Wednesday, March 31, 2010

John Carlson Named to AHL's All-Rookie Team

Before Hockey Mom heads off to the shopping/food mecca of New York City, I wanted make a special Hockey Mom toast to the Capital's tremendously talented young defenseman John Carlson for being named to the AHL's 2010 All-Rookie Team! Here's the official good word from the team press release:

Capitals Defenseman John Carlson Named to AHL All-Rookie Team

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, the team’s first-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft (27th overall), was named to the American Hockey League (AHL) All-Rookie Team, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 29 member cities, the AHL announced today.

Carlson ranks fourth among AHL rookie defensemen with 39 points (four goals, 35 assists) in 48 games with the Hershey Bears this season. His +37 rating is good for a share of third place in the entire league. The 20-year-old native of Natick, Mass., has appeared in 20 games for the Capitals this season, with five points (one goal, four assists), six penalty minutes, and a +11 rating. Carlson scored his first NHL goal on March 25 in a 3-2 shootout loss at Carolina.

Carlson is the first Capitals prospect to be named to the AHL All-Rookie Team since Mike Green, who earned the same honor in April 2006. Carlson made his pro debut with Hershey during the 2009 postseason, recording two goals and one assist with a +3 rating as the Bears won the Calder Cup.

In addition to his time in Washington and Hershey, Carlson skated in the 2010 AHL All-Star Classic and scored the overtime gold-medal-winning goal for Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championship.

And based on what we've seen so far, this is just the first of many honors that will most likely be bestowed upon Carlson in what promises to be an illustrious career. Way to go kid!

Comeback Caps Fall to Sens in OT: 5-4

For the second time in a week, the Capitals found themselves behind by their opponent by a significant margin in the opening period, resulting from a shaky performance from Jose Theodore, too many defensive gaffes in their own zone and being outhustled by a hard-charging Senators club. Yes, the boys were still without the services of Brooks Laich, Brendan Morrison, Scott Walker and Boyd Gordon, but that is no excuse for the slow starts we've seen in the last several losses. Not the kind of trend you want to see in the final games counting down to the playoffs. Tarik El Bashir of the Washington Post pretty much sums it up: "Anyone else sick overtime every other night? For those keeping score at home, tonight's 5-4 loss to the Senators marked the 10th time in the past 18 games in which the Caps went to extra time.While annoying - particularly for writers on tight deadlines - going to OT isn't the reason fans should be getting concerned. This is why: For the second straight season, the Caps are closing out the regular season with a thud instead of a bang." Yep boys, 21 shots on goal is just not cutting the mustard here....

Gabby expressed his frustration post-game as well saying that five goals against is unacceptable. HM's personal train of thought is that now is the time to start playing "playoff hockey" - regardless of who your opponent is. Atlanta will be looking to knock the boys down and don't think for a minute that the Bruins (who are fighting for every point they can get) won't come blasting in here looking to knock heads and take names. And we don't need a reminder that the Caps have to pay one more regular season visit to an always hostile Mellon Arena to face our favorite opponents next week - trust me, the ice fowl will be looking for revenge for the last time the Caps pounded them in front of their black & gold (and Easter-egg baby blue) wearing home crowd. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the boys come jumping out of the gate with a solid win over the Thrashers tomorrow night. Hockey Mom will be touring Rangers country in the Big Apple  tomorrow with the boys but will certainly be keeping on top of the score with my fancy mobile technology!

And on a more "glass half-full" note, here are some more positive notes from last night's game and around the hockey world:

  • A big Hockey Mom high-five to that atomic sparklug known as Mathieu Perreault for notching his second goal in as many games last night - fans love this kid's energy and hope to see him on the bench for awhile.
  • The goal from the two Alexes was truly a thing of beauty - that is all.
  • Speaking of Alex, Alex Semin notched his 11th multi-goal game of the year with his two markers against the Sens.
  • While Ovi's assist temporarily tied him with Henrik Sedin of the Sedin wonder twins for most points with 101, Sedin's performance in the Canucks win over the Coyotes last night added to his total of 104 to take the lead.
  • Mike Green had a great defensive night against the high-powered Sens and saw almost 32 minutes of ice time, adding even more concrete evidence to the popular opinion that he should no question be a Norris Trophy finalist. Green has 72 points and is +34 on the season. Meanwhile another name often mentioned for the honor, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks, has been losing some ground in this area. Keith has 66 points and is +14...
  • And never say never, 21 years later the stage is set for two high school teams (now middle-aged men) to play the championship game they were robbed of so many years ago. Best of luck to both teams - this is a terrific story!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Smoldering Flames Reignite to Beat Capitals

The Calgary Flames, led by the fearless and fabulous Jerome Iginla, paid a rare visit to the Phone Booth in a Sunday afternoon game. The Flames, currently clawing for every point to claim a coveted spot in the Western Conference playoff race, were coming off an abominable 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins yesterday. Yesterday’s loss for the Flames saw the most points the Bruins have scored in a home game since December. Meanwhile, pint-sized powerhouse Mathieu Perrault saw a return to the NHL stage as Brooks Laich, Brendan Morrison and Scott Walker are still out with injuries. Shaone Morrisonn had four wisdom teeth removed so he was out of the action as well – ouch, good luck with that ShaMo, brings back bad memories (like when HM curled up in the middle of the dentist office floor while on anesthesia after having my own wisdom teeth removed in my twenties – totally embarrassing)!

Fresh from the sting of yesterday’s loss, the Flames were literally on fire in the opening stanza, bringing a hard-hitting game and chasing Jose Theodore back to the bench with three goals in the first period alone. The first goal occurred when Theo neglected to cover the puck, which was subsequently slipped through his five-hole by Flames winger Rene Bourque. In Theo's defense, the boys in front of him seemed to be napping for much of the early action. Mike Green went to the sin bin after closing his hand over the puck (the refs missed a Flames trip and borderline cross check on Alex Semin in the same timeframe) and the second Calgary goal came from Ian White on the power play. The third Flames tally was another one Theo should have had but was tipped in by former Florida Panther, Jay Bouwmeester. After that one, Gabby decided to give Theo a seat for the remainder of the afternoon and replaced him with Semyon Varlamov. Unfortunately, Varly also fell victim to the rekindled Flames, as he was screened in front and unable to stop a backhander from Niklas Hagman. Caps fans hadn’t seen such an ugly start from this Capitals club since I can’t remember when. Ugly, just plain ugly. End of the first period: Flames 4 – Capitals 0

