Sunday, February 28, 2010

Team USA Loses a Heartbreaker: Canada Wins Gold

This game was billed as one for the ages – a battle of two hockey super powers. Americans and Canadians gathered together in bars and living rooms to cheer on their teams as they faced their across the border rivals for the coveted gold medal. And now that I have finally caught my breath and the blood pressure has returned to levels of normalcy, HM can say that this one lived up to every bit of the pre-game hype and then some!

As expected, the tempo was crazy fast in the opening minutes of the first period. Team USA shook off the nerves and brought it hard to the Canadians with a tenacious forecheck. And you won’t hear me cheering for this guy ever again, but Brooks Orpik was outstanding in his attempts to leave carnage all over the ice with thundering hits on team mate Sidney Crosby and the Shark’s Dany Heatley, who was rudely introduced to the U.S. bench in the middle minutes of the opening period. Around the seven-minute mark, Mike Richards’ rebound was picked up by the Blackhawk’s young captain, Jonathan Toews, putting the maple leafs on the board first and inciting an already raucous crowd. On a side note, the Vancouver local authorities were so concerned about the results of mixing large quantities of alcohol with rowdy Canadian fans that they closed the downtown liquor stores at 2 p.m.!

The first penalty of the game came with about five minutes left as USA’s Bobby Ryan took a seat in the sin bin for tripping. The U.S. players did a good job on their first penalty kill. HM’s observations of USA’s first period: Needed to get more bodies in front of Luongo and make sure not to clear the puck down the center in our own zone.

Second period action started with a boneheaded move by USA’s Ryan Malone, as he cross-checked Corey Perry to the face and took a seat for the high stick. His team mate Chris Drury sacrificed his body with some stellar shot-blocking to kill the U.S. penalty. Seconds later, Eric Staal went off giving the Americans a power play opportunity. The boys in red, white and blue squandered away the man advantage and seconds later the dangerous Ducks duo of Getzlaf and Perry contributed to Canada’s second goal.

But our gritty, young stars were not rattled and kept up the pressure on the hometown boys. The Americans cut the lead to one as a pass off the stick of Patrick Kane ended up on the blade of Ryan Kesler and right into Luongo’s net. Our boys seemed to get the net-crashing memo towards the end of the middle stanza for sure. End of the second period: Canada 2 – USA 1

Ryan Miller had to stand on his head against the Ducks line along with several other players in red and white in the early minutes of the final period. Zach Parise had a few attempts getting the puck to the net but Luongo was able to contain them. Brian Rafalski, who’s had an outstanding Olympic campaign, also had a beautiful shot on goal that was stonewalled by “Bobby Lou.” A very scary moment for the U.S. (or a dream come true for Canadians) occurred when Sidney Crosby raced down the ice for a breakaway but was chased down by Patrick Kane. Kane was moving so fast, you’d think he was trying to hail a cab during rush hour – well done!

Team USA continued to fight and just when we thought all was lost, Zach Parise showed us once again what he’s made of and tallied the tie goal with less than 25 seconds left in the game! This incredible battle taking place on a worldwide stage in front of diehard fans and casual spectators alike was not over yet! In the biggest game in decades, these incredible players proudly representing the best North America has to offer were headed to 4-on-4 sudden overtime. As if our hearts could take anymore!

And in an absolute fairytale ending for Canadians (and a heart-wrenching tearjerker for Americans), none other than Sidney Crosby himself crashed the net and scored the game winning goal for the gold medal. Despite the fact that Ovechkin's bitter rival and Canada’s face of the game was virtually invisible throughout much of this tournament, he has an innate knack for coming through at key moments and he did just that. Congratulations to Canada for the win and the gold medal. And also to Team USA and the phenomenal Ryan Miller (who won tournament MVP as he should) – backed by the brave Wounded Warriors and all of the country, you guys showed us your trademark tenacity, spirit and fight, making us all proud to be Americans! I can just hear the phones ringing at local ice houses across the U.S. with thousands of parents inquiring about Learn to Play clinics for their future Zach Parise or Ryan Miller! Even though we as Americans are still disappointed (even more so for our guys who worked so hard), it was one of the most incredible games you'll ever see and today's game did so much for the great game we love so much...

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Real Medal-Winning Hockey Mom

Despite last night's disappointing loss to Team Canada, Team USA's Women's Hockey Team has much to be proud of! They fought hard to the end and represented the red, white and blue gloriously throughout these games. Hockey Mom has a special place in her heart for Team USA's Jenny Potter - who not only earned two hat tricks in these games, but is a "true" hockey mom in every sense of the word, successfully juggling a busy household with two young children in addition to her grueling training schedule and community appearances as part of the team! Now HM missed this original airing on the Today Show (as I was multi-tasking myself) probably on the cell while dropping kids off and racing to my own job, so thought I'd share in case you did too:

Congrats again to Jenny and her team mates for earning the silver medal! The talk about last night's game isn't over yet as the internet is abuzz with various opinions on the Canadian Women's team's post-medal celebration. Well after the ceremonies concluded and the fans left the arena, the ladies imbibed in some celebratory beer and bubbly and lit up a few stogies to commemorate their triumphant gold medal win. The issue is that they were caught on camera conducting their party on the Olympic ice sheet. Apparently this did not go over well with the IOC in terms of portraying the politically correct image of Olympic athletes. The other issue is that one of the players is under age in BC, but apparently not in her home province. Sports fans and media types from all ends of the earth have weighed in on this one, some saying to leave them alone and let them enjoy their moment while others agree with the IOC in that their smoking/alchohol consumption and choice of locale was not appropriate and sends the wrong message to young athletes and other kids who look up to these Olympians. What do you think?

Meanwhile, the American men's team takes the ice at 3 p.m. today to face Finland. They'll face a challenge in Finland's veteran Teemu Selanne, who is the all-time points leader in men's Olympic ice hockey with 37 points in 27 games. Players to watch on the Finnish team include: Valtteri Filppula, the brother duo of Tuomo and Jarko Ruutu, Nicklas Hagman, Olli Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen, Kimmo Timmonen -who've all lit the lamp in these games. They also have quite the hot hand in net in goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff. But the United States has their own sparkling gem in the crease in Ryan Miller, who's been beyond spectacular up to this point. So let's go USA - crash that net, take those shots and let's get another step closer to the gold. Only a few more hours until puck drop...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hockey Mom's Time Out Corner: Cam Janssen

Breaking News - St. Blues' Cam Janssen has been given a five-game suspension (or as I like to call them "time out") for his vicious high hit on an unsuspecting Matt Bradley per Capital Insider's Tarik El Bashir's Twitter account. Hockey Mom predicted that they'd throw the book at Janssen for this one, and for once, Colin Campbell was spot on in doling out the appropriate discipline regarding this ugly incident. Hopefully this decision sends a strong message regarding the league's stance on eliminating dangerous head shots from the game...

