Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cute Caps Photo of the Day

Capitals’ forward David Steckel skates with some of the kids the Washington Capitals Charities and Caps adopted through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program on Dec. 27, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

And the cutest Capitals picture of the day belongs to David Steckel as he enthusiastically taught two youngsters the ins and outs of skating like a pro during the team's skating party for the 25 families adopted through the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program. This past Sunday, Washington Capitals Charities and the Caps hosted the families that the Capitals players’ wives and girlfriends shopped for during the holiday season.

Quintin and Amy Laing, Shaone Morrisonn, Jeff Schultz and Mackenzie Keeley, David and Diondra Steckel and Slapshot skated with the children and their families before enjoying pizza provided by Rocco’s Italian Restaurant. This was some of the children’s first time on skates. The Capitals players and their wives helped the kids around the ice and taught them some new skills.

“This was such a special day for the children and for my wife who got to see some of the kids she shopped for,” said Steckel. “You can see the kids are having a fun time which is the most important thing.”

On Nov. 17 Rachel Fehr, Mackenzie Keeley and Diondra Steckel shopped for bikes, books, clothes, electronics and toys, spending $275 on each child. The parents and guardians received Target and local grocery store gift certificates. By the end of the day the wives and girlfriends filled up 40 shopping carts and five SUVs with toys, clothes and presents for a total of more than $23,000.

Team Canada Announced

Amid much fanfare, Steve Yzerman and company announced a most impressive line up of some of the game's most notable talents who'll represent Team Canada in Vancouver. For many hockey fans (especially those of us who faithfully rock the red), there was one glaring omission as defense man Mike Green did not make the final list. We are all disappointed in this news (and probably no one more so than Green himself) but there is no question that he will continue to do amazing things as one of the most exciting players in the NHL!

Meanwhile I do have to give a Hockey Mom shout out to Flash (Tomas Fleischmann) who was named to the Czech Republic's squad today, bringing the total of Capitals with spots on their respective country's teams to five!

And on a sad note, word on the street has it that Corey Masisak, Capitals beat writer for the Washington Times, may be another casualty of layoffs affecting the entire Times Sports section. Though HM has never met Masisak directly, I have been an avid follower and admirer of his work for several years and fellow new media pals who know Corey have nothing but praise for the gifted writer. I have no doubt that we will find his insightful writing in a new outlet very soon and I wish him and his fellow colleagues at the Times all the best....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Varly to Hershey - Hopefully Only Temporarily

The Capitals just released information that Semyon Varlamov is being sent back to Hershey. While not "officially" billing it as a reconditioning assignment, it will certainly serve that purpose as Varly has missed nine games after suffering a lower body injury.

On the subject of the "hush hush" manner of describing NHL injuries vaguely as only "upper" or "lower" body, I totally understand why they do it. HM would love to employ that tactic the next time I have to call in to work sick. "Boss, I can't come in today - am suffering from an upper body injury." It would be great - she won't know if my crazy schedule finally caused my head to implode or I just have the stomach flu!

Caps Drop Stinker Against Canes

Not much you can say about last night's game, which started horrendously from the get-go with Nick Backstrom taking an uncharacteristic double minor penalty in the opening minutes of the first period. It pretty much went downhill from there though there were sparks of light where it looked like the Caps might get back in the game after falling behind 3-0 in the opening period.

On a night where Jose Theodore was given the opportunity to redeem himself after losing several starts to youngster Michal Neuvirth, he looked like a sieve (though I must admit, he didn't get a whole lot of help from the other guys in red). The league's lowly Hurricanes brought their A-game and Eric Staal's 5-point performance showed why the Staal brothers possess some of the most hockey-blessed genes known to man. The Canes blew out our boys home with a solid 6-3 win, which actually saw the sold-out crowd booing the home team in frustration at times (not cool or warranted in my opinion - especially based on their outstanding record of late).

Post-game, Coach Boudreau stated that he didn't want to use the surprising trades of well-liked team mates Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina earlier in the day (earlier - as in a few hours before the guys reported to Verizon Center prior to puck drop) for the ugly loss, but acknowledged that it definitely could have affected some players in different ways. Hockey Mom cant' help but imagine that the trades had lots to do with last night's debacle. Just imagine reporting for game night with absolutely no idea and then being informed that two of your pals have been dealt without even having the chance to say buh-bye that afternoon. Captain Chris Clark, the gritty and fearless leader who's taken more than his share of pucks to the face, ears and nether regions, was a beloved team mate both on and off the ice. As was Milan Jurcina, affectionately known to his mates and fans as "Juice" - the big guy did a heck of a job clearing those pesky pucks from behind the net, a problem that the Caps have been struggling with (let's just use last night as an example).

Unfortunately, hockey is a business and GMGM did what he thinks is best for the team at this stage of the season. I don't think that will be the last of the wheelin' and dealin' either nor do many in the hockey media.

So for now, the boys will have to regroup and get ready to face a very-talented San Jose team, who are coming off a shoot out win over the Coyotes and sit just one spot below first-ranked Chicago in the Western Conference. We'll have to wait and see who gets the nod in net against the offensively talented Sharks and whether or not new team mate Jason Chimera will get a chance to show Caps fans what he's got on the brief West Coast swing. In the mean time, HM joins Caps fans in wishing both Juice and Clark the best of luck with the Blue Jackets - you will be missed by your fans and team mates alike...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Breaking: Clark and Jurcina Traded to Columbus Blue Jackets

HM has been following Twitter rumors about some proposed trade activity by the Caps, and Tarik along with other sources (TSN's Bob McKenzie and Washington Time's Corey Masisak) are confirming that the team has traded d-man Milan Jurcina along with captain Chris Clark to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for winger Jason Chimera. I for one am exceptionally sad to see Chris Clark go and he has done an outstanding job, both on and off the ice, as this team's leader during some very trying times.

From the team's press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 28, 2009

Capitals Acquire Jason Chimera from Columbus for Chris Clark, Milan Jurcina

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have acquired left wing Jason Chimera from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for right wing Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Chimera (chih-MAIR-uh), 30, is an 11-year pro who has played 461 NHL games between Columbus and Edmonton. He has recorded eight goals and nine assists (17 points) while playing all 39 games this season. A 6’2”, 216-pound left-hand shot, he stood tied for sixth on the Blue Jackets in goals and tied for eighth in points.

In his career Chimera has scored at least 14 goals four times, posted at least 30 points three times and topped 90 penalty minutes three times. He has played all but 36 games since the start of the 2005-06 season. A native of Edmonton, Alberta, he was drafted by the Oilers in the fifth round of the 1997 NHL Draft and joined the Blue Jackets via trade from Phoenix (which held his rights during the 2004-05 work stoppage). He will wear No. 25 in Washington, as he did in Columbus.

