oleksy-fights-blind

Photo credit: Paul Bereswill

Claude Giroux is one of the best and toughest players in the NHL. Last season, he had 93 points for the Flyers and then played beer pong two weeks after getting dual wrist surgery. It’s hard not to like him.

Capitals rookie defenseman Steve Oleksy is pretty tough customer too. Midway through the third period of Sunday’s game, as Giroux tried to glove the puck, Oleksy delivered a big, clean, open-ice hit on the Flyers captain.

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Early Morning Skate: So, the last time we were here, we were there. Filthy Philadelphia, needing a solid road win, and feeling optimistic to start. In fact, we were all, like, yay here we gowhattheflipwasthat?! and c’mon Holtbeast get it together and then yay Groooouuubsie and boooo Max Talbot grrr grrrr and ow that traffic-cone orange makes my soul weep and that was pretty much the best summary of that ugly mess of a game I can imagine.

Mmmm...tastes like Cheez Whiz

Mmmm…tastes like Cheez Whiz

What exactly was it that happened that terrible, cold February night at the F-U Center? Where, exactly, were manimal Troy Brouwer and Captain 8 (despite being probably the best in Red on the ice that night) and John “Towelie” Carlson and the Millionaire and his wife and the nameless rest? Certainly not there to play hard, or at least battle back through a tough start. And why was it, exactly, the Lord Supreme in His wisdom didst create that dung-heap of a burg to begin with?

Now this is our idea of a hot Fly team. Really.

Now this is our idea of a hot Fly team. Really.

You see, I’d like to chalk up that bumbling bungle of a game simply to our visiting the giant spirit suck that is Philly and its moronic fans. Like to, but cannot. Yeah, there were a couple fluky puck bounces and what-not, but those things give as much as they take. No, what we saw was a failure to launch by the Capitals after a dis-spiriting start. It was not, in any possible permutation of the concept, ‘good.’

The Puck Drop: But it’s Spring, and Easter (for some) or Maru (for others) or Passover or Nowruz or we’re just going to stop this now. Traditionally, it’s a time for rebirth and renewal and rejuvenation and reloading and all that. For the Capitals’ flock, it’s once more the race to the playoffs.

For several years now, the Capitals have demonstrated fine mettle in April, much like the pale gossamer jonquils besotting the landscape, if those jonquils were angry, snarling, forechecking, glass-smashing monsters made of steel and laser beams.

In short, there’s two ways this ends. One: we leave Filthydelphia redolent of Whiz, covered in soot and chagrin; or two, you can eat me Peter Laviolette. No wait, that’s a given. Oh yes; or two, we bounce outta Barftown and kick it into grinder gear for the coming match-ups against the Canes and ugly Islanders (revenge want now) and be the team that showed up to rub Winnipeg’s nose in its own dark, dark shame. I know which one I’m hoping for.

So let’s git ‘er done.

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Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Concussions have become the topic du jour around the NHL in the last few years, and for very good reason. Nearly a hundred cases of head trauma have been recorded just this season, and with Caps star Nicklas Backstrom missing forty games with concussion the issue has now hit DC  fans closer to home. Despite his highly physical style of play, Alex Ovechkin has managed to avoid concussion so far in his career. Still, he hasn’t been ignoring the epidemic, and for several months Ovechkin has been testing Bauer’s new trauma-preventative RE-AKT helmet. It’s now being worn by several other Bauer-sponsored NHL stars, but Ovechkin was the first to agree to test the RE-AKT — even before Backstrom’s incident with Rene Bourque.

We spoke to C.J. Ficek, Bauer’s Product Manager for Helmets to find out more about the helmet and Ovi’s decision to wear it.

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The Hunger Games: Flyers beat Caps 2-1 (SO)

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

The final game of the Washington Capitals’ ginormous road trip was a Thursday night date with the pylon-clad Philadelphia Flyers. Just like last game, the Caps came out hard, but faced a much more composed foe.

Alex Ovechkin was in hurry, scoring in the game’s first minute. Claude Giroux converted a breakaway in the second. Overtime came and went.  A coin was flipped, and the Caps lost. Flyers beat Caps 2-1 (shootout).

