Tag Archive | "nashville"

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Goaltending the Difference In Caps Loss to Canes

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

In hockey, you often hear the saying, “Goaltending is the great equalizer.”

Well, you could use that term to describe the first 30 minutes of the Caps-Hurricanes game on Tuesday night. Washington dominated the play, in what Coach Adam Oates called his team’s “best first 30 minutes of the season,” but thanks to some super goaltending by Carolina goalie Justin Peters and two short side goals allowed by Braden Holtby to Jeff Skinner, the Caps trailed 2-0 with just under nine minutes to go in period two.

At that point Washington was still in the game, but Mikhail Grabovski made a major no-no, turning the puck over at his own blue line and then subsequently compounded a bad situation by taking a tripping penalty. The Canes scored on the man advantage on a screened point shot and the energy came right out of the Capitals. Carolina would make it 4-0 shortly thereafter. Mike Green notched a third period power play goal, his first of the season, as the Caps worked hard in the final frame but they could not solve Peters anymore.

Peters was very good on this night, his positioning was solid, but he was also fortunate, too. Jason Chimera had a wide open layup early in the game but somehow fanned on what would have given the Caps a 1-0 lead and perhaps changed the complexion of the game. Washington had numerous other chances that they either shot wide or Peters just happened to be in a spot where the puck hit him. He’s a streaky goalie and on Tuesday he was on (26 saves).

As for Holtby, this was not his night. Early on, an end over end puck that was shot from just inside the blue line hit the crossbar providing some foreshadowing for the tough night #70 would have. Holtby would be the first to tell you that he should have had both of Skinner’s goals. In the course of 82 games you are going to have bad outings and this just happened to be one of those for the young goaltender.

Despite the loss, the Caps improved play coming out of their zone since Dmitry Orlov joined the lineup on Saturday is encouraging. They are moving through the neutral zone with more speed and their puck possession in period one was excellent, as evidenced by their 23-14 advantage in attempted shots. Carolina was on their heels in the opening frame and Oates said the chances were 7-2 in his clubs favor.

The effort was there for the Caps in this contest and they skated well. This game was nothing like the Pittsburgh defeat where they were completely dominated by their opponent, so there is no need to go all “doom and gloom” after this loss.

The Capitals did a lot of good things in this game.

But goaltending, good at one end and subpar at the other end, can be the “great equalizer.”

That’s the way it went for the Capitals on Tuesday in their 4-1 loss to Carolina.

Notes: Holtby was yanked after 40 minutes and Philip Grubauer made nine saves on nine shots in the final period…John Carlson, who should make Team USA for the 2014 Olympics, was the Caps ice time leader at 22:58…Tom Wilson had a solid game and logged 10:44. #43 had 5 hits…the Caps were 1 for 5 on the power play while Carolina went 1 for 4… Washington is off until Saturday, when they host the Nashville Predators.

 

 

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McPhee Takes Big Risk With Erat for Forsberg Trade

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McPhee Takes Big Risk With Erat for Forsberg Trade

Posted on 03 April 2013 by Ed Frankovic

For all of those people in Caps land who say that George McPhee is not a risk taker, you have no case after today.

The Capitals GM basically went all in on his current team and perhaps his job today, by moving top prospect, Filip Forsberg (1st round pick in 2012), to Nashville in return for 31 year old winger Martin Erat and minor league center, Michael Latta. After the Caps picked up five points in three road games combined with the collapse of the Winnipeg Jets and the Carolina Hurricanes ahead of them in the Southeast Division, it became pretty clear that McPhee’s team has a great chance to win the division, grab the number three seed in the Eastern Conference, and perhaps get a favorable matchup in round one of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

It is a move that could net his owner millions of dollars in playoff revenues which would likely get McPhee and his staff not only a playoff bonus, but a contract extension (it is believed McPhee is in the final year of his current contract). As I’ve blogged recently, most fans focus on the “winning a championship” aspect of sports and are only emotionally invested in those teams. But for those in the game, it is their livelihood and as a result, the short term survival route is often the one chosen over what might appear to be the smarter long term plan.

