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Caps Start 2013-14 With High Expectations Once Again

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Caps Start 2013-14 With High Expectations Once Again

Posted on 29 September 2013 by Ed Frankovic

It is awfully difficult to win a championship in professional sports but heading into 2013-14 that is once again the goal of the Washington Capitals, who have yet to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup since their inception in 1974. The Caps, who have made the playoffs the last six years, have another quality team as they prepare to open their season against the defending champs, the Chicago Blackhawks, in the Windy City on Tuesday night at 8pm on NBCSN.

On Sunday, Caps General Manager George McPhee made several moves to help put some clarity to the opening night roster culminating with a trade of center Matheiu Perreault to the Anaheim Ducks for a 4th round pick and AHLer John Mitchell. In addition, several players were sent to Hershey, including defenesemen Tyson Strachan and Dmitry Orlov. For now, here is what the Caps roster looks like:

Goalies (2): Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth

Defensemen (7): Mike Green, Karl Alzner, John Carlson, John Erskine, Jack Hillen, Steve Oleksy, and Connor Carrick

Forwards (14): Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Mikhail Grabovski, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer, Martin Erat, Tom Wilson, Eric Fehr, Joel Ward, Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera, Aaron Volpatti, and Michael Latta

The move of Perreault was predicted here last week and makes sense from a hockey and salary cap standpoint. This Caps team needed to get bigger and more powerful up front and Wilson’s outstanding camp made keeping him up with the main club, rather than shipping him back to a weaker league (OHL), an easy decision. The 19 year old, who was the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft, brings a dimension that this Washington team needs more of in the post season: size and the ability to score the tough goals in close. Six months with Coach Adam Oates and some highly talented teammates is what is needed for Wilson to continue his development, the OHL is just not going to help him get any better.

As for the rest of the squad, the strengths appear to be in goal and up front. Braden Holtby has established himself as a number one goalie and has the chance to move into the elite category with a very strong season. As McPhee told the media last Tuesday, to win the Stanley Cup you have to have great goaltending. #70 is the guy being counted on to deliver that, but Neuvirth is a more than capable net minder and will be needed to play well so that Washington can qualify for the post season in a very competitive Metropolitan Division.

At forward, the Capitals have some serious depth on the wings but still aren’t sure who is going to be the third line center. Backstrom has the first line locked up with Grabovski manning the second unit. The club could go with Beagle as the 3rd line center and Latta pivoting the 4th to start the season, but that depends on the health of the others, primarily Laich, who has been battling a hip flexor issue. Right wing is just loaded up with Ovechkin, Brouwer, Fehr, Wilson, and Ward. Both Fehr and Erat were tried at center this preseason by Oates with some success, so the head coach has lots of options. Johansson could play 3rd line center at some point too. The Caps have not had as talented a crew of forwards to start the season in many years and with the players they have there is lots of room for flexibility.

On defense, the top three is awfully good with Green, Alzner, and Carlson. After that, it gets dicey. Erksine was super last spring in the regular season but is he really a top 4 d-man? #4 will have a chance to prove it starting this week. Oleksy came out of seemingly nowhere to take a 3rd pair spot in the spring and Hillen overcame an early season injury to play a lot of quality minutes last year. Carrick was the biggest surprise of training camp, has great offensive skills and his hockey IQ is high. Learning to play defense in the NHL is harder than any other position so Washington has to be careful to not put too much on the 19 year old, who has incredible potential. The organization still has high hopes for Orlov, but given his injury situation last season, starting him in Hershey made too much sense. The 2009 2nd round pick will play top pair minutes in the AHL and can hone his craft for what appears to be an inevitable jump back to the NHL at some point during the 82 game season.

Special teams will be an important component of Washington’s success. Last season the Caps were #1 in the NHL with the power play (26.8%). You can expect it to remain at least top 5 and Oates and assistant coach Blaine Forsythe will continually be tweaking things to counter opposition tactics. As for the penalty kill, Laich stated on Tuesday that is one of the areas this Capitals club will have to improve in if they want to do well in the regular season and playoffs. The PK has been one of the team’s weaknesses the last few years and it was 27th out of 30 in 2012-13 with a success rate of only 77.9%.

