Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Capitals Trade Tomas Fleischmann for Avs Defenseman Scott Hannan

Looks like Santa might have come a bit early for the oodles of Caps fans who've been wishing for a stay at home defenseman - the perfect piece to fill in the missing holes that were so evident in last year's premature playoff exit. Today the team announced they have acquired defenseman Scott Hannan from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Tomas Fleischmann. On a team loaded with offensive prowess, Flash was one of the go-to guys during the regular season, netting 23 goals and 28 assists last season. Unfortunately, his scoring touch seemed to disappear in the off-season, much to the dismay of his followers. We wish Flash well in his new mountain digs and will see him again when the Avs and Caps meet at Verizon Center next Saturday.

Scott Hannan, 31, is an 11-year NHL veteran who has played for Colorado and the San Jose Sharks. The 6’1”, 225-pound defensive defenseman has played 775 career games, recording 30 goals, 150 assists, 456 penalty minutes and a +22 rating. This season Hannan has six assists and a +1 rating while playing all 23 games for the Avalanche.

He has played at least 71 games in each of his 11 pro seasons, including 97.2% of the games since he made the NHL full-time in 2000-01. He has averaged 18:37 of ice time per game this season and 22:02 per game in the course of his career. His teams have made the playoffs eight times in 10 seasons prior to this one, playing a total of 73 playoff games.

A first-round pick of the Sharks, 23rd overall, in the 1997 Entry Draft, Hannan broke into the league after an all-star career with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League. He was a teammate of current Capital and everyone's favorite grinder, Matt Bradley, with the Sharks and signed with Colorado as a free agent on July 1, 2007. Let's give a hearty welcome to Mr. Hannan and show him how it's done in our hockey town!

And on a totally unrelated note, to the dirtbags who broke into Pat Burns' widow's car shortly after the hockey legend was laid to rest, shame on you. Hockey Mom joins the legions of hockey fans worldwide in hoping for your speedy arrest!

Caps Fans - Time to Rock the Vote

Hope you all had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving - HM is back in the swing of things after my jaunt to the North Carolina mountains. And as the holiday season quickly approaches, here's one more thing to add to your "to do" list as a loyal Caps fan: Vote for our boys on the NHL All-Star ballot. Because I'm sure I'm not the only member of the Capitals fan base who feels like losing her lunch after reading this. So go in and exercise your right as a free hockey fan and vote for Ovi, Green and any of your other favorite Capitals players as many times as you can (don't forget to write in Sasha)!

Speaking of the All-Star front runner, the Kid has found himself in the midst of a controversy once again stemming from an incident against the rival New York Rangers. If I'm not mistaken, our own captain found himself facing a fine from the NHL for a similar action against the Thrashers' Rich Peverley last season. Yep, this will be interesting indeed to see if Sid gets more than a  half-hearted scolding for this. My guess would be no...just sayin'.

While we're on the topic of Penguins (or detonating them at least) - check out the Caps' recent trip to the FBI Academy (h/t to Puck Daddy -  head over for more fun details on the event). Blowing up a penguin - the perfect way to end a day filled with wild car chases, shooting pretend criminals and busting down doors in a crime raid. Nice work boys!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Devils Dupe Listing Capitals Team in 5-0 Loss

On the third anniversary of Coach Bruce Boudreau's arrival as bench boss, the boys honored the occasion by giving him - a big, fat goose egg (the boys were shut out for the second time in less than a week - ouch). Meanwhile, the Devils who are without the services of several of their star players, including Zach Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner and future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, found their offensive game against a listless Caps defense and rookie Braden Holtby. Holtby was given the start after Michal Neuvirth was hurt in practice. Varlamov was rushed up from Chocolatetown but his skates did not get to the arena until the second period and Gabby decided not to play him unless Holtby went down with an injury. Unfortunately, Mike Green and Tyler Sloan joined the ranks of walking wounded along with Mike Knuble andTom Poti (speaking of, #3 can you hurry up with that recovery process? The defense needs you badly - thanks). The extent of their injuries won't be known until later today when the team gets in a much-needed practice in Raleigh. HM is once again thinking that practice might need to include mandatory bag skate judging from last night's pitiful performance.

One of HM’s favorite NHLers, Patrick Elias started the party for the Devils with the first goal. Then at the 3:45 mark, Tyler Sloan obstructed Holtby's movement as he tried to get back into position (the youngster found himself out of position on too many occasions last night but I digress). But alas it was a little too late as Jason Arnott took advantage of the tomfoolery by stuffing the puck.

And the comedy of errors continued into the final minutes of the opening period. Mattias Tedenby managed a clean break and was cut down by Captain Stache, John Erskine. Erskine took out Tedenby and Holtby, giving the young Swede a penalty shot. Tedenby netted a sneaky backhanded shot against the caps goaltender to give the Devils three tallies by period's end. Not a period to remember for the visitors, quite frankly it was eerily reminiscent of Friday's blowout in Blueland.

