Caps v Habs in Round 1 of Cup Playoffs

The Washington Capitols now know that the first stop on the road to the Stanley Cup is in Montreal.  The number 1 seeded Caps will meed the eighth seeded Habs in a best of seven series in the first round of the NHL Playoffs.

Coach Bruce Boudreau and his squad have learned over the past two seasons what the playoffs are about.  And after playing back-to-back seven game series last year, eventually going out at the hands of the eventual champion Pittsburgh Penguins, they know how important a good start is in order to stay fresh and have some gas in the tank in the later rounds.  They will want to smother the Canadiens early.

First Round Schedule (Home Team, Date, Time, TV Network):
Game 1: @ Washington, Thu. 4/15, 7 p.m., TSN & Versus
Game 2: @ Washington, Sat. 4/17, 7 p.m., TSN & Versus
Game 3: @ Montreal, Mon. 4/19, 7 p.m., TSN
Game 4: @ Montreal, Wed. 4/21, 7 p.m., TSN
Game 5*: @ Washington, Fri 4/23, 7 p.m., TSN & Versus
Game 6*: @ Montreal, Mon. 4/26, 7 p.m., TSN & Versus
Game 7*: @ Washington, Wed. 4/28, TBD, TSN
* = if necessary

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NHL Award Predictions

With the 2009-2010 NHL season wrapping up this weekend, here are my predictions of award winner at the NHL Awards Night in Las Vegas on June 18th.

Stanley Cup
Awarded to: NHL Playoff Champion
Holder: Pittsburgh Penguins
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks

Prince of Wales Trophy
Awarded to: Eastern Conference Playoff Champion
Holder: Pittsburgh Penguins
Prediction: Washington Capitols

Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
Awarded to: Western Conference Playoff Champion
Holder: Detroit Red Wings
Prediction: Chicago Blackhawks

President’s Trophy
Awarded to: Most Points in Regular Season
Holder: San Jose Sharks
Winner: Washington Capitols

Hart Memorial Trophy
Awarded to: League MVP
Holder: Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitols)
Prediction: Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitols)
Also Running: Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres), Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks)

Vezina Trophy
Awarded to: Best Goalie
Holder: Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins)
Prediction: Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres)
Also Running: Ilya Bryzgalov (Phoenix Coyotes), Martin Broeduer (New Jersey Devils), Craig Anderson (Colorado Avalanche)

James Norris Memorial Trophy
Awarded to: Best Defenseman
Holder: Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins)
Prediction: Mike Green (Washington Capitols)
Also Running: Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), Chris Pronger (Philadelphia Flyers)

Calder Memorial Trophy
Awarded to: Best Rookie
Holder: Steve Mason (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Prediction: Tyler Myers (Buffalo Sabres)
Also Running: Matt Duchene (Los Angeles Kings), John Tavares (New York Islanders), Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings)

Jack Adams Award
Awarded to: Best Coach
Holder: Claude Julien (Boston Bruins)
Prediction: Dave Tippett (Phoenix Coyotes)
Also Running: Joe Sacco (Colorado Avalanche), Terry Murray (Los Angeles Kings), Cory Clouston (Ottawa Senators)

Lady Bing Memorial Trophy
Awarded for: Sportsmanship
Holder: Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Redwings)
Prediction: Brad Richards (Dallas Stars)
Also Running: Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning), Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks), Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks)

Conn Smyth Trophy
Awarded to: Playoff MVP
Holder: Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Prediction: Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks)

Art Ross Trophy
Awarded to: Points Leader
Holder: Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Leaders: Henrik Sedin – 107 (Vancouver Canucks) and Alex Ovechkin – 106 (Washington Capitols)

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy
Award to: Most Goals
Holder: Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitols)
Leaders: Alex Ovechkin – 48 (Washington Capitols), Sidney Crosby – 48 (Pittsburgh Penguins), Steve Stamkos – 47 (Tampa Bay Lightning)

NHL Plus-Minus Award
Awarded to: Highest +/-
Holder: David Krejci (Boston Bruins)
Leaders: Jeff Schultz – +44 (Washington Capitols) and Alex Ovechkin – +43 (Washington Capitols)

Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award
Awarded to: Highest Save Percentage
Holder: Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins)
Leaders: Tuukka Rask – .930 (Boston Bruins), Ryan Miller – .928 (Buffalo Sabres)

William M. Jennings Trophy
Awarded to: Team Least Goals Against
Holders: Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez (Boston Bruins)
Leaders: Martin Brodeur – 186 (New Jersey Devils) and Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask – 194(Boston Bruins)

Not Listed: Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy (Perseverance, Sportsmanship, Dedication), Lester B. Pearson Award (Outstanding Player as voted by Players Association), Frank J. Selke Trophy (Best Defensive Forward), King Clancy Memorial Trophy (Humanitarian Leadership), NHL Foundation Player Award (Community Service), Mark Messier Leadership Award (Leadership), NHL Lifetime Achievement Award, Scotiabank Fan Fav Award (Fans’ Favorite Player)

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Caps Beat Pens in OT

The Washington Capitols beat rivals Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout Wednesday night in the second overtime between the two teams at the Verizon Center this year. The club tie their record points total for a single season at 108.

Penguins forward Jordan Staal tied the game at three with 3:06 remaining in the third period. After the five minutes of 4-on-4 overtime hockey failed to produced a result for either team Pittsburgh then went up 2-0, off the sticks of Kris Letang and superstar Sidney Crosby, in the ensuing shootout.