In summary, the expectations are high for this Capitals team. The playoffs are not a given, but if this club can stay relatively healthy, then they have the talent to compete for the division title. Every team in the Metropolitan Division has its issues. The Penguins are the pick of many but their goaltending and team defense certainly has its question marks. Will the Rangers respond positively to a new coach in Alain Vigneault? How will the Devils do with the departure of Ilya Kovalchuk? The Flyers added Vinny Lecavalier but will Ray Emery or Steve Mason step up and be a top goalie in a pressure packed Philly market? Are the Islanders ready to take the next step up the ladder or was their playoff run last spring a one time deal? Is Columbus going to play like the team that nearly qualified for the post season last spring or the cellar dweller crew that started 2013? Finally, will Cam Ward returning in net for Carolina propel them to a winning season? Nothing is set in stone heading into the season and in the salary cap era every team has holes and/or issues. What is important is that the Capitals get off to a good start since coming from behind in the standings is not going to be as achievable as it was in the Southeast Division.

 

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Crosby’s Pens Too Good For Ovechkin’s Caps

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Crosby’s Pens Too Good For Ovechkin’s Caps

Posted on 19 March 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Caps fans may not like hearing this, but Sidney Crosby is one heck of a hockey player.

On the flip side, despite the constant bashing from clowns like Mike Milbury, Alexander Ovechkin is still a heck of a hockey player too.

On Tuesday night in Pittsburgh the two teams met in the Steel City and both players brought it in an exciting game. Ovechkin had a power play goal to give Washington the lead but Crosby answered back by setting up two goals. One of those setups, unfortunately for Washington, came after the Penguins had killed off a critical late four minute power play and they scored on the ensuing rush after a Capitals turnover to prevail, 2-1.

It was a crushing loss for the Caps who got Brooks Laich and Dmitry Orlov back in the lineup for the first time this season. The effort was good, but efforts don’t necessarily translate into points in the hockey world.

So now the Caps head to Winnipeg for a two game set with the Southeast Division leading Jets. Winnipeg has a nine point lead so Washington’s playoff chances continue to dwindle with the trade deadline set for two weeks from Wednesday (April 3).

The Caps will need to play hard like they did on Tuesday, but they also need to be more efficient. Their power play let them down and John Carlson continues to struggle with his passing at the point. A return of Mike Green would certainly be a boost to the man advantage situations. #52 is on the road trip.

At the end of the night, the hard work was there but the loss to the Penguins, who have now won 10 in a row, is a bitter one. Pittsburgh is a very good hockey team, even without Evgeny Malkin and Kris Letang, who are both out injured. Dan Bylsma has his club playing defensively as well as they have since they won the Stanley Cup in 2009. I am not sure how he turned a leaky blue line core around but part of the equation is the strong backchecking of their forwards. Pascal Dupuis’ late stick check on Ovechkin in the slot likely saved the victory. It is one example of how Pittsburgh is doing the little things in their own zone to thwart their opponents. Simply put, if the Pens keep playing like that, even Boston will have a hard time beating them in the Eastern Conference.

As for the Caps, well it was another lost game in a frustrating and disappointing lockout shortened campaign.

In the words of one Reg Dunlop, “We got a lot of losses.”

So Washington’s season is on the brink heading to Manitoba this weekend and if they don’t turn it around, the only way this loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday will be worth it, in my book, is if they end up winning the draft lottery and getting defensemen Seth Jones.

That’s asking a lot, but that’s what it takes to get over a Capitals loss to the Penguins these days.

 

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Caps Nightmare Season Continues With Debacle In Pittsburgh

Posted on 07 February 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Well, for 20 minutes it looked like the Caps were going to be able to hang with their archrival Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

But then bad penalties, lack of effort, and poor goaltending resurfaced and before you knew it, Sidney Crosby and company pumped in five second period goals to turn the contest into a laugher. Pittsburgh would finish with a 5-2 victory over the Caps at Consol Energy Center.

