With the Capitals signing players like Tom Poti and Michel Neuvirth to multi-year extensions, Alex Semin‘s future with the team still remains in doubt. Some people think the Caps should lock up the legitimate first-line scoring-threat long term, while others believe his trade value will never be higher than it is right now. Whatever side of the fence you’re on, one thing is certain: This year could not be more important to the young Russian winger.
Nearly 3 months after being temporarily blinded in the right eye by a Mike Cammalleri shot, Tom Poti declared today that “Everything is going good” and he’s made a complete recovery.
This should be great news for Caps fans expecially with the team’s lack of activity in the free agent market this year.
If you watched the Montreal series it’s easy to see why not pursing a “shut down” defenseman in the free agent market has suddenly become a controversial move especially when Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Tampa Bay have all gotten better.
Ever since the Capitals were ousted in the first round, there has been no shortage of reasons why- ranging from “stars” like Semin & Green letting them down to Peter prematurely shaving his beard despite us HAVING A PACT. But I am not bitter. Instead, we look towards the future, which looks bright:
- Nicklas Backstrom signed a long-term extension, ensuring we will see dozens (nay hundreds!) of Backstrom-to-Ovechkin goals over the next decade.
- The Habs proved to be legit, knocking out Crysby and the Pens in the 2nd round and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals before being ousted by Philadelphia.
- Neil Greenberg managed to go to a series-clinching game up in Hershey and didn’t jinx it.
So the focus is now on the rumors surrounding how the Caps will look to prevent a repeat of 2009-10, and it starts with a simple real estate transaction: Senators defenceman Anton Volchenkov has put his Ottawa house up for sale.
The time for analysis is through. This was the wrong kind of game to open the post-season especially after last year’s bitter ending. Playoff hockey isn’t cherry-picking at the blue line, waiting for an opponent to break down. Playoff hockey isn’t going 1-on-3 when your last name isn’t Ovechkin or Backstrom. Playoff hockey isn’t getting fancy and putting the puck through a defenseman’s legs.
Playoff hockey is going hard to the net. Playoff hockey is making your own bounces. Playoff hockey is ugly goals. There was not near enough of that tonight. Period. The Caps deserved to lose 3-2 in overtime, and they now trail Montreal 1-0 in the series.
Some of the Caps’ best games this season have been against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and tonight was no exception. Marking Captain Alexander Ovechkin‘s return after suspension, tonight’s bout with the Bolts gave us hits, goals, fights, and — for once– a team that looked truly solid.
Goals from Tomas Fleischmann, the Russian Machine himself, and Alex Semin lifted the Caps above the Tampa Bay team, but the glory of the win must belong to the most excellent Jose Theodore. Stopping all but one of the 34 shots aimed at his net, Jose made tonight’s 3-1 victory possible.
[Ed. note- two big, honkin chunks of news about Semyon Varlamov and Nicklas Backstrom are broken below!]
(Hold on a second. I need to pop a handful of beta-blockers before I’m calm enough to write about this game rodeo.)
Alright. The New York Rangers looked like they could be the team to end the storied streak of hockey this year. Not the Capitals 12 wins in a row; I’m talking about my still-undefeated Russian Machine “Ovie’s bedroom eyes” shirt (now 10-0-0). Congratulations to all other lucky shirts out there as well. Eh, @ngreenberg?.
The Rangers were a driven team at MSG tonight. Led by the scary fast Marián Gáborík, they looked like they could score every time they were in the offensive zone. Now we know how every other team’s fans feel. The Rangers effortlessly scored on their first three power plays and led the Caps for all but ten seconds in the first two periods.
I’ll be honest: there were moments of doubt. Other Caps fans must have felt fleeting flashes of lapsed faith, too, but then we remembered who we’re dealing with. The Capitals of 2010 are the deepest team in the NHL. If there’s a crisis, all they need to do is summon one of their many miracle workers. Tonight it was unconquerable D-man, Tom Poti. Tom delivered the tying goal less than a minute into the third period, and Nicklas Backstrom followed him five minutes later with the game winner. The Caps would hold on to win their 12th game in a row. Tonight marks the first time in over a decade that a team has strung together that many wins.
