Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Caps/Blues, 11/29/2011


Listen, I know things have been tough lately--but if there's one thing that the Caps front office is good at, it's timing, they know when to change things up. They are basically the boyfriend who buys you a nice necklace or something every time you have a really big fight. So welcome, Dale Hunter, our brand new sparkly jewel.

Break for a Celine Dion song.

But when you touch me like this~~

No but seriously--don't you feel better today? I know I do--even though we lost. I've got the fever.

Dale Hunter fever.

Straight up, if you're looking for rational skepticism--well, there's some in a few posts down, but that was pretty much rational skepticism's last stand. No one can do to me what Dale Hunter can do to me. He is basically Justin Bieber, and I am basically a junior high girl.

If Dale Hunter had been able to directly, immediately channel his spirit into the Caps, we would have won this game 400-0. And all the Blues would have been dead by the end of it.

Unfortunately we do have to deal with stupid, annoying reality and its whole teams don't transform entirely in 24 hours and its new systems take time to implement and such. That's fine. If we are being honest, I will wait for Dale Hunter for a long time--he gets extra leeway, even, because that's what being a Legend gets you. That and a neat banner and free drinks in the DC area, probably.

Look at this motherfucker.

Even so--credit where it's due, the Blues couldn't be hotter if they were Megan Fox, and they played a hell of a game. We don't run into them on our first night out? Maybe we don't lose that game. Everything looked better. The team had some life, trying hard, even if things were kind of a mess, everyone reminding themselves that it was not, in fact, Bruce Boudreau behind that bench with them and that they should try very hard to not do things the way that they had been doing them for the past four years.

Understandably things were a little rough. Awkward fumblings of a new couple trying to feel each other up. Overall--I'm not mad at the effort level, and I am excited for things to come.

The first goal ever in the Hunter Era could not have been better, at all, there is no way for it to be. Backstrom and Ovechkin break out of the zone, and Ovechkin has this look in his eye like he's planning something beautiful.

He is.

Ovechkin is Ovechkin and draws basically every Blue on the ice, passes to Backstrom. 1-0.

But we can't get out of the period leading--TJ Oshie apparently has no idea that History is happening and thinks that it is okay for him to score. It is, in fact, not.

Fucker. You are not even close to my favorite #74.

We don't stay tied through the second, but of note: several moments of badassery throughout this period.

First, Troy Brouwer high sticks Jason Arnott in the face, Jason Arnott bleeds everywhere.

I feel kind of bad about this, as Arnott was a class act/mighty elk in his time with us, but once you are off the roster, all bets are off, buddy.

It's a four minute major. Even worse, we were kind of already on the PK, so we get a terrifyingly long 5-on-3 situation here.

They don't score. Our PK has been good lately, but it is even better tonight, it is amazing. Caps are apparently so surprised by this that they give up a goal directly afterwards. Boooooooo. 2-1.

Another moment of badassery: Marcus Johansson blocks a shot, point-blank, because there is no fear in Marcus Johansson, ever. He disappears down the tunnel and worries us terribly, but he's back out for the third apparently no worse for the wear. 

In the third period, Matt Hendricks fights Scott Nichol. It was a quick fight, but a great one.

Hendricks wins.

A lot.

The third period is a hope and excitement period--things seem to be really clicking finally, we're finally getting to the net. I can feel the tying goal coming. I can feel it.

Okay, perhaps my goal-feeling sensor is a bit off.


Still. Not sad about this game. Not even slightly. There are things to improve, clearly--basically all the things--but nothing and no one can make me feel sad about those things today, because I feel the fury coming. It's not quite here yet but it's coming, and we still have plenty of time. We're going to have things turned around by the playoffs and everyone is going to be like "wow, what happened to the Capitals?" and you will just smile to yourself.


Wow, jeez. Most Improved. No penalties whatsoever, nothing even close to a penalty, several scoring chances and--is that Semin fighting for pucks along the boards? Is that Semin going hard in one-on-one battles?

Sasha is afraid of the man with the mustache.

Things are on track. It's not pretty yet, but it will be. We'll get hot like Megan Fox, too, our time will come. Hang in there, Caps fans. It's the beginning of a new part of Caps history, and you get to tell your kids about it later (when they ask about the time that we won the Stanley Cup, of course.)

This is it. For real.

Let's go Caps.

Monday, November 28, 2011

answers to the questions i blogged about an hour ago:




Dale Hunter.

Holy shit.

"bad idea but i want it" territory


Dale Hunter for coach. Let's talk about that.

