Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Caps v Islanders (Feb 28th)

Tonight the Caps hosted the Isles at Verizon center.  This season the Caps haven't been able to beat the team from long island and tonight was looking like that trend wasn't going to end.  Thankfully, thanks to a huge 3rd period performance from the team and a big GWG in OT from Ovie the Capitals managed to pull off a win.  Read below to see how the CSN crew did tonight!

3rd Star (1 pt):

Julie!  After a long absence Julie made an appearance tonight for CSN during the 1st intermission and postgame.  Now, its no secret that I am a huge Julie fan.  In fact, my co blogger has to be the voice of reason in a lot of circumstances to keep me from placing her at the top each time she is on.  But tonight where no body really stood out from the pack to grab third he threw me a bone, so bare with me.  Julie came out with her signature energy and immediately put a smile on my face even though we were losing.  How does she manage to do this no matter what the score is?  Who knows?  Most likely explanation is she is a powerful witch (like a good, cool witch who is nice to people and not ugly).  Anyways, she lifted my spirits and made me hopeful that the Caps could pull things together and win the game.  Guess what, that is what happened!  Sure she didn’t wear red (but she looks good in blue!). Sure she stumbled a bit during the first intermission (she hasn’t been on in awhile, she was rusty!).  Sure she just repeated the same things she said in the first intermission during the postgame (it still sounded good.  If it aint broke...).  Sure everything I just wrote is absolutely ridiculous.  Seriously though, while her performance tonight was flawed she probably did enough to earn a 3rd place finish.  If only she would go back to saying “lets look at some action on the ice” like she used to during the intermissions there would be no stopping her from taking first place night after night.  (She hasn’t uttered that phrase since I started this blog...) -Dru    

2nd Star (2 pts):

Alan May.  What can be said about Alan May tonight.  Well the dude clearly knows what he is talking about.  He is always telling anybody who will listen that the Caps need to get the puck to the net and have bodies in front of it to score.  Guess what, when the Caps did that in the 3rd they scored and won the game.  Imagine that.  In the post game May was the first guy to remind everyone that the Caps played awful for most of the game and made the comment that he enjoyed watching tonight’s “5 min game”.  There was a nice back and forth banter between May and Carlin during the highlights, banter that May won handily (though Carlin actually held his own for awhile).  Of course there were plenty of classic “May-moments” in the post game as well.  For example, when Carlin said Neuvy wasn’t tested very much tonight May was absolutely speechless and refused to help him analyzing the highlight.  He also expressed how much he was looking forward to the defensive struggle with the Devils coming up on Friday (his voice was dripping with sarcasm).  Finally, he told Carlin and all the viewers at home that he doesn’t care about “home” games and “road” games.  All he cares about is wins.  Amen Alan, Amen.    

1st Star (3 pts):

Joe B takes tonight’s top prize.  Joe B had a typically strong game doing play-by-play tonight but there are two very specific reasons that he finds himself atop the list tonight.  First, Joe B seems to have mastered the art of the “anti-jinx”.  This season has seen countless examples of CSN personalities jinxing the Capitals and we have reamed them for it every time.  However, tonight Joe B did something new.  He used the power of the jinx to help the team by talking about how Nabokov had shut out the Cap’s for the last four periods.  Lo and behold the Caps scored not once, not twice, but three times on Nabby to come back and win.  If Joe B can use his jinx powers for good instead of evil from here on out the team is in good shape for the stretch run.  The second thing Joe B did tonight to earn his top finish had to do with the player of the game Troy “Browser” Brouwer.  Apparently before the game, Joe B had spoken to Troy about his rough February and lack of point production.  Well I’m not sure what Joe B said to the Browser but he broke out of his slump tonight in spectacular fashion with two scores in the third.  Can we have Joe B talk to all the players before every game?  Please and thank you!  Joe B’s powerful anti-jinx and his magic he worked on Troy are what pushed him into the top spot tonight.  Thank you Joe B! (As a side note, this finish places Joe B in a tie with his broadcast partner Locker for second place.  GASP!)

Last Star (-1 pt):

Good ol’ Gormley. To be honest, we’ve seen Chuck down here at the bottom so often we’re kind of running out of mean things to say. Granted, all of the mean stuff we’ve said so far is pretty much still true: No personality, not very interesting, awkward, bad at plugging his articles, etc. And he was certainly all of those things tonight. In fact, I honestly don’t even remember what he was talking about. So instead, we’ll just address the fact that in the two days leading up to the deadline, Gormley wrote a bunch of bullshit about trading Ovechkin for Nash. Yeah, cause trading Ovechkin for a not as good version of himself, minus the rockstar personality that makes him so marketable, on just as awful a contract would be a smart move for the Caps. Except not. At all. Part of me thinks that maybe Chuck really is deluded enough to think that that would actually be a good idea, but not even he can be that naive, can he? No, more likely Chuck is using incendiary headlines and crackpot theories without any real substance in an effort to garner some page views so he can show the numbers to his editor and go, “Look! People care what I have to say! I’m important!” Even though nobody really does and he really isn’t.

That's all we have for you tonight.  We'll see you back here on Friday for the Caps v Devils.  Thanks for reading and check out the standings on the right hand side of the blog.  Its getting close and we are coming down to the end! (also vote in the poll if you haven't, we might give out a fan favorite award based on it if we get enough votes)

Now that the dust has settled...