The Capitals are now 2-8-1. That is five points in nearly 25% of this shortened hockey season. The record is abysmal and it appears things aren’t going to get better any time soon because this team is just not very good. As I chronicled earlier in the season, they lack talent on offense and defense.

Now, in the last week or so, the goaltending has imploded. Michal Neuvirth got the start in the cage in this contest but after two soft second period goals, Coach Adam Oates had seen enough. In came Braden Holtby, who was promptly hung out to dry by some poor Capitals play and a lack of discipline. Washington took three penalties in the middle frame and the Penguins scored on each of those power plays. You will not win hockey games, at all, when you pile up penalties and fail to kill them off. The propensity to be whistled for infractions and weak penalty killing have been a factor in almost every Capitals loss through 11 games.

So what can the Capitals do going forward? Well, they need to play like they did in the opening frame for a full 60 minutes. In the first period the Caps were physical and worked hard. Alexander Ovechkin’s club was pressing the play and taking the body early on and Pittsburgh seemed to want no part of that. In addition, they also stayed out of the box, except for a very marginal holding call on Karl Alzner. It was an encouraging period, as the Pens only had five shots on goal.

However, in the middle stanza, it was clear the Penguins amped their game up and Washington just couldn’t compete with them. Pittsburgh’s talent level is far superior to the Capitals and once the guys in black started working hard, this one was over quickly.

So now a fierce rivalry that once existed and was one of the NHL’s best, seems to be fading away. The Penguins have Stanley Cup aspirations while Washington is falling apart.

It is extremely difficult to rebound from this start and still make the playoffs in a 48 game season. The NHL’s Eastern Conference is weak from top to bottom so there is still some hope, but right now the Caps are showing with their terrible play that they are more destined for the lottery and perhaps one of the top picks in the 2013 NHL draft, than a spot in the playoffs.

It has turned into a nightmare season very quickly, and there are still 37 games to go.

 

 

 

 

 

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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 03 April 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-Bellator Fighting Championships 64 (Friday 8pm from Windsor, Ontario, Canada live on MTV2); Women’s College Lacrosse: Maryland @ North Carolina (Saturday 3pm from Chapel Hill, NC live on ESPN3.com); Soccer: Team USA Women vs. Brazil (Tuesday 7am from Chiba, Japan live on ESPN2), MLS-Seattle Sounders @ DC United (Saturday 7:30pm RFK Stadium)

10. Alabama Shakes (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Cody Canada/Shooter Jennings (Friday 8pm Recher Theatre); Kevin Costner & Modern West (Tuesday & Wednesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Snow Patrol (Friday 7pm Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club); Moody Blues (Tuesday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Of Monsters And Men “My Head Is An Animal” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I’ll be at RHL Saturday night because I’m ALL IN…

I wish I could tell you I enjoyed The Moody Blues. Sadly I do not. But here’s this because there’s not much going on this week…

Now here’s Snow Patrol. Look, if Paul McCartney was playing this week I’d post something of his…

I think I posted the studio version of “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men last week. But I’m posting them again this week because THEY’RE REALLY FREAKING GOOD…

9. Mike Epps (Saturday 8pm 1st Mariner Arena); Kevin James (Wednesday 7:30pm Warner Theatre); Royal Comedy Tour feat. Bruce Bruce, Sommore, Mark Curry, Earthquake (Saturday 8pm Show Place Arena); “War Horse” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); “American Reunion” out in theaters (Friday)

We’re going to see “American Reunion” Thursday night/Friday morning at midnight in White Marsh. If you’re not going to see “American Reunion” Thursday night/Friday morning at midnight you’re a terrible human being and I don’t want to be your friend. So just make it simple and come with us. We’ll probably hit Tilted Kilt before then.

