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Caps Recap 1/5/09


Happy New Year to all, and especially so for fans of what has rapidly become Washington’s favorite sports franchises; the Washington Capitals.

 

The Caps had a great week last week going 3-0-0 against their opponents, gaining six valuable points, improving their hold on second place in the Eastern Conference by  5 points, and proving their team has what it takes to be a playoff contender with great repeat performances against Buffalo and the New York Rangers.

 

The Caps are now on a six game winning streak and have won 11 of their last 12. Their current season record is now 26-11-3 and their home record is a spectacular 17-1-1. The Caps 26-11-3 record qualifies as the best in team history after 40 games (previous best: 25-11-4 in the ’85-’86 season).

 

The Caps did see the return of Brent Johnson, Donald Brashear and Alex Semin this week but can still attribute a lot of their recent winning ways to the great goaltending of Jose Theodore and the continued playmaking abilities of one Alex Ovechkin. The Great 8 has now scored a goal in eight consecutive home games.

 

Before we get to the recapping I would like to take a moment to say “WTF??!!” to the NHL All-Star balloting process. How in the word do Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malken get 1.2 million votes a piece and the reigning league MVP and number two scorer in the league not get even half a million?

 

Really NHL? You seem to get some many other things right (centralized replay on questionable goals, uniformed web-sites for each team, great statistical access for even the casual fan); how do you screw up the NHL equivalent of the NFL Pro-Bowl by giving fans the only say in the balloting process?

 

Sure Alex is in the game, but snubbing him from the starting line for four Canadiens and two Penguins only shows the farce of fan balloting.

 

I’m not through with you on this, NHL. Let’s get to some recapping.

 

12/30/08 @ Buffalo – The Caps travelled to Buffalo to face the Sabres for the second time in four days. Buffalo had a history of not being a gracious host to Washington, but the Caps managed to pull out a win for only the third time in the past 10 visits.

 

Look who’s scoring now – After scoring a spectacular goal on Buffalo in their previous match-up, Alex Ovechkin didn’t notch so much as an assist in this one. If you were to look strictly at the score-card you might think he didn’t play at all. Washington’s four goals came from Brooks Laich (his 11th of the season), Chris Bourque (the first of his career), Nicklas Backstrom (on the power-play) and Boyd Gordon (on the empty net).

 

That’s Ruff – Sabres’ Coach Lindy Ruff had this to say after the game: “If Jochen Hecht and Derek Roy and those kinds of guys aren’t our best players, you don’t have any chance of winning. We’ll take them out of the lineup. Some of them will come out, and that’s not an idle threat, either. You still have to put the work in, and I don’t think we did.” Yeah, he was a little upset.

 

1/1/09 vs. Tampa Bay – The Caps welcomed back Brent Johnson from the injured list and helped him win by outscoring Tampa at every turn. The Caps jumped out to a three goal lead in the first period, but saw that lead diminish in the second when the Lightning scored two goals. On two occasions the Caps responded to a Lightning goal within 15 seconds with a goal of their own and went on to win by a final score of 7-4.

 

Who hasn’t scored yet? – The Caps saw more goals from players not known for their scoring prowess. Sean Collins scored his first ever NHL goal, and Captain Chris Clark scored his first of the season, but the Caps also saw goals from David Steckel, Matt Bradley, and Boyd Gordon (the other goals came compliments of Mike Green, and some guy named Alex—I think he’s in the All Star game)

 

Century milestones – Coach Boudreau was coaching his 100th game and got a win; Mike Green was playing in his 200th career game and scored a goal.

 

1/3/09 vs. New York Rangers – In their previous meeting the Rangers jumped out to a four goal lead, only to see the Caps come back and beat them in overtime 5-4. This time the Caps were on their own home ice, and you had to imagine the Rangers were looking for payback. Jose Theodore showed that he still had the confidence that the Rangers had given him for Christmas as he stopped 30 of 31 shots to help the Caps to a 2-1 victory.

 

Thank god he’s better with a stick than he is with his hands – Alex Semin was involved in the first fight of his NHL career and I laughed so hard I had to watch it three times. Do you remember the scene from “A Christmas Story” where Ralphie beats up on the bully?