Well, that was pretty fucking lame. Totally not worth skipping a class and goofing off at work for.

Who am I kidding? There's never a bad reason to do either of those things. Regardless, though, yesterday was pretty boring as trade deadlines go, especially for Caps fans. It marked the first time in a number of years George McPhee didn't make a single move on deadline day. Why not? According to GMGM, there were no deals out there. He fielded calls, but all anyone wanted to offer was futures, prospects, and draft picks. McPhee wanted to make a 'hockey deal,' but none were out there.

Not sure about anybody else, but I find his refusal to flip expiring contracts a little bit alarming, especially because at least one (Wideman) is at the highest selling point of his career, and two (Wideman and Vokoun) will almost certainly not be back next season. To me, that means McPhee thinks this Caps team is 'fine,' and that is more disturbing than any deal he could have made today.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying George should have gone out and mortgaged the future for rentals to try to make a cup run this season; far from it. But at least buying would have been a tacit admission by McPhee that this team simply wasn't good enough and needed help. Now, since it's my belief that this team as currently constructed, regardless of any potential deadline band-aids, cannot successfully compete for a cup this season, I think buying would have been a waste. Instead, George should have flipped said expiring contracts for futures in an effort to either build up assets that could be flipped this summer to fill a position of need *coughsecondlinecentercough* as part of a 'hockey deal', or to simply build up the organization's talent pipeline to hopefully be a more solid contender a year or two down the road. But he didn't. The fact that GMGM didn't implies to me that either he thinks this team this season has a reasonable chance at a deep playoff run (and if that's the case, I'd say he's suffering from delusions of grandeur), or slipping into the playoffs with no real chance of success is more important to management/ownership than taking steps to make the team stronger for the future. There's no other explanation for letting high value assets walk for nothing this summer. And that, to me, is the most disturbing aspect of this year's deadline.

But then, if I knew anything about the game...

Monday, February 27, 2012

Deadline Day!

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year again. The day when NHL GMs either desperately overpay to acquire aging veterans that they believe to be the "missing piece" that will lead them to the Stanley Cup, or finally realize their season is probably toast and sell off all of their expiring contracts in exchange for crappy draft picks. It's Trade Deadline Day, my second favorite day of the year! Yeah, I like Free Agent Frenzy better because it happens to coincide with my birthday. Sue me.

Unfortunately, the Caps' play of late hasn't really been consistently good or bad enough to firmly entrench them in either the 'buyer' or 'seller' category. As of this morning, they've played badly sit on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, but well enough that they're still hanging around and could make it. Of course, in my humble opinion, whether the Caps actually make the playoffs at this point is pretty much irrelevant. Anyone who believes this Capitals team, given everything that's happened this year, is going to be a serious Stanley Cup threat, is quite frankly deluding themselves. So here's to hoping we sell, sell, sell!

I'll continue to update this post with my oh-so-insightful commentary and news of anything that happens to go down involving the Caps (or whatever else I feel like mentioning) between now and the 3:00pm EST deadline, assuming my job doesn't decide to be stupid and make me do stuff.

11:55AM:  Wake up (don't judge me).  The only deal that has been made is Montreal's Andrei Kostitsyn to Nashville for a hand full of picks in 2013.  #gopreds. (dru)

12:07PM: The noon number over at Japer's Rink was 90.  Thought MJ90 had been traded and had a heart attack.  False alarm though. (dru)

12:17pm: As Dru mentioned, the only move so far has been Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal to Nashville for a 2nd and a conditional 5th in 2013. This trade reunites Andrei with brother Sergei, which gives Nashville two Tits instead of one, and two tits are always better than one. Winner: Nashville.

Still all quiet on the Caps front.

12:22pm:Taking a quick look, the Caps have a number of assets that could be of interest to a contending team should George McPhee choose to sell.
First and foremost, Tomas Vokoun:
With a 23-16-6 record, a .917 SV% and 2.52 GAA in 44 games, and a cap-friendly $1.5 million contract that expires at the end of this year, Vokoun is easily the best goaltender to potentially be available at the deadline in years, and could probably fetch a first and/or a solid prospect from an interested team. In particular, Chicago or Detroit out west could use the help in goal, and potentially Toronto or Ottawa (seeing as Craig Anderson just demolished his wrist with a steak knife) in the east. Neither of the latter two would seem to be likely given that the Caps are directly competing with them for a playoff spot, but I can't help but wonder if a Vokoun for Grabovski trade wouldn't be worth it.

Reasons not to trade Vokoun: Easily the best goalie Washington's had in years. Any chance we have in the playoffs is basically going to involve him getting hot and stealing a series or two himself.
Reasons TO trade Vokoun:...Any chance we have in the playoffs basically comes down to him getting hot and stealing a round or two. Which means our odds of winning a cup this season are not very good (duh), and we'd probably be better off flipping him for good value to try to build a team for next year that could win in the playoffs without relying on luck and one guy.

12:45pm: Next up, Dennis Wideman. At 10-28-38, -3 in 62 games, Wideman is a solid offensive threat from the blue line and questionable on defense. He's also 4-14-18 on the power play, and is most definitely at a "sell high" moment after making the All-Star game this season. A UFA this summer, he will most likely be out of the Capitals' price range and therefore they should look to move him, especially with Green back.