But honestly, if you don’t go see this movie you’re just the worst person of all time…

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 13 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Auto Racing-NASCAR Food City 500 (Sunday 12:30pm from Bristol, TN live on FOX); Golf: PGA Tour Transitions Championship (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 3pm live on NBC. All golf from Palm Harbor, FL); LPGA Tour RR Donnelley Founders Cup (Thursday & Friday 6:30pm Saturday & Sunday 4pm from Phoenix live on Golf Channel); Champions Tour Toshiba Classic (Friday 8:30pm Saturday & Sunday 7:30pm from Newport Beach, CA on Golf Channel); Tennis: ATP Tour  WTA Tour BNP Paribas Open (Tuesday & Wednesday 2pm Thursday 2pm & 10pm Friday 6pm & 9pm Saturday 7:30pm live on Tennis Channel, Friday 4pm & 11pm live on ESPN2, Saturday & Sunday 2pm & 4pm live on ABC. All tennis from Indian Wells, CA); Boxing: Friday Night Fights-Kendall Holt vs. Tim Coleman (Friday 9pm from Cabazon, CA live on ESPN2), ShoBox-Omar Figueroa vs. Ramon Ayala (Friday 11pm from Indio, CA live on Showtime), Sergio Martinez vs. Matthew Macklin (Saturday 10pm from New York live on HBO); Mixed Martial Arts: Bellator Fighting Championships 61 (Friday 8pm from Bossier City, LA live on MTV2); NBA: Washington Wizards @ Dallas Mavericks (Tuesday 8:30pm from Dallas live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ New Orleans Saints (Thursday 8pm from New Orleans live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Atlanta Hawks (Friday 7:30pm from Atlanta live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Wizards @ Memphis Grizzlies (Sunday 6pm from Memphis live on Comcast SportsNet)

10. Soul Jam featuring Whispers/Stylistics (Saturday 7pm 1st Mariner Arena); Girl Talk (Saturday 9pm Power Plant Live); Pop Evil (Friday 6:30pm Rams Head Live), Dr. Dog (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Rich Robinson (Sunday 1pm Rams Head on Stage), Psychedelic Furs (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Uncle Kracker (Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club); Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors (Wednesday 8pm Jammin Java)

I’ve seen Pop Evil at RHL before. And think, THIS is amongst the notes from my life I’m actually willing to admit…

Dr. Dog is the type of band that everyone assumes I’ll really like based on the other acts I really like. They’re probably right, I’m just lazy.

I’ve never seen Rich Robinson solo. I HAVE seen the Black Crowes a few times. I know what I like. I like what I know.

You remember Drew Holcomb as the man who authored the song everyone was thinking about on Christmas after that TNT basketball promo. Let it come to you…

9. Henry Rollins (Friday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Charlie Murphy (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); Aisha Tyler (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Robert Kelly (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House), Gabriel Iglesias (Sunday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric); Glenn Clark’s St. Patrick’s Day plans (Saturday whereabouts unknown); “The Descendants” available on DVD/Blu-Ray (Tuesday); “21 Jump Street”, “Jeff Who Lives At Home” and “Casa De Mi Padre” open in theaters (Friday)

Of note from this cornucopia…

Aisha Tyler’s arrival in Charm City allows me another opportunity to sing the praises of the show “Archer” on FX. She plays the role of Lana. I like to pretend that I’m Sterling Archer sometimes. I’m 28 years old.

Do you want to have the host of “The Reality Check” afternoons on AM1570 WNST.net visit your establishment Saturday to celebrate St. Patty’s Day? Tell me why your Bangers and Mash are the best in the area. I’ll be ALL IN.

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Undermanned Caps Turn in Strong Effort

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Undermanned Caps Turn in Strong Effort

Posted on 22 January 2012 by Ed Frankovic

NBC decided to put the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins on national television this Sunday afternoon ahead of the NFL Championship games and as usual, they got a dandy between two clubs that respect each other, but flat out can’t stand one another.

Sure there was no Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, or Jordan Staal due to injuries, but Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, the top two picks in the 2004 NHL Entry draft, repsectively, put on an absolute show. Both had three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and finished plus three in the game, but it was Malkin who had the winner in overtime for Pittsburgh, in a 4-3 thriller.

Washington also played without center Marcus Johansson so coach Dale Hunter had to go to his first aid kit and bandage a lineup together. In the first period, it wasn’t working so well as the Pens raced out to a quick 2-0 lead prompting many of us on Twitter to surmise that it was going to be a long day for the Capitals.