That is what happened here today with the Caps. Washington needs to make the playoffs from a business and personal standpoint for those involved with the club and therefore, McPhee was going to do whatever he was allowed to do to increase the probability his team makes the postseason. If he doesn’t make the playoffs, there is a very good chance he would no longer be the General Manager of the Washington Capitals next season.

From a strictly hockey standpoint, this trade appears to favor the Nashville Predators. Forsberg is believed to be a potential long term top six forward in the NHL. He was the third forward drafted in the first round last season (11th pick overall) and many felt the Caps hit a “home run” when the Swedish right wing fell to Washington when a run on defensemen occurred at the top of the draft. This player could turn out to be an elite one based on input from people I’ve talked to around the league. Of course, the Caps, having drafted and watched him play quite a bit this season, likely know the ins and outs of the young player that other teams may not know about. In addition, the Capitals also have two talented young forwards already in their system in Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson (2012 1st round pick, 16th overall). With Alexander Ovechkin signed long term and Troy Brouwer inked for three more years, the Caps clearly had an abundance of right wings so perhaps in order to get a top six left wing they felt that Forsberg was the best asset to move in order to acquire Erat? After all, you do have to give up something to get something decent in return.

That brings us to Erat, the return on Forsberg (for all intensive purposes Latta is pretty much an AHLer). The speedy and shifty left wing has not had a good year (21 points in 36 games) on a Preds club that struggles to score and it was no secret that Erat had requested to be moved. The question is can he become energized again and produce at a higher level like he did in his previous seasons with Nashville? Washington is banking on that with him likely sliding into the top line left wing spot with Ovechkin on right wing and Nicklas Backstrom at center. Who wouldn’t be energized by playing with those guys?

This trade, unlike some other deadline deals, was not a rental move by McPhee. While they gave up Forsberg, they get Erat under contract for this season and the next two after that at $4.5M against the salary cap. As expected, center Mike Ribeiro was not dealt and he will test free agency in the summer and likely find a higher bidder, so the Caps had to hedge against going down another top six forward.

The question is did McPhee get enough in return for Forsberg in Erat? Based on what I saw in other trades and people I’ve talked to in and around the league, Washington paid a big price for the lefthanded shooting winger.

But the price may not matter, especially if Erat starts scoring playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom and the Capitals win the Southeast Division. In that case no matter what happens with Forsberg long term, it is a success for Leonsis and McPhee. However, if the Caps miss the playoffs while Forsberg turns out to be an elite player down the road, this trade will be pointed to and ridiculed for many years by Capitals fans and those around the game. It would become worse than Jorgen Pettersson for Doug Jarvis, and that would be saying something.

McPhee took a big risk today, no matter how you slice it. But he had no choice since the Caps have to make the playoffs. Standing pat was an even worse option given the lack of depth and the need for a top six forward.

So the general manager did what he had to do individually and for his team. McPhee put himself out there and now his club needs to deliver for him. The Southeast Division and a nice playoff matchup is there for the taking. Adding Erat should be enough to put the Capitals over the top. But if it doesn’t, then you can bet changes will be coming.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: I will be on with Drew Forrester on the Morning Reaction at 745am talking Caps and the NHL trade deadline. Listen Live via WNST.NET

 

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Capitals announce preseason schedule

Posted on 12 June 2012 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have released their 2012 preseason schedule, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today. The schedule features seven games against four opponents and includes three games at Verizon Center. The Capitals will face-off against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second-annual Baltimore Hockey Classic at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore on September 26.

Washington will open the preseason on Tuesday, Sept. 25 (7 p.m.), at Verizon Center in a rematch of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. the Boston Bruins. The Capitals will begin their preseason road schedule on Sunday, Sept. 30 (5 p.m.), at Detroit versus the Red Wings.

