23 April, 2014


A Change of Fortune and Fate in the Crease

Well, who has the goaltender controversy now?

And, how’s that Caps’ defense look right about now?

For a team that was rather thoroughly maligned for its defensive play upon arriving in Montreal on Sunday, the Capitals in game 3 gave a doozie of a debunking of that slur. Did you notice how seldom Habs’ forwards were able to get off shots off of the rush and instead often peeled back looking for trailer help? That’s prima facie evidence of exceptional defender positioning but also deft stick defending of additional attack space.

A great road team all season long, the Capitals on Monday night may have saved their best effort to date in ’09-10 on enemy ice. Knowing that 22,000-plus would welcome them in “Ole, ole, ole” fashion, but not necessarily with a booing of our national anthem, the Capitals as a team limited quality chances against youngster Semyon Varlamov in those vital first five to seven minutes of the opening frame. Then they executed the remainder of the period with textbook road hockey: by chipping pucks short and crisply off near boards and out of harm’s way, preventing Montreal from establishing its dazzling cycle game down low.

  • By chipping pucks out of harm’s way as successfully as they did Monday night, the Caps were able to establish speed on the puck in the neutral zone, in counter-attacks, and when they have that, they’re lethal.
  • Montreal played superb road hockey in games 1 and 2, and nearly left D.C. with two victories. Washington, unlike Montreal, has difference-makers throughout its lineup, and their heroics in game 2 got the series squared. Their compliments — the Capitals’ third- and fourth-liners — blew open game 3. Boyd Gordon got things started by persevering in tight on Halak and getting the Caps on the board short-handed. Matt Bradley’s final-minute tally Monday added, for this blogger at least, welcomed added rudeness by the guests for having been treated so shockingly inhospitably.
  • Speaking of great grinding, Jason Chimera authored a perfect pest’s effort in game 3. Like Mike Knuble and Brooks Laich, he’s driving hard to the net, and using his size there to great effect. He’s also employing that get-under-your-skin ethos in tight (Knuble is magnificently as well) that drives the opposing defense and its goaltender bonkers, and like last night, draws penalties. Chimera right now is looking like the savviest of trade deadline acquisitions by George McPhee.
  • Monday night’s second period reminded me of the third period in Chicago on St. Patrick’s weekend, when the Caps imposed their will on the Hawks, silencing cold a throaty throng and swiftly reversing a game’s momentum. It’s a thing to behold, when this Capitals’ team gets it MoJo going and goes tsunami, line after line, on quality clubs on their home ice. No other NHL club can do it with the lethal and spirit-sapping swagger that the Caps can.
  • No game this season could have prepared Semyon Varlamov for what he would face in Monday night’s opening 20 minutes, and yet he authored what was easily, given the stakes and circumstances, his most impressive outing of his young career.
  • Mike Vogel noted during the game that the Caps’ 4-0 lead represented the largest enjoyed by any team thus far in the 2010 postseason.
  • Eric Fehr has spent a fair portion of the past seven years listening to critics question his selection in the first round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. He had a goal and assist Monday night hard on the heels of a pivotal tally against Jaroslav Halak when the Caps were down 2-0 in game 2 on Saturday. He sure seems to like playing the Habs, and Washington’s hockey fans ought to freshly celebrate Fehr’s perseverance in overcoming a remarkable litany of serious injuries to emerge as a productive power forward, one who is likely to improve even more in the years ahead.
  • You know, most every memorable postseason run has a defining moment relatively early on, and John Carlson’s series-saver in game 2 may prove to be that for these Capitals. Where would they be this week absent his precocious last-minute heroics (again)?
  • The much lauded Bell Centre crowd chose to boo the American anthem. Comcast Sportsnet’s Lisa Hillary, on the air live in the postgame: “I was embarrassed to be a Canadian.”
  • What’s so jarring about this attack on our anthem — and Monday was hardly an exceptional outburst; the attacks date back some years now, and they’re most venomous in this Canadian city — is that 98.9 percent of Canadians are warm and genial and American-loving neighbors. Something profoundly sinister occurs up in Canada with a distinct and vocal minority seemingly in the isolation of the contemporary hockey rink. You want to approach these attackers, place your arms on their shoulders, look them square in the eye, and ask, ‘Is it really the case that you detest my nation and me, neighbor? No nation more aided my citizens on September 11, 2001. Would you do it again?’ The guess here is that the silence from Canadian media on this matter will be defeaning on Tuesday. The warriors on the ice in the NHL’s postseason surrender their hate at series’ end and honorably line up at center ice to shake hands. Some level of leadership up North is badly needed to suggest that hockey fans in Montreal follow this example.
  • The Capitals killed four of five Montreal extra-man advantages Monday, but the first three Habs’ power plays — all killed by the Caps — were terrifically important, as the game then was very much still in doubt.
  • The power play remains in a power outage — it’s in serious blackout, at 0-for-14 on the series — and a lot of that has to do with Alexander Semin’s struggles thus far. The LA Kings lead among the 16 clubs in the postseason operating at an amazing 58 percent efficiency. Two other clubs have like the Caps taken the collar a man up, Nashville and Buffalo. Right now, though, winning is what it’s all about.


