8pm – I’m getting a little bit of a late start on this but this is going to be a Hockey Night in Ellicott City running blog tonight with the Caps – Blue Jackets the first order of business and then the late game on the NHL Network between Vancouver and Calgary. I welcome any comments that are hockey or sports related.
Here are my thoughts on the Caps – Blue Jackets first period:
15 shots allowed by the Caps, TOO MANY! They are really struggling on the road right now and if not for some stellar goaltending by Brent Johnson this would be a bigger Columbus lead. The Caps power play is 0 for 2 and needs to wake up tonight. It took until the 3rd game for Karl Alzner to make a major rookie mistake as a deflected pass of his led to a Kristian Huselius breakaway that was thwarted by Johnny and the goal post. Huselius is a very good first half of the season player but he will disappear come mid January when the intensity around the league goes up and he becomes a floater extraordinaire…just ask any Calgary fan or Mike Keenan. Let’s hope the second period is better because the Caps were WAY TOO LOOSE in that opening stanza. Raffi Torres had the only goal on a rebound point shot that was the result of a clean lost faceoff by Boyd Gordon of the Caps.
801pm – The Caps are on Comcast SportsNet Plus tonight and not in HD. Personally I think the name should be changed to Comcast SportsNet Minus because hockey not in HD is just nowhere near as good.
806pm – Alex Ovechkin seems to have energy tonight but I’m waiting for some other guys in white to show up. Karl Alzner just banged up his left arm, let’s hope he isn’t hurt bad and it is just a stinger.
808pm – One other remaining comment from the first period, somebody tell Michael Nylander to shoot the puck!
810pm – The Caps just had several chances on a power play and shortly after but can’t hit the net on three good opportunities…now they are taking a penalty…UH OH…
829pm – Alzner continues his rough night…instead of dumping the puck in the Columbus zone he opts to try and go by two Blue Jackets but turns the puck over and Columbus comes back 2 on 2 but the problem is Nicklas Backstrom is now on defense and Rick Nash beats Johnson off the post. Bad play by Alzner, he nees to stay at home in a 1-0 game.
843pm – Another road period is in the books and the Caps trail 2-0. They outshot Columbus 8-7 that period but failed to score. The Caps are 35 seconds into their 4th power play and still can’t get it done. It is time for some guys other than Ovechkin to shoot the puck because this power play is getting easy to defend. I’m calling out Nylander, Backstrom, and Viktor Kozlov to get the puck on net and past Blue Jacket goalie Steve Mason. Speaking of Mason, he is pretty big at six foot three but the Caps are making him look good by continually missing the net with their shots.
848pm – Here are some thoughts on other things going on around the league: Brian Burke is finally officially announced as the Leafs GM in a move that has been obvious since sometime last season and was even more solidified this June when Ron Wilson was named Leafs coach. Tampa Bay is the only other Southeast Division Team in action tonight and they don’t start until 9pm and play in Colorado against the Avs. I see Tomas Vanek of Buffalo has two goals tonight and now leads the league with 17 jumping past Jeff Carter who is also in action with the Flyers who are losing 3-2 after two periods at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.
856pm – Another PP comes and goes and only Ovechkin and Fleischmann shoot the puck although Flash also passed up a good chance in front and chose to pass before his late PP shot.
900pm – Mason makes a big save on Ovechkin…15 minutes left, is any other Cap going to show up tonight other than #8 and Johnson?
902pm – On a 3 on 2 Blue Jacket rush the Caps get a huge glove save by Johnson on a Mike Commodore shot to keep this a two goal game.
905pm – I’m not sure what is going on with Shaone Morrisonn but he is really struggling and has another poor defensive zone shift. Perhaps #26 is not fully recovered from his recent lower body injury??
911pm – Former Ohio State Buckeye Dave Steckel gets a great scoring chance on a super pass from Bryan Helmer but fans on the shot.
913pm – Brooks Laich is playing defense and Karl Alzner has only 13:32 of ice time. Perhaps Alzner’s arm injury has ended his night?? Caps now get their fifth PP of the game with under 8 minutes left.