The second period was not any kinder to the struggling visitors. At 2:43, Jason Arnott lit the lamp for the second time on the night and at 7:48, it was Ovi’s pal Dainius Zubrus' turn. To be quite honest, HM had lost patience at this point and will admit it, I flipped over the Dancing with the Stars finale. That’s a sure sign you know it was bad. Apparently Gabby tried to mix things up (to no avail) by playing with line combinations. The flustered coach moved the Great8 to play with Marcus Johansson and Matt Bradley, hoping that the change of scenery might break his four-game scoreless streak. Matt Hendricks spent some time with mates Alex Semin and Nick Backstrom (a big happy birthday to Mr. Backstrom today by the way).

The teeny highlight of the night was a fight between Matt Hendricks and Adam Mair, as Hendricks tried to energize his troops. On the subject of fighting, Down Goes Brown has a very humorous look at the NHL’s unofficial “Code” here.

Boudreau had this to say about the drubbing: "Everything's a trickle-down effect from the forwards to the defense to the goalie to the coaches. If we fail like this it's everybody's fault," Boudreau said. "It's not just [the defense's] fault. We all have to pick up our socks and find out what's gone wrong in these last three games. You go 8-0-1 and then you go for a crap. It happens, but it hasn't happened to us. I don't like it."

At times like these, HM tries to console herself by reminding herself of the dratted Penguin’s December record the year they won the Stanley Cup. On Frozen Blog makes some great points on the typical ups and downs seen in the grueling regular season as well. Let’s just count our Thanksgiving blessings and hope the boys can right the ship soon, as in starting against the Hurricanes tomorrow.

Speaking of the Canes, HM will be headed down the state of North Carolina for the holidays and I’m hoping to be able to catch the game on TV. As we’ll be in the mountains, I doubt I’ll be able to take in any other Caps action this week so please follow all the fabulous peeps on my blog roll for your up-to-the-minute hockey news.

Hope all of you have a very wonderful and safe holiday – Happy Thanksgiving to all you puckheads and your loved ones!! We all have much to be thankful for – I know I do.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Caps Fall to Flyers in Shoot Out: 5-4 Final

After last night’s ugly loss at the hands of the Atlanta Thrashers, the Caps had a quick turnaround to get ready for a hard-hitting, high-scoring Flyers team. They were also without the services of the gritty Mike Knuble, who was injured during last evening’s loss. Gabby expected his troops to rebound and step up for the injured Knuble, and for the most part they did just that.

Marcus Johansson had quite an impressive game, scoring the Capitals’ first goal – as he was on his way down from getting wrecked. Later in the second period, the young Swede single-handedly skated and protected the puck through three Philly defenders. End of the first: Caps 1 – Flyers 0

The Caps power play struggled through the second period. While the team saw shots from Green, Semin, Ovi and Laich (characteristically parking his tush in front of Brian Boucher) but no success in permeating the wall of knarly Flyers crowding their crease. Semin also got whistled with his signature slash at 4:21, while John Carlson joined him in the box for hooking giving the thugnasty visitors a 5 on 3. The Caps were able to kill off the penalty with mucho help from Michal Neuvirth.

Minus his flaming red locks, the always agitating Scott Hartnell tried to poke Neuvy after the whistle resulting in a scrum and another Caps power play at 7:39.

Brooks Laich couldn’t put the brakes on fast enough with less than 7 minutes left in the second and took a seat for interference. Claude Giroux got quite the lucky break on the power play as the puck bounced off his pants for the Flyers’ goal.

Meanwhile, Eric Fehr annihilated Ville Leino after he'd dumped the puck, resulting in a boarding call and Flyers squawking for justice. As the penalty expired, Hartnell slid the puck across to PK Subban’s BFF Mike Richards, who roofed it over a sprawling Neuvirth to give the black and orange a one-goal lead. End of the second: Flyers 2 – Caps 1

At the start of the third period, AO was tripped up and the power play unit went to work. Once more, the man advantage did not yield the desired results for the boys in red. MJ90 had one of the better scoring chances as he sped through the neutral zone and shot towards an awaiting Boucher. After being scratched by Gabby earlier in the week, Tomas Fleischmann was a shooting fool but could not seem to outschool the Philly net minder.

With just under 11 minutes left in the final stanza, Jeff Carter notched his tenth goal of the
season as he deftly evaded Mike Green. The boys got yet another shot at the power play with less than 10 minutes left. The Caps set up camp in front of the crease and Nick Backstrom tallied the first power play marker of the night. As Kimmo Timmonen was set to get out of the sin bin, the Flyers’ captain tripped up a red sweater giving the Caps yet another man advantage (as Peter Laviolette proceeded to blow a gasket). Jason Chimera scored the tying goal a mere 28 seconds after Backstrom’s goal.