Folks, I’m burying the lede. The big story tonight is Alexander Ovechkin scoring his 500th career point. He is only the ninth player to do so in his first five season, and the very first Russian on the list. And AO did so in his typically pivotal fashion– closing a two-goal gap at the end of the second period. Without that performance, this game would have been over.
We’ve got some big news for you behind the jump. Come on feel the noise.
First, a little mood music:
Now, where were we? Ah yes. The Washington Capitals have just broken the consecutive win record set by Craig “Pig Pile” Laughlin and the the 1983-1984 team. It’s a historic night for the organization, the boys, their dads, the coach, and their fans. But it would not have been possible without the marvelous game given to us tonight.
The Bruins have been bruised this season. Their reputation for low scores and anemic defense might have lu11ed some into false optimism, but not us. We know how Boston wanted badly to end their losing streak, and they sure showed that passion in the first period. The visiting Caps trailed 1-0 going into the first intermission, and the fans were already atwitter with bad tidings. Someone must have said something stirring in the locker room, as the Caps of the 2nd and 3rd periods were a who11y different creature: one with hustle and an unerring determination to win. Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich, and Boyd Gordon scored crucial goals that propped up the team for this momentous win. Caps beat Bruins 4-1.
God help us; they’re going to celebrate in New York City. Bu11ets!
When the Caps last met the Flyers, the blood had to be squeegeed off the ice. The December 5th 8-2 smackdown might have been the nadir of the Flyers’ season, and we sorta knew they’d bring everything they had to today’s faceoff. Unfortunately for the Flyers, that “everything” included goalie Ray Emery. By the end of the first period, the Caps had figured out the Philly netminder and began a steady treacle of goals for all sixty minutes. Notably, Brooks Laich emerged from a long goalless streak (in regulation at least) to drive two pucks behind Emery. Caps win, 5 to 3.
Let’s break it down:
This week we’ve got a great example of goalie analysis, the difference in salary a player can expect depending on whether he is a restricted or unrestricted free agent, what might explain the difference in predictability and parity between the NHL and other sports (namely, the NBA), and a nice profile of the Capitals.
Last night on Twitter, while I was in character, a few requests were made to me after the Caps 3-2 Loss to the Vancouver Canucks:
- edmorgans: @russianmachine Can you “lose” Poti in a snow drift somewhere between Vancouver and Edmonton? No one would suspect you!!!
- jdb820: @russianmachine Can you do to Poti what you did to Nylander?
While it’s still unclear to me what Ovechkin did to Nylander (give him vodka and an ikea gift card?), I don’t get the anger towards Tom Poti. Yes, Tom Poti took a tremendously ill-timed third period penalty for cross-checking. Yes, as he skated over to the penalty box, he completely showed up the referee, slammed the penalty box door and got awarded another penalty – making his costly 2 minute minor an even more terrible double minor. Yes, the Canucks scored during the first penalty, took a 3-2 lead they’d never relinquish, and then used the second minor penalty to erase another 2 minutes of valuable comeback time. Alright so I get it. His penalty is what allowed the Canucks to win the game.
But I’m not going to throw him under the bus. Poti is a key veteran on this team, and the penalty he took last night was at best a questionable call by the referee. He shouldn’t of cross-checked Canucks agitator Alex Burrows so high, but it was painfully clear to me that Burrows dove. If you’re going to take a penalty though, an aggressive play in the defensive zone is alright by me. Now the hooking and holding penalties Alex Semin has taken in the third period of other games – in the offensive zone – is another story.
But last night, I was more peeved with Jeff Schultz’s ill-timed own goal in the first period. Take a look Below:
Jose Theodore stopped a hooked Ryan Kesler breakaway attempt after Mike Green tried to obstruct the star winger. Schultz, who trailed on the play, came up to the stopped puck, tried to kick it from skate to stick, and then watched the goal slowly enter the yawning net in horror. Because there was a penalty in the process of being called, Bruce Boudreau begged the officials to take away the tally, because he believed Schultz demonstrated possession of the puck. I completely disagree however, because if Schultz had possession, he wouldn’t of kicked the freakin puck in the net.
So as I start reading Tarik El-Bashir’s recap in his blog, this is what I read in his introduction: