Capitals Skate to Slow Start

Washington Capitals' Matt Hendricks and Winnipeg Jets' Chris Thorburn fight in the third period of their NHL hockey game in Washington

Going into the lockout shortened season, many speculated that players’ endurance levels would be somewhat of a factor in the first few games. The Washington Capitals have proven this to be the case as, for the second time in as many games, they were unable to maintain the high energy level of play they sustained for the first half of a period or so. Tuesday night, the Caps were back at it on the ice, trying to erase a sloppy and disorganized 6-3 loss in Tampa Bay on Saturday night. The game, this time against a visiting Winnipeg Jets team on the second leg of a back-to-back, bore a similar storyline to the game this past Saturday. The Caps started off on a good note. They seemed to have a better understanding of the new offensive forechecking system that Adam Oates has installed, creating turnovers deep in Winnipeg’s zone, resulting in a couple of scoring chances. Ultimately, it was Matt Hendricks who cashed in on a beautiful tick-tack-toe play that started with a cross ice pass from Alex Ovechkin to Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom majestically threw a slap-pass down to the goal mouth where Hendricks was able to redirect the puck into the net with his skate. Washington also seemed to have a nice flow to their power play, and although they did not score on it until a meaningless goal late in the third period, they seemed to have good puck movement and were able to generate chances.

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Growing Pains for Caps

NHL: Washington Capitals at Tampa Bay Lightning

Well, at times it wasn’t pretty, but hockey was back in full-fledged action on Saturday. Mistakes are still to be made, and rust still to be shed, but for now, it will do. The Washington Capitals and Adam Oates made their long anticipated debut Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but ultimately fell short in a 6-3 loss. The Caps looked to be in control, even dominant at times, early on in the first. Much of that had to do with an early interference penalty drawn by Alex Ovechkin followed almost immediately by another penalty by Tampa which ultimately led to the Capitals being on the power play for four of the game’s first five minutes. The Caps had plenty of chances, but Tampa’s newly acquired goaltender Anders Lindback proved that he was up for the challenge of being a starting goaltender for the first time in his career.

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Shorter Season and New Lessons Could Prove Costly for Caps

Caps Celebration

Hockey is back! After a lengthy (and some would argue unnecessary) lockout, the NHL and players finally came to an agreement. Seats will be filled and jerseys will be sold, but for some teams, such as the Washington Capitals, the damage may have already been done. Still, with a new coach, new faces, and intriguing positional battles, the now solely 2013 could still prove both exciting and educational for a young and talented group that was one goal short of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since new coach Adam Oates’ Capitals team did it back in 1998. Here are a few headlines to keep track of in this abbreviated NHL season for the Washington Capitals.

1. How will the team respond to another coaching and system change?

The 2012-13 season has fans excited for many reasons, but it would be irresponsible to ignore the biggest offseason headline; the hiring of Adam Oates. Many Caps fans will be excited to welcome Oates back to the organization, but many know him as the playmaking center, not the coach. So what will his influence be on this Capitals team? In his introductory press conference, Oates was quoted by ESPN.com as claiming “I really feel the game today is territory. You have to establish territory and protect it.”. What Oates will implement is a style of play that is much of a hybrid between the high powered, run-and-gun offense that was installed by Bruce Boudreau, and the tight checking, defensive style established by Dale Hunter. He will attempt to send a strong forecheck with centers and wingers upon opposing teams in their own defensive zone, while instilling a strong commitment to team defense. Oates’ made a name for himself as the assistant coach of the New Jersey Devils by forcing mistakes from opposing teams’ defenseman with an aggressive forecheck. The idea behind this goes back to territory. In recent history, teams that have gone deep into the playoffs have established a presence in their offensive zone via this aggressive forechecking style. Perfect examples of this can be seen through last years Stanley Cup winners, the Los Angeles Kings, their counterparts and Oates’ old team, the New Jersey Devils, and the Boston Bruins . The pressure that these teams created from their forecheck resulted in ill-advised passes from defensemen and created turnovers in the offensive zone, leading to more offense and goals.

Offense and goals are something that Capitals fans would love to see more of from their beloved captain Alex Ovechkin. While 38 goals and 65 points is nothing to snuff at for any player, it was by far Ovechkin’s worst totals for his career and has left fans wondering if the “Great 8” will ever recapture that magic that made him one of the league’s most exciting players. It is believed that a large reason that contributed to General Manager George McPhee’s hiring of Oates had to do with the development of Ilya Kovalchuck’s game in becoming more a more “complete” hockey player. Under Oates, Kovalchuck became a more responsible player in his own defensive zone, even contributing on the penalty kill. He also regained some of the offensive firepower that he was best known for under Oates, seeing his highest offensive output in goals and points since the 2008 season. The hope and belief is that Oates might be able to achieve some of these same results and rejuvenate Ovechkin back to his Art Ross Trophy and two-time MVP form.

With a new, more aggressive style of offense, a commitment to good team defense through solid positional play, and a more complete and offensively potent Alex Ovechkin, Adam Oates may find just the right recipe for success with a Caps team that is desperate for playoff success.

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To a Friend that I Will Dearly Miss

An early gift from Santa, one we certainly didn’t anticipate.

It’s hard to believe that now, almost 17 years later, this glowing personality we celebrate.

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Fantasy 101: Week 3

Hello everybody, welcome back to Fantasy 101! As usual, here are some of the picks for the waiver wire for Week 3.