Capitals' Olympic Hopefuls All Heading Home

Olympic News - February 24, 2010

Photo courtesy of PicApp

Unfortunately last night saw hopes of earning an Olympic medal dashed for all five Washington Capitals players in Vancouver going for the gold. Nicklas Backstrom, Tomas Fleischmann, Alex Semin, Semyon Varlamov and Alex Ovechkin all suffered defeat at the hands of their opponents in last night's quarterfinals action. But of all the teams falling out of medal contention, the most stunning upset was that of the star-powered Russians who suffering a plain old-fashioned 7-3 "whupping" at the hands of the rival Canadians. Yes, we all knew that the Russian's defense was not their strong point and they've struggled with a dismal power play, but no one could have predicted the thrashing laid on them by the home team who already had a commanding lead of 4-1 at the end of the first period. The Russians looked like they were skating through quicksand for most of the first and second periods and the coaches' decision to pull Evgeni Nabokov from goal in the second period came too little, too late. And in a situation unfamiliar to us Capitals fans, Alex Ovechkin was pretty much a non-factor in this game given that Preds d-man Shea Weber was plastered all over AO like the fur on flamboyant skater Johnny Weir's costumes for most of the game. Another note of interest was that none of the Canadian tallies came from their country's much revered hockey verison of the Jonas Brothers, Sidney Crosby, but from Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Dan Boyle, Shea Weber and grinder Brendan Morrow. The Russians could not match the Canadians physical play and things started getting pretty chippy as the goals for the guys in white sweaters kept piling up. With just minutes left in the final period, Alex Semin made a thundering hit on Canada's Dan Boyle. A steaming mad Boyle retaliated by completely laying out Semin with a nasty slewfoot. Both received penalties but it's not likely that Boyle will see any additional punishment barring him from action.

Of the loss, Alex Ovechkin said "I think we was not ready for first five minutes of game and when we wake up it was too late. It was 3-0 and it's pretty hard to come back, especially that game."  Hmmm, you think? Caps fans are certainly hoping that we don't see any more of that in the upcoming all important regular season games leading up to the playoffs. But Hockey Mom's personal theory is that last night's embarassing loss (especially if Canada goes on to win the Gold - pssh), will only serve to fuel Ovi's drive to win that coveted Stanley Cup this year. The only bright spot for me watching that game was seeing my cat Gabby (yes, named after the Cap's jovial coach) sitting at the end of the coach intently following the back and forth action. I think I even heard her express a few Russian expletives...

In the later game, Tomas Fleischmann's Czech Rebublic team fell to Finland in a 2-0 contest. Nick Hagman's goal was the unfortunate result of Czech player Pavel Kubina losing his helmet. In the NHL, Kubina would have just continued to play but Olympic rules require a player to replace the helmet immediately or get off the ice. Kubina's having to go retrieve his lid behind the net gave Hagman plenty of room to work to set up his goal and Detroit's Valtteri Filppula garnered an empty netter for the win.

In the final game of the night (or should I say the wee hours of the morning), the uber-talented and gold medal defending Swedes lost to Slovakia in a 4-3 game that most likely marked the last Olympic appearances for Nicklas Lidstrom, Peter Forsberg and coach and former Capital Bengt-Åke Gustafsson.

And of course a riveting night of hockey on NBC (Nothing But Curling) would not be complete without some buffoonery from head bozo and hockey commentator Mike Milbury. After the Russia/Canada game Milbury quipped about the Russians, "I was really disappointed to see them bring their Eurotrash game tonight." While I agree (mark this date on your calendar as HM rarely, if ever, agrees with anything Mad Mike says) with his assessment of the Russian's lack of heart, grit. etc. in this game, "Eurotrash" is such a globally offensive term it amazes me that they still give this guy an international stage. With those ridiculous comments, he should just be relegated to Hockey Night in Canada alongside his pal Sour Grapes!

On a much more positive note, Team USA squeaked out a 2-0 victory against Switzerland, despite an extraordinary performance from Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller. Both tallies came from young Zach Parise and the win gives the Americans the number one seed. They will face Finland in a network (yes, hockey fans, I said "network" as in the "real peacock") showdown tomorrow at 3 p.m. I'll be cheering on the red, white and blue and to all of our Capitals returning from Vancouver, we are proud of you and welcome back!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stupendous Sunday for Hockey Fans - Team USA Stuns Canada

Yesterday was a fantabulous day for hockey fans round the globe, and an especially proud day to be sporting the red, white and blue even if you don't follow the on-ice action on a regular basis! Hockey Mom's day started bright and early with a 6:15 (yes, that would be a.m.) kids' game, but I made sure to grab a power nap before all the incredible hockey action started in Vancouver with the Russians meeting the Czech Republic in the first game of the day. The Capital's own Alex Ovechkin was one of the driving forces behind Russia's 4-2 victory, alongside his rival during the regular season Evgeni Malkin, who scored two goals for the guys in red. Former Capital Viktor Kozlov also scored for Team Russia, one of the few goals resulting from players crowding Tomas Vokoun's crease. But the play of the game was the highlight reel hit by Ovi on Jaromir Jagr, which sent the former NHLer sprawling to the ice practically dislodging his world-famous mullet! Canada's TSN commentators joked that the hit was so hard, it registered on the Richter Scale! The thundering hit resulted in a Czech turnover which saw the puck get into the smooth hands of Alexander Semin, who set Malkin up for his second tally. The Russians shined with their physical play and despite the heroic efforts of Vokoun, the Czechs could not keep up with the Russian firepower. Ovi once again proved that he can be an instant game-changer and to HM's shocking surprise, even cad Mike Milbury seemed to jump on the Ovechkin bandwagon (though I am convinced that someone must have  held him down and tickled his toes with a feather until he he cried "uncle" for such a swift change of allegiance)!

But the talk around the water cooler today is the incredible performance and win by the youthful United States team over highly-touted and supremely talented Team Canada! Somehow I think there won't be enough boxes of Kleenex in the country for braggart Don Cherry to dry his tears after his country's stunning defeat! Despite being in a defensive mode for much of the contest and getting outshot 45-23, USA's grit and determination combined with an absolutely brilliant performance from goaltender Ryan Miller, earned them the outstanding 5-3 victory! Miller put on an amazing show and stopped 42 shots from the sharpshooting Canadians - he was phenomenal and stole the spotlight from the legendary Martin Brodeur minding the net on the other side of the ice. Detroit's Brian Rafalski scored twice (his second two-goal game of the Olympics) and team mates Jamie Langenbrunner and Chris Drury also lit the lamp. Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler tallied the empty-netter to put a fork in the Canadians and silence a stunned crowd clad in red and white maple leaf jerseys! Congratulations to Team USA for the hard-fought win - what a sweet and historical victory and we'll be proudly cheering you on in the next round! Another Hockey Mom high-five to Team Sweden, who saw a goal from Nicklas Backstrom and earned a 3-0 blanking over bitter rivals Finland!

