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Capital Observations 11/10/08

The Washington Capitals have had an interesting start this season to say the least.

After saying good-bye to long-time net-minder Olie Kolzig, and losing the hot hand of Huet to free agency the Caps went out and found Jose Theodore and named him the team’s new starting goal-tender. Three games ago, the Caps decided to give Theodore a break and put in Brent Johnson, and haven’t looked back.

Brent Johnson is 2-0-1 since relieving Theodore and has a .953 save percentage in these last three games. He has also been named a star in each of the last three games, and has been named one of the NHL stars of the week for the week ending Nov. 9th.

Johnson has played five games this season and is 3-0-2 with a 1.75 GAA (goals against average for the lay-person) and an overall save percentage of .942.

In contrast; Cristobal Huet had an overall save percentage of .936 in his games with the Capitals last year. Huet’s current save percentage with his new team, Chicago, is .916.

Coach Boudreau has said that he is staying with Johnson because he has the “hot hand” right now, but Theodore is still the team’s “official” starter, but you have to think that if Johnny continues this trend, things may change.

Tonight’s match-up versus Tampa Bay will be interesting as Olie Kolzig makes his way onto the ice. Kolzig has played in three games for Tampa Bay and is 1-1-1 with a .925 save percentage. Kolzig, who played nearly 20 years with the Washington Capitals, will face off against his former reliever in Brent Johnson at the other end of the ice.

The next piece of trivia for the Capitals so far has to do with a guy named Alex.

When people think of the Washington Capitals, they immediately think of the League MVP, Alex Ovechkin. However, Alex Semin appears to have figured out where Alex Ovechkin was keeping his mojo, and has stolen it.

Ovechkin, who scored 65 goals last season (69 goals through 89 games including the playoffs), has not registered a goal since he scored two in the second game of the season. Ovechkin has not scored a goal in the past 9 games he’s played, marking a record for the longest stretch of games without a goal in his career.

Meanwhile, Alex Semin, who battled through injuries, missed nearly 20 games, and scored 26 goals in 63 games last year has already scored 11 goals in 13 games so far this year.

Semin tied a club record with Dale Hunter for the most points scored in October with 16. By comparison, Hunter had 1 goal and 15 assists back in October of 1991, while Semin had 8 goals and 8 assists in October ‘08. You would assume with that many 8′s, there’d be an Ovechkin in there somewhere.

And last but not least I want to talk about the fans! Last Year, Verizon was not considered a tough venue for road teams as the Caps got off to a 2-7-0 start, but Washington has seen it highest attendance numbers since 1998 and it is showing itself out on the ice. The Capitals have not lost in regulation at home this year and are 11-0-1 (dating back to last season) when fans are rocking the red.

It will be interesting to see how the fans tonight respond to the return of long-time fan-favorite Kolzig. In my interviews with the players from earlier this year, there seemed to be no ill-will towards Olie, but we will see how that translates when the Caps are crashing the net.

Will the fans applaud his return? Will they heckle him with the same chants they used to use to serenade him? We will find out tonight at 7pm.

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