Posts Tagged ‘nhl’

I like this guy. Image c/o NY Daily News

Lou Lamoriello resigned as president of the New Jersey Devils last Thursday. During his 28 years with the Devils, he won the Stanley Cup three times. He’s moved on to become the 16th general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. As a Washington Capitals fan, you’d normally expect me to ask, “Who cares?” But Lamoriello appears to be a generally good guy. What you all could verify with a mouse click is that Lamoriello took out a full-page advertisement in the sports sections of The Record and The Star-Ledger on Friday to thank Devils fans. That certainly seems like a decent thing to do, but I have more reason to believe that Lamoriello is really good guy.

I graduated from law school in 2000, and with nothing to lose, I decided to take a ridiculous shot at getting a dream job. I wrote every single NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS, and NFL team (except the Dallas Cowboys, because fuck those guys) asking for an interview for a position as in-house counsel. First, many of these teams don’t hire in-house counsel, instead retaining large law firms (which I call out-house counsel, because fuck those guys) to do the work. The jobs for which I applied, in some cases, simply didn’t exist. Second, for those people hired in-house at such a dream position, it takes a mountain of experience to get it, and there are the additional factors of luck and connections that a dopey, recent law school graduate isn’t going to have. As you might expect, I received rejection letters from about half of these teams, with the other half simply ignoring my request.

But not Lamoriello. He hand-wrote a letter to me explaining why he couldn’t interview me but wishing me well in my job search. This is a guy who had much better things to do than to tell me something that I already knew. Even if he were inclined to extend an extra bit of courtesy in the interests of public relations, he could have had his secretary send me a form letter with his name stamped on it. Nope. This guy appreciated my interest and wanted to connect.

I still hate the New Jersey Devils, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and every other that isn’t my team (because fuck those guys), but whatever you want to assume about people, this is no bullshit: Lou Lamoriello is a class act.

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Does this really matter? Seriously?

The Washington Post reports that the Washington Capitals have changed their scoreboard, placing the visiting team’s score on the left side and the home team’s score on the right side. This is a reversal from how they’ve always reported it. In fact, most teams place the home team’s score first and the visiting team’s score to the right. Capitals’ majority owner, Ted Leonsis, explained the change was intended to comport with how the media reports scores.

I have to ask, why is this such a big deal? Seriously, why does this matter? We live in a time where people insist on complaining about everything merely for its own sake. I submit to you that this is an example of that. Stop complaining. It’s just a scoreboard.

I’d rant some more, but there’s already been far too much attention given to this issue by its mere existence.

Lighten up, Francis.

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Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
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Crapitals

I’m sick of this. Every year, it’s the same crap. This year, we finally get past the first round and — WHAM! — we’re swept out like a team that didn’t belong in the playoffs in the first place. I’m sick of people saying, “At least Washington has one winning team: the Caps.” Really? How many championships have they ever won? Even the Bullets have an NBA championship on their record. DC United has four without a fan base. To all those that said to me last year, the year before, etc., that next year will be our year, you just sound stupid at this point. Really, you sound like the robots from Futurama after their failed hunt for humans.

Robot-Mayor
“Well that makes 146,000 unsuccessful hunts in a row. But I’ve got a good feeling about tomorrow.”

Don’t try to apologize or make excuses for these clowns. They got beat. Again. They aren’t serious about winning. They’ve already got their money and all the loose women that brings. Alex Ovechkin is something special, but hockey is a team sport. Teams win Stanley Cups. This team never will.

Losers

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Follow Alex Ovechkin on Twitter @ovi8
Follow the Washington Crapitals on Twitter @washcaps, but don’t tell anyone you do. They’ll laugh at you.

Game 1

First, let me get an ugly fact out of the way. I missed game 1, which is why I didn’t write a post about it. I know, I have no excuse, but everyone makes mistakes. Let’s leave it at that. Without the ability to throw in my own dime-store analysis, I will say only this: I’m glad the Caps got on the board in the first period. That’s important. I know they lost, but they can make up for that. My concern has always been that they’d fall into their typical playoff rut and just skate around for the first 20 minutes. If that’s not happening, then this series is easily winnable, so I’m not going to get tied up in knots over a game 1 loss.

Game 2

Moving onto game 2, the Caps have fallen into their typical playoff rut and just skated around for the first 20 minutes. By the third period, they were being outhustled, which is the one and only thing that you could always rely on the Caps to do. When you can’t even get that from them, they aren’t going to win. They didn’t.

Of course, I’ll watch their remaining games because it’s what I do. However, as for this year …

Stick a fork in the Crapitals. They’re done.

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Follow the Washington Crapitals on Twitter @washcaps

CapitalsRedLogo

This is one of those wonderful moments when I can proudly say, “I was wrong.” The Crapitals got out of the first round for the first time in three years. So how’d they do it? I’m not going to get into hockey strategy, only some of which I could intelligently discuss. Instead, I’m going to answer that question at a higher level, which is the same way I’ve been phrasing the problem for the past week. Let’s look at how Game 5 differed from the rest of the series.

The Differences

The Caps didn’t have a scoreless tie going into the second period

The Caps scored in the first period, and when you’re outplaying a team in all other areas of the game, even a one-goal lead can be insurmountable. They repeated the effort in the second and third periods, surrendering a goal only when the Rangers had an empty net, and thus an extra forward. When a team has to play catch up, it always changes their style of play, opening up chances for the team in the lead. The fact that the Rangers were also in desperation mode due to the threat of elimination helped the Caps. The fact that the Caps are better skaters, puck handlers, and hitters also helped the Caps.

