Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind, don't matter, and those who matter, don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss
Girls just wanna have fun ~ Cyndi Lauper
Make some fun, happy time ~ Alex Ovechkin

Friday, December 31, 2010

What I Learned From 24/7

No, not how to cuss. Y’all should know by now, I could be the next proffessor* when it comes to that.

HBO’s 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the NHL Winter Classic has furthered every hockey fans education and I’m damned grateful to them. So, like a school homework assignment, here are the lessons I learned, compliments of HBO:

1. There is a lot more kidding around and prank playing then I ever imagined. Ok, not a lot more, after all, boys will be boys, so it didn’t come as too much of a surprise. But, cutting BizNasty’s laces? Brave, brave act there. (I hope that wasn’t just for HBO’s sake and things like that really do happen.)

2. Refs are people too. Funny, beer drinking people. And fights are more controlled than I ever thought; even egged on at times. Who knew? Puck Daddy’s Justin Bourne covered that already; so check that out here.

3. Hockey players have adorable kids. Really adorable kids. Who knew those ugly mugs could spawn such adorableness? (I guess having beautiful wives kinda helps.)

4. Dean Evason is my new hero.

5. HBO producers have pretty good taste is music. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? The XX? Not bad.

6. Sidney Crosby has a lucky cup. Ewwwww. That’s a real nasty piece of information that we could really have done without.

7. HBO says the Penguins fight more than any other team in the league, which did surprise me. Oh wait, I only watch the Pens when they play the Caps, so I guess that could actually be true.

8. There is a reason why actors and actresses wear makeup. Can you say zitfest?

9. Hate to admit this, but Sid is actually pretty well spoken, but, dammit, please clear your throat, Sid, that raspy voice makes you sound sick (and not in the good Ovi way of “sick’).

10. And speaking of Ovi, he cusses in perfect English, no Russian accent at all.

11. Matt Hendricks works his ass off. Oh, wait, we already knew that and love him for it.

12. There is a good reason why I don’t listen to The Sports Junkies and episode 2 just confirmed it.

It was a hell of a lot easier to watch the Penguins break their winning streak than it was to watch the Caps suffer through their losing streak. But, boy oh boy, when that losing streak ended, I could watch that part of episode 2 over and over and over. If you didn’t have an appreciation for what it takes to be a hockey player before this show, you damn well should after it.

So, tomorrow night at all comes down to this: a 2 point regular season hockey game. Not the Super Bowl, not the World Series, not the final game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs; a 2 point regular season game. Let’s keep this in perspective, and then, finally get back to normal hockey. Yes, I’ll miss seeing behind the scenes through HBO’s camera lens, and it was fun while it lasted, but I’d rather sit back and enjoy a good old hockey game. Happy New Year!

*Misspelling professor is intentional, inside joke for Matt Bradley fans.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

What? Me Worry?

I apologize in advance to Jeff Schultz for this blog post but since life as a Caps fan kinda sucks right now, maybe you could use a little giggle? I got to thinking about how the team is playing without Schultzy, and to give you the caboose on that train of thought - ever notice this?.........

Sorry Sarge. Hope you're back on the ice soon, we could use you right about now.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday Morning Armchair Coaching

Let’s focus people. Yeah, 6 losses really sucks, not to mention the winning streak a certain other team is having right now. Our proverbial craw is completely choked, but let’s focus people.

Calling for heads to roll is not productive. I’ve said all this before (Critical Thinking). Besides, who are we to judge what the team needs in regards to the coaching and management? But, being the fans we are, I know many people need to voice their opinions on what they think should be done to fix the problem.

Yes, I kinda think the HBO thing may just possibly be a distraction. (And on a side note here: let’s not treat the Winter Classic game like it’s the Super Bowl for the championship, ok? It’s a regular season game that just happens to be outside and being hyped to death, but it is not the “be all end all”. Nice to have the “honor” to be selected to play in it, but, personally, I think the team is being used to fuel the almighty NHL hype machine.)

Yes, it is hard to see pictures of our players out partying. And, yes, we do think maybe they need to stay at home and resting up, but they are professional players and probably know their limitations. If that is affecting their game, it’s not our call to make.

Yes, our team has been dealing with the flu. Take it from me, I am dealing with a spouse with the flu right this moment and we are on day 7 and still counting. It’s a bitch, and considering we can’t forfeit games due to illness, we have to watch our boys struggle.

Finally, I know everyone has been saying it over and over, but, it is December. Losing streaks happen. Some of you might remember our team prior to 2005. We have endured much worse. Let’s hope for the best and support our guys like good fans. If you can’t do that, please jump off the bandwagon. Any questions?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Movember Madness Results

The results are in and the Washington Capitals raised the most money of all of the participating NHL teams and players, a whopping $22,472. Overall, the NHL raised $106,617 (CAD) to “change the face of men’s health”.

Two Caps players landed in the top five on the leader board; #4 John Erskine with $5,248 and #5 John Carlson with $2,959.

