Malcontents, flamers, and haters: Gentle readers, Doug is taking a pass on the WPG pregamer and it’s in my mostly capable hands today. True story – He’s penning his RMNB resignation letter and is negotiating with the New York Times on placement, word count, accompanying artwork, and possible liability issues. If I’m reading his RMNB pregaming instructions correctly (which he scribbled on the back of a cocktail napkin), this is where I: A. Write opposing team’s city smells. B. Call their fans are ill-mannered, uncultured, uneducated, slovenly, and slack-jawed. C. Say opposing players are “stupid morons with ugly faces and a big butts and their butt smells and they like to kiss my butt.” D. Sit back and enjoy the smug satisfaction of being a hockey blogger.
But no. This game, the march to the playoffs and the gravity of the Caps precarious spot requires much more than just infantile name-calling. The seriousness of the situation screams out for far more elevated and sober commentary, which in this case means adolescent hectoring. And I’m the right man for the job.
But first, a look at the spate of recent Caps news:
WTF WaPo: Woodward and Bernstein Maese and El-Bashir dropped their battleship of an investigative piece, “Alex Ovechkin: What’s wrong with the Washington Capitals superstar?” in last Sunday’s edition. Not that it’s taken us this long to read it (Thomas Pynchon even found it a bit too wordy), but it required four entire days just to sift through the unattributed quotes and try and match them up against their sources. According to ‘someone familiar with the situation,’ he’s, “…seen more thorough sourcing in Gawker’s Blind Items, than with that Ovechkin drive-by shooting.”
Bringing Sexy Back(ström): The news about Nicky19 back on the ice was greeted with cheers throughout Capsland. Thursday saw him at KCI firing one-timers, drilling and “taking medium-effort laps of the rink with and without the puck.” Let’s let Pittsburgh and half of Hockeydom celebrate Sidmas on Thursday night. The return of Nicky to the ice will be reason to celebrate no matter your creed or religion. In fact, on the blessed day that our Angel returns, we plan to visit the synagogue, climb the steps of St. Matthews on our knees, sacrifice a goat (or Pens fan), and maybe bay at the moon like those wiccan people. Or just pound some Lutfisk and chase it down with Absolut.
Green Means Go: Friday’s Winnipeg game sees the return of Mike Green to the lineup after a 3-game Shanaban for his hit on Brett Connolly in last week’s Bolts game. Greenie is still pointless in ten games since his February 18 return from injury, and if this team is going to get into the playoffs, and succeed at all in those series, Green needs to get back on his game. It’s nice that we can rack up some W’s without him, but we don’t need any more of these one point, nail-biting victories.
Kuz on First or KuzNYETsov or Evgeny, We hardly Knew Ye: I’d trash talk Traktor and the KHL here if I wasn’t afraid of winding up dismembered, disemboweled, and buried in a shallow grave somewhere on the outskirts of Chelyabinsk. We’ll probably start reading about the outsized influence his mom, wife, Sochi, and Vladimir Putin have on him, from “people familiar with the situation.” If this is a start to a new Cold War, then bring it! And if it comes to Ovi having to ask for his wedding presents back, then by all means degift and regift. Maybe those two minutes that Ovi spent on the ice at Thursday’s practice wasn’t the result his collision with Knuble – was it was Ovi laying there, sobbing to himself and whispering, “Why Evgeny, Why?!?!?!” Or is the real answer that the NHL has too many Canadians playing? Kuz isn’t their fave Russian player it seems.
The Caps are going for five in a row. The last time that happened this season? You don’t even have to be a fancy boy, #fancystats nerd to know that – early October, during the first two weeks of the season. Were the Caps the worst 7-0 team ever? They sure frittered away the last four months trying to prove that. For far too long, after too many fits and starts and embarrassing efforts, maybe these guys finally have their heads and asses wired together. The time is now. Better late than later. ABC: Always Be Crashing (the net).
Coiner: Keith Aucoin’s bus ride down from Hershey continues to pay off. 5 points (1G, 4A) in his last 5 games have come at just the right time for the Caps. We’d have lost to those craptacular Islanders if not for his hard work on Tuesday evening. The proud new papa has his hands full at home with his 3 week-old son, Brayden, and could be the perfect daddy that the Caps’ anemic PP needs. He’s hit the 10-game season threshold with the Caps, so putting him on waivers and sending him back to the Bears seems pretty unlikely. YAY!