At the six minute mark, Andreas Nodl evaded Jeff Schultz and Mike Green to set up his toy shop behind the net and score to once again to gain the lead. Matt Bradley then took a seat for interference at 14:31.

The Caps killed off a biggie and should have had their sights set on netting the tying goal. Instead, they found themselves short-handed again thanks to another ill-timed slashing call on Sasha Semin. As the boys went back to work, John Carlson was the recipient of a high-stick, from none other than the recently suspended-for-such-nonsense Danny Briere. As the final seconds of the game ticked off the clock, Neuvy went to the bench and Eric Fehr tied the game with a rocket from the wide right angle. As if this game wasn't exciting enough, these two rivals were headed to OT. At 1:48 of the OT period, Ovi and his running mate Nick Backstrom were criss-crossing the ice attempting to set up a play when Backstrom clipped a Flyer, drawing an interference call. The boys did an outstanding job of killing off the penalty and forced the high-flying game into a shoot out.

In the shoot out, Nick Backstrom stepped up first for Washington and was stopped by a Boucher glove save. Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux tried to dipsy doodle deke Neuvy but was denied by the Caps young net minder. Next, it was Alex Ovechkin’s turn. Ovi skated wide but ended up shooting right to the glove of Brian Boucher. Then it was the villainous Daniel Briere's turn. Unfortunately his orchestrated moves worked for a Flyers goal. The game then fell into the hands of stick handler extraordinaire Alex Semin. But alas, Sasha's shot was a miss, bringing a hard-fought game to an abrupt end and giving the Flyers the 5-4 win.

All in all, a much improved effort over last night’s debacle in Atlanta. The boys rest up tomorrow and will face the injury-depleted New Jersey Devils on Monday.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sold Out Hockey & Heels a Smashing Success

More than 250 women of all ages gathered together last night at Kettler Capitals IcePlex to bond and share their mutual passion for our Washington Capitals during the team's fifth annual Hockey & Heels event. The ladies were divided into groups and took turns practicing shooting, face offs and stonewalling pucks on the ice with lots of handy tips and demonstrations provided by current Caps Braden Holtby, Marcus Johansson, John Carlson and the mustachioed Karl Alzner. Popular Capitals alumni Peter Bondra and Paul Mulvey also helped the gals with the finer points of achieving the perfect wrister and beating out your opponent for a face off win.

John Carlson supervises stick work during Hockey & Heels.

Caps alum Peter Bondra.

John Carlson during on-ice demonstrations.

Marcus Johansson jokes with the ladies while sporting his Nats lid.

Karl Alzner looking a bit like one of the Three Musketeers with his Movember stache.

This year's event was bigger than ever, with a new session conducted by Caps strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. My boys have participated in his off-ice conditioning drills and several ladies attested to "feeling the burn" after he put them through their paces as he showed them the kinds of exercises the players must perform.

Of course one of the most popular sessions of the evening was Coach Bruce Boudreau's film session. Gabby used a laser pointer (which my cat - also named Gabby after the beloved Boudreau - would love to borrow) to point out scripted plays, player errors and lessons learned from different game films. The jovial coach told the women to stop him if he used a term they didn't understand and drew laughs when he talked about simplifying the game. He joked that most players from Canada (himself included) didn't complete their formal education before entering the world of pro hockey, thus the need to "simplify" film breakdown. Another memorable comment from Coach when asked about Alex Semin being left off the NHL All-Star ballot was that it was "a travesty", resulting in numerous shouts from the room to write the talented forward in on the ballot ourselves. (Sidenote: You can write in Sasha and vote as many times as your heart desires for other Caps on the ballot here. Let's make sure our Caps represent!)

The event ended with a locker room look at Alex Ovechkin's Winter Classic uniform, complete with unworn gloves (the only pair of hockey gloves HM has come into contact with that didn't yet smell like the Hudson River).  The women all left with some swag of course, including a Scarlet Caps water bottle and stylish logo tote bag. Hockey Mom scored with some retail therapy of her own and purchased an adorable Capitals Santa Claus from the Capitals Team Store at Kettler - they've got lots of great gifts for the Caps fan on your holiday list...

Jenn models the Winter Classic gloves - don't make her drop 'em!

Overall, a fabulous time was had by all and kudos to the Caps organization for putting together this great event dedicated to their ever-growing female fan base!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Capitals to Host Fifth Annual Hockey N’ Heels Tomorrow

The Washington Capitals will welcome more than 250 female hockey fans (including yours truly) to Kettler Capitals Iceplex tomorrow night when the team hosts another sold-out Hockey N’Heels event. This year’s event, which is only open to Club Scarlet members, sold out in a record five – yes, five minutes!