34 Comments

  1. JessMan wrote:

    bunch of french-canadian jerks. stay classy dc

    20 April, 2010 at 7:45 am | Permalink
  2. Sonja wrote:

    Having grown up in Vermont, just south of Montreal, I can say that it’s fairly typical of that city to not have any respect at all for any anglo national anthem. Least of all, ours. It’s surprising that they do not boo their own …

    20 April, 2010 at 8:25 am | Permalink
  3. Got Stanley? wrote:

    Guys – if you’re going to game 5 on Friday in DC, sing the Canadian and US national anthems. If you don’t know the words, I’ll share, they’re easy enough (and Google-able, too). Seriously. Do it and pass it on.

    20 April, 2010 at 8:33 am | Permalink
  4. The Mule wrote:

    Who cares if they booed our national anthem. First of all it sucks. An argument could be made that it’s less an anthem, which is a song of praise or devotion, but rather a chest-beating call to arms and a celebration of war itself.

    Secondly, it’s a bunch of drunk French-Canadian hockey fans. Who cares what they do or think?

    Lastly, as someone who attended Saturday’s game at VC I can tell you that Canada’s national anthem also received scattered but clearly audible boos along with cries of “fuck your pointless country” not far from my seat.

    Personally, I was more offended by the boos for Ovechkin every time he touched the puck. I might expect this in Philly, where they forcibly puke on little girls, but this was CANADA. This guy has nearly single-handedly brought Canada’s beloved national sport back from the brink of near obscurity with his dominance, work ethic, and passion for the game iself. At least respect that, Don Cherry be damned.

    20 April, 2010 at 9:00 am | Permalink
  5. Hittman wrote:

    P&B…you must be a lawyer.

    20 April, 2010 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  6. pucksandbooks wrote:

    Hittman, I consider us virtual friends, and so I will attribute that libel to your composing pre-joe this morning.

    I’m with Shakespeare on lawyers. Excepting of course the two JDs at JP’s site. And Mr. McPhee. And Megyn Kelly.

    20 April, 2010 at 9:36 am | Permalink
  7. avidfan wrote:

    @ the mule….. Ovechkin brought hockey back from the dead???? Maybe in DC, but Canada could care less. Even Canada’s olympic hero, Crosby, gets booed when playing in Canada. Personally, I don’t understand the booing of any elite player. If you’re a fan of the game, and not some bandwagon type, it doesn’t make sense to boo someone who’s entertaining to watch! Look back to the 80′s and 90′s. Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier…. they never received anything but applause from opposing fans.