But give Hunter credit once again for some great in game adjustments, the most important of which was putting Mathieu Perreault between Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and those three were the guys who got the Caps back in it, and also the lead for about six minutes in the third period. The Gr8 and Semin are super talents, but in hockey, to win, you need good centers who can get skilled wingers the puck. Center has been the Caps biggest problem this year (and it could be argued it was the last two years as well) and that issue is significantly magnified while Backstrom is out of the lineup. Throw in an ill Johansson and you get the disaster that was the first period.

Hunter’s first intermission moves panned out but also the players reached down and grabbed their you know whats and competed. Let’s be honest, Washington can’t stand to lose to Pittsburgh so they were going to do whatever it took to try and win. And they almost pulled it off too. Michal Neuvirth (23 saves) was very good in net despite taking the defeat.

Laich would play 27:57 and he, Karl Alzner (24:09), and Jeff Halpern (11:39) put on a penalty killing clinic late in period two, with the score knotted at two, when the Penguins had a 51 second two man advantage. Pittsburgh would score once on the power play to open the scoring but Washington killed all four other Pens manpower advantage situations.

Alzner had a strong game playing with Dennis Wideman (26:49) but the duo of John Carlson and Roman Hamrlik had an up and down contest drawing the Malkin line. Those two were on the ice for three of the four goals against while being on for two Caps markers. Hamrlik was the one who caused most of the problems as Pittsburgh exposed his weaker skating ability. #44 had been playing better under Hunter’s new system, but I felt that today was his poorest game since the former Caps captain took over and it was his mistakes that allowed Malkin to set up the game tying goal and then win this one in overtime.

At the end of the day though, this was an encouraging contest for Washington after an unbloggable loss in Carolina on Friday (3-0). Several guys stepped up, most notably Perreault and Laich, to try and fill the gap up the middle of the ice that is so glaring right now. Perreault certainly earned himself some more ice time with this performance and his offensive skill seems to be the best fit with Ovechkin and Semin right now with Backstrom out. Even if Johansson comes back on Tuesday, I’d still keep 85 there because he is more gifted offensively and the two big guns need a center who can handle and pass the puck.

So the Caps will play one more game on Tuesday, at the Verizon Center, against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins before taking the rest of the week away from the rink for the All Star Break. If they can find a way to win or at least get a point against a very good Boston team that would be huge.

The Caps need some rest to heal up, but they are still battling despite being undermanned, so today’s point in Pittsburgh was well deserved.

Notes: John Erskine, Cody Eakin, Jay Beagle, and Joel Ward all played less than 10 minutes of ice time. Hunter likes to go with the guys who are getting it done as evidenced by the large variance in playing time down the lineup…Semin and Perreault each had two points. 28 was +3 while Perreault went +2…James Neal had two goals for the Pens, both assisted by Malkin.

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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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Beating Pittsburgh Always Sweet for Caps

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Beating Pittsburgh Always Sweet for Caps

Posted on 11 January 2012 by Ed Frankovic

It wasn’t textbook hockey and it certainly wasn’t pretty, but the Washington Capitals found a way to get a win over their archrival Pittsburgh Penguins at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night. Tomas Vokoun turned in a superb goaltending performance stopping 30 shots and Jason Chimera continued to march toward a career high in goals by notching the only tally in a 1-0 Caps victory, his 14th of the year.

With so many top players out of the game due to injury (Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Jordan Staal, and Kris Letang) combined with the short turnarounds these two teams faced (Caps took the redeye back from LA on Tuesday morning while the Pens played Tuesday night), it was no surprise that the game lacked energy and intensity in the first 40 minutes. The Penguins actually carried much of the play getting 10 more shot attempts and holding a 20-12 advantage in shots on goal. But the only thing that mattered was the scoreboard as Chimera scored after Joel Ward and Jeff Halpern forced Evgeni Malkin into a turnover at the Washington blue line.

Under coach Dale Hunter, the Capitals are focused on limiting or even better, eliminating, odd man rushes and although the Penguins had the shots advantage, they didn’t get any odd man breaks. The Caps did, and Chimera was able to go in one on one on Marc Andre-Fleury (19 saves) and he beat him with a quick shot. Washington’s 1-2-2 defense was mostly effective at keeping Pittsburgh to the outside and when the Penguins were able to penetrate it through the first two periods Vokoun was a wall in net.