Reasons NOT to trade Wideman: Best offensive defenseman the Caps have not named Mike Green. And Mike Green has been fragile lately.
Reasons TO trade Wideman: Sell high, plus he's basically an older, cheaper, less shitty version of Jack Johnson... And if Johnson and a first is worth Jeff Carter... Plus, Green's injuries should hopefully be less of an issue moving forward from his surgery, and no question Green is the better overall defenseman. Best move is to get something for Wideman before we lose him to free agency.

12:53PM: Red Wings send Mike Commodore to Tampa Bay for a conditional 7th round pick.  Commodore is a pretty good rank in the navy (the best rank?) so I guess it's a good trade for Tampa. (dru)

1:01PM: The Oilers send Tom Gilbert to the Wild in return for Nick Schutlz.  Hell, if the Oilers want another dude named Schutlz on their team I could think of a place they could find one... (dru)

1:03pm: Commodore to TBL is a bit of a head-scratcher for me. Last I checked, Tampa was selling, and roster player for a 7th smacks to me of a salary dump, but Commodore's cap hit is only $1 million. Perhaps Detroit needed the space for a bigger move later on (they now have $4.7 million in cap space). We'll see what happens.

As far as Gilbert for Schultz goes, my guess is Minnesota wanted to add a little bit of scoring from the blue line. All I know about Nick Schultz is he has the same name and number as Jeff Schultz.

1:46PM: Tampa Bay picks up another d-man, this time getting Keith Aulie from Toronto and sending back...something to be announced later.  I thought Tampa was going to be selling but so far they are buy, buy, buy. (dru)

1:49PM: That didn't take long.  The player Tampa sends to Toronto is forward Carter Ashton. (dru)

2:01PM: Multi-player deal.  Sharks acquire forwards Daniel Winnik and TJ Galiardi along with a 7th round pick from Colorado.  Still waiting to hear what the Avs got in return. (dru)

2:04PM: Tampa continues to eat up all the defenders by grabbing Brain Lee from the Sens.  TBA what Tampa had to part with. (dru)

2:07PM: Vancouver picks up forward Sami Pahlsson from Cbus.  They agree to send back a player and draft pick, both TBA.  As a rookie covering my first trade deadline let me just say, this is intense. (dru)

2:10PM: Blackhawks get forward Johnny Oduya from the Jets.  What the Hawks send back TBA.  Also Tampa Bay sent D-man Matt Gilroy back to Ottawa in the deal that brought Brain Lee to the Lightning. (dru)

2:14PM: The Avas receive forwards Jamie Mcginn, Mike Connolly, and Michael Sgarbossa from San Jose.  That makes their deal a 5 player +a draft pick deal.  That's a lot of dudes! (dru)

2:15PM: Receiving word from my associate blogger that the Pahlsson deal makes Vancouver one of, if not the deepest, teams in the league at the C position. (dru)

2:18PM: Still nothing on the Caps side of things.  GMGM still has the better part of this hour to make something happen but I'm getting a bit nervous. (dru)

2:30PM: Only 30mins to go.  Caps remain inactive.  Somebody has got to want some of our guys right?

In other rumor-related news Nash is still available but it looks like he wont be going to the Rangers or the Preds.  It seems like San Jose swept in and stole the Avas pair of forwards from Boston, who was looking to make a deal with Colorado.  It also seems like a lot of teams (PHI, TOR, OTT) are in the market for a goalie still.  Hear that GMGM?  I also keep hearing Steve Ott's named in connection with Vancouver so we will see what happens there. (dru)

2:38PM: Details on the Oduya deal.  The Hawks sent a 2nd and 3rd round pick (2013) back to the Jets.  In the Pahlsson deal, Vancouver is sending two 4th round picks back to Cbus, with the year of those picks still TBA. (dru)

2:45PM: Last bit of info coming in now about the Van-Cbus trade.  Cbus's two 4th round picks are for 2012.  Coming into the home stretch now! (dru)

2:48PM: I really don't get putting Nicky on LTIR if GMGM wasn't planning on using up the cap space.  My associate blogger tells me Statsny's cap hit is about the same as Nicky's. Hmmmm.... (dru)

2:55PM: UUUUUGGGGHHHHH. That is all. (dru)

3:01PM: And that brings things to a close.  Have to wait and see if deals went down that went unreported.  Nothing from the Caps at this point in time however. (dru)

3:03PM: That was a pretty fun/exciting experience.  Even without the Caps making a deal (as far as we know) I had a lot of fun covering today.  Stay tuned for more updates if any news trickles in.  Also expect some more in-depth analysis of today's deals once my associate blogger gets free from work! (dru)

3:06PM: Word of a deal between the Boston and NYI.  Boston gets defensemen Brian Rolston and Mike Motteau from the Isles.  What the Bruins send back TBA. (dru)

3:08PM: Another deal coming in, Preds get forward Paul Gaustad from Buffalo.  What Nashville sent back is TBA.