The boys finally got on the board courtesy of Alex Ovechkin (who was recently voted by a panel of his peers as the NHL’s best player by a significant margin over that kid from Pittsburgh), who lit the lamp with a power play goal 3 minutes and 49 seconds into the second period. The Flames weren’t done lighting it up for their cause as Rene Bourque deked and dazzled a puck that went high in the crease, and despite Tom Poti’s frantic efforts, bounced down directly behind Varly’s backside. HM and my fellow brothers and sisters of Caps Nation were stunned to say the least - I certainly did not foresee the Caps down 5-1, especially from what I saw of Calgary against Boston yesterday. Eeeouch. David Steckel eased the pain by cutting the visitor’s lead to 3 when he scored right in front of Miikka Kiprusoff’s grill. End of the second period: Flames 5 – Capitals 2

The Caps got their first power play opportunity of the third with about 15 minutes left in the period. And boy did they take advantage of that one as fan fave Mathieu Perrault notched his third Caps goal and Alex Ovechkin reached the elite 100-point mark for the fourth time in five seasons with the assist! The boys in red took the momentum swing after that goal as they lead in scoring chances for much of the remaining period. Eric Berlanger had one of the best chances to late in the period but was stonewalled by Kiprusoff, who atoned for his sorry performance against the Bruins. Meanwhile, the rough and tumble Jerome Iginla took exception to a perfectly legal hit from Nick Backstrom and appeared to challenge Nick to a round. Apparently the young and obscenely talented Swede declined – smart decision based on Iggy’s fighting history. The late period surge in momentum didn’t happen soon enough and the Caps lost a rare one on home ice. Gabby will have lots to say to the boys about this one I’m sure. Final score: Flames 5 – Capitals 3

And on another bummer note, HM favorite David Booth  is out for the rest of the season with, yes, another concussion. I hope he’s able to get lots of rest and make a strong comeback when he returns.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Random Friday Musings

It's old news now, but the Capitals dropped yet another frustrating overtime game to the Carolina Hurricanes, who beat their Southeastern Conference rivals without the services of Cam Ward and Tuomo Ruutu. The highlight of the evening was that three game goals came from rookies, one of which marked young d-man John Carlson's first-ever NHL goal! On another bright note, we also got some flashes of the Varlamov we all know and love as the acrobatic net minder was solid in the crease and looks to be regaining the form and confidence we saw from him last spring. Unfortunately, those bright spots weren't enough to win this one and the the boys will have to regroup to face a seldom seen Calgary Flames club on Sunday.

Until then, here are some tidbits Hockey Mom found interesting to ponder until the Caps hit the ice again in two days:

  • Some Jose Theodore love from Crash the Crease.
  • Per our favorite mucker and grinder, Mike Knuble - you're not a real hockey player until you've smashed your face and/or lost a few teeth. (D.C. Sports Bog)
  • The Sedins? You bet they deserve respect, even though they dance like 12-year old boys at a wedding (google Dancing Swedes NHL commercial and you'll know of what I speak)
  • With all the talk about revising the rules on head shots, here's a tutorial on what will be considered legal versus illegal (tap of the stick to The Bruins Blog) - Matt Cooke, you may need to plan a marathon watching of this video before the playoffs start, eh?
  • Speaking of head shots, HM's favorite Florida Panther David Booth just can't catch a break. Booth has yet another concussion after getting walloped by Montreal's Jaroslav Spacek. Wishes to Booth for a speedy recovery - talk about tough luck...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eastern Conference Showdown: Caps Versus Pens

So Hockey Mom was in the house for tonight's epic matchup between these two Eastern Conference powerhouses and the Caps' faithful pretty much raised the roof from the minute the boys hit the ice. But before we get into the rock 'em sock 'em action, HM has a Laich update for the ladies. Brooks Laich was seated a few rows behind us in the press box and I'm happy to report that all of his teeth are still perfectly in place but he has a nasty shiner (along with a reported facial fracture). We all know nothing is going to keep our dashing winger down for long though!

In the early goings of the first period, the guys in stripes showed that they are apparently all ready for the playoffs as they certainly had those whistles tucked snug in their pockets when it came to calling several hooking violations against the ice fowl (that were so blatant my grandmother would have seen them). And of course, the Canadian hero and SI cover boy, Sidney Crosby, was rudely and loudly serenaded with jeers and boos whenever he touched the puck. The Caps seemed to be tentative in getting shots to the net, there was a lot of dumping and little chasing going on in the first period. Shots favored the Penguins by 8. Meanwhile, Theo made a sparkling series of stops in his end and was key in killing off the Capitals' two penalties. Other than the excitement of some fisticuffs in the waning minutes of the first, there was not much to cheer about. End of first period: Caps 0 - Penguins 0

With one of the wackiest goals I've seen in a long time, the men in red lit the lamp first. With Jordan Staal on his heels, Mike Knuble crashed the crease and knocked an airborne puck over Fleury's red line. Less than a minute later the blasted Penguins tallied in similar fashion as Maxime Talbot paid an unwelcome visit to Theo's house. The Penguins went on the power play at around the 9:48 mark when Alex Semin was called for high-sticking Mike Rupp (forget the fact that Sasha was blatantly hooked on the same play - jeez those refs were making HM's blood boil) but his mates were successful on their third PK of the evening.

The Caps had to kill off yet another with less than five minutes left in the game when Tomas Fleischmann was called for a trip. But again with the inconsistency, the stripes totally looked the other way on a cross-check from Kris Letang. Unfortunately, Sid the Kid broke free on the resulting power play and slid the puck to an awaiting Bill Guerin. Guerin's goal put the hated arctic fowl up by one. End of second period: Penguins 2 - Caps 1

 Non-game related: during the second period Kiss Cam on the jumbotron, the coolest thing happened! Instead of kissing his gal, a dapper middle-aged gentleman produced a sign that read "Will You Marry Me"? After displaying the sign he produced a ring and a dozen red roses - now those are some true fans! I'm pleased to report she said "yes" and that unique proposal gave this single, middle-aged hockey mom hope that second chances for romance and true love do exist out there! A Hockey Mom toast to the happy couple!

Early in the final period, Jeff Schultz took a seat for holding that #87 character - apparently he didn't get Bettman's memo and broke the "no touch Cindy" rule. On the Pens' power play, Alex Semin decided he'd had enough and basically conducted a stick-handling skills clinic to school Alex Goligoski and Kris Letang for the short-handed goal! Mere seconds later, while Marc-Andre Fleury was on one side of the net trying to eyeball Mike Green, Green passed the puck to the other side to Eric Fehr. Fehr's goal gave the boys a one-goal lead and brought the fans out of their seats. The madness continued with less than four minutes left in the game as Theo stopped a barrage of Penguins' shots but alas, he fell victim to a wicked high shot from Jordan Staal to tie the game. Alas, neither team could get it done in regulation so we were headed to another overtime. End of third period: Caps 3 - Penguins 3

Despite several opportunities to score, the overtime period decided "nada" and these two heated rivals went to the nausea-inducing, nail-biting shoot out. Pittsburgh's Kris Letang scored on his first attempt while Backstrom missed for the Caps. Pens' captain Crosby scored, while Washington's Alex Ovechkin lit the lamp on Fleury. Then his country mate and best pal Alex Semin schooled a sprawling Flower. And looks like we have a new "game over" in Mike Knuble who scored the final tally to win a feisty contest! Final score in shoot out: Caps 4 - Penguins 3

What a game and a win over the hated Pens is always cause for celebration!