Speaking of the next round, here's how things are shaping up after yesterday's action. The players will all get a well-deserved rest today and the action picks up again tomorrow.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Wild Night in Vancouver

Last night's men's hockey action in Vancouver saw an unexpected upset of star-studded Team Russia and an almost upset of gold-medal favorite Team Canada! The Swiss were laying the body hard against the Canadians in the earlier game and one of their main targets was none other than poster boy Sidney Crosby. Despite having one of most talented groups of players the Olympics has ever seen, the Canadians came this close to falling at the hands of Team Switzerland, courtesy of swift skating, gritty play and an extraordinary performance by Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller with a stellar 44 saves. The Canadians did not take enough shots and Hiller stonewalled many of the quality chances they did have, forcing the game into OT and on to a shootout. With Marty Brodeur in net, the guys in the maple leaf sweaters had the advantage when it came to the shootout. And in a fairy tale ending for the hockey-mad Canadian fans, who else but Prince Charming himself - Sidney Crosby- scored the game winning goal (which was a beauty, have to give him that). HM is sure that Don Cherry probably soiled his Depends at that very moment and when the network panned back to Mike Milbury, I had to mute the t.v. But in good sportsmanship, congrats to Team Canada for the win and to the Swiss for a hard-fought battle. Both of last night's games proved that the run for the medals may be more open than one would have initially thought!

And in the late game, despite back to back appearances, the Slovakian team stormed back to force a shootout against Alex Ovechkin and Team Russia! Slovakian net minder Jaroslav Halak (Montreal) led his team to the stunning win after a seven-round shootout.  Halak stopped Ovi twice and also denied Russian snipers Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Alexei Morozv and Pavel Datsyuk. Meanwhile hometown boy (Vancouver Canuck) Pavol Demitra netted the game winner for Slovakia, while Marian Hossa came up big for the team in regulation.

A terrific night of hockey and I'm sure that Russia will rebound for a strong outing against the Czech team on Sunday. Last night's results certainly set the stage for an interesting meeting between Team USA and Team Canada Sunday afternoon. Programming note: This highly-anticipated showdown will appear on MSNBC as NBC will be showing ice-dancing during the same time slot. Maybe this isn't the typical woman's response, but REALLY NBC? Nonetheless, HM has a slow kids' hockey schedule (trust me, rarely happens) so I am pumped to cheer on all the big boys this weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Missing the Caps Already? Caps Red Line is Back!

Now I'm sure like me, you are all getting your hockey fix with the all the puck action between the nations at the Olympic games (if you can find them, that is). Hockey fans (especially those of us in the U.S.) have been none too happy with the lackadaisical manner in which NBC has handled the Men's hockey games. Case in point, last night I settle in to watch Sweden (complete with Nick Backstrom and the fabulous Sedins) take on Germany. First off, the coverage starts with the game already in action. As I watched on MSNBC, right in the middle of the action the flipping Keith Olberman show comes on! I start to hyperventilate and start flipping madly through the remote until I find the game on CNBC. Meanwhile, I almost miss Backstrom's assist on one of Sweden's two goals. Great way to market the most awesome sport of  hockey to a broader audience, NBC! Apparently, HM is joined by many fans in our frustration as evidenced by this post over at Kukla's Korner. Frustration aside, kudos to the Swedes on their 2-0 win and also to Team USA who had an impressive 6-1 victory over Norway this afternoon. USA saw two goals from Brian Rafalski and Ryan Malone, Chris Drury, Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel also lit the lamp against Pal Grotnes. Tonight, Canada will meet Switzerland during prime time and the explosive Russian team with Alex Ovechkin gets the midnight time slot for their second game.

So if you're missing the boys and the rocking good times at the Phone Booth (what, the maddening Mike Milbury banter doesn't do it for you?), never fear as you can get your fix with next Tuesday's episode of fan fave Capitals Red Line. An all-new Capitals Red Line presented by GEICO will air on Comcast SportsNet Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 9:30 p.m. Capitals Red Line is the fast-paced, behind-the-scenes look at the red-hot Capitals!

There are new exciting additions to the show this season - starting with new host Guerin Austin, who was named Miss Nebraska 2004. Fans can download the Capitals Red Line widget onto their social network sites, including Blogs, Facebook and MySpace, and stay up to date with the show on the Capitals Red Line webpage on Here's a look at the February 15th episode, which answers one of the questions I always ask whenever a non-hockey event takes place at Verizon Center prior to a Caps game. How in the sam-harry-hell do they change the floors out and get that ice down so fast? Check it out!

Here's a sneak peek at the Capitals Red Line episode for Feb. 23:

American Service Center and Mercedes-Benz of Alexandria “Cruisin’”
Viewers will get an intimate first-person drive with Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner. Alzner discusses life as a young player living part-time in Washington, D.C. as he makes the journey from Arlington, Va. to Hershey, Pa.

Countdown to Puck Drop presented by Ford - Hosted by Elliot of DC 101’s Elliot in the Morning
Elliot will take viewers into the life of Steve Kolbe, the radio play-by-play voice of the Washington Capitals. What does it take to be a play-by-play broadcaster in the NHL? Get a look at Kolbe’s extensive game-day preparation, pregame rituals and impressive press pass collection.

GEICO All Access
GEICO All Access follows Capitals left wing Tomas Fleischmann as he interacts with Caps fans and shows off his pool skills at Lucky Strike.

X’s and O’s presented by SUBWAY
Ever wonder what a day at the office is like for Capitals right wing Mike Knuble? On X’s and O’s, Knuble discusses fighting for position outside the crease and techniques used to obstruct opposing goaltenders.

Press Pass presented by The Front Page
Let’s turn the tables on the media. Capitals Red Line asks those who cover the Capitals for a living about the impact of Alex Ovechkin as captain. Hear what members of the media have to say about Ovechkin’s effect on the team and his abilities as a natural leader.

Forces of Hockey presented by F.H. Furr Plumbing & Heating, a Lennox Premier Dealer -
Hosted by Professor Lou Bloomfield, Ph.D.
Professor Bloomfield is a physics professor at University of Virginia, and he will be discussing the role the glass plays in a hockey game. How much kinetic energy can NHL glass absorb? What kind of hit causes it to shatter? Tune in to find out.

Caps Kids Club Red Light Trivia
It’s trivia time. How well do you know your Washington Capitals?

Ask A Cap presented by Caps Mobile
Caps players David Steckel and Brendan Morrison join others as they look back on their college days and discuss their favorite collegiate moment as well as the opportunities that playing in college afforded them.

The Olympics Men's hockey playoff qualifiers will be on (if you can guess what channel) February 23, so be sure to set your DVR for Capitals Red Line or catch the excitement at!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Men's Hockey - Day Two

As expected, Team USA, Team Canada and Team Russia were all victorious in their first games of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Team USA kicked off the fun with a 3-1 win against Switzerland, who had Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller minding the net. The red, white and blue saw scoring from their big boys David Backes, Ryan Malone and Bobby Ryan. Those guys used their size to their advantage, especially on Malone's goal, to create havoc in front of Hiller for crash-the-crease scoring. I have not seen the other two in person, but HM can attest that at 6'4", Ryan Malone is a force to be reckoned with. I am small in stature (5'1" to be exact but I make up for my size with pure attitude) and have stood near Malone in the halls of Verizon Center, it's like being next to a giant redwood tree! A Hockey Mom toast to Team USA - next up they'll meet Norway on Thursday afternoon.

