Ovi for Hart, Part I: The Hart Trophy is Kind of Stupid

Francois Lacasse

Photo credit: Francois Lacasse

Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, and Alex Ovechkin. Those are the names most seen in the deluge of chatter about this season’s Hart Trophy, the award given each year to the player deemed most valuable to his team. Washington’s own goal-scoring leader Alex Ovechkin seems to be the underdog in those conversations for a variety of reasons, namely that he plays in a bad division and wasn’t exceptional until the middle of March. I think those reasons are suspect, but the Hart conversation is already marred by a whole lot of questionable conventional wisdom.

The Hart Trophy is supposed to be awarded to the player that the Professional Hockey Writers Association deems most valuable to his team. While the actual inscription on the Hart Trophy leaves out the whole “to his team” part, I find that little prepositional phrase to be crucial. The NHL is unlike the MLB, whose MVP award has a simpler definition (“most outstanding player“), the same one used for the Ted Lindsay Award.

The Lindsay is the NHL’s real MVP award: voted on by the players and without consideration for team quality or any of the other logical convolutions that make the Hart the cause of ulcers for everyone silly enough to care about it.

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Game Over Green: Caps Edge Bolts 6-5 (OT)

caps-beat-lightning

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Thursday night against the Hurricanes, the Washington Capitals continued their march up the Eastern Conference standings with some Ovi scoring and Brouwer yelling (what else is new) as they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes. Tonight, they looked to extend their six-game winning streak against another flailing Southeast Division team from more humid parts, the Tampa Bay Lightning. They did. It was fun ’cause the Caps scored a lot of goals, until Tampa did that too.

It started with a Brouwitzer, then a Hillen blast (just kidding), and then some Russian dude with a missing tooth. In the second it was JASON FREAKING CHIMERA, Panik for Tampa, Panik puns for people on Twitter, and a Fehr tap in. The third, as usual, was where the Caps screwed things up, with two St. Louis goals, another for Panik, and one for Purcell. However…

OVERTIME = GAME OVER GREEN.

In the end, there were wings for the people in the stands and two points for the people on the ice. Caps edge Bolts 6-5 (OT).

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ovechkin-stamkos

In Tuesday’s win over the Montreal Canadiens, Alex Ovechkin scored his 26th goal of the season. For about an hour, he was the sole occupant of the NHL goal-scoring lead– until Tampa’s Steven Stamkos recorded his 26th with a game-winner against the Senators. Stamkos are Ovechkin are now neck-and-neck in a race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, given each year to the player who scores the most goals. I’m wondering if we can figure out who has the edge here.

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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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Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: Final Sprint

Saturday’s win over the Canadiens was way too close, but two points were gained and that is all that matters. Now, in this final week of the regular season, six points remain available. The Caps kinda need all of those if they want home-ice advantage in the playoffs.

That means getting two tonight in Tampa.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: Five Minutes To Midnight

Doug Johnson writes for Puck Buddys. And because we have the microfilm in a safety deposit box somewhere, he writes for us as well. Follow @PuckBuddys or we start executing hostages.

The Pregame: Hey now; any you guys see that show on the teevees, “Doomsday Peppers” or something? You know, the one where seemingly pleasant enough, if overwhelmingly white people happily share their crackpot theories of why the world will end any minute now and how they’ll survive by stocking their compounds with bullets and pig dung? Good times.

Meanwhile we in America’s Hockey’s Capital are not so much having da good times of late. I’m thinking closer to the pig dung. Or better – remember those snobby nuclear scientists with their finger-waggling about nuclear Armageddon, bringing us down during the happy heydays of Ronald Reagan and “Family Ties” with their elitist Doomsday Clock? (Kiddies: go look it up while we drink our Metamucil.)

Yeah. Sitting here, looking at Thursday’s game and the remainder of the season, it feels like five minutes to midnight…with the clock ticking. And here’s us, without a stockpile.

Want more feel good snuggles?  Keep reading.

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Bolts beat Caps 2-1, Mike Green Returns

Photo credit: Mike Carlson

The Washington Capitals ended their vacation in America’s unit by mixing it up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game featured the return of Mike Green to active duty and Mike Knuble to the top line, but precious little else.

Just 130 seconds in, a neutral-ice turnover by Dmitry Orlov led to Tom Pyatt’s puck dribbling past Vokoun. Just 110 seconds into the second period, a turnover by Matt Hendricks led to Steven Stamkos’s breakaway and the 40th goal of his season. Brooks Laich redirected a Matthieu Perreault pass into the weak side of the Tampa net to make it 2-1. A Marcus Johansson penalty nixed the team’s chances at a comeback.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: Tampa Smells

Doug Johnson of the Puck Buddys is back from break. Follow PB on Twitter.

The Pregame: Tampa. Sh*t, I’m still only in Tampa.

Or them, technically. Meaning us. As in, them, Tuesday night, isn’t us. And us don’t like them.

As dance partners go, Tampa Bay is the nattering, grabby-hands B.O. champion* of NHL cities. The one you get stuck with while your date runs off for a giggle as you try to shake him/her/it loose, but you can’t, because no-one else will even look at them, as they are now adhered to you like dog stain on rug, like flab on hips, like a vote-starved politician (redundant!) to your wallet.

Try as you might, they just won’t go away, and the longer they stay attached to you your social capital sucks dry as you furiously look for some escape but come to realize that, no, you and this thing are now welded together in a grotesque, condemned to dancing together for all eternity, or at least until realignment. Face it, Tampa: you smell.

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Brouwer celebrates the hatty! (Photo credit: Nick Wass)

Coming into tonight’s game, the Capitals had scored on five of their last 12 powerplays. Meanwhile, Tampa was playing their second game in two nights on the road.

Right off the hop, Alex Ovechkin took advantage of Tampa’s tired legs, scoring on the powerplay via a blast from the point. The goal, courtesy of a screen orchestrated by Troy Brouwer’s rear, was Ovi’s 18th on the year. The Hockey Gods then rewarded Troy’s hard work with a goal of his very own 1:53 later on the brouwerplay.

In the second period, Brouwer went to the second power, pushing a rebound past 42-year-old Dwayne Roloson. With 2:54 left in the second, the Lightning got their first of the night when Mike Knuble had his pocket picked by Martin St. Louis. That freakin’ gnat then dished to Tom Pyatt who one-timed home his fourth goal of the season.

Steven Stamkos gave Tampa’s comeback some steam with a powerplay goal in the third period to make it 3-2. But Troy Brouwer then responded by collecting a hat trick with an empty-netter. Still the Lightning wouldn’t die as Vincent LeCavalier deflected home a St. Louis shot with 11 seconds left. After another wild deflection in front of the net almost got past Vokoun, the buzzer finally hit zero. Caps beat the Lightning, 4-3. WHEW.

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Tampa Bay Lightning Pregame: S’all Downhill From Here

Sorry, Puck Buddys fans. The dudes skipped town last night and didn’t even leave a phone number. They could be in Marrakesh raising an army horde of bonsai kittens or playing Stratego with Sherpas in Tibet. We. Just. Do. Not. Know.

So yeah, the Capitals won that bout with the Penguins, but was that not one of the weirdest meetings between the two you’ve ever seen? Neither team seemed too interested in the whole “shooting” mechanic of hockey, and Matt Cooke didn’t even curl his evil mustache or malevolently pet his shaved cat once. With that humble 1-0 win, the first half of the Capitals’ season ended. It was a mess of a type we have not seen since Glen Hanlon’s reign.

But there are 41 pristine games ahead of us, starting with… [checks schedule] aw dammit! Tampa Bay Lightning woeugfbwieugwe

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