Kessel, like a curious squirrel, looks on in confusion. (Photo: Andre Ringuette)
Look: I know this has nothing to do with the Capitals and these photos will be shared ad nauseam everywhere, but I have to do it.
On Sunday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre. During the third period, Phil Kessel served a Leafs bench minor for too many men on the ice. While sitting in the box, Kessel, who looks more like a creepy gym teacher or your company’s disgruntled IT guy, noticed a Leafs fan who wanted a photo. Or maybe he was just confused.
Caps Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson and the rest of Team Sweden were busy on their day off. On Monday, the players traveled to the neighboring mountains in Krasnaya Polyana to watch Sweden win the Cross-Country men’s relay.
The PreGame: On Wednesday night, we saw flashes of brilliance. Perhaps our squad has turned the corner. We finally figured out the PP. And yet, for the past four weeks, we’ve seen things we haven’t wanted to see. Ugly things. Things we’ve flinched from; things we’ve shielded our juvenile eyes away from. Things a pure heart shouldn’t see: the last gasping moments of the Boudreau era. We think it’s time to banish what was… for what is now.
There comes a moment when we own our time. Tonight we declare: an end to what was.
[Call the Spirits! North, South… East and West…Harken to me now! Hear us!]
Bruce – Juggles – is passed. And now, like a veil lifted from our eyes, we see again our gallant Capitals squad. God Save the King! We will love you always Coach, but you are now past us. Be well, and fear the Caps.
The Pre-Game: Oh Lordy, we hate being right. Especially if it involves Canada. Not as in: their single-payer health care system is far more efficient than our insurance company-laden poop pie. More like: there’s no more dangerous team than an underestimated one with shelves of talent and an insane fan base. (Either way, it’s a poop pie, frankly.)
So here we are, game 3 of 3 of the road trip, landing us square in Squaresville: Toronto. (Wagging finger in old maid mode:) We warned you about those teams! We cautioned against squads whose numbers didn’t quite look right, yet had piles of skill ready to dump on the ice! What, you didn’t listen? You think you know better? Are you listening to me?
Uh, no, chances are, you’re not. At least not based on the last few Caps’ book in Vegas. We think that changes Saturday.
Teemu Selanne is one of the greatest hockey players ever to lace up skates. His 642 career goals rank him in 12th place of all time. He’s led the league in goal-scoring three times during his career, and he won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
Put simply, the man knows how to score goals and win games. So when Teemu started talking about Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin with Alisa Volbidaht of Sovetsky Sport, we paid attention.
During the long Q/A, the Finnish Flash gives his opinion on Ovi’s recent “benching,” what the Great Eight needs to do to regain his scoring touch of years’ past, and who he thinks will win the Rocket Richard trophy.
The interview, published in Wednesday’s issue of the Sovetsky Sport newspaper, is translated below by RMNB’s Fedor Fedin.
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.
Neuvy celebrates with his teammates after coming up victorious in the shootout. (Photo credit: Graig Abel)
What can’t Knuble do? (Photo credit: Graig Abel)
In their first game of the final back-to-back of the season, the Capitals found themselves in Air Canada Centre to face the surging Toronto Maple Leafs. Since the All-Star break, the Leafs have gone a ridiculous and improbable 18-7-5, riding mid-season call-up James Reimer’s (Oops, sorry!) Optimus Reim‘s incredible goaltending back into playoff contention.
Unfortunately for the Leafs, their chances of still making the playoffs were about as likely as Jason Chimera having a 50 goal season: less than one percent. To stave off mathematical elimination for one more night, they had to have either a regulation or overtime win against DC and a loss from Buffalo.
“They have to have every point,” winger Brooks Laich explained to the media after the Capitals pre-game skate. “They have to have every point in regulation the next three games and then hope for the best. This is an elimination game for the Leafs and they’re going to show us their absolute best.