The top 20 list includes:

#6 Karl Alzner $2,304

#10 Matt Hendricks $1,747

#13 Brett Leonhardt $1,542

#14 Mike Vogel $1,440

#15 Jeff Schultz $1,431

#16 Jason Chimera $1,412

#17 Mike Green $1,326

#19 Braden Holtby $1,185

#20 Yvon Labre $1,156

Count ‘em folks, 11 of the top 20 for donations to the NHL Movember campaign belong to the Washington Capitals. Congrats to all the players for helping this great cause and all the fans who contributed. Just one more reason to be proud of being a Caps fan. I'd also like to thank Mrs. John Erskine for giving her husband permission to keep such an awesome stache.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1st Semin-ester Report Card

Oh Sasha, you constantly surprise me. It’s as if you are making sure you will get the best contract offer possible. On second thought, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after all.

We all know that the Capitals have to wait until January to begin negotiations with Alex Semin. At the beginning of the season, Semin signed a one year $6M contract, so he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2010-2011 season. On a side note, other players that will also be unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2010-2011 season are Mike Knuble, Tomas Fleischmann, Brooks Laich, Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks, and John Erskine. If you’ve been counting, that’s 8 players on our current roster that could potentially not be Washington Capitals next season. Please note, I said COULD. Oh, and one last player who we will not have to worry about anymore- Michael Nylander will finally, finally, finally be an unrestricted free agent in July of 2011. Sorry Circles, your time is up.

Obviously, Alexander Semin is HOT, HOT, HOT right now. This bodes extremely well for a chance at being offered a lucrative contract from the Caps in January. That is if Semin wants to stay on the team and the Caps have the cap space. The formerly fairly inconsistent Semin has tallied 3 hat tricks, with 17 goals and 12 assists in 24 games. Pretty awesome stats. However, for penalty minutes for offensive players, Sasha is second only to Matt Hendricks, with 22 minutes in the sin bin. But, with 85 shots on goal and a +8 rating, it looks like (so far), Alex could write his own ticket if he keeps this up. It’s all up to him. In a little over 30 days, our tweet stream and the blogosphere will be filled with contract negotiation rumors and reports. What do you think will happen?

Regarding the 7 other players who will be UFA at the end of this season; I think we won’t have any clear indications until maybe even July when it comes to re-signing any of them except Brooks* and Brads*. I’d wager they get decent offers that they will accept. I know there are going to be readers who will vehemently disagree with me on a few of these, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Knoobs*, Flash*, and Gordo* don’t get the nod. I may be alone in this, but with Boudreau constantly changing which line Knoobs plays on this season, I think his time may be coming to an end. As for Gordo, as much as I like him, I’m going to say his health issues will be a stumbling block when contract time comes up, I hope I’m wrong. And Flash…well, I think it’s just time*. The only other players I have any re-signing expectations for are Matt Hendricks* and John Erskine*.

Having played for Gabby before, and seemingly fitting very well into the Caps system, I could see another Washington Capitals contract for Hendy by July 1. I really appreciate how he stands up for his teammates and shows team spirit. I’ll admit it; I like him and hope he gets to stay a little longer, no matter how many penalty minutes he racks up.

As for Erskine, frankly I don’t know why I think he might get another contract*. Something about how he plays a type of enforcer role for us, and you gotta admit, he throws a pretty good punch when needed. Call it gut instinct, if you will, but I get the feeling that Bruce just likes the guy, no matter how frustrating he can be at times to us fans.

There are a couple players who will be restricted free agents at the end of the season: Karl Alzner and Semyon Varlamov*. Don’t think we’ll have any worries about those two.

Finally, with the December 1 deadline fast approaching, of all the players we let go from last year; it looks like only Scott Walker may be the only former Caps player without a contract for the 2010-2011 season. Other than stating that fact, I got nothing else to say on that except I’m glad everyone else found a place to play.

I know I’m really jumping the gun on all of these predictions, but for now, let’s just call them my woman’s intuition. At the risk of looking totally stupid, I just wanted to get these out there now. Come July, I’ll revisit this post and see how right or wrong I was. And you can totally rib me if I am way off base, but if I’m right, I’m reserving gloating privileges.

*Editors Note: 11/30/2010 Caps trade Tomas Fleischmann for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannan.  I'm gonna call this is a win in my prediction column.
12/17/2010 Boom! Caps sign Erksine to a 2 year extension. That's 2 correct so far!
1/27/2011 Caps sign Semin to a 1 year (reported 6.7 million ) extension. That counts for 3 right, doesn't it?
2/23/2011 Caps sign Matt Hendricks to a 2 year extension. That's 4 correct, damn, I did pretty good so far, eh?
4/11/2011 Caps sign Mike Knuble to a 1 year extension. Happy to be wrong about this prediction!
6/28/2011 Caps sign Brooks Laich to a 6 year contract. Cougar Bait re-signing makes 5 correct in the prediction column.
7/1/2011 Gordon signs with Phoenix, Varly traded to Colorado for a 1st & 2nd round draft pic. 1 right and 1 wrong
7/2/2011 Bradley signs with the Florida Panthers. Another one wrong. But only 3 wrong ain't that bad, right? Only player left from this post is Alzner. Fingers crossed!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Movember - The Magic of the Mustache

Not only is the 11th month magical for the beautiful fall colors, there is another thing of beauty for hockey fans, the Movember Mustache. There are a couple of Caps players who are giving the growing of the ‘stache a go this month, but the winner of them all is John Erskine.