Hearts Breaking All Around Hockey World: Laich Takes Puck to the Face

Brooks Laich

One of the biggest female fan favorites on the Capitals' roster, Brooks Laich, is expected to miss at least two games after taking a puck to the face in practice yesterday. Per Tarik over at Capitals Insider, not sure the extent of the damage to Laich's handsome mug, but it doesn't sound pretty. Brooks is also known as one of the hardest working guys on the ice, getting in the mix and not afraid to dust it up with anyone to get to the net. He will be missed for sure tonight as the boys take on those birds from the Arctic netherlands led by that Crosby guy. Hockey Mom joins the legions of Caps fans everywhere in wishing Brooks a speedy recovery.

In other news, I'm sure you've heard all the news surrounding the arrest of a local chiropractor for steroid distribution. This guy (who claims to be "the" chiropractor for the Capitals - which is hogwash) has connections to the Florida man who was arrested earlier  on similar charges. HM's personal opinion is that these so-called rumours of steroid use by former and current Caps are indeed a complete bunch of bunk and the Capitals released their own statement regarding this issue yesterday:

Washington Capitals statement

March 23, 2010

Florida law enforcement authorities have continued their steroid investigation following the arrest of Florida resident Richard Thomas in May 2009. The Washington Capitals are not the target of this investigation, and there is no evidence that steroids were provided to any Capitals players.

This has been a thorough investigation, and we are satisfied that law enforcement, the NHL and our own internal investigation have not led to any link of steroid use by Capitals players.

The investigation included conversations with the Washington Capitals as far back as September 2009, and we were and have been fully cooperative and transparent in the past as well as today.

Dr. Douglas Owen Nagel, a Virginia chiropractor who was arrested today, is not affiliated with the Washington Capitals and is not the “team chiropractor,” as he has stated. Dr. Nagel’s office, however, has seen some of our players for standard, routine chiropractic services.

As part of the NHL’s drug policy, Capitals players are randomly tested up to three times per year by an independent testing agency, which sends the samples to the World Anti Doping Association for testing. Capitals players have been tested twice so far this year. At no time in our history has a Capitals player ever tested positive.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Pittsburgh Pending: Caps Host Rival Penguins Tomorrow

In what always proves to be a feisty bout, Pittsburgh Penguins (who deftly killed the Caps' playoff buzz in last season's forgettable Game 7) swoop into the Phone Booth tomorrow night for a mid-week meeting with the high-flying Capitals. Hockey Mom plans to be in the press box for the game as the boys host the defending Cup champions. HM made a trip to the dark side (the Burgh) this weekend for a bridal shower and have been fighting a cold ever since. I believe all the Penguins Stanley Cup Champion stickers on virtually every car and building in the city may have actually made me physically ill. Ick...

The Pens have lost their last two, including a SCF rematch last night at the hands of the Red Wings. They may also be without the services of Evgeni Malkin, who's been suffering a lower body (AKA foot) injury. Meanwhile, the league-leading Capitals are 26-4-4 in the comfy confines of the Verizon Center this season.

You won't have to do anything to fire up our fearless leader, Alex Ovechkin, for tomorrow's game. The Great8 is well aware that he is tied with his nemesis Sidney Crosby for number of goals (45 apiece, despite Ovi having missed several games due to suspension/injury).

Yes sir, though we are still a few weeks away from the actual start of the playoffs, tomorrow night's game will surely feel like we are already there. Just to get you all in the spirit, please enjoy this video of Sidney Crosby and Detroit's goalie (yes, goalie - you go Jimmy Howard) mixing it up last night:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Caps Fall to Canes in OT; Cooke Gets Clocked

Despite a phenomenal last second goal from Eric Fehr to force the Caps/Canes into overtime last night, it was not enough to stop the hard-working Hurricanes who got the OT tally from Ray Whitney. The Canes came back in  an OT nail biter to win the game with a final score of 4-3. Joe Corvo had quite the game in his return to his former home in Raleigh's RBC Center, as he netted the only two goals for the visitors through the first two periods until Fehr lit the lamp with mere seconds left in the final stanza. One of the Hurricanes' goals was a power play marker from Eric Staal, as the Caps were down two men for a too many men call and a high-stick on Shaone Morissonn. Prior to the whistle for too many men, Matt Bradley tipped a puck in the net of Justin Peters but his goal was waved off as the penalty was called.

As the Comcast SportsNet cameras panned to the bench for Gabby's reaction, HM's first thought was that it's a good thing they didn't have the usually jovial coach mic'd up as his litany of expletives towards the referees' call flowed freely. If' he'd have been wearing a microphone, the network would have had to run a parental advisory warning prior to the outburst. Because HM's twins have never heard such language in the confines of a hockey locker room. Or when riding in the car with their dutiful mom as some obnoxious Northern Virginia driver cuts her off in traffic. Nope. Never. Ever. But of course I kid (being the silly goose that I am), and hey that's why we love the Gabster because he is so passionate and full of spirit!

So Varlamov played one of the better games we've seen from him in awhile, especially when he was demonstrating the fine art of making snow angels and blocking shots when the boys were trying to kill the 5-on-3. Unfortunately, he fell victim to the game winning goal by the Canes' elder statesman Ray Whitney but in his defense, the Caps defense pretty much left him out to dry on that one. The Capitals get the day off then go to sunny Florida tomorrow to visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are coming off of a drubbing at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. Hockey Mom will actually be in the land of ice fowl (Pittsburgh) for a bridal shower this weekend so I'll be missing that contest. Keep your fingers crossed that my tires don't get slashed as my car proudly displays several decals proclaiming my die-hard Caps allegiance.

Speaking of Pittsburgh, HM was channel-flipping like a pro so I could tune in to the rematch of the Penguins and Bruins, the first meeting of the two teams since Matt Cooke took out Boston's Marc Savard for pretty much the season. As the NHL took no disciplinary action towards Cooke, all the buzz this week was whether or not the Bruins would enact vigilante justice and take the matter into their own hands. It took less than two minutes into the game for the Bruins to exact their revenge. Boston's Sean Thornton took the matter into his own hands and pretty much pummeled the agitating Pittsburgh winger, in the presence of NHL VP Colin Campbell and a team of veteran NHL linesmen. Despite the hype, I am happy to report that no one left this game on a stretcher, though am sure most Bruins fans would have liked to have seen Cooke pay a steeper price for his misdeeds. Check out the footage below:

While we're on the topic of misdeeds, the Anaheim Ducks' James Wisniewski recieved an eight-game suspension for his hit on Chicago's Brent Seabrook. There's been no word from the Blackhawks so far as to Seabrook's condition after being knocked silly on Wednesday night. HM hopes to see him back on the bench soon and that the league can come to some sort of consistent policy towards getting this nastiness out of the game without eliminating the exciting physical aspect.