Quarterbacks

I like all the rookies this week. Andrew Luck (IND), Ryan Tannehill (MIA), Brandon Weeden (CLE) and Russell Wilson (SEA). They all bounced back after Week 1 losses, and put up solid numbers. You’ll have to decide to play them based on what Defense they ’re going up against, but they all could give you a nice boost on a bye week for you at the QB position. I like Andrew Luck the most out of this group of Rookie QBs because of the (few) weapons around him. Tannhill is also intriguing because the Dolphins will be playing from behind more often than not. I just don’t like his personnel enough to play him on a regular basis.

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Fantasy 101: Week 2

Welcome back to Fantasy Football 101! The first week of the season, as usual, went off with a bang. So let’s get right into it! These are some players I like on the Waiver Wire/Free Agency for Week 2.

Quarterbacks

  • Mark Sanchez (NYJ)- The Jets offense was firing on all cylinders this past Sunday thanks to Sanchez. He looks light years better than last year, although it was against the Bills. It seems like the switch has finally been flipped for the former 1st rounder.
  • Jake Locker (TEN)- With Kenny Britt coming back, Locker gets another weapon in Tennessee. Locker is a solid back up QB to have on your bench along with your starter.
  • Robert Griffin III (WAS)- RG3 is everything he’s hyped up to be. If not already he should be owned in all leagues.

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The Best Goalie Gear of 2012

Professional goalies especially in the NHL have an opportunity that most goalies or hockey players generally don’t have, customizing their own equipment. Some guys decide to take the conservative route and use basic color schemes with white or black base colors, and a select few goalies in the NHL decide to stand out and make sure they’re noticed throughout the entire arena. Today we honor those men. This list consists of some of the best and  most unique goalie gear of the 2011- 2012 season.

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Fantasy 101

It seems like there are a lot of blogs and websites dedicated to Fantasy Football; unfortunately none of them lay out some basic tips to players, whether they are rookies just entering the league or older veterans. This article lays out what you should be keeping an eye on week in and week out in order to give your team success.

  • Rotoworld

Rotoworld is the God of Fantasy Sports, period.  If you want the most up to date information, read their articles all week and check out their player news throughout the days leading up to games. If you have an RSS feed option on your smart phone, even better.  They rarely miss on predictions, and their player rankings are excellent.

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Tom Daly’s 2012 NHL Mock Draft 2.0

1. Edmonton- Nail Yakupov, RW, Sarnia (OHL)

Yakupov is far and away the favorite to be selected 1st overall. In 42 games played Yakupov had 31 Goals and 38 Assists this season and 101 total points last season with the Sarnia Sting. If selected by Edmonton, Yakupov will likely be wearing an Oilers sweater opening night.

2. Columbus- Ryan Murray, D, Everett (WHL)

Columbus needs help at every position and Murray will bring character and leadership to the defensive side of the bench. The Captain of Everett finished out this season with 9 Goals and 22 Assists in 46 games played. Look for Columbus to trade out of the #2 spot if Edmonton takes Murray #1.

3. Montreal- Filip Forsberg, LW, Leksands (Allsvenskan)

With the potential buyout of Scott Gomez’s contract, Forsberg would be a good replacement in the Habs’ top 6. Forsberg brings with him great size and a passion for the game.

4. New York Islanders- Griffin Reinhardt, D, Edmonton (WHL)

At 6’4″ and 204lbs Reinhart is one of the biggest d-men in this draft class. Along with his size he is an offensive minded puck moving defenseman with 12 Goals and 24 Assists this season. Reinhart could potentially be a nice fit paired with Mark Streit or Calvin de Haan.

5. Toronto- Alex Galchenyuk, C, Sarnia (OHL)

Galchenyuk spent most of this season out of the lineup recovering from a knee injury. Galchenyuk had 31 Goals, 52 Assists and 52 PIMS in the 2010-2011 season for Sarnia. He was also linemates with Nail Yakupov last season.

6. Anaheim- Mikhail Grigorenko, RW, Quebec (QMJHL)

With the potential loses of Teemu Selanne, Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman to Free Agency this offseason Anaheim cannot afford to pass him up. Grigorenko had 40 Goals and 45 Assists for Quebec this season.

7. Minnesota- Morgan Rielly, D, Moose Jaw (WHL)

Rielly also missed a lot of playing time this season recovering from a knee injury. In 18 games played this season Rielly had 3 Goals and 15 Assists.

8. Carolina- Jacob Trouba, D, US-Under 18 (USAH-NTDP)

With Carolina’s log jam at the Forward position and 2 over 30 year old defensemen (Jaroslav Spacek and Bryan Allen) hitting unrestricted free agency this offseason, Jacob Trouba should be the pick at #8. Trouba is a tough defenseman with a lot to offer and could help Carolina deal with the potential loses on defense.

9. Winnipeg- Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Jokerit Helsinki (SM-Liiga)

I believe that picking Teravainen at the 9th pick is a reach because of his size (5-11 and 165lbs) but his puck handling ability is extraordinary. He could be worth the risk for the Jets

10. Tampa Bay- Mathew Dumba, D, Red Deer (WHL)

Lightning G.M. Steve Yzerman would have no choice but to pick Dumba if he was still available at the 10th pick. In 69 games played this season Dumba picked up 20 goals and 37 assists for the Rebels.

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Crashing The Net- 5/30/12

Segment 01- Tom and Mike talk about the Los Angeles Kings and the Western Conference playoffs.

Crashing The Net- 5/30/12- Seg 01

Segment 02- Tom and Mike talk about the Washington Capitals’ playoff run and the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Crashing The Net- 5/30/12- Seg 02

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