Tag:Washington Capitals
Posted on: June 21, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 5:43 pm
 

Crosby beats out Ovechkin for top-selling jersey

So who's the bigger star: Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin? It's an ongoing debate, but you can notch one in The Kid's department. Again.

For the sixth consecutive season, Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins jersey was the highest-selling jersey in the NHL, edging out Ovechkin at No. 2. They were followed up by Blackhawks teammates Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, then Crosby's teammate Evgeni Malkin rounded out the top five.

Both the Blackhawks and Penguins led the way in the top 20 with four players apiece. Joining Crosby and Malkin for Pittsburgh were Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang. Chicago's dynamic duo was joined by Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.

Somewhat surprising considering the tremendous amount of interest Boston just got done showing in its hockey team, there is only one Bruin on the list -- and it's not Zdeno Chara or Tim Thomas. Nope, checking in at No. 16 is Milan Lucic.

This goes a long way in showing Crosby's star power, if there were any questions left. Despite missing half the season, he was still No. 1 in the merchandise business.

Your move, Ovie.

-- Brian Stubits

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Posted on: June 7, 2011 2:30 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2011 3:54 pm
 

Bryzgalov eyeing Flyers, Lightning and Caps?

We're still a few weeks away from free agency beginning and have the draft to come first, but the rumor mill is starting to spin.

Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov could be on his way out of the desert -- especially after the Coyotes just re-signed Jason LaBarbera -- so the question is where will he go? His services will be highly sought after considering he's one of top goalies available.

According to a report from Russia's Sport-Express (thankfully it was translated by a Sports-Exchange reporter on Twitter), the leaders for his services are the usual suspects: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Washington.

The first two have some questions in net, but the Capitals are a little surprising. They seem to have serious promise with three youngsters in Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov and Braden Holtby. The other teams, though, have some issues to solve in net. The Lightning's two goaltenders (Dwayne Roloson and Mike Smith) are both able to hit the free market and the Flyers, well, they have been trying to solve their net issue for a few years. The hope is that Sergei Bobrovsky can be the answer, and he certainly could be, but his stumbles down the stretch raised questions.

The other big name available this offseason in goal is Tomas Vokoun, who is yet to sign an extension with the Florida Panthers. It will be interesting to see which of the two goaltenders will be the first target, setting the way for the other. Both had comparable numbers this last season (Vokoun .922 save percentage/2.55 goals against, Bryzgalov .921/2.48) and figure to have the same suitors and comparable contract offers.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: May 11, 2011 4:04 pm
Edited on: May 11, 2011 7:01 pm
 

Potential landing spots for Jagr in NHL

Every offseason since he left for the KHL, rumors constantly swirl in the summer surrounding the possibility of Jaromir Jagr returning to North America.

After his hat trick for the Czech Republic in its shutout of the USA today, the talk is quickly starting again. Now keep in mind, Jagr hasn't played in the NHL for three seasons. So at this point the talk about him coming back could be like years past and just Wild talk from hopeful fans looking for a veteran who might still have some gas in the tank. But he doesn't have a contract right now.

As he told Yahoo! earlier this week:

"I have to see. There is time. I haven't thought about it. My contract just ended, and if I have a good offer [from Avangard] I will certainly consider it. Maybe some other teams will make me offers. As for the NHL, we'll see. I think that if I want to play in the NHL, I will come and I will be able to play in the NHL. I am not saying I will play on the first line, but I will be able to play."

So if he were to return to the NHL, who would be a fit?

Pittsburgh Penguins: There's obviously plenty of nostalgia that could lure him back to Pittsburgh. Plus, once Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are back at full strength, the Pens are instant contenders for the Cup. The Penguins wouldn't need a ton of production, so it could be a nice ease-in situation for him to come back to and not be asked to do too much at this stage of his career. This would seem to be the most likely. Per Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: This likely play out with #Jagr staying in #KHL; #Pens working him back into franchise fold then retiring no. 68, I'm told.

Montreal Canadiens: The Habs make the list because a recent report out of Montreal said the Canadiens would be on Jagr's short list of teams. Part of the allure could be joining fellow Czech Tomas Plekanec, helping Montreal take the next step. The Habs have been getting closer the past few seasons to being a true contender in the East. While Jagr's goal totals are declining, he can still score and is a very capable player, even at 40. He could help them get over the hump.