MIX 107.3 radio personality Chilli Amar will emcee the event, which runs from 6-9 p.m. with check in beginning at 5:30 p.m. The fabulous female fans will be in store for a fun and enlightening evening as they participate in popular on-ice demonstrations. This year’s on-ice demonstration will be conducted by young guns Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Marcus Johansson, who’ll illustrate how to shoot a slapshot, take a faceoff, and how to stop a puck in the net. While waiting for their turn on the ice the ladies will be able to see and try on different hockey equipment.

Capitals alumni Capitals alumni Peter Bondra and Paul Mulvey will also be on hand to discuss the secrets of a perfect wrist shot or glove save. Hockey ‘n Heels will use both sheets of ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, giving the women an opportunity to spend more time on ice. Ladies, remember to dress warmly and comfortable kickers such as tennis shoes are the suggested footwear attire as that ice can be tricky.

The second session is something new this season with Caps’ strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish detailing the fitness routines the players go through. The third session is with head coach Bruce Boudreau and his famous film talk. Boudreau will help the women understand how to dissect and analyze different aspects of the game. The fourth and final session will include a picture in front of a locker set up with the Winter Classic uniform and equipment.

* All sessions and players are subject to change.

HM is looking forward to mingling with her fellow female puckheads tomorrow evening – this unique group of Caps fans are some of the most vibrant, vocal and passionate ladies on the D.C. sports scene and their enthusiasm continues to attract even more women to the wonderful sport of hockey!

Star for Sasha

A Hockey Mom high-five to Alex Semin who has been named one of the NHL’s three stars of the week for the first time in his career.Ovi's BFF was named First Star of the Month back in Oct. 2008.

The Russian winger joined archrival Sidney Crosby atop the weekly scoring list with eight points (four goals, four assists) as the Capitals (13-4-1) won three of four games and concluded the week first in the NHL overall standings. After tallying one assist in a 5-3 win over the New York Rangers Nov. 9, Sasha recorded a five-point night in a 6-3 victory over the Lightning Nov. 11, highlighted by a third-period hat trick, a pair of assists and +3 rating. He tallied one assist in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and closed the week by scoring his 13th goal of the season in yesterday's win over AtlantaSemin ranks among League leaders in goals (second, 13) and points (fourth, 23).

Monday Musings

After a crazy run-around week, HM managed to miss both of the Capitals' games this weekend (well sort of, I actually fell asleep watching Saturday night's ho-hum effort that gave the Sabres their first win on home ice). Of course I was at a kids' game during yesterday's match against the Thrashers but sounds like it was a humdinger. Following the game on Twitter and on one of my sports apps, I saw that the boys once again gave up a fairly commanding lead only to have to fight back hard for the win. I did manage to catch bits and pieces via the Web and saw that big, bad John Erskine tallied the tiebreaker (that's two goals for #4 in six days) and got into a heavyweight throwdown with Eric Boulton. In case you missed it, here's the stache-rocking Erskine getting it done in an old time hockey bout:

Here are some other items for your Monday reading pleasure:

  • More on John Erskine's stache and the meaning of "Movember" from my pal at Blonde Girl's Guide.
  • The Hockey Writers look at what the Matt Hendricks signing has meant for the Caps.
  • Storming the Crease looks at the week that was and the week ahead.
  • Fellow hockey parents, be sure to register your young players for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be an official stick kid for the 2011 Winter Classic. HM will be hitting the Target during her lunch hour to pick up a few decks of Upper Deck cards...
  • Finally, the ladies are getting excited for the Capitals' fifth annual Hockey N'Heels, which takes place tomorrow at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. This year's event sold out in a record five minutes! HM will have more on the event later today, including the very important "what to wear" to all those planning to attend. Til then....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Caps Defuse Lightning 6-3

The Veteran's Day meeting between Southeastern Conference rivals Tampa Bay and Washington started off fast and furious. In the opening minutes, Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier thought he had buried the puck but the stripes called no goal. Upon review, it was plain as day that the puck clinked off the post but did not cross the line behind Michal Neuvirth. As a matter of fact, the posts were Neuvy's BFF's in the early going as the Lightning later lost another goal to the iron bar. The boys welcomed back defense man Tom Poti, who's been on the shelf for weeks with a groin injury. Teddy Purcell got the Bolts on the board first at 9:27 of the opening period. Meanwhile, the visitors were the recipients of practically back-to-back power plays as Mike Knuble was whistled for roughing, then John Carlson took a delay of game. The boys killed both penalties off but they were still struggling to clear the puck away from their own goal. They were also outshot by the Lightning 13-8 with Alex Semin getting the better of any scoring opportunities.