Russian duo Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin deked Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to net the goals that tied the affair before Mike Knuble scored his first career shootout goal giving the Caps their second straight win. He was 0-4 in the extra time situation before last night.

The excitment down the stretch was intense as the Caps overturned a 2-1 third period deficit due to a shorthanded goal by Semin and a deflected goal by Eric Fehr less than two minutes apart.

The game’s three stars included Semin and Staal who were joined by Capitols goalie Jose Theodore who came away from the game with 39 saves in 65 minutes and a .929 save percentage. The game was Theodore’s seventh straight win and also extended his regulation unbeaten streak to 19 games, going 17-0-2 in that span.

Washington now has a chance to clinch first place in the Eastern Conference with a New Jersey Devils loss to the New York Rangers in their meeting Thursday.

Scoring Summary:

[Washington – 1:02] Knuble (26) A: Backstrom, Ovechkin
[Pittsburgh – 2:21] Talbot (2) A: Orpik, Adams
[Pittsburgh – 14:39 – PPG] Guerin (19) A: Crosby, Ponikarovsky

[Washington – 5:36 – SHG] Semin (34) A: None
[Washington – 7:32] Fehr (21) A: Green, Belanger
[Pittsburgh – 16:54] Staal (21) A: Kunitz, Leopold


[Pittsburgh] Letang (Goal)
[Washington] Backstrom (Save)
[Pittsburgh] Crosby (Goal)
[Washington] Ovechkin (Goal)
[Pittsburgh] Guerin (Save)
[Washington] Semin (Goal)
[Pittsburgh] Kunitz (Save)
[Washington] Knuble (Goal)

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2010 Winter Olympics – Men’s Ice Hockey

While the 2010 Winter Olympic’s opening ceremony was four days ago, the sport I’ve been waiting to see has it’s first games being played today.

The men’s ice hockey tournament begins today when teams in Group A face off against one another, including USA vs Switzerland and later Canada vs Norway.  The teams in Group B are Russia and Latvia (who also play one another today), Czech Republic, and Slovakia while Group C is comprised of Sweden, Finland, Belarus, and Germany.

As a Buffalo Sabres fan I am excited to see Ryan Miller as the starting goalie for Team USA, as well as Henrik Tallinder (Sweden), Toni Lydman (Finland), Andrej Sekera (Slovakia), and Jochen Hecht (Germany).  You Washington Capitols fans may have a harder time rooting for your home nation as both Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Semyon Varlamov are on the Russian roster.  Other Caps competing are Tomas Fleischmann (Czech Republic) and Nicklas Backstrom (Sweden).

Olympic ice hockey is great because not only do you get to see great NHL veterans you wouldn’t normally get to see play together, but you also are able to see emerging young talent from “across the pond” and former NHL stars who are now back playing in Europe such as Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Sergei Federov (Russia), and Peter Forsberg (Sweden).

Here’s the scheduled Group A games for the United States: Switzerland (Feb 16 at 12 pm), Norway (Feb 18 at 12 pm), and Canada (Feb 21 at 4:45 pm).

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2010 NHL Winter Classic

There is a game at Fenway Park on New Years Day.  However, the Boston Red Sox will not be on the field.  It will be their athletic city brethren, the Boston Bruins, taking on the Philadelphia Flyers on an outdoor icerink in the third annual NHL Winter Classic Presented by Bridgestone.

The game, played as a regular season matchup for 2 points, will serve as the NHL’s showcase of the year since there will be no NHL All-Star game due to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The past Winter Classics were a huge success.  The first, colloquially known as the “Ice Bowl”, was played in 2008 between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, NY and seen by 71,217 fans in attendance.  The second, between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings, was played this past New Years Day at Wrigley Field.

These games are truly wonderful.  Between the size of the crowds, the throwback uniforms, and the amazing visuals there is so much to love about the Winter Classic.  Being an outdoor event, it harkens back to a simpler time for the old-timey traditionalists, which hockey has plenty of.  But it’s also something kids can get a kick out of;  many children laugh at the tuque’s worn by the goalies to keep their heads warm.

The ice-truck is on it’s way to Fenway as I write this and construction on the rink will begin within the week.  I can’t wait to view the sights and hear the sounds of this years Winter Classic on New Years Day.

The Mike Webb Team:

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Ovi Out Again

Washington Capitols superstar Alexander Ovechkin has been suspended by the NHL for a knee-on-knee collision with Carolina Hurricane Tim Gleason that left the two time Hart Memorial Trophy winner limping off the ice Monday night.  He was given a five minute major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct by the referees.

Ovechkin, the Capitols goals and points leader, will miss the next two games against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night and the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.  He is listed as day to day with a knee injury but is expected to be back for the December 7th game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

While this is the first suspension of his career it’s Ovechkin’s second game misconduct in the last three games.  He recieved a five minute major and was ejected from last weeks game against the Buffalo Sabres for a boarding call on Patrick Kaleta.  He also missed six games earlier this season with an upper body strain.  In his first four seasons he had only missed two games due to injury.

Ovechkin has stated that there was no malicious intent behind the hit and that he’s glad Gleason was not hurt too badly.  However, controversy visited him during the playoffs last year following a knee-on-knee collision with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Sergei Gonchar for which he suspiciously recieved no supplemental discipline by the league.

Capitols coach, Bruce Boudreau, concerned about the players health, has said “He plays pretty reckless…I don’t want to see him getting hurt. Maybe he has to pick his spots a little bit better. It’s something that will have to be addressed by us, I guess.”  Ovechkin has stated that he will not change the way he plays.

The Mike Webb Team:

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