Not that this is anything more than a rumor--it's definitely a rumor that's been making the rounds, and it makes a certain sort of sense but there is exactly zip confirmation on anything so far. The only thing that is for sure is that if there is indeed a coaching spot available in Washington, Dale Hunter would probably get some consideration.

I can tell you that it's definitely been on my mind--look a few posts down and you'll find him featured prominently in the "list of coaches that are out there right now". I will admit freely, though, that a lot of this is definitely the nostalgia part of my brain talking, I want it in the same way that you want to sit down and watch your old VHS of "Pokemon: Mewtwo Strikes Back" or the way your high school reunion sounds like a good idea.

I want it because: Dale Hunter, you guys.

Dale Hunter. 

I want it because Dale Hunter is my favorite. I want it because I like the way he played, how close to the line he got, I want it because I want to see him come home to Washington the way that Kolzig has, because wouldn't that make such a cool story. 

Objectively--you know, as objectively as I am capable of, which is not that objectively--this may or may not be an actual Good Idea. It may actually be a Bad Idea masquerading in the form of Dale Hunter, because this is the best Trojan Horse ever and I will let it in the gates every time. LET'S TAKE A CLOSER LOOK.

Reasons why this could crash and burn:
  • Dale Hunter has zero pro coaching experience. None. He has years and years of coaching experience in juniors and he's got a great record there, but he has never coached at the NHL or even the AHL level. 
  • Wayne Gretzky as coach. Not that I am saying this is a direct parallel, because Dale Hunter does have coaching experience, but let's just say that taking "well, he was a great player" as a credential doesn't always work out.
  • Are we really willing to throw a coach with a 70% win percentage and the record for fastest to 200 wins out on his ear? I know I've been leading the torch-carrying mob for quite some time but now that it seems like more of a reality, it's a little harder to pull the trigger.

Reasons why this could be a good idea: 
  • If there's anything that the Washington Capitals are a little short on right now, it's grit. If there's anything that Dale Hunter, has in spades, it's grit. He is grit. He eats grit for breakfast.
  • He's doing a hell of a job with the London Knights. On the night of that awful loss to Buffalo, Dale Hunter won his 450th game. 
  • Something's got to give. It has to. At this point it's almost less of a question of whether Boudreau deserves to go, he kind of has to either way. The Caps need a different voice in the room, and if we need someone who's not afraid to speak up, this just might be our guy.

Let's be honest, this is more than likely a totally bullshit rumor--but it's interesting to think about, isn't it? We're spectators of the front office the same way we're spectators of the team on the ice--all we can do is wait and see.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

crash cart

Someone call a doctor.

No fuck that. Someone get a medivac unit in here, call in the helicopters and airlift the Capitals out of here, because this is a goddamn emergency.

If you have watched the Caps play over the last month or so, you know that they have been basically been playing with all the appearances of a stab wound victim just trying to stop the bleeding, and growing increasingly dizzy with blood loss as time goes on.

What is to be done? Well frankly I have no idea. That is why I am a blogger on the internet and the people who are in charge of this shit are in charge of this shit. But I do know that it's not very fun to be a fan right now, so come in here for some outlandish conspiracy theories and some things to cheer you up.

Outlandish conspiracy theories:

1. Bizarro universe has collided with our own, featuring such characters as Ineffectual Ovi, Goal-Machine Chimera, and Hilarious Mishap Mike Green.

2. Roman Hamrlik is an incubus. Take that how you will. 

3. The plot of "Space Jam".

4. Caps have all come down with mono.

5. Caps are in mourning for DJ King.

Things To Cheer You Up:

A baby skunk. 

Shark fin ice tray. 

The Brave Little Toaster. 

Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, fighting a gorilla. 

HERE'S a recipe for "hot chocolate mousse" (in Bulgarian but it translates).

HERE'S a recipe for chocolate-covered candied citrus peel.

Goals, pft. We are saving up our goals for more important occasions, such as the Penguins game next week, or the playoffs or something. There's always that really awful point of the season sometime, it was nice of the Caps to get it out of the way early this year.

Back to winning.


Let's go Caps.

Caps/Rangers, 11/26/2011

You know what Caps fans get called a lot? Bandwagoners. I'm sure you've heard it once or twice yourself--the theory being that since the Caps are a successful, a recently successful franchise, that all of its fans must have discovered it because of Ovechkin, and because of the times we've made the playoffs. This is both possibly correct and not necessarily wrong or bad--the Caps have never really been a winning franchise before this, how could there be expected to be a long-standing fanbase here?

But we're here now--and in order to really be bandwagoners or fairweather fans, we would have had to go away when things turn ugly, to abandon the team in favor of something that doesn't break our hearts twenty zillion times. Hi. What's up. We're still here.