Clark, 33, was in his fifth year with the Capitals, his fourth as team captain. He totaled 60 goals and 63 assists (123 points) in 240 games with Washington. Jurcina, 26, played four seasons with the Capitals and had six goals and 30 assists (36 points) in 211 games.

Jason Chimera
Left Wing
Ht.: 6’2” Wt.: 216 Shoots: Left
Born: May 2, 1979 (Edmonton, Alberta)
Drafted: Edmonton’s fifth-round choice, 121st overall, in the 1997 Entry Draft

Big surprises, but I have a feeling that this might not be the last trade we'll see in the near future. Stay tuned!

Canes Country Interviews Hockey Mom on All Things Caps

Hockey Mom had the chance to talk with Carolyn Christians of Canes Country fame as we swapped interviews on our respective teams that we hold so near and dear.

I featured her insightful responses preceding tonight's showdown against her Canes on this morning's post. Here is her Canes Country interview with yours truly on all things Caps - check it out and of course, LET'S GO CAPS!

Hockey Mom Chats with Fellow Hockey Mom Blogger for Canes Country

In the spirit of the holidays and world peace, Hockey Mom is joining forces to bring you an inside look at tonight's visitors to the Verizon Center, the Southeast Conference rival Carolina Hurricanes.

In the past two seasons that I've been penning my "musings", I've had the good fortune to meet all kinds of terrific hockey fans and media types covering our wonderful sport. Some are even avid fans of other teams, including the puck-crazy gal I'm spotlighting today!

Carolyn Christians is a regular contributor to Canes Country,
the most well-read and respected new media outpost in Caniac Nation. She is also a fellow hockey mom, who is all too familiar with early morning practices and logging countless miles on the family vehicle with funky hockey gear in tow.

So to prelude another meeting with the Hurricanes, please help me welcome Carolyn, who writes under the pen name "HockeyMom of 2."

HM: How did you become such a big hockey fan? When did you start following the Canes?

CC: My family moved to North Carolina in March 2003, a season when the Canes finished at the dead-last bottom of the NHL, following their Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals, losing to the Red Wings, in 2002. (fast forward 7 years: sound familiar?) It wasn’t until after the lock-out that my boys and then, through their contagious enthusiasm, I myself, became totally committed Caniacs. (I grew up in love with the New York Yankees in the 70’s, the Cleveland Browns in the 80’s and with 3 big brothers have always enjoyed the culture and language of sports.)

That amazing Stanley Cup win in 2006 captured all of our hearts. My boys (now 9 and 12) started playing in 06, and I found that the whole hockey culture here was about as much fun as I’ve had as a parent. The Canes are so accessible in the community, and my boys have had several on and off-ice experiences with the Canes players and families (including playing against some of their kids pretty regularly and sitting with the dads in the stands); this two-way interaction (my kids playing on the NHL ice with the team at the RBC and their kids playing on our youth hockey rink) certainly makes the team feel like one of us.

HM: The Canes have had a tough year this year with injuries and a very tough start? How have the fans reacted? What do you see for next season for this team?

CC: To say this year has been disappointing for the Caniac Nation barely scratches the surface of the fans’ mood. No one saw this coming after making to the Conference finals last year with almost the same roster. Some of it can be blamed on key and devastating injuries, but most would say the poor showing went beyond that. The top-to-bottom collapse has been attributed to the aging roster and the seeming lack of hunger from our well-paid vets. However I think the main issue the fans have faulted was lack of leadership within the team, and less conclusively from the coaching staff. This element is an unknown for next season and the fans openly discuss who they want to see take over the Captaincy when Rod Brind’Amour, now age 39 retires. The assumption is that it will go to Eric Staal, though the other 2 names you hear are Ray Whitney, who will be 38, or the new emerging favorite, Tim Gleason. Ruutu and Sutter for the A also are suggested.

I think the 14-game winless streak sealed the deal for most fans that there would be no post-season this year. And that was in early November. There was initially a lot of anger and sadness in fan comments and radio conversations. I even put up a “grieving poll” on the Canes Country to see how the fans were feeling – encouraging all to move into acceptance and look forward without regret – such was the universal reaction. Interesting side note is that this shock has prompted a huge uptick in traffic on our blog as fans seek answers and perhaps a “safe place” to commiserate. There is no doubt now that Raleigh is unquestionably a strong and committed hockey market.

HM: The Southeastern Conference rivalry between the Caps and Canes has always been pretty heated? Do you think the Gleason/Ovechkin incident did anything to fuel the fire from a fan’s perspective?

CC: I think when you’re at the bottom of the NHL it becomes difficult (a little ambitious?) to really feel a rivalry with any team. As fans, we’re devoting this season navel-gazing and re-building. The Gleason/Ovechkin incidents, where Ovechkin was suspended for his knee-to-knee hit, was much bigger story to Caps fans than it was to us.

Gleason, as I said above, is a fan favorite and as Coach Maurice said “Timmy is about as much of a meat and potatoes guy as there is”. Gleason’s return after taking the puck in the face to score the first-of-his-career short-handed goal last time we played in Washington will go down permanently in the heroic lore of the franchise.

On the other hand, Ovechkin is in a class by himself and I don’t think he is regarded as an extraordinary villain in the rivalry; the Caniacs might have players they really hate, but Ovie would not make the top 5. Even our #2 goalie Manny Legace has said AO is one of his two favorite players he loves to watch play, with Brodeur being the other.

HM: How did you get involved with Canes Country? How often do you write? Do the Hurricanes grant press credentials to bloggers? I think women provide such a unique perspective to coverage of this very testosterone-infused sport. How do you approach writing about hockey?

CC: I began reading Canes Country in Spring 2008 when the Canes surprisingly and with the loss of the last game of the season just missed the playoffs (the Caps won the SE in their first season under Boudreau you’ll remember) and I was looking for information beyond the little blurbs in the newspaper. I didn’t have confidence to post until last Spring (it was during the series with the NJ Devils and Jokinen’s 00.2 sec GWG). I then began posting in the comments pretty regularly over the summer as the team excitedly planned for another great season to follow up on the amazing pair of 7-game series we’d seen in the playoffs in the Spring.

The Manager of the Blog, which is part of the SBN group, like Caps’ blog Japers’ Rink, asked if I could take on a more official role, primarily responsible for assembling the news clippings posts. I post a couple times a week and usually try to add commentary that helps readers to interpret or appreciate the importance or relevance of the story. I also like to add some humor or video that makes the pieces more engaging. I did a couple of related analytical pieces on the high number of uncharacteristic penalties the Canes were taking in October, but as my kids are playing so much now, my time is more limited.