In the third period the Caps found some energy and dominated the first 16 minutes. Alexander Ovechkin (0 points) was all over the ice setting up his teammates for chances and getting some of his own, but Fleury was brilliant to give his club a chance. Even though Pittsburgh basically threw the kitchen sink at the Caps in the final four minutes, the uptick in effort in that final frame was really needed from Hunter’s crew. In the previous two games against the Pens, which saw the teams split one goal contests, Pittsburgh was the more dominant team. So it was imperative for the Capitals to take over at that point, and again, if not for Fleury, Washington wins easily.

Still of concern to me though, is the Capitals struggles to find consistency coming out of their own zone. Clearly with #19 out the biggest weakness for Washington is up the middle of the ice. Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, Jeff Halpern, and Mathieu Perreault were tonight’s pivots and in my opinion, none of them are currently first or second line centers. Compounding the center problem is the wingers are making poor decisions with the puck which is leading to too many turnovers. Part of the issue for the defensemen are the forwards are simply not doing the little things to help them get the puck out and going in transition. It is a situation that led to numerous breakdowns out in California and the only way to fix the center/winger problem this year is a trade (or two) by General Manager George McPhee.

The Caps are clearly a different team at home and they’ve won seven of their last eight at the Phone Booth, outscoring their opponents 28-13. Fortunately for them they have three more games at the Verizon Center over the next six days with the Lightning on Friday, the Hurricanes Sunday, and the Islanders on Tuesday night. Wednesday night’s win puts the Caps in just eighth place in the Eastern Conference so it is very important that they rack up more points on this stay in DC. The Capitals have struggled mightily on the road and they still have four games scheduled against the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, who look even better this year than last. So it isn’t going to get any easier schedule wise for the Caps after the next three tilts.

But for tonight, a win over Pittsburgh has to feel good, no matter how they got it. Good goaltending is the most important thing in hockey and Vokoun seems to be getting into a groove (I don’t put the left coast losses on him, at all). Now they just need to get the entire squad playing like they did for most of Wednesday’s third period on a more consistent basis.

Notes: Matt Hendricks only played 7:44 but had one of his better games of the season with a fight win over Craig Adams and a post hit…the Caps won the facefoff battle, 25-20, and Jeff Halpern went 10-2, including several big defensive draws late in the contest…the Penguins didn’t get a power play all night while Washington went 0 for 2 with the man advantage…Malkin was 3-11 on faceoffs…Ovechkin had 4 shots on net and 3 hits…Backstrom was put on IR retroactive to last week.

 

 

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 10 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Virginia @ Maryland (Monday 8:30pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet); Boxing: Friday Night Fights-Teon Kennedy vs. Chris Martin (Friday 9pm from Las Vegas live on ESPN2); High School Basketball: Franklin @ Perry Hall (Wednesday 6:30pm), Perry Hall @ Catonsville (Friday 7pm)

10. G. Love & Special Sauce (Friday 8pm Rams Head Live); Bootsy Collins (Wednesday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage), Charm City Devils (Saturday 7pm Baltimore Soundstage); Smithereens (Friday 6:30pm & 9:30pm Rams Head on Stage); Rebelution (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring)

You can’t pay me to say something negative about G. Love. Unless you pay me with money. I’ll lie about anything for money.

I believe Bootsy Collins is a Cincinnati Bengals fan but I’m willing to look past that. I mean, the man did do this…

Charm City Devils are just…just awesome….

I saw Rebelution at Artscape once. Pretty good…

9. George Lopez (Saturday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); “Contraband” opens in theaters (Friday); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Thursday-Monday)

George Lopez is only sorta funny sometimes and while Contraband might be okay I can’t tell you I’m really looking forward to it.

So let’s talk about Restaurant Week. As you know, Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium is one of my personal favorite spots in Baltimore County. What you might not know is that the breakout star of “Monday Night Live” for the 2011 season was the Santa Fe Fries…

I would have taken a picture of a full plate, but there was never a full plate. Never.

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