Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Caps Today

Capitals’ center Marcus Johansson recorded his first NHL goal and point at 7:42 of the second period last night. Johansson, who was named the third star of the game, registered a +1 rating in 11:30 of ice time. The 20-year-old Swede spent last season in the Swedish Elite League posting 10 goals and 10 assists in 42 games for Farjestad. Johansson was the Capitals’ first-round choice, 24th overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Upcoming Media
Today, 9:25 a.m.: Matt Hendricks on WNST 1570 AM Baltimore
Today, 5:40 p.m.: Eric Fehr on ESPN 980 AM
Thursday, 12:45 p.m.: Matt Bradley on NHL Live

Recent Transactions
Oct. 17: Assigned D Brian Fahey
Oct. 16: Recalled D Brian Fahey

Injury Update
RW Matt Bradley – day-to-day
D Mike Green – day-to-day

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Capital One Bank Hosts Capitals Street Festival Outside Verizon Center

In the spirit of the hockey season, Capital One Bank (www.capitalone.com/bank) is hosting a free Capitals Street Festival for the public with family friendly hockey-related activities before Saturday night’s home game against the Atlanta Thrashers.

What: Capitals Street Festival – Free and open to the public
When: Saturday, October 23
3 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Where: 600 block of F Street between 6th and 7th Streets
Look for the giant inflatable Capitals jersey
Activities: Hockey activities for all ages
Appearances: Various sports players and personalities will make fan appearances, including John Wall of the Wizards; Marissa Coleman of the Mystics; Ted Leonsis, chairman and majority owner of the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards; and the Capitals’ Slapshot mascot.

The festival will feature a variety of activities for hockey fans, including:
Slap Shot Challenge – Hockey fans will see how fast they can take a shot at the hockey goal. A radar gun will record each person’s top speed and a leaderboard will track the fastest times.
Hockey Accuracy Challenge – Each goal shooter will see how accurate their puck action is by hitting as many white light targets as possible before the buzzer sounds.
Call the Play – Participants can experience what it’s like to be a sportscaster and record play-by-play commentary on their favorite Capitals plays.
Hockey Rink Photo Booth – Fans will be in the middle of the hockey action with this staged booth using green screen technology.
Zamboni Photo Zone – People can sit in the driver’s seat and act like a professional driver of the ice resurfacing machine.
“What’s in your Wallet” – Any Capital One customer will receive complimentary food vouchers for the nearby Green Turtle restaurant.

Caps Today and Top Game Notes

The Washington Capitals will put their home unbeaten streak (3-0-0) on the line tonight as they face-off against the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center in the first half of a home-and-home that sees Washington visit TD Garden on Thursday. Michal Neuvirth, the only rookie to play all of his team’s minutes in goal thus far this season, has tied the club record for home winning streak with a run of 10 in a row (shared with Olie Kolzig, 2000-01) while allowing just one or two goals in each of those 10 games.

NOTE OF THE NIGHT
A real winner –;Alex Ovechkin has either scored or assisted on all four of the Capitals game-winning goals this season.

FIVE MORE NOTES NO MEDIA PERSON SHOULD BE WITHOUT
Kill joy –;Washington has killed off all 21 shorthanded situations it has faced through five games, one of two teams perfect on the penalty kill this year (Florida is the other). It is the longest stretch the Capitals have gone without allowing a power-play goal (in terms of games) since a six-game stretch from Feb. 8-20, 2008.

Power bar –;Washington was 2-for-5 on the power play Saturday night, including the game-winning goal. That matched the Capitals’ PPG output from the first four games and raised their percentage to 18.2% (4-for-22).

Just Laich this –;Brooks Laich has scored goals in three of the five games thus far and has points in four out of five. His +4 rating is tied for the best on the team.

Ahead of schedule –;John Carlson has points in four straight games, totaling 1g-5a, and entered Monday’s games leading all NHL rookies in scoring. Carlson’s six points through five games match his total in 22 games last season (1g-5a).

Net newbies –;Goaltenders Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov are both 22 and have combined for 59 career games in the NHL. Thirty-seven active goaltenders have played more games on their own.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Capitals Donate $25,000 to the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association