With word of these two deals coming in there is still some hope that the Caps managed to get something done at the last second. (dru)

3:13PM: Boston gets another deal done.  Bringing in Greg Zanon from the Wild for a player TBA. (dru)

3:15PM: Wild got D-man Steve Kampfer in the Zanon deal. (dru)

3:20PM: Isles get forward Yannick Riendeau and Dman Marc Cantin in their deal with Boston. (dru)

3:21PM: Preds also get a 5th round pick along with Paul Gaustad and send a 1st round pick back to Buffalo. (dru)

3:22PM: Rangers pick up John Scott from Blackhawks in return for a 5th round pick. (dru)

3:26PM: Leafs acquire D Mark Fraser from the Ducks.  Ducks get D Dale Mitchell back in return. (dru)

3:28PM: Gonna leave my desk for the first time today.  Be back in a few minutes with more updates. (dru)

3:43PM: Back.  Vancouver picks up Zack Kessian and Marc-Andre Gragnani from Buffalo.  Buffalo receives Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer back. (dru)

4:04PM: With an hour past the dead coming and going still no news out of the Capitals front office.  Vancouver has inked another deal sending Sebastian Erixon to the Ducks in return for Andrew Gordon.  This is probably the last live update we will be doing here.  At this point it looks like 15 trades were made containing 31 players and 11 draft picks.  Check back later today for a new post that will talk about today's deals and non-deals.  Thanks for reading! (dru)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Caps V Leafs (Feb 25)

Tonight the Caps looked to keep the moment rolling on the road in Toronto.  They did not disappoint.  With a strong 4-2 victory tonight the Caps are keeping themselves in the playoff hunt and giving us reasons not the throw in the towel as fans.  If this team can play like they did tonight and add some much need pieces at the trade deadline (see Alan May's comments) then I like what they could do down the stretch.  However those are two HUGE ifs and ones that this team has given us no indication they are capable on fulfilling.  Lets hope I'm wrong!  Read what we thought of the CSN crew below:

3rd Star (1 pt):

Tonight’s third star is Locker.  Locker spent the pregame talking up the city of Toronto, sending zingers at May (though not as many as he received), and highlighting the outstanding play of Neuvy of late.  As the game got underway, Locker explained the importance of teams trying to get certain matchups out on the ice in such an important game and how that would be effecting the line changes during the night.  He went on to talk about MoJo and how he has had to fill in for NB19 and what his speed brings to the team.  During the first intermission, Locker interviewed MoJo and asked if it was "your" best road period in a long time. Not sure if Locker meant "your" as in his personally, or "your" as in the team’s collectively. Johansson chooses to interpret it as the latter. Good, unselfish attitude. Locker also calls him “the king of wraparounds.”  Locker also interviewed Aucoin in the second intermission and it was really nice to see a guy who has paid his dues down in the AHL to get some recognition.  The thing that kept Locker from scoring higher tonight was a few contradictory statements he made.  First: “The 4 on 4 play should benefit the Caps”, followed by, “The Leafs great team speed should really be an advantage on this 4 on 4”.  Second: “The Caps cannot let the Leafs get on the PP tonight if they want to win.”, followed by, “The Leafs are 1-15 in PP over the last few games.  Their PP has really fizzled of late.”  What gives Locker?            

2nd Star (2 pts):

Alan May.  May was paired up with Dave Johnson tonight, so you know it was going to be a good show.  May spent the pregame show making fun of Toronto fans for being “flat”, taking shots at Locker, and talking about how important it is that the Caps make a move to acquire a player at the trade deadline that can fill the 1C/2C gap on this team, long term.  AMEN.  We like to think May’s particularly high volume of zingers aimed at Locker tonight was because both men are currently 1-2 in the AOTI standings as we enter the home stretch of the season, and May appears quite intent on going in for the kill. Locker seemed really want to be friends with May postgame: After being asked whether he preferred aggressive or passive play, Locker said, “Aggressive. Remember? You and I are on the same page.” May’s response? “You must be drinking that Canadian beer.” Translation: Nice try, Locker, but I’m bringing this thing home. I also rather enjoyed May’s description of playing aggressive hockey: “Two ways to go into a fight: Either go in throwing punches, or wait for the other guy to hit you. I’d rather be the guy throwing punches.” Well said, Alan, well said. Hopefully the Caps take note.

1st Star (3 pts):

Dave Johnson. Been a while since we’ve seen Johnson working with May, but their chemistry is as strong as ever. Nothing against Rob Carlin, but he just doesn’t bring the same kind of fellow tough-guy demeanor to the table, and he always seems a little bit intimidated by Alan May (and really, who could blame him? May is a scary fucker when he wants to be). Johnson, on the other hand, shows no fear. Even on top of his rapport with May, Johnson seems to have made a noticeable effort to improve his hockey knowledge since we saw him last. While he’s never been shy about offering his own commentary and analysis alongside May’s, tonight he seemed more insightful and in the groove than in the past. Also made me laugh: “It’s warm in February in DC, Winnipeg is leading the Southeast Division, and Alan and Locker agree. The world is obviously coming to an end.” No argument here. Take note, CSN. Keep these guys together. They’re great.