Because if you have been a Caps fan for awhile, you know that things could only get bad sometime--typically kind of really bad, typically kind of awful. Happens. Keep your head up, don't get too stuck on it, don't say anything you'll regret later, because if we're a team of dramatic highs and lows, at least the makes the highs feel so much more amazing.

In the meantime, I guess we're out of the running for the November Stanley Cup. Damn! Really wanted that one.

I guess we'll have to settle for the one that they give out in June.

Most of what happened in the game yesterday was pretty awful--so I am going to ignore it! (Guess what, this is my favorite method for retaining sanity as a Caps fan.) Because you know who had a pretty good game?

Ovechkin--and if we're being honest here, I would be willing to lose a lot more games than this one if it meant Mon Capitan gets going.

So this recap is going to be about Awesome Ovechkin Things that happened. Anyone who's currently bitching about Ovechkin can take their issues to the Youtube comments section or something, because I do not waste my time trashing him. Know why? Because Alexander Ovechkin IS the Washington Capitals--if you can be sure that there is one person who is not going away, it's him, so what exactly is the fucking point in complaining? You are just going to make things awkward at the dinner table.

Instead I will patiently wait for the Fury to return, and in the meantime continue to love him, because fuck you, I do what I want.

Awesome Ovechkin #1

Marion Gaborik is just skating with the puck, minding his own business, and all of the sudden Ovechkin decides that it is time for him to die.

Puck pops loose, gets to Backstrom, and he is one guy you don't want to lose the puck to lately--sends it to to Brouwer right in front of the net, and it is so very much a goal. Thanks, eight.

Awesome Ovechkin #2

You know the Rangers--you remember how they are with trying ridiculous nonsense in front of the net, and sure enough, they were parked in the blue paint all night.

Rangers. No one approves of this shit.

Subsequently there were about five hundred sequences in which mini scuffles broke out after the whistle, nothing serious but a lot of pushing and shoving. In one of these sequences, Alex Ovechkin comes away with Dan Girardi in a headlock.


Awesome Ovechkin #3

That. Goal.

That goal. 

For the first time this season, that's one of those "nobody else can do that but him" kind of goals, the jaw droppers. Let's all watch this again.

His first goal in the Verizon Center, and it's a beauty.

Sign of things to come? Let's say yes, because believing that the answer is yes is way more fun than believing that the answer is no.

What's been happening lately is a lot of mental errors--lot of people who are not dumb doing a lot of dumb things, and that's not...greattttt, but at least they're not all injured or dead or something. Things still aren't working right, but guess what? We don't need anyone who's not currently on our roster. Think about it. We don't. We keep losing games, and that means the plot is thickening. This is the part in the romcom where it's raining and there's sad music, but then the hero realizes that he really loves the heroine and runs to the airport through the rain and then they make out or something.

This is a real metaphor that will directly correlate to the rest of the season. Shh. Shut up. You will see.

Sabres today. Back on the horse. The bad times are going to break, make sure you're there to see it. They tend to make it worth it.

Let's go Caps.

Monday, November 21, 2011

list of good coaches out there at the moment

Mostly for my own reference, but also for those who say there's no good alternative to Boudreau:

  • Kirk Muller--Probably would be my number one choice if I had to pick one. Great guy, "player's coach", should have been nailed down by Montreal but it's too late for that now, isn't it? 
  • Davis Payne--Never thought he deserved to be fired by the Blues, and he's still out there. 
  • Dale Hunter--Good idea to hire a coach with no pro experience? Maybe not--but you can't deny the connection to the organization and how good of a feel-good story that would be. Certainly wouldn't be lacking in grit, that's for sure!
  • Bob Hartley
  • Mike Keenan
  • Marc Crawford
  • Scotty Bowman--Okay fine, now I'm getting crazy. 

Caps/Coyotes pregame

I love the Coyotes. I'll say that straight up, I've got a soft spot for underdogs, especially feisty, gritty ones like the Coyotes who refuse to be considered underdogs at all. But I don't root against the Caps, ever, so tonight the Coyotes are going down, because fuck you, we need a win, and we will climb over your cold, motionless bodies strewn across the ice to get it.

The Coyotes are about as far out of our division as you can get, and we don't play them often, so in case Biz doesn't provide enough of a preview for tonight's game, here you go: fun facts, trapdoors, and Taylor Pyatt's eyes.


Mike Smith, former backup nobody with the Tampa Bay Lightning, was informed over and over since his signing with the Coyotes that he was no Ilya Bryzgalov and that the bottom was going to fall out of the team this year with him in goal. 

