Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Practice Time for Friday, January 30

Tomorrow's practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex has been rescheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m.

Team Theodore Wins DC Winter Classic Practice (They Think)

Team Theo, AKA the White Team, won the DC Winter Classic Practice today 11-10 at Chevy Chase Club. Or so they think. Team Johnny, AKA the Blue Team, thought they tied the game at the buzzer with a shot from Ovi off a pass from Semin. Coach Boudreau, in his capacity as referee/linesman, called the game for Team Theo.

They may not have agreed upon the game's outcome, but the players did agree on one thing: it was a fun event. They might have taken it a little too seriously (Coach Boudreau had to pull them aside at one point during the game and remind them to lighten up), but they had a great time, and so did the 200 or so club members and youth hockey players who were on hand to watch.

Caps Play Pond Hockey Today

The Washington Capitals have a great practice facility, Kettler Capitals Iceplex, located in Arlington, Virginia. The Caps practice at Kettler on most non-game days and have morning skate sessions there on home game days. The great part about Kettler for the fans is that practices and skate sessions are FREE and open to the public. Bleacher seats are provided, and fans get close-up views of their favorite hockey team. Caps practicing at Kettler. (c) Sharon Taylor

Today's practice is going to be a little different. Weather permitting, the Caps will play a scrimmage outside this afternoon. That's right, the Caps are going 3-on-3 with a little pond hockey at Chevy Chase Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Johnny and Theo are the team captains and drafted their own players. The rosters look like this:

Team Theodore
Goal: Theodore
Defense: Green, Poti, Pothier, Jurcina
Forwards: Brashear, Kozlov, Nylander, Backstrom, Fleischman, Fedorov

Team Johnson
Goal: Johnson
Defense: Erskine, Schultz, Morrisonn
Forwards: Laich, Gordon, Semin, Clark, Fehr, Steckel, Ovechkin, Bradley

This event is closed to the public but should be a lot of fun for the players. Tomorrow morning's 10:30 a.m. practice at Kettler is open to the public as usual.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ovi's Fine, According to the Coach

Ovi didn't skate in practice today, but Coach Bruce Boudreau assured everyone it was a planned day off, due to Ovi's participation in the All-Star activities. Coach Boudreau said Ovi was probably a little stiff from his crash into the boards last night, but he is not injured and should not miss any game time. Good news for Caps fans, as we were all holding our breath while Ovi was lying on the ice not moving.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Caps Come Away with a Point in Boston

The Caps faced off against the number one team in the Eastern Conference tonight, the Boston Bruins. Their last two match-ups, both at Verizon Center, ended in favor of the Caps. Tonight’s game was played at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston.

Just seven seconds into the game, Washington went on the power play, courtesy of a high-sticking call against Marc Savard. The Bruins were successful in the penalty kill, but just as Savard stepped out of the box, Mike Green scored on a pass from Alexander Ovechkin to Alexander Semin to Green. The Bruins answered a few minutes later when a pass from Ovi was intercepted by Boston, leading to a goal by Shawn Thornton. Play continued with the score tied 1-1 through the first period. As the clock wound down, Tomas Fleischmann skated in toward goal and took a shot. He captured his own rebound and passed the puck to Michael Nylander, who tapped it in with just 20.7 seconds left in the first. The Caps were up 2-1.

As expected, the game turned into a display of defensive maneuvers. Jose Theodore and Tim Thomas were each called upon to make a number of impressive saves in the second period. With 5:48 left in the second, the Bruins were on a power play courtesy of a hooking call against Nylander when Savard scored his 17th goal of the season off a pass from Patrice Bergeron, who was back after missing 15 games following a concussion suffered in a game against Carolina on December 20. The game was tied 2-2.

Caps fans saw their worst fear materialize a few seconds later when Zdeno Chara hooked Alex Ovechkin as he skated full-speed into the offensive zone, causing Ovi to lose his balance and slam into the boards. His head and right shoulder seemed to bear the brunt of the impact. Ovi lay on the ice for several minutes afterward – an extremely unusual event for the NHL’s reigning MVP. Ovi headed off to the locker room and missed the remainder of the period to get checked out by the team’s trainer.

The good news for Caps fans was that Ovi was back for the third period, appearing none the worse for wear. Unfortunately, just a few seconds into the third Alexander Semin was hit in the throat by an out-of-control stick belonging to Chuck Kobasew. The Caps were unable to score on the ensuing power play, but Semin was able to return to the ice with no apparent injury.