Kanoobs: After being sat for much too long in the press box, Mike Knuble, Number 22 on the ice, but Number 1 in our hearts, is back on the ice and is racking up time – and a GOAL! We love Papa Knoobs and we’re not just saying that to suck up to the Knights – even though we’d love to be part of another investiture ceremony like Sir Ian Oland had.
Dima: Despite that little issue in the Islanders shootout, Scorlov is A-OK. His well-timed goal, early in the 3rd against the Isles got the Caps back in the hunt. Keep working on the aim Baby Russian Machine and keep putting the rubber on those creeps in goal.
Alan May: I credit the latter-day Glimmer Twins, Joe B. and Locker for turning me onto this game, but it’s Alan May who teaches me about it. His intermission and post-game breakdowns of the action have helped make me the brilliant hockey analyst I am today. OK – maybe it was a little shameless asking him for a follow the other night (HE DID!!! OMG GUYS – HE REALLY DID!! SQUEEEEE!), but it allowed for an offline chat about Caps playoffs possibilities. Everyone has an opinion in this game, but the one we put the most weight behind is Alan’s. As far as ideal seed, Alan thought, “…8th may be better than 3rd. Caps can beat all the top seeds.” We like his style.
Mike Green: [See above]
Sasha: This pains us to write… Only 3 points (1G, 2A) in his last 7 games isn’t the follow up we were hoping for after a very caring February, in which he racked up 13 points (5G, 8A) in 14 games. True, he’s been staying out of the penalty box lately (yielding that space to Beags it seems), but we need to see more production to feel a little better about the remaining games this season and any playoffs success. And Sasha – your allergy tests came back negative for tree pollen, kittehs, and back checking.
The Winnipeg Jets: This is where we talk about hockey things and stuff. Sorta. A pox on the Jets. We’ve got 4 points on them and they’re not the threat they seemed to be just a couple weeks ago. Still, a pox on their house, in this case, a pox on MTS Centre. They’re a desperate team and they must be dealt with accordingly and savagely on Friday night – no mercy, no prisoners. Get in, get out with two points and kiss their sorry asses goodbye until March 23 when we host them at Verizon. Lather, rinse, repeat. We’re so over these guys that we’ll farm out the hate-filled screed to a PuckBuddys stringer, Islanders scribe, @RoseTintedVisor:
Winnipeg: The Frozen North, rather than being giddy that they have a team, they have become the ultimate trolls. They boo every star, because they have none. Which is embarrassing enough, but then they troll Atlanta for ‘squandering’ their team. Calgary didn’t do this. Congrats. You have LESS CLASS THAN THE COW TOWN THAT IS CALGARY.
Cross Pollination or The Right Stuff: While there is no official PuckBuddys connection with the You Can Play initiative, I was honored to be a part of the effort by way of my day job as a PR guy – YCP is a pro bono client for my firm. And to demonstrate how impermeable the firewall was between PuckBuddys and YCP – one outfit did not get an interview with Patrick on the launch, ours. YCP got a lot of great ink and we especially appreciate the support and kind words from our Russian brothers about the effort. The great coverage continues and Phil Taylor of Sports Illustrated just filed a great piece on YCP, a must-read on this historic and thankfully, apolitical effort.
The next phase of the YCP campaign calls for the release of additional player PSAs, in which every NHL team is expected to be represented. And of course, that means a Washington Capitals player will participate too. I’ve been privy to conversations and have heard some amazing player names bandied about. Would you believe… Never mind – I’ve said too much as it is. And for the record, there is no truth to the rumor that I was overheard saying that working for the Burkes is like working for the Corleones. Regardless, I’d rather see my career go the way of Tom Hagen than Frank Pentangeli.
Better left unsaid: Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has taken over Verizon this week. Let those be the last clowns we see in the joint – not counting the remaining five teams we host there (Jets, Wild, Sabres, Habs, and Panteros) and of course, the Wizards.
Meme of the Night: None, because I think that’s pretty much played (kinda like that JC74 Hadeed TV spot).
Prediction: Haters gonna hate and skaters gonna skate. Caps gonna annihilate. Buh-bye Winnipuke.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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