I figure since I haven't posted since before the season, restarting right when the second season started might make sense. Or I'm bored on a Friday night, that might be it.
I've had trouble thinking of what to write. The caps' blogosphere is so large that I feel like everything I could possibly write about already has. Someone on twitter told me to write from the heart, so here goes nothing.
Despite the team's strong play of late and great record, and rise to number one in the East, I am terrified.
One of the perks of being a capitals fan? Constant vigilance! Almost no lead seems safe to me any more. I will spend the entire playoffs thinking of the many, many ways they'll manage to screw up their lead. I'm going to feel nauseous all day Wednesday. No matter the opponent. I don't think it's so bad that my experience will be tainted by the feeling, but it'll be there. Capitals hockey is more than a game for me, it's like religion.
I recently read on twitter that one of the teams at the bottom of the east wanted basically anyone but the Caps. (I can't remember the specifics) Not even that makes me feel better.
It can't be just me with this feeling of unease. I think we've all developed a bit of a complex; our hopes have been raised only to be torched and burned spectacularly the last couple of seasons. The fan base should be excited, but instead many of us are on edge. The play of this season hasn't exactly inspired confidence either. Yes, they've played well down the stretch, but they also played well last season before being booted in the first round by the Montreal Halaks. I can't imagine them not getting up for the playoffs, but there is always the possibility for playoff underperformance, especially with this group.
All I can do is pray to the hockey gods and hope that Jason Arnott: Sasha whisperer does his job.
With the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on their side, Team A earned a hard fought 6-3 victory in game 2 of the 2010 Duschene Cup. The game was closer than the final score indicated, and was definitely a physical affair.
A few observations:
Something I learned: Steve Pinizzotto makes funny faces
If Trevor Bruess' game is to tick opponents off, then he is in midseason form already. Brooks Laich gave him a talking to yesterday and today, Bruess and Tyler Sloan got into some minor scuffles. If the capitals could field an extra skater just to agitate, then Trevor Bruess would get a sweater every night.
Tyler Sloan grabbing who I believe to be Trevor Bruess. The two seemed to get into little tiffs all game. Poor Anton Gustafsson was caught in the middle!
It was nice to see a more competitive game as opposed to the 5-0 beat-down of the day before. After watching Bruce's post-scrimmage media session, it sounds like he gave team B a tongue lashing after their performance, so maybe we see a slightly more energized team B tomorrow?
My pick for "guy I really, really want to make it" is easily Andrew Gordon, he's a hard worker and seems like an awesome guy. At this point he would have to unseat a veteran for the spot, but I think it's guys like Gordon that the team needs. Given that he is waiver eligible this year, I have to imagine that the caps won't lose him for nothing, perhaps he will stay in Washington as an emergency option or as part of a rotation?
I won't be able to see the final game of the Duschene cup, but it should be a good one!
The perk of being a Capitals fan today was having Brooks Laich almost run into me, that was exciting. We both had that last minute pull arm to avoid contact thing going on.
More photos from the game:
Any shot that I get the puck I consider to be a win.
Todd Ford trying to see through legs, arms, and sticks.
I was late getting to Kettler, so I didn't get to see group A practice, but I don't think I need to see them to know that they're the clear favorite for this years Duschene cup. They have Tyler Sloan, that's all you need to know ;)
Groups B and C scrimmaged at noon. Going into the game, I expected a very even match.
Group B roster standouts:
Tom Poti John Erskine
Group C roster standouts:
Eric Fehr Jeff Schultz Mike Green Jason Chimera Mathieu Perreault
Looking at the list of 'standouts,' essentially those who played NHL games for the capitals last year, I would have expected group B to do pretty well, at least stay competitive, however, that was not the case. Group C skated to a relatively easy 5-0 victory in the opening game of the Duschene cup. Leading 3C contender Mathieu Perreault and his line (Chimera and Fehr) had an especially good game. Chimera really showed off his speed on some breakaways and Fehr was solid all around. The competition in camp isn't what they will see in the NHL, but that is looking like a really solid third line. Chimera said "Both Matty and Eric are great players so it’s nice to play with them, especially Matty. He’s a pretty gifted offensive guy and he’s a good player to play with.” It's only the second day of camp, but Mathieu Perreault has jumped ahead in the battle for 3C.
Alex Semin was virtually invisible, though that can be said of most of team B. The highlight of their outing wasn't something they did, but rather when Trevor Bruess of team A dumped Tomas Fleischmann of team B right into the bench. The fans in the stands started cheering. While it's in the a hockey fan's nature to cheer a hit like that, I can't help but wonder if the cheering from the stands would have been slightly less had it been a more liked player.
I took some photos with my old digital camera, they aren't pretty, but neither is hockey, so it works :)
Future third line!
Tomas... oh Tomas...
Bruess was always causing trouble.
Todd Ford handling the puck
Everything looks classy in black and white, even hockey.
Training camp officially opened today, and it's shaping up to be an interesting one! I'll break down some of the more positions that are ripe for the taking.
Second line center: Everyone knows that Nicklas Backstom is the first line center of the present and future. There is virtually no way he gets usurped, save Crosby deciding he looks much better in red than Gold. After Backstrom, there is no lock for second line center. Caps coach Bruce Boudreau has said that usual winger, sometimes center, Tomas Fleischmann, has the inside track. It's slightly worrying that the capitals best option for their second line center is a player whose native position is not center. When he was first put down the middle, right after the Olympic break, he preformed well, but couldn't maintain the consistency that the caps needed out of their 2c. Marcus Johansson has an outside shot at the position, but given the things that Bruce Boudreau has said, one has to believe Fleischmann is a lock, at least for a tryout.
Third line center: The battle for 3C may even shape up to be more interesting than 2C. The viable options are many: Marcus Johansson, Mathieu Perreault, and Keith Aucoin have all been bandied about for the position. As much as I'd like to see the swede they call Mackan get some North American experience, I'm not sure that he should get the position over the more NHL ready and NHL experienced Perreault. Perreault added some 10-15 pounds over the summer, but hasn't appeared to have lost his speed. He showed in his first NHL stint he has the ability to keep up in the big leagues. While he faltered in his second extended stay, I'd chalk that more up to mental, rather than physical. He's sparkplug, and was a joy to watch play at the NHL level. Such tenacity in such a little package!
Starting Goaltender: It's going to be Michal Neuvirth or Semyon Varlamov. Varly will get the job in the beginning, but I think that assigning a "starter" label to one will be difficult the entire year. Both are virtually still rookies. Given his proven playoff ability, though of the AHL variety, I'd actually take Neuvirth over Varlamov. He just has that quite confidence about him. During the 2010 AHL playoffs, the Hershey Bears faced the Los Angeles King's affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, in the Eastern Conference Finals. Their starting goaltender Jonathan Bernier is considered one of the best prospects in the world at his position. Mark French relayed after Neuvirth and the Bears had dispatched the Monarchs:
"He came to me [before the series] and said, ‘Bernier is getting a lot of press.’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah,’ and then he goes, ‘but I’m better,’ It was with a very straight face and he meant no disservice, but I think he took this series as a personal challenge.
You have to admire the chutzpa the kid has. I think he has the right attitude to seriously challenge Varlamov for the job once it comes down to playoff time, and let's face it, that's all that will really matter to the 2010-11 Washington Capitals.
As you can probably tell, this is my first blog post! Yes, another blog from a Caps fan, what's new? Certainly not this. I go by @UnleashTheFury on Twitter and Ovechwin on pretty much every other caps related thing. I hope you stick around now that you've somehow stumbled upon this place!