That's it for now - hope all you sports fans out there have a happy hockey (or NCAA, whatever suits your fancy) weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Game Day Goodies

The Caps will take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight in their second game without Ovi on the bench - which proved to be a non-issue on Tuesday as they lit up the Florida Panthers. Tonight marks the first time former Canes Joe Corvo and Scott Walker skate in Raleigh since they were traded to Washington. Expect to see Justin Peters in net for Carolina as Manny Legace had a bad outing in his last appearance against Boston on Tuesday, allowing five goals on 37 shots. Ooof!

Tonight's game should be another spirited affair as the Canes always step it up a notch or two against the rival Caps. As we count down the hours until puck drop, HM leaves you with some miscellaneous tidbits from around the rinks for your reading pleasure:
  • A big Hockey Mom high five to the Capitals organization, who have been named a finalist for the Professional Sports Team of the Year at the 2010 Sports Business Awards, presented by Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. The Capitals are one of five nominees and the only NHL team in the group. Congrats!
  • The New Jersey Devils swept their six-game series against the Stanley Cup champion Penguins last night and Team USA poster boy Zach Parise did his part by chipping in a goal. The Devils' Christmas-elf St. Patty's ensembles brought them luck against Sid and friends, as Paul Martin also scored after missing 59 games with a fractured forearm - hear, hear!
  • If you've ever wondered how to dissect all those stats on the score sheet, check out this very informative post over at
  • Opinions from TSN on the top lines in the NHL. Hey Sedin twins, you know I love you and big hugs and all, but can you stop scoring so much so my boys can move up to the number one spot? In the eyes of many fans and media types alike, the Caps already occupy that number one spot with the Ovi-Backstrom line, no matter who steps in as the third spoke in that wheel.
  • The NHL may pretend they are the United States Congress and fast forward the move to eliminate head shots, possibly even by the time the playoffs begin. Probably a good move based on the nastiness we've seen this season.
  • Speaking of nastiness, NHL VP and spin the wheel czar o'discipline Pat Sajak, oops I mean Colin Campbell, is expected to be in the house for tonight's rematch between the Penguins and Bruins - the first meeting since Marc Savard left the game on a stretcher after a head hit from Matt Cooke, which subsequently went unpunished. Don't forget to foil up boys...
  • And yet another brutal hit (high to the head) in last night's game between two tough representatives of the bird species, the Ducks and Blackhawks. Brent Seabrook gets dazed and confused without the aid of an illegal substance after getting wrecked by Anaheim's James Wisniewski. Not nice....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ovi Speaks Out on Most Recent Suspension

The animated Alex Ovechkin is always great for a sound bite and despite his reluctancy to speak with reporters in Vancouver, he is usually more than accomodating when it comes to speaking to the media. So it comes as no surprise that he wanted to share his own thoughts regarding his two-game suspension. In his statement, he reiterates what Hockey Mom said yesterday, that is was not a malicious attempt to injure Brian Campbell.

Now does Ovechkin play a wee bit close to the edge sometimes? Absolutely. Does he forget he's the size of a small dinosaur and underestimate the impact of one of his hits on an unsuspecting player? Check. Does he make silly mistakes (as we all do) and make late hits from time to time? Sure. But he is not a predator nor a loose cannon, as some hockey writers have made him out to be in recent days. He is not out there head-hunting and attempting to mar or end another player's career. For a prime example of a reckless hit that attempts to do just that, simply Google the recent hit from repeat offender Steve Downie on NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby.

So I've said my piece and the NHL has sent their message. Here's what Ovechkin had to say courtesy of the team's release:

Statement from Alex Ovechkin:
“I am very sorry that Brian was injured and I hope he is able to return to his team soon. NHL hockey is a physical game. We all play hard every time we are on the ice and have battles each shift in every game we play so we can do our jobs and win. As players we must accept responsibility for our actions and I am no different but I did not intend to injure Brian and that is why I was disappointed with the NHL’s decision yesterday. Every time I have the honor to play for my team, I will continue to do what I have done since I was taught to play. I will play hard, play with passion and play with respect for my teammates, opponents and fans. I look forward to returning to my team and doing everything I can to be the best player I can be.”

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ovechkin Slapped with Two-Game Suspension for Hit on Hawk's Campbell

Tarik El Bashir over at Capital Insider reported on the suspension of the Great8 handed down late this afternoon by the NHL's king of inconsistency, NHL VP Colin Campbell. Ovi was slapped with a two-game suspension for his hit from behind on Chicago's Brian Campbell, which may leave Campbell out for the season with a broken clavicle and broken ribs. There's been much discussion today surrounding the controversial hit, in which the league was reportedly trying to "define" boarding and determine whether there was intent to injure (to which HM replies "absolutely not" - it was a stupid play maybe but Ovi was not out to maim Campbell unlike the action that went down in Cooke's hit on Marc Savard last week).

The Caps are in Florida for tomorrow night's meeting with the Florida Panthers and GMGM had this to say about the suspension:

"We have no problem with the way Alex tried to finish his check. Unfortunately, an injury resulted. We are disappointed with the suspension but do not want to comment further.”

As Ovechkin is marked as a repeat offender, this probably had something to do with this latest punishment courtesy of the NHL's maddening and inconsistent "wheel of justice" system in handing out disciplinary action. Matt Cooke is the poster boy for "repeat offenders", yet he will be skating on Thursday to face the same team he faced when he blatantly knocked out one of their top scorers. Meanwhile, Ovechkin will be drinking Coke and eating nachos from the Press Box at the Panthers game.

On a more positive note, a huge Hockey Mom high five to the fabulous Sedin wonder twins, who are great both on and off the ice. The two high-scoring Swedes recently donated $1.5 million to a children's hospital in Vancouver. Sigh - makes me love you even more boys....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Battle of the Best: Caps Beat Blackhawks in OT Thriller

Speaking of the best, Hockey Mom was up bright and early this morning to head an hour north to Maryland for the Capital Beltway Hockey League finals. I am happy to say that Twin A’s Bantam team played a fabulous game to win the 2010 CBHL Championship so a huge HM high five to the boys for an awesome season and a job well done!

And now to the big show…

The Caps headed into the Windy City for a nationally televised showdown with the Western Conference powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks. The young and feisty Hawks were coming off of a loss at the hands of the Flyers yesterday. HM was watching that game which saw the old guy Chris Pronger score for the Flyers with 2.1 seconds left in the game to take the victory. And of course we all know about the Caps’ loss to the lowly Lightning on Friday so no need to revisit that, eh?