First Period: Lightning 1 - Caps 0

As has been the trend, the Caps didn't stay off the board for long. Mere minutes into the middle stanza, Tom Poti netted his first of the season - a nifty backhand shot with the assists coming from Semin and Backstrom. Not too shabby for a first game back - welcome back sir! The Caps were then swarming Dan Ellis like the plague and Mike Knuble scored another beauty at 7:51, from BEHIND the net no less. The boys went shorthanded once again as Brooks Laich was sent to the sin bin for interference and the Capitals penalty kill unit went on to take care of business, with plenty of help from their young net minder. Tempers flared later in the period as Matt Bradley laid a clean, tooth-rattling hit on Mike Lundin, then had to answer the bell with Adam Hall (what is this, Mini Mite hockey where you can't hit? Seriously). As he always does, the Professor dropped his mitts and got the better of Hall and actually emerged without looking like he'd gone three rounds with a chain saw. Way to go Bradley!

Second Period: Capitals 2 - Lightning 1

The third period saw the lamp light up like the National Christmas tree for both teams. Former Penguin Ryan Malone opened it up for the visitors. Two minutes later, Alex Semin was tripped up by Dominic Moore and let's just say Sasha made the Bolts pay. Not only did the red hot sniper score on the resulting power play, but also notched a second tally with a sizzler at 10:46. You knew it was going to be next to impossible to keep Steven Stamkos off the score sheet and the young star brought his team to within a point with his third period goal. But three minutes later, it was lights out for the Bolts as Alex Semin got the puck to his pal Ovi who blasted Dan Ellis with the Caps' fourth goal. Sasha topped off the win with the empty net goal for the hat trick and a stellar five-point night. Salut! Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin both had outstanding performances as well, with four points for #19 and three for our captain. Michal Neuvirth had another active night, stopping 38 shots against a talented Tampa Bay team. After sleepwalking through the first period, the cardiac Caps stormed back and captured a huge home win for their sixth straight victory!

FINAL: Capitals 6 - Lightning 3

Courage Caps Help Support Our Military Kids

On this Veteran's Day, HM joins all Americans in thanking the brave men and women who have served and are currently serving our great nation. These armed forces members and their families make unimaginable sacrifices to preserve our freedom - leaving home for long deployments, often into hostile and dangerous combat environments. These deployments are tremendously difficult for all involved, but most especially the children of military members - who are separated from their moms or dads for extended periods of time. This year, the Capitals are reaching out to these kids by donating the proceeds of sales of the team's Courage Caps to the Our Military Kids organization.

Our Military Kids provides grants to the children of deployed National Guard and Military Reserve personnel, as well as children of all Wounded Warriors. The grants pay for participation in activities such as sports, fine arts and tutoring, which nurture and sustain the children while a parent is overseas serving our country. Our Military Kids grants are made to honor the sacrifices military families make and to ensure the children have access to activities and support that help them better cope with challenges arising during a parent's deployment or recovery.

“Unlike other branches of the military, the National Guard and Reserves are dispersed throughout the country, and often lack access to support services found on military bases,” said Linda Davidson, executive director of Our Military Kids. “We’re elated to be the beneficiary of Courage Caps, which will help us provide grants so these children have a positive outlet during a parent’s deployment.”

The Capitals kicked off this season’s Courage Caps this past Saturday, when they hosted 35 families from Our Military Kids to a two-hour long skating party and pizza lunch at Kettler Capitals Iceplex with Caps forwards Matt Hendricks, Mike Knuble, David Steckel and defenseman Tom Poti.

“Military families have to deal with so many other issues, it is nice to invite them to come out and have a little fun and enjoy skating and a pizza party,” Hendricks said of the event.

Matt Hendricks skates with children from Our Military Kids during the skating party and pizza lunch on Nov. 6 at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Fans can purchase Courage Caps starting today - the Camouflage Courage Caps and Courage T-shirts will be sold for $20 online at WashingtonCaps.com and at the Washington Capitals Team Store at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Courage Caps will  also be sold at the Fan Gear store and at stands throughout Verizon Center for $20 during Capitals home games. There will also be a limited number of autographed Courage Caps and Courage T-shirts available for sale at WashingtonCaps.com and at the community relations table located behind section 104 on the main concourse at Verizon Center. For $50 fans can purchase a Courage Cap or Courage T-shirt signed by Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Mike Knuble or Alex Ovechkin; for $35, fans can purchase a Courage Cap or Courage T-shirt signed by any other individual Capitals player.

The Courage Caps program is in its fourth season and has raised more than $120,000 in its first three years. This season, 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit Our Military Kids - show your Capitals spirit and help these terrific kids at the same time!

