Meme Time: "If I were a hockey player."

Stolen from Off Wing Opinion-

If I Were a Hockey Player:

Team: Washington Capitals
Uniform Number: 16 (I'm giving up 17 to Clark, and Eric McErlain, apparently. Plus, 16 is one half of 32, a fitting tribute I think.)
Position: Right Wing
Nickname: Mad Dog (This was honsetly my nickname playing youth hockey.)
Dream Linemates: Wayne Gretzky and Alex Ovechkin.
Rounding out the PP: Ray Borque and Bobby Orr.
Job: Offensive specialist who is gleefully irresponsible in my own end, before developing into a good all-around player later in my career.
Signature Move: A laser-guided wrist shot to the top corner.
Strengths: Aforementioned wrist shot. (It is entirely possible that Alex Semin is living most of my dream already.)
Weaknessess: Secret inability to skate crossovers to the right.
Injury Problems?: Right knee.
Equipment: Full face cage, a la college hockey (you can never be too safe), Bauer skates with one of the blades colored red. A good old fashioned wood stick.
Nemesis: St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay McKee.
Scandal Involvement: Whatever it is, I'm sure it involves a limousine in some way.
Who I'd face in the Stanley Cup Finals: The Red Wings. I still haven't forgiven them for 1998.
What I'd do with the Stanley Cup after our victory: Try to dropkick it accross a frozen canal in Ontario and then leave it there over night.
Would the media love me or hate me?: My quick wit and impish grin would win over everyone, and I would quickly become a media darling and the new face of the NHL.


All He Does Is Score Goals: Part II


(I had a really long, obscenely insightful recap written. And then my computer ate it. The one you see here will not be quite as mind-blowing. Sorry.)

What a game. Seriously? That was one of the best hockey games I've seen in a long time. So I'm having a hard time getting upset about this loss. (Especially when compared to my level of upset-ness at my computer right now.) Great chances each way, fantastic flow and it really could have gone either way. But it didn't. It went the Senators way. Which, at this point in the season, is a very bad thing.

Alex Ovechkin was flying all over the ice as well as I've ever seen him. Alex Semin was damn near untouchable stickhandling all over the place. It seemed like every time the puck entered Martin Gerber's crease, the Caps were getting two, three, even four quality whacks at it. Yet somehow they failed to score. Time after time the puck bounced over someone's stick or went wide or ended up right in Gerber's belly. Frustrating? A little bit, yeah.

This is not to take anything away from Ottawa's play tonight. This is what quality teams do. They take games that they don't deserve to win, and through a combination of lucky bounces and timely goaltending they turn them into two points in the standings. There's no ignoring the fact that Gerber had 35 saves on 37 shots for a .946 save percentage (Olie was .921), and Dany Heatley's goal was a thing of beauty (who knew non-European players could use their feet like that?). In fact, I have a strong feeling that Heatley was probably robbed of what should have been a second goal, not that I'm going to complain about that particular call.

When you get down to it, though, it all comes down to the Caps' inability to convert on their scoring chances. Given the way they were playing in the last two periods, I found myself thinking "They have to tie the game up soon. There's no way it won't happen. Right? Right?!?" (as the minutes ticked down, the ratio of exclamation marks to question marks got exponentially higher). I think this may end up being something of a microcosm for the Caps' whole season; coming tantalizingly close only to come up just short on opportunity after opportunity. If anything, the Caps loss tonight is probably further proof that they are still a year away from seriously contending for aplayoff spot. However, if they can play all of the games between here and April the way they played tonight, I will be okay with that.

(P.S. - I obviously can't go an entire recap without mentioning Donald Brashear's second goal of the season (as alluded to in the entry title), can I? Congratulations to everybody's favorite #87.)