Never thought I’d see the day when I’d write a post on mustaches and focusing on John Erskine, of all players, but I’m beginning to think there are magical powers to Erskine’s 'stache. Not only is it the most impressive among all Caps players, but is it the power behind Erskine’s magic on the ice against the Thrashers tonight? Let’s face it, how often does John not only get the game winning goal, but also is awarded the 1st star of the game? And that fight tonight? More ‘stache power in action? Even John might be beginning to believe. John's quote from Corey Masisak's article, “Yeah, the 'stache has been good luck,” Erskine said. “I talked to the wife and I might be keeping it for a while.”

And before I go on about the beauty of the Movember Mustache, I'd just like to share this superb right cross delivered by John Erskin tonight:

Ok, so back to the topic on everyone's lips, Movember and the Magical Mustache. As stated earlier, a couple of other Caps players are also participating in Movember: Karl Alzner and Mike Green. I thought John Carlson was involved as well, but from all appearances, I must be wrong. If there is a mustache growing on that young man's upper lip, then at it's current stage of growth, I'd be hard pressed to varify it's existance.

So, ladies and gentleman, I give you Karl Alzner and Mike Green.

And, if MoJo is participating, he's off to an ok start, but I don't think it'll be finished by the end of the month:

Now, you gotta give these guys props, but will any of them ever reach the epicness of the 70's porn 'stache like these guys here?

Hmm, you know, after looking at Erskine again, I think he might just do it. Way to go, John!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hockey in BlondeSpeak - Stats

Do you understand exactly what you are reading when you look at a player’s or team’s stats? Rather than ignore those acronyms and numbers, let’s break it down so you can get a better appreciation for them.
There is a lot of information involved here, so grab a cuppa joe or a cold beer and settle in.

First off – Player stats: I’m going to use the stats for Alex Ovechkin from the Caps website as posted on 11/1/10.

You should know some of the basics by now; GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, so lets look at the others.

P = Points. Easy- goals plus assists equals points. It ain’t calculus, just simple addition.

+/- = Plus/Minus. As covered in a previous BlondeSpeak post, think of it like a grading system for players. Basically, it indicates whether they were on the ice when the opposing team scored (a minus) or on the ice when their own team scored (a plus). For example, a defenseman could be on the ice when the opposing team scored 4 goals (-4), but if that same defenseman also scored a goal (+1), his total +/- for the game would be -3.
PIM = Penalty Minutes. So far, Alex had incurred 10 penalty minutes

PP = Power Play Goals. That’s the number of goals the player has scored on the Power Play, Alex has 2.

SH = Shorthanded Goals. The number of goals the player has scored while the team was on the penalty kill/shorthanded. Looks like Alex needs a shorty in his stats.

GW = Game Winning Goals. Speaks for itself, Alex has had 3 in the last 11 games. Good Job Alex!

S = Shots on Goal. As could be expected, Alex has attempted 57 shots on goal so far this season. But, it would be nice if more resulted in actual goals if you factor in this - S%. 

S% = Shooting Percentage. That’s the total of goals divided by shots on goal. If Alex had only made 1 goal in 4 attempts, his S% would be 25%, since he’s made 7 goals in 57 attempts, it’s 12.3%

Additional Player stats from the NHL website, not including Goalies:

OT = Overtime Goals. Do I really need to explain this? Ok, Alex had 1 overtime goal so far.

TOI/G = Time on Ice per Game. Usually your defensemen have the most time on ice per game.

Sft/G = Average shifts per game. So far, Alex has averaged 20.3 shifts in 11 games. Once again, usually your defensemen have the highest number when it comes to average shifts per game. C'mon, do I need to explain that there are 4 offensive lines but only 3 defensive lines, therefore, more ice time for defense? Oh wait, I just did.

FO% = Faceoff Win Percentage. Well, since Ovi doesn’t do faceoffs, (or hasn’t yet), he hasn’t won any, has he? That is the job for the Center (like Backstrom or Stecks).

Next up – Goalie stats:

GPI = Games Played in Net. You might also see this as GP for Games Played. No brainer.
GS = Games Started. Also a no brainer, but if you are really blonde, what is shown above tells us that Varly only started in 1 game, but, since the GPIshown above is 2, it means he relieved Neuvy once.

MIN = Minutes played. This stat includes overtime minutes and deducts time when the team has played with an empty net.

GAA = Goals Against Average. Big clue here, the lower the number, the better.

W = Wins, L = Losses, OT = Overtime losses

SO = Shutouts. (I’m hoping I don’t have to explain what a shut out is, right? Please say yes, or just nod your head)

SA = Shots Against. How many times the opponents fired the puck at your goalie. Duh!

GA = Goals Against and SV = Saves. You know these, right?