    20 April, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  8. avidfan wrote:

    oh! by the way…. DC and ‘classy’ should never be used in the same sentence.

    20 April, 2010 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  9. Hittman wrote:

    Then why the use of the term prima facie? That’s a legal term. Confession: I am a lawyer. That’ll be $500.

    20 April, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink
  10. Gabi wrote:

    I have seen every Caps game this year. The Caps still have to play better. I think people get clouded about what really happened when a game ends in 5-1. The Caps D played a lot better but did not play well. There were a lot of scoring chances for Montreal and Varly kept them in it. Those chances will turn into goals if they are given up by the Caps to a more skilled team. Don’t be disillusioned, they are not by any means playing Stanley Cup Champion level hockey right now. Keep working on improving. Lets go Caps!

    20 April, 2010 at 11:41 am | Permalink
  11. pucksandbooks wrote:

    @Hittman, relapse by a Latin-mandated Jesuit high school survivor, no more.

    20 April, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink
  12. Marjolaine wrote:

    Shame on you for being racist against the French-Canadians, Jessman. And shame on you, Frozen blog, for allowing their comments to be posted. Would you allow this nonsense to be posted if it were in reference to minorities of the US. Good God, where is your intelligence and maturity? There is a great amount of French-Canadians in the NHL. You don’t have to look too far, they also represent the Capitals. Shame on you for making this a fight between countries. You are awful. Now go back to baseball.

    Aslo, let go of the national anthem thing. It happens on both sides of the border. As for the boos to Ovie, it was about his nasty crap he did in game 2, shoving his glove in the oppenent’s faces. It’s not classy. Besides, it’s not your stadium, so stop your complaining.

    20 April, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Permalink
  13. Jordan wrote:

    I’ve never understood why anthems are played at sporting events. Many of the players in the NHL don’t come from North America, and the NHL is just a business anyway. As for booing the US anthem…who cares? I wouldn’t care if people in the United States booed the Canadian anthem cause I don’t care what they think. I know that Americans don’t care what Canadians think most of the time, so why care then if we boo your anthem? Just a thought, cause I couldn’t care less about the anthems to muster up the energy to boo them…

    Also, Ovechkin didn’t save hockey like “The Mule” writes. It would continue on without him. Once again (I sound like an apathetic teen here), why do I really care if hockey is a “big-time” sport? If it was just a niche sport only found in Canada, it would be just as good. If there was no such thing as the NHL, well, I would still play hockey and there wouldn’t be that much to miss.

    20 April, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
  14. penguin pete wrote:

    am i the only one who reads the above comment in a “pepe le pew” voice?

    20 April, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Permalink
  15. doc wrote:

    Well first of all Hockey is Canadian and I agree with Marjolaine.As we all know It alot of the Top NHL Players are Canadian. Wow the Caps Won last night can they carry on this style of Hockey on Wed lets see, Then Post your comments on the Caps game Thursday thats If they win??

    20 April, 2010 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  16. Zach wrote:

    I don’t know, Marjolaine is right, the booing of each respective National Anthem, has and always will occur when a Canadian and American team clash, Especially in the playoffs… If anything, Montreal has the right to boo whoever they want, I mean the Canadiens have won more stanley cups than anyother team, and also have the second most championships of any team world wide aside from the Yankees of baseball… Who gives a damn what they think and if they boo the Star Spangled Banner or not, because in the end (no offence to our canadian neighbors to the north) but an American team will win the Stanley, and no… it is not the capitals, screw them, it is not even the pens, screw them… but the loud and proud BLACKHAWKS!!! YEEEAAAAAAAHHHHHH

    20 April, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink
  17. The Mule wrote:

    @ Marjolaine: A glove in the face (i.e. a face wash) is as old as hockey itself. It’s not considered dirty. Just a way to ruffle an opponent’s feathers. They’re booing Ovi because of the Canadien media’s constant disparagement of his agressive style of play. That and a whole lot of jealousy.

