Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Passing Lane

Alex Ovechkin enters this season with 269 career goals and the 3rd highest Goals Per Game rate of players since 1931 (only Bossy and Lemieux are ahead of him). Looking at the list of Career Goals Scored, Ovechkin looks to pass the following well-known players this season (# of goals needed to pass in parenthesis):
  • Bobby Orr (2)
  • Howie Morenz (3)
  • Red Kelly (13)
  • Larry Murphy (19)
  • Neal Broten (21)
  • Mike Ridley (24)
  • Ulf Dahlen (33)
  • Dennis Hull (35)
  • Martin Gelinas (41)
  • Denis Potvin (42)
  • Dave Gagner (50)
  • Clark Gillies (51)
  • Bobby Carpenter (52)
  • Dale Hunter (55)
  • Adam Graves (61)
It's a pretty impressive list within Ovie's reach, with a number of Hall of Famers and quite a few former Caps. Of course, none of the players on this list are close to Ovie in games played (Orr is closest with 657 to Ovie's 396).

So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sticker Shock

Being a Caps season ticket holder is a wonderful thing. You get tickets to 41 Caps home games, a wonderful Season Ticket Holder present, a huge party (last year, at Six Flags), first dibs at the Caps equipment sale, and the ability to gloat to all your friends. But it’s fairly costly. Some view it as an investment, selling various games for a profit and breaking even on the season. Some simply take the hit, and spend even more money on concessions and souvenirs. But there is another hidden cost that hits us all: getting to Verizon Center.
I myself take Metro to and from games. Living up the I-95 corridor in suburban Maryland, Greenbelt Station is my station of choice. It has a direct exit off 495, making it easy to get to, and always has sufficient parking. But Metro isn’t cheap. It’s one of those expenses that you just assume into your cost for a game and coming off your Smart Trip card, you rarely ever see the cash leave you hand. But just how expensive is it?

Get ready to get sick.

The Caps have 25 games that fit Metro’s ‘weekday’ pricing (27 actual weekday games, 2 of which fall on a holiday) and 16 games that fit their ‘weekend’ pricing (including those two holiday games). Assuming you leave for DC at 4:00pm on a game day, park at the station and leave downtown for home after 9:00pm, these are the full-season costs from the system's end stations:

Greenbelt: $632.25 for a couple w/ parking; $1158.25 for a family of 4 w/ parking

Shady Grove: $682.25; $1245.75

Vienna: $676.00; $1239.50

Glenmont: $659.75; $1200.75

New Carrolton: $546.35; $986.45

Franconia Springfield: $676.00; $1239.50

Largo Town Center: $622.25; $1138.25

Branch Avenue: $528.85; $951.45

(Oh, and with Metro’s new $0.20 ‘Peak-of-the-peak’ fare increase, if you’re leaving for DC between 4:30-6:30pm during the week add on an additional $5 to the total.)

Insane, right? The cost of Metro for a family of 4 is nearly the cost of a season ticket. During the week, it’s actually more expensive for a couple to park at Shady Grove Metro Station and take the train in ($20.25) than it is to drive to Chinatown and pay $10-20 to park in a garage (granted, you eliminate the hassle of dealing with rush-hour traffic if you train in).

Fortunately, there are ways of lessening the blow from Metro costs if you’re willing to do some work.
Take a look at stations a little further down the line, closer to the city. With fares that are $0.60 less than Greenbelt’s, taking the train from College Park Station will save you $201.80 over the course of a season. The same holds true for Twinbrook ($30) and Grosvenor ($95) on the Red Line, Van Dorn St. ($90) and Morgan Blvd. ($171.80) on the Blue Line, and Dunn Loring ($60) and West Falls Church ($256.80!) on the Orange Line. Some of these stations have far fewer parking spots than the end stations, but if you’re lucky enough to get a spot it’s worth the extra drive.

You could also look for a job in Downtown DC, in which case you’d save some money by not leaving the city till after Metro’s peak fare times. You could do even better if you find a job with an employer who subsidizes Metro costs. I hear the Federal Government is always hiring!