New York Rangers: The last team he played for in the NHL, New York could certainly be in play. If he were to go to the Rangers, it would likely be for familiarity reasons as much as anything else. He would be brought in with the hopes of being a somewhat significant contributor as the Rangers are a little deficient these days in offensive production.

Washington Capitals: The other team Jagr spent time with in his career, he might be a nice fit back in the Capital. Much as is the case with the Penguins, Jagr wouldn't be called upon to be a big-time contributor. But if there's any team that could benefit from an experienced veteran to help come playoff time, it's Washington. Perhaps he could help the Caps get the postseason monkey off their backs. Of course, you wonder if there would be any ill will between Jagr and Alex Ovechkin after this big hit in the Olympics.

Edmonton Oilers: There was a lot of talk a year or two ago that Jagr could be headed to play in Alberta, but obviously that didn't happen. However, because the team showed serious interest in him then, he might keep that in mind and consider the Oilers. What makes me doubt it is the team isn't anywhere near close to winning and you expect a guy like Jagr to come back with winning a Stanley Cup in mind.

Of course there are a lot more teams that could use a talented vet like Jagr, but you would have to assume these would be the favorites. But since we don't even know right now if he'll return, this is nothing but speculation.

-- Brian Stubits
Posted on: May 1, 2011 4:14 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Snoop Dogg wears Ovie jersey at concert


Snoop Dogg is used to rocking arenas. Now he's Rocking the Red. Or at least he did.

The burgeoning hockey fan was sporting an Alex Ovechkin jersey at a recent concert in Baltimore. You know your sport is picking up in popularity when Snoop is hopping on board.

It's not uncommon for artists to play to the local fans and wear a jersey of the local team. But it's still cool to see somebody from the rap world going with a hockey sweater instead of, say, a Ravens jersey.

It's not his first dip into hockey, either. In the last year or two he's made multiple appearances around the sport, including going to a Ducks game because his son wanted to. Heck, he's even tried playing.

And who can forget when Snoop Doggy Dogg -- as he was known then -- sported a Mario Lemieux jersey in the Gin and Juice video?

Yes, it's Beautiful to see Snoop Dogg getting closer to hockey. It's great to see him in the jersey of one of Amerikaz Most Wanted because he's Dropping it Like it's Hot. OK, we'll stop.

-- Brian Stubits

-- Photo courtesy of Andy Hsu

Posted on: April 30, 2011 7:31 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 5:32 pm
 

Lightning's Gagne, Kubina to miss Game 2

Tampa Bay's Game 1 victory in Washington came with a hefty price.

Winger Simon Gagne and defenseman Pavel Kubina will miss Sunday's Game 2 and are listed as day to day after taking hard hits two days prior. Particularly scary was Gagne's fall as he stayed down a while, leading the stretcher to come out onto the ice. In the end it wasn't needed, but that didn't make the moment less frightening. Kubina was checked into the end boards by Jason Chimera in the second period.

“I remember everything, I remember the hit,” Gagne told The Tampa Tribune  on Sunday. “It looked a lot worse than people think. I felt good yesterday and I feel good today, too. And we’ll go day by day.”

Lightning coach Guy Boucher said at Sunday's morning skate that both could be back soon.

"Right now, my understanding from the doctors is it's day to day," Boucher said (via nhl.com ). "There's a possibility maybe for one of them for Tuesday, maybe for both. It's really day to day."

Kubina will be replaced by Randy Jones, who himself is coming back from injury. Blair Jones will dress in place of Gagne.

Tampa Bay has already achieved what it would have liked, getting at least one game in D.C. before returning home. As much as the Bolts would like to take a 2-0 lead, that first win might have bought them just a little bit of room to play things safe, not rush anybody back. Plus, they already showed they can win without either Gagne or Kubina.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 29, 2011 9:56 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 10:33 pm
 

Chalk one up for 'underdog' Lightning

All Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher wanted to tell everybody about this series is that it’s his team that’s the underdog, David to the Capitals’ Goliath. Classic mind games being played by a rookie head coach.