    20 April, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  18. nafyekcoh wrote:

    Last night’s game was a good wini, but far from what it is going to take to hoist the Cup. There are still a few leaks on defense and the power play should be a major concern, 0-14 in the series from the best team in the regular season. Wow. Our grinders are doing the same thing they did last year against the Rangers, saving our bacon.

    20 April, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Permalink
  19. Jeff wrote:

    I live in Canada and went to a hockey boarding school where there were many french Canadian hockey players. They wouldn’t sing the Canadaian anthem or look at the flag while it was playing so I am not surprised by them booing the American anthem. Embarrassed but not surprised

    20 April, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  20. Marjolaine wrote:

    @Penguin Pete: If you are referring to me, I can tell you that I do not speak with a French accent (if the “Pepe le Pew” reference is what you mean).

    I’m born and raised in Montreal to a European mother and French-Canadian father. I attended French school until college and resided in an English neighborhood and spoke with ease in three languages at home with no trace of any accent. I now live in California and have for the last 25 years I’m married to an American and have four American-Canadian boys.

    Having lived on both sides of the border I eagerly defend each side when I feel there is an injustice. In these comments, there are plenty of injustices. To attack a culture, to call the fans “drunken French-Canadians” is horribly insulting. Clearly the commentators here don’t know the make-up, the nationalities of their OWN players. Someone in an earlier post even suggested that the crowd shout: USA, USA, USA at the second game. What? Do you really think that your Caps players are American?

    @mule: If all that the Montreal Bell Centre does is boo your anthem, you should be lucky. Your American television shows are riddled with insults towards Canadians. It has become an acceptable practice. So before you point your finger to Canada, take a good, hard honest look at yourself and your culture. I can go on and on as I’ve been a target to jokes and insults here in the US as well. But I’ll stop, I’m too upset.

    As for Ovitchkin. I think you are more upset at the boos then he is. I think he is a very, very talented player with a huge career ahead. But he’s also a show-off. And nobody likes a show-off. And I understand the term face wash. I just don’t like it.

    20 April, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Permalink
  21. TreKronor wrote:

    @ Marjolaine: I think you are overreacting. No one said here that all French-Canadians are jerks or drunks. I’ve read the article and comments several times and the references are simply to the toads who booed our land’s anthem – not all French-Canadians. The ones who booed are jerks and they are most likely French-Canadians. That would make them French-Canadian jerks – just like Americans who boo the Canadian anthem would be American jerks.

    20 April, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  22. pucksandbooks wrote:

    I love French Canadians — especially little Matty Perreault — although I don’t think I’d pay to see Celine Dion in Vegas. I do think the media contingent covering the Habs is way too large (especially on the road for an eighth seed), and it has crowded out a fair number of my blogger friends who’ve covered the Caps faithfully all season long. Not happy about that. But Le Studio in Quebec was the site for the recording of some of Rush’s best albums. I do laugh at some French Canadian jokes — like the one about two Americans being able to invade and conquer the province armed merely with two Whiffle Ball bats.

    20 April, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  23. Marjolaine wrote:

    @Trekronor: looking back, I guess I did over-react. But remember that Montreal is full of Anglos too. Not only French-Canadians. Saying ‘a bunch of drunken Canadians’ would be more accurate. :) Also, what Sonja wrote doesn’t make sense. She says that Montreal doesn’t have any respect for any Anglo anthem. Define ‘any’. Do you mean the Canadian, American, British, Irish, Australian anthems? I’m confused.

    20 April, 2010 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  24. Martin wrote:

    @TREKRONOR:

    It could also be english canadian jerks..

    I believe that not all Habs fans are french…

    Patriotism is far more present in english culture than french canadian culture….just look at the olympics and how obsessed the people were…

    the Montreal Canadians are 100 years old, when you could barely be able to speak french in a train or restaurant of Montreal….