SV% = Save Percentage. Real important number here for the goalie. Divide the number of saves by the number of shots against. Hint: Neuvy’s .926 save percentage puts him at #2 in the league as of 11/1/10. This is a good thing

G = Goals, A = Assists, and PIM = Penalty Minutes. Doesn’t happen often, but goalies can get goals, be credited with assists, and be assessed penalty minutes. If a goalie IS assessed a penalty, another member of the team sits it for him, just so you know. (BTW, former Caps goalie Jose Theodore has a goal on his lifetime stats)

TOI = Total Time on Ice. (another no brainer)

Finally – Team Stats:

Individual Team Stats by Game:

H/R = Home or Road

DEC = Decision (Win or Loss)

O/S = Overtime/Shootout

OPP = Opponent

RECORD = The teams’ current record. Caps are 7-4-0 at this time. (That would be 7 wins-4 losses-0 overtime losses)

GF = Goals For and GA = Goals Against. (The Calgary game, we scored 7 and Calgary scored 2.)

PPG = Power Play Goals (by us)

PP OPP = Power Play Opportunities (times we were on the power play)

PPGA = Power Play Goals Against (PP goals by "them")

TS = Times Shorthanded (we were on the penalty kill)

SHGF = Shorthanded Goals For (while we were on the power play)

SHGA = Shorthanded Goals Against (while we were on the penalty kill)

SF = Shots For

SA = Shots Against

ATT = Attendence

W GOALIE = Winning Goalie

W Goal = Winning Goal scored by…

Teams Stats within their Division:

GP, W, L, and OT were explained above. (or have you forgotten already?)

PTS = Points. Teams get 2 points for every win, and 1 point if the team loses in overtime.

GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, DIFF = Difference, HOME = Home record, AWAY = Away Record, SHOOTOUT = Shootout record, L10 = Last 10 games, STREAK = Winning or Losing streak. These are all pretty self-explanatory here, by this point, you should have been able to figure them out.

So, now you know all there is to know about what ALL those stats stand for. Does your brain hurt yet?

Just keep in mind, you don’t HAVE to know all these stats, but it helps to know a few of them. Wouldn’t it be cool to spout off a few of them to the guys around the water cooler and actually know what you are talking about? Bet you might even teach them a thing or two. Well, probably not, but you’ll still look cool, which is a good thing.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grandpa Slippers Hits 900

Grandpa Slippers? Poor Mike Knuble, it’s not that you’re old. As a matter of fact, 38 is prime time, and you couldn’t reach the 900 game mark without living through the whole kit and Knuble. (See what I did there?) Not quite the Iron Man status of Cal Ripken Jr., but you still gotta appreciate what 900 games really means in the NHL. Mike started in the AHL in 1995 at age 23 and has been going pretty strong ever since. 15 years is a decent career stint if I do say so myself.

First, let’s take a little trip in the way back machine. Knoobs has been able to play 82 straight regular season NHL games 5 times in his career. Once with the Rangers, twice with the Bruins and twice with the Flyers. So far, I’m impressed. He has scored more than 20 goals every regular NHL season he’s played in the last 7 years. Ditto for assists, 20 or more in the last 7 seasons. And let’s not forget, the man has a Stanley Cup ring, thanks to his stint with the Red Wings in the 97-98 season. Now, aren’t you happy the Flyers couldn’t come to terms and GMGM thought it would be a good idea to sign him up in 2009?

Now let’s look at what 900 games have meant to Knoobs when it comes to the Medicare report. According to his bio, Mike’s injuries have included:

~injuring his hamstring, ouchie, but not so bad as-

~breaking the middle finger on his left hand (which is a bummer since most players use that finger to wave “Hi” to all their opponents, and I personally use it to let fellow drivers know when I’m changing lanes or taking a certain parking place, but I digress), and then there was the time that he-

~fracturing his right cheekbone and orbital bone, which I’m sure hurts as bad as it sounds.

And, of course, lots of bumps, bruises, scrapes, tweaked muscles, and all the other aches and pains that come with getting older playing hockey. It’s a tough job, somebody is gonna get hurt.

Speaking of a tough job, it’s time for Mike’s review of his performance in the office. His office? That’s that blue area in front of the goalie. You know; it’s called the crease. As a player, Mike can be in the right place at the right time. The right place for Mike is in the goalies face, blocking his view of the ice and always prepared for a pass that he can smash into the net. Last year, Mr. Knuble scored 29 goals and had 24 assists, so if I were writing his yearly work evaluation, I’d say his performance would be categorized as “Exceeds Expectations”. Where I come from, that’s worthy of a raise. Unfortunately, Mike will be UFA at the end of this season, and if he is still a Capital by July, I would be happy but surprised.

And, don’t start harping on me for being mean to Mike about his age. He is one of the few Caps players that I could never possibly be old enough to be his Mother. At my age; and Mike’s age, I can really appreciate what he has achieved in his career, so I kid with love.

So I say, let’s raise our glasses in a toast to Michael Rudolph Knuble. Wait, Rudolph? Yup, his middle name is Rudolph. Makes some sense now. Anybody who has a middle name of Rudolph has to have gone through life defending himself, so it’s no surprise he became a hockey player. Maybe back in school he was ribbed about it, but would you want to give him grief over it now? Didn’t think so.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

TeamNeuvyVarly- BFF's 4 Evah

Ok, had to make a post outta the comments from tonight's twitpics of Varly and Neuvy chatting on the bench. Never enjoyed a post game more! (Thank you Verizon for my HD DVR and Apple for my iPhone, cuz none of this would be possible without either of them).

Pic #1 "BFF's?"