 

That’s what this looked like as Semin took Marc Staal down to the ice and began flailing on him with both hands. Kinda like you’d imagine someone beating on bongo drums. Semin was ultimately given a Game Misconduct (which is the equivalent of an ejection), not for the ferocity of the fight (which I think even Staal laughed at a little bit) but because he didn’t have his jersey properly tied down.

 

The Wrap-Up – You can’t be unhappy with how the Caps are playing. They have given up 14 goals in their last six games, but have outscored their opponents by a margin of 25-14 during that period. They are seeing more scoring from their supporting players as well as their star talent. They still have looked a little confused at times on the back-check, and occasionally in transition through neutral ice, but when they get into the attacking zone, they are taking shots.

 

Boudreau’s offense is high pressure as it calls for players to look for the shot first, and cycle if the shot isn’t there. This wears down defenders and eventually the net-minder. They have shown two styles of offensive creation where the attacker will hold up at the point, and look for the open man, or they will dump the puck in and play the forecheck to try and get the cycle going in the corner. These styles have both proven hard to defend against, especially with the Caps style of intuitive passing that put’s the puck where the attacker is going to be, not where he currently is.

 

Coming up – The Caps have three games this week, but it isn’t going to be easy. Thankfully two of the games will be at Verizon where the Caps play extremely well, but they also play back to back games Friday and Saturday night with one opponent at home and another on the road.

 

Their first opponent comes tomorrow night at Verizon against Philadelphia, who is currently tied for third in the Eastern Conference; The Caps started their six game winning streak after a 7-1 loss in Philly.

 

Next the Caps welcome the Blue Jackets on Friday who are one of the only two teams to have shut the Caps out this year when they beat ‘em 3-0 back in November. The important stat here is that Columbus is 11-6-1 at home (where they were when they beat the Caps), but 7-11-3 on the road. Meanwhile the Caps are currently 17-1-1 at Verizon, so this should be a good game.

 

Less than 24 hours after the Columbus game the Caps travel to Montreal where they face the other team tied for third in the Eastern Conference; the Canadiens. The Caps won their last meeting with the Canadiens back on December 13 (2-1). The similarities are curious as the Caps played them in Montreal, also less than 24 hours after playing another team.

 

This week will be a good test of where the Caps are at as they seem to be playing strong but still have room for some slight improvement.

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Caps Recap 12/22/08


It must be Monday, time for another Caps Recap.

 

The Washington Capitals played only three games last week and went 2-1-0, giving them a record of 20-11-3 for the season. They are currently leading the Southeast division by six points, and are tied for third in the Eastern Conference.

 

The Caps saw the return of Jose Theodore, but lost Alex Semin to the injury list this week. Let’s get to the games.

 

@ The Islanders, 12/16/08 – The Caps jumped out to an early lead in this one, and were leading 4-2 at the end of the second period only to watch their lead dissolve in the third as New York tied the game with 2:13 left in regulation. Alex Ovechkin saved the game with 10.7 seconds left until the shootout when he ripped a shot from the top of the face-off circles past Joey MacDonald for the game winner.

 

It was a good run – Tuesday’s game vs. the Islanders was the first time in four games that the Caps allowed more than a single goal by their opponent.

 

Setting the bar high early – In only his fourth year, Alex Ovechkin has toppled a franchise record for most career overtime goals. His sixth career overtime goal came on Tuesday night and put him ahead of Peter Bondra and Kelly Miller for the franchise record.

 

Vs. St. Louis, 12/18/08 – The Blues came into Verizon Center as the only team never to have faced the Bruce Boudreau-led Capitals. The Caps earned their 20th win of the season making them the fifth team in the league to reach 20 wins this season.

 

If you look closely, you can tell he’s a rookie – If it weren’t for the plain white hockey mask, you’d be hard pressed to believe that Simeon Varlamov was a rookie goaltender as he stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced. He made several highlight reel saves and always seemed to be in good position. His only real flaw of the night was when he forgot about the trapezoid rule and received a delay-of-game penalty.

