Monday, May 23, 2011

Capitals Hockey School program

Per the Washington Capitals Media Relations Department:

Washington Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz and assistant coach Bob Woods along with Capitals alumnus Ken Sabourin and Slapshot will visit Berwyn Heights Community Center at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24. Schultz, Woods, Sabourin and Slapshot are participating in the Capitals Hockey School program presented by Capital One Bank. The trio will be directing a floor hockey session in the community center’s gym with 140 fifth and sixth-grade students.

Schultz, Woods and Sabourin will participate in a question-and-answer session with the students and lead a skills demonstration. They will guide the students through several drills focusing on stickhandling, passing and shooting. Schultz and Sabourin will demonstrate each skill and call on volunteers from the audience to demonstrate what they have learned. The clinic will conclude with several students participating in a brief scrimmage along with Schultz on one team and Sabourin on the other. Following the clinic a set of street hockey equipment will be donated by the Capitals to the school.

This will be the Capitals 18th Capitals Hockey School visit this season and the third of the month. The Capitals host at least two Hockey School visits each month between September and May, donating street hockey equipment to each participating school.

This is the fourth-consecutive year the Capitals have conducted their Hockey School program. The Caps hosted more than 30 clinics and reached nearly 5,000 students the past three years. During the 2010-11 season alone, thousands of elementary and middle school students graduated from the program.


WHO: Washington Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz and assistant coach Bob Woods along with Capitals alumnus Ken Sabourin and Slapshot

WHAT: Teaching students several drills focusing on stickhandling, passing and shooting as part of Caps Hockey School presented by Capital One Bank.

WHEN: Tuesday, May 24, 2011
1:45 to 3 p.m.

WHERE: Berwyn Heights Community Center
6200 Pontiac Street
Berwyn Heights, MD 20740

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ted Leonsis and the state of the Washington Capitals.

On Thursday afternoon I was listening to ESPN 980's "The Sports Fix" with Kevin Sheehan and Thom Loverro. After taking questions about how Mike and Kyle Shanahan's handling of Donovan McNabb for the upteenth time, Sheehan teased a review of Capitals owner Ted Leonsis's interview on the team's website after a commercial break saying "you won't believe what Leonsis said."

Upon hearing this I couldn't wait to get home and listen to the interview and hear what Leonsis said that was so unbelievable.

I'm hear to report that Sheehan and Loverro need to stick to what they like talking about the most; the Redskins.

Leonsis simply stated that the he understands the fans anger and frustration with another early playoff exit as he too shares those feelings, but that he, the organization and the fans need to remain patient.

He mentioned how the team got younger last season with Marcus Johannson, John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Michael Neuvirth being brought up from the minors, and how the decision to switch to a more defensive minded system at mid-season was a good move for the organization.

He also stated that the one reaction from fans that has bothered him is the notion that the Capitals window of opportunity is closing.

I'm guessing this is what Sheehan felt was so "unbelievable", and if so it only proves how much Sheehan doesn't know about hockey.

The Capitals core group is still in its mid 20s and will probably stay that way for several more years as several players in the team's farm system expected to be brought up in the next year or two.

All four of the teams that are still playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs have a core that is older and more experienced then the Caps.

Leonsis, George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau have all stated publicly that they are frustrated with the current lack of playoff success and they want to find out why they have been unable to carry the team's regular season success into the playoffs.

Alex Ovechkin has even said he is going to find a new way to train this offseason because he feels the training regimen he has been following isn't properly preparing him for the rigors of the long season.

What else do any of these guys need to say?

The organization knows it has underachieved so far and they need to figure out why. However, local radio hosts like Sheehan insist that stating this is a slap in the face to the fans.

The only slap in the face is fans and media members constantly attacking an organization that has worked so hard to become currently the most competative of the four major franchise's in the DC, Maryland, Virginia area.

Radio hosts like Sheehan need to sit back and think about words uttered by George McPhee during HBO's 24/7 series leading up to this past years Winter Classic.

"When you're losing all the experts come out, and the fact of the matter is if any of them knew anything about the game they would be in it."

Well said, George.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Caps Red Line Nominated for an Emmy Award

Per the Washington Capitals Media Relations Department:

The Washington Capitals have announced today that Caps Red Line – Episode One has been nominated for a 2010 Emmy Award by the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS-NCCB). The 53rd Emmy Awards will be held on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, DC.

The episode, which aired Feb. 17, 2010, featured several fan-favorite segments including, Cruisin’ with Nicklas Backstrom, X's and O's with Matt Bradley and a behind the scenes look at Mike Green's GEICO commercial shoot. The official nominees are: Timothy Libeau, Editor (Base Productions, Inc.), Chuck Roseberry, Producer (Base Productions, Inc.), Joe Dupriest, Vice President, Chief Marketing Office (Washington Capitals) and Mike Wurman, Director, Game Entertainment & TV Production (Washington Capitals). This is Red Line’s first Emmy nomination.

“This nomination is really a testament to all of those who have worked tirelessly to produce the show, including executive producer Michael Wurman, the great staff at Base Productions, Caps public relations and marketing staff members and our show talent Guerin Austin, Elliot Segal and Mike Vogel,” said Dupriest. “Our goal was to give the fans an inside look at the players and the game of hockey. We look forward to raising the bar even higher next season and finding new ways to keep our fans both entertained and informed.”;

Caps Red Line, which recently completed its third season, began as a series of segments during the 2008-09 campaign and grew to new heights in 2009-10 with the addition of host Guerin Austin and newly created segments Cruisin’ and X’s and O’s.