915pm – Game pretty much over as Backstrom turns the puck over and Nash is off to the races on a shorthanded breakaway and beats Johnson on the backhand through the five hole. As I said earlier, this PP stinks right now because all it is designed to do is have Ovechkin shoot from the point. The other guys are non threats and it is painful to watch. 3-0 Blue Jackets and another bad Caps road game.
920pm – Alzner still on the bench but hasn’t played this period. He did get banged up and is -2 on the evening. Let’s hope the injury is minor and Boudreau is just being cautious and giving ice time to guys who are having a better evening.
924pm – Ovechkin’s bid to keep his 10 game scoring streak goes out the window when Kozlov doesn’t even hit the net on a beautiful cross ice feed from the Great #8. It appears 7 games in 11 nights has finally caught up for Washington. 3-0 final, Brent Johnson deserved better from his team tonight. Ovechkin was the only other Cap who came to play, the rest of them need to dig deeper. But in all fairness to this team the injuries are really taking its toll but overcoming adversity is a big part of sports. Perhaps on Tuesday against Florida one or more of the top line guys (Alexander Semin or Mike Green) can get back in the lineup.
954pm – Boudreau confirms that Alzner is banged up and was not playing because of injury, not due to any poor decisions. In fact, Boudreau said he told the defensemen to try and take some chances because he could see it was going to be difficult to get a shot by Mason, especially since the Blue Jacket goalie was seeing the puck because Washington was not going to the net to create traffic (Boudreau was obviously miffed about Mason getting clean looks). The Caps coach also said that Ovechkin was just missing his chances by a hair. Caps now 13-8-3 overall and fall to 4-8-2 on the road. By the way, there will be no TV on Tuesday’s game vs. Florida but I will be there. If there is interest in a live blog please let me know via comments.
1000pm – Time to switch to NHL network for Hockey Night in Canada. Flames vs. Canucks and I get to see my other favorite NHL player along with Ovechkin – Jarome Iginla of Calgary.
1002pm – Tampa is getting smoked 3-0 in Colorado early in the 2nd period. I love seeing that team lose because that ownership group seems to have no clue what they are doing.
1007pm – Henry Burris, the Grey Cup MVP for the Calgary Stampeders from last Sunday night, is out on the ice firing up the Flames fans. Since the CFL was once here in Baltimore when Peter Tagilabue wanted us to build a museum instead of a new stadium I will not disparage that league. The Stallions helped keep football alive here in Baltimore until we got the Ravens and we all know how well that has turned out.
1012pm – The picture on the NHL Network is not in HD but it is MUCH better than the view of the Caps game on Comcast SportsNet Plus tonight. I know this game is on in HD all across Canada so perhaps that is a reason for the better picture even despite it not coming through in HD on my cable box.
1016pm – Brandon Prust of Calgary knocks over one of the Sedin sisters for Vancouver (Daniel) and the Canucks get the game’s first power play. The Sedins are unrestricted free agents after this season and have played together since they were kids. Whatever team wants both of them will get a discount. Comment: I have no desire to see these two in Washington and don’t worry there is no chance of that. Perhaps Brian Burke, the guy who drafted them in Vancouver will go after them again now that he has total control in Toronto?? Probably not, they wouldn’t be liked too much in the Big Smoke where skilled players who aren’t very gritty are not popular.
1047pm – So I’ve now watched four periods of hockey and have yet to see a goal from my two most watched NHL teams (Caps and Flames). Speaking of scoring, I see Tim Tebow had another monster game for the Florida Gators as they routed the Florida State Criminoles, 45-15 in the rain in Tallahasse. I think they will smoke Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide next week in the SEC title game at the Georgia Dome and then win the BCS Championship, which right now appears likely to be against Oklahoma and former Gator defensive coordinator Bob Stoops.