Hawks captain Jonathan Toews struck first for the home team with help from his mates Niklas Hjalmarsson and Team USA’s Patrick Kane.

At the 12:16 mark Ovechkin pushed Hawks d-man Brian Campbell from behind into the boards drawing a two-minute boarding in addition to being tossed for the game for a game misconduct. Pierre McGuire thought Ovi’s hit should have garnered double minor not a game misconduct. And hell must hath frozen over (or he hit the bottle prior to puck drop) as Mike Milbury actually came to the Great8’s defense for once, agreeing with McGuire that he should not have been ejected as it was more of a hit from the side and an awkward turn/fall from Campbell. Minutes after his pal made his way to the locker room Alex Semin also found himself in hot water as he tried to get a little too cute with the puck on what may have been a brilliant breakaway and found himself crashing the net on top of Chicago’s Antti Niemi. That exhibit of silliness drew him goaltender interference and put the Hawks at a 5-on-3 advantage. Toews struck again on the power play to make it a 2-0 game. As anticipated, especially in light of the Ovechkin ejection, this meeting got very chippy and the shenanigans boiled over at the end of the second period as Adam Burish took a few too many liberties with Eric Berlanger. End of the first: Blackhawks 2 – Caps 0

So the second period began with a Capitals power play but to say they were a little “off” without their fearless leader would be an understatement. The Blackhawks got on the board yet again at around the six-minute mark when John Madden tipped the puck in from the left side. The boys found themselves trying to shoo the Hawks out of their zone for much of the period and one of the better scoring chances came from Mike Knuble in the waning moments of the second period. Eric Berlanger also had a chance that pinged off the post and was covered by Niemi. End of the second: Blackhawks 3 – Capitals 0

Despite the sloppy play that plagued them in the early going, the boys may have been down but never count them out – Ovi or no Ovi. The Blackhawks found themselves in penalty trouble as they took a double minor for high-sticking at 3:51 and then another high-stick whistle at 5:29. Niemi put on a goaltending clinic and had some brilliant saves during the Hawks penalty kill but Brooks Laich lit the lamp with assistance from Mike Green and Nick Backstrom and suddenly we had a brand new game! Two minutes later, Nick Backstrom cut the home team’s lead to one with a tally of his own. To their dismay, the Hawks found themselves defending a rejuvenated Capitals offense that wasn’t done with those two markers. David Steckel turned on the afterburners to avoid an icing call and got the puck to a waiting Eric Fehr. Fehr proceeded to gallantly notch his seventeenth goal of the year to tie the game at 3-3. End of third: Blackhawks 3 – Capitals 3

The action moved end to end towards the end of the final period, but we needed another five minutes in overtime to reach a final decision in this exciting matchup. In the nail-biting extra minutes, Nick Backstrom made an uncharacteristic giveaway at the Capitals’ blue line but he more than made up for his gaffe. With less than two minutes left before this one was headed to a shootout, Backstrom sizzled an unassisted wrist shot by Antti Niemi to put a fork in the defensively dangerous Hawks! Final Score: Capitals 4 – Blackhawks 3

What a comeback and what a day for this hockey fan! The boys put their heads to the grindstone and showed that they are still an offensive force to be reckoned with, even without the league’s leading scorer on the bench. We’ll have to wait and see if any additional discipline will be doled out on Ovi’s hit, but based on the events of last week, HM is thinking not so much. Before I sign off to attend a lacrosse game and end of season hockey party, please join me in a toast to our magnificent Capitals’ comeback after being down three goals and reaching the elite mark of 101 points!

Friday, March 12, 2010

HM's Random TGIF Musings and Other Sundry Items

Welcome to the start of what's shaping up to be a rainy weekend here in D.C. sports fans! Speaking of storms, the Caps will host the Tampa Bay Lightning and their 42-goal scoring wunderkind Steven Stamkos at the Phone Booth tonight. The Capitals clinched the Southeast Division title last night (big Hockey Mom fist bump) as Atlanta fell to Columbus. Despite that crowning achievement, the boys still have to keep their eyes on the big prize (the one made of silver that's perfect for sipping post-victory champagne from, named after that Lord Stanley fellow) and stay focused and determined in each and every game. The Lightning, like the Hurricanes, always bring their "A-game" when playing the Caps and I don't expect tonight to be any different especially as Stamkos is aiming to reach that elite 50-goal mark by season's end.

The Capitals will face a much more formidable opponent on Sunday when they meet the young and gifted Chicago Blackhawks in the NBC game of the week. The Hawks sit at the number three spot in the league, one below the San Jose Sharks and are loaded with firepower from the likes of Patrick Kane, captain Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Troy Brouwer and Dustin Byfuglien. HM already has her ear plugs on the ready for any potential Caps-bashing nonsense from everybody's favorite commentator Mike Milbury. I'm hoping NBC has former Blackhawk Jeremy Roenick on board this Sunday to keep Mad Mike in check!

And here are some other tidbits I found of interest for your Friday hockey reading pleasure:

  • Puck Daddy gives former Capital  and new Carolina Hurricane Brian Pother a gold star for his game-winning overtime goal against our pal Sidney Crosby and his flock of Penguins.
  • Back to the much dicussed Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard - Allen Maki of the Globe and Mail foresees a nasty game in store for next week's rematch between the Pens and Bruins and asks what happens if Sidney Crosby becomes the next victim of a Cooke-like hit as players may try to retaliate for the league's lack of punishment to the perpetrator? (stick tap to Kukla's Korner)
  • And finally, a huge Hockey Mom high five to the Capitals organization for all of their involvement in the local youth hockey community per Ted's Take. My boys have had the opportunity to play on Verizon Center ice as part of the youth hockey program and the Caps at School efforts are a fantastic way to keep education fun while building excitement and creating a whole new generation of young hockey fans!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Meeting of Old Mates: Caps Host Rival Canes

Tonight's meeting with the Southeastern Conference rival Carolina Hurricanes was significant in more ways than one. These two teams have already met on several occasions but tonight the Caps faced a much different Hurricanes club than they saw earlier in the season. The Canes were struggling early in the season and by the midway point, they were near the bottom of the totem pole in the league standings. But this vastly improved team blew into Verizon Center with an 8-2-0 record, one of the best in the NHL over the last 10 games. Carolina is also the last team to beat Washington in regulation at home back on December 28. Add to that the recent flipping of personnel between the two teams (former Canes Joe Corvo and Scott Walker to Washington and Brian Pothier to Carolina), and all the elements were in place for a doozy of a hockey game! Speaking of Brian Pothier, he just does not look right in that Hurricanes jersey for some reason. Kind of like Hockey Mom can't wear orange and black (or black and gold) - I can't imagine why? There's also a fabulous piece on Pothier and the trade over at DC Sports Bog today.