He chose to respond by becoming awesome. He's fourth in the league right now with a stellar .936 SV%, has responded flawlessly to all kinds of situations--basically either the Coyotes scouting staff knows secrets that we do not, or Smith was bitten by a radioactive Patrick Roy this summer or something.
Let's all appreciate his curly hair: 


The Coyotes power play. 1 for the past 21 chances--and since our PK is one thing that's been good for us--good being a relative term at the moment--hopefully this is a strength going up against a weakness. No such luck with their PK, because it's been awesome. Boy, we could sure use a puck-moving PP quarterback right about now! Hahaha, just kidding, I don't know where we would find one of those!


Watch out for manipulated sand. 

 Taylor Pyatt's eyes.

Color scheme is cooler than ours. 

Though in our defense, the other teams with a red/white/blue color scheme can fuck right off because: America. 

Boyd Gordon. 

Who already has 3 goals and 9 points, which is as many as he had in all 60 games he played with the Caps last year. Sigh. 

Shane Doan on Mantracker.

Sic 'em, team. The skid's got to end sometime, might as well be now. 

Let's go Caps.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

burning twisted smoking aftermath

There aren't must-win games in November. It doesn't matter who you are and who you're playing--there aren't.

But there are games you shouldn't lose, and there are ways in which you shouldn't lose.

I think we've all calmed down a bit from yesterday, but if you are anything like me, your heart is still basically the opening scene in "Lost" where everything is on fire. This is an excellent time to remember once again that forgiveness is a part of love, and that bad things don't last forever. At the moment we are maybe not the most assured fans in the NHL, but the nice thing about rock bottom is that seriously, it does end sometime. We don't just lose and lose forever, we're not the Blue Jackets.

I've already done my ranting and raving, read HERE for my contribution to the "burn it down, start anew" panicboat if you want to, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about photoshopping game photos to reflect what I feel is a more appropriate portrayal of the Capitals' sadness and destruction, and also reminding you player-by-player what it is that you liked about these guys, in the first place.

First things first: terrible photoshop.

It's a healing salve on my broken hockey soul.

The Men In Your Life:

Alex Ovechkin--Are you kidding? It's Alex Ovechkin. Don't be fooled by the people jumping on this opportunity to talk shit--while the cat's away, the mice will play, huh? But sooner or later, he's going to come out of the so-called slump and start tearing souls from the bodies of lesser men, and they will feel pretty silly, and you will get to say "I told you so".

Alex Semin--I know, you're frustrated. He's sleeping on the couch. But remember how beautiful he can be. Remember that amazing stick-handling, remember the pure offensive talent. Remember the Rangers series, how much you loved him. This guy is a special player.

Mike Green--Possibly no words needed here. He's been amazing this year. He needs to come back.

Nicklas Backstrom--One of the best playmakers in the league, hands down. You will have years and years with him, this is a long-term relationship.

Troy Brouwer--This guy hits like a motherfucker, and he's got hands as well. He's a good addition, and we like his eyes.

Jason Chimera--Your scoring leader to start the year, second place in goal scoring currently, Jason Chimera. Fastest man in the world, and the guy who's found his scoring touch this year when nobody would have expected him to. Depth, thy name is Chimera.

Brooks Laich--Brooks Laich is an amazing human being. So far this year he's played about 98798642 positions on 8979687 different lines and acquitted himself admirably in all of them. He's got all the grit and character in the world, and he can score, too. Most Valuable Player.

Marcus Johansson--The second line center that most of us didn't know that we had before this year. He's been brilliant. Remember that pass in the Canes game? I wanted to marry it.

Cody Eakin--Often been the only one with a spark in the last few games--so young, so fast, so ginger. Dressed up as Ron Weasley for Halloween. Enough said.

Jeff Halpern--Been great for us on faceoffs, put in great work on that fourth line. Remember when that fourth line was kicking all the ass.

Matt Hendricks--Never stops trying. Once during one of these games that we were losing badly, we were down like three or four or something stupid in the last few minutes of play, at the point where we're really not going to rescue it, and he goes down to block a slapshot in front of the net. Unbelievable.

Mike Knuble--Didn't complain when he was demoted to the fourth line. Kept crashing the net. Kept telling it like it is.

Matthieu Perrault--We haven't seen him in a few games, and we've been losing those games. Coincidence? ...Probably. But seriously, another energy guy who will get a chance to get back into it and we'll be happy to have him.

Joel Ward--Favorite new addition award? Maybe. Classy as hell while still managing to be a badass motherfucker.

Dennis Wideman--The points streak. Maybe he's a lesser Mike Green, but that same kind of skillset has been unbelievably useful with Mike Green in and out this year.

Karl Alzner--In a 7-1 loss last night, somehow managed to be a +1. You don't get more solid. This man is a rock.

John Carlson--Along with Alzner, has been our best D pairing for a good year or so now. We love them.

John Erskine--Fought for us the other night when we were losing to try to get us going. There every time someone tries to mess with one of our players. He is a Viking warrior.

Roman Hamrlik--I know. But watch how many shots he blocks--and remember how good of a fit he can be with Mike Green when the man is actually healthy, takes care of his own end so that Mike Green can run free and be excellent.

Jeff Schultz--I know. But think about his reach, think about his height, and how positionally sound he is. When he makes a mistake, he looks pretty bad, but when he doesn't make any mistakes, he's invisible. We could have worse D--I mean that, we actually could.

Tomas Vokoun--Has shown off for us a few times this season, we've seen what he can do. And it's awesome.

Michael Neuvirth--Your catfaced goalie and mine. We know he's good. Let's never make him cry again, huh boys? That was a painful interview to watch last night.

You love them. You haven't stopped. They are stomping on your heart right now, but that's okay, what doesn't kill us, etc. There is no team in the league whose highs have been higher and lows have been lower this season than the Washington Capitals. And yet you're still here. Good on you.

Hope. Faith.

Rage is good too.

I'm fucking serious this time, I'm not fucking around, so team, I hope you are listening up. Caps. Will never lose again.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Caps/Jets, 11/17/2011

Well, that game was about as fun as a stick in the eye. Remember when you thought the Jets were cute and endearing the way you think that kind of thing about a newborn foal? That time has passed.  However, I have to stop cheating and skipping out on recaps where we lose badly, so I'm not this time. Here is the recap! It may possibly include more videos of accordion players than entirely necessary but here it is nonetheless. Progress?

The game starts on a relatively high note.

Sasha goal! This is great and all but I am now EXTREMELY MISTRUSTFUL OF SCORING FIRST, because when we do that we always fucking lose. As a precaution, we should just never do that again.

The downhill slide starts, and we're struggling for possession, but not everything is terrible yet. At some points, there are sequences that have the exact appearance of leading up to things getting done. But things do not get done. Danger, Will Robinson.

Thing that we saw coming from furthest away:

Of course it's Evander Kane. Isn't it always Evander Kane?

I am not yet in a panic, because its only a tie game and we haven't had the best first period so far this season--meaning that the next two periods should still be just fine, right?

After two minutes of play, I am panicking again. Sometimes the boys looked alive, and other times it was like watching five-year-olds playing tyke hockey who fall down on breakaways and skate into the walls just to stop. Laich gets perhaps the most open net he will ever see this side of heaven.

Doesn't score.

To make things worse, stupid Evander Kane scores again.


We get basically unlimited PPs and we are unable to capitalize. The Jets are not having this problem, and by the end of the second period, we are down 4-1.

4-1. Four to fucking one.

Emergency kitten:

Emotions stabilized. At least for now.

There are some Issues going on and I am thinking that in the third period, maybe the Caps should think about scoring some goals.

Maybe three goals. Possibly four.


On the upside, here is a video of a man playing the accordion very, very fast:

Neuvirth takes a tripping penalty, which is never not funny, and Jeff Halpern flattens a referee.

These are the only good things in the world. What is happiness? I will never know it again. Or at least not till Saturday.


Winnipeg "Hey Hey Hey Goodbye"s us. ??? It's November. Should someone explain this to them? I know it's been awhile.

Sure not looking too good right now, is it?

But just think about what a great Lifetime movie this will make when we band together and forge bravely back to the path of victory and win everything. So beautiful. Everyone will cry. Alexander Ovechkin will be played by Robert Pattinson or some kind of nonsense.

No joy without adversity. Adversity is awful while you are in the middle of it, but in the meantime, you can make these bacon cheddar muffins and that will distract you.

Toronto Saturday. They're not doing so hot either, so it's a different kind of Thunderdome. Two teams enter, one team ends the skid.

That'll be us.

Let's go Caps.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Caps fan pep talk

Here is the thing.

The Caps are playing bad hockey. But they are not a bad hockey team. 

We lived through the losing streak. We lived through the Tampa series. We lived through the Montreal series. This is bad hockey, but we are not going to die or anything. 

Not that I am saying that losing is okay, because it is not--but losing does not always mean that all is lost. It's November. Gotta figure shit out. Sometimes, the pieces are not working right and you lose to the Winnipeg Jets. Embarrassing, but it happens. 