Or you could simply drive your Mercedes Benz SL65 AMG Black Edition into Chinatown and park in the Verizon Center garage. Oh yeah... to do that, you'll need to be the best hockey player in the world.

No matter what, the cost of a Caps season ticket isn’t the true cost of the ticket and it isn't for the faint of heart. Fortunately enough, 18,000 red-clad Caps Fans think the price is worth it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Bradley

When you think of Matt Bradley, what images come to mind? Do you think of hard hits? Sticking up for teammates? A defense-first mentality? Dirty work? Certainly. But would you ever use the words 'skilled', 'sniper', or 'slick' when talking about Matt? Maybe you should.

Since Matt didn't score a lot of goals last season, we'll take a look at his last 2 seasons, including playoffs. That's a total of 18 goals. As with all our other goal analyses, we'll break the goals down into categories. For Matt, the groupings are pretty simple:

  • Skill Goals
  • Rebound/Grit Goals

You might be surprised to know that 10 of those 18 goals fall into the 'skill' category, including 7 of his 11 scored this season. Seven more fit the 'Rebound/Grit' group, and one lone goal falls into the undefined 'luck' category (Martin Broduer's flub of a partially-blocked Bradley shot).

A lot of Brads' goals aren't just showcases of skill, but show the hands and release of a sniper. On breakaways (and 'I'll do it" shootout attempts), he's not afraid to make power moves, use his backhand, or try something tricky. And of course, every time Bradley scores, Caps fans cheer that much louder.

Which brings me to the ultimate point of this post: that even 3rd and 4th line NHL players are still highly skilled and capable of much more than they might regularly show. Like so many, Bradley is dedicated to playing his role as a defensively-minded energy player and he excels at it.

But maybe he's really a 3rd line sniper waiting for the right opportunity to put the puck in the net.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Things I Miss: The Skipjacks

Ever since the Washington Capitals joined forces with the Hershey Bears of the AHL in 2005, Caps fans have been lucky to have minor league hockey within driving distance of DC. The history associated with the Bears, and the success of the team after the collaboration, have won over scores of Washinton fans who routinely make road trips up to catch weekend games.But when I started playing hockey in the early 1990's, Hershey wasn't in the picture and neither was driving 2 hours to find AHL hockey. In the early 90's, there were the Skipjacks.

Once upon a time, the Baltimore Skipjacks had better attendance than the Baltimore Bullets NBA team. Being only 30 minutes north of Landover, there was always the opportunity to head up and catch a game at the Baltimore Arena. There was also the opportunity, just as the Bears do around the community, for the Skipjacks players to do PR trips.

During my first years playing hockey at the Wells Hockey clinic in College Park, MD, several Skipjacks players made the trip down to get on the ice with kids just learning the game.

The Skipjacks sent a couple young defensemen, Jim Mathieson and Ken Lovsin, down for the PR visit. The two were just kids and acted like it. They had fun with the large group of kids, playing keep-away and stickhandling with the butt-ends of their sticks. As a kid, it was an absolute blast to see these professionals goofing off and having fun playing the game.

I was a goalie at the time and I remember Lovsin throwing harmless shots at me to stop. I yelled at him to really shoot the puck, and he did. I made a glove save on a slap shot (which I was extremely proud of) that pulled my glove off my hand and deposited it top-shelf inside the net. I think Lovsin laughed for 10 minutes while I taunted him that I'd hold on next time.

I wish the DC area had an AHL team to call its own. Sure, the Caps are incredibly involved in the community, but kids are in awe of them. Sometimes having the no-name kids come out really brings out the love of the game.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Varly: Blogger

The great Caps Blog Russian Machine Never Breaks reported yesterday that Cap’s goaltender Semyon Varlamov had begun blogging on a Russian language site. While not as quotable as either of the Sashas, Varly has certainly had his fair share of interesting interviews.

