Wednesday, April 02, 2008


"...lift thou up thy hockey stick, and stretch out thine hand over the ice, and divide it: and the hockey team of Washington shall go on to the playoffs through the midst of the sea of fans dressed in red."

ok,'s a bit much.

My, but how far they've come

The Caps stand on the brink of a return to the playoffs. They have played at a 107-point pace since Thanksgiving. They are 9-1-0 in their last ten games. Simply put, they are -- right now -- a good and dangerous hockey team.

Not bad for a club that was all but an expansion team that headed into the lockout. Consider this comparison...the team that took the ice on the last day of the 2003-2004 season and the squad that took the ice last night against Carolina:

These rosters come from, and it looks as if they missed someone in that final game of 2004 (maybe it was Alexander Semin), but you get the point. Looking at that 2004 season-ending roster, how many of those players do you think could have dressed for the Caps last night?

A TWO-point night: Caps 4 - Hurricanes 1



“Nine-ty points”

“Let’s wear red!”

Pick your chant. Chances are it will apply. The Caps beat and beat on the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-1, to climb within a tie-breaker (total wins) of the visitors in the Southeast Division standings.

Red…was everywhere. If it wasn’t a Caps jersey, it was a Red Wings jersey…or a Red Sox “Schilling” t-shirt…or a woman we saw who was in red from head to toe (even her shoes). I’m guessing TV really couldn’t capture it, but the red effect was pretty amazing.

20-somethings for 20-plus…five players logged more than 20 minutes. Four of them – Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin , Nicklas Backstrom, and Jeff Schultz – are 22 or younger. Youth be served.

Young guns…Green, Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom…19 of the Caps’ 39 shots. More like a Thompson submachine gun, if you ask me. Green had eight. In the radio post game, Steve Kolbe noted that Green told him when he stepped on the ice tonight, he was “juiced.” No kidding.

Ovechkin…he scores goals, but he also checks the replay while in the middle of a scrum (he was checking out the replay of a glorious save by Cristobal Huet while mixing it up with some Hurricanes players), and he leads cheers (as was the case when he was shown on the big screen sitting on the bench, waving his hands to get fans to cheer louder). A multi-tasker.

Speaking of Ovechkin…a goal, six shots, five hits, two takeaways…oh, and he won his only faceoff. Yup, a multi-tasker.

Good luck charm…The Caps are 16-0-1 when Jeff Schultz records a point.

Peter Laviolette…what shade was he wearing on his face after the Semin goal?…we’re thinking somewhere between crimson and Venetian red. What, not enough dives…oops, penalties called your way tonight, big guy?

4:36…total time Carolina spent on the power play, with no goal scored. On the power play, Carolina is a formidable team (eighth in the league coming into the game). Even strength?...beatable.

Balance…ten players shared 12 points. Each of the top three lines scored a goal, the occasionally-maligned second line getting a pair.

Eight…different players for Carolina took minor penalties, and that doesn’t include the bench minor, two minutes for blowing a gasket.

Eric Staal came up pretty small…no points, two shots, lost 10 of 19 faceoffs (Boyd Gordon and Sergei Fedorov won eight of nine of their draws against Staal). Or maybe it was just that he got so little support…

Three Stars…Huet, Fedorov, Cooke…trades are lookin’ pretty good, eh?

Unhinged…Carolina took nine minor penalties in the last two periods…think maybe they could see their season in danger of slipping away before their eyes?

Five…teams are now within two points of one another. Four will make the playoffs. If you’re thinking of a surprise team to slip out of it, watch Ottawa (1-4-1 in their last six games). They lost to Montreal tonight, 3-0, and finish up against Toronto and Boston. Think Toronto wouldn’t like to shove an ice pick in the Senators’ ear? On the other hand, if the Senators finish where they are right now – sixth – and the Caps overtake Carolina

Has Alexander Semin ever played a game where he launched his body at opponents more often? He was credited with three hits…it seemed like more.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaah…Hey, Luke DeCock (aka, “Lord Stanley”)…you want some cheese to go with your whine?...

“Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette was irate at the sequence of calls in the second period that saw Ovechkin go essentially unpunished for his run at Staal — and that was before Bret Hedican was called for roughing for a mild shove behind the net after an Ovechkin hit.

“Certainly, that sequence raised some legitimate questions about star treatment for Ovechkin.

“Now, did Staal embellish his collision with the boards, as the Capitals' broadcast apparently claimed? They showed a slo-mo replay that those who saw it said made it look like Staal leaped backward into the boards.

“But in any case, Ovechkin skated from the top of the faceoff circle to the goal line and left his feet to hit Staal. And the issue wasn’t whether Ovechkin deserved a penalty — he did — but the fact that Wallin picked up a penalty out of the scrum while no Capitals player did.

“A laughable third-period goaltender interference penalty on Ryan Bayda after he was checked into Huet by Mike Green aroused no reaction from Laviolette, who had clearly given up any hope of getting a call at that point.”

Wise beyond his years…

“I have never seen the building like that. It was great to see, and I hope the fans here enjoy it, but as a group, collectively, we haven’t done anything yet.”

-- Mike Green

Five…sellouts in the last nine home games, none of which has been attended by fewer than 17,189 (and that was the 10-2 “Boston Massacre”).

Luc Robitaille…move over, you have company at 63.

Bobby Hull…the last left winger to win the Hart…in 1966. Brett wasn’t yet two years old.

35-17-7…Bruce Boudreau’s record with the Caps. That’s a 107-point pace over 82-games. The 77 points the Caps have earned since Thanksgiving are exceeded only by one team in the East – Pittsburgh.

There’s one chant left, one that will have to wait for another day, but perhaps you should start practicing…

“South-east Champs!”