Should the Washington Capitals Sign Ryan Miller?

After extending Brian Elliott on Monday, the St. Louis Blues appear unlikely to sign UFA goalie Ryan Miller. Miller, you recall, spent his entire career with Buffalo up until the 2014 trade deadline, when he jumped to St. Louis. Miller put up a .903 save percentage with the Blues over 19 games. I guess that was all Doug Armstrong needed to see.

Now, once again, we face an interesting question: should the Capitals sign Miller? Do they need stability in net before they can jumpstart their offense? Would an injection of experience even out a weary defense? Can he make the big saves in big games, which are definitely more important than the small saves in minuscule games.

Let’s weigh the matter carefully.

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The home team led their lower-seeded opponent three games to one. Then the goalie got hot.

In those final games, the opposing goalie put up a brick wall and his defense kept shots to the outside. Despite a massive advantage in possession, the home team– a favorite to win the Cup– lost game seven.

Despair reigned. The team’s star, an exemplar of offense, failed to score when it counted most. The team’s goalie looked manifestly flawed.

So the team looked inward. Where did we go wrong? Is this the wrong way to play? Who do we blame?

All the eyes turned to the coach.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

With George McPhee out, the Capitals have a vacancy at the GM slot. But all the buzz in recent days has been about a position higher than that: the newfangled President of Hockey Operations, which sounds to me like general manager, but what do I know?

I’m sure you’ve heard the scuttlebutt. Word on the street is the Caps might bring in one of the biggest names in sports to become the big boss in Arlington. A real pro star, if you catch my drift.

I’m here to say that’s a real good idea. Actually, it’s a great one.

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Photo: Debora Robinson

Last summer, the Washington Capitals bought out the final season of Jeff Schultz’s four-year, $11 million deal. The 6’6”, 227-pound defenseman fell out of favor with Caps brass, and the Calgary, Alberta native asked for a trade. When they couldn’t find a willing partner, they bought him out. The Caps ended up using Sarge’s $2.75 million cap hit on Mikhail Grabovski, and we all said goodbye. It was time.

Over the summer, Schultz signed with the Los Angeles Kings. He didn’t make their team out of training camp, so he spent the entire season with American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. He put up pedestrian numbers there–two goals and 11 assists– but Sarge has never been a stellar boxcar stat guy. On Monday night, with Robyn Regehr injured, Schultz was given a jersey by Kings coach Darryl Sutter. He looked like a changed player.

It was weird– and not only because he was playing his first NHL game since DC against Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks.

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Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby is going to win the Hart trophy at the end of the season. Not only was Sid the only guy to score 100 points this year, he is also a good defensive player too. That’s why on Friday night against the New York Rangers, I was surprised to see Crosby completely give up on a play in the defensive zone.

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Why I Gave Up My Season Tickets

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[Ed. note: Eric Bovim shares his perspective as an aggrieved season-ticket holder. - Peter]

I have invested nearly $60,000 since 2008 as a season ticket holder into the Washington Capitals. But it’s time to put that to an end.

Even with the overdue changes to the Caps front office announced this weekend, I have decided to give up my tickets as a protest to ownership. I doubt the voice of a lone STH matters much to them; no doubt they will quickly sell my two seats in my section 102, row F to someone on their waiting list. Management never knew me. But I will not let them forget about why I have made the decision to forfeit my precious seats.

For the past 6 seasons, from those seats by the faceoff circle near the glass, I have seen it all. I remember the time I took my little boy to his first game – early 2009 – when he was merely two and a half. Alex was so young then I had to bring along his diaper and pacifier. His mother packed him his bottle. I bundled him up. We were playing the Canadiens. Jose Theodore was out goalie then. We won 3-0. I still remember his face that night at the game, him cheers along with the Horn Guy, him falling asleep later that season in the third period as the Caps rallied to beat Detroit. He stayed asleep even as Verizon Center celebrated a vintage Mike Green goal. I stood and held him as he slept. It was not easy, but it was fun.

We saw many other games over the years together. We became quite comfortable at Verizon together. We had our pre-game dinners all mapped out. He made his tour around the concourse, seeking free handouts from the Red Rockers. When I told him that I had given up the seats he was rightly upset. The games with dad were a childhood ritual that I have abruptly ended. He expected to be able to go. It would be hard to explain to him, however, that I expected much more from the Capitals this year, and that I felt like I was pouring my money down a hole.

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Photo: Ronald Martinez

During the 2012 NHL Draft, the Washington Capitals sent a B-level prospect to the Dallas Stars for Mike Ribeiro. The then 33-year-old Ribs played one season for the Caps as the team’s second-line center. His overall possession numbers were disappointing, but hey, he collected power-play points like coins in Super Mario.

George McPhee offered Ribeiro a contract extension at the trade deadline that year. Ribeiro did not agree to the deal, so McPhee traded Filip Forsberg for a top six-depth in Martin Erat, and Ribeiro walked away for nothing on the first day of free agency before signing a ridiculous five-year deal with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Meanwhile, that B-level prospect that the Caps gave up was Cody Eakin, who has become quite a player in Dallas.

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Photo: @DaveSem

WARNING: This post may upset readers who get emotional about human fingers. Not all of the fingers. Just the one in the middle.

Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted a home playoff game for the first time since 2012, when they lost to the eventual Eastern Conference champions, the New Jersey Devils, in five games. The Flyers lost again on Tuesday, this time getting smacked 4-1 by the New York Rangers. They are down 2-1 in the series.

This first round match-up isn’t over yet, but some Flyers fans are already melting down. After a goal by Martin St. Louis put the Rangers up 2-0, a Flyers fan flipped him off. It made for good TV.

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The Three Futures of the Washington Capitals

It’s been ten days since the Washington Capitals’ season ended and the proverbial axe has yet to fall. As of press time, both George McPhee and Adam Oates are still gainfully employed. That has some people upset.

I get it. I’m a bit surprised the team hasn’t acted yet. And this period of uncertainty doesn’t come without consequences, among them the possible loss of pending free agent Mikhail Grabovski. That would be bad, but I’m trying to see it from the owners’ perspective.

The Caps are at a fork in the road. I can see three potential futures ahead of the team, and now Ted Leonsis has to choose one. It’s a daunting decision, one that merits careful deliberation and planning. If the Caps pick incorrectly– or fail to properly execute that decision– things could get grim and dark. Things could get grimdark.

Here are all the ways I can I see it going.

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Photo: @tim_guthrie

Since entering the NHL in 2000, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been a laughingstock. Sure, Rick Nash’s goal scoring gave them some respectability, and they had that weird playoff appearance in 2009, but it wasn’t until last week that I finally found respect for the franchise and its fans.

First, on Saturday, Columbus won its first ever playoff game. They beat the Pens (whom I really, really hate) in double overtime.

Then something magical happened at the Columbus Zoo, which changed everything.

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