Kovy Chokes

As I listened to Hockey This Morning on my commute into work, the crew could not stop talking about one of the NHL's highest-paid forwards (that would be Ilya Kovalchuk of course) epic shootout fail last night in New Jersey's loss to the Sabres. So of course I had to check it out for myself:


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Caps Look to Extinguish Lightning at Home

The Capitals return home to face conference rivals Tampa Bay after earning a big 5-3 win over the Rangers on Tuesday in a wild and wacky game that could be most appropriately dubbed “Fight Night” at MSG. Funny thing is that the heavyweight bout between DJ King and Derek Boogaard never took place; instead it was Mike Green who took on Brandon Dubinsky (and landed some nice little uppercuts in the process). After falling behind the Rangers in a chippy first period (at one point, there were three Blueshirts in the penalty box), the Caps earned their fifth consecutive win courtesy of some of the more “unsung heroes.” While big guns Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green, Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom did not register goals on the night (though Ovi, Semin and Green did tally helpers), it was predominantly the lunch pail crew lighting the lamp for the visitors. And that my friends, was lovely to see as we all know that that’s the kind of effort that takes teams far into the playoffs (we won’t ruin the moment by mentioning Karl Alzner’s ugly giveaway here – the kid has probably reviewed the tapes of the gaffe that led to a Rangers goal several times by now).

Brooks Laich got the party started in the first period and finished it up with the empty netter. The second period saw scoring from the tough guys on both teams – John Erskine blistered a shot past a stunned Henrik Lundqvist for his first goal of the year then Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard took advantage of a Caps’ defensive breakdown to score his first goal in nearly five years! Mike Knuble finally reaped the rewards for all of his efforts (goodness knows it wasn’t for lack of trying last night) and Matt Hendricks almost had the Gordie Howe hat trick with an assist and third period goal, but he got whistled for roughing versus fighting against Michael Sauer. Darn it – but what a night for this gritty guy, eh? Kudos to my favorite player Matt Bradley as well, for chipping in with an assist on Hendrick’s goal.

Tampa Bay comes to town tomorrow with scary good Steven Stamkos leading their offense. The 20-year old phenom helped lead his team to a 4-0 victory over his hometown Maple Leafs last night, contributing two goals. Stamkos leads the NHL in both points (24) and goals (13). Puck Daddy recently spoke with the Bolts’ star, who’s sworn off Big Macs to maintain his optimal physical performance (HM tried telling that to my own boys, who weren’t buying it – does Gary Roberts run camps for teenage boys)? As always, the Caps will have to keep a body on the pocket-sized Martin St. Louis, who can skate in and out of compact spaces as deftly as a rodent running through the traffic near Verizon Center. The premier playmaker has notched six goals and nine assists for the season.  Meanwhile, Simon Gagne, who was acquired from the Flyers in the offseason, is zip for zip and a -8 in six games played. Ouch…
Puck drops tomorrow at 7 p.m. – should be a good one as the Capitals try to capture six wins in a row!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Caps Face Blueshirts for First Meeting of the Season

Yesterday's win against the rough and tumble Flyers saw rookie net minder Braden Holtby capture his first NHL victory and Mike Green remind us the origin of his nickname "Game Over." Green, who to date is on a five-game point streak, scored his fifth career overtime goal to rank tied for second in Capitals history with Peter Bondra and Kelly Miller. Only Alex Ovechkin has more career overtime goals (8) for the Caps, who have won four straight games and placed themselves into a tie with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference.

Tomorrow the boys head to the Big Apple to face the New York Rangers for the first time this season. Last season, the Capitals earned the "W" in two of their three meetings against the Blueshirts. It's always a spirited affair when these two teams meet, stemming from Rangers' coach John Tortorella's bottle-tossing escapades a few seasons back. New York will be without the services of their primary sniper, Marion Gaborik. The oft-injured forward is ailing again, as is Vinny Prospal and Rags captain Chris Drury. The Capitals will be facing a young front line comprised of Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov. Dubinsky is tied for second in the NHL in scoring - having tallied 10 goals in 14 games. In addition to uber-pest Sean Avery, the Rangers added more grit in the form of tough guy Derek Boogaard. Tomorrow's game will be broadcast on VERSUS, with puck drop at 7:30.

On another note, a ginormous stick tap to the parents, players and other volunteers with the Prince William Hockey Club, located here in Northern Virginia. After losing their rink to a roof collapse during last year's snowstorm, everyone banded together to donate their time, money and efforts to construct a temporary rink for use by their house and travel leagues. We had the opportunity to play there this weekend and the rink looks fantastic - what an amazing testament to volunteerism, hockey parents and above all, the love of the game!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Game Day: Caps and Bruins

