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Kings at Capitals In-Game Blog: 02-12-2011


Pregame Preview:

This afternoon, the Capitals are looking to get their first win in their last six games against Western Conference opponents. They are winless in their last five matchups (0-4-1) against the Western Conference, with their most recent attempt resulting in a 2-0 loss against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

The Capitals also need to regain home-ice advantage in order to help their cause heading into the postseason. After starting the season 12-1-1 at Verizon Center, the Caps have posted a disappointing 5-6-6 record since.

Mike Green also makes his return after taking a speeding puck to the head against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. He was held out of the Sharks game because of post-concussion symptoms. His defensive presence would have been a luxury at the end of the Sharks loss as the only goals scored game came in the final minutes of the third period.

1st Period Overview:

Alex Ovechkin started the period off right for the Caps, firing his 21st goal of the season just over a minute into the game.

D.J. King tried to make an impact in a rare appearance by getting into a shoving match with some Kings after a Semyon Varlomov save midway through the period. Towards the end of the period, he fired up the crowd with a fight between him and Kings center Kevin Westgarth. King took the early advantage in the fight but Westgarth got a couple of nice blows in there to make it pretty even in the end.

The crowd got a scare when Mike Green was legally checked into the boards face-first, prompting a loud “Ooooooooo” from those in attendance.

The Caps offense was aggressive for most of the first period and the defense held the Kings to no score. That’s the criteria that wins games and could help turn a season around.

Faceoffs Won: LAK – 7 WAS – 5
Hits: LAK – 16 WAS – 11
Shots on Goal: LAK – 4 WAS – 8
Goals: LAK – 0 WAS – 1

2nd Period Overview:

The Caps took their first power play of the game following the 14 minute mark. The highlight of the power play was a slapshot by Mike Green from far out, which failed to go in.

The Kings were able to get their first score at the 9:19 mark after Anze Kopitar knocked in a rebound after a Wayne Simmonds miss in front of the net.

Alexander Semin missed a great opportunity on a wide open breakway after receiving a pass from Ovechkin and shot wide past Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier.

The Caps took their second power play with 5:32 remaining in the period but the Kings were able to clear the puck into the Caps zone on multiple occassions, taking time away from their one-man advantage. That’s the second power play the Caps failed to score on.

The Caps took a roughing penalty called on Mike Green with less than 33 seconds remaining.

Faceoffs Won: LAK – 10 WAS – 8
Hits: LAK – 6 WAS – 11
Shots on Goal: LAK – 15 WAS – 7
Goals: LAK – 1 WAS – 0

3rd Period Overview:

The Kings struck first in the final period with another rebound goal. Kyle Clifford fired the puck from Semyon Varlamov’s left side while Andrei Loktionov handled the deflection directly in front Varly for his third goal of the season.

The Caps took their third power play in the middle of the period but were subject to multiple clears by the Kings into the Caps zone. This time the lack of power play execution prompted loud boos from the frustrated home crowd.

Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll put the game away for the Kings with two goals in less than 90 seconds late in the period, putting the Kings up 4-1.

Hits: LAK – 8 WAS – 9
Shots on Goal: LAK – 9 WAS – 8
Goals: LAK – 3 WAS -0

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Caps Pwn Pens to Extend Streak to 14


What a week! The Washington Capitals do love their dramatic finishes.

Needless to say, the Washington Capitals have extended their winning streak to 14 and Alex Ovechkin has once again proven his dominance over Sidney Crosby.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Caps Season Brilliant, Over


First, kudos to the Caps fans that gave their team a standing ovation, even after the egg they laid last night. Unfortunately, Varly picked a bad night to have his worst game as a professional, but he’s 21 and this playoff season was just a glimpse at the future. We fans wouldn’t have been in a position to have our hearts ripped out last night if it wasn’t for his play.

I hope the Caps spend the off-season studying this series. First of all, the Pens (as much as it hurts to say this) really get playoff hockey. They stand-up at the blue line, their forwards back check as well as anyone, they clog the neutral zone and no matter who has the puck, there are three guys around him. I think these Capitals can learn a lot about how to win in the playoffs by watching what the Pens did to them in this series.

Secondly, the Caps need a big, tough defensman. I love Mike Green, but everytime he was in, Sidney Crosby spent his entire shift with his butt in Varly’s face. They need someone that will get those guys out of there. Did you see Crosby’s scoring chart? He had 9 goals in this series. All but one was within a foot of the net. That is unacceptable.