Among the caption comments: "Twinsies" from @, "That was the shot of the night for sure" from @ , and ding ding ding: "They're discussing Varly joining facebook!" from @

But wait....There's more:
Pic #2 "Look at Varly's expression! Wonder what Neuvy said? Is the bromance over already?"

Among the caption comments: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a tie!  "For the last time Varly, I swear up and down that mullets are OUT of style!" from @, "Neuvy: Want to grab post-game Happy Meals? Varly: Mehhhh..." from @

But wait...There's even more:
Pic #3 "Nope, besties again. All better."

This inspired some of the best caption comments yet!  "Neuvy: ...but I'll give you my free hotwheels toy. Varly: Orly??!?" from @ , "Neuvy: "Yup mullets are out... but might I suggest a rat tail?" Varly=intrigued" from @  Who could pick a winner between these two Tweeps? Since I adore them both, they both win. (the only prize is the honor of  being linked and quoted here, sorry, that's all I got!)

So, after a crushing defeat, who couldn't use a good giggle with their tears?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Team Varly Time?

It seems there has been a lot of debate since the season started about which goalie the fans prefer. I think it’s time to address Team Varly, since I pretty much gushed over Neuvirth last weekend.

I haven't even had a chance to photograph Varly in his 1 sweater yet!

Here’s the thing, I kind of hope Varly is in net tonight. I am ready to see how he plays. Let’s be honest, debating between the two goalies at this moment is actually a moot point. We haven’t seen Varly in regular season action yet this year. Who’s to say which one is #1 without having that factored into the equation? And, at this point, why do we even have to designate either of them as #1 in the first place?

I actually think, as far as NHL teams go, the Caps are in an enviable position having these two 22 year old goalies on the roster. Both of these players bring different styles of net minding to the ice. What NHL team wouldn’t love to be able to pick their goalie based on their opponent on any given night?

Several quotes from Boudreau on the situation yesterday: “Whoever is playing better; for the most part; if they’re playing equal, we’ll split.” And- “They will both get chances to play and somebody always comes to the forefront.” And- “Whoever is playing great will play.” And- “They will indicate who will be the player, not me.” And, finally- “It might be late March before we decide on this.”

As Caps fans, let’s not pick sides. Let’s table the debate until both Varlamov and Neuvirth have had opportunities to show their stuff. Let’s enjoy the position our team is in. Our chant should be “Go Caps” no matter who is between the pipes...Any questions?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Team Neuvy: A Mood Ring Would be Wasted on Him

Last night, Michal Neuvirth reached another career milestone, his first NHL home opener. And what a game it was! Our baby Bear goalie is no longer, he is a sharp NHL goalie and I for one am damned proud of him.

After the game the night before, I think we all went into Verizon Center with very high hopes and very high expectations, and we were duly rewarded. But for me personally, I was most eager to see this:

And also get my first ever chance to watch another great goalie in action, (but sadly for him, it just wasn’t Mar-tay’s night; thank goodness):

You all should know by now, I am a fan of the man behind the mask, (yes, this applies to baseball catchers as well as hockey goalies). These are the guys who most often endure the entire game, getting 100 mph pucks bulleted at them, players crashing into them; often more than one at a time, taunts from the home crowd, and the agony of having a puck get past them and into the net. These are the players who have to shake off all of those things, keep their head together and in my book, they deserve one of the three stars of the game in any win.

I was extremely pleased to read Tracee Hamilton’s article in the Washington Post this morning about our Caps goalies. My favorite line from that article:

              Neuvirth is a technician in goal and a mood ring would be wasted on him.
 (I want a shirt made of this: Team Neuvy. A mood ring would be wasted on him. Who's up for it?
  10/10/10 7pm- Update- This is in the works, faithful readers, in the works. Will post link asap.)

Looking back at last night’s game, truer words were never spoken. Neuvy was composed, sharp and totally focused. He showed a new maturity that went above what he had displayed in the past. Nothing seemed to rattle him, even the fact that he had two goals scored against him and had a loss the night before. Going into this 2nd game in just 24 hours, he proved to the team and the fans that he had what it takes to be in that net. In that span of 24 hours, Neuvy played 119 minutes and stopped 64 shots on goal. And even though he had 6 goals against him overall, you should be impressed with his .906 save percentage. Not so bad for the start of his NHL career.

Two other goalie notes here: Please don’t think I am anti-Varly, I’m not. Hopefully, Varly is back on the ice and gets into the game soon, maybe by Wednesday? Since I love the fact that the Caps are going with both of these young netminders this year, they will both have my support 100%. I would like to post a Team Varly article soon. Secondly, even though Dany Sabourin didn’t do anything more then keep the bench warm last night, I would like to commend him on his choice of goalie mask. Nice, clean, classic Caps Weagle on a white background. Loved it for its simplicity of design:

Hopefully, I will have game pics posted to my Flickr account tonight, I'll update when they are done.
Game pics are now up on Flickr, see them here.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hockey in BlondeSpeak - Waivers

Time for more hockey learning - the blonde way. So, you’ve heard of waivers, right? Want to know what they are? They are a couple of things you need to know in order to understand how waivers work. (By the way, this explanation refers to NHL players, waivers, and contracts. If I tried to add all the other leagues and their rules into this, your mind might be blown. Not the way I want to lose readers, so I’m gonna try to keep it simple.)