With that, I give you the top 10 things Varly will eventually blog about:

10. How “Ovie didn’t even like like Dolce & Gabbana before he met me!”

9. Clearing up that it’s not that he doesn’t like American girls, it’s that they’re all intimidated by his flexibility.

8. A poll asking readers if he should start growing his playoff beard at the start of the playoffs, or start now so he can compete with Alzner's.

7. In-depth statistical analysis on how JP’s Rink Wraps score highly in ‘Blogger CORSI’ rating.

6. How he’ll be changing his number to 80 next season, just to piss of Leonhardt.

5. How he completely understood Avery’s English, and yet none of what he said made any sense.

4. Loads and loads of jokes at Neuvy’s expense.

3. Genuine fear that he’ll catch Irbe running over his pads with a Toyota Tundra.

2. Constant posts about how “that bum Carlson keeps screening me!”

1. His frustration with the media constantly mispronouncing his name. "It’s ‘Семён’ people; it’s not that hard. Sheesh."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Z is for Zubrus

After spending the weekend traveling to Massachusetts with the family, I realized from the plethora of Boston Bruins-themed baby gear that there is almost no Caps-themed 'stuff' for my 7 month old. The book 'Z is for Zamboni' has lots of references to hockey culture, history and is Original Six heavy. We need to create something for Caps babies.

We're calling it 'Z is for Zubrus'.

A is for Alzner, the young Defenseman with a Hertz Gold Card.
B is for Bradley, whom everything needs more of.
C is for Carlson, the defenseman who makes Mike Green tradable in 2 years.
D is for Donald, who is gone but not forgotten.
E is for Erskine, the caveman on skates.
F is for Fehr, who is still looking for ice time.
G is for Green, who likes his sticks blue.
H is for Hunter, who really needed some anger management classes.
I is for Iafrate, who shot really hard and smoked even harder.
J is for Juneau, who put the Caps in the finals.
K is for Khristich, who loved the Caps so much, he came back for more.
L is for Landover, where Abe built his arena and loved his Bullets more.
M is for McPhee, the GM who really wishes he hadn't signed Nylander.
N is for Nylander, who never learned what 'go away' meant.
O is for Ovechkin, the best in the world.
P is for Peeters, who wore the brown pads.
Q is for Quintin, who broke his jaw and then gave an interview.
R is for Reekie, who was really, really slow.
S is for Semin, who pulls a David Copperfield in the playoffs.
T is for Ted, the owner who waits in line like the commoners.
U is for Ustorf, who was a really bad draft pick.
V is for Verizon Center, where the cockroaches roam.
W is for Weber, the great Caps radio voice.
X is for X-rays, which hockey players get a lot.
Y is for the Young Guns, Ovie, Green, Backstrom and Semin.
Z is for Zubrus, who somehow couldn't get 80 points skating with Ovie.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Willie Sign Him?

With Willie Mitchell's 'LeBron Day' approaching, I thought it appropriate to take a look back at the Capitals' history of dipping their toes in the free agent water to sign a defenseman and, more importantly, how those signings panned out. We'll take a look at the defensemen who played 50+ games in a season for the Caps after being signed, and we may as well go as far back as 1997 and the hiring of George McPhee as General Manager.

I count 10 significant free agent defenseman signings in that time frame:
  • Tom Poti ('07)
  • Brian Pothier ('06)
  • John Erskine ('06)
  • Ivan Majesky ('06)
  • Jamie Heward ('05)
  • Bryan Muir ('05)
  • Mathieu Biron ('05)
  • Jason Doig ('02)
  • Rob Zettler ('99)
  • Dimitri Mironov ('98)
Yep, everyone else was either home-grown or a trade acquisition (or never played many games as a Cap).

I could argue that the only 'significant' signings on this list are Poti, Pothier and Mironov. Only 5 players on the list had played in a playoff game prior to becoming a Cap, with a total of 143 playoff games between them (with Mironov alone playing 71 of those games). Only Muir and Mironov had won a Stanley Cup. It's a list short on impact players and long on 3rd and 4th pairing defensemen.