The team’s preseason home schedule includes the Nashville Predators on Friday, Oct. 5 (7 p.m.), and Detroit on Sunday, Oct. 7 (5 p.m.). In addition, Washington will play exhibition games on the road against Columbus on Monday, Oct. 1 (7 p.m.), and at Boston on Wednesday, Oct. 3 (7 p.m.).

The Capitals were 3-3-1 in the preseason last year, and their all-time preseason record is 143-115-29-10.

Each preseason game will be broadcast live on WashingtonCaps.com. The complete 2012-13 NHL regular season schedule will be released at a later date.

2012 WASHINGTON CAPITALS PRESEASON SCHEDULE
DATE VISITOR HOME TIME (ET)
TUES., SEPT. 25 BRUINS CAPITALS 7 PM
WED., SEPT. 26** BLUE JACKETS** CAPITALS** 7 PM**
SUN., SEPT. 30 CAPITALS RED WINGS 5 PM
MON., OCT. 1 CAPITALS BLUE JACKETS 7 PM
WED., OCT. 3 CAPITALS BRUINS 7 PM
FRI., OCT. 5 PREDATORS CAPITALS 7 PM
SUN., OCT. 7 RED WINGS CAPITALS 5 PM

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I Answer Your Questions About Orioles Road Trip, Ravens Draft, College Lacrosse, More

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I Answer Your Questions About Orioles Road Trip, Ravens Draft, College Lacrosse, More

Posted on 25 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

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Baltimore Hockey Classic Officially Set For September 26

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Baltimore Hockey Classic Officially Set For September 26

Posted on 20 April 2012 by WNST Staff

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second Baltimore Hockey Classic presented by W.R. Grace on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012, at 7 p.m. at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Capitals general manager George McPhee, 1st Mariner Arena/SMG general manager Frank Remesch and president of the Baltimore City Council Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced today.

“We are excited to return to Baltimore,” said Capitals president Dick Patrick. “The overwhelming support from the city of Baltimore and our fans in Maryland made this decision to return for a second-consecutive season an easy one.”

Last year’s inaugural Baltimore Hockey Classic, which featured the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals kicking off the Capitals’ 2011-12 preseason schedule, sold out as the capacity crowd of 11,082 fans enjoyed the first professional hockey game played in Baltimore since 1997.

Every Washington Capitals full-season account holder will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the Baltimore Hockey Classic presented by W.R. Grace beginning Friday, April 20, at 10 a.m. Details on ticket availability and pricing will be sent to full season-ticket holders when they become available. All other fans interested in attending the event are encouraged to purchase their tickets when they go on sale on Monday, April 23, at 10 a.m.

The Capitals clinched their fifth-straight playoff berth in 2011-12, marking the longest streak of playoff appearances in franchise history since their 14-straight postseason trips from the 1982-83 season through 1995-96. The streak of five straight playoff appearances is tied for the fourth-longest active playoff streak in the NHL. For the third consecutive year, the Capitals sold out all of their homes games and set a club record with 147 consecutive sellouts dating back to 2008-09 (including playoffs). Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin finished the 2011-12 season ranked fifth in the NHL with 38 goals and scored his 30th goal of the season on March 18 in Chicago to become the ninth player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first seven seasons in the league.

The Washington Capitals called Landover, Md., home from 1974-1997. They played their home games at the Capital Centre before moving to downtown Washington, D.C., for the 1997-98 season.

From 1981-1993, Baltimore was home to the Skipjacks, a minor league affiliate that began in the Atlantic Coast Hockey League and then moved to the American Hockey League. The Jacks were affiliated with the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals before moving to Portland, Maine, after the 1992-93 season. Former Capitals legends Don Beaupre and Olie Kolzig, to name a few, spent some of their minor league careers in Baltimore. The Baltimore Bandits, AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks, played at 1st Mariner Arena from 1995-97.

