This pretty much sums up the night. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
So our dads Peter and Ian decided to give your humble PuckBuddys the keys to the RMNB-car for recaps over the next few games. Ha! We promised them not to drive at dangerously high speeds with the top down while stealing people’s mail and laughing wildly. We promise you we won’t keep that promise.
Speaking of a wild ride, Tuesday’s geshrey was whether Adam Oates would pull his Caps back together under his new system, or whether they would revert to old ways/panic. Would this be the first home opener loss since the turn of the century? Would we rally from the Bolts shellacking and figure out our PK? Would Ribiero perform? Would Lady Mary really marry cousin Matthew? We have our answers.
10:02 in the 1st, Matt Hendricks gets the pass from Nicky for the first home score in almost a year, with a big crash o’ the net. That’s answered at 12:34 into the first, on a power play when the nasty Evander Kane sunk one on Holtby, unassisted. Andrew Ladd sinks a direct bullet at 16:26 – right through a non-existent Caps defense and a tired-looking Holtby (there, I said it.)
Second frame brought out a little toughness from both sides, with hopes on a Dustin Byfuglian penalty, yielding nothing. Kane knocks to Blake Wheeler, who then taps in at 14:32 to take the Jets up 3-1. PuckBuddys start crying. And then oh-noes: with less than a minute left, Slater tips in a dribbler for a boo-bird 4-1. Everyone grab your junk as Hendy puts Slater down after the horn; Verizon hall yawns.
In the third, an early Capitals power play nets Troy (handsome) Brouwer in the bin and washes out our chances. Remember when we were up in this game? haha. Caps swarm to save Braden Holtby half-way in, which almost raises our spirits. Hendy tries to rally the team; nothing juicy follows. A spit more than 1 minute left, Troy-Boy (off Ribiero) swags it in but gives the Jets a PP.
JETS BEAT CAPS 4-2.
The Puck Drop: Lesson – don’t waste all your good rival city bile in your first pregame post. You may get the hahas, but it doesn’t leave you much room for new jokes. Lesson: as we continue to repeat until GMGM hears us, there are two Caps teams. One team is Ninja Master, the other is Donkey Kong. There is no telling which will show up, and this must be fixed.
Lesson: do NOT write mouthy, taunting blog posts your team (or butt) cannot cash.
Lesson: if a team is going to win, it will win as a team. The Caps seem to have a hot-shot mentality of late; namely they play really well, until something unexpected happens. Not a first goal, as we seem to play better if we’re just one down, but a second, surprise goal. At that point you can almost see the shoulders schlump, the feet get leaden and the team lose heart, players scrambling to pump the sinking ship (almost like how and fans Verizon last night). Panic does not become a great team. Keep calm and carry on.
All of this is to say: we must be humble if we are to be great.
Fittingly, the most awkward photo of Ovechkin available. (Photo credit: Marianne Helm)
The last time the Washington Capitals played hockey in Manitoba, Steve Konowalchuk scored a hat trick. Tonight’s game with the reformed Winnipeg Jets had a lot of fanfare preceding it, which makes what happened even sadder.
Off Brooks Laich’s pass, Alex Semin wristed the game’s first goal from a harsh angle. Evander Kane used two quick touches to beat a trio of Caps and tie it up. Joel Ward didn’t clear the defensive zone, turning over to Kane who potted his second of the night with a lightning fast shot. Brooks Laich missed on his shorthanded chance, leading to Blake Wheeler’s goal and a 3-1 lead for the ‘Peg. Hot-hand Kyle Wellwood tapped in the Jets’ 4th goal on the powerplay. Jets beat Caps 4-1.
The Pre Game: I’m going to let you in on a secret. We people of the prairie have known it for decades, but as a group we tend to be Scandinavian, and so tight-lipped. We only pass it down– whispered– when there’s no other choice; as on those nights the wind shakes the windows and hope seems to extinguish in the pit of a cold, dead emptiness. And here it is: there is no darker, stranger place on this Earth than Winnipeg. It’s Canada’s sooty heart of darkness… and now, thanks to the NHL, we have to spend a night there.
You can spend a lifetime overnight in Winnipeg.
Oh, I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s Canada! How scary can that be?” Here’s how creepy: David Lynch won’t even go there. That’s how creepy Winnipeg is. Built at the base of a floodplain that sinks in summer and concentrates the winds into an arctic vortex each winter, Winnipeg is a place that sensible cultures would just abandon. Admit their mistake, move on, and leave it to future anthropologists to try and make sense of the debris: curling, BTO, and Guy Maddin.
Sure, some have escaped. Cody Eakin and Eric the Fehr among the more adorables. But let me ask you this: do you know anyone who’s been to Winnipeg? Didn’t they come back…changed?