First, some people may throw the different types of contracts a player may have into explanations on waivers. So, let’s clear this up. Yes, there are 2 types of contracts, 1-way and 2-way. If an NHL player has a 1-way contract and his team wants to send him down to the minors, the player must clear waivers first. If an NHL player has a 2-way contract, he can usually be moved back and forth between the NHL and the minors without having to clear waivers. (There are exceptions, but for general purposes, that is how it works). 2-way contracts are what you want if you have an injured player so you can call up a guy with a 2-way contract to take his place while the injured player recovers. 1-way/2-way, like streets, get it? But do they really have anything to do with whether or not a player will be placed on waivers? Not really.

Ok, now, there are 2 types of waivers, unconditional and regular. These are the important things to keep in mind. If a team places a player on unconditional waivers, it means that the team has no intention of keeping the player, even in the minors, so his contract can be completely bought out; done deal/game over. If a team places a player on regular waivers, it means the team really wants to keep him, but by NHL rules, they can’t reassign him or recall him from the AHL for “re-entry” without placing him on waivers. Sounds pretty risky, right? There are several conditions about when you can place a player on waivers, such as age, length of contract or amount of games played, etc., etc. They are important but if your team puts someone on waivers, trust they have met those conditions and don’t get bogged down by those pesky details. The most important part is why that player was placed on waivers.

So, let’s look at what the internet says:

~ From WikiAnswers:

Waivers are when a team wants to send a player down to the minors or farm team and they have to "waive" the rights to that player before they can send him down. If another team claims that player he is now their property. If the player clears waivers (no one claims him), he remains the property of the original team and can be sent to the minors. The player may be released and can be a free agent.

Essentially any player that has three professional seasons since signing his first contract, or who has played 180+ NHL games, must go through waivers before going to the AHL. The waiver system allows all 29 other NHL clubs to pick up that player, with teams lower down in the standings taking precedence over those at the top. Players are on waivers for two days, and if they go unclaimed, they're off to the minors.

If they go to the minors and then return to the NHL club, players don't have to pass through waivers again unless they've been with the big club for 10+ games or 30+ days.
Those are both pretty good examples of the waiver process but are they clear enough? Let’s break this down into BlondeSpeak:

Waivers are like eBay. Want to get rid of a player? If he is on unconditional waivers, you put him on eBay with a 2 day listing, because he just doesn’t suit your d├ęcor anymore. Let’s hope somebody bids and wins him. Bidders that have lower “ratings” get the pick over any competitive bidder who has higher “ratings”, just to keep things fair. Then you pack him up and ship him out, so long, nice knowing ya. If your bidder is nice, they might even give you a good review on their purchase, but you can bet fans of the player won’t be posting pleasant comments on your eBay listing!

If nobody buys him, you can just let him go, buhbye, see ya. (Kind of like sending him off to the charity bin at Salvation Army, because you certainly have no more use for him. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have listed him on eBay in the first place, right?)

If he is on regular waivers, you hope that nobody bids on him during that 2 day listing, so you can send him down to the AHL. The risk here is a bidder might come along and snatch his butt up and you’ve lost him. But what are you gonna do, you had to put him up for bid in order to send him down to the AHL, you know? That’s why people get so worried and stress out for 2 days during the time a player is placed on waivers. He might be gone by the time the whole listing period is over. If nobody bids on him, he has "cleared" waivers, WooHoo! Just what we wanted!

So, yeah, maybe I didn’t cover all the wherefores and how to’s, but if you want to know those, Google away. I just want to give you the overall simple description of waivers and how they work in essence. I’m a little worried that people are gonna want to get into all those details, but remember; I’m not an expert; I’m just a blonde girl who wants the simple things in life…Any questions?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The 3 C's (Caps-Columbus & Convention)

So I've been a bit of a blogger fail the last 10 days, new job responsibilities have taken a lot out of me, and the next thing I know, IT"S HOCKTOBER!!! (Not to be confused with Octoberfest, which is another reason this month is awesome, but today is all about hockey).

What better way to start celebrating than to go to a preseason game the very first day of the month.
Captain Ovechkin checking out the Blue Jackets during warm-ups

Our chance to watch Hendricks play was short-lived; he was outta the game early ine the first when he was the victim of a heavy check by Nate Guenin.

Come to find out, our own Nicky-Lars required 14 stitches on his leg after blocking a shot during this game. What a trooper! But, this is now old news.

So, what better way to continue Hocktober, then to attend the Caps Convention on Saturday, 10/2. This year I made sure I was going to some of the panels, since I totally missed out last year, due to poor planning. (And this also resulted in a lot lower number of player pictures, since I was happily sitting in adjacent rooms for half the day.

First up, Ask the GM, with GM George McPhee and Nate Ewell. Gotta say, I really appreciate McPhee even more after listening to him during the question and answer session here. While he didn't give any secrets away, I felt he was pretty upfront when he answered questions. Favorite response was to a question about the trade that involved Delle Rovere. Final answer, he has yet to have traded away a superstar. There was one lady who spent at least 5 minutes asking a question, which was actually a good one, but she went off track so many times, I be damned if I can remember what it was.