 

Insult to injury – It was bad enough that the refs didn’t call a tripping penalty when Alex Semin first got knocked down, but then they didn’t call the cross-check he took right to his lower back.  The official was standing right there watching the event happen. Alex Semin lay contorting on the ice and did not return to the game. When the official explained to Coach Boudreau that he thought Semin was “milking it” Coach Boudreau most likely said what any of us would have.

 

I’m not privy to what was actually said, but I can imagine it was profane. Apparently the official’s feelings were hurt, so he called a bench minor for “abuse of an official.”

 

Note: Alex must really be selling his injury as he has yet to return from it. Hope the official is feeling better after his verbal thrashing.

 

Yeah, well our web-producer is just as tall as you are – Ben Bishop entered the game as the league’s tallest goaltender. If that seems familiar, it’s because he was mentioned last week when Washingtoncaps.com web-producer Brett Leonhardt was called in to play bench-warming goalie for one period last week. Bishop is currently listed as the tallest goalie in NHL history at 6’7″.

 

It just don’t seem right – Simeon Varlamov played two games in his fill in role with Washington and won them both. Thursday night he beat the St. Louis Blues, Friday morning he was sent back down the Hershey.

 

@ Philadelphia, 12/20/08 – In a rare 1 o’clock game the Capitals were whipped 7-1 by the Flyers. Brent Johnson started the game and kept the Caps in it, down 3-0 at the end of the second. The real story of this game was the spectacular play of Flyers net minder Antero Nittymaki. The Caps added pressure early, matching a franchise record for most shots on goal in a single period with 25. By the end of the second period the Caps had peppered Nittymaki with 39 shots and had nothing to show for it. Jose Theodore stepped in to start the third period, and things went from bad to worse as he allowed the Flyers to score four more goals.

 

Coulda, woulda, shoulda – The Caps made a few spectacular plays and were just beat by Nittymaki. On the rare occasion they did get one past Nittymaki, it would ring off the post. The Caps had at least two quality chances ripped from them by spectacular goalie-play as the score should have been 3-1 at the end of the first.

 

The Wrap-up – Saturday’s game was hard to watch, especially in the third when the Caps really seemed to fall apart. Brooks Laich saved them the indignity of a shut-out with his third period tally, but this game really exposed a weakness in Jose Theodore. You never like to say that one player can be a difference maker, but I truly believe this team suffered a lot without the creativity that Alex Semin brings to the ice.

   The Caps were firing shots from everywhere (48 total), and that kind of pressure is usually rewarded, but what they really needed was the nimble moves that Semin brings in to help get the goaltender out of position.

   Semin may not score as much as Alex Ovechkin, but his real strength is in driving defenders, and subsequently, net minders crazy with his curl and drag capabilities, his quick back-hand, and his accurate passing.

   Pulling Brent Johnson may have been an attempt to ignite the team, but it appears to have backfired as the Caps looked like they had had all of the energy sucked out of them in the third period. The Caps had 25 shots in the first period, yet only nine in the third. Meanwhile, Johnson only faced 13 shots in the first two periods, while Theodore was peppered with 15 in the third. The Caps felt hopeless, and the Flyers took the momentum and ran with it.

 

Coming up – It doesn’t get any easier for the Caps this week. They face off tomorrow night against the Rangers (currently second place in the Eastern conference) and round out their week with the Sabres and Leafs. Two of their three games are at home (where the Caps are still 13-1-1).

 

This Sunday’s game at Verizon, the Caps will honor Mike Gartner as they retire his jersey in a pregame ceremony. Gartner, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame who ranks second in Capitals history in goals (397), assists (392) and points (789), will become the fourth player in Capitals history to have his number retired. Yvon Labre’s No. 7 was retired on Nov. 7, 1981, Rod Langway’s No. 5 was retired on Nov. 26, 1997, and Dale Hunter’s No. 32 was retired on March 11, 2000.

