Florida Panthers Pregame: Deal The Card

Doug Johnson is a Puck Buddy. Read Puck Buddys. Follow @PuckBuddys. Obey.

The Pregame: True story. Florida’s Everglades have become so overrun with non-native Burmese Pythons, imported by one simpleton New Jersey retiree couple on Hoverounds, that they’ve eaten just about everything good and natural to the region, leaving the entire ecosystem on the edge of collapse. Really.

And yet, we are so overcome with issues of real import (Caps fail) that we cannot even fill in the punchline here. The easy, made-to-order, South Florida punchline. The joke that Dave Barry has penned a hundred times (and Gene Weingarten a thousand.)

THAT is precisely how dire our current situation is. To make it clear: if two well-educated, middle-aged gay men can’t make wry comments about South Florida, you know it’s fer realz.

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Video: Tomas Vokoun’s Save of the Year Candidate

While his teammates in front of him were having a bit of a vacation hangover, Tomas Vokoun was brilliant in net during the Capitals’ 4-3 (OT) loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday. Vokoun made 27 saves, including stoning Steven Stamkos on a breakaway in regulation. The Czech netminder’s best stop however came in overtime, when — down on the ice and out of position — he stretched out and caught Vincent Lecavalier’s shot from the crease with his glove. Check out the video below the jump.

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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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Alex Semin: “I Don’t Understand These Rules”

Alex Semin shootout

Sasha scores on Dwayne Roloson to end the shootout. (Photo credit: @jlrpuck)

Two nights after scoring the Capitals’ first goal of the season on a breakaway, Alex Semin hit the back of the net again. This time, he scored emphatically during the shootout, clinching a wild 6-5 victory for the good guys. Sasha Minor, who also managed to rifle five shots on net (only Jason Chimera had more), also nullified a Capitals’ four-on-three power play during overtime with one of those pesky, offensive-zone stick infractions. Sigh.

After the game, Slava Malamud of Sport-Express once against caught up with Semin and the talented Caps winger gave his thoughts on Tomas Vokoun’s performance, the NHL rulebook, and the Lokomotiv tragedy. RMNB’s Fedor Fedin has your translation.

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Vokoun shuts the door in the shootout. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

Ballgame. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

This certainly wasn’t what Tomas Vokoun had in mind for his first game as a Washington Capital. Five goals. Bronx cheers. And, surprisingly, a win.

“It just shows how strong this team is,” Vokoun told reporters after Monday’s 6-5 shootout victory. “They literally won today without goaltending. So what can I say? … It was just ugly, ugly, ugly game for me.”

“It’s the first game, obviously you want to leave a good impression for the fans and everything,” he continued. “Couldn’t tell you the last time I remember having as bad a game as I did tonight. But we won the game, certainly not thanks to me. The team play great. I think it shows a lot of character, guys battle, came back four times. I’m going to make a promise I’m going to get them back sometime when they’re going to need me.”

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Thick and Proud, Caps beat Bolts 6-5 (SO)

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

You could liken Tomas Vokoun’s debut for the Washignton Capitals to being fed to wolves. A team that relies heavily on their netminders, the Capitals chose their date with the fluke-friendly Tampa Bay Lightning to introduce the goalie. This is the same team that knocked the Caps just a few months ago and whose coach has mastered the art of saying passive-aggressive dick-y things. No pressure. GAME ON.

Teddy Purcell deflected off Mike Green’s legs for an early goal that probably pissed Vokoun off righteously. Marcus Johansson converted a wraparound after Dwayne Roloson left the net (more on this below). Bruno “Ricky” Gervais wristed it from beneath the goal line, catching Vokoun off the post to put the Bolts back up. Dennis Wideman unleashed a monster from the blue line that hit iron and webbing (Neil put this shot percentage at around 2%). Dominic Moore had all the time in the world to put his puck in short-side from the slot. Then Schultz ripped one off of Troy Brouwer, whose shot was screened by Joel Ward.

Lemme catch my breath… There’s more.

Jason Chimera crashed the net to clean up Brooks Laich’s rebound and put the Caps up 4-3 in the third. Nick Thompson exploited a completely screened Tomas Vokoun to even it back up. Vokoun had no excuse on the next one, a deep-from-behind ricochet by Brett Clark. Jason Chimera tied it up with a rocket from the circles, earning all in attendance free wings from Glory Days. Into overtime and onto the shootout. New paragraph needed.

Hendricks dekes a deke that hath not yet been deked to give the Caps one. Vokoun sends back soup. Ovechkin rebuffed. Vokoun sends back soup. Sasha scoars! Caps beat Bolts 6-5 (SO)!

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Guy Boucher plots to kill 007 (Photo credit: Scott Cunningham/Getty Image)

Craig Brownstein of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine. You shall follow them on Twitter.

Banging out preview for Monday night’s game against the Bolts required us to go through some repressed playoff memories. Bear with us for some much needed catharsis; we’re still fragile.

Late last April, we embarked on a grand tour of European capitals just as Game 5 with the filthy Rangers was wrapping up. We were glued to the Blackberry as our readied for take off. Just before wheels up, word came through that the Caps bested the Rags, 3-1. We began our adventure by causing quite the raucous in the first class cabin with fanboy squeals, high-fives, and RED streaks of Russian curses– guaranteeing a date with aviation authorities upon landing across the Atlantic.

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The End

Defeated. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)

Tampa Bay Lightning. Washington Capitals. Season on the line.

Malone from the backdoor on the PP.  Marco Sturm up front on the PP.  Bergenheim puts it high. Bergenheim on the rebound. Erskine from an impossible angle. Martin St. Louis all alone up front. John Carlson off the faceoff. Bolts beat Caps 5-3.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have swept the Washington Capitals.

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