Recaps From People That Matter:
-A View From the Cheap Seats
-Bleatings From a Caps Nut
-Capital Fanatic
-Capitals Corner (f.k.a. Capital Punishment)
-Japers' Rink
-The Peerless Prognosticator


Fifteen Miserable Years

Rather than simply regurgitating the gist of this article by Yahoo! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel, I will simply quote what may be the single best paragraph ever written about the current state of the NHL. (Special thanks to the Caps' Message Board for the heads up. They don't completely suck absolutely all the time.)

Bettman is set to begin his 15th year as commissioner Thursday, and like most hockey fans I feel the need to mark the occasion by popping a bottle of champagne, chugging the entire thing in an effort to drown my misery and then smashing the empty bottle over my temple to black out the memories.
This is why you may notice that most of my links to game recaps send you over to Yahoo!

As for me, you are welcome to read my opinion of Mr. Bettman by checking out my favorite tag, Gary Bettman is a freaking moron.


You May Want to Sit Down Before Reading This

A piece of news information that may very well be the most shocking thing you hear all week: Viewership for the NHL All-Star Game was down. Waaaaaay down. 76 percent down, to be exact.

I know what you're thinking: "But Biff, Gary Bettman, in all his infinite wisdom, moved the game to a cable network that many people in the U.S. can't watch and to a night where it would be up against the most watched program on television. How could such a thing have happened?"

Remember, back when the NHL was on ABC, when the league had the All-Star game on the same day as the NFL Pro Bowl? Back when Bettman was at least able to make it appear as though he might be able to try to attract casual fans? The sad thing is, Bettman could have easily moved the game to today, a Sunday with no NFL and no other major sporting events, on NBC, a nationally broadcast network.

Gary Bettman sucks at his job almost as much as I do. And I suck at my job pretty bad. Just ask my boss.



Please welcome Behind the Goal Line to the blogroll. Behind the Goal Line earns bonus points for having a URL that makes me giggle.


No Comment

I spent part of the day on Saturday annoyed that I ws going to be missing the Caps' game against Florida because I had work. Now? Not so much. I didn't see the game, so I won't comment on just how bad the Capitals actually were. Because everyone else seems to have that rather thoroughly covered.

Recaps From People That Matter:
-3 Grumpy Caps Fans
-A View From the Cheap Seats
-Bleatings From a Caps Nut
-Capital Fanatic
-Off Wing Opinion
-On Frozen Blog
-Pass Shoot Score
-The Peerless Prognosticator


Look Ma! Twenty Wins!

On the one hand, I was certainly glad to see Ovie get the ENG at the end to keep pace with the other three guys at the top of the goal scoring list as well as Crosby and St. Louis (one assist each) on the points list. On the other hand, I was really hoping to see him give the puck to The Captain for a chance to score, essentially, three empty-netters in one game. Because, really, how bizarre would that have been?

If you watched the game, or heard about it, or read the box score, you don't need me to tell you that the Caps played a great game tonight. They did everything tonight that they hadn't been doing in the first three games of the road trip, like scoring fluke goals off of harmless dump-ins and drawing diving penalties. Oh, and they also established a consistent forecheck and got lots of pucks towards the net. Not to mention discovering the meaning of the term "power play", and killing penalties with a vengeance. And Olie. He wasn't too shabby either.

And then there was Alex Semin. What more can anybody say? Both goals were beautiful, and his jubilant celebration after the second when he jumped against the glass nearly brought a tear to my eye. He is now just two off of the league lead, and there is no reason to think that he won't soon catch up to Ovie and the rest. Forget A.O. vs Crosby, I'm excited to watch the Alexes dueling for the goal-scoring lead over the second half of the year.

Of course, none of this really matters too much if they can't carry this level of play through to the All-Star Break. I can think of few things that would be better for this team than to go into the break on a bit of a roll.

Recaps From People That Matter:
-A View From the Cheap Seats
-Bleatings From a Caps Nut
-Capital Fanatic
-Japers' Rink
-On Frozen Blog
-The Peerless Prognosticator


I Believe That's What They Call Progress

The title of this post it in no way a reference to the way the Capitals played tonight. Sure, it was better than Saturday in Florida, but the Caps could have out a team of untrained squirrels out on the ice and they probably would have played better than the team that showed up in Sunrise. I'm not even going to bother recapping this one.