Bob Waeghe, the Canes Country founder does have press credentials, but those are hard to come by for bloggers in the Hurricanes market. I believe he is alone, in fact. Management remains skeptical that bloggers are responsible enough as journalists to give them access, and Bob is very appreciative and takes this opportunity very seriously.

My perspective isn’t all that different from the men who write really. I am more comfortable on certain subjects than others, but I’m not sure that’s about being female, or just different point of view. I may be more “people” focused and think of the players like they were my little brothers when thinking about what motivates them and how they approach their game.

HM: You are also a hockey mom – tell me about your experience and the special insight it gives you into the big boys’ game!

CC: It gives me a special passion in love of the game for its most basic levels, not simply as a spectator sport. I mentioned the boys numerous direct contact with the Canes players and their kids which makes the team seem so much more like me and people I know – not icons on a pedestal.

HM: What do you think are the Canes’ strengths/weaknesses this year?

CC: Interesting question – because our strengths are so inconsistent that in fact it is the inconsistency that is our biggest weakness. We have some incredibly strong “character” players, who are inspiring and so worthy of admiration for both their smarts and skill. And we have a few veterans who can’t seem to find their mojo this year. When your leadership breaks down it seems the whole team follows, until new leaders emerge. But that is hard to know with certainty unless you’re “in the room” as they say.

Within the games, the most glaring weakness is lack of confidence. With the least adversity the team has collapsed over and over again often giving up 2 or 3 goals in a matter of minutes, so that “fragile” became the most often used term. When you’re talking about NHL hockey, that’s not the word you want to be hearing about your home team.

Coach Paul Maurice is not the most admired man in Raleigh either. However most fans blame the players not him for the dismal season and, given what he accomplished December through May of last year, are willing to give him another season to show what he can do.

HM: Your favorite Hurricanes players and why?

CC: We as fans are very excited about Brandon Sutter, son and nephew to the seven Sutter brothers (his father is Calgary Flames coach Brent). He has shown skill, intelligence, energy and leadership far beyond his 20 years of age and way beyond what was expected him when he was drafted in 2007. I suspect a lot of #16 jerseys were found under many a tree this Christmas.

We love our Finns! Forwards Tuomo Ruutu, Jussi Jokinen and D-man Joni Pitkanen. They show heart and commitment and leadership when the more standard household names of the franchise disappear. You will see more Ruutu jerseys at Canes game than Staal now. We’ve changed the opening line of the Anthem to “Oh say can JUSSI!”, and Pitkanen’s taking up with other offensive Dman Joe Corvo out till February is phenomenal – 30 minutes a game has become typical. Team Finland will have many fans in North Carolina when they play in Vancouver.

Last, Tim Gleason has emerged this season. His no-nonsense total-body-commitment never-quit play and no-excuses straight-forward no-cliché interviews make him hard not to love. A classic line from him after a tough loss: “That’s what happens when you suck.” As I said, he is the dark horse for the Captaincy when Brind`Amour retires.

HM: And of course I have to ask: What’s your take on tomorrow’s game?

CC: All you have to do is look at the NHL standings to see how this one is clearly under the heading “David vs Goliath”, but lately we’ve seen how the Canes get up for the big ones and make them exciting. As Canes fans, you just never know which team is going to show up, even from period to period. So we focus on the achievements of key players and watch what the Coach is doing to motivate the players and find chemistry. For instance, our perennial topline center Eric Staal has been playing 2nd and 3rd line wing the last couple games. It’s fascinating to watch and evaluate these adjustments, and you can probably understand why as fans, we focus more on these facets of the game rather than the W-L and the standings.

So many thanks again to Carolyn - HM hopes that my sons' travels take us to a rink down in Canes Country someday soon so that this hockey goddess and I can share our stories in person! For an in-depth preview of the Caps/Canes contest from the opponent's point of view, be sure to check out Canes Country!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Backstrom to Compete for Olympic Gold with Swedish Team

A big Hockey Mom toast to the fabulous Nicklas Backstrom, who to no one's surprise, was named to represent Sweden's Olympic hockey team. He'll join the Sedin wonder twins (Henrik and Daniel), along with veterans Peter Forsberg (now playing in Sweden) and Henrik Lundqvist. Half the Detroit Red Wings will be Nick's mates on Team Sweden as well, including Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Capitals Beat Brodeur and Devils

You know you’re in for a doozy of a game when the NHL’s top defensive and offensive teams come together for an epic post-Christmas battle. That was the case tonight at the Verizon Center as the Eastern Conference leading New Jersey Devils rolled into town, featuring future Hall of Fame net minder Martin Brodeur minding the crease. Washington and New Jersey are two of the three Eastern Conference teams (and two of five overall) with 50-plus points.

After getting the boys packed and off for a snowboarding trip with dad (yes, HM will get a much-needed respite from the rigorous travel hockey schedule for a few days!), I settled in to watch the game in my comfy new Capitals pj’s – one of my favorite holiday gifts.

The boys got on the board first as Alex Ovechkin rifled one past the rock solid Brodeur. Ovie got a little help from his pal Nick Backstrom, who has had quite the holiday celebration the entire month of December! Prior to tonight, he’d tallied 10 goals and nine assists (19 points) with a +11 rating in his last 12 games.

Michal Neuvirth definitely looked right at home in the net, stonewalling several Devils’ shots in the opening periods. And everybody’s fave, Matt Bradley, netted the Caps’ second goal at around the 13 minute mark of the first period. The Devils only saw the lamp flash red once in the first period as Rod Pelley scored for the visitors. End of the first: Caps 2 – Devils 1

The second period saw a lovely backhand goal from none other than the fabulous Nick Backstrom to give the boys a 3-1 lead. A Devils goal soon after went to review by the powers that be in Toronto and was ultimately waved off as a high-stick. Another memorable moment in the middle stanza was an absolutely stunning save by Marty, who stopped a breakaway, full-speed-ahead Alex Ovechkin cold in his tracks (which doesn’t happen too often as we all know)! End of the second period: Caps 3 – Devils 1

The Caps also did a great job on the penalty kill this evening, squelching all four power play opportunities for the Devils in the first and second periods. The men in red didn’t get their own man advantage until late in the second period, where for a short time, they were on a 5-on-3 advantage. Martin Brodeur was absolutely stellar in stopping all of the shot attempts and keeping his team above water while the Caps had the brief 2-man advantage.

The momentum stayed in the Caps’ favor in the opening minutes of the final period as Mike Green scored with a rocket that Marty was unable to stop. Tonight’s goal was Green’s fifth in 10 games as he keeps his fingers crossed that his name will be announced on Team Canada’s roster in a few days! And the assist from the red-hot Nick Backstrom gives him a total of 11 goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games – someone get that boy a phat new contract! Speaking of contracts, word has it that Alex Semin has agreed to a one-year extension.