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NHL All-Stars Suffering from Concussions and Head Injuries

Special thanks to Gary Bettman for letting the guys out of the Quiet Room long enough for us to snap this pic. Enlarge. (Photo illustration by Ian Oland)

The stars of the All-Star Game were a little less bright this year. Some of the familiar faces that fans expect were absent for reasons that are becoming all too familiar in the modern NHL: head injury. Approximately 85 head injuries have been reported this year, meaning that nearly ten percent of all active players have been injured. 28 of 30 teams have reported at least one head injury, while some franchises have dealt with as many six or seven. With star center Nicklas Backstrom now sitting out due to concussion, the issue has hit close to home for Caps fans.

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Philadelphia Flyers Pregame: Cheesesteak Losers

Doug Johnson of the Puck Buddys delivers your pregame report. @PuckBuddys.

The Puck Drop: So, class, pencils down. What have we learned this weekend, hmm? Anyone? Anyone?

Well one of the things we’ve learned is that Coach Dale Hunter really isn’t like Coach Bruce Boudreau. As a player or as a coach. Yes, do we remember that? Do we also remember how Dennis Wideman got gipped out of a hat trick by some fusty clock-watchers in Toronto? Recall that? And… and another lesson; do we all remember how confusing it is to watch the Capitals play game to game? That roller-coaster – yeah, remember that? Awake one night, asleep the next? Hmmm?

It’s AH (Anno Hunteramus) 1, and so far we’re breaking even with genuinely mixed performances. A few months back, before “The Troubles“, we spanked the Flyers 5-2 in their own barn, with Hamrlik (remember when he was hot?) knocking in the GWG and Vokoun in the net. And here we are today. It’s cold, but Hamrlik is sorta hot again – or at least not cold cabbage – and Raccoon is once again starting to show a little of his elite-ness.

So, class, this Tuesday, which Capitals team do you think will show up? Hmm? Bueller?

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PLAYOFFS! Caps Top Flyers, 5-4! (SO)

Semin wins it

#GoodSasha (Photo credit: Paul Bereswill)

Awwwww! Photo credit: Matt Slocum

Awwwww! Photo credit: Matt Slocum

The Washington Capitals are in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Now, don’t start panicking. The Caps of this year are different. They play postseason-style defensive hockey. (Well, let’s just forget about the D tonight.) Washington has their swagger back too. They’re just one point off the top spot in the East and are firing on all cylinders as April awaits.

Nicklas Backstrom opened the scoring at 7:52 after his wrist shot from between the circles snuck under Flyer goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder. Weak goal. Then with under three minutes left in the first period, ol’ man Mike Knuble chipped in Marcus Johansson’s pass from behind the net to push the Caps lead to multiple goals. Spongebob never saw it. Weak goal.

Under 1:30 into the second stanza, Dennis Wideman fired a shot from the point the found twine after Bobrovsky failed to react in time. Weak goal. New ‘keeper. At 8:05 Kris Versteeg got himself an easter egg. Number 10 in orange and black racked up his 19th of the year after his off-target pass hit Wideman’s skate. With just over 30 seconds left in the frame Claude Giroux inched Philadelphia ever closer, one-timing Andreas Nodl’s perfect pass past Neuvirth. The Czech netminder never even moved on the shot after biting on Nodl’s excellent fake. The Flyers would then tie the game 10:02 in the third period when the Capitals got Jeff Schultz’d. Mr. Nasty’s outlet pass was deflected by Giroux and Nodl slapped it home. Daniel Briere would then score the Flyers’ fourth unanswered tally, saavily tipping a a Kimmo Timonen shot from the point home. 4-3, Fly Guys. Panic!!!1 Luckily for you guys, Swedes are good at hockey. Johansson would tie the game up on a perfect shot from the point with 3:19 left. What does that mean? Overtime.

In the extra period, there would be chances a plenty, but neither team would convert. You know what lies next: The Gimmick.

Ville Leino: goal. Matt Hendricks: fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, fake, leg lift, fake, fake, fake, backhand and GOAL! Giroux: miss. Backstrom: GOAL! Briere: Goal. Up next, The Enigma. GOAL WSH #28 SEMIN, Backhand, Off. Zone, 7 ft. Playoffs, here we come! Caps top Flyers, 5-4 (SO)

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