The 1st Mariner Arena, formerly the Baltimore Arena, is Baltimore’s largest indoor venue and entertainment facility and has long been considered an anchor that contributed to the growth and prosperity of Baltimore. The arena opened in 1962 and was the cornerstone of the Baltimore Inner Harbor redevelopment. It hosts an average of 130 events and more than a half million guests come through the turnstiles annually.

For more information on The Baltimore Classic presented by W.R. Grace or 1st Mariner Arena, please visit www.WashingtonCaps.com or www.1stMarinerArena.com.

 

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 09 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Boxing-Brandon Rios vs. Richard Abril/Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Sergey Fedchenko (Saturday 9pm from Las Vegas live on Pay-Per-View), Friday Night Fights-Michael Katsidis vs. Albert Mensah (Friday 11pm from Las Vegas live on ESPN2); Women’s College Lacrosse: Virginia Tech @ Maryland (Saturday 12:30pm Ludwig Field); Tennis: ATP Tour U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship (Saturday 1pm Sunday 2pm from Houston live on Tennis Channel); Soccer: MLS DC United @ New England Revolution (Saturday 4pm from Foxborough, MA live on Comcast SportsNet); Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 5:30pm Du Burns Arena)

10. Kaiser Chiefs (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Rodney Atkins (Wednesday 7pm Rams Head Live), The Ting Tings (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Ballyhoo (Saturday 6pm Recher Theatre); Nada Surf (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), All-American Rejects (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Robert Randolph & The Family Band (Friday 11pm Howard Theater) Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) (Saturday 11:30pm Howard Theater), The Roots (Sunday 9pm Monday 8pm Howard Theater); The Bacon Brothers (Friday & Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere); Alison Krauss & Union Station (Saturday 7:30pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Cris Jacobs (Thursday 9pm Whiskey 1803 Annapolis), Local H (Saturday 9pm Whiskey 1803); Blues Traveler (Sunday 8pm State Theatre); Counting Crows “Underwater Sunshine (or what we did on our summer vacation)”, Alabama Shakes “Boys & Girls” & Florence & The Machine “MTV Unplugged” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Robert Randolph Robert Randolph Robert Randolph Robert Randolph. He’s my friend…

I remember seeing Blues Traveler a few years back at Power Plant Live on a Friday night. I swear to God I sang along to every word, even when they did Sublime…

Alabama Shakes TORE UP the stage at RHL Saturday night. I’m so all in on their record…

And I both enjoy FATM and I enjoy MTV Unplugged. How could this get better? What, could Florence Welch combine with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age to cover “Jackson” by Johnny Cash???

9. Jim Norton (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Jim Breuer (Friday & Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Corey Holcomb (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); David Sedaris (Thursday 7:30pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); “Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); “The Three Stooges” out in theaters (Friday); The Gathering (Friday 5pm Baltimore Museum of Industry); 16th Annual City Paper Brew Fest (Saturday 1pm Broadway Square Fells Point)

Judge me all you want. I still giggle about Jim Breuer in Half Baked…

Also of note in this-Stooges looks terrible and I’d go to The Gathering for THIS from Miss Shirley’s…

And Brew Fest? If I were to end up in Fells Saturday afternoon I would ABSOLUTELY end up spending too much time “sampling” this…


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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 20 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Soccer-Cuba @ US Under-23 Men (Thursday 9pm from Nashville live on Universal Sports Network), Canada @ US Under-23 Men (Saturday 9pm from Nashville live on Universal Sports), El Salvador @ US Under-23 Men (Monday 9pm from Nashville live on Universal Sports), MLS-DC United @ Vancouver Whitecaps (Saturday 10pm from Vancouver live on Comcast SportsNet); Tennis: ATP Tour WTA Tour Sony Ericsson Open (Saturday-Monday 11am from Miami live on Tennis Channel); Boxing: Friday Night Fights-Antwone Smith vs. Roberto Garcia (Friday 9pm from Pharr, TX live on ESPN2), ShoBox-Diego Magdaleno vs. Eduardo Lazcano (Friday 11pm from Tucson, AZ live on Showtime), Erik Morales vs. Danny Garcia (Saturday 10pm from Houston live on HBO), Zab Judah vs. Vernon Paris (Saturday 10pm from New York live on NBC Sports Network); Mixed Martial Arts: Bellator Fighting Championships 62 (Friday 8pm from Laredo, TX live on MTV2)