"If they don't win, it's a failure," Boucher said before Game 1. "It's Goliath against David. That's what it is. We'd better get our slingshots ready."

Not sure anybody’s buying it. I’m certainly not. The Bolts have players, they have talent, and they seem to have finally solved their goalie riddle with the ageless wonder Dwayne Roloson . Let us remind you the Lightning, despite being the fifth seed, only finished four points behind Washington this season.

Hardly the stuff of fairy tales.

He wasn't willing to concede much after the game, either.

"We won the game, but there's going to be a lot of work ahead. And we know that team is going to come out flying next game and take it to us, like they did the rest of the teams," Boucher said.

But if the Lightning are David, then – to mix classic stories – they might be the little engine that could. And we really do mean little.

The team not only boasts diminutive Hart finalist Martin St. Louis -- 5-feet-8 off skates -- but had to play the majority of Game 1 short, with just 10 forwards. That’s because Simon Gagne left early in the first period and didn’t return after a hard fall to the ice after a hit from Scott Hannan . The Bolts later took a loss to the blue line when Pavel Kubina left and didn't come back.

"We were going through a lot of short shifts, 15-20 second-shifts. It was very exhausting for our guys," Boucher said. "Especially with back-to-back games coming up at home on Tuesday and Wednesday, it's going to be tough."

It didn’t matter. Tampa Bay was good enough -- and a little lucky -- to win its fourth game in a row, taking a 1-0 lead on the Capitals.  It was also the Lightning’s fourth consecutive road playoff win. Not too shabby.

The luck, you ask? Check out Steve Downie's goal . It qualifies in the fluke variety. With the Lightning catching the Caps on a line change, Downie chased down a puck to the right of the cage and just tried to backhand it across the crease, but the pass was intercepted by Hannan. That's when fortune struck as the puck redirected right on goal and over the shoulder of Michal Neuvirth for the game-tying score.

But Boucher is right about one thing. There is a ton of pressure on the Capitals to win. Bruce Boudreau’s future behind the bench could be on the line with Washington’s run this year.

The fans in Verizon Center know it, too. On more than one occasion the locals showed their restlessness, jeering the Caps with boos both at the end of the second period and during an anemic third-period power play.

Boudreau wasn't too pleased with how his team played either, intimating they returned to the style of hockey they went away from this season.

"You can't play river hockey. That's how we played. You can't revert back to an older day."

The pressure will only mount after this.

We’ll let Boucher use whatever tactics he wants. If it gets to the Capitals and their fans, all the better. Let’s just say if he insists on calling his team David, then let's concede that slingshot is filled with something stronger than stones.

-- Brian Stubits

Posted on: April 29, 2011 7:42 pm
Edited on: April 29, 2011 10:05 pm
 

Lightning's Gagne helped off ice after hard fall

In what has become an all-too common occurence in the playoffs, we had another scary moment in the first period in Washington.

With the puck in the corner, Simon Gagne was checked into the boards by Capitals defenseman Scott Hannan, whose hit lifted Gagne off his skates. The hit itself into the boards wasn't the issue, it was the fall as Gagne came down and smacked his head on the ice, staying down for a few minutes.

The stretcher was brought out but eventually Gagne got up with help and skated off the ice. It's worth noting that on his way toward the bench, Hannan came over and gave Gagne an encouragement tap.

Tampa Bay entered the game with only 11 forwards suited up for Game 1, going with seven defensemen. Well, Gagne is surely done for the night, so the Lightning will have to endure longer shifts and more ice time.

If Gagne was concussed -- and it's hard to imagine he wasn't after seeing him on the ice -- it could keep him out for the rest of the postseason. He has a history of concussions, taking one in 2007 while with the Flyers.

Gagne scored 17 goals and had 23 assists this season for Tampa Bay, his first. In the first-round win over the Penguins, he had two goals and five assists with a plus-2.

UPDATE (7:50 p.m.): The Lightning say Gagne is alert and being evaluated by the team doctors. At this point, his status is undetermined.

UPDATE (8:20 p.m.): A team spokesperson says Gagne will not return for the rest of Game 1.