That being said, I stated before this season that we were two years away from being real contenders. Our defense is 10-times better than it was two years ago, but they’re not quite elite the way our offense can be. With Karl Alzner and maybe a guy like John Carlson in the wings, and the continued improvement of the guys on the team, and maybe (hopefully?) a front line defensive defenseman in the off-season, I think next year could be the year that the Penguins had last year, and once you get to the finals, anything can happen.

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Steckel Is The Key For Cardiac Caps


With all of the incredible talent on both teams in this Caps/Pens series, perhaps the most important this far is the Washington Capitals David Steckel. Coming into this series, you’d have thought that Ovechkin and Crosby were playing one-on-one. Then of course, there were those two Russian guys, Semin and Malkin. That being said, the measuring stick for the Caps has been in the hand of #39.

Steckel’s main contribution is in the face-off circle. He has been spectacular on face-offs, winning 63.5% in this series. That’s 54 wins in 85 chances. Not too shabby.

David Steckel is also a key cog in Washington’s penalty killing unit. His size and long arms make him a real asset when down a man. He uses his reach to cover a lot of ice, poke checking, blocking passing lanes and shots, which is why his 4:02 of shorthanded ice time is third in the league for the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Those are both great contributions to the team, but in this series, its been his offense that has been the difference. Steckel has scrored three times and the Capitals are 3-0 in those games.

The 6’5″, 225-lb Winsconsonite started off the scoring for the Caps in this series, 13:10 into Game 1. The Capitals went on to beat the Pens 3-2.

In game 2, it really did seem like it was Ovie vs. Sid, with both players recording a hat trick. The Caps won 4-3. The difference: David Steckel, playing tough in front of the net gobbled up a Tyler Sloan shot that bounced off of Kris Letang right onto his stick, and slammed it through Marc-Andre Fleury’s five hole.

Then of course, came the game winner in game 6 to eevn the series and force a deciding game 7 on home ice for the Capitals. Steckel could have won game 5 in overtime, but fanned on the shot missing an open net. Then he took a penalty that led to the Penguins third goal in game 6. Being the big-game player he is, he begged his teammates to give him a shot and they did. He repayed them ten-fold.

The Caps had the face-off to the left of Marc-Andre Fleury in the offensive zone, and who better to work it than David Steckel, who was 10 of 14 in game 6 to that point. Stecks won the face-off to Brooks Laich and drove to the net. Laich, from his knees, passed the puck to Matt Bradley against the boards who passed it back to Laich for the one-timer. Steckel put his stick out and deflected the Laich’s shot in midair, past a butterflied Fleury for the game winner.

So yes, Simeon Varlamov will need to stand on his head again. Semin and Kozlov will need to play the same inspired hockey they played at Mellon Arena on Monday night. And, of course, Ovie will need to be Ovie, but the difference will be David Steckel.

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Rockin’ the Red, Wearin’ the Worry


Just when you thought they were out…they pulled you back in.

The Washington Capitals have pulled off the improbable and forced a game seven against the Pittsbugh Penguins.

I understand that not all fans are alike, and maybe I’m the only one feeling this, but here is what I’m feeling the day after an exciting Caps win, on the road, in overtime.

Take that, ya lousy zebras!

I have no problem with the refs “lettin’ the boys play” and keeping their whistles in their pockets. This generally means the refs are going to ignore the minor little happen-stance infractions and only call the most deliberate of fouls. That only seemed to be the case for one team last night.

Sure the Caps had the occasional non-call go their way, but it certainly seemed like the refs would suddenly decide to crack down on the penalties when it was most advantageous to the Penguins.

The Caps won in spite of the refs last night who;

a)      Gave the Pens a two-man advantage early in the game on some ticky-tack penalties.

b)      Gave the Pens a power-play for most of the remaining two minutes of the game.

c)       Gave the Pens an extra 1.5 seconds on a face off draw in the Caps zone at the end of regulation.

I truly believe that the reason the Caps won last night (apart from Brooks Laich and David Steckel teaming up for the deflection goal) was that the Pens were waiting for their gratuitous power-play courtesy of the refs.

Nothing is over until we decide it is….

Excited, nervous, worried, thrilled, and all of this just to explain away the nausea I was feeling during OT. I may have been sitting pensively on the edge of my seat, watching the puck dart around the screen of my television like a half-interested cat following a laser-pointer with only it’s eyes, but my stomach was practicing for the Olympic gymnastics team.

