Caps/NHL News

March 01, 2008 | Ed Frankovic

Caps Beat Devils

The Caps played one of, if not their most complete, game of the season Friday night in a 4-0 blanking of the Eastern Conference leading New Jersey Devils. Cristobal Huet had his first Capitals start and he made 18 saves in the game including several key stops on quality scoring chances when the game was scoreless. While it was nice to get a really good game from Huet, the most impressive thing was how well the Caps played in front of their new goalie dominating the Devils on all fronts. Sergei Federov played a solid game and made a great pass on the game winning goal, Mike Green’s power play one timer in the second period. As Coach Bruce Boudreau said after the game, “These are the type of games you’d like to bottle.” The only bad news is that Alexander Ovechkin is now without a goal in seven straight games.

Washington is now three points behind the Southeast Division leading Carolina Hurricanes but still have two games in hand. Tonight the Caps play the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Verizon Center which will be televised on Hockey Night in Canada. Olie Kolzig gets the start in net. My prediction for tonight: Alexander Ovechkin breaks out of his goal scoring slump in a big way netting two goals in a Caps victory over the “No Trade Clause” Leafs.

Trade Deadline Analysis from an NHL Scout

The day after the trade deadline I spoke with a Western Conference scout and here are his thoughts on some of the deals made at the trade deadline:

The only thing the Atlanta Thrashers got out of the Marian Hossa trade was the first round pick they received for the 2008 NHL entry draft. Erik Christensen, Colby Armstrong, and Angelo Esposito are not and will never be impact players.

While he really likes Brad Richards and thinks he will definitely help the Dallas Stars, the Tampa Bay Lightning definitely received good value in return for Richards and this deal does not indicate that they are quitting on the season. Mike Smith is a good goalie and could finally be the answer in Tampa. Jeff Halpern is a known quality third line player and Jossi Jokinen should prosper with the Lightning. He also said the trade of Vaclav Prospal to Philadelphia was “addition by subtraction” for the Lightning.

He was surprised that the Caps traded for goalie Cristobal Huet and did not add a defenseman. He thought that the Matt Cooke acquisition was good for Washington because Cooke plays hard, has a lot of heart, and is a team guy. As for Federov, he says he’s not been focused for most of the last couple of seasons but with fellow Russians Ovechkin, Alex Semin, and Viktor Kozlov on the team he thinks he’ll probably play hard for Washington.

Adam Foote was only going to wave his no trade clause to go to one team, Colorado, and the scout felt that Columbus got a good deal getting first and fourth round draft picks for Foote.

Just because some teams did not make deals does not mean that they weren’t trying. He said some NHL GM’s vastly overvalued their players making it very difficult for many teams to deal with them. Florida, for instance, was asking a ridiculous price for star forward Olli Jokinen, who seems to want out of Florida.

NHL News

The Vancouver Canucks were 23-0-0 when leading heading into the third period this season until blowing a 2-0 lead to the Columbus Blue Jackets and losing, 3-2, in overtime on Friday night. Anyone who watched this game would have to agree that there is cause for concern in Vancouver because the Canucks allowed the Blue Jackets to consistently run their goalie, Roberto Luongo, throughout the game. It is amazing that Luongo was not seriously hurt and the other Canuck players need to find their manliness and stand up for their all-star net minder. I am not a fan of Canucks coach Alain Vigneault and last night’s game indicates to me that this team is going to struggle down the stretch. Given the upgrades Colorado made at the trade deadline I would not be surprised if they and the Nashville Predators knocked Vancouver out of the playoffs this year.

The Defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks are clearly the favorites to win the Cup this year given the re-additions of Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne (from retirement) to their lineup along with the trade deadline acquisitions of defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron and goalie Jean-Sebastian Aubin. The Ducks play a very physical style that is often over the edge. You can count me as one NHL fan that will be rooting against the Ducks no matter who faces them in the playoffs.

It is not pretty in Hockeytown USA right now as the once unbeatable looking Detroit Red Wings have gone 1-7-2 in their last 10 games. The team is missing the leagues best defensemen, Nicklas Lidstrom, as well as two other very good defensemen in Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios. It will be interesting to see if the Wings can right the ship once they get those players back over the next several weeks.

Programming Note: For those of you who have the NHL network, former Caps player Alan May is now providing analysis on their “On the Fly” show. On Friday night, May and former Caps Coach Gary Green provided their thoughts and insights on the night’s action. May has always been one of my favorite former Caps because he was a team player, a good presence in the locker room, and an all around class guy. “On the Fly” is can’t miss TV for hockey fans and along with May and Green they have former Flames GM Craig Button, former Rangers GM Neil Smith, and former player Dave Reid in their analyst rotation (along with a few others).