On the positive side, the two most recent signings (Poti & Pothier) can be considered solid moves. Also, with the most recent of these signings happening way back in 2007, McPhee has shown confidence in both the current defensive corps at the time and talented defensive prospects in the pipeline. Both Mike Green and Jeff Schultz proved McPhee's foresight correct in the past, and John Carlson and Karl Alzner will get the chance to prove him right again this coming season.

Based on his history of signing free agent defensemen, chances are Willie Mitchell will probably be skating elsewhere next season. But George McPhee has surprised us before... that Jason Doig signing caught us all off guard.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Call for References

Dear Mr. NHL General Manager,

I write this letter to you on behalf of a player who currently has no team to call his own. This player is a hard worker in the truest sense of the word; his dedication to the game of hockey, to his team and to his teammates is unsurpassed. This player will do anything to earn a spot on your team and will give it his all in every second he's allowed to skate, whether it's in a game or at practice.

I write this letter on behalf of Quintin Laing.

Quintin has earned the respect of his Washington Capital teammates through his self-sacrifice, determination, and willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team, even if that's pushing them hard in practice in preparation for a game he'll watch from the press box. Unfortunately, it appears that the Capitals' roster simply cannot hold a spot for him this season.

It is true that the things we have come to associate with Quintin (shot blocking, hard checking, defensive-minded hockey) weren't as evident in his game last season than in previous years. Perhaps Quintin has worn himself out of being an NHL player from the abuse he has subjected his body to. And perhaps an NHL roster spot is too valuable to waste on a player such as Quintin. But if you have the freedom on your roster to do so, I guarantee he won't let you down.

On behalf of every hockey player who ever dreamed of making it, we ask you to take a small gamble on the one of us who worked the hardest. The one who refused to give up. The one who never stopped working towards his goal. Your team will be the better for it.

Thank you,

P.S. Mr. Yingst, if this letter doesn't work, could you please see if Quintin might like to skate with your Bears again? At least that way I'll get the chance to see him play a few more times.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

August, 1990

In August of 1990 and continuing through to mid December of the same year, the Washington Capitals seemed to continuously hold press conferences to announce the signing of some Eastern European player to a contract. First it was Peter Bondra. Then Mikhail Tatarinov. Then Dimitri Khristich. The latter two happened in-between periods of Caps games, with Home Team Sports introducing us to players with strange names and unknown skill levels. Fortunately enough, a couple of them panned out for us.

The 1990-9 season was a strange season. It was the season after the team’s first trip to the Conference Finals. It was the first season after the Caps let Scott Stevens go via free agency. It was the first Caps team in 15 years without a 30 goal scorer. It was a rough season, with John Kordic (7 games, 101 PIMs!), Nick Kypreos, Alan May, Dale Hunter and Al Iafrate all fighting anything that moved. But it was a season of potential, thanks largely to the three mysterious players the Caps had conjured up.

I remember Tatarinov and Khristich being among the first Russians allowed to freely leave to join the NHL (with Tatarinov being the first). I remember Bondra being perhaps the last true unknown star prospect; scouted by the late, great Jack Button and no one else. I was amazed that these three unknown players managed to step onto an NHL team and finish #10, 11 and 12 in team scoring. It was the beginning of something great in Washington and it was fun to watch Bondra and Khristich develop into legitimate players before our eyes.

It’s hard to believe that was 20 years ago this month.

Monday, August 16, 2010

We're Making Waffles!

Dear Mr’s Varlamov and Neuvirth,
I have heard recently that your team will be participating in the 2011 NHL Winter Classic outdoor game to be held in Pittsburgh, PA and that, as with previous participants in this annual game, you will be wearing throwback uniforms. As a longtime Caps fan, I have some suggestions to help you bring out the true spirit of the Caps teams’ that wore the jersey of old.