 

Every fan in attendance will receive a commemorative Mike Gartner jersey pin, sponsored by Comcast SportsNet, upon entrance into the game, along with a special No. 11 signs to pay tribute to Gartner. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats early for the ceremony, which will start promptly at 7 p.m. The ceremony and the game will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and will be available in high definition.

 

Former Washington Capitals Greg Adams, Bob Carpenter, Bob Gould, Alan Hangsleben, Wes Jarvis, Labre, Langway, Craig Laughlin, Dennis Maruk, Paul Mulvey, Larry Murphy, Errol Rausse, Gary Rissling and Scott Stevens as well as former broadcaster Ron Weber will be in attendance to help share in this special night. Some of Gartner’s former teammates will be around the concourse before the game meeting fans and signing autographs and they will be introduced during the first intermission.

  

Prior to the ceremony, the current Capitals will wear special white retro jerseys during pregame warmups. Each jersey will have No. 11 on them along with the current player’s name. The jerseys will be autographed by Gartner and each player and will be available at a silent auction during the game with a portion of the proceeds going to World Vision. World Vision, Gartner’s charity of choice, is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.

 

The Caps will wear white jerseys during the game – as Gartner’s Capitals teams did at the Cap Centre – while Toronto will wear dark jerseys.

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Caps sting B’s 3-1


I sat down for last night’s game confident that the Caps were going to lose to the highest scoring monster in the Eastern Conference. The Caps came limping into Verizon with 10 players on their injury list, and have been playing up and down hockey recently. Contrarily, Boston, tied for second place in the league, and currently leading the Eastern Conference with a record of 19-4-4, was looking like a well-oiled machine with scoring threats on all of their lines. I believe their coach could probably score if he were allowed on the ice.

 

I got an e-mail from the Caps late yesterday saying they were sending Sami Lepisto, Keith Acoin, and Bryan Helmer back down to Hershey, and that they had recalled Oskar Osala. By my superior math skills that left two spot open; maybe someone was coming back from the injury list!

 

Imagine my glee when I found out those two players were Alex Semin and Tom Poti!

 

The Caps are a different team without the stick-handling acrobatics of Alex Semin, and with the return of Tom Poti the Caps now only have three defensemen on the injured list (John Erskine, Brian Pothier, and Mike Green).  Poti’s presence may have been considerably more noticeable, but it was Semin who helped come up with the play that put the Bruins away for the night.

 

From PK to PP to Goal! – The Caps came out strong versus the Bruins, and in fact looked like they were on the power-play for the first 0:41 seconds of the game. Then they got hit for a minor penalty that sent them short-handed when Shaone Morrison got nicked for high sticking. The Caps got their shot with the extra attacker two-minutes later as Stephane Yalle was called for interference 1:36 seconds into their power-play.

 

Alex Ovechkin would make them pay.

 

One for you, one for me – Last week vs. the Islanders, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom broke free on a two on one with the empty net. Alex unselfishly passed the puck over to Nicklas and let him score the goal. Tonight, Nicklas returned the favor.

 

Alex took his shot from the point and his shot most likely would have hit the leg-pad of Manny Fernandez if not for the slight redirect of Nicklas Backstrom who got just enough of the puck to redirect it between Fernandez’s skate and the goal post to put the Caps up 1-0

 

Starting in Net for the Washington Capitals; Gumby! – Brent Johnson’s night looked like it was going to end early and on a high note. Johnny stared down a quick two on one with P.J. Axelsson and Chuck Kobasew flying right at him. Axelsson fired the wrist shot from the left, and was stopped; the rebound bounced right to Kobasew. Johnson dropped into the splits and made a spectacular save against Kobasew.

 

It all happened so fast that Kobasew couldn’t avoid Johnson as he skated into Johnson’s outstretched right leg.

 

I figured Johnson was at least done for the night, if not for the season, but he finally got up, shook it off and continued.

 

Easy as 1, 2, 3 – Alexandre Giroux scored his first NHL goal, in the second period of his second game wearing the number 33. His goal gave the Caps a 2-0 advantage.