Last Star (-1 pt):

Jill Sorenson.  This was the first time in awhile that Jill was behind the CSN anchor desk and we were pretty excited to see her.  She always comes off as one of the more knowledgeable members of the CSN anchor crew.  Everything she wore tonight was a shade of red (mostly pink), which was a little much but still I like the team spirit.  She showed us her trademark “knowledgeableness” (sure that’s a word) by sounding surprised that the Caps were winning on the road.  She also had trouble saying “Southeast division-leading Winnipeg Jets” with a straight face and had to suppress a chuckle.  Unfortunately for Jill, she ruined an otherwise decent outing by talking about a Neuvy going for the shut out...in the second period.  With how much she clearly knows about hockey you’d think she would of know not to jinx him like that.  In the postgame Jill started out by giving us an apology from the bottom of her heart for jinxing Neuvy, which was nice and shows that she realized what she did and probably won’t do it again.

Thats what we have for you tonight.  As you know, the NHL trade deadline is this Monday.  That day we have something special planned for you guys.  My associate blogger Murshawursha is going to be Live-Blogging the entire day to keep you up to date with all the moves that go down along with his own commentary on the happenings of the day.  I'll be assisting him, but he lives for the trade deadline and this is going to be mostly his thing.  Look for a potential post setting up the Live-Blog coming sometime tomorrow, or if that doesn't happen just be prepared to jump right in to it on Monday morning.  It should be pretty great and I hope you all check it out!  The only other news is there is a new post up over at Fantasy Town, USA.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Caps v. Habs (Feb 24)

I swear this hockey team is like Jekyll and and Hyde at home and on the road. After laying two major eggs in Carolina and Ottawa that had me convinced this team was toast, they went out and relatively dominated the (admittedly weak) Canadiens on the back of a 2-point night from Chimera, a beautiful one-timer from Ovie, a meeting of preparation and opportunity for Perreault, and a strong goaltending performance from Neuvirth with his parents in attendance. I love watching this team win, but I can't help but be a little bit worried this is going to convince McPhee he doesn't have to sell on Monday (which he absolutely should, regardless). Anyway, onto the scores!

Third Star (1 pt):
Carol Maloney. Loved Carol’s first intermission report on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s potentially devastating injury during a KHL game today. Liked the fact that we got a prospect report instead of highlights, especially because I’d been waiting for an update on Kuz’s status since the news of his injury broke earlier today. Carol informed us that preliminary MRIs came back negative and the injury didn’t look that serious, so thanks for that. She probably could have scored higher, but she struggled a bit going over the Devils/’Nucks highlights in the postgame show. Hopefully that’ll improve as she covers more hockey in the future.

Second Star (2 pts):
Michael Jenkins, wearing a vest. Jenkins came on for the second intermission wearing a snazzy vest and an awesome red-and-blue striped tie. Rocking the Red AND Blue? That’s above and beyond the call of duty right there. Ran through the Devils/Canucks highlights with enthusiasm. Solid performance and excellent style choice lands Jenkins the second star.

First Star (3 pts):
Al Koken. Smokin’ Al was a busy man tonight, rocking 5 interviews (that I saw, anyway). Also doesn’t hurt his case that he interviewed my three favorite players. During the first period, he did his “Bite of the Night” with Jim Johnson, who always has a good quote. Spoke with AotI favorite Mathieu Perreault during the first intermission, and opened with a joke about how “Scoring with your stick is better than scoring with your face,” and asked about the importance of scoring first. For the second intermission, Koken spoke with a rather winded-looking Ovechkin, who seemed out of breath while he answered Smokin’ Al’s questions. Koken asked him whether the Caps were having more fun out there, and that was helping their game. Ovechkin responded that there was no fun before the game because they needed to focus. After the game, Al interview Michael Neuvirth and discovered that Neuvy’s parents were in attendance tonight. Also sparked a cool moment when he asked Neuvirth how important the home crowd was to the team. Neuvirth gave the fans a shout-out, saying that the team appreciated our support and needed us to bring it every night, which of course evoked a roar from the crowd. Koken topped off his night by interviewing Jason Chimera in the locker room. Chimmer talked a mile a minute, so I didn’t really catch any of it, but Koken did make sure to ask him about the fun-factor of tonight’s game, and Chimera responded much the same way Ovie did.

Last Star (-1 pt):
Surprise, it's Chuck Gormley! I actually turned on the game a little late tonight, so I missed Chuck's bit. So, since I didn't get to see it firsthand, I'm going to go ahead and let the commentariet over at the Japers' Rink Gameday Thread take it away for this one...

"Can someone with strep throat go visit Gormley?"

"The awkward is back with Gromley"

"I can’t believe I unmuted my TV to hear Gormley. Bad timing on my part."

"Chuck Gormely is the worst sports announcer in front of the camera, ever."

So there you have it, folks. It's not just us.