Jose Theodore got the start in net for the Caps and faced fellow veteran Manny Legace between the pipes for Carolina. It didn't take long for the boys in red sweaters to score in the first period as Alex Semin took a feed from young d-man John Carlson and flipped a beauty of a backhander over the shoulder of the Canes' net minder. The Caps took two penalties in the first period and the penalty kill unit was successful in keeping Carolina off the board on both power plays. Washington's scary good power play unit lit the lamp for the second time as Mike Green scored at the 17:59 mark. Green had a bit of an "oopsie" at the mid point of the period as he tripped Brandon Sutter, who was blazing to score on a breakaway. Sutter got an early Christmas present in the form of a penalty shot, but it was Theo playing Scrooge and shutting the door on the Canes. Patrick Dwyer tallied for the Canes in the waning minutes of the opening stanza to get the visitors within one. End of first period: Caps 2 - Canes 1

Carolina got on the board first early in the second period with a full-strength slap shot from Tuomo Ruutu (yes, the brother of pesky pest Jarko Ruutu, or I should say the "better looking" brother of Jarko) that whipped past Jose Theodore. The Ruutu goal happened courtesy of an ugly pass through the middle by the Caps' defense, namely Mike Green. But as Alexandre Picard went to the sin bin for tripping, Green made good and netted his second goal of the evening on the resulting power play. Later in the second, former Hurricane Scott Walker gave his pals from Raleigh the man-advantage when he was whistled for clipping. Yep, pretty much the same call as they make in football:

45.1 Clipping - Clipping is the act of throwing the body, from any direction, across or below the knees of an opponent. A player or goalkeeper may not deliver a check in a “clipping” manner, nor lower his own body position to deliver a check on or below an opponent’s knees.

Well gosh darn if that penalty didn't lead to a Carolina power play goal from Jussi Jokinen to tie it up.
End of second period: Capitals 3 - Canes 3

The third period saw a big burst of intensity in the hits and Manny Legace (all in fun, Manny's a Hockey Mom favorite) doing his best flounder imitation as he left his net and flip-flopped to try get back in position. Tuomo Ruutu also felt the wrath of Ovi as he was the recipient of some blistering hits from the Great8.

Unfortunately the third period didn't feature any additional scoring from either home or visitor so this one headed into sudden death overtime. During the frenzied 4-on-4 Ovi peppered Legace with shots in a valiant effort to score the game winner. But it was team mate Tomas Fleischmann who blew the wind out the sails of the Canes with the game winning goal. New kid on the block Eric Berlanger made a perfect cross ice pass to Flash, who deftly deposited the puck with a sizzling wrist shot to send the hard-working Hurricanes packing. Final Score: Caps 4 - Canes 3

NHL GMs Propose Ban on Blindside Head Hits

Boston Bruins v Pittsburgh Penguins

Photo from PicApp

The NHL General Managers meetings in Florida concluded with unanimous agreement that blindside hits to the head will no longer be tolerated in the league and they intend to introduce a proposal to penalize such hits. The problem is that said proposal would not go into effect until next season so we'll have to all keep our fingers crossed that we don't see any more players being wheeled off the ice on a stretcher as a result of a head hit suffered during the remaining regular season games or through the playoffs.

Despite this move the right direction, the league's discipline czar sent the opposite message regarding blindside hits when he made the decision not to suspend repeat offender Matt Cooke for his hit on Boston's Marc Savard Sunday. Not only are Hockey Mom and hundreds of other fans flabbergasted by this latest inconsistent ruling, but fellow players are also weighing in. Lightning players Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis had plenty to say regarding the hit and the big argument I've been hearing from hockey greats who played in the earlier years is that there is not the same respect for fellow players in today's game.

Marc Savard is out for the rest of the season most likely and Matt Cooke gets a free pass. I think the guys over at From the Rink pretty much nailed it when discussing this particular situation. HM has an inkling that when Pittsburgh travels into Boston to take on the Bruins again next week, we're gonna witness some vigilante justice complete with all kinds of wild west brawls....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Varly Meets Marty: Caps Take on Seldom Seen Stars

The Capitals hit the ice tonight for a game against veteran goalie and his Dallas Stars team mates in hopes of extending their celestial home win streak. Washington, 25-3-3 at home, has a club-record 13 straight wins –one shy of matching the NHL’s best home winning streak since 1975-76. They haven’t lost at home in the new year, since a Dec. 28 loss to Carolina, and are 75-20-9 at home under the leadership of bench boss Bruce Boudreau. Hockey Mom heard another juicy stat today on the drive home. The boys are a whopping 30-points ahead of Atlanta to lead the Southeastern Conference. The last time a team had that much of a point differential to lead their division was 14 years ago with the Detroit Red Wings! Not sure how I remembered that one, but for some reason it stuck with me. With my harried schedule, I often feel like Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man"; I can name almost every goaltender along with their respective team from memory but can't remember to pick up paper towels on one of my twenty-something trips to the grocery!

Despite Jose Theodore's solid performances in his last few outings, Semyon Varlamov got the nod in net tonight to face veteran Marty Turco on the other end of the ice. Up until this evening, Alex Ovechkin had not garnered a point for the third time in his last four games. But the Capitals' dangerous offense continues to sizzle, bolstered by a streak of secondary scoring. Tonight was defenseman Tom Poti's turn to light the lamp to get the home team on the board first. Alex Semin was working it and doing his darnedest to snag a goal in the first - good to see the Vancouver hangover is starting to wear off there. Turco had to stand on alert as the Caps took 19 shots to the Stars' five in the opening period. End of the first: Capitals 1 - Stars 0

Sometimes when two teams don't see each other often, the games tend to get a bit chippy. That wasn't the case tonight and the first power play of the evening came late in the second period courtesy of the Stars' Karlis Skrastins (try saying that name in succession after a few celebratory cocktails) took a seat for hooking. He was soon joined by team mate Stephane Robidas after he took a delay of game and the guys in red were gifted with a brief 5-on-3 man advantage. Just as the Stars got a man back for 5-on-4, Ovechkin found his Midas touch and smoked Marty Turco with a blazing wrister. That tally put Ovi at 43 for the season, just one behind that guy that lost his stick and gloves moments after winning Canada's Olympic gold medal. By the way, if you've seen said stick and gloves, Reebok Canada is offering a $10,000 reward. End of second: Capitals 2 - Stars 0 (shots on goal: 42 Caps to the Stars' 16 - whoah, way to make Marty Turco work up a sweat!)

