Monthly Archives: March 2010

My 5 Favorite Non-Capitals

I’ve been meaning to do this post for awhile, but never quite got around to it. With so much focus on the Caps on this blog, I feel the need to show some love to other players around the league who, for one reason or another, I’m a big fan of. There are roughly 3 metrics that I used when I created this list, and they are as follows: 1). hockey talent, 2). hilarity factor, and 3). Douchebag factor (lower is better). This ranking is ridiculously subjective, but I think most people will agree that these 5 players are pretty awesome in their own right. Without further ado, here’s my list:

5).  

Zach Parise scores very high marks in the “hockey-talent” rating. He’s a proven 40+ goal-scorer, despite playing on a team that’s notoriously defensive-minded. He has one of the better wristers in the game, can dangle, and works hard every shift. By all accounts he’s the opposite of “douchebag”, and is an American Hero, regardless of the fact that the US couldn’t pull out a win in the gold medal game. I personally don’t know how much of a “hilarity factor” he has, but his talent and non- douchebag ratings make up for that.

Video selections:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOKh0YY1paE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ZlljclgxYI

4).  

Nicklas Lidstrom is, quite simply, one of the best defensemen to ever lace up skates. Not overly strong or physical, Lidstrom manages to see the game like very few ever have or ever will. His teammates call him “The Computer”, because he always seems to make the perfect decision. He’s exceptionally sound positionally, makes the first-pass with the best of them, and has top of the scale stickwork. Lidstrom’s a consummate professional, a 4-time Stanley Cup Winner, 6-time Norris winner, a Conn Smythe winner, and being able to play with him in NHL ’93 gives him a huge boost. He’s almost 20 years into his playing career and he’s still producing, while providing his customary outstanding defense.

Unlike the other people on this list, Lidstrom isn’t easily reduced to highlight clips on youtube. You can only really get an appreciation for how good he is by watching him on a consistent basis. Still, here’s a nice goal from him that’s worth a look.

3).

Ilya Kovalchuk is one of the most explosive talents currently playing in the NHL. He’s a powerful skater, with a top-tier wrister, the best one-timer in the game, and a pretty solid mean-streak to him. When Kovy is at his best he’s a one-man wrecking crew, that can beat you with speed, power, stickhandling, or his shot. In addition to his talents as a player, he’s shown that he’s willing to drop his gloves, and had a pretty hilarious exchange with Sidney Crosby, shown here (it’s a must see). He’s one of few NHL’ers who can single-handedly dominate a game, and he’s a Russian, which I think is pretty cool. Some more videos for your pleasure:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oTgZhOVm34

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekxNR2Xu_U8

2).

Pavel Datsyuk is a fucking magician. A FUCKING MAGICIAN with the puck. There’s simply no one better than him at getting, and keeping the puck on their stick in traffic. Watching him work on offense and defense really is mesmerizing. When he’s playing well you can pretty much be guaranteed that he’ll dangle at least one player on the opposing team just about every time he touches the puck. I really can’t overstate how incredible it is to watch him handle the puck like he has it on a string. His moves in the shootout are legendary, he’s Russian (which is cool), probably one of the nicest guys in the NHL, and is completely hilarious (seriously, watch that). I’m totally in heterosexual-love with “Dats”. I don’t know what else to say, other than watch the videos I link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XdioAO_XXZQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZoNt9SoUXQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhZrAm-nVs8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCKLRkqvCdM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jk0xMJBs8As

1).

Jarome Iginla is the quintessential NHL Captain. He’s a two-time 50 goal scorer, and along with Joe Thornton, is considered the best player of the past decade. Iggy should be considered a lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame when all is said and done, which is something very few current players can say. Why is he my favorite non-Capital player? Well, to me, the guy’s got everything you can ask for in a Captain- he’s an excellent player, is tough as nails on the ice, and one of the classiest players in the NHL off the ice. Iggy’s the perfect ambassador for the game, and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone outside of Vancouver who has something negative to say about him. This story in particular opened my eyes to how awesome of a guy he is:

In 2002, while in Salt Lake City for the Winter Olympic Games, Iginla struck up a conversation with four Calgarians sitting next to his table, and found out they were sleeping in their car outside of the hotel. He excused himself from the conversation, and booked them accommodations at his own expense at the hotel his family was staying in.

He’s not the best player on my list, he’s not the funniest, by I respect the hell out of him, and I think everyone else should too. That’s why he’s my favorite non-Capital, and why I’m rooting for him to take home a Stanley Cup before his career’s over.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FG1HYYMjlh8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqDXH4ibTeY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asrxX9Xqq3U

-Nasty Nate

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Laich’s New Headgear

As you all know by now, Brooks Laich has missed the past three games due to some facial lacerations and subsequent stitches inflicted by a John Carlson shot off the crossbar in practice on Tuesday, March 23rd. In an interview on Monday, Laich jokingly referred to donning “a goalie mask like Varly has.” After the interview he actually modeled the new head-gear and, while it may not be as flashy as Varlamov’s, it turns out Brooksie wasn’t lying…

Laich's New Dome Piece

– L.A.

ESPN Players Poll

Straight out of the “Tell us something we don’t know” file, Alex Ovechkin was named the best player in the NHL by 64% of players polled. That figure jumps up to 73% of players who picked either Crosby or Ovechkin, which should serve as a further reminder to Pittsburgh fans everywhere that Crosby can’t hold Ovechkin’s jock. Here are the results:

BEST PLAYER:
1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington: 64 percent
2. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh: 24 percent
T3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh; Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit: 4 percent
T5. Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit; Joe Thornton, San Jose: 2 percent

Other funny/interesting notes

-“Who has the hottest spouse?” which goes to Mike Fisher, who’s currently dating Carrie Underwood. Surprisingly, Sidney Crosby received some votes, due to his romantic link with Evgeni Malkin.*

-Bruce Boudreau was tied in 2nd place with Pittsburgh coach Dany Bylsma for smartest coach (with 16% a piece, behind Mike Babcock)

-The Verizon Center received 8% of the vote (T4th) for the “Worst Ice” honor. Give these guys some good ice (hopefully now that Ted Leonsis will own the Verizon Center), and you may see a boost in production.

-Chris Pronger checked in atop the “Dirtiest player” leaderboard with 22% Sean Avery coming in 2nd with 12% wasn’t a big surprise, but Ovechkin tying for 3rd “for his grabbing and hitting from behind” certainly elicited a “wtf?” reaction.

-Derek Boogard was voted as the best fighter in the league. Matt Bradley was inexplicably absent.

-Kerry Fraser was voted as the best referee, while Stephane Auger took home the “Worst Referee” title. An unnamed Eastern Conference center had this to say about Auger (aka Bert): “He’s terrible at everything. Nobody likes him.”

-The Capitals received only 14% of the vote when the players were asked “Who will win the Stanley Cup this year?” Behind Chicago (32%), Pittsburgh, and San Jose (both with 16%). The Penguins don’t have a win in 10 games against the Caps and Devils this year, but continue to be overrated by almost everybody, based on some “you have to beat the champions”, and “they just know how to win” fairy dust nonsense. They’ll be bounced in the 2nd round this year, bank on it.

*That may or may not have happened

-Nasty Nate

Congratulations to John Carlson

John Carlson's first career NHL goal at 2:12 in the 3rd period at the Carolina Hurricanes. (3/25/10)

– L.A.

CAPS 4, Penguins 3 (SO)

We all said tonight’s game was “just another game.” The players said it (it only took two periods for one, Eric Belanger to admit that it was “fun” and a playoff-like atmosphere), coaches said it, and even as fans we said it. But we were just trying to kid ourselves. It was evident minutes into this match-up that tonight’s game between Washington and Pittsburgh was anything but. Here are a few notes/observations/mindless ramblings from the game:

  • Tom Poti, you are my boy, and you made up for it later on, but I wanted to lose my mind when that puck shot over the glass not two and a half minutes into the game. Luckily, “There ain’t no Poti like a DC Poti,” and I was only mad at you for the next 2 minutes.
  • Tomas Fleishmann’s tripping penalty in the latter half of the first saved a goal and preserved Theo’s incredible first period shutout after facing 17 shots in the first 20 minutes.
  • Mike Knuble may have unintentionally written some new lyrics to Shaq’s (in)famous freestyle on the first goal of the game – insert ‘Fleury’ for Kobe and ‘a**’ for ‘jock’. That was such a Mike Knuble goal, too. Step 1) Crash net. Step 2) Locate puck, even if 7 feet in air. 3) Put puck in net.
  • Of course, the answering goal a little over a minute later by Max Talbot is something that occurs way to often for my liking. Even a few casual fans (shout-out to my Pops) noted how the team often gives up a goal shortly after scoring one of our own.
  • While I’m being a constructive critic – is that even a real thing? – our first (and only – more on that later) powerplay did not look particularly sharp. Not a whole lot of time spent in our offensive zone in possession of the puck and at least one shorthanded opportunity arose for Pittsburgh.
  • I always love the intensity the boys bring to start the third period. They were firing a lot of shots at Fleury and hitting the Pens hard in those first couple of minutes.
  • Whoever taught Crosby to act must have a few Academy Awards under their belt. That head-tilt whiplash effect on the Jeff Schultz holding call sold Mr. Devorski’s crew as the hand didn’t go up until his thespian skills shined.
  • Semin’s shorthanded goal. What.Did.He.Do? I would have been happy with a simple clear there but the individual effort was unbelievable. That goal was dirtier than a Metro handrail. I keep checking the score sheet though – why wasn’t Crosby credited with an assist there?
  • The Belanger-to-Green-to-Fehr tip in was pretty to watch. I find myself saying that a lot about goals that Belanger assists on.
  • In the first two periods alone, I counted 5 missed calls by Mr. Devorski and his crew. There was a trip early in the first period, a slash on Ovechkin after the play midway through the first, a hook on Ovechkin about 5 minutes into the 2nd down in our defensive zone corner, a high stick on Fehr during a rebound opportunity, and a hook that incidentally led to the high sticking call against Semin. Kudos to your crew, Paul, I actually expected you ti miss more That said, I was impressed with out PK throughout the night (although up against an admittedly struggling Pittsburgh PP unit without Malkin).
  • Finally, I know our Player of the Game was Alexander Semin, but for the first time in theCAPSlock history (the whole 20 days or so) no player received a 3-to-1 or 4-to-0 vote for the award. Stick-taps go to two other players: Mike Knuble who had the first goal of the game and the last – his first career shoot-out goal (good call Bruce). Secondly – a goalie stick-tap to Jose Theodore as he made some amazing saves once again en route to a 39-save victory.
  • One final note – get well quickly Brooksie. It was good to win without you, but it’s better to win with you. Hats off to your streak of 257 consecutive games played.