A huge Hockey Mom high five to the boys who beat the Devils in front of rocking red home crowd with a final score of 4-1 (yes folks, you read it right - four goals against the great Marty Brodeur)! A tremendous effort and a fabulous win (and how about David Steckel owning the face-off circle)!

On another note, Washington Capitals Charities and the Caps will host a special holiday skating party tomorrow for 25 underprivileged families that were adopted as part of the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program. Slap Shot will join in on the festivities that will include pizza and drinks for the 63 kids and their families before they take to the ice for an afternoon of pure fun! The event will take place from 12:30 – 2:45 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

In mid-November Capitals’ wives and girlfriends Kim Clark, Rachel Fehr, Mackenzie Keeley and Diondra Steckel shopped for bikes, books, clothes, electronics and toys, spending $275 on each Angel Tree child at Target. The parents and guardians received Target and local grocery store gift certificates. By the end of the day the wives and girlfriends filled up 40 shopping carts and five SUVs with toys, clothes and presents for a total of more than $23,000.

HM hopes all the Angel Tree families had a wonderful holiday and I’m sure tomorrow afternoon’s skating party will be filled with laughter and smiles for all….

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

Hockey Mom and her hockey boys want to wish everyone a magical Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year! It's sure to be a special Christmas for the Caps' Semyon Varlamov, as he just found out that he'll join team mates Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin (along with former Capitals Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov on Team Russia, who are a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics)! Check out this totally stacked roster!

Hopefully Mike Green will get a belated Christmas wish as well, as Team Canada is slated to announce their roster on December 30th and expect Nicklas Backstrom to be in the mix for Sweden's team, which will be revealed in two days. Team USA's roster will be unveiled amidst the spectacle of the NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Legendary Sportscaster George Michael Passes Away at 70

Along with celebrating the season and a huge Capitals' 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres last evening, many sports fans in the D.C. area are taking a moment to remember sports giant George Michael, who lost his battle to cancer at the age of 70.

Michael was a groundbreaking visionary in the world of sports broadcasting and his direct and humorous approach in conducting interviews with countless stars from every sector of the sporting landscape made him a fan favorite, both in the D.C. market and on the national stage. He helped further the careers of several notable broadcasting personalities including Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser. One of HM's many favorite memories of George Michael was watching his hilarious annual presentation of the Jack Russell terrier races on NBC-4, which always left me in stitches laughing!

Capitals' ownership and management shared their own memories and thoughts on George Michael today:

Washington Capitals reactions to George Michael’s passing:

“George Michael was one of the most respected, thought-provoking and honest reporters I ever encountered,” said Ted Leonsis, Washington Capitals majority owner. “George never skirted the tough questions and always provided ample opportunity to discuss differing points of view. His knowledge and candor made D.C. a much better sports town. Our thoughts are with George’s family and many friends.”

“I remember first meeting George in the early 1980s,” recalled Dick Patrick, Washington Capitals president. “He had unbelievable energy and passion for sport and people. ‘The George Michael Sports Machine’ show established a new ground in covering and reporting on sports. George always was well prepared for any topic, fair in his commentary, opinionated in his comments and entertaining in his delivery. He was a role model for sportscasters in D.C. and around the country.”

“George Michael held D.C. sports teams to the same high standards he demanded of his broadcasts, and the entire community appreciated him for that,” said George McPhee, Capitals vice president and general manager. “He was passionate and fair, a professional whose impact in this city and the entire sports world will continue to reverberate for years to come.”

HM joins the Washington sports community in sending our sincerest condolences and prayers to Michael's family and friends.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

As HM and her boys dig out from under at least 24 inches of snow, in what people in the Washington D.C. area are calling "Snowpocalypse 2009", am taking a break to blog about the last half of the Caps' western road trip. First I must mention that this weekend's storm brought an exception to one of John Buccigross's cardinal rules of youth hockey - that hockey games are never cancelled due to weather. Both of my boys' travel games were cancelled and I spent a rare Saturday relaxing on the couch instead of madly dashing to and from various ice rinks - aaaaah.

I needed the welcome rest after staying up way past my bedtime to watch the boys take on the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers on consecutive nights. As we all know, the meeting with the Canucks did not go in our favor and Jeff Schultz was the unlucky guy who inadvertently lit the lamp for the home team when a puck bounced off his skate into the Capitals' goal. HM's favorite twins (besides my own of course), Henrik and Daniel Sedin, were held scoreless but the Canucks won the game 3-2 courtesy of two tallies from Mason Raymond. And it's never a picnic going against elite net minder Roberto Luongo, as the Capitals found out up close and personal.

Last night's game with the Edmonton Oilers started out slow with the guys from the oil patch holding a 2-0 lead going into the dressing room after the second period. The Caps were the recipients of an own goal for the second night in a row and Karl Alzner was the victim of this one. The second Oilers goal was a breakaway tally from Sean Horcoff after an ugly giveaway by Jeff Schultz. But the Capitals regrouped and came out guns blazing in the third period, capturing a convincing 4-2 victory with two goals from Alex Ovechkin, one from Flash and one from Nick Backstrom! Michal Neuvirth rebounded nicely and looked pretty solid in net after his fiasco debut in Toronto last weekend. So the Capitals still sit near the tippy top of the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind the New Jersey Devils. Nice rally last night boys!

On a side note, Sour Grapes Don Cherry was back to his old tricks last night on HNIC when discussing the non-suspension of the Av's David Koci for his brutal hit from behind on Mike Green last week (which earned Koci a fine instead of a suspension; another fine example of the inconsistent discipline doled out by the league). According to Grapes, Green should be more aware of "who's on the ice"! HM is throwing the fail flag in response to that one - I don't care if Ogie Ogilthorpe is on the ice - there was absolutely no place for that hit by Koci and it had nothing to do with Green knowing "who was on the ice." Man that Grapes makes my blood boil...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rules for Hockey Parents

A good hockey pal (who also happens to be a long-time youth hockey coach) sent me this link to a hilarious piece from ESPN hockey writer John Buccigross. Every hockey parent should read this and I guarantee you will be laughing so hard you're sure to spit coffee (or whatever your beverage of choice) through your nose!

Two of my personal favorites: #7 and #9:

7. Yell like crazy during the game. Say whatever you want. Scream every kind of inane instruction you want to your kids. They can't hear you. In the car ride home, ask them if they had fun and gently promote creativity and competiveness, but only after you take them to Denny's for a Junior Grand Slam breakfast or 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. Having a warm breakfast after an early morning weekend game will become one of your most syrupy sweet memories.