10. The Head And The Heart (Tuesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Crack The Sky (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Adema (Wednesday 7pm Recher Theatre); Psychedelic Furs (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Phil Vassar (Wednesday 6pm & 9pm Rams Head on Stage); Gotye (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club), Fatboy Slim (Friday 9pm 9:30 Club), The Joy Formidable (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Fiona Apple (Wednesday 9pm Sixth & I Historic Synagogue); Kevin Eubanks (Thursday-Sunday Blues Alley); Angelique Kidjo (Saturday 8pm Lisner Auditorium); ShamrockFest feat. Dropkick Murphys, Gavin Degraw, Carbon Leaf (Saturday RFK Stadium); The Shins “Port of Morrow” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Here’s a truth. The Head and The Heart had one of the ABSOLUTE best songs of 2011…

Gotye is the band whose name you have NO IDEA how to pronounce but you just can’t get out of your head…

Fiona Apple once did a video in her underwear. It was awkward because 14 year old Glenn was both aroused and terribly disturbed…

I saw The Shins on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure I was into them. I’m into them.

9. Ralphie May (Friday 8pm Lisner Auditorium); Bret Ernst (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Pablo Francisco (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” & “The Muppets” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); “The Hunger Games” opens in theaters (Friday); Beer, Bourbon & BBQ (Friday & Saturday Timonium Fairgrounds)

I will be at BBBBQ Saturday morning with my “Reality Check Players” partner John Collingsworth. If you intended to do something with me at some point during the day Saturday understand…well…just be prepared for anything.

I’ll be giving away a pair of tickets to Friday night on Tuesday and Wednesday on “The Reality Check.” Not sure if Beer, Bourbon & BBQ is an event for you? I have a simple question. Does this look like something you’d enjoy?

What about this?

See you this weekend.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 16 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Wake Forest @ Maryland (Thursday 7pm Comcast Center), Maryland @ Duke (Sunday 3:30pm from Durham, NC live on ESPNU); Golf: PGA Tour Humana Challenge (Thursday & Friday 3pm Saturday & Sunday 4pm from La Quinta, CA live on Golf Channel), Champions Tour Mitsubishi Electric Championship (Friday 6:30pm Saturday & Sunday 7:30pm from Ka’upulehu-Kona, HI live on Golf Channel); Boxing: Eddie Chambers vs. Sergei Liakhovic (Saturday 9pm from Philly live on NBC Sports Network); High School Basketball: Woodlawn @ Perry Hall (Wednesday 6:30pm), Milford Mill @ Perry Hall (Friday 7pm)

10. Dru Hill (Saturday 7pm Rams Head Live); Taproot (Saturday 6:30pm Recher Theatre); Jimi Haha (Thursday 8pm 8×10 Club); Aimee Mann (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Ozomatli (Saturday 9pm 9:30 Club); Bryan Adams (Monday 8pm Strathmore)

For those of us in Charm City, Sisqo and the boys from Dru Hill are a bit of royalty-even if they’re not really all that famous anymore.  They were so freaking awesome in the mid-90′s…

I heart Jimi Haha-and not just because I beat the Jimmie’s Chicken Shack/Jarflys frontman a few weeks ago in “Everybody Beats Glenn”…

You’ve probably heard some Ozomatli, even if you don’t think you have…

I love Bryan Adams. So sue me.