We'll be back tomorrow when the Caps take on the Leafs at Air Canada Center. Still not sure if I want the Caps to win. On the one hand, well, I'm a fan, so I want them to win. On the other, I don't want anything that can possibly make McPhee think this team is okay to happen before Monday. G'night.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Caps v Canes (Feb 20)

In about as close as you can get to a must win at this point in the season the Caps came out uninspired and with no energy and got waxed by the Canes in a 5-0 thumping.  Terrible game all around for everyone.  Read about how the CSN crew did on a night when the hockey team they cover was clearly not interested in playing hockey:

3rd Star (1 pt):

Locker.  The third spot tonight goes to Locker by default.  That isn’t to say he didn’t do a quality job providing color commentary, he just didn’t have all that much to commentate on.  His telestrations were both terrible plays for the Caps and there were no players available for him to interview during the intermissions.  There were also zero Caps highlights that he could talk about.  Its a little funny that he wanted Mike Green to be the deciding factor in tonights game and Green was on for most of the Cane’s goals.  I suppose he DID play a factor in the outcome though.  At the end of the game Locker let us know that the players on the bench would be feeling really terrible about tonight and said that everyone just wanted to go home.  Yes indeed Locker, yes indeed.         

2nd Star (2 pts):

Michael Jenkins. Jenkins got stuck covering both intermissions and postgame tonight. Opened the first intermission showing highlights of the Senators manhandling the Islanders to the tune of 6-0 earlier today, which made us feel slightly better because it could be worse, we could be Islanders fans. Showed Sens/Isles highlights again during the second intermission. Didn’t have the same cathartic effect the second time around, but then, there was no other hockey to talk about today. Made a plea for the Caps to score a bunch in the third as he signed off, which we couldn’t really argue with. When he came on right at the end of the game to set the table for Sportsnight, he didn’t even mention hockey. Normally we’d probably knock him for that, but fuck it, we really didn’t want to be reminded of the Caps tonight. Covered the basic high(or low?) lights and moved on to other topics as quickly as possible, which again was an act of mercy tonight. Course, it wouldn’t have been a Jenkins showing without at least a little creepiness showing through; we’re pretty sure we saw him wink at us as he signed off the second intermission. Still though, Jenkins sounded interested and engaged in all the highlights he covered; props for staying upbeat and not phoning it in like the Caps did during that clusterfuck. That, plus the fact that he didn’t dwell on painful moments during postgame, gets him the second star.

1st Star (3 pts):

Joe B.  Tonight was unbearable to watch and Joe B knew it.  Most nights when the Caps struggle Joe looks on the bright side of things and tries to keep us upbeat.  Well not tonight.  His utter disappointment in the team tonight was audible in every call he made.  He said it was the worst night of hockey he could remember, and that is saying something in a season that has seen the Caps lay some pretty big eggs.  Joe didn’t get any Caps goals to call, he didn’t get any highlights to show us, and he got 2 ½ fights to talk about that weren’t even that great.  The team gave him absolutely nothing to work with tonight and despite that he managed to be the most entertaining portion of the broadcast.  His constantly taking shots at the team and his self deprecating humor helped me struggle through this game when honestly I just wanted to tune out (maybe catch the Wiz over on CSN+).  The only moment tonight that made me smile came courtesy of Joe B when he said, “he’d never waive his no trade clause to leave Locker” during the 2nd intermission.  It was nice of him to remind me what a genuine smile felt like.  To cap off his performance, Joe B gave the player of the game to Hendy.  That’s right, tonight kinda fighting a dude twice and getting an even +/- rating qualified him as the player of the game.  Thank you Joe B for your work tonight and I’m so, so sorry you had to suffer through that.  (Joe B also let us know that Julie Donaldson and Chick will be at the Laughing Man Tavern this Friday to watch the Caps game!  So that’s pretty cool.)
Last Star (-all the points, hopes, and dreams):

Well that's all we have for tonight.  It was a brutal game to watch from start to finish and we salute anyone who managed to make it. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to follow me on twitter @dru90, comment below, and vote in our poll.

Thanks again,

PS. For those of you who do follow me on twitter you may have seen I teased a new blogging project that'll run during the NHL off season.  AOTI will still be posting, but less frequently, and I will be putting stuff up on Fantasy Town, USA as well.  It's still in the planning stages but feel free to hop on over there and check it out. -Dru

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Caps v Lightning (Feb 18)

Talkin’ bout hockey.  Girl Style.

Behind the men of Action on the Ice stand two women, Deanna and Megan. Deanna has been with Nick for 2 years and Megan has been with Andrew for over 4 years. This blog post is where we make our feature as guest bloggers on Action on the Ice where a womanly perspective will enhance the normal blogging our men give you from game to game! Enjoy while you can, because after this we probably won’t be allowed to do this again! So... Welcome to Action on the Ice. Where the points don’t matter. That’s right, the points are just like penalty minutes to Semin!

    So why are the girls doing the post tonight? Well, our boys have had an easy week with most of the games appearing on the NBC Sports Network and then two games in a row? Well..That isn’t fully correct. We took the opportunity to write on this blog with pride, but boy was it hard to write the post for a game that really couldn’t compare to the show the Caps did last night. Good for you though! We aren’t tasked with giving out points, that is apparently a man-only field.
    The pregame show was actually amazing tonight. The time before the game was well spent as Alan May gave us a nice interview with Papa Bear Dale Hunter talking about the win last night and how proud he was of his boys. They even talked about the high save percentage Vokoun had against Florida! How could we possible lose with Vokoun who was in the 90% for saves?! Alan May even dropped hints that Mike Green may be playing tonight, and guess what? Alan May was correct. This was the first game Mike Green was back after his surgery! Being an avid Nuevy fan my night was crushed as I did learn that Vokoun would be playing because of that high save percentage. There was more talk of the trade deadline and Joe B asked the tough question of Halpern of “how does it feel with the deadline approaching?” It was a really interesting question to get into the psyche of this player, and I think if I was giving points Joe B and Alan May would definitely have top spots. The sad thing though? It was another night without Backstrom as they told us he was still out indefinitely. Feel better, Backstrom!