Hockey Mom finds it hard to believe that they can't hear me. Heck, everyone within a five-mile radius of the rink can hear me. I prefer to believe they are suffering from "selective hearing" when I yell for the umpteenth time to "put your stick down" - you know, kind of the same thing goes on when you ask them a bazillion times to pick the socks up off the floor.

9. Missing practice (like we stated above) or games is akin to an Irish Catholic missing Mass in 1942. We take attendance at hockey games very seriously. Last week, the Islanders' Brendan Witt was hit by an SUV in Philadelphia. Witt got up off the pavement and walked to Starbucks for a coffee, and then later played against the Flyers that night. Let me repeat that: BRENDAN WITT WAS HIT BY AN SUV ... AND PLAYED THAT NIGHT! Re-read that sentence 56 times a night to your child when they have a case of the sniffles and want to stay home to watch an "iCarly" marathon. By, the way Philadelphia police cited Witt for two minutes in jail for obstruction. Witt will appeal.

Yes, I believe I mentioned this in a post last week. Trust me, I'll be using this one for a long time. "Mom, my legs are sore". HM: "You think your legs are sore! Brendan Witt got hit by an SUV and he was sore but he went to practice and then played the Flyers no less. Now go get your hockey bag and get in the car." Of course HM will not mention that Brendan Witt beat the hell out of the hood of the car that hit him first, but we're not gonna go there. Because as Buccigross's article so uniquely conveys, what we are trying to ultimately teach these kids is the value of working hard, valuing and respecting your team mates and your opponents and becoming upstanding citizens, all of which can be learned through the great game of hockey!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Caps Roll Over Avalanche in 6-1 Victory

The Capitals must have benefited from some of that fresh mountain air as they walked away with a resounding victory against the resurging Colorado Avalanche last night. Jose Theodore rebounded from his previous not-so-stellar performances in the last few outings with a rock-solid performance against his former team. The boys got the memo from Bruce on playing the full 60 minutes and dare I say it, looked like true Cup contenders last night. HM doesn't think we've seen such an outstanding performance since opening night against the Bruins!

Avs' net minder, Craig Anderson, who to date has had one of the hottest hands in the league, struggled mightily against the Caps' offense. Anderson made his way to the bench to be replaced by backup Peter Budaj at the start of the third period. But before taking a seat, he was the unlucky recipient of two Capitals goals in the first and three in the second. And how about that youngster Kyle Wilson, making his NHL debut on his birthday and garnering assists on both of Fleischmann's goals? Happy birthday to you indeed!

Mike Knuble nailed a fabulous back-handed deke to add to the scoresheet and the boys also saw tallies from Flash (2), Matt Bradley, David Steckel and Nick Backstrom.

In addition to the Caps' offensive explosion, the other big story was the bad behavior of Avs' enforcer David Koci. Shaone Morrison was injured on a hit from Koci in the first period and did not return to action. But things came to fisticuffs late in the second period when Koci steamrolled Mike Green from behind, ramming his face rudely into the glass and leaving him slumped on the ice. Caps' tough guy John Erskine came to blows with Koci over the incident and was charged with the instigator penalty. HM sincerely hopes that the League doles out a suspension over that hit - a prime example of the dangerous and uncessary hits that the GMs are trying to eradicate from the game. Thuggery, pure and simple. Glad to report that Green seems to be okay (though am confident he's probably sporting a pretty bad shiner) so we hope to see him back on the ice against the Canucks on Friday.

All in all - a great win which helps the Caps retain the number one spot in the Eastern Conference with 48 points. Don't look back though as those pesky Penguins are sitting a mere point below our boys after basically shellacking the Flyers last night (in a game that saw three fights in the first period alone).

But for now we have to focus on a tough match against a very good Vancouver team on Friday - between the two of them, the Sedin twins have amassed an impressive 61 points already!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Hockey Mom's Holiday Gift Guide

Miraculously, HM is almost done with her holiday shopping. Just a few more small items, which I can pick up at the rink's Pro Shop (very convenient since I spend half of my waking hours there).

But for those of you who are still looking for unique gifts for the hockey fan on your list, here are some festive ideas that HM has discovered while doing her own shopping for various puckheads:

For the lady fan:

  • I love this cute hockey stick makeup bag from ChalkTalk Sports.
  • These comfy Caps pjs are perfect for snuggling in front of the t.v. (and cheering on the boys of course)!
  • For the hockey mom on your list, this Hockey Mom in the burbs memo pad helps her keep organized - great for stocking stuffers!
  • All ladies love bling so help her rock the red with a sterling silver FanBangle bracelet sporting the Caps official weagle logo charm!
For everyone:
  • Seriously, who doesn't have a Capitals snuggie on their list?
  • Show your team spirit by carrying your beverages of choice in this awesome Capitals rolling cooler (you know all you beer-league hockey guys need one of these)!
  • Very unique and stylish hockey tees on this site
  • Personalized tree ornaments for your favorite coach or player
  • Don't forget the Capitals when you're trimming the tree
  • For the little tykes - every aspiring future hockey player needs an Ovie mini hockey set!
  • Keep warm with the hottest player in the league - check out this cool Ovechkin blanket

So happy shopping everyone and I hope Santa is good to all of you....

Bon Voyage Michael Nylander

Looks like the Michael Nylander drama has finally come to a resolution. The team announced yesterday that the Swedish center (who hasn't seen action in a Caps sweater since last season's playoffs) is being loaned to the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins. Nylander, who was given the call sign "Circles" by some Capitals fans in reference to his slower style of play, did not mesh with Bruce Boudreau's high-energetic, explosive offense. Now Hockey Mom does not even profess to understand the ins-and-outs of the League's complicated salary cap but the good news is that the Nylander move takes his $4.875 million cap hit off the Caps' shoulders.

Gabby has already said not to expect any kind of crazy pre-holiday free-agent shopping spree with the extra cash but the team has called up Karl Alzner from Hershey (along with his team mate in Chocolate Town, Kyle Wilson). Alzner is thrilled with the possibility of donning the Caps' red, white and blue against the Vancouver Canucks back home in B.C. on Friday. Unfortunately, one of HM's favorite kids, Mathieu Perreault, is headed in the other direction to spend a little more time in the minors.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekend Wrap Up

Well it's certainly been an up and down weekend for the Capitals, after a thrilling OT win against the Canes on Friday (thanks to the game-winning goal by "Game Over" Mike Green) and an absolute stinker of a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 6-3 defeat (after earning the 2-0 lead early on). Maybe the Caps' troubles last night could be blamed on the travel issues they faced getting to Toronto, which threw their routines out of whack. Hockey players are creatures of habit for sure, I just look at how precisely one of my twins has to tape his stick before he plays each time. But travel woes aside, last night's effort (or lack of) can be described in one word "blech." Michal Neuvirth let in more than his share of softies and unfortunately looked every bit the rookie in last night's appearance. And an uncharacteristic turnover from Nick Backstrom led to a rare short-handed goal from the Leafs. The Caps' defense also struggled and as a result the guy who was billed as one of the Leaf's saviors in the pre-season, Phil Kessel, showed the visitors just how dangerous he can be.