NATAS-NCCB is a non-profit, professional organization serving the Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. television community. The Academy's Emmy Award is the industry's benchmark for the recognition of television excellence.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

After Game 6 victory, Red Wings are just one win away from making history

When Darren Helm’s empty netter and Mike “Doc” Emerick’s call of “scorrrrre” sealed the Detroit Red Wings victory over the San Jose Sharks on Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals I thought to myself “is this really happening.”

Just last Wednesday I felt like I was having déjà vu. When Devin Setoguchi scored 9:21 into overtime to give the Sharks a 4-3 win and a three games to none series lead I couldn’t help but think about Patrick Marleau’s overtime goal in Game 3 of last year’s Semifinals series that gave the Sharks a 3-0 series lead after two one goal games in San Jose.

The Wings would take Game 4 from the Sharks last year before falling in Game 5 in San Jose. So, after the Detroit’s 4-3 win in Game 4 this year I figured they will fight valiantly in Game 5, but will ultimately fall in five games as they did last season.

That’s when the feeling of déjà vu vanished. The Wings managed to keep the series alive after trailing by two goals early in the third period and pushed the series back to Detroit.

Then, after a lucky goal by Logan Couture 54 seconds into the third period last night broke a scoreless tie the desire and drive that no other team in the league seems to have reared its head, again, and the Wings found a way to score two goals and push this series to an unlikely Game 7.

But, how could this happen?

How could a team that looked like its days of being a perennial Stanly Cup contender had passed them by suddenly be on the verge of making history?

It’s quite simple; because they believe they can.

The Red Wings play with the mindset that they are never out of a game, or a series regardless of what the score or the series tally might be.

The core of this team, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom and Kris Draper have played in more combined Stanley Cup Finals then any team in the league. Plus, they have a general in Nicklas Lidstrom that has been with this franchise for every up and down it has experienced the last two decades.

So, when the Wings won Game 4 the Sharks allowed them to believe it was possible they could come back. When the Sharks coughed up a two-goal third period lead in Game 5 and allowed the series to come back to Detroit it gave the Wings the final push they needed.

The Wings knew they could win Game 6. At home, and with the a raucous crowd behind them a one-goal deficit early in the third period was nothing to the Wings have never seen before. Heck, with the way they were dominating the game they probably felt the game was still tied.

Now, the Wings are in their comfort zone with a Game 7, and one has to wonder about the Sharks current mindset.

Are they going into Game 7 feeling sorry for themselves and thinking how they failed in their previous three chances to close the series.

Are all the playoff failures of the last decade creeping into their psyche and casting feelings of doubt, or are the Sharks simply saying to themselves “all we have to do is win one game.”

What the Sharks mindset is going to be heading into Game 7, I don’t know. But, I do know what the Red Wings’ mindset is.

Just two words.

We believe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No Time To Panic

Nearly a week after the Washington Capitals were unceremoniously swept out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning one word keeps popping into my head.

Patience.

In the hours that followed the Capitals uninspired 5-3 loss in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals several opinions surfaced. The most common was the feeling that Coach Bruce Boudreau should be fired. The same man, affectionetly known as "Gabby", who in almost four full seasons has taken the Capitals from dead last in the league standings to a perennial playoff participant was all of a sudden considered a minor league lifer who's cinderella story had reached it's end.

The second common opinion was that Vice President and General Manager George McPhee, the man responsible for acquring the talent that Boudreau has groomed the last four years also needed to go. He was being chastised for believing in the players he drafted "too much" and not wanting to admit that a few of them may never develop into what McPhee envisioned.

Calls for Alexander Semin and Mike Green to be traded also ran rampit across the local blogosphere.

After reading all of these blog posts and listening to callers on local sportstalk radio one word overwelmingly kept popping into my head.

Patience.

Yes, the Capitals have failed to advance beyond the second round of the playoffs in any of the last four years even blowing a 2-0 lead to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.

Yes, for the second straight season the Capitals earned the Eastern Conference's number one seed and were unable to advance at least to the Conference Finals, and for the fourth straight season the Capitals were eliminated from the playoffs by a lower seeded team.

Despite all of that a complete makeover is not in order.

Do the Capitals have some questions they need to ask themselves? Yes. Do the Capitals need to look at their roster and admit that it's not as playoff ready as they thought it was when the playoffs began this season? Yes.

For three straight games to start the Semifinals series with the Lightning, the Capitals controlled the first two periods but came out flat and lifeless in the third period which ultimately cost them each game.

Playoff games are won in the third period, and the Capitals inability to keep their intensity at a high level for three periods shows that this team is not yet ready to win a Stanley Cup.

However, a complete overhaul of the roster isn't necessarily the way to solve the problem.

Do I think Alexander Semin needs to go? Yes. In the six seasons that Semin has worn a Capitals sweater he has never shown the ability to play at a consistent level game in and game out despite his fellow countrymen, Alex Ovechkin, showing every bit of that.

Semin personify's the organizations perceived feeling of complacency, and he is still young enough and talented enough to be able to get the Capitals the parts they so much need if they decided to trade him.

But, it also needs to be noted the philosophy change the Capitals made this season. Switching to a more defensive system in the middle of December after three straight season's of a wide-open offensive system is an adjustment that takes time to complete. Not four months of time, but a full year.

An off-season to relect and a full training camp to continue to work on the transition will do the Capitals a lot of good once the 2011-2012 season begins.

It should also not be forgotten that three players age 22, 21, and 20 were injected into the Capitals regular line up this season. John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Marcus Johannson showed their inexperience at times early in the season, but by the time the playoffs started Carlson and Alzner had become the Capitals top defensive pair, and Johannson was earning minutes on the top line with Alex Ovechkin.

Do the Capitals need to make some changes? Yes. But selling the farm at this point in the process would bring the Capitals right back to where they were when this process started.

At the bottom.