Instead, I'm going to spend some time reminding you about just how much your life sucks if you didn't attend the Caps Bloggers Happy Hour. This month's attendees were: A View From the Cheap Seats, Bettman Hates Hockey!, Capital Fanatic, Gustaffson from On Frozen Blog, William F. Yurasko, 1/2 Asian Man and Random Reality Thoughts. And me. Obviously. It was a heck of a good time and, as always, everybody far surpassed my expectations. The bar was really nice, too. I had never been to Bugsy's (f.k.a. The Penalty Box), and I encourage you to check it out if you get a chance. Because, seriously, an entire bar devoted to hockey. It's pretty neat.

Next up for the Caps Bloggers Happy Hour Series: I'm not sure. I'm shooting for one of the Caps-Pens games in February. I'll keep you posted.


Caps Bloggers Happy Hour Version 2.0

Just wanted to remind those of you who may have forgotten, tonight is the second edition of Caps Bloggers Happy Hour. We're meeting at Bugsy's in Alexandria to watch the Caps take on the Senators. Look for me in my red-white-and-blue hat with Craig Laughlin's signature on it.

See you there. If you're there.


This Just In: Caps Still Have More Bloggers Than Wins

Congratulations to Capital Fanatic, which earns the distinction of being the 23rd blog added to the "Other Caps Bloggers" list here at the Kevin Hatcher Fan Club.

Seriously, though, 23? This is becoming quite ludicrous.

The One Where I Find Out That Statistics Completely Disprove What I Was Trying to Say In the First Place

You may remember (because it was less than a week ago) when I spent a lot of time ranting about how the shootout/overtime loss rule was skewing the way people perceive their teams. I argued that, by awarding teams points for losing, the NHL was artificially inflating teams' records to make it seem as though they were better than they actually are. I also made the argument that the supposed parity in the league was merely a function of mediocre teams staying in the playoff race by being awarded points for losing games.

Lucky for you, I wasn't satisfied with just spouting my completely uninformed opinion. So I did what any self-respecting person with way too much time on his hands would do: I went through the Eastern Conference standings and recalculated every team's record as though there was no such thing as a shootout and without giving them a point for losing in the five-minute OT. Needless to say, the results surprised me. (Standings are through January 11, 2007. You can click on the graphic to get a better view.)

As you can see, the standings would actually be even more tightly bunched in the Old NHL. In the real standings, the difference between second and 14th (i.e. second to last) is fifteen points, with the 14th place team (Florida) just five points out of a playoff spot. But under the old rules, the gap from 2nd to 14th would be even smaller, twelve points, and the Panthers would be just four points out of the playoffs. You'll also notice that, with the Thrashers and Rangers being the exceptions, most teams would be in roughly the same spot in the standings or higher in the Old NHL, further disproving my hypothesis that the NHL's Points-For-Losses program makes fans feel better about their tem than they ought to. In fact, it actually caused me to be more down on the Caps than they deserved. (Not surprisingly, the Caps are getting screwed by the new rules more than any other team. Note that they are the only team that is in playoff position under the old rules but not under the new ones. I choose to look at this as a league-wide anti-Capitals conspiracy.)

The moral of the story, kids, (aside from "The NHL hates the Caps") is that most of what I say on here is probably nonsense. Try not to be too surprised by that. (Although my point about the .500 mark having lost its meaning is still a valid one, as only six of the thirteen teams with "above .500 records" have accomplished the feat without the aid of the NHL's silly rules.)


Lecavalier+St. Louis > Ovechkin+Semin (For One Night Only)

I don't have a whole lot to say about tonight's game. It was one of those games where there wasn't anything specific the Caps should have done better, and they lost to a team that simply played better. Tampa certainly got some lucky bounces; their first goal where Olie got hung up at the wrong post while the puck was pinballing behind the net comes to mind, and they capitalized on them better than the Caps.