Washington Capitals Charities donated $25,000 to the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association (PVAHA) to help fund the 2010-11 John Crerar Hockey Development Grant. Last season Washington Capitals Charities gave PVAHA $20,000 for this grant.
Organized amateur hockey in the Washington, D.C., area developed in large part through the perseverance and dedication of John Crerar. Crerar was one of the founders of the Cap Boys youth hockey program, served as the president and co-founder of the Capital Beltway Hockey League, was the president of the Southeastern Amateur Hockey Association, and served for many years as a director of USA Hockey. Crerar was also the director of operations for off-ice officials for the Washington Capitals for a number of years. Crerar passed away on Oct. 14, 2006. To honor his contribution to the hockey community, the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association established the John Crerar Hockey Development Grant Program.
“The Washington Capitals are partners and great supporters of youth and amateur hockey within our area,” said John Cole, president of the Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association. “The grant funds awarded to PVAHA by the Washington Capitals allow us to promote new membership at our younger age levels, and to support disabled hockey and American Development Model initiatives.”
The purpose of the John Crerar Hockey Development Grant Program is to assist the member associations within PVAHA to increase participation and promote hockey development within Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Nonprofit 501(c)(3) member associations within the Potomac Valley Amateur Association are eligible to apply for affiliate grants. Member associations are asked to come up with ideas to grow the sport at the local level and can seek financial assistance from PVAHA to help support their efforts.
“One of the main goals of Washington Capitals Charities is to support programs that encourage participation in hockey,” said Elizabeth Wodatch, director of community relations for the Washington Capitals. “This grant shows our dedication to amateur hockey in the D.C. area and commitment to grow the sport locally.”
Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association
The Potomac Valley Amateur Hockey Association is an Affiliate of the Southeastern District of USA Hockey. The Affiliate is the governing body of all amateur hockey within the District of Columbia and the states of Maryland and Virginia.
Washington Capitals Charities
Created in 2000, Washington Capitals Charities offers unique resources and Caps Care programs to other charities and organizations on behalf of the Capitals. Its mission is to create, maintain and support community programs in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area that encourage participation in hockey, serve to educate youth, assist those who are less fortunate and focus on health and wellness. Washington Capitals Charities is also committed to supporting the charitable endeavors, initiatives and foundations of the team’s players and alumni.
During the 2009-10 season, the Washington Capitals Charities provided support to the following programs through the John Crerar Hockey Development Grant: Baltimore Saints Special Hockey, Bennett Blazers Sled Hockey, Kids On Ice, Montgomery Cheetahs Hockey Club, Montgomery Youth Hockey, National Rehabilitation Hospital, Nelson Hockey Association, Northern Virgina Cool Cats Special Hockey, The Northern Virginia Hockey Club Youth Program, Reston Raiders, Southern Maryland Sabres Hockey Club, Inc., Tri-City Youth Hockey Club, USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, Washington Ice Dogs and Whaler Nation.

Caps Today

150 and counting – Alexander Semin recorded his 150th career goal on Saturday against the Nashville Predators, sparking the rally that led to Washington’s overtime win. He now has five points (two goals, three assists) in five games for the Capitals this season. Last season, Semin recorded career highs in goals (40) and points (84) in 73 games. He is one of only 12 players who has posted at least 26 goals in each of the last four seasons. The 26-year-old Semin has had the best plus/minus rating of any NHL forward in the last three seasons combined at +63.
Upcoming Media
Tomorrow, 2 p.m.: PreCap on WashingtonCaps.com
Wednesday, 9:25 a.m.: Matt Hendricks on WNST 1570 AM Baltimore
Must Read/See/Hear Material
WashingtonCaps.com: Postgame Notebook: Capitals 3, Predators 2, OT
Caps365: Post game interviews from Nashville
Wa. Post: Brooks Laich’s overtime goal lifts Capitals and Michal Neuvirth to a 3-2 win over the Predators
AP: Capitals rally to beat Predators in OT
Recent Transactions
Oct. 17: Assigned D Brian Fahey
Oct. 16: Recalled D Brian Fahey
Oct. 15: Assigned G Dany Sabourin to Hershey (AHL)
Injury Update
RW Matt Bradley – day-to-day
D Tom Poti – day-to-day
D Mike Green – day-to-day