One goal; that’s the difference between living to fight another day and a conciliatory speech about how great the season was.

Who didn’t feel like Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber after that overtime goal?

“So you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

So we got ‘em, now what do we do with ‘em?

Watching all those Penguins fans, screaming their hearts out, and cheering like they’d won the lottery, I swear some of them looked like they were crying tears of joy as overtime started. You could barely hear the whistles! Those fans were ready to celebrate their team winning the series on their home ice. I am sure many bottles of champagne were ordered and some were even opened.

After the Steckel goal; you could hear a pin drop. No boos, no nothing, just dead stoic silence. Suddenly the arena had turned into a crowded conference room of hushed tones and minor mumblings. You could hear the Caps celebrating on the ice, it was great!

But…..

Now it’s their back against the wall too. They are coming to DC. One more game and afterwards someone is going to have to console their fans about how the team played real hard, and had a great run, but everything must come to an end. Someone has to win, and inevitably, someone has to lose.

I would much rather see Bile-in-the-mouth (or however you say Pittsburgh’s coach’s name) have to explain that to his fans than Boudreau having to say it to us.

I don’t want to see what happened in Mellon happen at Verizon. I also don’t want to see classless fans throw garbage out on the ice if we lose. Let’s focus on winning, and if we must lose, lose with class and dignity, not like a bunch of cry-babies who have to express their displeasure like primates flinging feces.

Never say never

I won’t lie to you; the Caps history with the Penguins in game seven of any playoff series is not good. I won’t horrify you with the stats, but will point out that this has been a remarkable year for the Caps. They have shattered records, some as old as 25 years. The Caps have to put that playoff history behind them. They have to come out and play like there was no yesterday, otherwise there will be no tomorrow.

They need to play hard, aggressive, mistake-free hockey for 60+ minutes. Don’t worry about this being the final game. Don’t worry about what you are going to do next win or lose, worry about the Penguins. As my wife likes to say “just win baby!”

Win and everything else will take care of itself.

LET’S GO CAPS!!!

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Will Brashear’s Return be Enough?


Donald Brashear had only been back from injury for four games when he got suspended for six. Without Brashear the Caps had gone 0-2 versus the New York Rangers losing by scores of 4-3 and 1-0.

On “The Donald’s” first night back in game three, the Caps won 4-0. During round one of the playoffs the Caps averaged 3.75 goals a game when he played, and 1.66 goals a game when he didn’t. In contrast, the Rangers scored an average of 2.00 goals a game when Brash didn’t play and 1.00 goals per game when he did.

Why is this information important? Because Donald Brashear’s suspension is now over.

With the Caps now trailing three games to two, Brashear’s return could be just the boost the Caps need. He may not score a lot. He may not get a lot of assists, but it’s hard to deny that the team seems to play better when he’s there.

Brashear played a total of four games out of seven versus New York. In the three games that he didn’t play, the Caps went 1-2 and the combined scores for both teams was 6-5 Rangers. During the four games he did play the Caps went 3-1 and the combined score for both teams was 14-5 Capitals.

Brashear is an intimidating force that should never be taken lightly. It’s more than just the fisticuffs which he is more widely known for, it’s his dominance on the fore-check that wears down the opponents. He is part of what’s called “the Energy Line” for good reason. When you pair him up with Matt Bradley and David Steckel, you have a line every bit as intimidating as Ovechkin, Kozlov, and Federov.

It gives the Caps a solid fourth line and forces opposing teams to either play their own fourth line, or heavily rotate their three lines to keep up. It can really test the depth of the other teams. Their choices are to either thin out their talent across four lines to matchup with the Caps, or risk wearing out before the Caps do by keeping their three lines out for longer shifts.

The Caps need a big game tonight. They need to send a message to Pittsburgh that this series isn’t over. Brashear’s first game of the playoffs came in game three, with the Caps down two games to none, headed to New York, and reeling off a 1-0 shutout loss.

His first game back was a 4-0 shutout win for the Caps.

Now he comes back to find his team with their backs against the wall, facing elimination, headed to Pittsburgh, and reeling off a 4-3 overtime loss.

Can he bring back the magic one more time? We’ll know tonight at 7pm!

LET’S GO CAPS!

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Varlamov Dazzling in Defeat


In a game with few bright spots for Washington Capitals fan, Simeon Varlamov continued to shine.

