Last night at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, the Washington Capitals did not come away empty-handed. Both winger Alex Ovechkin and goalie Jose Theodore (who won’t be back this year) nabbed individual awards, with Ovie also being elected to his fifth-straight First Team All Star honor.
Theodore won the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy, which honors the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Theodore, who lost his son Chace last year to respiratory complications, created the “Saves for Kids” charity to benefit the neonatal intensive care unit at Children’s National Medical Center in DC. “Obviously, it was a tough year emotionally, but I’m really proud of the way I handled myself,” Theodore told NHL.com. “Then winning this award just brings back some tough memories or good memories, it depends, but it’s tough. With all the support I had, it was just fun to see people around me that cared for that.” He presented a check for $35,000 to Children’s at the beginning of May after pledging money for each save, win, and shutout he made during the season. The donation also included matching donations and support from the Capitals organization and fans.
Ovechkin led off the awards ceremony, winning the Ted Lindsay Award (formerly the Lester B. Pearson Award) as the players’ MVP for the third straight season. However, Ovie didn’t collect his third Hart trophy (the NHL MVP) as expected; that honor went to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin.
Mike Green was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy (outstanding defenseman) but lost to Chicago Blackhawks Duncan Keith.
Some upbeat news for Caps fans today from the NHL offices: team captain Alex Ovechkin has been named as one of the finalists for the Hart Trophy. The Hart is given to the league’s MVP, as voted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. The award is given to the player who was determined as the most valuable to his team during the regular season.
Good thing the voting was already completed for this one before the playoffs began.
The other two finalists this year are Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks.
Ovechkin has won the award the last two years; if he wins his third in a row, he’ll be the first to do so since Wayne Gretzky won eight straight from 1980 to 1987. Ovie notched 50 goals for the third straight season and led the Capitals’ charge into the postseason after being named captain in January.
The Hart will be awarded at the NHL Awards Ceremony on June 23 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As I exited the Verizon Center this evening, I saw a few things that spoke to what I had just witnessed. Dejected Caps fans covered their Ovechkin jerseys with jackets and pull overs. I walked past a sign showing a basset hound with its ears held out straight; “SURPRISED?” it asked. Frankly, yes. Surprised, shocked, slightly embarrassed; the Caps, the best team in the NHL, had just been defeated by a number eight seed in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. How did it happen? I’m sure there a dozen perspectives. Mine is that the Caps never quite figured out how to get inside the Canadien’s defense and play the net. Continue reading →
After what seemed like weeks of waiting – ever since the Olympics were over, really – the Washington Capitals finally enter the NHL postseason. First opponent in the opening salvos of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals?
The Montreal Canadiens.
The Caps desperately want to get the right skate forward this year; after last year’s rough start dropping the first two games at home against the Rangers, it’s something the team is aching to move past. And by all accounts from various team sources the last couple of days, they’re not only aware of it, they’re chomping at the bit to roll.
Despite the Habs’ recent struggles, however, the Caps cannot enter the series tomorrow taking Montreal for granted. True, the Habs enter the postseason after only notching three wins in their final 11 games. And true, forward Michael Cammalleri hasn’t been nearly as effective in his first nine games after knee surgery, nor has the netminder situation been anything spectacular. No team enters the NHL’s “second season” not wanting the prize at the end of the two-month campaign.
Let’s not kid around – both of these teams want the Stanley Cup. Montreal, to start its next century off right after last year’s dismal failure to celebrate their 100 years in style. Washington, to finally grab the golden ring of hockey that has been oh-so-close only a handful of times in its young (relative to Montreal) hockey existence.
So let’s look over the keys to Round One, starting here in the District on Thursday at 7 p.m.
The good news? Alexander Ovechkin has found the net again. The bad? The Caps home game streak at Verizon has ended at 13 as the Dallas Stars stole a 4-3 shutout win.
The Caps seemed en route to another home win against the visiting Stars. After two periods, the Caps held a 2-0 lead and with a record of strong third periods, seemed destined to add to the record-breaking streak. The Stars have been lackluster of late; they entered the Verizon Center with a three game losing streak and have been outscored 17-5 since the Olympics ended.
“I thought the entire team had a hiccup in the third period,” says Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “They [Dallas] came on [in the third period] and thought, ‘Hey, we’re still in the game.’ Once they got the first one in, I knew it was going to be a dog fight.”
For Caps fans, everything. Think of these next two weeks as less an NHL break and more of an intermission show that has the makings of an epic Game 7 Stanley Cup Final every night during the playoff round. The Capitals have five players in the tournament, scattered across three national teams. And depending on how they do and where they place, the Caps may have quite the motivator when these players return the first week in March.