    Yes of course we got a couple of incredible Quebec French speaking players…

    But the direction remained English..

    A lot of fans are english, and presuming that it’s the french that booed is, by my opinion, prejudice…

    And penguin Pete, the next time I hear that French Residents from Quebec are racist, I’ll think of your stupid ass….plenty of you dicks on your end.

    20 April, 2010 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  25. sean wrote:

    Hab’s fans in general are idiots, they got miffed when Saku Koivu(The Captain of their team at the time) couldn’t speak French when he accepted an award. They booed Halak after he gave up the third goal and the whole team at other intervals. I may be wrong, but I don’t think we have booed our goalies. And can we get over the hand-wringing going on in here, this is Hockey. Face-Washing is bad? Hockey players learn proper Face-Wash techniques at an early age.

    20 April, 2010 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  26. Patrick wrote:

    It does sadden me to hear “booing” during any national anthem. Our two countries have coexisted (not without friction) for a long time and I feel a kind of brotherly love with my friends from the USA. I find it disgraceful and disrespectful, and wish it wouldn’t happen, but unfortunately some fans choose to jeer the opposing anthem. I don’t think there is a solution to this lack of proper upbringing. I just hope that US citizens don’t paint all Canadians with the same brush as these perpetrators of ill-behavior. Cheers to all Cap fans regardless of your country of origin! Rock the Red with pride, one and all!

    20 April, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink
  27. Pucks, it’s funny you bring up the crazy amount of media the Habs seem to bring along for the series. I was down at practice this past Friday and HAD to take a photo and write about the obscene amount of camera equipment and personnel that found it’s way into the tiny space allotted for questions by the rink in my latest blog post!

    20 April, 2010 at 11:58 pm | Permalink
  28. The Mule wrote:

    Marjolaine: Take a pill. I’m not pointing any fingers at Canada. I’m pointing fingers at your sports media who unfairly bash Ovechkin. In fact if you read my comments (other than the “drunken French Canadian” one – which was admittedly unfair) I pretty much defend Canada and their fans for booing our anthem.

    Not only that, I DID and DO take a long hard look at my country and its culture by pointing out our own fans who booed and spat insults at your country unfairly Saturday night. Hell I even committed Internet suicide by criticizing my OWN national anthem as “sucking.” It’s a song about a FLAG not a country.

    So please read my comments fully before accusing me of things that I’m clearly not guilty of. Believe me when I tell you that I wish this country was much more like Canada. Au revoir, mademoiselle.

    21 April, 2010 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  29. David wrote:

    Old Habs’ Motto:

    “Nos bras meurtris vous tendent le flambeau, à vous toujours de le porter bien haut”

    Translation: “To you from failing hands we throw the torch. Be yours to hold it high.”

    New Habs’ Fan Motto:

    “Je Deteste, Conséquent Je Suis”

    Translation: “I Hate, Therefore I Am

    21 April, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink
  30. David wrote:

    Why has my comment been awaiting moderation for almost an hour?

    21 April, 2010 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  31. Joe wrote:

    Problem is that many Caps fans diss the National Anthem themselves by screaming “RED” or the utterly ridiculous “O”. They have no basis to whine about what the Montreal fans did.

    21 April, 2010 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
  32. admin wrote:

    David wrote:
    Why has my comment been awaiting moderation for almost an hour?

    Because we have day jobs. For most of us, hockey blogging doesn’t pay the mortgage.

    21 April, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Permalink
  33. The Mule wrote:

    Good point Joe. It’s sort of disrespectful to scream out during anyone’s anthem for any reason. Especially that O crap. Hey Orioles fans: Go away. DC has its own team now and they suck a lot less than yours lately.

    22 April, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  34. Rick wrote:

    Problem is that many Caps fans diss the National Anthem themselves by screaming “RED” or the utterly ridiculous “O”. They have no basis to whine about what the Montreal fans did.

    24 April, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink