During the recent discussions about the Capitals' Power Play inefficiencies this season, Caps fan extraordinaire The Horn Guy reached out to us. See, Sam knows we are big fans of puck sodas during sporting events, having often dabbled with the Joe Beninati/Craig Laughlin Drinking Game, and thought we'd be interested in adding a new game to our repertoire. The rules are simple, and will help you to forget that the Caps' PP is currently ranked below teams like the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators:
After being shut out by the Southeast Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning for the second time in 8 days, many fans are wondering where the offensive juggernaut of the 2009-10 season has gone. It's no secret that Alex Ovechkin's goal totals are down, Nicklas Backstrom has been non-existent, and Alexander Semin hasn't registered on the radar since late November and is now saddled with an injury. Everyone, it seems, has their own answer: Fans have suggested that Ovechkin is a year older, heavier, and unwilling to make plays that might result in suspension. Caps' Coach Bruce Boudreau might theorize it's a newly-implemented system that is more defense focused. In a recent interview, Ted Leonsis states the Caps are merely "pacing themselves." However, as the Capitals find themselves battling back from a deficit nearly every night are there any hard-and-fast answers behind the drought of lamp lighting?
Last year, the Capitals were averaging 3.61 goals/game 44 games into the season, quite the opposite of this seasons' squad who averages 2.82. Of course injury, strength of schedule, ice time and line combinations may play some part of the decrease, but is there any hard-and-fast answer to the Caps' lack of lamp lighting?
It should come as no surprise to Caps fans that this has been an 'off' season for Alex Ovechkin. Through 44 games, Ovie has only put the puck in the net 15 times and remains second on the team in goal scoring to a player who hasn't scored since November 28th.
Everyone has their theories as to why Ovechkin isn't scoring. He's injured. He's saving himself for the playoffs. He's scared of being suspended again. Teams know how to defend him. In times like these, I find it's sometimes beneficial to break down every possible scenario to see if anything jumps out. In this case, what happens when Ovie gets the puck these days?
Here's a Headline for ya Gary.
"Juvenile 'Columnist' Disgraces Rich Tradition of Journalistic Integrity"
Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press has done it again. When will this guy ever learn? We know that as bloggers, it’s hardly fair of us to criticize those working under the constant pressure of deadlines and travel schedules, but someone needs to send him a message. Who better than the die-hard faithful fans of the Hershey Bears (that includes Caps fans too)?
In case you haven’t heard, Lawless’ most recent Hershey-bashing article was in this morning’s print edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. It’s also available online here. Today Gary Lawless questioned the class and grace of the longest running, most successful franchise in the AHL. He also called out the Hershey Bears – telling them that if they didn’t bring the Back to Back Calder Cup Championship sweaters in question to Manitoba, that they were “gutless.” I’m sure Mr. Lawless is by now aware of the fact that these sweaters were a “one-time-wear” special edition that were auctioned off for charities immediately after their debut, but maybe that’s not enough.
To show the support of the Hershey Bears and to have a little fun with Gary Lawless, RTR has released a special edition t-shirt at a special edition cost of $11.90 per shirt. Manitoba (and most likely, Mr. Lawless) will be visiting the Giant Center for a 2 game series Saturday, February 5th and Sunday, February 6th. We’re encouraging all fans to join our movement and wear this shirt to show Mr. Lawless exactly where we wear our pride. Buy them for yourself, buy them for your friends & family, heck you can even buy them for the cool elderly couple that sits in your section and may not be familiar with the interwebs! We'll poke around and see if we can find some discount codes too
Also, be on the look out for contests and promotions within the next week where we’ll be giving away a few Hershey Pride shirts! Join the movement!
Let us know if you stop by the 'ol Free Press and leave Gary a comment too. Try to keep it clean though. We're a classy organization. (Winky Emoticon)
Every once in awhile, a player emerges on the scene as an unlikely fan favorite. He joins the organization, captures the hearts of many (for a plethora of reasons) and earns himself a cult-like following. In recent Capitals history, one player that comes to mind when discussing folk heroes is Quintin Laing. Laing was an unlikely call-up during the 2007-2008 season who quickly gained a following by throwing his body in front of everything that came his way, and his efforts were never unnoticed by his teammates.
He defeated swine flu, played a game with a torn spleen, and even shattered his jaw blocking a shot with his face. As gruesome and frustrating as his injuries/ailments were, he always handled them with class, downplayed the severity (remember that “jaw-wired-shut” interview?), and returned to playing shape more quickly than anyone thought possible.
As much as Laing was loved by players, coaches, and fans alike – there was simply no room for him in Washington for the 2010-2011 season. And to the shock of us all, come opening day, his name wasn’t listed on any NHL or AHL roster. Laing resurfaced on October 27th, 2010, when the ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings announced that they had signed Quintin for the 2010-2011 season. On one hand, it was good to see him playing hockey – any kind of hockey. It was good to see Laing landed a job and was doing what he loved. On the other hand, it was still unbelievable that no one in the AHL had a spot for him.
His ECHL stint didn’t last long, however, and by November 11th, just 15 days after joining the Salmon Kings, the Abbottsford Heat of the AHL signed Laing to a PTO. This past Monday, January 3rd, the Abbotsford Heat announced that they had named Quintin Laing as their new Captain. Of the honor, Q stated "(Captaincy) is something I take very seriously. I want to make sure I'm an ambassador of the team on and off the ice. It's about being a good leader and a good communicator with the coach and assistants. It's... a huge privilege."
So, we wish you the best of luck, Quintin, and we’re glad to see that you’re being recognized for everything that made you so popular in the Washington and Hershey organizations.Sticktap to Siena Slusser for providing us with the picture of Laing.
While some goalies were wearing masks from their former teams last night, South Carolina Stingray's netminder Todd Ford took the ice wearing a new Johnny Cash themed mask. Currently 8-5-0 in 14 games for the Caps' ECHL affiliate, Ford has posted 2 shutouts en route to a .910 Sv % and a 2.41 GAA (good for 5th in the league).· He finished last season being named the ECHL's 2009-10 Goaltender of the Year, as well as being placed on the First All-Star Team.
Well...we all know that the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 4th Winter Classic at Heinz Field over the weekend. Whether positive or negative, it’s probably all the hockey community has talked about since last Friday night. And by now you have read every recap under the sun with forum comments full of Cap fan boasting and Pen fan whining.
But if you missed the game, then here’s the recap to get you up to Chimera Speed, which is almost like Warp speed, but without brakes.
So those dastardly Penguins scored first thanks to Malkinstein. The next period Ole Man Mike Knuble tied it for the Caps with a jam of all jam goals. Eric "I play Santa Clause on TV” Fehr single-handily put the game out of reach with two more goals for the Capitals. It rained a lot. The wind blew at times, and the camera angles were, well interesting. Oh and the Pens chose not the shake hands. Real shocker there.
But what about everything else?
We put our crew to the task to give their Good Bad and Ugly of the overall Winter Classic experience.
Last night we were treated once again by HBO's Caps/Pens 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic. Episode 2 was fan-freakin-tastic. If you saw it you probably agree, if you haven't watched yet- stop reading now.
This episode was a turning points of sorts. We see the fallibility of a team that appeared to be infallible as the Pens lose two in a row then right their ship. Then we have our Washington Capitals·as we·continue along with the struggles as they·find a way to win. By the time the episode aired most fans new the outcome of the episode, but to see it from the inside was awesome. Lets recap some of the highlights of the episode.
The opening few minutes with the Pens visiting the Flyers was going good until Sid told his fighting story. I thought it lacked·the spark that you would expect from a fight story. Then again it is Crosby telling the story. Personality does not compute. But they were right about the whole "Philly" experience. Trust me,·I live near Philly, I've seen a fight almost breakout at a Dave Matthews Concert for Pete's sake!
It's a scene played out in every household with kids. Just home from school, a small child asks a parent what a certain bad word means. While the offending, eff-bomb dropping 8 year old sits at home playing his X-Box, some poor parent is left to explain the word to their own no-longer-innocent child. It's like training for when the sex talk occurs.
Thanks to HBO's excellent look at the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, 24/7, an entire generation of Caps parents are left to have the same talk with their kids thanks to an eff-bomb dropping 55 year old teddy bear named Bruce Boudreau.
"Mommy, why is the coach beeping like WALL-E?"
"Uh... well... see..."
We at Rock the Red.net are here to help. Here are some helpful ideas for explaining Coach Boudreau's locker room outburst to your little ones.
With every Washington Capitals losing streak, calls for Bruce Boudreau's head can be heard as loud as The Goat's in-game chants. This is no suprise, as every coach in any sport would face the same scrutiny in failing to accompish the task he was hired to do. It seems, however, that the calls for Boudreau's head can be heard louder, and more frequent, now that the Caps are at the wrong end of a 6-game losing streak. Over the past week I've heard it all: fire him because he's an AHL-at-best coach, send him packing because he's a flashy offense-only bench boss, hand him a pink slip since he spends more time acting in commercials than running a professional sports franchise.
But I say that this is the time we need BB the most.
Bruce Boudreau is a heck of a likeable guy.· I don't think he's a failure after one 6-game streak by any stretch.· To keep things in perspective, the Capitals are still leading the Southeast Division and would be the #2 seed if the playoffs started today.· Looking back at his NHL coaching record, Boudreau breathed life into the Caps when he took over the reins on Thanksgiving 2007 and has brought a much better attitude and approach to the team.· He has won division titles every year, a playoff series in 2009, and a Presidents' Trophy, not to mention an individual award in 2008.
The Jack Adams Award is awarded to the coach who contributed the most to his team's success.
Boudreau has made a lot of good calls behind the bench.· He's also made more than a few questionable ones, but not necessarily bad calls, just ones that didn't pan out, like any number of coaches have done.··He has many strengths as a coach, and he is very smart.· He has weaknesses, too.· He doesn't have the respect of the officials yet.· He also doesn't run a tight ship, which has its advantages and disadvantages.· There were times in the last few years where Alex Semin or even Alex Ovechkin ought to have been benched, but he wouldn't do it.· If I had a player taking 1:30 even strength shifts or 3 offensive zone penalties in the same game, I'd bench him, I don't care what number he wears on his back.·
Boudreau has already had strike one, losing to the Habs in the first round last year.· Make no mistake, the Habs matched up very well against the Caps and they were very underrated.· They would have ranked much higher had they not had the injury concerns, and they also showed they were the real deal by beating the Pens and by storming out of the gate this year, even without Jaroslav Halak.· That's not the point, though:· the Caps lost in the first round, and in large part because Boudreau couldn't adjust.· Same offense, same powerplay, same goalie, even though he kept losing.· He also scratched his best #2 center for two losses, Brendan Morrison, and also didn't put Jose Theodore back in after Varlamov lost a string of games, et cetera.· Hindsight is 20/20, but some of that should have been obvious even then.·
I don't know that I call this losing streak strike two, its a little unfair with the injuries, the new players, the HBO cameras in the locker room, and the flu going around.· I also predicted before the season began that the Caps would win fewer games and lose fewer in OT because of the rookie/growing pains factor.· As much as I like Mathieu Perreault, he's 23 and a rookie, not a savior.· He's good, and good enough to play #2 on the Caps right now, just not as good as he's going to be next year, or in two or three years. The same goes for Marcus Johansson, he's just a rookie, and the same goes for Varly, Neuvy, Carlson, and Alzner.· There will be nights where the difference between winning and losing ("adding up all those inches") will be a rookie mistake.· Even a lot of the veterans are young.· I think this streak has the chance to be a learning experience for everyone involved, I just hope they learn it before the streak gets any longer.· If it does get longer, Boudreau will be on the hot seat after strike two.
I am not in favor of firing coaches just for the sake of it.· If a coach is let go, two criteria must be met:· #1, the coach is incapable of doing his job any more, meaning he's lost the players (Bruce Cassidy, Ron Wilson), he's lost his mind (Jim "Jelly-Donut" Schoenfeld), or he can't adjust his system to beat his opponents (Glen Hanlon).· The other factor is there must be someone better, and there aren't many better than Boudreau, certainly not many who are available, i.e., I wouldn't want Ken Hitchcock, even if he's got a ring.· Bob Hartley is a step up in terms of player relations from Hitchcock, but just one.· He's a successful coach with a successful system and can win in the playoffs, (just not with the Atlanta Thrashers), but it's also telling that he hasn't coached in four years.· The only other guys I'd be interested in seeing behind the Caps bench are Mark French (but not for a while) and Dale Hunter.· I was actually thinking about Dale back in 2007 before we got Boudreau, he's one of the all-time great players in Caps history and in Nordiques history, and I think his suspensions will keep him out of the Hall-of-Fame, but he's one heck of a junior coach because he knows what it takes to win in the NHL, and he knows old-time hockey.·
Boudreau won't be behind the Caps bench forever, the day will come when another coach will be behind the Washington bench; even Scotty Bowman changed teams a few times and eventually retired.· Unless the situation gets drastically worse, that day won't be soon.· I think Bruce has the chance to make this team his own, finally, now that the players are so frustrated by their inability to make things happen all on their own any more they might actually start truly buying into the system.· Heck, we might even see Ovechkin crash the net once in a while, kinda like he did last week when he drew a penalty.