Watch every game. Watch every second. Even if you are screaming at your TV for most of those seconds and even if you are laying on the floor in hockey despair at the end of it. All Caps hockey is worth it to watch, even if it's not pretty. 

The ship will right. We have months and months of hockey ahead of us, and after that, the Stanley Cup. 

Caps will never lose again. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Caps checklist

  • Learn how to play without Mike Green. 
  • Infuse Mike Green's skeleton with adamantium.
  • Find Alex Ovechkin's perfect RW. 
  • Start spraying Alex Semin with a spraybottle every time he takes a stick penalty.
  • Learn how to protect a lead. 
  • Rediscover killer instinct. 
  • Relocate power play efficiency (we are sure it is around here somewhere, we just took our eye off it for a minute). 
  • Expand the Accountability Regime to include everyone--even coaches. 
  • Reclaim division lead from the Florida Panthers (the Florida Panthers). 
  • Pass state law making it illegal to separate the Carlson/Alzner defensive pairing. 
  • Win Stanley Cup.

Caps/Preds, 11/15/2011

Public notice for those who think that more goals need to be scored for hockey to be exciting: not the case. As anyone who ended up in the lap of a friend or family member (or total stranger, which has happened to me before) by the end of the game with your arms and legs wrapped around them can attest--really not the fucking case.

We showed up in music city with our team members who love country music and our team members who know nothing but Russian techno. The Preds showed up in their Luke's-jacket-at-the-end-of-Star-Wars-yellow uniforms. We had our Carrie Underwood Sighting Binoculars on. They had the extra strong Shea-Weber-proof nets up. Time for a hockey game.

There is very little to actually recap here, because the same things happened over and over basically the whole game.

You may be surprised to learn that there was actually offense happening, especially if you were at work or somewhere inconveniently Capsless and watching the score. There was! I promise. It was just that for 55 minutes, this offense came to naught.

Goalie showdown.

All right, I must admit that for the first period most of this offense was not coming from the Capitals side. We took a bit to warm up, but we did manage to get pretty hot there for awhile. I mean that exactly how it sounds.

But warm up we did, and the following sequence happened about 4859 times: Caps got a brilliant chance. You thought it was a goal.

Rinne's glove had other ideas.

Two notable instances of Holy Fuck:

Holy Fuck, Rinne--Joel Ward shoots, and it is in, it's IN. Rinne reaches around behind his own back, SNAGS THE PUCK BLIND, AND KNOCKS IT OUT. THIS MAN IS NOT HUMAN.

Holy Fuck, Vokoun--Mike Fisher gets a shorthanded breakaway on our penalty, completely alone down the ice for a good sixty feet. You would think this would faze Vokoun. It does not. He doesn't bite on any of Fisher's fancy stick work and dekes, waits till the absolute last fucking second, and moves about three inches for a flawless kick save. Badass.

The entire third period was watched in the mortal fear that something--anything--would happen at any moment to destroy my happiness forever. I spent much of it yelling "SOMEBODY SCORE" and not enough of it remembering to add "SOMEBODY ON THE CAPS, THOUGH".

Troy Brouwer hears my cries in the wilderness.

Troy. Brouwer. He doesn't always score, but when he does, it's pretty. I spend a good minute staring at this play, stunned, before I realize we have scored, because I did not think an actual goal would ever happen again.

There is a brief unbelievable high, but it lasts for about thirty seconds, game time.

Terrible things happen.

Things that, I feel, are undeserved for such generally good and righteous human beings as the Washington Capitals. They pay their taxes. They build playgrounds for small children. I feel certain they would help old ladies across the street if they were presented with the opportunity.

But it is not enough. Apparently we have to be defensively responsible, too, and sometimes we have trouble with this concept.



This guy. Wish we could have won that one for him, he had a hell of a game.

There is probably something to be said for the fact that there were 55 awesome minutes of the game and only 5 bad ones--but they were pretty fucking bad. I still feel with all my heart and soul that we should have won that game, and we did not. Worst. 

Sooner or later we will learn to hold a lead. It will happen. I believe. Lighters in the air etc.

Jets Thursday. Pack your winter coats.

Let's go Caps.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

unsolvable problems: Alex Semin and the stick

The Facts: 
  • Alex Semin is leading the team in minor penalties this year with 11 in 15 games.  
  • He also leads the team with 71 penalties over the  five-year period of his NHL career. 
  • After being warned that taking another bad penalty would lead to consequences, Semin was called for hooking on Friday's game against the Devils within the first ten minutes of play. 
  • He was subsequently benched for nearly the entire rest of the game, and ended the night with his lowest total playing time of his career, excluding injury.
  • The following night, he was called for tripping 3:06 into the game.

