Tuesday, September 25, 2007

New Scoreboard @ Verizon Center

Looks pretty sharp.
Click on the Photo for a Larger Version.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Coach of the Week

That award goes to the head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys Mike Gundy for sticking up for his player after he was bashed in the local newspaper.

I agree with him 100%. If I was a player I would be proud to have him as my football coach.

The State of the Redskins

Yesterday's 24-17 loss to the New York Giants was the perfect example of what has been wrong with the Washington Redskins ever since Joe Gibbs returned to the team in 2004.

  • Halftime Adjustments - During his first reign as the Head Coach of the Redskins, Gibbs was known for his excellent halftime adjustments and his team was always better in the second half of games. Since his return to Washington, that has not been the case. Yesterday's game was just another example of this, as Gibbs was thoroughly out-coached by Tom Coughlin in the second half. Les Carpenter from the Washington Post described exactly what happened, "the New York coaches figured out what the Redskins were doing during halftime -- both on offense and defense, which had been equally as dominating -- and then came up with a quick solution to stop it. He would not be specific as to what those adjustments were. Only that they had been made. And he seemed to note, with about as much of a smile as the often irascible Coughlin could muster, many of them had worked."
  • Confusion - Once again when the game was on the line, the Redskins coaches seemed confused and indecisive about what to do. And in response, the Redskins players played confused. Take the games final moments as an example. The Redskins failed to convert on 3rd and goal from the Giants 1 yard line, as Ladell Betts was stopped short on a sweep play to the left side of the line. After that play, the clock was moving and the Redskins players were looking around trying to decide what to do. They hurried to the line and, having not called a play at the line, everybody in the stadium knew that they were going to run the same play. They did, and Ladell Betts was stopped once again. There were a couple things that were particularly disturbing about this last series at the Giants goal-line.
      • The Redskins ran the last play with 20 seconds still remaining in the game. They had plenty of time to call another play and confidently come to the line.
      • Clinton Portis was on the sidelines when the game was on the line. Gibbs has praised Portis for his ability to lead the Redskins power rushing attack, yet when the team needed one yard to tie the game, Portis wasn't even on the field. What was the reasoning behind that?
      • Coming into the season the Redskins re-signed tight end Chris Cooley to a new 6-year $30 million dollar contract with a $14 million signing bonus. Yet with the game on the line, the team failed to run a play designed to get him the ball. How it is that the 'Skins did not utilize their best weapon in the red zone is just puzzling.
  • Personnel - Besides Chris Cooley, the team has no receiving threats in the red zone because all of their receivers fail to stand higher than 5'11". In a goal-line offense you need to have a receiver that stands 6'3" to 6'5" tall with leaping ability in order to be able to throw a fade pass. When was the last time this team has had a player like this? Can we say Darnerien McCants anybody? He was a stud at catching touchdown passes during his stint in Washington for this very reason. Of course this gets back into the argument as to why this team will never succeed until it hires a general manager. Let's face it, head coaches can not be trusted to perform this role because of the nature of the business. It is the job as a head coach to do everything in his power to win and win now. While at the same time it is the general managers job to acquire personnel that will assure that the team has long term success. These two jobs almost directly conflict with each other. That is why a team will always struggle when they try to fill these positions with the same person.
  • Optimism - Despite all of the problems with this team listed above, they are still 2-1 and after their bye next week, they'll have home games against Detroit and Arizona sandwiched around a road game in Green Bay. Wins at home over these traditionally weak teams would give the 'Skins at least 4 wins if not 5 before going into a road game at New England.
So in the end, the fact that the Redskins lost a game yesterday that they were in complete control of is not that important. What is important is how the team adjusts in order to right the ship and stay on pace in the NFC East with the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Senators Rally, Top Caps

Caps Blow Two Goal Lead, Fall in Battle of the Capitols

Ottawa Senators 5, Washington Capitals 4
(Photo Courtesy of Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Thanks to a tip from Japers’ Rink, I was able to get my first taste of Washington Capitals hockey tonight courtesy of NHL.tv.

Here were the lines as they started the game. Keep in mind that they were changed up even more than normal during the course of the game due to the fact that this was a preseason game.

Line 1: Ovechkin, Kozlov, Fleischmann
Line 2: Klepis, Nylander, Backstrom
Line 3: Pettinger, Gordon, Clark
Line 4: Laich, Sutherby, Bradley
Defensive Pairing 1: Morrisonn, Pothier
Defensive Pairing 2: Poti, Green
Defensive Pairing 3: Schultz, Jurcina

Michal Neuvirth was scheduled to get the start to night according to the Rogers Television commentators. However he suffered an injury during the pre-game skate and veteran Olaf Kolzig took his place in the lineup. Despite the short notice, Kolzig was sharp early stopping Antoine Vermette who delivered a nice shot from the slot just two minutes in.