Varly faced 42 shots on the night – many of them quality chances – and turned away all but 3. The Caps were outplayed and outworked most of the night, but the outstanding young Russian kept the Caps in the game, allowing them to force overtime, and ultimately, put themselves in position to steal a win.

History was not on their side last night. The Capitals have pulled out to a 2-0 lead in a best of seven series five times in franchise history. All five times, the Caps have gone on to lose game 3, and in all but one, they have gone on to lose the series. Notably, the series they did win, they won in 5 games en route to the Stanley Cup finals.

As for last night’s game, the scoring got started early for the Caps. Mike Green dumped the puck into the Penguins zone to facilitate a line change. Alex Ovechkin drove in on the forecheck as Pens netminder Marc-Andre Fleury left the crease to corral the puck, dropping his stick in the process. Somehow, the puck bounced off the boards out in front of the net, directly in front of a charging Ovechkin. Ovie had the whole goal to shoot at, and didn’t miss on a diving shot, past a diving Fleury.

Initially, it seemed to stun the Penguins, and Washington’s offense began to press, culminating in a wrap-around attempt by Nicklas Backstrom that slid across the crease past a wide-open net. From that point forward, the Penguins dominated the game, with the formula used in the regular season by teams like the San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets to beat the Caps: an ultra-aggressive forecheck and relentless physicality. If not for the Caps’ 21-year-old netminder, this game could easily have been a blow-out.

The entire second period looked as if the Capitals were on the penalty kill. The Pens seemed to have possession of the puck for 70% of the period. When the Caps did get possession, they were lucky to get it out of their own zone, let alone create quality chances.

On top of the offensive woes, the Caps couldn’t stay out of the penalty box. It seemed every time Evgeni Malkin touched the puck, the Caps were called for a penalty. The Penguins had six straight power plays, and again, Varlamov was there to save the day, stopping point blank shots, making diving saves and frustrating the fired up Pens at every turn. His magic ran out in the sixth, after Alexander Semin was called for hooking, as Evgeni Malkin, who dominated the Capitals all evening, finally found the back of the net.

The Capitals finally got their chance with the man advantage for the second time with just under two minutes to play in the third period, and boy did they take advantage. Caps sophomore Nicklas Backstrom made up for his earlier miss with a goal off the back of Fleury, and just like that, the Caps found themselves tied at 2, in a game that could easily have been 6-1 at that point.

The Caps came to life, and had several quality chances in the last two minutes of regulation, and in overtime, Ovechkin had two quality chances within seconds of each other, but fanned on one and lost the puck on the other.

Unfortunately for Simeon, at 11:23 of the first OT, he made a stop on a full-court pass that just missed a driving Malkin, and the ensuing face-off was his undoing. In a play eerily similar to the one Ovechkin scored his second goal of game 2, Sidney Crosby beat David Steckel on the face off for only the third time all evening. The puck trickled back to Mark Eaton, who sent a cross-ice pass to the waiting Kris Letang. Letang, who had fanned on two quality chances of his own in OT, nailed this one. The puck careened off of defenseman Shaonne Morrisson over the glove of Varlamov, off the cross bar and in to end game 3.

As mentioned before, the Capitals have had little success in series in which they hold a 2-0 lead, but as the history of this post-season has shown, the Caps are routinely re-writing their history. Hopefully the boys in red, white and blue will come back for game 4 a little more fired up and continue to distinguish themselves from previous Caps teams, en route to the finals. For now though, they need to focus on game 4.

There’s a pretty good chance that Bruce Boudreau is telling his team that at this very moment. That, and telling George McPhee to sign Varlamov for a long, long time.

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Caps Edge Penguins 4-3


Once again the Penguins out skated, and outshot the Capitals, and once again the Capitals won by a single goal.

The three stars may have been Ovechkin, Crosby and Varlamov, but it was David Steckel’s goal in the second period that turned out to be the difference maker in a game that has been billed as “Sid the Kid vs. Alex the Great.”

The Capitals looked like they were skating at half-speed throughout most of the game, while the Penguins skated hard, and swarmed the puck at every opportunity.

Truly the game was infuriating to watch. Whenever the Penguins got the puck, they raced up the ice without delay. Whenever the Caps got the puck, they passed it around for a bit in their own zone, and then began to meander up through center ice before dumping it into the attacking zone or having it taken away from them.

The Penguins looked like they had endless energy; the Caps looked like they had just come off a three-day bender and were trying to skate off their hangover, but in the end, it was the Caps who found the back of the net most often.

Crosby scored first on a cheap little tip-in during a 5-on-4 power-play in the first period. Ovechkin scored early in the second with a wicked one-timer from the left face-off dot to tie the game at one.

Crosby scored again in the second period by standing in Varlamov’s hip pocket and tipping the puck past the goalie from point-blank range. It may not have been interference, but he was close enough that Varly could have been wearing him like the skin suit from Silence of the Lambs (I giggle when I think about Buffalo Bill wearing a Sidney Crosby skin suit and saying the things he said in the movie [things I can't type here as this blog is rated PG]).

It was David Steckel who tied the game up in the second period when he slapped a rebound past Fleury from just below the right face-off circle.

A little more than halfway through the third with the game tied at 2; The Caps begin a power play at the right face-off dot and four seconds later, Ovechkin nails a one-timer from the top of the left face-off circle to beat Fleury once again and put the Caps up 3-2.

Two and a half minutes later, it began to rain hats at Verizon Center as Ovechkin nailed a slap-shot from between the face-off circles and got his first career playoff hat-trick. To find the last Capital to get a hat trick in the playoffs you’d have to go all the way back to 1993 and look at a guy named Al Iafrate (maybe you’ve heard of him). It took three and a half minutes to clean up all the hats, even as they continued to rain down amongst the chants of “MVP! MVP” The Caps were up 4-2 with a little more than 4 and a half minutes to play.

With roughly two minutes to go, the Penguins pulled Fleury for the extra attacker and the refs made it interesting when they called a cheap cross checking penalty on Milan Jurcina.

With 30-seconds left to play, and the Penguins now skating 6-on-4, Crosby had a rebound bounce onto his stick to the right of Varlamov and he slapped it into a surprised Tom Poti from point-blank range. The puck bounced right back to Crosby who again slapped it into a still stunned Poti. The puck again bounced back to Crosby who lifted this time and had the puck rainbow over Poti and Varlimov and just clear the top left corner of the net.

One lonely hat drifted down from the stands to celebrate Crosby’s third goal of the game. Of course, it could have been an accident and the hat got pulled off some poor fan’s head by how much Crosby sucks but either way It would be too little, too late.

Crosby may have gotten the second star of the game honors, and Ovechkin is credited with the game winner, but in the end it was the dynamic play of Simeon Varlamov and the under-rated goal by David Steckel that gave the Caps the edge and allowed them to win 4-3.

The real test comes Wednesday as the Caps travel to Pittsburgh with a two game advantage in the series. Expect Pittsburgh to play their hardest, and expect that the Igloo will be filled with ballpoint fans screaming “let’s go Pens!”

No one is going to pick the Caps to win game three. Commentators will briefly touch on Ovechkin’s hat-trick as a lead into talking about how great Crosby is, and how the Caps can’t stop him. They will talk about how Varlamov is starting to look a little shaky as he has given up five goals in the last two games (four of which were scored by Crosby) after only giving up six in the entire first round.

You better believe that they will consider game two a moral victory as the Pens finally got their power play going, and that coming home will be just the confidence booster Malkin and Staal need to make their presence felt.

The Caps are not being taken seriously…but they are winning games. The Penguins can outshoot, and outskate the Caps all they like, but in the end, the only stat that matters is the score.

Go Caps!

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Second Round to Feature First Ever One-on-One Hockey


For those that don’t know, the Washington Capitals begin their second round playoffs Saturday at 1pm on NBC against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

If you are unfamiliar with hockey and are just starting to listen in to the hype surrounding this series, you may be expecting to tune in for a one-on-one match-up.

I turned on the NHL Network this morning to watch ‘NHL on the Fly‘, and I was excited that they were going to talk to Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin both on the show.

Then I saw the interviews.

Each player was asked approximately 10 questions, and none of them had anything to do with their respective teams or what to expect in the upcoming series. It was all about Ovie vs. Sid.

Isn’t it true you two exchanged autgraphed sticks? What kind of question is that. Who cares? How about asking two of the best players in the world to break down the match-ups, what they think they need to do to win. Sure, throw in a couple of questions about the rivalry or about whose the better player, but for goodness sake’s, don’t ignore the significance of the series itself.

I understand that it is rare to see the league’s two top players square off in the playoffs, but it takes two entire teams to have an exciting series, not two guys, no matter how good they may be.