    The Opinions: 

    On rewatching both the tripping call from last night and the hooking call from the night before, I have to say that neither of those look like actual infractions to me. I know, I'm getting in a bad habit of digging to find excuses for our star players, but take a look yourself, these are pretty noticeably awful calls. In the call from Friday night, I don't even see Semin's stick touching the Devils player when he goes down--he goes down on his own, Semin happens to be close, the referee sees these two things together and has read too much of the media spin about Semin's penalty problems. Bada bang.

    The Intangibles: 

    Semin is getting frustrated. Really frustrated. His reaction to the tripping call last night was some of the most emotion I've ever seen from him on the ice. Especially if that call was as bad as it looks, I can understand where that frustration is coming from--in his mind, he thinks he's playing fair, he's consciously trying to clean up his game if only because he knows that Boudreau's not fucking around, has shown that he will bench him. 

    And he gets called anyway--on the second phantom stick penalty in as many games. He's made his bed and now he's got to lie in it, but if this is how things are going to go, it's going to be a long uphill climb to clean up that reputation, and if he stays this frustrated about it, I don't know if he'll necessarily see it as being worth it. If he's lazy with his stick, he'll get called on it--if he's consciously trying to be careful with his stick, he might get called on it anyway, which only adds to that reputation and gives referees more cause to call it the next time. If he's extra, extra careful, so that there can be absolutely zero doubt, like he was following that penalty from last night, his play becomes timid and overthought, and he's not very effective.

    A lot has been made in the media of Semin's bad habits with his stick in the last week or so--and while I understand that Boudreau calling players out in the media has been part of the new Accountability Regime, it's a different situation for him to, say, call out Ovechkin and say "he needs to be playing better" than it is to call out Semin and say "he's always taking stick penalties, there will be consequences if he continues to do so."

    The difference being that that second one is something that teams can key in on, and make part of a strategy. I will bet you anything that the Devils were told that if Semin's stick was within five feet of them, they needed to dive. Obviously not something that I can prove, but it would certainly be a smart strategy, considering that they know a. the referees will call it because of Semin's reputation, b. Semin might be benched because of it, which just makes it easier for them. 

    The Solution: 
    • ???
    • ??????
    • ??
    • Like Boudreau said after the game, there's not a lot more that can be done to hold him accountable--he's done his worst, and the awful part is that it looked like Semin was responding, had actually been making an effort before each of those two calls. 
    • But the bad calls lead to worse calls, and the reputation leads to an even worse reputation, and teams will see that embellishing around Semin will work. I don't know what the solution is.
    • Score 60 goals. There's your solution. There's nothing that shuts people up more than scoring 60 goals. Plausible? Nah. But I'd rather see Semin respond to this with a chip on his shoulder than a sulk.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Caps/Devils, 11/11/2011

    And so, on 11/11/11, we had a date with the Devils. That's not ominous at all.

    Actually, no, it didn't turn out to be, because luckily the Capitals all wished to be awesome.

    Interesting to play a game like this right after all of the fuss about the trap, but I thought we did all right against a team who basically wrote the book on it. Sure, it was a little slower paced than some of our games are going to be, but luckily we've got some speediness on our own lines, and nobody can say we don't have practice against that kind of system.

    (Fucking Tampa.)

    (Ask me about my feelings on the trap.)

    (Actually don't. I have a lot of feelings.)


    The game started out a little sluggishly. Interesting--for a team that had been stewing over being called clowns and losers for two days, I'd expected a little more bite right off the bat. Live game monitoring of the effectiveness of bag skates as a coaching tactic: no change so far.

    Within two minutes we accidentally destroy Carter, who takes this as motivation to be a huge problem for the rest of the game. Whoops.

    There's a lot of traffic around our net, and that makes me angry, I am about ready to get on the ice and clear the net myself, except I guess I would have to get on a bus and then learn how to skate first. It seems worth it, because nothing good is happening here.

    Cam Janssen boards Matt Hendricks behind the net. Matt Hendricks bounces right back up, you can't hurt him, but it's a penalty.

    Cam Janssen, you are so much less pleasant than the plucky child protagonist of the mystery novels I used to read when I was in grade school.

    Green takes one of the PP shifts and I am so happy to see him. We need to learn how to be effective without him in the lineup, for sure, but isn't it so much nicer just to not have to worry about it?

    The PP is not so great. Parise wants to stop my heart and gets a good shorthanded chance but Vokoun doesn't think so, pal. Penalty over.

    The team keeps playing like they are not so sure about this hockey thing. We have one shot on goal at this point. One. Uno.

    Semin gets a stick penalty at 9:11. I wonder who had that in the pool?