The good news, however, is the Alex Semin continues to be the absurd offensive dynamo that we all hoped he'd become. On his second goal, I pretty much knew he was going to score the moment he cut towards the middle of the ice. That's seven goals in his last four games for those of you keeping count of such things.

Also continuing an offensive hot streak was Donald Brashear. I've been saying all year that the man is nothing but an offensive machine, but I was usually joking.

In case anyone was wondering, Alex Ovechkin's two assists leave him just four points behind Sidney Crosby in the points-scoring race. If you're interested.

So, tough night for the Caps, but not altogether unexpected and certainly not one to spend too much time thinking or worrying about. Time to move on and start thinking about ripping the Panthers to shreds.

Recaps From People That Matter
-Nothing so far. I'm going to bed.


Here We Go Again

Okay folks, its time once again for what the Washington Post describes as "an unmitigated success", the Washington Times describes as "an obscene disaster" and the Kevin Hatcher Fan Club describes as "the new dance craze that's sweeping the nation": The Capitals Bloggers Happy Hour.

This time around, we're changing up the location, moving across the river to the town of Alexandria to watch the Capitals take on the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, January 16. We'll be meeting at Bugsy's Sports Bar at 111 King St. Hopefully, this will be a little easier for everyone as it seems that a majority of my fellow Caps bloggers live on that side of the Potomac.

The plan will be the same as last time. I plan on getting there around 6:30-6:45 wearing my red, white and blue old-school Capitals hat with Craig Laughlin's autograph on it. After that, we can all watch the Caps (hopefully) beat the snot out of the Senators and then go home happy.

As always, questions/comments/insults are welcome in the comments or direct them to kevinhatcherfanclub@gmail.com

Disrespect Alert!

Maybe I'm crazy, but take a look at this AP article about the All-Star selctions and see how long it takes you to find any mention of Alex Ovechkin.


All He Does Is Score Goals

The headline is my go-to tongue in cheek thing to say pretty much every time Donald Brashear touches the puck. (Except when I'm by myself. Because turning and saying that to a complete stranger would simply be innappropriate.) So the best moment of the Capitals 6-2 win over the Flyers had to be Brashear's goal in the second period. I also enjoyed it because I seemed to be the only person in my entire section who realized a goal had been scored, and there are few things I enjoy more than feeling superior to others.

Another fun thing about tonights game was that I was lucky enough to end up seated in Section 114 right next to Barra Brava. While I don't necessarily condone their style of cheering, I can't say I was annoyed by it either. There was certainly alot more energy in the building as a result of it (or at least my little corner of the building). What I definitely can't condone, however, is any cheer or chant that is taken from a Broadway musical. So if you are a member of the Bravas and you happen to be reading this, the "We Love You Capitals" song has got to go. It is bad enough that it is set to a song from the god-awful Bye, Bye, Birdie, but it is set to the most obscenely stupefyingly annoying song in the entire show.

Okay, sorry... my inner musical theatre geek got carried away there for a moment. Seriously though, much kudos to Barra Brava. Partly because of the enthusiasm, and also in part because of the increased Caps Blogger activity in and around my section. I saw Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog walking around and I'm pretty sure I saw Chanuck up towards the top of the section. I also happened to run into Caps Chick on the way out. So that was fun. (From the A.P. recap of the game: "A boisterous contingent from the D.C. United fan club decided to give hockey a try Monday night. The "Barra Brava" took over most of a section in the upper deck and behaved like soccer fans -- standing, singing and chanting for most of the game.")

Oh right, the actual game. To be honest, I wasn't especially impressed with the Caps tonight. Brashear's first of the year was certainly exciting, and Alex Ovechkin's goal was a thing of beauty, but overall, I thought they could have played much better. If you take away the three cheap goals that Esche allowed, the offensive production was not where it needed to be against a vastly inferior team like the Flyers. The power play was anemic for most of the game and the defense was just lucky that every player in a white sweater had a nasty case of Zubrusitis, because there were quite a few instances where a Flyers player had the puck in front of them on the doorstep to a wide open net.