Next up was the Kids Press Conference. After missing it last year because the room was full by the time I found it, I made sure to be there yesterday. Ovi, Brads and Fehrsie really seemed to have a great time with the kid’s questions. I was pretty surprised how many kids asked questions about fighting and who the guys hated the most (opposing players and/or teams). And you could tell how many questions were actually from the parents. Two things that really stood out - Fehrsie and Brads singing Happy Birthday to one little girl, followed by Ovi singing it a cappella in Russian. Trust me on this, Ovi will most definitely not be making any music videos without some voice lessons. But, seriously, he has enough talent on the ice to make up for that. Second “Awwwww” moment, when another little girl asked Ovi to say something in Russian. His response “You’re beautiful” (not gonna trust free translation here and possibly botch the Russian spelling of that phrase. Who knows what I’d actually be typing!)

Next up, back to the main stage for Coach BB’s Who are the 2010-2011 Capitals? segment. Loved this last year and wasn’t disappointed this year. I especially enjoyed seeing the new jumbotron pictures of the players. As you can see below, a couple were big hits with me.

Next I got in line for my autograph sessions. First up, J-Car and Fehrsie. Congratulated Carlson on World Juniors and gave Fehrsie props on the game the night before.

From there, I went straight to the next line, and ended up with Gordicris and Chimmers. Yes, Chimmers signs as fast as he skates and talks. Gotta say, all the guys were as nice as could be.

Final panel discussion, Blogging the Caps. Couldn’t miss a chance to hear Nate Ewell, Eric McErlain, John Keeley, and Jon Press (otherwise known as @nateewell, @emcerlain, @JohnMKeeley, and @JapersRink). Although the crowd was a little thin, I did enjoy the discussions and questions. But, damned if the lady from GMGM’s panel earlier in the day, didn’t show up again with another very long drawn out “question” for the panel. Once again, I totally forget what her question was. Wanted to stop and say Hi to them all when it was over, but wouldn’t you know, they got fan mobbed when they left the stage. (Guys, I was the blonde in the front row on your far right).

Well, now that the last preseason game is out of the way, it's time for the offical beginning of the 2010-2011 hockey season. Let the hockey begin!

More pictures from the 10/1 game and Caps Convention can be found here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hockey in BlondeSpeak - Icing

Ok, I did say I would save this for a post on another day. Guess now is as good a time as any. Oh, and all of you readers that think I’m talking about the frosting that goes on top of cupcakes for the media at Kettler, get out of the kitchen and out to the rink, pronto!
Anyway, I have read everything I can find on the web about it and can see why some people may still be doing puppy dog head tilts when they try to understand what the heck icing is. So, here we go.

First, let’s look at what the NHL rules say:

Rule 81 - Icing

81.1 Icing – For the purpose of this rule, the center red line will divide the ice into halves. Should any player or goalkeeper of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength (power-play) to the opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped.

For the purpose of this rule, the point of last contact with the puck by the team in possession shall be used to determine whether icing has occurred or not. As such, the team in possession must “gain the line” in order for the icing to be nullified. “Gaining the line” shall mean that the puck (not the player’s skate) must make contact with the center red line in order to nullify a potential icing.

For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, “icing the puck” is completed the instant the puck is touched first by a defending player (other than the goalkeeper) after it has crossed the goal line and if in the action of so touching the puck, it is knocked or deflected into the net, it is no goal.

Any contact between opposing players while pursuing the puck on an icing must be for the sole purpose of playing the puck and not for eliminating the opponent from playing the puck. Unnecessary or dangerous contact could result in penalties being assessed to the offending player.

The puck striking or deflecting off an official does not automatically nullify a potential icing.

Yeah, that clears everything up! Are you just as confused as before you started reading? Of course you are, I would be too.

Now, let’s look at what has to say:

Definition: Shooting the puck to the end of the ice from behind the center ice red line.

If the puck crosses the opposing goal line untouched, and is then retrieved by an opposing player, icing is called.

Considered a delaying tactic, it results in a stoppage in play and a faceoff in the offending team's defensive zone.

If, in the opinion of the linesman, any player of the opposing team is able to play the puck before it passes his goal line, but does not do so, the linesman can "wave off" icing, allowing play to continue.

The purpose of the rule is to encourage continuous action. Referees and Linesmen interpret and apply the rule to produce that result.

Well, that’s a little better, but let’s go "blonde":

When it comes to understanding icing, imagine this scenario: Caps and Pens are playing hot and heavy in front of the Pens’ net. The Penguins can’t get the puck away from the Caps and are getting frustrated. Finally one Penguin gets a hold of the puck and sends it flying down the ice away from his own goal because they just can’t finesse it away any other way. Now, everybody takes off down the ice towards the Caps net while the puck skids past the red center line, the next blue line, all the way down past the red goal line across the end of the rink and nobody has caught up with it yet. Now, if a Pens player reaches the puck first, the play continues. If a Caps player reaches it first, it’s an icing call against the Pens. The puck is returned for a face off back down at the other end of the rink, kinda back where they started.