    In all seriousness, it was a pretty bogus call--the hook he was called for did not exist, but he's got a reputation now. The referee knows not what he hath wrought--Boudreau's been talking a lot about accountability with Semin over the last few days, and he responds to this by essentially telling Semin to take a seat for the rest of the game.

    Yes, really.

    The Devils don't score on the PP, but there's still a lot of scary things happening around the net when it ends, and just like that, Adam Larsson lines it up and shoots it.

    First NHL goal, just in time for his birthday tomorrow. Sigh. Fine, you can have that one.

    But now it's time to fight, Caps, put your fists up.

    Knuble manhandles Zherdev--technically Zherdev had already played the puck but it seemed to Knuble like a shame to waste a perfectly good check. Crunch. 

    PK: aggressive. The Devils get no shots on goal. 

    And then, unmitigated disaster strikes. 

    Green gets hit by Carter, goes into the boards awkwardly, and goes down on the ice.

    Injury ninja. I swear to God, he must have fucked a hockey god's wife or something, because someone has got it out for him.

    The third line does shit, but Brodeur has decided not to be old tonight and is holding it down.

    Alzner with a beautiful poke check--Carlzner has been put back together and all is right in Capsland, commentators are using words like "finally reunited" and my mental image is of them running at each other in slow motion across a field.

    In the second period, Vokoun gets FLATTENED and it's about the most interfering interference call you could possibly commit. Penalty for us.

    We seem to make the conscious decision to do nothing with this penalty, and so nothing is done. Luckily, we get a do-over--about two minutes later there's another call on Jersey, and this would be great for us if the Devils' PK wasn't so excellent. Oh well, let's give it a go.

    Aaaaannnd we give up another shorthanded chance--luckily it's not a goal. Vokoun has our back tonight. It remains to be seen if we have his.

    Chimera's on the second line for some reason, Ward's on the first line. I've given up having opinions about this, I can't even keep track anymore.

    Jersey takes ANOTHER penalty, so if we were worried about looking bad on penalties tonight, we really don't have to be anymore. Their PK continues to be stellar, but unfortunately their 5-on-5 is not quite up to par. Ovechkin wants goals, so he goes to the net.

    Right place, right time, right player. See the post below for what Ovechkin's been doing to adapt his game, because I have Opinions about that, too. Tied up.

    And now Ovechkin is alive--almost finds the net AGAIN within about thirty seconds, only stopped by some scrambling by Brodeur. Watch out, Jersey. 

    Chimera gets a little rough and maybe sort of punches a guy in the head. We spend the rest of the period penalty killing, but we do a pretty good job of it. This is not my favorite penalty kill of the night, though--that award goes to the next one, right at the beginning of the third period. Chimera gets the puck, smokes every Devil on the ice, and takes it in at approximately the speed of light. 

    The role of The Flash will tonight be played by Jason Chimera. Look at that shit. You can practically see the speed lines.

    Zoom. Put that one on the highlight reel.

    2-1, and the Devils never get the game back. Ovechkin steamrolls Larsson at center ice, and this one, we need to watch again:

    (via Dimagus)

    Thing of beauty. Greene gracefully bounding over Larsson's body like a gazelle is a nice touch, too.

    The Devils are trying, but Vokoun is being ridiculously aggressive. One thing I like about that guy is that when he has a bad game he's quick to face the music about it--not a virtue I would appreciate in and of itself, except that those mea culpas always include some variation of "I'll pay them back for that one."

    And he does.

    We're winning already, but Marcus Johansson takes it upon himself to make sure that we've got it in the bag.

    Great crease chaos from New Daddy Hendricks, who is basically charging around in the paint going "look at me, look at me" while Johansson fires the puck from a severe angle, which he's already shown us he's capable of burying.

    3-1. I spend some moments of mild confusion wondering why these people are even on the ice at the same time, but I do not complain about line shuffling when we are winning, only when we are losing, and I am not even sorry about this.

    We have to kill another penalty at the very end, but it matters not at all.


    We needed this one--you know, as much as you can really need a game in early November, but this one was about character and team resilience--specifically, whether we had any.

    Looks like the answer is yes. 

    It's going to be a long season, and things are going to be terrible sometimes. The trick is to cut those terrible parts short as quickly as we can, and learn to bounce back with a vengeance, because sooner than we know we're going to get to the part of the season where you're either glorious or you go home. This was a step forward and not a step backwards. Excellent. 

    Jersey again tomorrow. Momentum: Capitals. Let's dance with the Devils again I guess, even if they're assholes and keep stepping on our feet. See you tonight.

    Let's go Caps.