9. Adam Carolla (Saturday 8pm & 10pm Fillmore Silver Spring); “Haywire” out in theaters (Friday)

Adam Carolla is a funny hombre. I LOVED him with Dr. Drew on “Loveline”, but I think I loved Crank Yankers even more…

I don’t know if you’d call me “excited” about the pending release of Haywire, but I AM excited about posting another new picture of Gina Carano…

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 27 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Terrapin Classic Lafayette @ Maryland (Wednesday 12pm Comcast Center), Delaware/ECU @ Maryland (Thursday 7pm Comcast Center); Boxing: Jermain Taylor vs. Jessie Nicklow (Friday 11pm from Cabazon, CA live on Showtime); High School Basketball: Gilman Bristow Tournament feat. Gilman, Mt. Carmel, Coppin Academy (Tuesday & Wednesday Gilman School)

10. Dark Star Orchestra (Wednesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Halestorm (Thursday 6:30pm Rams Head Live), Child’s Play (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live); Rusted Root (Friday 8pm Recher Theatre); SOJA (Saturday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Matisyahu (Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Drive-By Truckers (Thursday-Saturday 9:30 Club); Charlie Wilson/Melanie Fiona (Thursday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center-Lyric Opera House); The Roots (Thursday & Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Little Feat (Saturday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Wale (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); The Wailers (Thursday 7pm State Theatre); Downtown Countdown feat. Carbon Leaf (Saturday 9pm Hyatt Regency); Downtown Countdown DC feat. Third Eye Blind/Dirty Heads (Saturday 9pm Washington Hilton)

I saw SOJA open for O.A.R. at Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer. Not only did I sense I would enjoy their music, I also sensed there was no possible way these guys ever used any marijuana…

You might have missed it at the end of the year, but The Roots’ “Undun” was one of the best records of the last 12 months…

This is the part of T10BD where we listen to Little Feat play “Fat Man in the Bathtub”…

Look, if I WASN’T an obsessed 3eb fan, I’d tell you that.

9. Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular (Saturday 9pm Inner Harbor); Jeff Dunham (Wednesday 7:30pm 1st Mariner Arena); Archer Season 2 available on DVD (Tuesday); Tournament of Roses Parade (Monday 11am from Pasadena, CA live on ABC)

Just for the record, my services are available for NYE at the moment. I have no current commitments.

What services can I offer on NYE? I guess you could say I’m a bit like the moose from Family Guy…

(Continued on Page 2)

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Red Light District Returns for Caps Young Guns

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Red Light District Returns for Caps Young Guns

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Ed Frankovic

“Your best players need to be your best players.”

You hear that saying from coaches a lot, but it is ultra true, and on Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals, who used to live off of the efforts of their “Young Guns,” erupted for four goals in a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Alexander Oveckhin scored early on after a beautiful feed from Karl Alzner, Nicklas Backstrom followed that up with a sweet wraparound goal, and then Alexander Semin tallied on a sick top shelf wrister after one of his patented gaffes led to Nashville’s only goal in the third period. Troy Browuer closed out the scoring on the power play with #19 right next to him in front of the Predators cage. Michal Neuvirth (20 saves) was outstanding in net and for once the Capitals could breathe easier down the stretch and not have to hang on for dear life in a one goal victory.

Here are the highlights, quotes, and analysis from a win that improves the Caps to 17-14-1:

- This was a much needed offensive game for the Capitals after a pretty dismal display in Colorado on Saturday night. Washington can be very guilty of overhandling and overpassing of the puck but in the first period it was pretty clear that Coach Dale Hunter stressed the need to get the biscuit and bodies to the cage. The result was the Caps played their best first period in the Hunter era dominating a Predators team that is known for hard work and good defense. The shots were 11-4 for the good guys after the first frame and if not for some decent saves by Anders Lindback (19 saves total) this one would have been a blowout.

“I thought we came out well in the first period. We were ready to play and we took the play to them pretty good and we jumped on them early. We made a few mistakes in the third and gave up some scoring chances but I think the first set the tone for the game where the guys came out and played hard,” said Hunter.