So we can just hope the boys are able to regroup and have safe and smooth travels this week as they begin their journey out west. They'll face one of the hottest goaltenders in the league in Craig Anderson when they meet the Colorado Avalanche, who've made an amazing resurgence this season to claim the second spot in a competitive Northwest Division. And of course my heart bleeds Capitals red, but you all know how I adore the amazing twin wonder powers of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, whose Vancouver Canucks face our boys in a late night contest this Friday. Hockey Mom's Christmas tree is adorned with lots of bright Capitals candy cane ornaments and other Capitals decor, but I have to admit that it also features an adorable Canucks snowman.

Indeed the Caps have their work cut out for them on this long road trip. Here's to showing our pals out west why this team is one of the highest scoring clubs in the league - unleash the fury, boys!

And if you're still looking for the perfect gift for the puck lovers on your list, stay tuned for Hockey Mom's Hockey Holiday Gift Guide!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Caps/Canes Preview

The Capitals are preparing for another bout with Southeast Conference foes the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at the Phone Booth. You'll recall all the action and extracurricular activities that took place the last time these two met, which resulted in the two-game suspension for Alex Ovechkin for the knee-on-knee hit on Tim Gleason. The Canes are having an up and down week, winning a road game on Monday against the blasted Penguins and dropping one on Wednesday against Martin Brodeur and his New Jersey Devils. As we all know, our boys didn't fare so well either on Wednesday, with a big goose egg at the hands of probable starting goaltender for the U.S. Olympic team, Ryan Miller, who pretty much looked like a Circ du'Soleil acrobat for much of the night in handing the Caps a humbling defeat.

The Hurricanes also welcomed back their own starting goalie Cam Ward this week, who'd been out after suffering a skate cut on his leg. He will most likely face the Caps in net tonight - Semyon Varlamov is still out with his own injury woes. The Caps hope to welcome back Mike Knuble, who always gives the boys that added threat in front of the crease. Also expected to be back on the bench are new dad Matt Bradley (hopefully not too sleep deprived - I remember those days with twin infants, no wait maybe I don't) and Mathieu Perreault, who was under the weather.

Speaking of Mike Knuble, the first 2,000 fans to bring a new, unwrapped gift to tonight's game for the Capital's 10th annual holiday Toy Drive (held in conjunction with Comcast SportsNet, Elliot in the Morning and the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and presented by GEICO) will receive a poster of Knuble (the official toy drive spokesman)!

Player's wives and girlfriends will be collecting the toys at Verizon Center's F Street entrance starting at 5:30 p.m. So while you're cheering on the guys in red tonight, help make the holidays a little brighter for less fortunate kids in our area!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Michal Neuvirth Recalled from Hershey

Hockey Mom just got the word from the Caps media staff that the team has recalled Michal Neuvirth from Hershey.

From the team:

The Washington Capitals have recalled goaltender Michal Neuvirth from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has sustained a lower-body injury and is day-to-day.

Get better soon Varly! Meanwhile the Caps get set to meet the Buffalo Sabres again tonight, the first meeting since Alex Ovechkin got tossed for boarding Patrick Kaleta. The Capitals have scored 24 goals in their last five games whereas the Sabres have allowed eight goals in their last five games. The Caps also lead the NHL with 3.60 goals per game while the Sabres rank fourth in the NHL with a 2.30 goals against. Washington leads the NHL on the power play with a 24.4% (30-for-127) while Buffalo rank third in the NHL on the penalty kill with an 85.3% (81-for-95). Should be another doozy!

The Caps are also getting some well-deserved attention from the Canadian media. Part of HM's marketing job requires her to monitor Canadian business news (and yes, I usually get stuck on the Canadian newspaper's sports pages - let's be honest here). In doing so, I came across this lovely article from the Globe and Mails' Eric Duhatschek - check it out, can you feel the love?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Proof Positive that Hockey Players are Tough as Nails

New York Islanders Brendan Witt

Just in case you needed further proof that most hockey players are cut from a different cloth, check out this news about former Capital and current Islanders d-man Brendan Witt. Apparently Witt, who as of late bears a striking resemblance to the GEICO caveman, was struck by a car in Philadelphia and brushed himself off and went on to practice.

There will certainly be no more excuses about any of my boys not wanting to go to practice after reading this little tidbit... no sir!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ovie Returns to Meet Lightning

Tonight's contest between the Caps and Tampa Bay saw the eager return of Alex Ovechkin after serving his two-game suspension. The Capitals also saw the return of defenseman Shaone Morrison from injury.

But before we get into the nitty gritty of the game, a big Hockey Mom toast to our own Nicklas Backstrom, who was named First Star of the Week by the NHL. Backstrom led all scorers with nine points (four goals, five assists), helping the Capitals (18-5-6) rise to first place in the Eastern Conference standings with three consecutive victories. Nick posted his second two-goal game of the season and added an assist in a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes Nov. 30, notched one goal in a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers Dec. 3 and closed the week with five points (one goal, four assists), the most by a Capitals player this season, in the 8-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. He leads the Caps in scoring and ranks 10th in the NHL overall with 33 points (eight goals, 25 assists).

So on the the action. The story of the first period was the Caps inability to convert on their first three power plays, two of which came courtesy of Steve Downie. Varlamov played a solid first period in net.  The highlight of the period came when Alex Semin executed some fancy footwork with a double toe drag moving the puck against two Bolts defenders, but was stopped cold with a stellar save from Mike Smith. The first period ended with no score for either club, which broke the Caps trend of lighting the lamp first. Washington has scored at least one goal in the first period of 25 of their 29 games, including nine straight (17-5 in that time) and the boys have scored first in 22 of 29 games this year.