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Q&A with Steve Kolbe

Steve Kolbe, the radio voice of the Washington Capitals took some time to talk with SBNation about the opening week of the season for the Capitals. Here is his take:
What do you think of how the team has played the first four games?
I think the Capitals, like the rest of the league, are trying to figure just exactly where they are. Everyone knows the Caps offense is going to be what it is, but they ran into a couple of scrappy teams in Ottawa and the New York Islanders and I think that helps them because they were able to find ways to win. They won in overtime against Ottawa and late against the Isles and they know they’re going to count on their offense throughout the season, but getting those late wins is going to be critical throughout the year. Offensively they know what they have, defensively they played a couple of solid games giving up just three goals in the last two, so off to a good start and whenever you can win three out of four games to start the season it’s a pretty good job.
After the season opener with the Thrashers a lot of people were making a big fuss because the Caps lost, but that game was kind of odd. You had the situation with Ondrej Pavelec in the first period and it was also the debut of all the former Blackhawks, so there was really no reason to read too much into that loss?
No, I don’t think so. Obviously your season’s not going to be determined by just one game. I know everyone wants to win the opener no matter if it’s home or on the road, and your absolutely right that the game got off to an interesting start. It’s good news for Ondrej Pavelec that he’s ok now, but you’ve got to think on both benches, not just the Thrashers bench, but on the Capitals side as well that they may have taken a little steam out of the game, and Atlanta played a good game. They played a good defensive game against the Capitals, they got timely goals, but a season isn’t going to be dictated on just one game. I think everyone has forgotten about the opening night loss because a three game homestand and a three game winning streak can really put that behind you.
What do you think the fights at the end of the game against New Jersey last Saturday says about the Caps this season?
You have to remember the Caps have five fights already in the first four games of the season. They had just 20 all of last year. So, I think the game against New Jersey was probably more of just an indication of frustration on one side and just wanting to send a message for the next time these two teams meet. It’s not often a team is able to chase Martin Brodeur from the game by scoring four goals on just eight shots in one period. But, that shows how the Capitals are going to stick together. Also, Bruce Boudreau put out his number one power play unit after all that was said and done with only four minutes to play and a five goal lead to basically send the message right back. So, I think in terms of toughness we see that DJ King comes out against the Islanders and goes against Gillies and I think that’s what the Capitals are going to have on their bench this year. When a player looks down the bench and he sees DJ King there, he knows he has someone their just in case things start to go south in terms of physical play.
We all know what DJ King can do in terms of fighting but he’s not the best skater. Does that worry you at all?
DJ King has a roll and I think that roll is going to monitored in terms of minutes that he sees per game, and everyone on the team has their particular spot to play. Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Green, everyone knows what their role is going to be. Guys like David Steckel, Boyd Gordon everyone knows what their role is throughout the course of the season. So, everyone has their part in this to play in the long haul.
Mike Green specifically talked this offseason about needing to be more of a leader and needing to be more mature and it seems if you watch his play through the first four games that he’s taken that very seriously?
Well, I think you can never have enough guys who take that leadership mentality on your team. Obviously, Ovechkin has the “C” and he has it for a reason because he’s the heart and soul of the hockey club. Guys like Mike Knuble, Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Poti have the “A’s” on their sweaters for various games because they’re also the leaders on the team. A guy like Mike Knuble who’s been around the block once or twice and knows exactly how things are supposed to go throughout the course of the year is one of those leaders who can pull a younger guy aside and say “hey, let’s try it this way. I know the work and it can help us down the line here somewhere.” I think leading by example, guys like Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green they lead by example on the ice by the way they play. Look at Mike Green, he’s already had a game this season where he’s been on the ice for over 30 minutes because of some bumps and bruises to other defensemen. But, by the play on the ice guys are going to look down the bench, hold each other accountable to their teammates because they don’t want to let the guy next to them down.
Green has blocked a lot of shots early this season, do you think that shows maturity in his game?
I think it also shows that maybe they are playing a different style and maybe getting him in the right position to make those blocks. Blocking shots is a little bit of being in the right place at the right time and a little bit of skill being able to know how to do it effectively. I think that this team is obviously the favorite in the Eastern Conference for a reason; picked by many to make a run to the Stanley Cup Finals, but nothing is guaranteed and they just have to keep on plowing along. They are in a tough stretch here where five of their next seven are on the road which wasn’t a problem for this team last year. They were able to win 24 times on the road last year, and I don’t think whether they are playing at home or on the road is going to change what this team is going to be able to do down the line.
After Monday’s game, Ovechkin mentioned they need to stop being cute on the power play and just keep things simple. What do you think that says about Alex’s maturity?
That’s what all teams have to go back to. Whenever the power play is struggling that is basically the old stand by. Keep it simple, get shots through and any guy that is a goal scorer will tell you. They’ve got to get shots on goal to be able to score. Instead of working the perimeter and trying to get that fancy goal just got the puck on net and hope for a tip. The Capitals did that Wednesday night against the Islanders. Ovechkin took the shot and Nicklas Backstrom goes to the front got a tip and got the puck by Dwayne Roloson. That’s how a power play team and strong power play teams break out of slumps. These guys know how they have to score goals and they know when things aren’t working and how to make adjustments. So, I don’t think the Capitals have anything to worry about in terms of their power play.
We’ve seen Boudreau put Erich Fehr and John Carlson on the power play at times so far, what is that going to add to the power play?
This team is pretty deep from top to bottom. You’ve got a guy like John Carlson who’s poised to do big things and Carlson had taken Mike Green’s place Wednesday night when Green had to leave the game, and Carlson picked up one of the assist on the eventual game winning goal. But, that’s the reason they like his maturity for a young early 20’s defensemen and that’s where the maturity level comes in. John Carlson is a guy that I think is more saavy beyond his years. The number one unit is going to take up the bulk of each power play and then guys like Erich Fehr are going to get their chances. Fehr is off to a good start with a pair of goals in the first four games, and you’d expect with that good start and what he did last year that there’s no reason he can’t reach the 20-goal mark once again.
John Carlson already has a swagger about him, what does that bring to the Capitals?
I think what that brings is letting guys like Tom Poti and Mike Green know they can count on this guy to be there and play solid. This is a guy who’s won a gold medal in the World Junior Championships he’s won the Calder Cup, so he’s experienced. I think those experiences are going to carry over into his first full season in the NHL where he’s going to be counted on to play significant minutes on a nightly basis. That’s something that perhaps can’t be taught. It’s either with a person, or it’s not to be confident in your ability and I think John Carlson is one player who has that confidence. Karl Alzner, I think, is another player who has that confidence and he believes he can get the job done at this level and I think that is going to show throughout the season as well.
With what has happened in the playoffs the last few years, everybody is looking for a sign that shows the team has taken the next step. Have you seen anything through the first four games that suggests that?
I think it’s a little bit early. I don’t think you can see whether or not a team has taken that next step until the season gets at least a huge chunk of the way through. I think the next step will be measured when you get to the point in the season where teams are starting to via for playoff positions. I don’t think you can too high or low on a team based on four, five or even 10 games because if you look around the league some teams that everyone thought was going to be rock solid throughout the year are off to tough starts and some that people thought were going to be doormats are off to terrific starts. So, I think it’s too early to really be able to tell about next steps and I think that’s only going to come as the season goes along. I think this team as a whole is still the same team from last year with upgrades in particular spots, and with a young goalie in Michael Neuvirth who’s really gotten off to a really really good start, and hopefully Semyon Varlamov comes back and will be able to chip in their as well. So, I think this team is right on pace, and if you asked them if they were still upset about losing on opening night they would say we’ve moved on from that and we’re on a three-game winning streak and we’ll just worry about the games as they come.
Michael Neuvirth has played great. Varly is probably going to play sometime within these next few games, but how hard is Neuvirth making it on Varly right now?
Well, it’s an opportunity for Michael Neuvirth to get in there and the Capitals know what he can do, or he wouldn’t be on the squad. He’s a guy who’s going to compete every time he’s out there and I think he has. I don’t think he’s been shaky at all. He’s had four solid games in goal for the Capitals and his record reflects that and I think these two guys are going to gel together very well. They’re both the same age, so there’s not a guy who’s older and a guy who’s older. I think they are going to be peers throughout the season and I think these guys have a healthy respect for each other and what they can do inside the goal crease that will let them perform on a nightly basis. When one is in and one is out, I don’t think there is going to be any grumbling. I think the one guy is going to be behind the starter 100% on a game to game basis and I don’t think there is going to be any animosity what so ever.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Caps vs. Devils Top Game Notes