As goaltenders, you have the most flexibility to show your creative side. My first suggestion is that you honor the great Caps goaltenders who wore the Red, White and Blue before you. Please have your blocker pad designed to look like an old-school waffle blocker. It isn't just Mr. Beaupre that succeeded with this look. Mr. Liut did as well. And Mr. Kolzig.

If you're looking for a vintage mask design to borrow, look no further than Don Beaupre. The simple stars, stripes, and Capital Dome mask design is a must. It evokes memories of sprawling glove saves, the Patrick Division and the Capital Centre. You could go with the solid white (we know Varly, 'been there, done that') or the patterns and lines of Kolzig's rookie mask but we're fans of Mr. Beaupre (sorry Pete Peeters people).

But perhaps you're looking for a slightly more modern look. You could honor the great Jim Hrivnak and his futuristic flat-front blocker (ooh! aah!). No matter what, you can't go wrong with anything that makes Caps fans remember Jim Hrivnak fondly.
Remember guys, it's all about paying homage to great Caps goalies of the past while being yourselves. The Winter Classic is more about the fans, the retro jerseys and the spirit of the game than it is about beating the snot out of Pittsburgh winning and losing. Have fun with it.

Caps Fans

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Red Line

I’m sure many a Caps fan can attest to riding the Metro into Gallery Place/Chinatown/Verizon Center station on a game day and coming up the Chinatown escalator into a sea of chaos that would rival a hundred loitering Penguins fans. Kids handing out, preachers on megaphones, office workers hurriedly rushing to catch a train. It’s a bit overwhelming at times (especially when I have my 7 month old son strapped to me).

An interesting article in today’s Washington Post describes the scene around the Gallery Place/Chinatown/Verizon Center on the heels of last week’s Metro brawl and accurately hits on one slightly aggrivating aspect of the area: the large number of teens who congregate there. There’s a reason they’re there.
Why Gallery Place? Fowler isn't entirely sure but offers this theory: It's at the intersection of the Red and Green lines, allowing kids from all over to converge; there are hipster clothing stores; and there's the Regal theater, which became the city's main teen cineplex hangout after the movie houses at Union Station closed last fall.
The article goes on to talk about thefts of cell phones, fights, and the generally annoying tendencies of some of the various groups that hang out around the Gallery Place area. While I’ve never seen a fight in the area, I’ve heard the teasing of passersby and have a friend who had to chase down a thief to get her iPhone back during the Frozen Four (she and the DCPD caught the guy).

But on a Caps game day, the Sea of Red is the dominant gang in town. Caps fans stick up for each other. We walk with a presence that says ‘I will Unleash the Fury tonight’. I have never been scared of anything other than tripping or slipping on a sewer grate while in the Gallery Place area. The kids hanging out on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery are even pushed aside when busloads of Penguins and Rangers fans decide take over. Hockey owns the area on a game day/night.

Sure, the crime and taunting still go on during hockey season. It's unavoidable. But when there’s a Caps game, it somehow feels different. It’s comforting to be around 18,000 of your closest friends.

The article ends with a slightly ominous line:

They'll be back. Even in the winter, Johnson says. "We'll be down here in our peacoats."
Well we’ll be down here too, ESPECIALLY in the winter. We’ll be the ones in Red.

One C, Two C, Red C, Blue C

There have been quite a few hot-topic discussions this summer among Caps fans, but it seems that none inspires the most heated debates as: who is the team’s 2nd line center for the 2010-11 season? We’ve all conjectured about Fleischmann, Johansson, Perreault, Laich, and a number of free agent possibilities who could fill the void. For a second, I’d like to ask another question on a similar subject:

Who will be the team’s 3rd line center?

With yesterday’s reports that the Caps will be re-signing center Eric Belanger, the issue popped back up again. The Washington Post’s Katie Carrera put the issue out there yesterday:

Belanger's return will certainly make it an interesting battle for among a group of players potentially including Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, David Steckel, Boyd Gordon, Fleischmann and Mathieu Perreault for ice time behind top-line center Nicklas Backstrom
Yikes. That's more 'C's than 'Ciccarelli and 'Ciccone' combined!

