TJ’s Shutout at Verizon Center

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Grandson TJ Wood made his debut in the nets at the Verizon Center January 24, 2013 between the second and third periods of the Montreal Canadiens/Washington Capitals game.

Representing the State of Virginia in the 8 – year division, young TJ shut out the opposing Maryland shooter in three shootout attempts while the Virginia shooter rallied to beat the Maryland goaltender three times for a 3-0 win.

Good job, TJ!


Don’t Wait For The NHL, See Your Local Youth Play Their Game!

Why waste time waiting for NHL hockey to return when you have the opportunity to watch these kids play the game for fun. Check out my 8-year grandson TJ in the nets for his local Ashburn travel team playing against NOVA December 1st at the Ashburn ice arena.


Should the Caps Be Buyers or Sellers

By Rodger M. Wood

Matthieu Perreault

After losing to Tampa in overtime and Florida in regulation last Tuesday and Wednesday, and falling out of first place in the Southeast Division into 9th place in Eastern Conference playoff hunt, Caps management faces the dilemma of should they become buyers or sellers before the NHL February 28th trade deadline.

At the end of the first half, Caps’ balanced play was getting playoff worthy. Before the losses in Florida, they won 5 of their last eight games with one loss in overtime against Pittsburgh. In their last game of the first half, they beat last season’s champ Boston in a dramatic 5-3 win. Centering a line of wingers Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansen, Caps second year center Mathieu Perreault scored a hat trick and started making the fans forget they were missing three of their four top scorers on the ice.

The bottom line is Niklaus Backstrom is still out with concussion symptoms, which if as bad as Sydney Crosby’s condition, could keep him out the rest of this season. His blatant elbow in the head nemesis Rene Bourque should have been suspended for as many games as Backstrom was hurt, but the Brandon Shanahan system does not consider injury to a player in its award of punishment as his 3 game suspension of Ovie for a non-injury check demonstrated.

Until banished for three games for his hit on Penguins’ defenseman Zbynek Michalek , Ovie was scoring and hitting like the “Great One” of olden days. While not penalized in the game by the referees, he was cited by NHL disciplinarian, Brandon Shanahan for rising up on his skates and targeting Micalek’s head with a hit. The three game suspension is negligible as long as the punishment does not make Ovie a pansy on the ice again.

After Ovie returns against Montreal Saturday, the Caps will still be missing Backstrom and defenseman Mike Green’s potent offense. While Green is starting to skate again after his operation, hope is eternal, and fans should remember Caps Tom Poti, who has been out the better part of three seasons with a groin injury.

In the next week or so, Caps Vice President General Manager will have has to bite the bullet to decide whether Perreault will do the offensive job long term or should he buy another center and defenseman to replace the injured players before the 2012 playoffs or just chalk everything off and sell off some core players for prospects, who they believe can help win all the marbles next season.

If you’re into fantasy hockey, maybe the lowly Islanders would be interested in giving up center John Tavares for defenseman Jeff Schultz, forwards, Alexander Semin, Joel Ward, and a prospect or draft pick, or fighting for a playoff position, maybe Western Conference Nashville Predators would be willing to give up All Star defenseman Ryan Suter, who is a free agent this summer, for a package of players, which gives them more offensive punch in the playoffs.

With a tough schedule coming up in the home stretch, the Caps need to do something. They can’t rely on Backstrom and Green coming back to get them out of trouble.

They face off against Montreal away Saturday and come back home to face Boston in a matinee game Sunday at the Verizon Center..

Big Picture Features

Maybe Boudreau Should Sit Down Ovechkin or Semin!

By Rodger M. Wood

Although the Caps are 1-4-1 in the past six games, not all is bleak with the Capitals nowadays.

They started the season off with 7 straight wins, have won 10 games of 17 for the season, and are tied with the lowly Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead with 21 points.

Forwards Mike Knuble, Troy Brouwer, Matt Hendricks, Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera, Joel Ward, defenseman John Erskine plus goalie Tomas Vokoun are playing hockey and earning their keep.

But at the game last night,  I could hear the lowly 6-9-3 W-L –OL Winnipeg fans sarcastically jeering Ovie and Coach Boudreau after the home team Jets took a 4-1 lead at 10:54 of the second period.

Indeed, the Caps looked like a joke. Coach Boudreau wasn’ t getting 100% effort from his stars, they weren’t  forechecking, chasing down the puck, or crashing the net, were taking more foolish penalties, and getting weak goaltending, while Jets  goalie Ondrej Pavalec did acobats, stopped shot after shot at the other end of the ice and Jets second year pro Evander Kane, scoring two goals, almost had a hat trick.

Awhile back In the Pittsburgh game, which the Caps won 3-2 in OT, it was embarrassing when Penguins tough guy Arron Asham, former Capitals forward Dale Hunter’s lookalike, mocked the Capitals manliness after he decked Caps forward Jay Beagle, effectively putting him out of the lineup with a concussion the last nine games, and in return, was not pummeled by a single Caps teammate’s blows.

Except for fluky wins against the Red Wings away and the Ducks at home, the Caps have also been embarrassed in successive losses to the Oilers, Canucks, Predators, Stars,  and the other physically tough Western Conference foes they have faced this season.

If the stars are not scoring goals, and shying away from the toughness of the game, what would be the loss in keeping one of them off the ice watching the game from the stands?

After the Jets loss, the Caps were tied with the rejuvenated Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead and 6th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race, only a point ahead of defending Stanley Cup  champion Boston Bruins and division rival Tampa Bay Lightning. If they don’t start winning again soon, the Caps will fall out of the 8-team conference Stanley Cup playoff contention.

Resting Ovechkin and Semin during game critical situations, Boudreau is desperately trying to awaken his fading star power. So far unsuccessful, maybe instead, he needs to sit one of his super stars down in the stands for a game or two, while other Capitals restore Capitals’ self – respect.


The Caps Need Heart To Win The Stanley Cup


By Rodger M. Wood

Like the Marines, our theme for the Caps’ 2011-2012 season will be “acta non verba,” or “actions not words.” We’re tired of getting all fired up at the beginning of a season, only to be let down with the team’s early departure from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

After the Capitals hockey season started the season off with an overtime 4-3 win over Carolina Saturday night, Caps fans are hearing the same old song and song, “The Caps will win the Stanley Cup this season.”

The sage editors of the Hockey News are singing the same song predicting, “This will be the season the Capitals bring home the Stanley Cup.” However, without showing the heart, or mental and physical toughness the Boston Bruins did last spring while winning the prized trophy, I think we’ll be in for another long hot summer, our 36th in a row, since the Caps came into being the 1974/1975 season.

We can only hope Caps VP and GM George McPhee watched how the Bruins beat the Montreal Canadiens up in seven games last spring, the Philadelphia Flyers in four, Tampa Bay Lightning in seven, and the Vancouver Canucks in seven.

Goalie Tim Thomas, forwards Patrice Bergeron, Nathan Horton, David Krejic, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, defensemen Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, and Johnny Boychuk and the rest of the Bruins were talented, but more importantly, demonstrated they had the courage, grit, durability, mental and physical toughness to beat tough opponents.

Our Caps were more talented than the Bruins, and displayed star power during the regular season, but core stars, captain Alex Ovechkin, Nicklaus Backstrom, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green failed to show the internal fortitude necessary to win in the playoffs.
You can’t measure the heart of a hockey player or team until they are in the thick of the playoffs. During the summer, McPhee acquired some free agents, Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik, Jeff Halpern, and Tomas Vokoun , who look good on paper and may perform well in the regular season, but without Ovie and the core stars setting the example in the playoffs, our Cup efforts will still be futile.

Novice Caps fans, I hate to dampen your enthusiasm, but we’ve heard the same old story many times before, and won’t believe it until our Cap stars bring us home the Stanley Cup.
Winning the Stanley Cup will speak louder than any words used to drum up season ticket sales or fill up the Verizon Center stands.