley Cote and Daniel Carcillo (Carcillo consistently leads the league in penalty minutes). Matt Bradley and John Erskine will have their work cut out for them indeed.

    Ah yes, the Caps/Flyers rivalry just might get a little more heated tomorrow night - if that's even possible!

    Sunday, October 4, 2009

    Caps Win Big in Home Opener

    As I was busy in the Flyer-crazy city of Philadelphia at one of the twin's first tournaments, I apparently missed an absolute humdinger of a win on Verizon ice last night! The Caps took a commanding lead over the visiting Maple Leafs and just dominated the rough and tumble Leafs in the first period, which saw goals from Ovie (at 1:17 into the period no less), Mike Knuble (with his first as a Capital) and a fabulous breakaway and lovely deke Vesa Toskala out of his mind goal by Brooks Laich. HM heard that last goal on my trusty XM NHL Home Ice satellite radio as we were driving from rink to hotel.

    The boys also saw two goals from Alex Semin and one from new kid on the block Brendan Morrison. The Caps maintained a hefty lead of 6-1 going into the third, but the determined Leafs tacked on three goals in the final period. Semyon Varlamov apparently had a terrific evening while hockey fans got their first look at the Leafs' much hyped young goaltender Jonas Gustavsson (AKA "the Monster"). But last night the Monster wasn't able to scare away the Caps, allowing three goals on 19 shots.

    The Caps will face some stiff competition this week as they take on the thugged up Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, the New York Rangers on Thursday and the Western Conference Champion Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Speaking of the Flyers, the Philadelphia area McDonalds are featuring Flyers-themed orange milkshakes - I kid you not. One of the dads on one of the teams we played this weekend was sporting his shiny orange Mike Richards jersey. Not sure if it was the jersey or all the complaining to the refs, but Hockey Mom had a compelling urge to punch him in the face. But alas, HM is all about good sportsmanship so I had to restrain myself. True to history, Tuesday's game with the Flyers is sure to be quite colorful!

    So our team lost the playoffs this weekend, which means we won't be making the trip to Canada in January (and that's a bad thing?). HM is always amused by the stuff I witness at these tournaments though. Seen and heard this weekend:

    -When one of the kids swatted the puck out of the air and returned it to play, a parent from the opposing team started yelling "That's a two-minute penalty for swooping!" Swooping? If anyone knows where "swooping" is referenced in the USA Hockey or NHL rulebooks, drop me a note as that's a new one on me!

    -Our boys got invited into a reunion party for World War II veterans who were all stationed on the USS Quincy. The whole team danced, sang karaoke and shook hands with these distinguished heroes - it was really a cool thing to see!

    I'm hoping that this weekend will be the last Caps game I'll have to miss for awhile. Stay tuned for fun and interesting facts on this week's action!

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    Caps Blast Bruins in Season Opener

    The 2009 season finally got underway in front of a packed house at TD Bank Garden and the visitors from the nation's capital showed the home crowd how it's done. Despite a slow start by the Capitals, the boys definitely found their mojo by the end of the first period and Brooks Laich kicked off the scoring with a dashing move assisted by young guns Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

    Ovie had an outstanding start, netting two lovely goals in addition to his Laich assist. And for all the talk of Mike Knuble adding more firepower from directly in front of the crease, tonight it was Brooks Laich who pounded in two goals from inside the blue paint. The Bruins' Patrice Bergeron scored the lone goal late in the third despite the efforts of Jose Theodore, who gave a solid opening night performance. On the other side of the ice, Tim Thomas seemed to be suffering from the Vezina hangover (if there's such a phenomenon), despite flashes of brilliance that earned him the coveted award.

    The Bruins players started wearing their frustration on their sleeves late in the game and Big Z went to the sin bin for cross checking Ovechkin after Ovie made a perfectly clean (brutally wicked, but clean) hit. John Erskine and Shawn Thornton went a round and dropped the gloves when tempers started to overflow to commemorate the first fight of the Capitals season.

    So with a final score of 4-1, the Capitals came out blazing in the season opener in a building that hasn't been so lucky in previous meetings. Yes, I know it's a long and tough season. But what a way to start, huh? So let's toast a great win and while we're at it, a salute to one of the classiest guys to ever play the game - the great Joe Sakic.

    Brace yourself for a sea of red and plenty of excitment on Saturday as the Caps take on the "ulimate fight club" Toronto Maple Leafs in the home opener. HM won't be there for all the fun as I'm headed to Philadelphia for a kids tournament. This will be a weird weekend for me as it's the first tournament that my twins aren't going to together. I'll only have one boy - whatever will I do without all the pre-game chirping and adolescent pleasantries for four hours in the car?

    Can You Feel It?

    Caps hockey is finally here with less than 9 hours until the first face off of the regular season takes place between our beloved Capitals and the bruising Boston Bruins, who are definitely ones to watch in the bettle for the Eastern Conference. After a long puck-less summer, fans will get a glimpse of off season additions Brendan Morrison and gritty go-getter Mike Knuble and what these vets add to the talented group of Caps youngsters. Unfortunately, Chris Bourque won't be making the road trip to his home town as he was claimed off waivers yesterday by those blasted Penguins. Talk about a roller coaster the past few days for that poor kid - in any case, we wish him well (even though he's going to the dark side).

    Boston didn't make too many roster changes this summer - the big news was the trade of 30-goal scorer Phil Kessel to the thugged-up Maple Leafs (who the Caps meet at home on Saturday). They are still stacked and lethal with the likes of Marc Savard, Blake Wheeler, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Vezina winning net minder Tim Thomas. Milan Lucic is a brute and if you need proof, just reference the recent fight he had with Senator's enforcer Chris Neil in a recent pre-season bout. A bloody mess I tell you...

    I will give the Bruins a nod for bringing back their very funny bear commercials this year. If you haven't seen it, here's the bruins bear breaking into hockey legend Cam Neeley's office and helping himself to a Winter Classic jersey:

    And for those of you, who like me are missing Donald Brashear, here's your enforcer fix o'the day as the New York Rangers did the Top Ten on last night's Letterman Show:

    Brash was pretty good, huh?

    Hope all you hockey fans can hold onto to your horses as we count the hours until our favorite time of year and the puck drops for real at the TD Bank Garden! 7 p.m. on Versus - bring it baby and LET'S GO CAPS!