Ok, so let’s assume (correctly) that Backstrom is the top line center, that the rumors involving trading Flash are true and that Gordon and Steckel will take turns manning the 4th line center duties (as neither showed the offensive side needed to helm the 3rd line role). Let’s also assume Laich will continue to play wing. That would leave Belanger, Johansson and Perreault to fight for the role. Can any of them do it? Sure.

Belanger looks like a 3rd line center to me. Sure, he was running the second line in Minnesota, but none of his linemates there would be 2nd liners for the Washington Capitals and he tends to look tentative; like he's always getting ready to backcheck. Of course, maybe playing a full season with the likes of Alex Semin, Eric Fehr and/or Brooks Laich will turn him into a solid 2C. Over the last 3 seasons, Belanger has had twice as many primary assists (49) than assists of the secondary variety (24). The man can pass.

Perreault fit nicely between Chimera and Fehr for a few games and could assume that same role out of camp. He also possesses the hockey-sense to find the more skilled second liners in open ice, and 2C seems to fit his size and defensive ability more than 3C. If he’s managed to improve his face offs and defensive play, either pivot position would fit him.

As for Johansson, obviously none of us can say who he’ll work best with at the NHL level. He seems like a skilled, play-making center with some grit who could fill in at either 2C or 3C. Only time will tell what kind of center he really is. I know the Caps are very high on him, but the Caps have been very high on players that didn't fit their roles in the past.

None of these questions can be answered until the conjectured signings and trades actually happen, and until the fight for the spot commences at training camp. Until then, Caps fans will be left debating.

Of course, maybe GMGM is looking at trading Flash to make room for Peter Forsberg. Then this discussion is moot...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gone in a...

Earlier today, it was reported by various Tweeters, Bloggers and Know-it-alls that the Caps were in talks to trade Tomas Fleischmann. @Caps_Girl on Twitter also reported that Fleischmann was no longer listed on the Washington Capitals.com official roster, which was quickly updated to add him back.

Now I think the Caps website people are going the extra length to say "Look over here! See, he's still here! Please don't yell at us George!" When I got onto the site a few minutes ago, this was the background that greeted me:

Awesome. There's sneaky little Flash, pinching in from the right side. (Ok, I know that the Caps site rotates through backgrounds and this was just luck, but it was still pretty amusing.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sasha vs. Sasha

In what will become a running segment during the regular season, today marks the debut of ‘Sasha vs. Sasha’, and in-depth competition between The Alexs, Ovechkin and Semin. Some of the competitive categories will be your standard statistical fare, while some will be up to my discretion (and completely off the wall).

We're calling it 'Sasha vs. Sasha'.

Today, we’ll look at something real: who scored their goals against better defensemen?

Trying to quantify every defenseman in the NHL is a tough task. I chose to go with 'Goals Against On-Ice Per 60 Minutes' DIVIDED BY 'Quality of Competition +1'. This brings negative values of QUALCOMP to a positive baseline that is <1. When GAON/60 is divided by this value, you see an adjustment up if the value is <1. It’s probably not the best way to evaluate a defenseman, but it works. We’ll call it GA60/QUAL. Here’s what I found.

Breaking down the defensemen on the ice for each of the Alexs’ 90 goals scored and using their GA60/QUAL, we come up with an average GA60/QUAL of 2.48 for Ovechkin and 2.71 for Semin (the lower the value, the better the defenseman). Using the standard deviation of the entries and grouping them by frequency, we come up with the following graph:

Clearly, Ovechkin is scoring against better defensemen (his curve shifted slightly to the left of Semin’s) while Semin is taking advantage of less effective defensemen (his curve extending far to the right, even though he scored 10 fewer goals). Obviously, Ovechkin was usually skating against a team's #1 defensive unit while Semin was attacking against unit #2 (and obviously Ovechkin is the 'Superstar' of the two).