Team Canada took to the ice last night in front of throngs of red and white clad hockey-mad Canadians. Despite the encouragement from the host country fans, the team got off to a slow start and Norwegian net minder Pal Grotnes held the NHL-laden roster scoreless in the first period - can somebody sign this kid already? But as anticipated, the immensely talented Canadians blew the roof off in the second and third periods for a final score of  8-0. Yowzah! One of HM's very favorite players, Calgary Flame captain Jeroma Iginla, made his personal contribution with a hat trick.

If you were watching the Canada/Norway game, you had yet another opportunity to see NBC hockey analyst (or babbling talking head) Mike Milbury, dismiss the dazzling skill, leadership and star power of Alex Ovechkin for the umpteenth time. But this time,  recently retired and outspoken NHL fan favorite Jeremy Roenick, came to the Great8's defense. At the end of the first period, the discussion focused on the pending Russian team's debut in the game to follow. JR expressed his excitement about seeing Ovi, calling him one of the best players he's ever seen.  And as is customary with Milbury, he had to turn the conversation over to how much he adores Sidney Crosby and "that's the kind of guy you build your team around." The look on JR's face was priceless - I have a hunch that Roenick may actually have to drop the gloves in the broadcast booth as the week goes on as the two exchanged barbs after the second period as well regarding Canada's slow start. As much as I loathe Milbury and love JR, the tension between the two made for better drama than the final rose ceremony on "The Bachelor." Milbury tried to clarify his opinions in an interview with Slava Malamud, but for some Caps fans, it may be too little too late to undo his established "Crosby-favoritism." D.C. Sports Bog has more analysis on Milbury's rantings. Here's the video:

And speaking of Ovi, as expected he had an outstanding showing in Russia's commanding 8-2 victory over Latvia. Ovechkin scored two goals and his pal and Capital's team mate, Alex Semin, had an assist on one of his lovely tallies. And if you haven't already seen them, check out Ovi's fancy new footwear over at D.C. Sports Bog - now those are some fine-looking skates!

Two other Capitals will play for their countries for the first time in these games as Nick Backstrom laces up for Sweden in a 7:30 game against Germany, and Tomas Fleischmann suits up for the Czech Republic in the late game against Slovakia (where he'll see former team mate Milan Jurcina). Good luck to all and HM can't wait for another night of Olympic hockey! On a closing note, how about a standing ovation for hockey mom and player, Team USA's Jenny Potter for netting her second hat trick of the games in their outstanding win over the Russian women's team?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Men's Olympic Hockey Kicks Off Tomorrow!

Photo courtesy of Melissa Allen

The long-awaited Olympic break is finally upon us and the excitement for the puck to drop on the first Men's Hockey event tomorrow is surging in the hockey-crazy host country of Canada! The Capital's five members have arrived in Vancouver and are getting ready for their much anticipated debuts playing proudly for their respective countries. First off, Hockey Mom has a few odds and ends from the pre-break period that I'd like to touch on. Let's start with the boys' last game against St. Louis and the brutal (and late like in last week late) hit from Cam Janssen on Matt Bradley. There has been no discipliary hearing for Janssen as of yet, but with the league's stance on eliminating head hits from the game, expect one next week sometime. HM personally thinks that this is yet another opportunity for NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell to make Janssen an example of "no tolerance" for head hits here and throw the book at him. I'm thinking the first ten volumes of Encycopedia Britannica should suffice!

And despite the three losses suffered by the Caps in their final three outings going into the break, they are still in an excellent position in the standings going into the break! We'll all be wishing our Olympic athletes well (and no injuries, fellas) and the players not going to Vancouver will have some valuable time to renew and refresh as we surge on to the playoff stretch!

Now onto the Olympics! If you've been following my blog for awhile (and bless you if you have), you know my fascination with siblings in sports. Well, the rosters for several countries going for gold in 2010 are sprinkled with brothers (and sisters). As the mom of my own twins (who I hope one day will play successfully on the same line), I am especially enthralled with twins in hockey. Team USA's women's roster features the talents of the Lamoureux twins, Jocelyne and Monique. In case you missed it, Jocelyne had a lovely Ovi-esque goal in yesterday's 12-1 victory over the Chinese team.

And of course there are the wonder twins, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, who will be displaying their magical scoring powers alongside the Caps' Nicklas Backstrom for Team Sweden. Team Sweden will be one to watch as they aim to defend their gold medal from the last winter games - they are chock full of talent and may just well sneak in under the radar.

Here are some other brother acts who will be playing for their countries:
  • Mikko and Saku Koivu - Finland
  • Marian and Marcel Hossa - Slovakia (The Hossa brothers will join forces with former Capital Milan Jurcina)
  • Andre and Sergei Kostistyn - Belarus
So HM hopes all theses brothers play nice (and hard) and we can't wait for the puck to drop for the men tomorrow! Women's hockey has already gotten underway and Team USA and Team Canada pretty much blew their competition out of the water with 12-1 and 18-0 finals in their first games. Watching the Canada/Slovakia rout, I wondered if there shouldn't be some sort of "mercy" rule as we have in youth hockey? Once the score is 10-0, they call the mercy rule and the game is over. Or at least let the clock run - doesn't exactly make for exciting hockey to watch one team get annihialated (and the Slovakian goalie crying)... just saying.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Comeback Caps Aim to Streak Past Sizzling Senators

After failing to extend their winning streak to 15 in an OT loss to the Habs (but not without yet again coming out like gangbusters in the third period), the league-leading Capitals hoped to start a fresh streak against a red-hot Ottawa Senators club tonight. The surging Senators had their own win streak rolling along (11 games to be exact) until they were dashed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Senators' veteran captain, Daniel Alfredsson, leads the team with 47 points - he'll join Washington's Nick Backstrom on Team Sweden in a few days. Not far behind Alfredsson is the dashing Mike Fisher with 43 and former Canadien, Alexei Kovalev, with 41.  Goaltender Brian Elliott got the nod against the Caps for his 12th straight appearance. On the other end of the ice,  Capitals fans welcomed back Semyon Varlamov, who returned to the crease for the first time since December! Karl Alzner and Chris Bourque made the treacherous snow-covered trek from Hershey to fly to Ottawa and join the team as Jason Chimera and Tom Poti have been bitten by the injury bug.

Varly was the unfortunate recipient of a sizzling top shelf goal by Jason Spezza, where the boys once again saw the opposing team light the lamp first. About four minutes later, Milan Michalek shot a rocket right off the faceoff that blew by Varlamov and all of the sudden, the Sens had a 2-0 lead. Tomas Fleischmann cut Ottawa's lead to 1 with a tally of his own at 17:00. The first period was virtually penalty-free until Brendan Morrison took a seat for hooking with about 30 seconds left to play, not before pleading his case to the guys in stripes. On the resulting power play, the Senators' captain padded their lead again by two with help from Michalek and Spezza. End of first: 2-1

The Sens had another outstanding scoring chance as Jason Spezza sped down the ice on a breakaway in the opening minutes of the second period but was stopped in his tracks by Semyon Varlamov. The second penalty of the game went against Ottawa but the Caps seemed to be a bit discombobulated on the power play and the Sens were successful on the PK. Minutes later, big ole Mike Knuble screened Brian Elliott, allowing big ole Jeff Schultz to score from the point for his third tally of the season. Varly seemed to get his groove back in the middle stanza, making saves on the thugmongering Jarko Ruutu and fellow Russian AK27.