The Washington Capitals open their home schedule tonight as they welcome the New Jersey Devils to Verizon Center. The Capitals will be looking for their ninth straight win in a home opener, but it will not be an easy task. The Devils finished with the second best record in the Eastern Conference last season and won three of the four meetings with the Capitals. Both teams enter tonight's game coming off of losses. The Capitals fell to the Thrashers, 4-2, in Atlanta while the Devils blew a 2-0 lead in losing their home opener to the Dallas Stars, 4-3, in overtime. Here are a few notes to keep in mind as you watch tonight's game.

In the Spotlight: Alex Ovechkin has scored at least a goal in all five of the home openers he has played in his career, and has won each game. He has totaled eight goals and two assists in those games.

Starting Something: Brooks Laich gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead last night against the Atlanta Thrashers just 3:18 into the game, the second year in a row that he scored the team's first goal of the season. Last year he struck first on the power play 17:15 into the first period.

Youth Movement: A year ago Washington had just one rookie in its opening-night lineup: goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who didn't start in the opener. Last night three rookies took the ice for the Capitals: John Carlson, Marcus Johannson and Michael Neuvirth. Neuvirth, at 22, became the youngest Capital goaltender to start a season opener since Jim Carey, who was two months younger when he started the first game of the 1996-97 season.

Familiar faces: The only players on the Capitals who finished last season with another NHL team are Matt Hendricks (Colorado) and D.J. King (St. Louis). Washington returns the top seven scorers from last year's team, which led the league in offense, including all seven 20-goal scorers. Take away the 26 goals scored last season by players no longer with the Capitals organization and Washington still would have led the league offensively.