The Caps “solved” Lundqvist

Any team that wins a game does so by scoring, but “solving” a goalie clearly has happened when you embarrass him. Ovechkin did exactly that, embarrassing Marc Staal along the way. In the second period, Ovi streaked down the ice, harassed the entire way by Staal, and despite the extra human baggage, faked out Lundqvist like he was . . . well, me. Lundqvist was truly beaten at that point. Semin’s goal was icing on the cake. Oh, and by the way . . .

Alexander Semin Scored

He didn’t get a hat trick, but for a guy who scores so much in the regular season, he has no business twiddling his thumbs while watching everyone else play hockey. (Remember last year?) Keep in mind that a player scoring even a single goal generally indicates that he’s spent the game working hard and getting into position. I watched this game in a bar, and the TVs weren’t huge, so I can’t be certain, but I get the impression Semin worked hard this game. In fact, one difference between this year and last year that I never really noticed is that Semin has been scoring. He scored in games 1 and 4 as well. He’s officially productive, and that looks dangerous to the rest of the league.

Boudreau

The Good Stuff

I’ve been tearing down the franchise during all of these posts, but did once point out that there are plenty of things that give us hope as Crapitals fans.

Coaching

First and foremost among them is our coaching. Bruce Boudreau is the model of an NHL coach. In my day, the superstar players ruled the roost. If the best player on the team didn’t like the head coach, he’d go on TV or radio, talk about how his coach sucked, and before he could hang up the phone, management would have fired that coach. Times have certainly changed, but old habits die hard, and the culture still has that feel to it.

Boudreau could easily have survived that era as a head coach. There’s no question he’s in charge of strategy and the team in general, an as the HBO documentary “24/7” showed, he’s more than willing to say “fuck,” but he’s a “players’ coach.” Players like him. Hell, I like him even though I’ve never met him. He comes across as a father figure without treating these grown men as children. The fact that he’s Pillsbury Dough Boy-ish helps, too. He just comes across as a good guy. This is the kind of person you need as your hockey coach, especially with a young team who’s failures in the past can be directly attributed to their inexperience and relative immaturity. Combine that with his actual competence as a head coach, and you have a one championship need completely filled.

Offensive Zone

A second thing worth mentioning is that it still amazes me how well the Crapitals control the offensive zone. We can all tell easily when a team has an extra man on the ice. They easily control the puck in the offensive zone, and the defensive players are always either a step or two behind or standing still waiting for something bad to happen. The Crapitals seem to be able to do that to teams even when both teams are at full strength. You’d think with all those players on the ice, and no team having a man advantage, that such control shouldn’t be possible, but the Caps do it. Consistently. The only time I’ve really seen that done consistently was in the 70’s and 80’s when teams would do that to the Crapitals. This is definitely something that differs from teams in the past. We really do have one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the NHL techincally-speaking.

However . . .

I wouldn’t get too excited, and I really hope the Crapitals don’t get too high on themselves. Arrogance is the enemy. Once you think you can’t lose, you can’t win. I hope they keep grounded. As I said, Bruce Boudreau is the model hockey coach, and I have faith he’ll keep them in check. The only question that remains is whether he’s finished molding these guys into champions. Eventually he’ll do it, at which point I’ll stop annoying my friend, Hal, with the “Crapitals” moniker, but has he done that already?

Ask me that question again in June. I might not know before then.

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Washington Capitals Logo

A scoreless first period, a disastrous second period, a desperate third period run, and a well-timed power play in the third on which you can’t generally rely. Don’t talk to me about a “gutsy performance.” This is not what a Stanley Cup champion does when faced with a #8 seed.

As always, I’m glad they won, and there’s no chance of me ever transferring my loyalty. I’m no fair weather fan (which I find un-American), and I’ve been a fan of the team literally as long as they’ve existed. I will be a Craps fan for the rest of my life. There are also some good things to take from this game; how could there not be? A double-overtime thriller is always enjoyable. In general, I have no problem with defensive struggle. It’s also sweet when your guy wins it. The feeling of relief can be overwhelming.

However, as someone with professional political experience, I’m no stranger to criticizing my own team when they continue to disappoint, and this playoff season has disappointment written all over it. Everything good you can say about this game, and the series as a whole, can be said about the Montreal series last year. We blew a 3-1 lead in that series. Overall, that nets to “bad” as far as I’m concerned.

Or we could win game 5 and have a week off. My fingers are crossed.

Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
Follow the Washington Crapitals on Twitter @washcaps

Washington Capitals Logo

It’s no shame to win a playoff series in more than 4 games, so the fact that the Crapitals lost this one game, by itself, isn’t a problem. The problem is that this loss represents the same old song and dance.

  • A scoreless 1st period where the Crapitals, a clearly superior team, just can’t seem to get started.
  • A hot goalie incapable of being solved at home.
  • A loss.
  • Imagine how different the third period would have been if the Crapitals had scored just one goal in the first period. The Rangers would have been playing catch up, and they likely would have eventually pulled their goalie, Lundqvist, who’s the only person on the team the Crapitals can’t handle.

    This is getting old. The Crapitals must win game 4, or they will find a way to lose this series.

    Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
    Follow the Washington Crapitals on Twitter @washcaps