And if the boys seemed sleepy in the first, it appears that Alex Semin might have borrowed some of his pal Ovi's ritual smelling salts, as he used his soft hands to absolutely smoke Elliott with two dazzling goals a mere 42 seconds apart to give the Caps a 4-3 lead. But Sens' poster boy for bad behavior (and cosmetic dentistry), Chris Neil, put the puck past a sprawling Varlamov late in the second for the tie. End of second: 4 -4

The action continued fast and furious in the final period as Chris Phillips got the Senators back on the board as Caps d-man Tyler Sloan stood around watching as if he was waiting for VDOT to come dig him out from the snowpocalypse - what was that? Moments after scoring, Alex Ovechkin was called for interference as he pushed Mike Fisher's fallen stick out of his way and Alex Kovalev put the Sens up by 2 with a power play goal. Both Elliott and Varlamov exchanged circ d'soleil-esque saves on their respective ends. But those smelling salts must have been working overtime, as Alex Semin scored another beauty at 13:37 to bring the Caps within one and net himself a hat trick! Semin's hat trick marked the third hat trick in three games, with Laich's against Montreal and Ovi's against Pittsburgh.

With Varly on the bench and an extra skater, the boys skated furiously to try and take this one into OT in another action-packed ending. The officials failed to call icing on the Sens in the final seconds of the game, infuriating Bruce Boudreau. But the Senators held on to claim the victory and hand the Caps their second loss in as many days, despite again rebounding from a slow start. The boys need to tighten up that defense core for sure and HM is sure that's first on Gabby's to-do list with their next practice.This game also saw way too many "silly and reckless" passes in the Caps' own zone. It remains to be seen whether or not GMGM will add a blueliner to bolster the 'd' before the trade deadline. In the post-game press conference, Boudreau called out both the defense as well as Varlamov, calling their performances "horrible" - the coach was visibly frustrated. Final Score: Sens 6 - Caps 5

**Editor's Note: Hockey Mom wants to wish my boys a very happy birthday tomorrow - I can't believe the twins were born 14 years ago already! When did my "cute little boys" get taller than me - eegads!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caps Hit the Road to Meet Montreal Canadiens

The Capitals safely escaped the onslaught of "Snowvechkin Round 2" to head for the less snowy hockey mecca of Montreal - home to the city's much beloved Les Canadiens. Seriously sports fans, HM is beginning to think I fell asleep and woke up somewhere in Saskatoon - my heart goes out to all those in the storm-affected area who've been without power for days. Hopefully we've seen the end of this late winter weather madness - I did learn that wooden hockey sticks make "excellent tools" (al la Jeff Spicoli) for digging out a car wheel from those small, hard to reach icy crevices.

The Capitals met the Montreal Canadiens for the last meeting between the two of the regular season, hoping to extend their wondrous win streak to 15. The Habs are never a club to give up without a fight, having beat some uber-tough teams in their last few outings, including HM's second beloved  team (the Vancouver Canucks) and our favorite team to beat, the Pittsburgh Penguins. And they've done so without some of their offensive mainstays, particularly Mike Cammalleri (48 points on the season). They've also lost the services of d-man Marc-Andre Bergeron (28 points on the season), Paul Mara, Benoit Pouliot and Sergei Kostitsyn of the nasty duo, the Kostitsyn brothers - all players felled by miscellaneous injuries. Speaking of injuries, Jason Chimera did not dress for the Caps due to a lower-body injury, giving one of favorite grinders Quintin Laing his first jersey in quite some time. Good for Lainger - that guy works his tail off ! We hope to see Jason Chimera back soon though - he's been a most positive addition to the Capitals bench!

Things did not get off to a great start as Montreal's Scott Gomez (who's often been referred to as an "overpaid underachiever" with only 8 goals to his credit since his trade from the Rangers) beat Michal Neuvirth for the first goal of the game - only 30 seconds into the first period. Brooks Laich evened it up with one of his own midway through the opening stanza, doing what he does best by parking his derriere in front of Carey Price's grill. Fans saw yet another knarly hockey injury (seems like there's one in each game these days - though in this case the injured player was wearing a protective visor) as Montreal's Josh Gorges took a sizzling shot from Mike Green to the face. HM wishes him a very speedy recovery.
End of first: 1-1

The action took off fast and furious in the second period as the Canadiens lit the lamp again at only 41 seconds after the first face off. Not to worry, as the Caps tied it up with an absolutely dazzling series of tic-tac-toe passing resulting in a Nick Backstrom goal to make it 2-2. Jose Theodore came off the bench to face his home town team and replace Michal Neuvirth (who I'm guessing suffered some sort of injury - stay tuned). The midway mark of the middle period is when things got interesting to say the least. Now I don't normally complain much about officiating (unless it's in one of my boys' games 'cause I'm the mom) but there were some wacky calls in the second period for sure. Montreal got on the board again on a tally that may or may not have been kicked in by Glenn Metropolit. It seemed to go to review for about three seconds so they deemed it was not kicked in. Then Maxim Lapierre shot a wrister past Theo to take a 4-2 lead. The primary call in question was when Ovechkin, doing his signature bull in a china shop imitation, bowled over big Hal Gill and poked the puck past the goal line after Cary Price failed to cover it. In what Caps fans and Gabby thought shoud have been a clear cut goal, the refs waved it off but yet did not call Ovi for interference. The guys in red, white and blue weren't done adding numbers to the scoreboard as Thomas Plekanec netted yet another one for the home team in the waning minutes of the second. End of second: 5-2

The comeback Caps, as expected, came out with guns blazing in the third and in the opening seconds Mike Green blasted a wrister past Carey Price to get the boys within two. Then Brooks Laich worked his magic at the 9:02 mark to make it a one-point game. Jose Theodore did his part in keeping it close by making more than a few stellar saves despite the loud heckling from a hostile crowd. With a nerve-wracking 2:32 left in the final period, the Caps went to a PP as Glenn Metropolit took a seat for hooking. Tomas Fleischmann had one of the best opportunities on the resulting power play but was stopped by Price as the Habs defensemen sat around watching like slugs. And just when it looked like the streak had come to an end, armed with the extra man Brooks Laich tallied another net-crashing marker for a fantabulous hat trick and the tie!

Just like Sunday, we were headed to another OT-thanks to the Caps' energizer bunny-type effort in the third. The action-packed OT was filled with impressive saves by both Price and Theo, but a shot from Thomas Plekanec ended the Caps' incredible streak for a final score of Habs 6-Caps 5. How do you say in French -Merde?