The opening minutes of the final period saw Dallas on the power play as Mike Green was whistled for hooking. Former Bolt Brad Richards wasted no time getting his team within one on his power play goal. And less than two minutes later, Matt Bradley took exception to a ref's accusation of holding and reluctantly took a seat in the box. Once again, the Stars converted on the power play with a goal from Trevor Daley and we had a 2-2 tie game.

But despite being drastically outshot, the tenacious Stars team silenced the sold-out Phone Booth when James Neal's goal went five-hole on a shaky Varlamov, giving the underdogs a 3-2 lead at the 7:53 mark. Happy to report they weren't quiet for long, as who else but the Great8 faked out Stephane Robidas to net one of his signature beauties -  to tie the game, along with tying with "that other guy" for leading goal scorers with 44 on the season! Unfortunately, the Caps did not score again before the final horn and this one was going into overtime.

OT saw some fine scoring chances by both teams and Turco was on his game in stopping a couple of hard-charging Ovechkin attempts. Alas, neither team scored in OT and we had to go to the dreaded shoot out for a final decision. Nick Backstrom had a last minute deke to score first for the Capitals. On the other end, Brad Richards made a similar move to trick Varlamov. Alex Semin tried his own swifty move, but wins the klutz award as he stumbled into the boards after his shot. Brendan Morrison and Brooks Laich were unsuccessful in their shoot out attempts and Dallas' Loui Eriksson netted the game winner to claim the 4-3 victory. The Caps were beyond strong offensively against this rarely-seen Stars club, but still some holes in the defense and another not so strong performance from Semyon Varlamov. Meanwhile, give credit to Marty Turco who was outstanding for his team.

And by now, you've probably all seen the heinous hit by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on Boston's Marc Savard. Cooke, you'll recall, donned a Caps sweater for a brief period last season. Savard is one of the top five players in terms of points for the Bruins, who are hanging on for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Word as of now is that Savard suffered a grade two concussion and there is no definitive timetable for his return - a huge blow to both him and his team mates. One can only hope that Colin Campbell throws the book at Cooke for his most recent trangression. All of the NHL GMs are in Florida for their annual meeting and the topic of head hits is front and center on their agenda. These hits seem to be getting more severe in both intensity and resulting injuries and the league has to take action now before the unthinkable happens. This post over at Gross Misconduct Hockey pretty much sums up HM's personal take on the issue...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Caps Back in Action with Win Over Olympic MVP

Despite a very sluggish start that saw no scoring by either team in the first 35 minutes, the Caps broke their losing skid with a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres with Olympic MVP Ryan Miller minding the crease. The evening opened as Miller recieved a thunderous standing ovation from both Sabres and Caps fans alike, which was apparently cut short by the PA announcer (hey, how about some patriotism here guy?).

But Miller's efforts in stopping 37 shots in his first home appearance since the Olympics were not enough to stop the visitors (after they found their legs in the second and third periods). I think we all got a bit spoiled watching the frenzied pace of some of the Olympic hockey games (especially USA/Canada) so to me, both teams seemed to be skating through jello in the early going.

 But once they shook off the rust and got a shot of WD-40, we saw some pretty good defensive hockey from the Capitals and Jose Theodore denied 23 Buffalo shots. The Capitals saw Mike Green, Jason Chimera and Boyd Gordon light the lamp, while Buffalo's lone goal from Jochen Hecht was a result of a Caps' miscue in their defensive zone. The Gordon-Bradley-Steckel line was doing what they do best, grinding it out and getting into puck battles on the boards, with one of those battles resulting in Gordon's empty net goal in the game's final seconds. Unlike the previous three games we saw before the break, the boys didn't make too many defensive gaffes and played one of the more solid games we've seen from them in a long time - beyond important during the playoff stretch!

The Caps return home tonight to face the Tampa Bay Lightning (who have a brand new owner in Jeff Vinik, whose purchase of the club from the clown show that was Oren Koules and Len Barrie was approved yesterday).  Capitals fans will get their first glimpse at the new faces that were added at the trade deadline as Scott Walker, Joe Corvo and Eric Berlanger are expected to don the red sweaters tonight against the Bolts. Berlanger and Jason Chimera will have to shake hands and play nice now that they are on the same bench - Chimera was on the recieving end of a nasty hit from Berlanger during a Wild/Blue Jackets game earlier in the season and was taken off the ice on a stretcher. And HM heard from a pal who contributes to the popular Carolina Hurricanes blog Canes Country, who said not to pre-judge by giving creedence to old scuttlebutt regarding Joe Corvo's troubled past as he quickly became a fan favorite in Raleigh and is truly a nice, hard-working guy. And she couldn't say enough great things about Scott Walker - we are looking forward to seeing them both!

And un-related to the Capitals, Hockey Mom wants to give a big "attaboy" shout out to the Panther's David Booth for finally having his day with the Flyer's Mike Richards in Florida's 7-4 shellacking of Philly. The last time Booth and Richards met in October, Booth was taken off the ice on a stretcher after an explosive hit from Richards that knocked him out cold and left him with concussion symptoms that sidelined him for much of this season. Though Booth is not traditionally a fighter, his pent up frustration towards the Flyer's captain's actions reached the boiling point and he decided that last night was the perfect time to settle the score. Not only did he drop the gloves with Richards, he garnered the first Gordie Howe Hat Trick of his career by scoring a goal and adding three assists in the Cat's victory. Here's the  fight footage from last night:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

George McPhee Wheeling and Dealing at Busy NHL Trade Deadline

In addition to the acquisition of Scott Walker from the Carolina Hurricanes, GM George McPhee was a busy, busy guy orchestrating three other trades for the Washington Capitals. Hurricane's defenseman Joe Corvo will join his Canes mate on the Capitals bench, along with another friendly familiar face, Milan Jurcina of the Blue Jackets (for all of a few months). HM is sure the guys are thrilled to have the big guy affectionately known as "Juice" back in the fold, but many fans are scratching their heads on this particular deal. The Capitals also added another forward in the way of Eric Berlanger (not to be confused with the French model Eric Berlanger) of the Minnesota Wild. Lots of Caps' lady fans, myself included, got a little excited today researching photos of the hockey Berlanger when the images of the scantily clad model Berlanger appeared (P.S. someone tell my boys there's no blog post today, will ya?).

So once again. George McPhee was the master of disguise and was one of the most active GMs in the league today. Three of the trades were done in exchange for future draft picks but the one casualty was the Corvo deal, which sends Brian Pothier to Carolina. Pothier is a total class act and I know he'll be missed by fans and players alike - we wish him the best.

