Caps News: Boyd Gordon and Sean Collins interviews
Wednesday was a well deserved day off for the Washington Capitals, who have won seven games in a row and 12 of 13 to push their overall record to 27-11-3, which is good for 57 points and second place in the Eastern Conference. After the 2-1 shootout win over the Flyers on Tuesday night I and some other media members had a chance to catch up with Caps forward Boyd Gordon to get his thoughts on the game. Gordon, was a first round pick by Washington and 17th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, the same one in which GM George McPhee took forward Alexander Semin and defensemen Steve Eminger in the first round (the Caps had three first round picks in 2002). Gordon played his junior hockey in the tough Western Hockey League for the Red Deer Rebels, and he was coached by Brent Sutter, who is now behind the bench for the New Jersey Devils. Playing for a Sutter it is no surprise that Gordon, who specializes in tough hard-nosed hockey, is such a solid two way player.
Q: Did it feel like a playoff game out there tonight?
Gordon: Yeah, the crowd was into it and it is great to see all of the fans come out so it was kind of a playoff intensity type game.
Q: Many people think of the Caps as a high flying, high scoring team. What do these last two low scoring games in which you’ve won say about how the team has developed?
Gordon: It’s good, you know we obviously can score but I think we’ve shown we can play defense too. Our goals against has gotten better lately and we want to keep that up and keep playing solid in our own end and tighten the neutral zone, we’ve definitely improved in that.
Q: Are the Flyers a tough team to play against?
Gordon: Definitely, they are solid all around the board from the blue line out. They are big, strong, and physical. We know every time we play them it is going to be a tough game.
Q: Is this your type of game, 1-1 versus 5-4? Are you more comfortable in a game like this?
Gordon: As long as we’re winning, I guess, that is the most important thing. If it’s 1-1 or 4-4 it’s all the same. I think we’ve taken steps defensively and we are playing a lot better.
Q: Coach Boudreau changed the lines tonight but your line was strong. Why the success?
Gordon: We kept it pretty simple and we kept the puck down low. When we play that way we are pretty effective.
In the surprise column this year for Washington has been defenseman Sean Collins, who most fans and even media personnel didn’t know a whole lot about before his debut in early December in Toronto. Collins, 25, signed with the Capitals as a free agent on March 17, 2007. He played 13 games with Hershey this year and had four assists. Collins split last year between Hershey and the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. He staked in 12 games for Hershey and in 31 for South Carolina, totaling 14 points (1g-13a) in the ECHL. Collins led Stingray defensemen with nine points (1g-8a) in 20 playoff games, as the team advanced to the Kelly Cup semifinals last season. The Troy, Mich., native played at Ohio State for four years from 2003-07 and served as the Buckeyes’ captain during his senior year. He totaled 87 points (28g-59a) in 157 college games. I had a chance to catch up with Collins after the Flyers game. #62 has now played 13 games for the Caps this year and has a goal and an assist.
WNST: How does it feel to be at the NHL level?
Collins: It is awesome. It is better than I even expected. It is a great group of guys here and they made the transition much easier than I expected. It is going pretty well.
WNST: What kinds of things are the coaches telling you to do and not to do?
Collins: They pretty much just want me to keep it simple. The biggest thing I’ve noticed that fits in with our system is the forwards in this league are so good on our team and other teams so you can’t give them too much room. So just keeping tight gaps and not giving guys much space, making good strong outlet passes, and just trying to play steady.
WNST: You seem to have very good speed, is that your forte?
Collins: That has always been one of the best parts of my game – my skating. I feel like if you can keep up here, stick to the system, and keep it simple it makes things a lot easier.
WNST: Is it tough playing against the Flyers with their trap and trying to find the right pass?
Collins: They do a good job in the neutral zone. There are certain times where you get the puck as a defensemen and you don’t really have anyone to pass to so you just have to make a smart play off the boards or try and shoot it hard at someone so it is not icing and keep it out of the middle.
WNST: The Flyers have a reputation as a team that likes to go to the net. What was your strategy to deal with guys like Scott Hartnell and Scott Upshall who just pound the net?
Collins: It was definitely mentioned before the game that they are a team that is really good around the net and they go to the net hard so you just have to be on your toes. You can’t let anyone beat you to the net and around the net you have to make sure you are getting guys sticks and get good body position on them. We work on that in practice all of the time. So it is definitely a focal point when we play these guys.