First rounders: Washington boasts 11 of its own first-round draft choices on the opening night roster, the most of any team in the NHL. Edmonton is the next closest with seven home-grown first-rounders; the league average is 3.93.

Series Notes: The Capitals, who enter the 179th meeting against the Devils tonight at the Verizon Center, lead the season series 88-68-13-9 (52-26-6-5).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010-2011 NHL Preview and Predictions

2010-2011 NHL Preview and Predictions
Eastern Conference
1. Washington Capitals- This is an easy prediction to make. The Capitals have the most talent of any team in the Eastern Conference and play in the conferences worst division. While I do think the division will be improved, it won’t be enough to knock the Capitals out of the top spot. Having defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner for a full season should make the defense better and the acquisitions of rugged forwards Matt Hendricks and DJ King should provide the Capitals with more grit. The only thing that will make this season a success, though, is a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
2. Pittsburgh Penguins- The Penguins have the best trio of centers in the NHL (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal), but realized after last season you need more then quality forwards to compete for the Cup. The Penguins lost defensemen Hal Gill and Rob Scuderi after winning the Cup in 2009 and it showed last season as the Penguins struggled defensively. That changed this offseason with the additions of former Devil Paul Martin and former Senator Zybnek Michalek. Martin will give the Penguins the physical presence they need on the blue-line, plus it saves them from having to play against Martin six times a season. The Penguins, however, are weak at the wing position, but look for GM Ray Sherro to fix that come the trade deadline.
3. Boston Bruins- The Bruins were one of the league’s biggest disappointments last year falling from 1st in the conference in 2009 to sixth last season. Boston should be much improved this year with the additions of Nathan Horton and 2nd overall pick Tyler Seguin provided the Bruins can stay healthy for an entire season. Seguin could easily win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year considering he won’t be asked the carry the team like 1st overall pick Taylor Hall with the Edmonton Oilers.
4. New Jersey Devils- The Devils were finally able to sign Ilya Kovalchuk this offseason and it should prove to help the Devils offensively. Anton Volchenkov was brought in along with Henrik Tallinder to make up for the loss of Paul Martin, though that will be a tough task. Martin Brodeur is back for another season, but might be relied on more than in the past as the Devils try to adjust to a more offensive minded style of play. The Devils are as solid as any team in the league at forward with Travis Zajac, Zack Parise, Jamie Langenbrunner, Dainius Zubrus and the still effective Patrik Elias.
5. Ottawa Senators- The Senators still have fire power at forward with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfreddson and improved their power play with the addition of Sergei Gonchar. The only thing preventing the Senators from winning the Northeast is goaltending as neither Pascal LeClaire or Brian Elliot have staked their claim as the Sens top netminder.
6. Montreal Canadiens- The decision was to trade Jaroslav Halak was a surprise, and it’s still unclear if Carey Price will ever fully live up to his potential. But, the Canadiens are as solid as any team in the league on defense with Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Markov and rookie PK Suddan who was solid in the postseason and no team has more grit at forward then the Canadiens do with Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri. This team could be the surprise division winner.
7. Philadelphia Flyers- The Stanley Cup hangover will impact the Flyers for much of the regular season. If you look at recent history, lower seeded teams who make the Cinderella runs to the Cup Finals don’t usually make the playoffs the following year. The 2000 Buffalo Sabres and ’06 Flames being the exceptions, although the Flames don’t really count seeing as they had an entire year to rest due to the ’04-’05 season being whipped out. However, the Flyers still have enough overall talent to sneak into the postseason.
8. Buffalo Sabres- This will be one of the better defensive teams in the league with Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller in goal and second year defenseman Tyler Myers. But, the Sabres did nothing in the offseason to address their lack of scoring and I doubt any of their current ones will magically turn into Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby. They will, however, have enough to make the playoffs.
Western Conference
1. Vancouver Canucks- The Canucks are the only Western Conference team to make significant additions this offseason with the additions of Keith Ballard and Dan Hamhuis on the blue-line. Ballard and Hamhuis will provide size and grit for the Canucks to go along with their solid group of forwards. If Roberto Luongo can put together a solid season, the Canucks could return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since their magical run in 1994.
2. Detroit Red Wings- I like the Wings to grab the second seed in the West mainly because they should be well rested. Back to back trips to the Finals caught up with the Wings last season as did many injuries to key players. The Wings are much healthier this season and the return of Jiri Hudler provides solid forward depth. Mike Modano gives the Wings another veteran presence; like they need anymore.
3. San Jose Sharks- The Sharks underwent a mini makeover this offseason after making it to the Western Conference Finals last season. Gone is longtime goalie Evgeni Nabokov and veteran defenseman Rob Blake. Enter Anterro Nittymaki, and Stanley Cup winning goaltender Antti Niemi to replace Nabokov. Niemi should end up winning the starting goaltender spot.
4. Los Angeles Kings- The Kings are a sleeper in the West this season after returning to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2002. Forward Anze Kopitar and solid defensemen Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson give the Kings a solid core to go along with goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. If the Kings manage to mature a bit faster than most expect, they could overtake the Sharks in the Pacific division.
5. Chicago Blackhawks- The Hawks traded half of their team after winning the Cup last year, and at least for this season it may prove too much to make a return trip to the Finals. Gone are gritty forwards Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and depth defenseman Brent Sopel and goaltender Antti Niemi. However, the Hawks still have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, so they should make the playoffs.
6. Phoenix Coyotes- This team surprised the entire league last year with its run to the playoffs and surprised even more when they took the Wings to seven games last season. With a solid group of forward and Ilya Bryzgalov in goal, the ‘Yotes should be able to get back to the post-season.
7. Nashville Predators- Another team built around defense and goaltending with Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne, the Predators should have enough to make it back to the playoffs. The loss of Dan Hamhuis will hurt, but this team is well run and well coached, so they should be able to come up with enough to get back to the post-season.
8. Colorado Avalanche- Another surprise playoff team from last year that I think has enough to make it back. They have enough talent at the forward positions led by Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny and the ageless wonder Adam Foote on the blue-line. With Craig Anderson in goal, the Aves should be able to make another run into the post season.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Week 4 Review