- Solid coaching from Hunter tonight with his line combinations. #32 split up Ovechkin and Backstrom and that forced Predators Coach Barry Trotz to pick a line to play his top d-pair of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter against. Trotz chose the Backstrom-Semin-MJ90 unit and as a result Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, and Brouwer were able to go against a different defensive pairing. Alexander Ovechkin set the tone with his physical play and also credit coach Hunter for using the last change to his advantage and getting the Gr8 out against weaker d-man, John Blum, when he could. Ovechkin abused the young #7, who was recently recalled from the AHL, to spark his club. Alexander the Great had seven shots on goal in just over 15 minutes of ice time and he also had three hits.

“He’s a special player and he came out here scoring and hitting. He was a complete player tonight. Especially in the first [period], we needed a lift and he came out and played hard.”added Hunter.

“They {the Capitals} have two lines with {Nicklas} Backstrom and {Alexander} Semin and obviously the {Alex} Ovechkin line, so we’re pretty young on the back end and we had to split them {our defensemen} up tonight,” added the Predators coach, admitting that Hunter put him in a tough situation tactically, given Nashville’s defensive lineup.

- Neuvirth played his third straight game and appears to be regaining the form he had last season when he carried Washington in a lot of contests en route to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. #30 is saving over 92% of his shots while under Coach Hunter and will likely see the net again on Friday night in New Jersey. He had excellent positioning on Tuesday and did not allow many rebounds. He made several big stops, with one on Jordan Tootoo in the slot standing out in the third period. This is the kind of goaltending this club needs to get on a roll and gain confidence.

- One thing the Capitals have to improve on is their penchant for taking bad penalties. Washington was shorthanded five times and if not for some super penalty killing they could have lost the stranglehold they had on this contest at even strength. The infractions were as follows: too many men on the ice, a lazy boarding by Semin after he reached with his stick and got his skates tangled up with Tootoo, an Alzner puck over the glass for delay of game, a retaliatory cross check by Jason Chimera, and a careless slash by Joel Ward. Every one of those penalties did not take away a scoring chance for the Predators so they are BAD ones and show a lack of discipline. That needs to be cleaned up.

- Good things happen when you shoot the puck. In the second period Semin had a two on one rush with Marcus Johansson (two assists) and he tried to saucer a pass to MJ90 instead of firing away. In the final frame, after Semin turned the puck over at the blue line on the previous shift to allow the Preds to make it a one goal game, MJ90 gave Semin a beautiful drop pass and #28 fired off his back foot from a bad angle but it WENT IN. It was an incredible display of skill and it only shows that if he would just fire more we might see a return in production from him. In fact, the whole team needs to shoot more. Dennis Wideman’s simple power play blast that was batted home by Brouwer is another perfect example.

- So at the end of the night, Hunter’s Caps earned one of their better victories on the season. They came out hard, dictated the pace early on, and the Young Guns delivered. It was a game that gives hope of an offensive resurgence for this red light challenged team. The question now is can they keep it up and find some consistency or are they going to continue to be a one game on, one game off team? If they shoot the puck more, get to the opposing net with a passion, receive quality goaltending, and stay out of the penalty box then they will find themselves back near the top of the NHL standings. Easier said than done, though.

Notes: Mike Knuble was honored beforehand for his 1,000th NHL game. #22 played only 10:07 and didn’t attempt a shot on goal…Mike Green participated fully during the morning skate and appears close to a return. That would be a huge boost to this hockey team as the Caps are 8-0 when he plays…Jeff Schultz was the sixth defensemen and he didn’t look too good on one shift and barely played after that (6:01 total for the game)…Wideman led the Caps with 28:44 of ice time…Washington won the face-off battle, 35-23, after a subpar outing in Denver in that department on Saturday. Jeff Halpern, who played 18:05, was 14-5 from the dot.

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