The streak has been spectacular and even though they didn't get the win, the boys are playing some jaw-dropping hockey. Theo has been stellar and how about that Laich hat trick? And for all of you Negative Nancys who fill Ted Leonsis' e-mail with silly ramblings about firing this one or that one or complaining about not having enough ketchup for your hot dog, Hockey Mom must remind you that the Capitals are still number one in the league with a hard-earned 89 points! This team has so much to be proud of and are in a fantastic spot to be headed into the Olympic break. The big question here - as a Caps fan, which team will you be cheering on in Vancouver?

Next up for the Caps, the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night at Scotia Bank Place - puck drops at 7!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Local Hockey Rink Suffers Loss As Result of D.C. Snowcapolypse

The Mid-Atlantic is still digging out from the mile-high mountains of snow left behind courtesy of the Blizzard of 2010, with predictions of yet another foot on the way. The cancellation of all of our youth hockey activities gave Hockey Mom and boys plenty of time to try and keep up with the shoveling as the white stuff kept pouring endlessly from the sky.

Unfortunately for some local hockey families, their activities will be cancelled indefinitely, as the roof of the Prince William Ice Rink  in Northern Virginia collapsed this weekend due to the extraordinary weight of the heavy, wet snow. Now both of my boys have played against Prince William travel teams on many occasions and have been privvy to see the this first-class facility and their dedicated hockey staff, players and families up close. As my pals over at On Frozen Blog reported, the roof collapse totalled the building and it will have to be completely rebuilt, leaving many of our fine youth hockey players without a place to call home. HM has experienced the strong bond of the local hockey community around the D.C. Metro region and there is no doubt in my mind that everyone will come together to help Prince William rebuild. Thankfully, no one was injured in the collapse, which is miraculous considering there was a speed skating competition going on inside at the time of the collapse.

We are all pulling for everyone affected by the loss of this well-loved community rink and hope to see you all back on the ice as soon as possible. You can keep up with the latest news and rebuilding updates on their Web site!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ovechkin's Hat Trick Lifts Caps Over Rival Penguins 5-4

The much anticipated contest between the two most recognized faces in the NHL took place on Pens-centric NBC before a national audience, despite the history making snowstorm that paralyzed the D.C. metro region. The Crosby loving NBC announcers repeatedly reminded the viewing audience of the hardships the Penguins encountered during their 9-hour bus ride to get to Washington, as if none of those highly-paid guys on the bus ever had a similiar experience during their time in the minors.

The Capitals got off to a slow start with more than a few defensive gaffes that allowed the Penguins to get on the board first. And to the dismay of  the Caps' faithful, the first two tallies came at the hands of the much disliked king of whining, diving and other such shenanigans, Sidney Crosby. The Kid gave the arctic fowl a 2-0 lead but not before some very serious monkey business from the visitors (and bad calls on the part of the officials). A fracas broke out as the result of a very dangerous and questionable hit on Ovechkin by the Pens' Craig Adams. As Mike Knuble honorably stood up to defend his captain by taking down Adams, he was charged with fighting, given a ten-minute misconduct and to add insult to injury, was given the additional instigator.

But Caps fans held strong in the knowledge that their boys would come back. And in this battle that is always promoted as 'Sid versus Ovi', who better to lead that comeback than the Caps' fearless leader himself. At 9:01 in the second, Ovechkin unleashed his fury on Marc-Andre Fleury with a dazzling breakaway top shelf goal that actually broke the goal cam and gave the Great8 his 40th on the season!

Blame it on those flame-broiled burgers that the Pens supposedly ingested during their road trip to D.C., but Jordan Staal lit the lamp and padded Pittsburgh's lead to a comfortable 3-1. Seconds later, all hell broke loose in this grudge match, with Nick Backstrom jawing with the pug-nosed Tyler Kennedy (for which he earned a game misconduct - no love lost between these two teams eh?) while Ovechkin wrestled Kris Letang to the ice. The coveted Staal hockey genes were definitely on display today as Jordan netted his second marker in the middle of the second for a 4-1 Penguins lead. The Caps' Eric Fehr smoked a few ice birds to net his own beauty late in the second.

Now those of us who faithfully follow the Capitals know that these guys own the third period, especially lately! Their intensity ramped up more than a few decibels with the physical play and their dogged pursuit of the puck. Ovi scored twice in the final period to earn the hat trick as the lids rained joyfully down to the ice. At that celebratory moment Hockey Mom felt the necessity to yell at the t.v. "Who's your daddy now, Mike Milbury"?! Let's not even get me started on my thoughts about that particular member of NBC's hockey on-air talent (and I use the word 'talent' warily).

The niceties between the two teams continued to escalate and Jeff Schultz was the victim of yet another questionable call for slashing. (Note to refs: Those sticks break by themselves every now and again - especially those composite buggers). The Caps were brilliant on the ensuing penalty kill (with special props to Matt Bradley) to wrap up the third with a 4-4 tie.  And all of the fans who braved treacherous roads, waist-high snow and frigid cold, were set to witness this game go into a nail-biting sudden death OT!

During the 4-on-4 OT action, the always pleasant Brooks Orpik proceeded to try and put his stick up Alex Semin's nasal passages. Then in a lovely display of sportsmanship,  he got slapped with a misconduct after he argued with the official calling Semin a "baby" and then some. Stay classy Brooks....

Color it fitting on the resulting power play that Ovechkin fired the shot to the goal, where net-dweller Mike Knuble poked the puck passed the Flower for the game winner and win number 14! These guys just continue to thrill us and put up outstanding numbers! HM must also give kudos to Jose Theodore, who won his tenth straight game to match a 26-year franchise record.

Now, Hockey Mom is pretty much cheered out after today's incredible game and not sure I give too much of a hoot about the Super Bowl (okay, I think I can muster a small "who dat" for the New Orleans Saints). Despite a few defensive flub ups in the early goings, this was a spectacular game on a national stage where the Capitals showed the world the gumption and team work that makes them one of the most dangerous teams in the league!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Heartbreaking Loss for Maple Leaf's Brian Burke

As hockey fans in the Washington, D.C. area awoke to a raging blizzard, the hockey world was dealing with the terrible news that Brian Burke, General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the 2010 USA Men's Olympic Hockey Team, lost his 21-year old son Brendan in a car crash yesterday.

Brendan was also heavily involved in the game of hockey, acting as manager for his college team at Miami University in Ohio and hoped to follow his father's footsteps to pursue a career in the NHL. He made headlines last year when he made the courageous decision to reveal his homosexuality as a gay athlete, in hopes of creating more awareness and preventing discrimination in the arena of college and pro hockey. Brian Burke, of course, stood proudly by his son and was bowled over by the support both men recieved from fans and the sports community.