Tomas Fleischmann: Czech Republic (CZE) In the middle of a breakthrough season with 17 goals and 41 points through 48 games, “Flash” will most likely end up on the second line working with the likes of Martin Havlat, Tomas Plekanec, or Jaromir Jagr. However, with several capable forwards on the Czech team this year, Fleischmann will have no problems slipping into a groove on any of the scoring lines. The Czech team is not expected to medal this Olympics, but if goalie Tomas Vokoun stands on his head and gets into a zone, they have a good shot at a medal upset. Continue reading →
Yesterday’s big game wasn’t played in Miami, aired on CBS, filled with cheesy, stupid commercials. It was right here in DC, in the heart of snowmageddon. It was the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Washington Capitals. And yesterday, that game lived up to every fan’s dream, regardless which side of center ice they were on.
Seriously. Four times a year these two rivals meet – and I wouldn’t be presumptuous at all to claim that both the Pens and the Caps see it as an archrivalry. It’s probably one of the most intense regular-season contest series in all of hockey, and yesterday was no exception. (To drive home the point – I climbed up on my roof to clear it of snow just so my DirecTV dish could receive the game. No AM radio for me!) Continue reading →
Congratulations to the Washington Capitals for setting a franchise record last night! With their 4-1 whipping of the Boston Bruins, the Caps are sitting on an amazing 11 game win streak, stemming back from Ovechkin’s anointing as team captain.
It wasn’t a sure thing until the third period, however. Both teams fought a solid game through two periods, and the 1-1 score going into the last 20 minutes reflected it. But, as seems to be standard Caps operating procedure lately, around five minutes in the Caps just exploded. Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin made Boston’s Matt Hunwick pay on a turnover to gain the Caps’ first lead of the game. Boyd Gordon dropped in his second of the season and then Ovie capped it with an empty netter. Mike Knuble continued his strong play of late with the tying goal early in the second period.
The Caps are sitting pretty at the top of the Eastern Conference with a 10 point lead over New Jersey and face the New York Rangers tomorrow at Madison Square Garden.
It’s been a busy and eventful last two weeks in the Washington DC sports world. The Caps are ON FIRE!!! The Wizards might be getting there. And we’ve had some solid developments for those out-of-season teams, some expected, some not so much.
Last Two Weeks: 7-0
Place:1st in the Eastern Conference
With yesterday’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals are on a 10 game wining streak tying their 1984 franchise record.
Defender Mike Green will be out for the next two games for an elbow to the head of Michael Frolik during Friday night’s game. Green’s absence yesterday was a huge disadvantage for Washington, as Green is the league’s leading defensive scorer. However, with Ovechkin’s third period goal, they managed to pull out the victory.
Over the next two weeks, the Caps are out of town quite a bit, traveling to Boston, Ottawa and Atlanta. Look for a solid match against the Penguins at the Verizon Center on February 7th.
Settling into one’s seat last night at the Verizon Center, one would wonder what roller coaster the Washington Capitals had planned next? Visiting the seven-game-streaking Caps were the Anaheim Ducks on a six game road trip. The Caps, fresh off a 7-2 blowout of the New York Islanders on Tuesday where seemingly everyone grabbed a point except captain Alex Ovechkin, were looking to lengthen their 19 point lead in the Southeast Conference and remain atop the East as the NHL drove towards the Olympic break.
Ovie had to have felt left out of the fun on Long Island and let it show early by burying the puck only 36 seconds into the game. A solid twelve minute run through the first period saw the Caps dominating in the Duck’s zone, racking up a 13-3 shots on goal advantage before Anaheim’s offense settled down. The Caps ended the period with a season-high matching 19 shots on goal, peppering Jean-Sebastien Giguere in spurts during his first game back in over two weeks.
The game settled down in the second; both Giguere and Michal Neuvirth had some terrific saves as both teams hammered into the zones. Dan Sexton managed to finally get one past Neuvirth and it looked as if the game would settle into a classic low-scoring goalie duel. But everything flipped in the span of less than three minutes as the third period unfolded.
I know, not a huge surprise, these guys. They’ll be joined by several other NHL and KHL stars, including former Caps players Sergei Fedorov (now with Metallurg Magnitogorsk) and Viktor Kozlov (with Salavat Ufa).
It’s an interesting roster, with 9 players on the 23-man squad coming from Russia’s own Kontinental Hockey League. One wonders if the Russians are playing a bit of sports politics by trying to puff up the KHL, rather than build the best team possible. (Keep in mind, however, that the final-final roster won’t be announced until February 15.)
Still, it’s a team with massive firepower and will be highly entertaining to watch. Just like Caps hockey…
Last Two Weeks: 4-3
Place: First in the Southeast
The Caps hit a bit of a skid this week. Sure, it’s hard to say that 4-3 is a skid, but when you’re as dominant as the Caps have been this season, it’s tough to watch losses at all. Especially when they’re shutouts like the game against the Sabres last week. Sure, Ovechkin is lighting it up like crazy, with 23 goals and 41 points, and Nicholas Backstrom is proving to be the assist machine with 28.