The second period saw one of the better shot attempts early on from Alex Semin, but he lost an edge right as he swung his stick and fell, and alas what would've been a definite goal was not to be. At about the 13 minute mark, Vinny Lecavalier drew a trip from Mike Green and the Bolts went on the power play. Shortly after killing off the penalty, Ovechkin got the boys on the board with an absolute rocket, the result of a beautiful pass from his pal Alex Semin. Semin went to the box for a slash moments after the goal and Varly made yet another spectacular glove save against Tampa Bay's Kurtis Foster on the power play.  At the 9:55 mark, both teams received penalties (Steve Downie with his third of the night for high-sticking and Jeff Schultz for a trip). With about seven minutes left in the period, Eric Fehr gave the Caps their second tally on the night after slapping in a bouncy puck past Mike Smith.  The Caps got another power play opportunity late in the second thanks to Lecavalier's trip on the Great8. And Ovechkin made them pay with a nice tip in goal (after Semin stole the puck right from under a Bolt's player's nose and set it up beautifully in front of the net). End of the second period: Caps 3 - Lightning 0

About five minutes into the final period, Varly had to stand on his head as Tampa Bay peppered him with shots but the young Caps net minder stood fast. Mike Green appeared to get elbowed right in the schnozz by Tampa's David Hale in an incident that drew no penalty. Big Vinny went back to the sin bin on his second tripping call (this time on Mike Green) and the Caps put their power play back to work with 10 minutes left. The Caps didn't convert on that particular opportunity, but overall they pretty much dominated this game. Tempers flared with less than two minutes left in the game as several Caps players expressed their objection to a borderline (could have been a boarding call) hit on Brian Pothier and words and punches were exchanged between several groups of players. Steve Downie (yes, his fourth of the evening) and Matt Walker drew roughing calls for the Bolts while Eric Fehr and John Erskine drew the same for the Caps. Final Score: Caps 3 - Lightning 0

Great win boys, especially by Varly with 26 saves and the shut out. And of course, welcome back Ovie!

Karl Alzner Back to Hershey

Caps PR just sent out a notice that Karl Alzner has been sent back down to the farm to play for the Hershey Bears - HM joins fellow Caps fans in wishing him well and hope we'll see him at the Phone Booth before this long season (which we hope extends well into the summer) ends.

Meanwhile, Tarik El-Bashir of the Post is reporting that Matt Bradley, the unlucky recipient of imbecile Dan Carcillo's sucker punch on Saturday, has returned home for the birth of his first child. Congrats to Brads and his wife and what a wonderful holiday blessing!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thugnasty Carcillo Gets Four Game Suspension

By now you've all seen and heard the highlights from the Caps' 8-2 pummeling of the Philadelphia Flyers on the night of new coach Peter Laviolette's debut behind the bench. In addition to netting eight goals, including the first one of the season from David Steckel, the big story hitting the internet and airways revolves around Flyer's goon Dan Carcillo's idiotic sucker punch on Matt Bradley. In addition to the 19 penalty minutes (during which the Caps racked up a sweet three goals) and game misconduct Carcillo earned during the game, the League also handed down a four-game suspension for his brazen actions. HM heard today from some fellow hockey parents who travelled to Philly (very brave souls I might add) to see the game at the Wachovia Center. After describing in detail the obnoxious comments and profanities spewing from Flyers fans seated around them, they delivered what I'll deem the quote of the day by saying "The Flyers fans made going to a Caps/Rangers game seem like a night at the opera." Nice.....

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Flyers Hire Laviolette

The Caps will see a familiar face tonight behind the Philadelphia bench as the organization has hired former Carolina Hurricanes bench boss Peter Laviolette to replace John Stevens, who was shown the door late yesterday.

Laviolette, who's been spending his free time coaching his son's Pee Wee hockey team, just got a big fat promotion from the local rink back to the big show. He'll have his work cut out for him as he tries to stop the downward spiral and reverse the scoring woes of the current Flyers bench, who are stacked with a roster of highly paid stars such as Danny Briere and Chris Pronger. Let's welcome our old Southeastern conference pal back to the NHL with a win Caps!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Caps/Flyers Preview - Knuble and Toys for Tots

A word of advice to those heading to catch the Caps meet the Flyers at Wachovia Center in the city of brotherly love tonight - wear your best John Tortorella-proof rain poncho. Because the Flyers have been on an uncharacteristic losing skid and their already rowdy fans will probably be in the mood for a little more beer/food tossing than usual. Especially considering Flyers coach John Stevens was just relieved of his duties as bench boss as of late this afternoon - HM is not sure that was the right move to solve the Flyers' woes...

The normally offensively dangerous Flyers suffered their second back-to-back goose egg at the hands of Vancouver the other night and as of Friday, they've gone eight consecutive periods without a goal. Apparently, they've not been playing their "crash the net and park your butt in the goal crease" game of late. But somehow they always step it up against the rival Capitals, so expect to see those ugly orange and black sweaters clumped like cat litter in front of our crease. And never underestimate Mike Richards and pals, he has a disturbing trend of lighting it up when facing Washington and apparently called a team meeting after the Canucks loss to get the team's logs in line. They've dropped six out of their last seven games as of Friday so will probably be even more obnoxious than ever. Too bad we don't have our own net crasher, Mike Knuble, back from his finger surgery - Brooks and the other boys will have to create their own havoc. I am wondering if the absence of Ovie might create some confusion for the home team, as they spend so much of their attention trying to shut him down with the likes of Chris Pronger, it may just give the other guys a better chance to sneak in and get it done like we did against Florida.

And speaking of former Flyer and new fan fave Mike Knuble, he put on his shopping shoes recently and hit the Toys R'Us in Bailey's Crossroads for Toys for Tots along with the GEICO Gecko and Slapshot. Assisted by Comcast SportsNet's Lisa Hillary and DC-101's Elliot Segal, the group spent more than $10,000 buying 400 toys for kids in need this holiday season.

Mike Knuble hand picks toys for Toys for Tots

“Doing something like this gives you a special feeling during the holidays,” said Knuble, the Capitals’ toy drive spokesman. “We bought tons of toys that we hope the kids will like.”

This event kicked off the Capitals’ Toy Drive presented by GEICO, which is taking place at the Dec. 11 game against Carolina. Fans are encouraged to bring new, unwrapped toys to the F Street entrance of Verizon Center before the game starting at 5:30 p.m. The first 2,000 fans to bring a toy or make a donation will receive a free poster of #22 himself!

All of the toys bought on the shopping trip and collected at the Capitals’ Toy Drive on Dec. 11 will be distributed as holiday gifts to children in need in the Washington, D.C., area. JK Moving and Storage Inc. provided a truck to transport the toys to the Toys for Tots warehouse.

This holiday may be especially bleak with the economic woes many families are experiencing so please join the Caps in making the holidays a little brighter for kids in our area!

Caps Declaw the Cats: Capitals 6 - Florida 2

A big Hockey Mom high five to everyone who joined me last night for Comcast SportsNet's online chat during the game and a big thanks to CSN for extending the invitation! Joe B. and Locker gave me a nice on-air shout out and even mentioned my boys. Wonder if my boys still think this blog is the "stupidest thing ever." Yeah, to a 14-year old pretty much everything is the "stupidest thing ever" with exception of hockey, Playstation 3 and the "hot girl in my science class."