Anze Kopitar celebrates a goal last year against the Blackhawks. (Photo credit: Harry How)
Editor’s note: You can win a 1-year subscription to ESPN Insider and a $25 gift certificate to Front Page VA by guessing Neil’s first two draft picks tonight. Check out the details on our Facebook page.
As part of ESPN.com’s NHL family, I was invited to participate in their fantasy hockey draft this past Tuesday. Just me and guys like Craig Custance, John Buccigross, and Scott Cullen.
Victoria Matiash has already given a bird’s eye view of the draft, but I thought I would run through my thought process on various picks and give you some ideas for your fantasy draft. Plus, you can see how I do for the season because we are making the results public.
Here were the ground rules for the draft:
Participants included, in original order, Craig Custance, Tristan Cockcroft, Tim Kavanagh, John Buccigross, Pierre Becquey, Michael Hume, Victoria Matiash, Neil Greenberg, Sean Allen and Scott Cullen. Categories include goals, assists, power-play points, plus/minus, penalty minutes, shots on goal and average time on ice for skaters and wins, save percentage and goals-against average for goaltenders. Slots to fill include nine forwards, five defensemen, one “utility” skater, two goaltenders and a five-man bench.
My philosophy was simple: grab young, healthy, talented players with upside. Let others worry if Patrick Kane would be healthy or if Sergei Kostitsyn can once again score 20 goals on less than 100 shots.
I had the eight pick. With my editor Mike Hume drafting before me (he knows which players I fancy) and Cullen having back-to-back picks behind me I knew I had to make strategic decisions.
Update: Nick Kypreos of Rogers Sportsnet reports that Matt Cooke has been suspended by the NHL for the rest of regular season and the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
During Sunday’s Penguins vs. Rangers game, Matt Cooke was up to his old tricks. The 32 year-old former Capital delivered an elbow to the head of a defenseless Ryan McDonagh. The Ranger player went down like a sack of potatoes but fortunately was uninjured. Cooke received a five minute major for elbowing on the play and a game misconduct. As Daniel Tolensky points out, Cooke has played in 881 NHL games yet has only been suspended a total of ten matches in his career. The League obviously deserves some of the blame for allowing Cooke’s dirty play to continue without significant consequences for his actions.
A month ago, Pens owner Mario Lemieux criticized the NHL for being too soft on the Islanders’ players that participated in the mega-brawl between New York and Pittsburgh. Just a week ago, Sidney Crosby said the NHL needed to fight deliberate head-shots. But now their own player, Matt Cooke, is once again under Colin Campbell’s review. Below, we’ve chronicled Cookie’s dirty deeds throughout the years.
A despondent Braden Holtby looks on after giving up the third goal of the night. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)
When Joe B. and Locker finished their pre-game intros and CSN cameras zoomed in for the opening face-off, it was hard not to notice the rows and rows of empty seats in Phillips Arena. The Capitals, seemingly aware of their surroundings, lacked energy and focus and proceeded to play down to their opponents. After giving up three quick goals to Ben Eager, Nik Antropov, & Evander Kane respectively, Braden Holtby was quickly summoned to the Caps bench by an enraged Bruce Boudreau.
Michal Neuvirth was steady in relief, but unfortunately for the Capitals, they were never able to locate their game after the switch. The offense was blessed with quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance but all resulted either in a missed shot, a ping off the post, or a solid save by Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
Evil cheeseburger-eater Dustin Byfuglien then put the game officially out of reach, closing the second period with a nifty short-side wrist shot past Neuvy. And let’s not even talk about that Burmistrov goal. I’m still angry at Jeff Schultz, who stopped skating, got deked out of his jockstrap and resembled a giant, awkward pylon on the play. Whatever. Thrashers win 5-0.
It might have taken a long 34 days, but Matt Cooke has finally paid an exacting price for his gutless hit on Marc Savard. For those who wanted real retribution, tonight you got it in the form of two right crosses from Atlanta’s Evander “Holyfield” Kane that knocked Cooke the fudge out. CLICK CLICK BOOM.
Even though lead NHL Disciplinarian Colin Campbell may not be adequately policing the sport, do know that the Hockey Gods are always willing and able to lend a hand when needed.
The Capitals’ Semyon Varlamov has been one of the better rookies in the NHL this season, and he’s certainly in the running to maybe take home the Calder Trophy. Several of the more highly touted rookies haven’t quite lived up to expectations, which leaves the field still wide open. By the nature of these kinds of awards, the winner tends to be the guy who played over his head the most and the longest. That means that the player who is on top now can easily regress and possibly even finish out of the top 10 at the en. Also, since it’s hard to compare players at different positions, the Goals Versus Threshold numbers that Behind The Net recently added are useful to put everyone on the same playing field. A little more than half-way through the season, here are some of the top contenders.
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