Play continued through the third, with each team taking its share of shots but no goals scored. On to overtime! Bad news for the Caps, since they were hoping to gain two points on their Eastern Conference rival but now could only hope for one, at best. Didn’t turn out that way, though, as Niklas Backstrom’s shot in OT was denied by Tim Thomas. Heading back into the defensive zone, Backstrom was called for hooking and sent to the box. Boston scored on the power play, with a goal from David Krejci. Final score: 3-2, Bruins.

Boston now has 75 points on the season to Washington’s 64. The Caps’ next game will be at home against another powerhouse in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, on January 31.

Quest for the Cup: Part Two Starts Tonight

The second half of the season starts tonight in Boston for the Caps as they face the Bruins for the third time this season. The first two games, both in D.C., resulted in wins for Washington, most recently on January 17. But the Caps have been much better at home this season than they have been on the road. They know that to make the playoffs, they'll have to improve their record for away games, which currently stands at 11-12-2. Their record at home is the best in the Eastern Conference, at 19-3-1. Boston also has an excellent record at home: 17-3-2.

Boston is the only team in the Eastern conference with more points than Washington. Ten points separate the first and second place teams. A win for the Caps tonight would close the gap to eight. But it's not going to be easy! Tim Thomas, goaltender for the Bruins, is very hot right now. His record for this season is 20-5-4, with a .934 save percentage (Sv%) and 2.09 goals against average (GAA). Jose Theodore, who will start in net tonight for the Caps, is 17-9-1, with a .898 Sv% and 2.81 GAA. The Bruins also have many other talented players, including Center Marc Savard and Defenseman Zdeno Chara, both of whom went to the All-Stars along with Thomas.

Both teams have been plagued by injuries this season, but several players are expected to return to the lineup tonight for both teams. Fans can probably expect another low-scoring game, with each team putting on a dazzling defensive show and both goalies called upon to make quite a few saves. Caps fans will be watching for the type of spectular goalscoring they've come to expect from Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and the rest of the Caps.

Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins will be broadcast on Versus at 7 p.m. tonight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

AHL All-Star Game

For a great chance to see some of the future stars of the NHL, catch the AHL All-Star Game tonight at 7 p.m. To find out where you can watch, check the broadcast schedule.

Way to Go, Gabby!

Congratulations to Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau on his induction into the AHL Hall of Fame today. Coach Boudreau played in the AHL from 1978-1992, racking up 316 goals (14th place in AHL history), 483 assists (11th place), and 799 points (also 11th) during his playing career. He then switched gears to coaching. From 1999-2007, he coached several AHL teams, leading the Hershey Bears to a Calder Cup Championship in 2006 and to the Finals in 2007.

Coach Boudreau got the call he'd always dreamed about in November 2007: he was named interim coach of the Washington Capitals, who were in last place in the NHL at the time. A month later, the "interim" tag was dropped (meaning Boudreau could unpack his belongings -- the job of coach was officially his). Coach Boudreau lost no time in turning the Capitals' season around, leading them to a first place finish in the Southeast Division and a Stanley Cup playoff berth. For his outstanding accomplishments in the 2007-2008 season, Coach Boudreau received the Jack Adams Award.

Congratulations, Coach Boudreau!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Alex the Entertainer

Does anyone in the NHL have more fun on the ice than the Great 8? I think not. The man knows how to work an arena; just ask the crowd of 21,000+ at Bell Centre in Montreal last night. Never one to take himself (or anyone else, for that matter) too seriously, Ovi stole the show during the Breakaway Challenge with his antics. Midway through his allotted one minute, Ovi skated over to none other than Evgeni Malkin, donned sunglasses and a floppy hat, picked up a second stick and skated back to center. As he sailed down the ice toward the goal, he threw out his own stick and scored with a left shot. He seemed rather impressed with himself afterward.

The fans were obviously impressed as well. Ovi received 42% of the votes (fans voted by text message), winning the Breakaway Challenge for the second year in a row. If you missed it, check out the video.

Fans familiar with Alex Ovechkin weren't surprised to see his personality on display in Montreal; in fact, they've grown accustomed to it. It's apparent Ovi not only understands how important fans are to the NHL, he thrives on their participation. He incorporates an unrivaled level of showmanship to his play. He frequently slams himself into the glass in celebration after scoring a goal. He waves his hands in the air to encourage the fans to cheer. Heck, he even likes getting booed, saying it pushes him harder. As long as the fans are engaged and having a good time, that's the way Ovi likes it.