 

A little luck, a lot of skill, but no “love” for Johnny – Brent Johnson was having one of the greatest nights I had seen as he continued to make highlight-reel saves. Johnny looked like he might pull off a shut-out (0 is called “love in tennis for those not as quick on the uptake) as he stopped 23 shots in the first two periods, but the 24th was too hot to handle.

 

With 0:35 seconds left in the second period, Phil Kessel got a lucky bounce of the boards on the right side and went straight for Johnson, he passed it across to Milan Lucic who slapped the puck home from the left.

 

The Backbreak(away)er – With a little over a minute to go, the Bruins pulled their goalie to get the extra attacker with the Caps up 2-1. Alex Semin fished the puck loose from the boards in front of the players’ bench, passed it over to Ovechkin who shot into the attacking zone on the break-away. In a scene that had to look like it was in slow-motion for Bruins fans Alex skated deep into the attacking zone, and lazily lobbed the puck into the empty-net.

 

Game over.

 

Interesting tidbit #1 – Everyone named Alex (Semin, Ovechkin and Giroux) got a point in last night’s game. Giroux had a goal, Semin picked up an assist, and Ovechkin had a goal and an assist.

 

Maybe they were just sleepy – After calling four penalties in the first period, the refs stayed off their whistles the rest of the night. They did give the Caps a penalty shot, but made up for it by calling Sean Collins for hooking in the third period.

 

As if he didn’t have enough gear to lug around – After his spectacular performance, Brent Johnson was given the Caps Hardhat (an honor bestowed upon the player by his teammates for being the hardest worker on the team). Johnny went on to stop 33 of 34 shots on the night, and 79 of the past 83 shots he’s faced in his last three games. Johnny’s on a three game winning streak with a .952 save percentage and a 1.33 Goals Against Average in those games.

 

His record for the season is now 8-4-2 with a .918 and a 2.47 GAA.

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Capital Observations 12/8/08


The Washington Capitals had an up and down week, going 2-2 in their four games. Even though the Caps only came away with four of the possible eight points from last week, they still managed to improve their lead in the Southeast by one point.

 

The Caps also increased their already impressive injury list from eight players to ten; adding Eric Fehr and Tyler Sloan to the ranks of the walking wounded. Considering that the Caps injured list contains Alex Semin, Mike Green and Chris Clark most (rational) people find it easy to forgive the Caps if they drop a few games here or there; as long as they continue to win more than they lose.

 

Vs. Florida vs. Versus 12/2/08 – The Caps were blacked out on Tuesday night thanks to the Versus channel’s exclusivity agreement with the NHL. The Caps started off their December with their first regulation-loss of the season at home.

 

In a game that was very reminiscent of their loss to the Minnesota Wild, the Caps spent most of the game losing only to get two quick goals in the third period to bring the game to within a goal of overtime by a score of 3-4. The Caps pulled Jose Theodore to gain the extra attacker with 1:19 left, only to see their hopes dashed when the Panthers scored on the empty net.

 

The Caps almost seemed cursed as two of Florida’s initial four goals came off Caps players; one of which was scored when David Steckel made an unwise cross-ice pass only to hit Karl Alzner in the skate and watch the puck rebound to beat Theodore, five-hole.

 

The Best of What’s Left – As if to prove my point that most (rational) people are ready to forgive the Caps the occasional bad game, the media tried to supply Coach Boudreau with all the excuses he needed for their loss. Their questions were about the “bad luck” of having two goals scored off Caps players, and the impact of so many injuries.

 

To their credit, Coach Boudreau and the team would have none of it. The players took responsibility for not stepping up for the injured players and Coach Boudreau refused to take the bait on the offered excuses and instead seemed angry at the loss.

 

Is there any question why Coach Boudreau wins so many games and why he’s so loved by the fan base?

 

Vs. New York Islanders and vs. Hot Dogs Everywhere 12/4/08 – The Caps came into Thursday’s game hungry for a win; the fans came to “Dollar Dog Night” just plain hungry; both came away satisfied. The Caps pasted the Islanders by a score of 5-3 and the fans devoured a record 13,700 hot dogs.

 

The Caps jumped out to a two goal lead, and ended the first period with a score of 2-1. New York scored the lone goal in the second period to tie the game at two all, but the Caps unleashed the fury scoring three goals in the third and sending the Verizon faithful home fat and happy.