Ovie and Sid are obviously tired of talking about it. Heck, Ovechkin actually said so at the end of the interview on the NHL Network. Even in this clip from Fox 5 you can hear the frustration creeping in:

 

Let’s remember to talk about the teams, not just the players. It probably not going to be either of these players that determine the outcome, anyway. Its the second and third lines, the goaltending and the defense that make the difference between a good team with one great line and a Stanley Cup champion.

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Hating the Penguins


The Pittsburgh Pengiuns.

There’s a team that should get the bile duct of most Caps fans going.

Even though Pittsburgh isn’t a division rival, I can think of no team in the NHL that I hate more than the Pittsburgh Penguins.

They are my Dallas Cowboys of Hockey.

I hated going to games at Verizon Center whenever the Penguins came to town.

Sure the games would be close to sell out capacity, but that’s because it would be packed with Penguins fans. If the Caps scored, the crowd at home ice would boo them!

The now familiar chant of “Let’s go Caps” would be replaced with “Let’s go Pens!”

Pens?! Seriously?! You cheer for office equipment?

Could you imagine seeing this on Wheel of Fortune:

PEN_S

“Pat, I think I’d like to buy a vowel.”

Pittsburgh currently has Sidney Crosby. I hate Sidney Crosby. Not because I think he’s better than say, I dunno, Alex Ovechkin, but because he is more popular (well, in anyplace other than DC).

Sidney Crosby complained to the media this year that he thought Ovechkin was “targeting” him. He implied that he thought Ovechkin was trying to hurt him and taking “cheap shots.” He complained that the refs weren’t calling any penalties on Ovechkin and, get this, giving him special treatment because he’s a “star player.”

How can anyone seriously cheer for this cry-baby?

Okay, let me break this down simply. Ovechkin is not a “finesse” player; well, not totally. He is not afraid of contact. He relishes it. He expects to get hit when he has the puck, and he gives as good as he gets.

Ovechkin wants the puck. If nothing else, he doesn’t want the other team to have it. If you have the puck, and Alex is nearby…he will hit you; hard. If you don’t want to get hit, then maybe you picked the wrong sport. Hockey is a contact sport, maybe those delicate hands are more suited to wield a golf club as opposed to a hockey stick (see: Happy Gilmore). At least that way you won’t have to worry about someone knocking you off the tee (unless you invite Ovie to play…then who knows).

The sad part is that Canadians, who pride themselves on the gritty game of hockey with the hard hits, the fighting, the blood on the ice; side with Crosby.

It makes me sick to see these guys like Don Cherry (in his multi-colored crushed velvet suits) talk about what a great player Crosby is, and in the same breath describe Ovechkin as a “mindless goon.” Crosby is the next Wayne Gretzky while Ovechkin is more the ilk of Sean Avery (at least in Cherry’s opinion).

Cherry made his attacks more personal this year when he blathered on about how much he hates Alex’s goal-scoring celebrations. He compared Ovechkin’s exuberance with that of international Soccer players. He even had the nerve to use (you guessed it) Crosby as a contrast of what a hockey player “should be.”

The way Cherry made it sound, the rest of the league hangs their head in a dignified, almost apologetic manner whenever they score a goal. Kind of a “hey man, I know I just scored on you. Terribly sorry about that y’know, but my coach said I had to do it otherwise we might just lose this game.”

Everyone celebrates when they score. Yes, even your beloved Crosby jumps up and throws his hands in the air after a goal.

Ovechkin loves the game. He loves playing it, he loves being the best at it, and if anything his huge celebrations are a further example of how humble he is. What kind of arrogant jerk would he look like if he simply skated away from a goal like it was ‘no big deal.’ It would be the same as saying “yeah, I score all the time. I was going to score against you anyway, and now I have. Let’s not make any big thing out of it, a’ight.”

That may be the Don Cherry way, but considering he dresses more like he should be taming tigers in Vegas like his brothers Siegfried and Roy, and less like an analyst covering a professional sport, he doesn’t really have a lot of room to be criticizing anyone else’s “flamboyance.”

We are done with the whining. We already got plenty of that from New York. “Your fans spit on us and called us dirty names. Your guy bit us, I’m gonna tell. ”

Pittsburgh is going to think they have home ice throughout the playoffs, because that’s what they’ve been used to. They are gonna expect Verizon Center to be filled with their roaming bands of Gypsy fans, but when they get in there and see a sea of 18,000 people all wearing red…they’ll know they aren’t at home, and they certainly aren’t welcome.

Puck drops at 1pm Pittsburgh; bring your A-Game.

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