Injuries continue to be a bit of a plague, as they’ve sidelined important parts of the Caps lines, and now include Semyon Varlamov with a groin-strain. Perhaps the team is just road-weary? Long road-trips have taken their toll on teams past, so that’s entirely possible
One important piece of info, though, for Virginia-based Caps fans, the drive for a Capitals Vanity Plate for your car continues, and they need your help. On Frozen Blog has the details and applications close on the 31st.
The Caps pulled out a thriller last night over the Islanders without their top winger, taking the game to 11 rounds of shootout madness before Chris Clark tagged the twine and the win. The goal capped a massive comeback from a 3-1 deficit.
Semin, Fleischmann and Fehr all knocked in goals on the night (Semin had two) and Semyon Varlamov carried the team through after Jose Theodore let in three goals on five shots in the first period. Semin’s first goal actually tied the team record (set by Gaetan Duchesne in 1987) for the fastest goal at the start of a game, only 8 seconds in.
The Caps have won three games in a row now without Ovechkin; Boudreau has indicated that the Great Eight’s recovery is going better than expected and the team could possibly see Ovie back as early as this weekend. The Caps play the Minnesota Wild here at home on Friday and are off to New Jersey on Saturday.
So Washington Capitals owner and bazillionaire Ted Leonsis spills the beans that he had Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople (cue TMBG!) bless himself and the Great Eight last night at a private event at Vice President Joe Biden’s home.
Now, I know there’s some concern that the Caps may well falter without their primary offensive force…so I guess why not employ some Holy Back-up, just in case? Especially since the Devils (out of New Jersey) showed the Caps last night just how much they need Ovechkin.
So does this mean Ovie’s up for sainthood if the Caps win the Cup?
Ok DC, ready for a real sport, now that the Redskins have imploded, the United tanked and the Nats…well, they’re the Nats. Anyway, are you ready for some hockey?
The Washington Capitals open up their season tomorrow night in Boston against the Bruins, the first step in their 2009-10 quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup. Last season saw the Caps suffer the most ignominious of falls, crashing in a critical Game 7 against the eventual Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Even more galling to Caps fans was the fact that the Caps led that series 2-0 before running out of gas.
Will this year be any better?
While I’m sure a few of you actually care what I think about the Caps this year, most people I’ve talked with casually about hockey are skeptical of my Capitals analysis, considering I’m a Penguins fan at heart. Never mind the fact that last year, I was only two wins off predicting their season record and correctly predicted their playoff exit. So rather than take flak again this year, I turned to ESPN’s John Buccigross for his invaluable insight. (And for the record, Bucci picked the Flyers to win the Cup this year. That’s right, Philly. But we won’t hold that against him.)
“Nobody can say to me you can’t play for your country in the Olympic Games,” Ovechkin said.
The NHL has no commitment to take part in the Olympic games after next year’s celebration, which has some players questioning what to do. “I’ll go play in the Olympic Games for my country. If somebody says to me you can’t play, see ya.”
To help ring in the new NHL season, Caps winger Alex Ovechkin will be personally ringing up a limited number of fans who pre-order NHL 2K10 (of which he’s the cover child) at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store on Sixth Ave in downtown NYC from 4-6 pm. He’ll also be playing against contest winners on the Wii version of the game.
Best part? Ovie will arrive at the store riding a Zamboni down Sixth Ave with a police escort. No, really.
2K Sports has unofficially announced that Caps left winger and superstar Alex Ovechkin will be on the cover of NHL 2K10. The official announcement will be on Tuesday.
The company is hosting a motion capture session in Las Vegas next week, where the public can watch Ovechkin and Vancouver Canucks centerman Ryan Kesler wear motion capture suits and pull off their moves at an outdoor rink. If you’re in Sin City, the event is free at Ceasar’s Palace from 8-11 pm.
Alex’s response says it all: “It’s a good time to be Ovi!”
So Wednesday night saw the end of what could arguably be the best Caps season in recent history. Despite the letdown of Game 7, Caps fans – diehards and bandwagoners alike – can walk away with heads held high.
Should I remind you why?
1. Alexander Ovechkin. Every year, he gets better. From his exuberant celebrations (Don Cherry be damned) to his wide, gap-toothed smile, to his on- and off-ice passion, he is Mr. Caps Hockey. Does he still have more to learn? Honestly, yes. But he’s young, he’s talented, and he’s willing. It’s only going to get better from here, so settle in and enjoy the ride.
In case you were wondering, Alex Ovechkin is finally back on track with the Capitals. The Russian star and city favorite knocked in a power play goal and added three assists in last night’s 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks, bringing his points total to 14 on the season.
It’s about time. Alexander Semin is starting to cool a little after his red-hot start and was absent for the second game in a row, nursing an “undisclosed upper-body injury” (oh, come on!). Having the Caps captain superstar slip back into gear after such a rocky October has to be relieving to many Caps fans as well as Coach Boudreau.
Next game is tonight against the LA Kings, continuing the Caps’ West Coast swing.