-- Brian Stubits


Posted on: April 29, 2011 6:01 am
Edited on: April 29, 2011 1:59 pm
 

Preview: No. 1 Capitals vs. No. 5 Lightning


Full NHL brackets, schedule
The six-game grudge match that was these two teams’ battle for the Southeast Division has been extended. (The Caps won four of those meetings in the regular season.) The Lightning fumbled the division after a wobble down the stretch, not that it matters now. Tampa Bay advanced after a 1-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 7 on Wednesday. The Lightning arrived in Washington at 3 a.m. Thursday, not giving them a whole lot of downtime. The Caps enter as the more rested team since they advanced past the New York Rangers in five games on Saturday.  

“It should be interesting going up against a team in your own division,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters on Thursday. “It got pretty good there at the end of the (of the regular season) because both teams were vying for first place. . . . I think it’s going to take another step.”

Here’s the breakdown: 

Forwards: Neither team is lacking here, especially on the top couple lines. Martin St. Louis, a former Hart Trophy winner, was announced as a finalist for the NHL MVP on Thursday. He had 99 points in the regular season and compiled eight points (four goals, four assists) in the first round. Simon Gagne, acquired by first-year GM Steve Yzerman last offseason, and Steve Downie have averaged a point per game so far in the playoffs. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin (three goals, three assists) doesn’t show any sign of the undisclosed injury that kept him out of a handful of games at the end of the regular season. Almost as important to the Caps’ postseason fortunes is the inspired play of Alexander Semin (three goals, assist), who was a ghost in previous postseasons. It will be interesting to see what a one-week break will mean to Nicklas Backstrom. He injured his thumb last month and had one point (an assist) in the first round. If he’s not right, look to see more of deadline acquisition Jason Arnott.

Edge: Capitals 

Defenseman: If the Lightning showed anything as they stormed back from a 3-1 series deficit in the first round is that they can hold a lead. Only one defenseman (Victor Hedman, minus-4) is negative in the plus-minus category. Eric Brewer, a former high first-round selection knocked at his previous stops for not living up to his potential, has a goal and four assists this postseason. The Caps received a scare when a shot sent screws flying off of the helmet of Mike Green, who missed the final 20 games of the regular season with concussion-like symptoms. He went to the dressing room, but returned to the bench and is ready to go in this series. He enters second on the Caps in points (five). 

Edge: Lightning 

Goalies: Dwayne Roloson, 41, obviously has plenty left. Including his Game 7 shutout, he allowed only four goals over the final three games in the first round. He was 2-1-1 against the Caps with a 1.21 goals-against average after he joined the Lightning via a January trade with the New York Islanders. The Caps did have some success against Roloson this season, probably not so coincidentally after Washington agitator Matt Hendricks made contact with Roloson in a 5-2 Caps win on Feb. 4. On the other side of the experience scale is Caps rookie Michal Neuvirth. While he didn’t have to be spectacular against a hobbled New York Rangers team with few offensive weapons, the 23-year-old Czech did post a 1.38 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage. 

Edge: Lightning 

Special teams: The Lightning have the best power play percentage (29.6) of the teams left in the playoffs, led by St. Louis (three goals). Much of those numbers were built in Game 5 as the Lightning scored on four of their six 5-on-4 opportunities.  The Lightning also scored as many goals as they allowed (one) in 35 shorthanded situations en route to a 97.1 kill percentage. The Caps, who had middle-of-the-pack power play in the regular season, had a slightly better percentage (18.8 percent) in the first round. Washington has the best PK percentage (85.6) of the eight teams left in the postseason. 

Edge: Capitals

Prediction: Boudreau has never taken the Caps past the second round and he goes against a first-year coach (Guy Boucher) who has the Lightning back in the playoffs for the first time in four years. I think this could be the year the Caps break through to the conference finals, but the Lightning --- even if they are coming off a long series --- won’t go quietly. I say Caps in six games. 

No. 1 Washington vs. No. 5 Tampa Bay - Series tied, 0-0
Date Site Time/Result
April 29 at WAS 7 p.m.  
May 1 at WAS 7 p.m.  
May 3 at TB TBA  
May 4 at TB 7 p.m.  
* May 7 at WAS 12:30 p.m.  
* May 9 at TB TBA  
* May 11 at WAS TBA  


-- A.J. Perez
 
 
 
 
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