Today's game will actually be a doubleheader for HM as my boys' team will take the ice at Verizon Center for a game in the hours before the big boys take on the brusing Bruins tonight at 7 p.m. The Caps, coming off the shootout win over the Leafs where they blew a 3-1 early lead, will certainly have their work cut out for them against a surging Bruins club. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas has been on fire as of late and is seemingly regaining his Vezina-winning form, which was absent for much of last season. Now Hockey Mom must admit to being a big Timmy Thomas fan, the guy is the true definition of the term "journeyman" and has travelled the globe to get a shot at playing the game he so loves. That said, should he dress tonight for the Bs, here's to Timmy having a rare "off-night." Thomas has led his team to a 6-1 record thus far this season, which includes a 5-2 drubbing of the Sabres on Wednesday night. That game marked the first time this season that he allowed more than one goal to cross his crease in a single game. The Capitals are going to have to create plenty of havoc in front of his crease to beat that hot hand.  The Bruins have beat the Capitals twice already - let's hope the third time is a charm for the home team. Boston forwards David Krejci and Nathan Horton  lead their team in scoring stats, while the hulking Milan Lucic doesn't trail too far behind his mates with 9 goals on the season. On the home bench, Tyler Sloan and Marcus Johansson are expected to be off of the injured list but the boys will still be without the services of Massachusetts native Tom Poti.

In other news, a big congrats and toast to Brooks Laich, who is Sports Illustrated writer Michael Farber's nominee for Sportsman of the Year. Not only does this dashing forward change tires, he also answers the door personally for Halloween trick-or-treaters and poses for countless pictures after returning from a late night flight from Calgary. *HM got this information from one of the aforementioned trick-or-treaters.

Speaking of Halloween, those thugnasty guys in the orange and black sweaters that Caps fans love to hate will be paying a visit on Sunday. Here's a shocker for you - Flyers' Dan Carcillo (who was also involved later in the altercation that got team mate Daniel Briere suspended)  took down the Rangers' Ruslan Fetodenko last night with an elbow to the face. Though no call was made on the ice, Carcillo may be chewing his nails today to see if there is any additional discipline handed down as he is the epitomy of a "repeat offender."

Check it out here:

While we're sharing videos - just in case you missed this one - Sidney Crosby actually dropped his mitts against Dallas Stars player Matt Niskanen is a game that turned out to be Fight Night in Dallas. The Kid actually got a few good blows in - how epic would an Ovi/Crosby fight be?

Finally, Musings of a Hockey Mom has been invited to be a part of your one-stop news and information source for all things D.C.: the TBD Community Network. Be sure to bookmark TBD for all the latest news and sports plus fabulous local blog coverage on everything from dining to shopping and more...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Caps and Kids to Kick it at Sticks N' Sneakers Thursday

Young Capitals fans will join Capitals forwards Eric Fehr and D.J. King along with assistant coach Dean Evason, strength and condition coach Mark Nemish and Slapshot tomorrow for Sticks 'n Sneakers at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. 120 youngsters, ranging from 6 - 14 years of age, will gather for the sold-out event hosted by Dasani.
The evening will be divided into four sessions. The first two sessions will be on the ice demonstrations with Caps players Fehr and King. The first session is with Fehr where he will be teaching the kids how to shoot the puck.

The second session will be with King where he will be teaching the kids how to pass the puck. The kids will get hands on experience from the players themselves. Hmm, I wonder how many kids will ask DJ King for fighting tips?

The second session will focus on the various rules of the game and the importance of good sportmanship while playing the game with assistant coach Evason. During this off-ice session, Evason will break the game down and explain to the kids what is a penalty and why.

The third session will be conducted by strength and condition coach Nemish who will run the kids through a few conditioning exercises and discuss the importance of strength and conditing. Hockey is a long 82-game season which takes a toll on the body. HM's boys have trained with Nemish as part of his program and I can attest that the kids will leave with a greater appreciation for the hard work it takes to get into prime playing form and maintain it during the grueling season!
Finally, to wrap up the festivities, Slap Shot will join the kids for a pizza party. With the success of Hockey ‘n Heels and the growing number of kids joining the Caps Kids Club the Capitals wanted to reach out to their kid fan base. To learn more about the Caps Kids Club, go to http://capitals.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=59825.

Sounds like a fabulous time!

Speaking of kids, HM will be joining my boys and their Bantam team as they get the chance to play on Verizon Center ice this Friday before the Caps meet the Bruins later that night. It's always a fun and memorable event for the kids and thanks to the organization for giving area hockey players the opportunity to play on their favorite team's home ice!

Caps Edge Leafs in Shoot Out Win

The beleaguered Toronto Maple Leafs paid a visit to our nation's capital this evening, hoping to stop their three-game losing streak with a win against the surging Capitals. The Leafs would have to place more defensive responsibilities on the shoulders of the baby-faced Luke Schenn, as their rough and tumble captain Dion Phaneuf is on the shelf for at least a month after suffering a cut from a skate blade (after seeing my own kiddo cut by a blade two weeks ago, HM sends heartfelt hockey healing wishes to the Leafs' leader).