    The game started off giving us hope. The clip of the CAPS men appeared, they were all dressed to the nines in suits, making us forget their toothless grins and misaligned faces. They looked like men, and dashing men at that!  However this was a ploy. This was all apart of the plan to make our CAPS boys, men, when in fact they played on the ice like babies!  The announcers had to include calling “Ovie”, “OV” which thoroughly annoys me but nonetheless, I digress. They began talking up the game, telling us to prepare for a game filled with bloodshed, gore and tears in between action shots of men getting slammed against the boards. I respectfully cleared my throat in preparation for the screaming to come, the image of the referee getting the puck in the face from last nights game still fresh in my mind.

    Both of us girls went into the game hopeful after all of this. How on earth could the caps lose? They had an amazing night the night before and the announcers were really playing it up...but then it hit us. The Tampa Bay Coach, Guy B. looked like an infamous bond villain. “Do you expect me to choke?” cried the Caps. “No, I expect you to get penalty minutes, Mr. Semin.” (I think we all expect Semin to get penalty minutes though). Semin did not disappoint as he ended up negating the power play we got in the first period due to his usual shenanigans. The best part out of all of this? Joe B pointing out the Lightning were in blue tonight. I would never have guessed the men on the ice in blue were the Lightning, I always thought that the Caps wore blue.... and then BAM.. a little over two minutes into the game and the lightning scored a goal. I think this was partially due to Locker and Joe B. jinxing us and talking the lightning up but I will let that slide. I would have a man-crush on the lightning too because of Stamkos. Lucky for us the announcers ended this period by chatting about Matty P as the camera focused on him as he skated around with his scruffy French Canadian baby-face. (Part of me believes Matty’s power comes from the scruffy unshaven look... He absorbed the power from Ovechkin after Ovechkin sold his soul to Gillette...).Matty P really took the pain away from a period full of disappoint and lack-luster performance from the Caps. For a moment, I even saw Matty P outshining the beloved Ovechkin with his butt pad protective gear hanging out of his pants, over top of his jersey, a style made popular by the one and only Ovechkin himself.

    The intermission followed with a short segment from CSN to then shoot it over to Joe B and Locker. The CSN intermission did not even talk about the caps for the short segment it was on, but rather focused on high school lacrosse. It was odd and I forgot what I was watching for a second. Joe B and Locker did not disappoint when it got sent to them though, they seemed in a chipper mood despite the sad start. Joe B even joked around that he needed to get Locker a monocle so he could read the teleprompter. Locker quickly replied he had binoculars for that. I did not know what to make of it, but I would rather broadcasts have Joe B and Locker in monocles and top hats from now on. CSN, can this become a reality?

The second period opened to a play that should not have happened. Stamkos took the puck and ran down the center of the ice to juke Vokoun out, now making the score 2-0. Vokoun couldn’t even be blamed for this as there was nobody helping Vokoun out. It seems the team is too used to goalies standing on their heads. Locker went on a rant about how much he loved Stamkos, and then the love for Garon started. There was a scuffle by the net and Locker stated that Garon seemed a little worried that his ear had gotten cut by the skate. How is that possible, Locker? He was wearing a goalie mask. The second period gave us a closeup shot on Ovie smooth as a baby’s bottom clean shaved face.  We pondered for a second, why hasn’t he had the scruffy look for awhile? Then we remembered, Gillette sponsorship.

Second intermission Locker interviewed Mathieu Perrault, who we lovingly call, Matty P.  While not much was said during the interview this provides us with some time to mention a few things that we love about Matty P! He’s the dark horse, doesn’t see a whole lot of playing time (until recently) but put him in the game and expect great things like a hat trick! He may not be the biggest guy out on the ice, but his determination is large.  He puts all the effort out on the ice and leaves it there. He always looks like he is having the time of his life out on the ice and always looks like he wants to play. That is what we like to see!  A nice French Canadian man, with a face not yet destroyed by the game of hockey with a genuine smile! 

    Third period opened with a hope the Caps would close the gap but we were sadly disappointed, no matter how hard the boys tried. The only solace I had was the banter on Garon as Joe B. and Locker talked about his flexibility with Joe B. stating, “Holy Flexibility, Batman!” Craig and Joe even decided they had been around long enough that they needed bobble heads. I would buy a Joe B. bobblehead just to shake it at times and say “Why would you say that!?” So the period then ended with the Caps losing 2-1. It was an uneventful game, but at least the announcers seemed to brighten it up with their banter. Matty P also tried his hardest for us, and both of us girls really appreciate the extra camera shots on him today. The only thing that would have turned this game better for us? If we saw Neuvy in net.

    Post game was basically all the broadcasters being really upset, more like really pissed, none being more upset then Alan May.  He didn’t hide his feelings and called out several players for not playing like they should in a very important game.  In particular, Johanasson was a target of Alan Mays fury. We are being Alan May’s fury though, and believe seeing Johanasson in the press box for a game wouldn’t hurt. He needs to play better more often if the CAPS want to make the playoffs, especially with Backstrom still hurt and out of the game.  