WNST: You were paired with Shaone Morrisonn tonight. I know he had a lot of success when paired with Mike Green and you have a lot of that same speed that Green has. How is that pairing going?
Collins: I can’t speak for him but I love playing with Mo. He’s a really good veteran defenseman in this league and he’s done an amazing job of helping me out and talking to me in between shifts, before the period so he is definitely easy to play with.
WNST: Last question, what has been the biggest challenge for you coming up at this level?
Collins: The biggest challenge is the defensive zone gets pretty tough. There are some forwards that are big, strong, fast, and really good at taking the puck to the net. Also, the fact that you can’t take any shifts off, and I’m not saying that I ever really did, but if you fall asleep for a second there is a good chance you could get scored on. So that is what I am working on, staying focused and coming to play every shift.
New Weekly Caps Show Coming to Comcast
The Washington Capitals – who are enjoying significant increases in attendance and television ratings – will launch a weekly, 30-minute television show on Comcast SportsNet in response to fans’ increased appetite for information on the team. Capitals Red Line Monday presented by Geico is a fast-paced, behind-the-scenes look at the team and will debut on Comcast SportsNet on Feb. 9 at 9:30 p.m.
Each of the eight shows will consist of nine segments lasting between one and three minutes each. These segments also will be featured on CSN’s SportsNite, available on WashingtonCaps.com and through a special Capitals Red Line Monday video widget and some segments will be shown on video board at Caps games. Each episode also will be replayed on Comcast SportsNet and through On Demand where available.
“This show is a testament to our fans and the passion and energy that they have for the Caps,” said Tim McDermott, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Washington Capitals. “You can only create shows like this if your fan base is strong, growing and passionate, and that is exactly what is happening with the Caps and hockey in D.C.”
The nine primary segments are designed to bring Caps fans and casual sports fans closer to the hottest team in Washington, D.C. Some media have dubbed the Capitals the “coolest team in professional sports,” and Capitals Red Line Monday will show you why. The show is a combination of efforts between the Capitals, Comcast SportsNet and Starbridge Media Group Media Incorporated.
“It is an exciting time in our long-term relationship with the Washington Capitals,” said Rebecca Schulte, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. “Comcast SportsNet has seen a record-breaking increase in our live Capitals game ratings because of the success of this young team. Capitals Red Line Monday gives our viewers additional original sports programming, providing them a unique look at one of their favorite local teams.”
The nine segments include Caps Bling, which will give fans the inside look at the players off the ice, showing their homes, cars, collections and passions away from the rink. Who I Am will be a series of questions in a casual setting offering fans a quick, fun look inside the player’s personality. Ask a Cap will give the fans an opportunity to get Caps players’ opinion on their questions. There will be a couple of guest appearances by kid reporter Brady Boudreau, the 9-year-old son of Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau who is known for his tough line of questioning.
The FAN-ATIC segment, presented by The Greene Turtle, will showcase some of the Capitals’ colorful fan base, while Forces of Hockey, presented by American Service Center, will compare occurrences in everyday life with what takes place during the world’s fastest sport. For example, does getting checked by Alex Ovechkin feel like getting hit by a car going 20 mph?
Caps Classics will replay great moments in Caps history, highlighting memorable goals, players and seasons. Ted’s Take will be an Andy Rooney-style segment with Capitals chairman and majority owner Ted Leonsis providing his opinions and insight.
Hockey Insider will give the fans the exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Caps organization, the scouts, website producer, athletic trainer, equipment manager and more. Caps Kids will showcase the area’s amateur hockey talent.
Original show listings dates and times:
Monday, Feb. 9 at 9:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet
Monday, Feb. 16 at 9:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet
Monday, Feb. 23 at 9:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet
Monday, March 9 at 7 p.m. Comcast SportsNet
Monday, March 16 at 9:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet
Monday, March 30 at 9:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet
Monday, April 6 at 9:30 p.m. Comcast SportsNet
Week of April 13 TBD Comcast SportsNet
That is it for tonight, time for me to go watch how Mats Sundin’s season debut with the Vancouver Canucks is going in Edmonton. Thursday night I will have my mid-season Caps grades just like I did last year. This year you can bet the grades will be VERY high given the teams success so far despite lots of injuries to several different players.