The Capitals first power play unit saw Kozlov centering Ovechkin on the left and Clark on the right, with Green and Poti on the point. Ovechkin took a hooking call during the team’s first man advantage nullifying the extra man.

At about the 16:50 mark of the 1st period, captain Chris Clark got the scoring started on the power play as he knocked home the rebound off of a Tom Poti shot from the right faceoff circle.

Senators’ captain Daniel Alfredsson responded less than a minute later as he finished off an excellent play by Jason Spezza. The playmaking center maneuvered from behind the Caps net towards the left side and fed Alfredsson cross ice who fired the one-timer over Kolzig’s catching glove into the upper right corner tying the game 1-1.

With only 30 seconds remaining in the opening period, Tomas Fleischmann provided the first evidence that he deserves a roster spot with the Caps entering the offensive zone and finding Ovechkin making a move towards the net. His pass deflected off of Senators defenseman Chris Phillips and past goaltender Martin Gerber, giving Washington a 2-1 lead heading into the intermission.

Back to back penalties to Matt Pettinger and Jeff Schultz started off the second period for the Caps. But they were able to kill both of them off and later in the period notched their second power play goal of the game. Tom Poti took the faceoff win from Viktor Kozlov and delivered a devastating slap shot from the point that found the net cleanly making the lead 3-1.

That lead however would be short lived. In a 4 on 4 situation, Jason Spezza tapped home the rebound following Christoph Schubert shot from the left board cutting the lead to 3-2 at the 10:05 mark. Minutes later, youngster Nick Fuligno took a nice pass from Vermette and moved in on Kolzig all alone. He deeked to the forehand before backhanding the puck over Olie’s glove, tying the game at 3.

The 3rd period started out the same as the 2nd as back to back penalties to Nylander and Pettinger gave the Senators a 5 on 3. This time Ottawa would take advantage as Dany Heatley tapped home the rebound from an Alfredsson shot from the point, giving his team a 4-3 lead. Chris Kelly would follow that up moments later finishing a nice one timer from Fuligno past Kolzig to stretch the lead to two goals.

With about four minutes to go, from behind the Senators net, Fleischmann found Ovechkin in front as Ovy beat Elliott to record his first goal of the preseason, making the final score 5-4.

Players who stood out to me: Tomas Fleischmann, Jakub Klepis, Tom Poti, Brian Sutherby, and Nicklas Backstrom (wow does this guy have excellent puck control skills)

Game Notes: Former Capitals defenseman Lawrence Nycholat dressed for the Senators and was paired up with Wade Redden. He provided the hit of the night, drilling Matt Bradley with an open ice hit near the Senators blueline. After the next whistle Nycholat found himself in a scrap with Brian Sutherby who stuck up for his fallen teammate, challenging the former Hershey Bears standout to a fight….. Brian Elliott replaced Senators goaltender Martin Gerber halfway through the 2nd period.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Couple Surprises Among Caps First Cuts

The Capitals announced today that Karl Alzner, their 1st round pick (5th overall) in the 2007 draft, has been reassigned back to his junior team, the Calgary Hitmen. While the fact that Alzner did not make the big club this season does not come as a complete shock, the timing of the move does. It was speculated by many throughout the summer that the talented young defenceman would be given every opportunity to secure a spot on the Caps roster.

Perhaps it was nothing more than a numbers crunch situation as the Caps have as many as 10 defenceman with NHL or at least professional experience.
  1. Josef Boumedienne
  2. Steve Eminger
  3. John Erskine
  4. Mike Green
  5. Milan Jurcina
  6. Sami Lepisto
  7. Shaone Morrisonn
  8. Brian Pothier
  9. Tom Poti
  10. Jeff Schultz

Still, the prognosis going into camp was that Alzner would at least be one of the last cuts, not one of the first. On the bright side, the move allows him to start the season with the Hitmen on time as they open up at home against the Red Deer Rebels this Friday.

Also reassigned today were a pair of 2nd round picks, defenceman Josh Godfrey from '07 and winger Francois Bouchard from '06. While Godfrey and his hard slap shot was expected to see more time in juniors, Bouchard was another surprise move as their was talk that should he have an impressive camp, he could open up with the big club as well. He led the QMJHL in points last season with 125 and caught the attention of coaches and fans with his play during the summer development camp.

The good news about all these moves is that the Caps finally have the depth on their roster where they don't need to push their prospects before they're ready.

Defending Champs Hit with Key Injury

Mathieu Schneider was supposed to be an insurance policy this season in case their team captain decided to retire. Now he will be out for at least the next four weeks with a broken bone in his left ankle.

The question now is, will this injury force the Ducks to convince Niedermayer to return for another season?

It looks as though Anaheim has some questions to answer before their season begins.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Capitals' Owner to Appear on Sportstalk 980

Ted Leonsis will be a guest on Feldman & Maloney during the 11am hour today. Be sure to tune in. You can also listen online at www.sportstalk980.com. If you miss it, the station also podcasts most of their shows on their website.