Don't get me wrong, it was the most fun I've had at a hockey game since, well, actually since last week's shellacking of the Canadiens. Any time you can be there to watch the Caps finish off a season sweep of the Flyers for the first time ever is a night to remember. Also, if I've done my math right, Ovechkin is now alone atop the goal scoring leaderboard. So I'm going to go ahead and chalk it up to an off night that was lucky enough to come against the worst team in the NHL, and just count my lucky stars that I was there to see it in all it's glory.

Recaps From People That Matter:
-A View From the Cheap Seats
-Bleatings From a Caps Nut
-Japers' Rink
-Off Wing Opinion (courtesy of On Frozen Blog)
-The Peerless Prognosticator

If you'll take a moment to look back to October, when the Calder Trophy was on display at Verizon Center, you'll remember that I had a little too much fun with my then-new camera phone. This time, it's a Cup instead of a Trophy, but my attitude towards my camera phone hasn't changed.


The Most Meaningless Statistic In Hockey

The Capitals, if you hadn't noticed, recently completed the first half of their season with a win over the Montreal Canadiens to give them a 17-17-7 record. Many people have said that it is quite an accomplishment to see this team finish the first half of the year with an even .500 record. What those people fail to realize is the utter meaninglessness of the term ".500" in the New NHL. Take a look at the standings and you'll see that, for all games completed through January 5th, there are 21 NHL teams with "above .500" records, while there are only eight who are "below .500".

By comparison, the NFL's recently completed season saw a total of 12 teams above five hundred and twelve teams below (with eight teams finishing even). The MLB's 2006 season had fourteen above and sixteen below, and the NBA to date has fourteen teams above and fifteen below (with one team even).

Can someone explain to me how it is that having twenty-one teams with supposedly above five hundred records is supposed to be good for the sport? I get that it creates the illusion of parity so that just about any fan can look at his or her tema and think "Hey, we're still right there in it!" but I think most fans are smart enough to look at the standings and realize that Gary Bettman is trying to pull the wool over their eyes. I get that complaining about the overtime loss rule is nothing new or original, but with the owner of the team saying "We are halfway through the season and we are a 500 team" as a way of encouraging fan support, we are all deluding ourselves a little bit. Say what you will about the shootout, the fact is that this team has lost 24 times so far this year.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This whole thing has a much more negative edge than I intended. I'm not trying to take anything away from what the Caps have accomplished. I assure you I am still wearing rose colored glasses and drinking plenty of Kool Aid. All I really wanted to do was rant about how stupid Gary Bettman's "New" NHL is.)


Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Caps fall behind early, run into a hot goaltender and ultimately fall just short in a valiant comeback effort at the end of the game. Sound familiar, doesn't it?

Not a whole lot to say about this game. The Caps didn't do any one thing particularly badly. They could stand to get a little more traffic in front of the net, as well as sending the puck there a litte bit more often as well, but this was one of those games where the Caps lost simply because the other team played better. In and of itself it's no big deal, but once you string it together with all their other losses and this one is kind of a disappointment.

It seems like every game they play during this losing streak, they run into a "hot goaltender". I'm starting to think that maybe it's not so much the opposing goalies. It's frustrating watching shot after shot land squarely in the logo on the goaltender's sweater. Today especially it seemed every shot was hitting the Coyote square in the mouth.

A few positives though: Brian Pothier bursts out of his goal scoring slump and adds himself to the long, illustrious list of players who have scored goals for the Washington Capitals. Sutherby also breaks out of his goal scoring slump and Matt Pettinger gets his first point in a long time. Hopefully, all these broken slumps by individual players will portend a similar turn around for the team as a whole.

Recaps From People That Matter
-Off Wing Opinion