1052pm – The guys on HNIC are talking about the injuries to the goaltenders. Ron Maclean, Kelly Hrudey, and my least favorite analyst, Mike Milbury, are discussing this and Hrudey says the up and down nature of the game is causing more injuries to the net minders. Milbury is now talking about defensemen getting hurt and says a small amount of interference should be allowed to protect defenders from getting run into the glass. I heard Rob Blake on HNIC radio with Jeff Marek this week talking about how he has changed his game going into the corners to account for the lack of interference and he says the best strategy is to slow down and allow the forward to get close to you so that when they hit you there is less chance of a high impact against the hard glass that is found in most buildings. Blake also says the veterans know how to get away with just enough interference to routinely save their defensive partners.
1114pm – Iginla is denied by Canuck goalie Cory Schneider on a two on one with Dion Phaneuf. Alex Burrows tries to play Magic Johnson with the puck and gets a penalty…perhaps the Calgary PP will finally connect??
1119pm – A quick score check shows the Lightning, who pulled Olie Kolzig after he gave up 3 goals on 10 shots in the first period, have now come back and only trail the Avs 4-3 with 2:16 left in the game.
1130pm – The Lightning lose. Still no goals in this Flames-Canucks game but it is getting chippy. These 2 teams don’t like each other so I am not surprised the tempo is picking up.
1134pm – The San Jose Sharks rally from an early 2-0 hole and beat the Phoenix Coyotes, 3-2, to run their record to a staggering 20-3-1…those guys are good.
1136pm – Finally a GOAL as Dion Phaneuf fires a power play point shot that is redirected by Daymond Langkow into the net. David Moss was screening in front. 1-0 Calgary with 38 seconds left in period two.
1144pm – Hey, I actually agree with Milbury on something as HNIC shows a clip of the arrogant Ron Wilson accosting the media today for asking what he calls “dumb questions” to his players about being traded. Milbury called Wilson rude, and that was being nice. Wilson’s buddy Burke is now the GM, and Brian basically said no trades until after Christmas, so I guess Ron feels like he can go back to being his arrogant self now that he is secure. Wilson is a good defensive hockey coach but he has never learned that his ridiculous comments to the media fire the other team up and make him look foolish. How many Cap fans can forget the “We’ll beat them all 7 in Pittsburgh” line back in April of 2000? Before Wilson opened his mouth Jaromir Jagr had his bags packed for the World Championships and the Pens then knocked off Washington in just five games. Wilson also put his foot in his mouth back in 2004 when his Sharks lost to the Flames in the Western Conference finals.
1202am – Schneider makes another fantastic save robbing Mike Cammalleri in the slot and has stopped 22 of 23 shots he’s faced. The former Boston College goalie is playing his first NHL game and has been great.
1206am – I jinxed Schneider as he gives up a five hole goal to David Moss and the Flames make it 2-0.
1215am – Kyle Wellwood cuts the Flames lead in half after one timing a Jannick Hansen pass behind Calgary goalie Mikka Kiprusoff. 8 minutes to go in this one goal game.
1223am – This game is finally getting really good with lots of skating and scoring chances. Speaking of skating, Matthew Lombardi of Calgary has been on the verge of being a top six forward for several years but he just can’t stay healthy.
1229am – Willie Mitchell turns the puck over in the neutral zone and the great Iginla comes down and sets up Lombardi for an easy goal and the Flames go up 3-1. Only 1 minute to go and it looks like the Flames will sweep this home and home series.
1231am – Robyn Regehr hammers Henrik Sedin into the boards and the fireworks start with Taylor Pyatt jumping on Regehr and all skaters on the ice involved in a scrum. 5 seconds left, Regehr and Pyatt each get five for fighting. Calgary is now only one point behind the Canucks in the Northwest Division. Minnesota is tied with the Flames and only one point back as well.
1233am – That’s it for live hockey tonight. My final thoughts on the night: The Caps need to get healthy but they also need to make some changes to their power play if Green and Semin are going to be out for a few more games. They need to get another active point shot and the logical choice is Sami Lepisto who needs to think more shot and less trying to set up Ovechkin. The Caps also need to get someone to crash the net. Time for Brooks Laich to camp out in front and perhaps Eric Fehr? Bruce Boudreau has tomorrow to think about it and then practice on Monday to get this power play going again.