Ovi demonstrates his awesome personality off the ice as well. In 2006, he started a program called Ovi's Crazy 8s. Each year Ovi purchases eight season tickets and donates them to the Most Valuable Kids program, which distributes them to soldiers and their families or to children in low-income or underserved households.

With his amazing talent and enthusiasm for the game, Ovi's future knows no bounds, and Capitals fans will surely enjoy watching it unfold before their eyes. Those lucky enough to see him play in person will certainly have many stories to tell future generations.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ovechkin and Malkin: Buddies Again?

Alexander Ovechkin (LW, Capitals) and Evgeni Malkin (C, Penguins) were friends, teammates and roommates during the 2006 Olympic Games. Recently, however, rumors have swirled around NHL circles that some type of altercation had occurred between the two Russians and they were no longer friends. Some fans have interpreted the fierce rivalry that takes place on the ice between two of the top players in the NHL whenever their teams meet as proof of their animosity. Ovi and Geno (as he is affectionately known around the Pens locker room) have each made comments on occasion that alluded to an ongoing air of hostility.

It appears their personal rivalry may be put to rest this weekend during All-Star festivities. Washington Post Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir posted a picture of Ovi and Geno sharing what appears to be a warm handshake, and Ovi himself mentioned the pic in a recent Twitter update. He seems pleased to at least be making progress toward restoring relations with his former teammate. Now is a good time for the two NHL superstars to restore their friendship, as they'll likely be teammates again for their home country in the future.

Let's hope we'll only see professional rivalry between Ovi and Geno as they lead their teams through the second half of the 2009 NHL season.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What If Someone Other Than Fans Chose All-Star Players?

For a different take on the NHL All-Star Game starting roster, take a look at the players Sports Illustrated would have chosen. It's interesting to see SI chose two Washington Capitals, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, as starters for the Eastern Conference.

Alex Ovechkin was selected to participate in the All-Stars, although he wasn't voted in by the fans (a huge surprise, since Ovi is so popular). Alexander Semin wasn't selected or voted in, despite having an amazing season in which he was named First Star for the month of October, and currently being second in the NHL in points per game and and third in goals per game. Semin missed 18 games this season due to a back injury while All-Star voting was taking place, which may explain why he wasn't selected.

NHL All-Star Game

So what's with all the buzz about the NHL All-Star Game?

The All-Star Game is an opportunity for the best players in the entire National Hockey League to face off against each other. Players who are fierce competitors during the rest of the season form two teams to see which Conference, Eastern or Western, can dominate the other. Players are selected to participate in the All-Star Game by fan voting. This year's game is being held on Sunday, January 25 at 6 p.m. EST at Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. This is the 57th playing of the All-Star Game.

The starting lineup for the All-Stars looks like this:

Eastern Conference

Sidney Crosby (C, Penguins) -- "Sid the Kid" received over 1.7 million votes, a new record. Unfortunately, he will not be able to play due to injury.
Evgeni Malkin (C, Penguins)
Alexei Kovalev (RW, Canadiens)
Andrei Markov (D, Canadiens)
Mike Komisarek (D, Canadiens)
Carey Price (G, Canadiens)

Western Conference

Patrick Kane (RW, Blackhawks)
Jonathon Toews (C, Blackhawks)
Ryan Getzlaf (C, Ducks)
Brian Campbell (D, Blackhawks)
Scott Niedermayer (D, Ducks)
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (G, Ducks)

Many other great players round out the complete roster. All teams in the NHL are represented by at least one player.

The game will be broadcast on the Versus television network. You'll also want to watch the Honda/NHL Superskills Challenge on Saturday, January 24 at 7 p.m. on Versus to see your favorite NHL stars showcase their talent.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where are the Caps right now?

The Caps, with the exception of Alex Ovechkin, are on a well-deserved break. At the midpoint of the season, the Caps have their best record ever (30-15-3), which puts them in second place in the Eastern Conference behind the Boston Bruins.

So, where is Ovi right now? In Montreal, preparing to represent the Caps in the All-Star game on Sunday. This is Ovi's third appearance in the All-Stars. He will also be defending his title in the Breakaway Challenge.

The Caps will be back in action on the road against Boston on Tuesday, January 27. The Caps defeated Boston 2-1 at Verizon Center on January 17 in what proved to be a tight defensive match-up, and their next meeting should be similar.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Welcome to Caps for Kids!

Welcome to a brand new blog for fans of the Washington Capitals who happen to be kids! The purpose of this blog is to help kids learn more about the amazing game of hockey, follow the progress of the most exciting team in the NHL, and get to know more about your favorite players.