It doesn't matter how long I watch the NFL I still find myself shaking my head sometimes at what happens week to week. I've been watching the NFL regularly since 1993, so you would think by now I would've seen it all.

Not exactly the case.

Here's my take on another wild week in the NFL.

Best team performance: I wanted to go with the team from the City that never sleeps. The blue one that treated Jay Cutler and the Bears like one of Apollo Creed's sparring partners in Rockey 2. But, my choice is the team that wears a darker shade of blue, the New England Patriots. I mean come on; two special teams touchdowns one of which was a blocked field goal that was returned to break the game open at the beginning of the fourth quarter? Oh, and how about the 51-yard interception return by Patrick Chung for the games final score? The Patriots defense and special teams outscored it's offense 21-20, and the Dolphins 21-14. Maybe that's why Bill Belichik decided to trade Randy Moss.

Best individual performance: I'm going with the Jets LaDanian Tomlinson. Tomlinson gained 133 yards on 19 carries and scored two touchdowns. Yes, it was against the Buffalo Bills who will probably finish with the league's worst record. But, for a guy who was let go this offseason because his previous team thought he lost a step, a performance like that speaks to the contrary.

Worst team performance: This is a no-brainer!!!! The Chicago Bears!!!! I mean who else should I pick after that performance. 10 sacks allowed; Nine in the first half and a concussion for starting quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears had the Giants defense looking like Buddy Ryan and the '85 Bears defense. On top of that, the Bears managed just 110 yards of total offense. Hakeen Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw and Eli Manning had more yards then that individually!!!!!! And the Bears think they're a playoff team? Please.

Worst individual performance: I'm keeping with the theme, and team, from the previous category. This goes to Jay Cutler. Yes, your offensive line gave you no help, but you didn't exactly help yourself. Cutler passed up several intermediate passes because he wants to hit the big play on every pass play. Cutler himself has said he believes he has a stronger arm then John Elway. That's great, but Elway had the brain to know how to use that arm, an attribute that Cutler clearly doesn't have at this point in his career. Yes, Jay, you have an attractive arm, but when's the last time style won a championship?

Bonehead play of the week: Without question this goes to the 49ers Nate Clements. Clements intercepted the Falcons Matt Ryan with less then two minutes to go to seemingly seal the Niners first win of the season. But, instead of just falling to the turf, Clements decided to race down the sidelines in an attempt to score a highlight reel touchdown. Clements ended up having the ball knocked out of his hands by the Falcons Roddy White, however, which the Falcons recovered. A minute and half later the Falcons kicked a field goal to win the game and keep the 49ers winless. I guess Clement wasn't watching in 2006 when Marlon McCree fumbled a potential game-winning interception in the 2006 AFC Divisional Playoff for the Chargers against the Patriots.

Bonehead call of the week: I hate to because I like him, but this goes to Colts Coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell called a timeout with less then a minute to go in the fourth quarter which gave the Jacksonville Jaguars enough time to mount what ended up being a game winning drive. Caldwell defended his decision by saying he called the timeout so there would still be some time on the clock if the Jaguars had to punt. Peyton Manning is good, Coach. But, with less then a minute to go in the fourth quarter and your defense unable to stop anyone right now, go ahead and take your chances at winning the overtime coin toss. Remember, it's not the playoffs yet, so the first team to score in overtime still wins right now.

Shout out of the week: How about the Ravens Ray Lewis. Lewis, who is 35 years old now, laid out to intercept Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch's pass with 26 seconds left to seal the Ravens 17-14 win at Heinz Field. Lewis looked like he was 25 again as he laid out to his left to intercept Batch's pass. Whoever said 35 was over the hill?

Redemption performance: Though his numbers weren't great, I'm giving this to Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb for the leading the Redskins to a victory in Philadelphia over McNabb's former team. Eight for 19 and a quarterback rating of 60.2 is nothing to go home about, but McNabb led the Redskins to scores on their first three drives including a third down touchdown pass to tight end Chris Cooley that gave the Redskins a 14-0 lead. McNabb also picked up a key first down on a third down scramble on the Redskins final drive that took three and a half minutes off the clock and left the Eagles with just 1:07 to work with when they finally got the ball back. McNabb told his new teammates in the post game locker room that the Eagles made a mistake in trading him. Though he hasn't hit his stride yet with the Redskins, the Eagles probably wouldn't mind having McNabb right now with Michael Vick out 1-2 weeks with torn rib cartelage and Kevin Kolb as his replacement. Oh yea, I forgot, it's like Andy Reid said in his bad english after Kolb suffered a concussion on opening day against the Packers, "Kevin Kolb is the starting quarterback."

Moss to Vikings Trade Shouldn't Surprise Anyone

The New Englad Patriots raised many eyebrows late this morning when they announced they had traded Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.

The Patriots will receive a 2011 third-round draft pick in return for Moss as the Vikings attempt to strengthin a receiving core that at the moment doesn't remotely resemble the one that helped Brett Favre throw 33 touchdown passes last season.

This move, however, should not surprise anyone.

Even though he maintained he wouldn't be a distraction the remainder of the season, it was clear that Moss wanted out of New England after his post game rant following the Patriots season opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

There's no other explination for why Moss would make such comments after such a strong season opening performance.

Also, look at the Patriots recent track record. Does anyone remember the Deion Branch situation?

Branch was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXIX after an 11 catch, 133-yard performance and followed that by catching 78 passes for 998 yards in 2005.

Branch, who was still under contract wanted a deal in the neighborhood of $40 million dollars over five or six years, while the Patriots were only willing to offer a three year extension with a $4 million signing bonus.

Branch decided to hold out of training camp in 2006 and was eventually traded to the Seattle Seahawks.

This philosophy came about again this off-season with two-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins. Mankins became a restricted free agent this off-season, but was only offered a $3.26 million tender instead of a long-term deal. The Patriots lowered the tender to $1.54 million in June after Mankins had failed to sign. Mankins reacted by publicly requesting a trade and as of now is sitting at home on his couch.

Also, the Patriots were not going to just let a player of Moss's caliber walk out the door as an unrestricted free agent this off-season and receive not any compensation. Look at last season when the Patriots traded then 29-year old defensive end Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders.

Seymour was in the last year of his contract and was going to want a long-term deal in the off-season. The Patriots knew they weren't going to give him one, so they traded him instead of letting him walk.

Now, do I think Belichik's ego played a small part in this decision? Sure. Belichik doesn't like playes putting themselves before the team.

But, the amount of times Belichik and the Patriots have let playes go when they were still productive should soften that sentiment a little bit.

Belichik is a three-time Super Bowl winning coach while Moss has only played in one. So, who should really be criticized here?

Last time I checked, it shouldn't be the guy with three rings.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

2010 Warrior Ice Breaker Tournament To Be Streamlined On-Line By Hockey PrimeTime

Hockey Primetime will offer live PPV event for college hockey fans online

The 2010 Warrior Ice Breaker Tournament will be held this weekend in St. Louis with games beginning Friday, October 8 at 5:30 p.m. EST and broadcast on www.HockeyPrimetime.com.

The tournament will feature four of the nation’s premier hockey programs: Boston University, Holy Cross, Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Holy Cross will take on Notre Dame at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, and Boston University faces off against Wisconsin at 8:30 p.m. The tournament’s consolation game will be played at noon on Sunday, Oct. 10, and the championship game follows at 3 p.m.

Hockey fans can subscribe to a PPV broadcast with access to all four games for $9.95 via Hockey Primetime’s website (listed above). In addition, Hockey Primetime’s Justin Bourne and Blake Benzel will be hosting a live blog during each game for college hockey fans to interact with each other and the writers, during the broadcast.