But the fact that Semin was able to capitalize against the weaker defensemen in the league is also important, as those are the match-ups a good player/team needs to exploit (especially if your #1 player is seeing tougher defenses). Clearly both players have thier respective roles, with each one producing when called upon.

I'm scoring this one in Ovie's favor though. It's tough to deny the left side of the curve.

Monday, August 9, 2010


This weekend, I had the honor of helping out at the Leap Towards a Cure Tournament/Event held at The Gardens Ice House in Laurel, MD. Before I go on, I’d like to commend everyone who helped organize or contributed to the event, as it was a spectacular tribute to our dear Mrs. 'Froggy' Henderson.

Last Christmas, I was given a radar gun by my father-in-law (thanks Marty!) which I’ve used several times in coaching. It’s proven especially helpful in teaching little kids about the differences between wrist, snap and slapshots (because EVERY kid wants to take slapshots). On Saturday, the gun became part of a fun game of one-up-manship between just about every hockey player in the state of Maryland.

I got to sit myself down behind a regulation-sized net while dozens of adult league players, and quite a few kids, shot hundreds of roller hockey pucks my way while I clocked them.


The shots came in all shapes and sizes (and velocities). There were some old, wooden Sherwood PMP 5030 sticks (Paul Coffey pattern, of course) at the station and nearly everyone who used one went running to their car for their own expensive composite sticks, convinced that they ‘can shoot harder than 52!’ A goalie showed up and, using one of the old wooden sticks, fired one 83mph… I unofficially declare him the winner. Alas, the best anyone in attendance could manage was 84mph (with a roller hockey puck, which is ~4mph higher than an NHL puck).


Which got me thinking about those NHL players who can fire the puck over 100mph and the players that block those shots. I’ve been hit with pucks fired from some of these adult beer league players and they definitely hurt. Those shots are in the low 80s. Adding 20mph to that, I can’t imagine doing what a shot-blocking NHL player does. It’s insane. I know they get paid well for it, but still.

So cheer when someone slides all-out to block a shot. It’s probably a lot harder than you think.


Friday, August 6, 2010

New Coat of Paint

In this off-season of trades, free agency and arbitration hearings, there haven't been as many goaltenders changing teams/signing deals as I hoped. I love it when goalies move around, since that means new pads and more importantly, new masks.

With that, here are my suggestions for some new masks for some NHL goalies.

With Jaroslav Halak gone, this paint scheme pretty much sums up Carey Price this coming season.

One thing is for certain: with this mask, Semyon Varlamov will never get hit in the head with a puck...

This mask fits a number of goalies this off season.

Then, of course, there's Antti Niemi's new mask.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


With the talk of the town recently being Albert Haynesworth's lack of conditioning, I got to thinking about the conditioning of hockey players. Hockey is all about sprints, stops and starts. A typical NHL shift IS the conditioning test Haynesworth failed: 300 yards worth of 25 yard sprints in 73 seconds. Haynesworth is a defensive lineman, the overweight goalie of the football world; they don't do sprints. They're compact in their movements. And they always, always, look gassed.

Remind you of anyone, Caps fans?

I have been fortunate enough to witness the conditioning hilarity that is Dmitri Kugryshev at Caps Development Camp. To be a legitimate NFL or NHL player requires tons of hard work, some skill, and elite conditioning and dedication to becoming better.

Just don't make them do sprints. Ever.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Taking a Stance

Much of Caps Nation has been clamoring all off season for moves to shore up some perceived holes in the current (on paper) line-up. At the top of that list are the need for an experienced defenseman and a second-line center.

Unlike some, I'm comfortable with the defensive corps as it stands. The influx of youth this coming season will no doubt cause some growing pains, but I have hope that the doubters will be silenced by solid play by #s 27 and 74.