Here's a bit on the other new faces (with the exception of Jurcina as he's kind of an old face) from the team's press releases:

Capitals Acquire Defenseman Joe Corvo from Carolina

Washington sends Brian Pothier, Oskar Osala and second-round pick in 2011 to Hurricanes

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have acquired defenseman Joe Corvo from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Brian Pothier, forward Oskar Osala and a second-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Corvo (KORE-voh), 32, is in his eighth NHL season and his third with Carolina. The 6’0”, 204-pound native of Oak Park, Ill., has four goals, eight assists and only 12 penalty minutes in 34 games for the Hurricanes this year. Corvo was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round with the 83rd overall pick in the 1997 NHL Draft. He has played in 468 career NHL games with Los Angeles, Ottawa and Carolina and has recorded 66 goals and 146 assists.

Corvo previously played for Washington coach Bruce Boudreau when both were with the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters (2000-01) and the Manchester Monarchs (2001-03). He had 31 goals and 78 assists in 183 games under Boudreau.

Pothier (POH-thee-uhr), 32, is a 10-year pro who has spent the last four seasons with the Capitals. The New Bedford., Mass., native had four goals and seven assists in 41 games with the Capitals this season.

Osala (OH-sah-lah), 22, was Washington’s fourth-round selection, 97th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He has spent most of the past two seasons with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, appearing in two games for the Capitals last season. He has 15 goals and 14 assists in 53 games for the Bears this season.

Capitals Acquire Center Eric Belanger from Minnesota

Washington sends second-round pick in 2010 to Wild

ARLINGTON, Va. –The Washington Capitals have acquired center Eric Belanger from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Belanger, 32, is in his 10th NHL season and his third season with Minnesota. The 5’11”, 187-pound native of Sherbrooke, Quebec, has 13 goals and 22 assists in 60 games to rank fifth in scoring for the Wild. He also ranks seventh in the NHL with a 57.6 faceoff percentage. Belanger was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round with the 96th overall pick in the 1996 NHL Draft. He has played 617 career NHL games for Los Angeles, Carolina, Atlanta and Minnesota and has recorded 119 goals and 174 assists. Belanger has played in 30 NHL Stanley Cup playoff games, registering two goals and four assists.

Belanger previously played for Washington coach Bruce Boudreau when both were with the AHL’s Lowell Lock Monsters from 1999-2001. He had 23 goals and 35 assists in 78 games under Boudreau.

Eric Belanger
Position: Center
Birthday: Dec. 16, 1977 (Sherbrooke, Quebec)
Height: 5’11’’ Weight: 187 Shoots: Left
Acquired: From Minnesota in exchange for Washington’s second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft

Capitals Trade Seventh Round Draft Pick in Exchange for Hurricane's Scott Walker

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders

Capitals Acquire Right Wing Scott Walker from Carolina
Washington sends seventh-round pick in 2010 to Hurricanes

ARLINGTON, Va. –The Washington Capitals have acquired right wing Scott Walker from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a seventh-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.

Walker, 36, is in his 15th NHL season and his fourth season with Carolina. The 5’10”, 196-pound native of Cambridge, Ontario, has three goals and two assists in 33 games this year for the Hurricanes. Walker was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the fifth round with the 124th overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft. He has played 820 career NHL games for Vancouver, Nashville and Carolina and has registered 149 goals, 245 assists and 1,153 penalty minutes. Walker has played in 29 career Stanley Cup playoff games, registering one goal and seven assists.

Scott Walker
Position: Right Wing
Birthday: July 19, 1973 (Cambridge, Ontario)
Height: 5’10’’ Weight: 196 Shoots: Right

Acquired: From Carolina in exchange for Washington’s seventh-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

NHL Trade Deadline Draws Nigh

The freeze that restricted any wheeling and dealing in the NHL trade market was lifted late Sunday night after the Olympics and NHL GMs will have to make their moves by tomorrow afternoon's 3 p.m. deadline. The flurry of rumors (some too ridiculous to repeat) swirling around potential trades by teams (especially those charging towards a playoff run) has the internet abuzz. Of course Capitals General Manager George McPhee has kept characteristically mum about any movement or acquisitions by the club, but we all know the quiet mastermind can be quite the sneaky devil when it comes to the trade deadline. Call it womans' intuition but HM just has a gut feeling that something will go down tomorrow regarding the Cap's roster.

Our friends over at Japer's Rink did a fabulous job of breaking down some of the talent that may be up for sale (or rent) tomorrow and how those players might mesh on the Caps' red-hot bench. It's no secret that the boys could use a bit more help at the blueline and possibly even in net as we look forward to the playoffs and a legitimate run for the coveted Stanley Cup.

A phenomenal resource for keeping up with the fast and furious trade action tomorrow is Twitter. Here are a few of the "in-the-know" tweeps that Hockey Mom will be following on Twitter tomorrow:

General NHL:

@wyshynski (Puck Daddy blog)

And for the latest and greatest on any up-to-the-minute movement with the Capitals, check out any of the red-rocking tweeps in this list. We'll be keeping our ears to the ground for sure!

If your blood pressure has finally gone back down to levels of normalcy after the nail-biter USA/Canada game on Sunday, you may not want to read this "ode to Captain Crosby" from Mike Wilbon (not sure when Kornheiser's hoops-loving sidekick became such a student of hockey). HM will refrain from commenting on this rambling as this a G-rated blog but am thinking that maybe Wilbon should stick to what he knows from now on....just saying.

Capitals Visit Children's National Medical Center

Capitals center Brooks Laich colors with patients at Children’s National Medical Center.

Five Washington Capitals players – Matt Bradley, Eric Fehr, Brooks Laich, Brendan Morrison and Jeff Schultz – visited Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., yesterday to spend time and share stories and smiles with patients. These rough and tumble hockey players truly look forward to seeing the children at the hospital each year during this annual visit and for a few hours, they become kids themselves as they play video games, color and cheer up the young patients. “This visit is something we do every year and it is something I would not miss,” said Matt Bradley. “To see their faces light up when we walk into the room is priceless.”

The guys colored and played the card game UNO with the kids in the hospital’s atrium before breaking into two groups to visit children who weren’t healthy enough to leave their rooms. There they played video games and took pictures with the patients and passed out blankets, cups, hats, tattoos and signed player cards. The patients ranged from one year old to 18 years old.

Children’s National Medical Center is the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the metropolitan Washington area and is the only freestanding children’s hospital between Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Norfolk and Atlanta. Serving the nation’s children for more than 130 years, Children’s National is a proven leader in the development and application of innovative new treatments for childhood illness and injury.

One of the Capitals, goaltender Jose Theodore, has his own personal connection to Children’s National Medical Center after suffering the unimaginable devastating loss of his infant son this past summer. While we as sports fans sometimes forget that these guys experience the same life events and emotional stresses as the average Joe, HM knows that Theo and his family were in the thoughts and prayers of all of us after hearing of his tragic loss. Jose recently sat down with Tarik El Bashir to talk about his son's death and the charity he founded in November, Saves for Kids. The funds raised through Saves for Kids will go to the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's National Medical Center.