Hockey Mom joins hockey fans worldwide  in sending our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the Burke family and all those who knew Brendan for their unimaginable loss. It is just yet another reminder of how fragile life is - I know I will hug my guys a little tighter today...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Capitals Oust Thrashers for a Baker's Dozen

After beating the New York Rangers for a sweet dozen consecutive victories, the Capitals returned home to host the Kovy-less Atlanta Thrashers as a snowstorm of epic proportions overtook the D.C. region. Last night's game marked yet another momentous accomplishment by Alex Ovechkin as he tallied goal number 500, deking the puck between Michael Rozsival's legs and whipping it into the net with one hand - a mind-blowing play that even got love from not typically puck-friendly ESPN. The Great8 now leads the league in both points and goals, while team mate Nick Backstrom joins him on the elite list of points leaders. When Hockey Mom ventured out for a Starbucks (my last one before being stuck inside with boisterous teenage boys for who knows how long), she was thrilled to see a photo of the dancing duo of Ovi and Backstrom doing their signature shoulder bump on the page A-1 of the Washington Post!

While the Caps were celebrating another milestone, the Atlanta Thrashers were dealing with the aftermath of losing their captain, Russian sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. In a deal that had the rumor mills buzzing all week, Kovalchuk was traded to the New Jersey Devils yesterday in exchange for Nic Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, the poster boy for 'how not to hit' and recently suspended QMJHL player Patrice Cormier; and a first round draft pick to Atlanta.

The panic-inducing weather forecast may have deterred many snow-weary Caps fans, but there were still plenty on hand to cheer the boys on and welcome back defenseman Mike Green back to the ice after serving his three-game suspension. Michal Neuvirth made the trek from Hershey and got the nod in net for the evening. Karl Alzner also donned a jersey for the occasion. The Capitals and their faithful followers were not sure what to expect from this Thrashers team in the wake of their fresh personnel shake up - they were bound to either instigate a blowout or experience a total meltdown. But the boys from the South got on the board first with a goal from defenseman Tobias Enstrom. Alex Ovechkin, continuing to add to his impressive stats, broke his stick and after getting a replacement in mid-stride, snapped a rocket past Thrashers' net minder Ondrej Pavelec to tie it. The first period also saw an incident that's become all too commonplace in today's NHL, a retaliation after a clean hit. In this instance, Caps' big man John Erskine rocked a Thrash center with a train wreck (but textbook clean) hit and Chris Thorburn took it upon himself to challenge Big Johnny. Erskine landed a few nice lefts before Thorburn knocked him to the ice; Thorburn was then escorted off after being slapped with the instigator penalty (as he should have been).

The second period saw Nicklas Backstrom light the lamp, the spectacular center continues to pile up points almost as fast as the snow piling up outside the Phone Booth! Despite being outshot through the second and third periods, the Capitals added some padding to their lead with two beautiful goals from Jason Chimera and Alex Semin in the final period to give the boys a 4-1 advantage. The Thrash were the benefactors of a Capitals' "oopsie" as the guys in red gave up the puck on their power play. Rich Peverley took it and sprinted towards Michal Neuvirth, while Alex Semin used his own speed to try and cut Peverley off at the pass. Instead, Semin ended up sliding into the crease and kicked the puck in himself to give Atlanta a late period tally...hey, these things happen sometimes. Alas, it was too little, too late for the Thrashers.With their goal tender pulled for the extra man, Mike Green made the bulls-eye in an empty net for a final score of 5-2 (and free wings for the happy fans if Glory Days is open during the blizzard of 2010)!

Another exceptional effort, especially for the young goalie Neuvirth with an outstanding 43 saves! Neuvy was expecially gracious in the post-game interview in his beaming commentary on Jose Theodores' role in the current record-breaking streak. On a less positive note, Nick Backstrom left the game and did not return - it could be a recurrence of migraines that have plagued him before or a more serious undisclosed injury. We'll all be waiting eagerly for good news on Nick as the vengeful Pittsburgh Penguins swoop in (or waddle in through 30 feet of snow) on Sunday.

Hockey Mom hopes all of you stay safe and warm during this weekend's storm and that we indeed are able to see the much anticipated rematch of the Caps/Pens on Sunday!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great Hockey Gals Chat About 2010 Olympics

Hockey Mom was recently asked to chat with Hockey & High Heels author Lisa Ovens, about the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. In addition to Lisa, who was recently cited in a Vancouver magazine as one of the ones to follow for unique Olympic coverage from her hometown, I was privvy to be featured alongside two other great hockey ladies, Jan Snyder and Dee Karl.

Check it out here and if you don't already, be sure to follow all these fabulous gals on Twitter!

Help the Caps Raise Funds for Haiti

We've all seen the horrific devastation resulting from the recent earthquake in Haiti; the loss of life and unimaginable damage in this already poor country is beyond heartwrenching. Alex Ovechkin recently teamed up with fellow stars from the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB to film a PSA for Haitian relief efforts. The Washington Capitals will be reaching out to aid the victims of the disaster by collecting monetary donations from fans entering the Verizon Center for Sunday's sold-out game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Capitals' wives and girlfriends will be on hand to collect donations at the doors. Washington Capitals Charities will match the money collected during the game and all funds will go to Inova Health System Foundation, who has sent volunteers from the area and supplies to Haiti to assist in the recovery process.

Red Rockers along with game-night staffers will also be collecting donations during the intermissions on the concourse and as fans exit Verizon Center after the game. Fans can also drop off donations during the game at the Community Relations table located on the main concourse at section 104.

Immediately after the devastating earthquake struck, Inova sent two Fairfax County Search and Rescue teams to Haiti and have remained engaged in the area treating injured individuals. The team included Dr. Dan Hanfling, who is also Inova’s Medical Director of Emergency and Disaster Medicine. Inova has been supporting this team with medication and supplies as they have deployed them into the quake zone.

In addition, Inova has been supporting the efforts of the Community Coalition for Haiti who have been assembling medical service teams, comprised of volunteer health professionals, many of who are Inova employees or community physicians who are part of the Inova family. These teams were also “on the ground” soon after the quake struck and have provided life-saving and health preserving care to hundreds of individuals, many of whom had no other source of medical help.

Hockey Mom encourages all you generous Caps fans who'll be in attendance as we take on the rival Penguins, to reach deep into your pockets and help the Capitals in their fundraising efforts. These vital funds will be used for immediate medical relief for the thousands of victims as well as long-term assistance with much-needed supplies and personnel.

Musings before Snowpacolypse 2

If you didn't know any better, you'd think those of us living in the D.C. metro area fell asleep and woke up in Saskachtewan with all this snow we've had - and there's snowpacolypse round two on the way. This major snowstorm may not affect tomorrow night's game against the Atlanta Thrashers but we are all holding our  collective breaths to see if the Penguins make it in for Sunday's televised game on NBC (but hey, they are an arctic species so it should be no problemo). By the way, a big epic fail to NBC for their game promos as they were promoting the event using the Capital's old logo - um, NBC Sports Department - the logo changed two years ago, get with the times will ya!