 

Heeeeeere’s Johnny – Brent Johnson broke his four-game losing streak by having a solid performance against the Isles. Johnny stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced. The Caps helped Johnny’s cause by playing sound defense and peppering Islanders Goaltender Joey MacDonald with 47 shots on goal.

 

And another one bites the dust – The New York Islanders were the only team in the Eastern Conference not to have been beaten by Coach Boudreau prior to Thursday’s game. The Caps had not beaten the Islanders in Verizon since March 6th, 2006.

 

Sharing is caring – The Caps final goal came on the empty net. Alex Ovechkin took off with a rebound and skated through center ice two-on-one against Mark Streit with Nicklas Backstrom as his wingman. While most players might try and take the risky shot around the defenseman, Alex simply passed the puck over to Nick and let the young Swede get the goal.

 

@ Toronto vs. the Past 12/6/08 – The Caps came into Air Canada center and found their former Coach Ron Wilson and his Maple Leafs. These two teams showed how evenly they were matched as the game came right down to the wire with the go ahead goal of a 2-1 game being scored in the third period.

 

Way to go, Rook – Karl Alzner scored the game’s first goal, and the first of his career, on a shot from the blue-line that would’ve made Mike Green proud.

 

Canadian for BS, eh? – Brooks Laich scored a goal shortly after Alzner and looked to have the two-goal lead, only to have it waved off after review. The Refs claimed Laich “kicked” the puck into the net. Now, I have a copy of the Official Rules, and it does say that kicking the puck is a no-goal, but it also says “a distinct kicking motion.” In the Laich’s case he was on top of the goalie, and swiveled toward the net trying to address the puck on the rebound. The puck bounced off his skate as he was moving towards the net, but his foot never left the ice, which I feel, would be an essential part of a “distinct kicking motion.”

 

Heeeeeere’s Johnny; part two – Brent Johnson had a relatively quiet night stopping 19 of 20 shots and getting his second consecutive win. Johnny was obviously having fun Saturday night and even registered a shot on goal!

 

First Star, with no goals and no assists – Alex Ovechkin. If that doesn’t give you an idea how big a star he is in Canada, nothing will.

 

@ Carolina vs. Jet Lag 12/7/08 – By the time the final horn sounded on the Caps and Maple Leafs the Caps had 19.5 hours before their next game in Carolina; Less than that if you count all of the other post game stuff they do. To add insult to injury, the Caps added more injuries to their list with Tyler Sloan (who took a nasty shot to the skate boot) and Eric Fehr (who jammed his shoulder while finishing a check).

 

The Caps came into Carolina with a six point lead in the division, unfortunately they left with only a four-point lead as the ‘Canes dropped the Caps 3-1.

 

Carolina held a 1-0 lead throughout most of the game until the third period when the caps really turned up the heat. Washington came out of the dressing room fired up and launched a salvo of shots at Carolina goaltender Michael Leighton. The Caps persistence paid off when Nicklas Backstrom finally scored just shy of the midway mark of the third period to make the game 1-1.

 

The Caps looked like they were on the power-play for the first 15-minutes of period three; unfortunately they looked exhausted for the final five and allowed Carolina to score the go-ahead goal, and the game ending goal in those five.

 

It doesn’t get any easier – The Caps have only three games this week, with their first being at home versus Eastern-Conference-leading Boston (18-4-4) on Wednesday, then a home and away Friday and Saturday which will feature Ottawa (10-10-4) at Verizon and 2nd-place-in-the-Northeast Montreal (15-6-5) on the road.

 

It’s amazing the Caps are doing as well as they are with as much talent as they have injured, but they will need to get healthy soon as they get ready to face the toughest team in the Eastern Conference in the Boston Bruins.

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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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Caps Give Johnny 100th Career Win


The Washington Capitals welcomed the Vancouver Canucks to Verizon Center tonight by dubbing tonight “Canadian Heritage Night.” That was about the extent of the warmth of their welcome. Read the rest of this entry »

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