Rookie of the month Michal Neuvirth manned the crease for the Caps while Jonas Gustavssson (AKA "The Monster") stood guard for Toronto. Fans knew fisticuffs were virtually inevitable and heavyweights DJ King and Colton Orr got the party started early by dropping the gloves at the 6:45 mark of the first period. Mike Knuble was visibly chomping at the bit to score and tallied four shots on goal in the opening period. While the Capitals out shot the Leafs in the opening stanza, it was the visitors who lit the lamp first as Nikolai Kulemin beat John Erskine to get his team on the board. The first penalty of the game came in the waning minutes of the period when - hold your breath in disbelief - Sasha Semin took a seat for slashing. End of first period: Leafs 1 - Caps 0

After killing off the penalty, the boys in red owned the second period. After Ovi was tripped by Schenn, Mike Green tallied a power play goal to tie the game. Funny - one of the topics of conversation on XM's Hockey This Morning centered on some fans' frustration surrounding Green's more defensive style of play thus far. Of course last year, Green was blasted for being more of an offensive d-man. Poor guy - can't please 'em all. Tonight's lovely power play goal for big 52 should quiet the haters temporarily at least. The Caps put two more on the board after the power play marker - with the goals a mere 53 seconds apart! Jason Chimera netted one assisted by his pals on everyone's favorite "grinder line" - Matt Bradley and Boyd Gordon. Then John Carlson ripped one from the blue line that was deflected right past the not-so-scary Monster. Ovechkin connected with Nicklas Backstrom who shot at what appeared to be a wide-open net, but Gustavsson may have had a hand in stopping the dangerous center. The Leafs' Schenn was having a hard time staying out of the penalty box and ended the period by boarding David Steckel. End of second period: Caps 3 - Leafs 1

The Capitals started the final period with the man-advantage but were unable to convert. And then it was the Leafs' turn to light it up seconds apart. Toronto turned the momentum as their elite defense man Tomas Kaberle scored at the 4:14 mark. Then it was former Blackhawk Kris Versteeg's turn as he evaded a sprawling Mike Green - Mike Komisarek had helpers on both goals. Eric Fehr, who was having a rather nice game, got the whistle for tripping at 6:28. On the ensuing power play, Tyler Bozak hushed a packed Verizon Center crowd as he netted a wrist shot to give the Leafs a 4-3 lead. But the visitors didn't hold that lead for long as the Capitals got the man advantage courtesy of a Brett Lebda cross check. While Caps' faithful held their collective breath, the power play unit went to work. Alex Semin battled hard to net one under the bar and tie the contest at 4-4.

In what appeared to be a surefire Capitals' win in the second period, this game was headed to overtime. The Caps were gifted with a 4-on-3 power play in the extra minutes as Clarke MacArthur served two minutes for slashing but Jonas Gustavsson lived up to his nickname in keeping the Leafs in the game. But this one wasn't over yet, no sir, not by a long shot. With no decision  reached in OT, the game was headed to a hand-wringing shoot out. Michal Neuvirth was spectacular in keeping sniper Phil Kessel off the score sheet and later denying Nikolai Kulemon. But in the end, the two Alexes saved the day as both Ovechkin and Semin beat the Monster. Not the brilliant performance we saw from the boys in Calgary by any means and Semin was maddening but stellar at the same time. In any case, the boys walked away with the win and will face the bruising Bruins on Friday. Final score: Caps 5 - Leafs 4

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Neuvirth Named NHL's Rookie of the Month

Hockey Mom is slowly catching back up with my life and the hockey buzz after being in Mickey and Minnie's backyard  in sunny Florida all last week for a work conference. And apparently I missed a humdinger of a win by the boys against the Flames on Saturday - those are the Caps we all know and love!

And to start the new week off right, please join me in a festive toast to our own Michal Neuvirth, who was named the league's Rookie of the Month for October. Neuvy currently boasts a .926 save percentage and has performed brilliantly in the crease while Semyon Varlamov has been sidelined with nagging injuries.

Speaking of injuries, hopefully some of the Capitals nursing bumps and bruises might be back in action soon. The injury bug is biting several teams around the league, with New Jersey Devils star Zach Parise the latest to go down - three months with a knee injury. And the Penguins' Jordan Staal just can't catch a break. Staal has been recuperating from complications that emerged after having off-season foot surgery only to finally return to practice and suffer a fractured hand.

And thankfully no injury was suffered by Frans Nielsen of the Islanders after Danny Briere's latest act of spineless thuggery (the aforementioned pint-sized Flyer has never been particularly high on HM's list of favorite players). The incident has been front-page news in the hockey media the past few days and Briere was slapped with a three-game suspension, after which he denied deliberately cross-checking Nielsen. Yeah right Danny Boy - go tell it to the judge. Briere should be back on the bench when our friendly pals from Philly visit the Verizon Center on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Capitals are preparing for a visit from the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night. The Leafs may be without the services of their captain Dion Phaneuf, who left tonight's battle with Ottawa with an undisclosed injury.