Addressing the 'hole' and 2C, and GM George McPhee's stance that he's finished shopping, lets look at what's left on the shelf for a minute. I count 17 unrestricted free agent 'centers' on the market (minimum 100 NHL games). Of that 17, 5 are under 30 years of age, 7 are age 30-34 and 5 are 35+. The average career games played for the group:
  • <30: 371
  • 30-34: 689
  • 35+: 848
It's a list long on experience but short on high-level, high skill players. The two most productive players on the list both skated in DC last season (Morrison, Belanger), both of whom fall into the 30-34 years old category. The group as a whole has an average salary of $1.2M last season, making them very affordable. But second line centers for the Washington Capitals? Not really.

You could maybe make a case for Kyle Wellwood and Mike Comrie (young, affordable, shown flashes of talent in the past), but they have proven to be chronic underachievers who make headlines more for weight issues and celebrity girlfriends than for playing hockey.

But looking at the options McPhee has in-house, it's easy to see why he's not keen on putting anyone in the shopping cart yet.
  • Tomas Fleischmann - With a full season at C, he could become more comfortable in the middle.
  • Brooks Laich - He has experience in the middle and could step in with success. Plus, he's not afraid to play smart defensively as well.
  • Marcus Johansson - Tons of upside. While he was sometimes unimpressive at Development Camp, he also wasn't skating with Alex Semin and Brooks Laich, who will certainly make him look better.
  • Matheu Perreault - In his limited time in DC, he won over scores of fans with his skill and hard work. He's fast enough and savvy enough to anchor the position, even though some question his size.
For some reason, I think one of the in-house options will prove to be the overwhelmingly smart pick. For one, you wouldn't have to give up a roster spot for a full season when one of the youngsters could be ready mid-year. Secondly, you already have all of these options at your disposal at a moment's notice.

We'll see how things shake out at Camp this fall!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

June 16, 1998

This Thursday at 8:00pm, the NHL Network will air another game in its "Raising The Cup" series, which highlights the Stanley Cup clinching games from the last 35 years. Tonight, I'm watching the Devils sweep Detroit and win their first Stanley Cup with I can't believe I shook his freakin' hand Claude Lemieux winning the Conn Smythe.

But this Thursday will be something else entirely. It will mark the first time I've been able to watch Game 4 of the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals. It's the first time I've allowed myself to watch Steve Yzerman hoist The Cup on Verizon MCI Center ice. I'll have to watch Doug Brown and Martin LaPointe and woop woop Larry Murphy score on Olie Kolzig. I'll have to witness Chris Osgood holding his arms in the air as the clock counts down to zero. I'm really looking forward to watching.


You see, I want to see all of those things if it means I can see Brian Bellows score. If it means I can watch Olie at the pinnacle of his career. If I can see Ron Wilson coach his heart out. If I can watch that team just one more time. It was a fun team; a team built for playoff hockey and the closest any Caps team has ever come to the prize. As a Caps fan, I'll be a bit saddened that it didn't end the way it should have. But as a Caps fan, I love watching that team.

As a hockey fan, I'll look forward to seeing Vladimir Konstantinov, just one year removed from the horrific limo accident that nearly killed him and ended his career, holding The Cup once again. Moments like that don't happen much in professional sports and while I hated the Detroit Red Wings that summer, I couldn't help being a little happy for the spirit of 'team'.

So on a Thursday in August, the clock will be turned back to June 16, 1998. It should be a good evening.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bobblehead Versatility

I know, it's been over a week since the Inova Blood Drive featuring John Carlson, but I wanted to commend all the fine men and women at Inova Blood Donor Services for what was the finest, most efficient and friendliest blood drive I have even been a part of. Obviously, I'd also like to thank my fellow Caps fans and John Carlson himself for turning the blood donor center the perfect shade of blood Capitals red.

I would also like to thank whoever created the John Carlson bobblehead for the event. The USA USA USA!!! one-knee goal celebration pose if perfect for the young rookie.

Perhaps more awesomely, the stick that comes with the bobblehead is removable, which allows you torecreate some other great goal celebrations. Such as:

Riding The Stick
The Flaming Stick

The possibilities are endless.