A couple things to remember here:

If your team is tired and frustrated, icing the puck will not give you a chance to make a shift change, that’s a no-no per the NHL rules. Too bad, what a waste.

Secondly, if the Pens were playing shorthanded at the time, that desperate measure of whacking the puck down the rink is not icing. Well, they were already being penalized, right?

Finally, a ref can wave off the icing call if they feel the Caps players could have gotten the puck and simply opted not to do so. Total judgement call by the refs.

So, in brief, if your guy whacks the puck down the ice because his defense just can’t seem to get the job done, you better hope someone from your team gets down the ice and gets that sucker before the other team does. Otherwise, you’re screwed…Any questions?

Monday, September 20, 2010

What’s in a Name?

So, another hockey season is upon us. In anticipation of lots of tweeting about our guys, I felt it was time for an updated primer on who we all refer to when we use our own special nicknames for players on Twitter. I’d also like to thank The Hockey Chronicles and Japers’ Rink, who also posted similar lists in the past which contributed to my “research”. (Yes, I actually did research for this post…kinda-sorta). Think of this as a PSA for new Tweeps and Caps fans, cuz you need to know who we're talking about when you read our snark!

So without further ado and in alphabetical order, so no one thinks I’m playing favorites (kinda convenient that Ovi comes first alphabetically, isn’t it?), here we go:

Da Playas:

Alex Ovechkin: AO8, Ovi (Note: NOT Ovie –get it right, people!), Russian Machine, The Great 8, Alexander the Great

Alex Semin: Sasha, ummm and another one I don’t quite understand ;), Sam (Added by RussianMachine)

Brian Willsie: I don't remember any nicknames for Willsie, somebody remind me!

Boyd Gordon: Gordo, Gordicris, G-Unit (Added by WashCapsRock), Muffin (added by tons of people!)

Brooks Laich: BL21, Brooksie, Cougar Bait, HHBL21, AAA of the NHL, Ironman (Added by CamaroWRX)

David Steckel: Stecks

DJ King: King Kong, (are there any others we should know?)

Eric Fehr: Fehrsie, F-16/Falcon (Added by The PaulW), Uno Seis (Added because ngreenberg apparently uses it, not that I would know)

Jason Chimera: Chimmers, Chewie (Added by PKLords76), Chimmy (Added by YoCalleJ, RinkRebel, Scandalizi)

Jeff Schultz: Mr Nasty, Double Nickel, Schultzy, Sarge

John Carlson: J-Car, Real American Hero (RAHJC74), Captain America

Karl Alzner: King Karl, Alz (Added by RinkRebel), The Lumber Jack (Added by Green52fan)

Marcus Johansson: MoJo, JoJo

Matt Bradley: MB10, Brads, The Proffessor (misspelling is intentional)

Michal Neuvirth: Neuvi/Neuvy

Mike Green: MG52, Greenie, Greener, Game Over, Lamborgreenie

Mike Knuble: Knoobs, Grandpa Slippers, Papa or Pops Knoob (Added by AmazinglyMorgan & RinkRebel)

Nicklas Backstrom: NB19, Backy, Nicky-Lars, Super Swede, Backis (Added by YoCalleJo)

Semyon Varlamov: Varly, The Iron Curtain, Click on Me (Added by dorcaskd)

Tomas Fleischmann: Flash

Tyler Sloan: Sloaner, TyTy

Da Front Office:

Brett Leonhardt: Stretch

Bruce Boudreau: Gabby, BB

George McPhee: GMGM

Ted Leonsis: Uncle Ted

Mike Vogel: Vogs (Added by WashCapsRock)

Da Bears and Prospies:

Andrew Gordon: Gordo (not to be confused with Boyd Gordon-[“no relation”-Joe B.]!)

Anton Gustafsson: Baby Gus, AnGus (Added by maamfo)

Braden Holtby: Hot Stuff (Added for WashCapsRock), Holts (Added by maamfo)

Cody Eakin: Squeaks

Francois Bouchard: Bouch (Added by OSquirt26)

Grant McNeill: G-Mac (Added by YoCalleJo)

Jay Beagle: Beags

Joe Finley: Big Joe, Lawnmower Joe

Keith Aucoin: Coiner

Mathieu Perreault: Matty P, Perry, Pocket Ovi

Patrick McNeill: P-Mac, Patty Mac

Steve Pinizzotto: Pinner (Added by OSquirt26)

Trevor Bruess: Bruiser (Added by maamfo)

Zach Miskovic: Misky

Ok, I know I forgot some, so remind me in the comments, kthxbai!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Rookie Caps/Flyers Hit the Ice

I know what you're thinking, not another scrimmage blog post. Ok, ok, no stats, no analysis, just some guys who look like they are really happy and anxious to show their stuff to the big crowd at Kettler. All this while being watched by coaches, team big wigs, scouts, tons of fans and the intrepid Captain.
I don't think I've ever seen hockey players hit the ice quite like this.

Big Joe Finley

The Captain keeps an eye on his troops

Making sure Anderson is warmed up.

Grubauer being all intense protecting the net

Eakin gets an approving look from those guys over there on the left

And last but not least:

 Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
And a great time was had by all. Well, all except the Baby Flyers, that is.

Yeah, it's late and I'm tired.
More pics of the game can be found here.