“Broadcasting the Warrior Ice Breaker Collegiate Hockey Tournament from Scotttrade Center is just the beginning. Hockey Primetime will certainly add an exciting new dimension to the collegiate hockey base while providing enhanced online and mobile streaming presence with the ease of live access and visibility,” said Samuel Eng, Primetime Radio’s Chief Executive Officer.

“College Hockey, Inc. is excited to be working with Hockey Primetime to grow and increase the awareness of college hockey and to bring the great action at this year’s Warrior Ice Breaker tourney to all fans,” said Kevin Lovitt, Senior Director, Business Operations. “The Icebreaker officially serves as the kick off to the new season by pitting four of the top teams in America, and this year is no different with Boston University, Holy Cross, Notre Dame and last year’s NCAA finalist, the University of Wisconsin.”

ABOUT HOCKEY PRIMETIME: Established in 2007, Hockey Primetime is a dynamic, fully featured online hockey community, whose mission is to bring and promote hockey to the masses, with NHL-credentialed journalists and broadcasters across North America. Its interactive features include a social networking website and live or on-demand internet radio/video streaming through its parent company, Primetime Radio, Inc.

ABOUT COLLEGE HOCKEY, INC: College Hockey, Inc is the educational and promotional arm of the 58 NCAA Division I men’s hockey programs. Under the direction of Executive Director and former NHL Players’ Association head Paul Kelly, College Hockey, Inc is the primary information resource for prospective student athletes on NCAA Division I Men’s Ice Hockey. Combining a comprehensive education and marketing campaign focused on elite young players, with innovative business initiatives, improved special events, and new television and digital opportunities, College Hockey, Inc.’s mission is to broaden the exposure and raise the profile of NCAA college hockey.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Capitals Unveil Winter Classic Uniforms at 2010 Capitals Convention

The Washington Capitals unveiled the jersey’s they will be wearing on New Year’s Day when they take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic Saturday at the 2010 Capitals Convention.
Capitals’ Captain Alex Ovechkin along with former Captains Rod Langway and Yvon Labre displayed the uniforms for the almost 7,000 fans in attendance at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The uniforms, which are a white jersey with the original Capitals logo across the front along with red shorts, are a throwback to the uniforms worn by the team from 1974 through the 1994-95 season.
“Going back to the classic Caps jersey, I was hoping for a little more of a tweak there. I don’t know how you would do that, but something to make it a little more modern,” said Pat Giddings of Kansas City, Maryland. “But, still, its classic Caps.”
There were several shootout area’s set up for fans who wanted to test the accuracy of their shot, as well as a display of the original jersey’s worn by the original six NHL teams, the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
The 2009-2010 Southeast Division championship banner was displayed as well as the 2009-2010 President’s Trophy banner the Capitals won last season for finishing with the best regular season record, as well as several area’s wear current and former Capitals took turns signing autographs.
Giddings said he wouldn’t have imagined five years ago that the Capitals would ever have reached this level of popularity.
“I always hoped because it always depressed me when you would go to a game and see 5,000 people there,” said Giddings. “Someone once said there are only 20,000 hockey fans in each city, and I think now you’re starting to see the Caps becoming so popular that doesn’t hold true anymore. So, I think it’s awesome.”
Peter Bondra and Olaf Kolzig were also among the alumni in attendance. Bondra, who played for the Capitals from 1990-2003, said it is remarkable how popular the Capitals have become.
“We had that feeling a little bit when we went to the Finals against Detroit because the fans were so excited, but now the season hasn’t even started yet, and you have 6,500 people out here supporting the team,” said Bondra. “I believe Ovie has a big part in this and overall they have a great team, and even for me to go to a game I get excited to watch the team play and how they compete. So, it’s just a lot of fun.”
Bondra, who is one of the most popular players in franchise history, was in demand all day as he was stopped several times for autograph and picture requests even after his scheduled time had passed. He said he appreciates how excited the fans still get when they see him.
“One lady told me she waited 14 years for me to sign her jersey,” said a smiling Bondra. “But, it’s great and a good feeling. Feelings of having been here and done something and the fans still come up to you and say good things.”
The teams’ popularity is even noticed by media members. Comcast SportsNet Capitals beat reporter, Jill Sorenson, who covered the team from the late 90’s through the mid 2000’s for Channel four sports and then Comcast SportsNet, said even she gets excited when she sees how much attention the team gets from the various media outlets.
“When I first started it was just, and Jason LaCanfora was the Post beat writer and then Dave Fay was the Washington Times beat writer,” said Sorenson. “Even at training camp this year there was at least a dozen media their everyday between the new media and mainstream media. It’s insane, but it’s really awesome.”