The absence of the Great8 proved to be no problem for the boys as Alex Semin returned to the lineup with a vengeance, scoring four points in his first game back after injuring his wrist (which appears to be in fine working order judging from the velocity of his first goal)! Almost every player rocking the red with the exception of one or two saw a shot on goal last night and Panthers' goalie Scott Clemmensen got yanked from between the pipes after letting in two tallies in the first period alone. I bet Keith Ballard was wishing he'd kept his emotions in check the other night so they would have at least had Tomas Vokoun facing the Caps' firepower (not that it would have made a lick of difference, mind you). Tomas Fleischmann, Nick Backstrom and Brendan Morrison all contributed to racking up the goals against the bewildered Cats, while Matt Bradley netted the team's first short-handed goal of the season. Varly came this close to a shut out but tempers started flaring late in the third and the boys found themselves in penalty trouble. But nothing like the penalty trouble the Panthers garnered after rookie Mike Duco made the knucklehead move of the night, retaliating against Washington's Alexandre Giroux for a perfectly clean, textbook check against Dmitry Kulikov. That not-so-smooth move earned him an ejection and left his team mates to kill off a seven-minute penalty. Keep up that kind of stuff up kid and your invitations to play with the big boys may become much less frequent.

All in all, a very nice win and a toast to the boys for once again stepping way up in AO's absence! HM will have a preview of the team we all love to hate, the Philadelphia Flyers, forthcoming. One piece of good news to share about the guys in the ugly black and orange, my second favorite team, the Vancouver Canucks, shut them out at home last night - nice job for Roberto Luongo making 38 saves!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hockey Mom to Host Comcast SportsNet Caps Chat Tomorrow

Hockey Mom has been asked to host Comcast SportsNet's live Web chat tomorrow night during the Capitals/Panthers game. With Ovie's suspension and Keith Ballard's temporary insanity the other night, there's sure to be lots to talk about. Hope you'll join me over at CSN Washington's Web site during the game...should be a good one, just keep Keith Ballard and his crazy stick far away from any of the guys in red!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ovechkin Handed Two-Game Suspension

Call it women's intuition but HM just had a gut feeling that Colin Campbell was going to give Alex Ovechkin a two-game suspension for his knee-on-knee against Tim Gleason. And that's exactly the punishment handed down to the Great8 by NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell. AO will be suspended without pay for the next two games, hopefully his sore knee is back to 100 percent when he returns next week.

Here is Ovechkin's official statement on the suspension courtesy of the team:

"I regret that this has happened. I'm glad that Tim wasn't injured
because I never ever want to see anyone get hurt. I am disappointed to
miss these games and I can't wait to get back on the ice next week to
help my team."

One guy who apparently won't be benched or suspended (HM feigns shock and awe here) is Florida Panther Keith Ballard for almost pulling a Vincent Van Gogh on Tomas Vokoun's head in a fit of rage. Apparently Colin Campbell feels that the shame Ballard is probably feeling for hurting his team mate in such a boneheaded manner (which is making waves all over the internet) is punishment enough.

Hockey Mom Salutes Bobby Bowden

I know that this is a hockey blog and trust me, HM is one of the most passionate NHL fans around, but I would be remiss if I did not pay my respects to one of the most legendary figures in sports who announced his retirement today. Bobby Bowden, who is retiring after 44 years as an NCAA coach, is in large part responsible for my sports fanaticism. Before I went to Florida State, I was just your average sports fan. But witnessing Bowden's fun n'gun offense during the golden years, I became a full-fledged sports junkie. Bobby spent a record 34 years at FSU and led the Noles to two Championship titles. He was known for his on the field "trick plays" but better known as a fair coach who listed his priorities in the following order: "God, Family, School and Football."

Listening to a Bowden press conference after a win or loss was always an adventure, you never quite know what he's going to say but you can rest assured it will be funny and probably prefaced with his signature term "dadgummit." Yes, the football program has seen its fair share of scandals, wide rights (I was there for both - ugh) and has fallen in recent years from its perch at the top, but no one can argue with the indelible footprint that Coach Bowden has left on this game he's loved for so long.

So HM will be tuning in to whatever bowl game FSU ends up in to witness the legendary Bowden on the Seminoles sidelines one last time, hoping the boys can give him his 389th win. And somewhere in the big blue yonder, HM's mom - the biggest Noles fan I've ever known - is wiping away a tear and doing an enthusiastic tomahawk chop to say good-bye to our favorite coach....

Capitals Official Statement on AO

Just got this in my e-mail from the team, better news that we might have expected judging from last night's footage:

"Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with a sore knee. He skated briefly on his own before practice today."

Now we just need to see if the NHL decides to take further disciplinary action...

Caps Fans Wait for News on Ovechkin

After what turned out to be a wild and wacky night in the NHL, Caps fans are still waiting for definitive details on the severity of Alex Ovechkin's injury after his knee-on-knee hit. Tarik El-Bashir is reporting that Ovie did lace the skates up this morning and was on the ice for about four minutes, so that's a positive sign. We are still waiting to hear official details from the team. Also up in the air is the question of whether or not the Great8 will face a suspension considering he's had two majors in the last week. The Canadien's Georges Laraque just got a five-game seat in the press box handed down after he rocked Detroit's Nick Kronwall knee-on-knee. Unfortunately one of the things we love about Ovie, the way he plays with reckless abandon at Mach 5 hair on fire, may end up getting him in hot water this time. He plays close to the edge and sometimes, though not with malicious intent, he crosses that fine line. As we all know there sometimes seems to be no rhyme or reason to the way Colin Campbell and the NHL dole out punishment (which wouldn't last a day in HM's house - I'd be cracking the whip with heads rolling). But Hockey Mom thinks that this time, Ovie may get more than just a slap on the hand and a talking-to from Gabby. We'll have to see how the drama unfolds.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes also suffered a huge loss when Joe Corvo went down after being cut by Karl Alzner's skate blade. The talented d-man is expected to miss 8-12 weeks, bad news for a team that is already feeling the effects of a short bench.

On a positive note, it looks like the Caps may be getting healthier as Alex Semin and Tom Poti both skated with the team this morning as did Mike Knuble (albeit in a no-contact jersey). Knuble was skating on Sunday before one of our tournament games and the kid-friendly former Flyer signed items for many of boys in addition to showing off his surgically restructured pinky finger! Yep, HM has decided she needs both a Matt Bradley (who is going to be a new dad any day now) and Mike Knuble jersey this season.