– L.A.

CAPS 7, Panthers 3

I’m going to apologize for the long layoff in between posts. Many locksmiths have been out “on business” or “away for the weekend,” whichever you prefer to believe. However, after a tiny break – we’re back, and on a night where your Washington Capitals completed the season sweep of the Florida Panthers (without the NHL’s best player). I love watching what this team can do without their number one star – everyone steps it up a notch and puts all other 29 teams on notice that we are very dangerous no matter who is on or off the ice. Overall, a very blue-collar victory where the entire team worked hard. What else did I observe tonight? Glad you asked…

  • Shaone Morrisonn and Tyler Sloan, of all people, sent a message early with two huge hits in the opening minutes of the first stanza. We were there to not only to come away with the W, but send a message: we can win without Him.
  • Jason Chimera’s goal was a hell of a play – just charging past the defense straight to the net as he’s rewarded by having a shot at the freakin’ ocean. A Knuble-esque effort there. As Nasty Nate says – “[Chimera’s]  my boy.”
  • Brooks Laich had an outstanding game, stepping up in 8’s absence. “He was all over the place.” One helper, two goals, led the team with 8 shots on net. He was damn close to a hat-trick as well, except for Tomas Vokoun’s nutty save late in the 1st period.
  • Speaking of Vokoun – I just kept thinking of this after the CAPS’ 5th goal tonight. In 4 games against the CAPS, Vokoun has lost on all occasions, giving up 17 goals (4 on the powerplay, and one of the shorthanded variety).
  • And while we’re on the subject of goaltenders – Theo did a solid job in net tonight. Aside from the blast from Reinprecht where he had a clear view of the shot, I enjoyed what I saw from Mr. Theodore. After failing to get the puck out of our zone no one picked Kreps up on his rebound goal, and Florida’s third goal was also a result of a turnover deep in our defensive zone.
  • Eric Fehr.
  • Prettiest goal of the night, when nearly all seemed to come as a result of a rebound – Brendan Morrison. Vokoun’s effort to stop that dangle is summarized here.
  • I enjoyed seeing Ovi up in the press box enjoying the game during the telecast. Reminded me that he is human after all. I just hope somebody got him some nachos and a Coke (no diet).
  • Stick tap the penalty kill tonight at 100%.
  • One final note I just heard – Barry Melrose on ESPN: “Let’s get the rest of the league playing like Alex Ovechkin.” He went on to say the roughness of the sport is what makes it great, and how he fears sissies will once be able to enter the game. Amen to that, friend.

– L.A.

The 2009-2010 Southeast Division Champions

With the Columbus Blue Jackets battling their way to a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers, the Caps have clinched the Southeast Division title with 15 games remaining in the season. That’s nice, but we’re at a point with this team where we/they are too focused on the ultimate prize to really spend a lot of time patting ourselves/themselves on the back for clinching the division. There’s a reason why they didn’t pass out replica SE Division Champions banners in the home opener this year (like they did 2 seasons ago)… It would take a pretty monumental collapse for the Caps to lose the 1st seed in the conference, especially given their remaining schedule, but hockey’s a crazy game. From here on out the Caps really need to start tightening up their inefficiencies (*ahem* penalty killing), and establish a #1 goaltender for the playoffs, while hopefully staying completely healthy.

-Shoutout to Brian Pothier for icing Pittsburgh in OT tonight… atta boy Pottsy