Meanwhile the Capitals, with their dads in tow, will face the New York Rangers and their explosive leader, John Tortorella, tonight at the Garden. If you haven't been following the daytime drama that's taken place in post-game press conference between Torts and the New York Post's Rangers beat writer, Larry Brooks, you're missing a really good mud-slinging cat fight. The Rangers have been struggling of late, to say the least, falling victim to the red-hot L.A. Kings on Tuesday. However, tonight's Blueshirt team will see the home debut of newcomers Olli Jokinen and tough guy Brandon Prust, who were traded by the Calgary Flames earlier this week. Jokinen has been hot and cold throughout his career but let's hope he doesn't heat up tonight when paired with the the Rangers' number one sniper, Marian Gaborik, and the offensively dangerous Vinny Prospal on the first line. Good news for the Caps is that the Blueshirts haven't scored a power play goal in their last seven games, while Washington leads the NHL with a mind-blowing 3.82 goals per game!

The Rangers will be gunning to end the Capitals' streak and it's always an interesting match up with the feisty cast of characters wearing blue sweaters. Puck drops at 7 p.m. - let's make it 12 boys!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One for the History Books: Caps Beat Bruins for 11 Straight Wins

The Capitals made franchise history last night by recording their eleventh straight victory over a struggling Boston Bruins club in a game that saw another spectacular performance by goaltender Jose Theodore. The first period saw way too many trips to the penalty box (Alex Semin was kind of having an all too familiar night where he used his stick to trip, hook, slash - everything but score and had another penalty hat trick. Thankfully, he redeemed himself later). As a result, Boston's David Krejci lit the lamp with a power play goal to get the Bruins on the board first - but that was the only scoring the home team would see the rest of the evening, thanks to the brilliant play of Theo. Theodore later stopped Krejci dead in his tracks on a penalty shot attempt. Hockey Mom hopes the team gave Jose an army of hard hats for his efforts, stopping a jaw-dropping 41 shots!

Despite a slow start, the team came together as a whole once again to claim the win in the latter periods. Massachusetts native Tom Poti had a terrific game and had a chance to shine in front of friends and family, setting up the goal netted by Mike Knuble in the first period. And in a pattern that's been par for the course as of late, Boston was the victim of the Capitals' offensive assault in the third period, which saw three goals by the guys in white. Alex Semin made up for those silly stick infractions in the first period by setting up a lovely tally by Brooks Laich, giving #21 his seventeenth marker of the season. And Boyd Gordon even got into the action less than three minutes after Laich's goal, smoking Tim Thomas once again to give the visitors a solid 3-1 lead. And in addition to scoring an empty netter, Alex Ovechkin led the team in hits. The human battering ram's target on this particular evening was Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. After exchanging  third period pleasantries following a hard hit against the boards, Ovi lined up Boychuk with three tooth-rattling hits in succession.

This latest historical achievement by the Capitals is yet another example of the organizational awesomeness that represents the entire organization from the minors to the front office. The Capitals and Hershey Bears have an incredible combined record of 75-21-8! And with the scoring contributions coming from all corners, the Capitals have now outscored their opponents 51-22 and sit at the number one spot in the NHL with an impressive 82 points under their belt.

So congratulations on making history and for another victory - this is definitely an amazing time to be a Capitals fan for sure! The boys look to continue their run as they visit a discombobulated New York Rangers team tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden with their proud papas in attendance!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stars Shining Brightly for Capitals

The good news just keeps coming for the hard-working Washington Capitals after tying a franchise record with ten straight wins. In addition to the tremendous contributions that every player on this team has made towards their red-hot run, the Caps' stars are shining particularly brightly these days. Nicklas Backstrom was named one the NHL's Stars of the Week and Alex Ovechkin earned the number one Star of the Month honor for January.

From the respective press releases:


Ovechkin led all scorers in January with 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) and posted a +16 rating in 15 games, helping the Capitals go 13-2-0 and finish the month with a franchise record-tying 10-game winning streak. Named team captain Jan. 5, Ovechkin tallied eight multiple-point games thereafter, beginning with three points (one goal, two assists), a +4 rating and 10 shots on goal in a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators Jan. 7. He tallied his first career four-assist game and tied a career high with five points in a 6-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs Jan. 15 and notched three points (two goals, one assist) in a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins Jan. 21. Ovechkin closed the month by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period of a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Jan. 31. The reigning Hart and Richard Trophy winner ranks second in the NHL in goals (35), second in points (76), first in shots (248) and first in plus/minus (+35).

Backstrom paced the League's highest-scoring offense with seven points (two goals, five assists) and posted a +6 rating as the Capitals (37-12-6) tied a franchise record by extending their winning streak to 10 games. He notched one assist in victories over the New York Islanders (7-2, Jan. 26) and Anaheim Ducks (5-1, Jan. 27), notched a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over the Florida Panthers Jan. 29 and finished the week with one goal and one assist in a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Jan. 31. The 22-year-old center ranks second on the Capitals in scoring and sixth in NHL with 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists). He already has set a single-season career high in goals, eclipsing the 22 from last season.

The Caps look to break a franchise record tonight aiming for win number 11 against the boys from Beantown, the Boston Bruins, who are in dire straights having lost their last seven outings. The Capitals will be accompanied by their dads on this trip and included on the fathers' itinerary is a trip to the Sam Adams brewery so Hockey Mom anticipates that the cheering from their section will be especially raucous this evening! Puck drops at 7 p.m.

David Steckel hands out Capitals gift bags to second graders at Wayside Elementary.

Also earning gold stars (and some yummo burritos from Chipotle, one of HM's faves) last month were some dedicated second grade students from Wayside Elementary School in Potomac, Md. Their exceptionally awesome teacher, Andrea Monica, submitted a complete lesson plan to the Caps@School website. Mrs. Monica’s second-grade class did the Caps hockey-themed, fourth-grade math lesson plan. As the winner of October’s Caps@School contest, her students were treated to a visit from Capitals' player David Steckel and Slapshot, along with a Chipotle Mexican Grill Burrito Party! Steckel answered some questions and played games with the 27 second-grade students before they dined on the Chipotle Mexican Grill burritos (hopefully with extra guacamole). The hour-long party concluded with a classroom photo, autographed player cards by Steckel and a gift bag from the Capitals. See kids, (ahem, Hockey Mom's twins - that would be you) learning can be fun!

And in other random hockey happenings:

The wheeling and dealing continues in the NHL as Calgary's none-too-happy Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust were dealt to the New York Rangers in exchange for Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik. The trade went down after the midnight hour as both Flames players skated for their old team in last night's loss to the Flyers, knowing full well that the trade was coming. Ouch...
  • Apparently the Canadian media doesn't hold a soft spot in their hearts for our beloved Capitals, according to former Capital and current Comcast Sportsnet analyst, Alan May. (D.C. Sports Bog
  • And finally, our frenemy Sidney Crosby, now currently sits atop the list of the league's leading goal scorers with 37 on the season after last night's hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres. I'm sure Alex Ovechkin is gunning to oust the Kid from his newly-earned ranking and plans to up the ante when the birds visit Verizon Center this Sunday. HM found it quite amusing that in addition to tossing a wide variety of hats bearing the Penguins logo, Pittsburgh fans also littered the ice with environmentally-friendly black Penguins shopping bags (apparently the free swag for the evening). Now I completely understand your excitement, but it's called a "hat trick" for a reason. Surprised they didn't start tossing the Iron City bottles or small children....