So that was Megan and Deanna making our first guest appearance on the Blog!  It may not be how things are normally done on Action on the Ice but we did things our way tonight! Hope you enjoyed reading the first ever girls only post of Action on the Ice!

Next game comes on Monday against the Canes.  Leave some comments below to let the girls know how they did.  Thanks for reading and see you then! -Dru

PS.  Look for an annoucment to come in the coming month about a new blogging project to replace AOTI during the off-season.  Fantasy Town USA!  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Caps v Panthers (Feb 17)

Big game tonight for the Caps.  They managed to come alive in the third and stop themselves from falling 6 points behind the division leading Panthers.  As season gets closer to the end every game matters if the Caps want to find themselves in the playoffs.  Tonight was an important part of that, but it was only the first step.  Back to it tomorrow against Tampa.  Here is how the CSN crew did after a long break:

3rd Star (1 pt):

Locker comes in third tonight.  He handled his normal color commentary duties tonight as well as the intermission interviews.  He does a nice job setting up the significance of the game in the first period by stressing the importance of getting of to a good start on this extended road trip.  He first interview of the night was with Jay Beagle.  At that point there really wasn’t much Locker could have asked him and as a result the interview seemed a bit lazy on his part.  In the second period, Locker gives some love to D-Wides by pointing out just how many minutes he eats up for the team each night.  The major highlight for Locker in the second was him getting upset at the washed out Knuble call in the dwindling seconds of the period.  His second intermission interview was with a very sad looking Alzner.  In the third, Locker did a really nice job explaining what happens when a ref has to leave the game and how it effects the officiating crew and how they call the game.  It was pretty interesting and a nice bit of insight from Locker. 

2nd Star (2 pts):

Alan May. May had a relatively quiet night (by his standards), but was still solid. Listed his Keys to the Game as play tough on the puck all 60 minutes, get traffic in front of the net, and win the special teams battle. Well, the Caps’ effort tonight was solid throughout, as they outshot the Panthers by a fairly wide margin and looked dangerous, with only some stellar netminding from Theo (and a shitty call by Eric Furlatt) keeping the Caps off the board in the first two periods. The effort paid off as they finally broke through in the third. As far as traffic in front of the net, well, Knuble scored one, but the aforementioned Eric Furlatt decided it shouldn’t count. Well, we can’t fault May for the ref being a fucking idiot, so we’ll give him points for that one. And the Caps did win the special teams battle, albeit with only one goal, so May gets credit for that too. Also made me laugh early on when Ovechkin and Wideman’s spat during practice yesterday was brought up. Without missing a beat, May said, “Hockey’s not for babies,” and moved on.

1st Star (3 pts):

Joe B takes tonight’s top honor tonight.  He started the game letting us know that the PP has been less than stellar on the road.  His first period highlights were rounded out as he fed us a cool fact about Voko being a 9th round pick.  That is crazy.  The second period was filled with big calls but unfortunately they were all save-calls because of Jose’s outstanding play.  In the final seconds of the period a Knuble goal that would have tied the contest was washed out and Locker was outraged.  Joe B was also upset with the call but kept a level head and calmly explained to us the letter of the rule that was used to make the call.  In the third period the Caps got a chance to go on the PP and Joe B said he had a good feeling about it.  A few minutes later Ovie knocked one home and the Caps didn’t look back.  Coming out and saying he thought the team would score on the PP, especially after his earlier comments about the Cap’s road PP woes, was pretty impressive and helped to solidify Joe B in the top spot.    

Last Star (-1 pt):

Chris Miller. I was rather surprised to see Miller in on the Caps on a night on which the Wizards also played, since I’ve always though of him as more of a basketball guy. After tonight, that belief has been reinforced. Miller wasn’t bad in his first intermission coverage, but he was pretty lifeless. Not a lot of energy, and was pretty obviously reading the details of the Hal Gil trade and highlights of the NSH/DET off a teleprompter. He was significantly more vibrant when talking about Jeremy Lin and other basketball highlight so in the postgame show, but we don’t give out points for basketball highlights, now do we. Miller gets last star for just being meh, and clearly not caring a whole lot about hockey.

That's all we got for you tonight.  Thanks for reading! 
PS if you haven't already vote on our poll we have running on the right side of the blog!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Caps v. Jets (Feb 9)

So tonight had all the makings of a good Caps win: The Caps came out, outshot the Jets, and basically dominated every aspect of the game for the first two periods. The second period ended 0-0 thanks to some studly work by both Tomas Vokoun and Ondrej Pavelec, but in the third, the Caps finally broke through in a big way. The first goal came courtesy of the Captain, who's finally starting to look like he's regaining his old form, burying a back-door no-angle shot on the power play. The second came as a result of a beautiful missile of a pass from Ovie (who would also add a shootout tally to cap off his awesome night) to Semin, who tapped it in, also on the PP. And at this point, everything looks golden. Of course, Joe B and Locker couldn't sit and enjoy the success; they had to call out the Jets offense. Repeatedly. And guess what, their insistence on jinxing us proved to be the Caps' undoing as the Jets managed to win the game in a shootout.

Tonight was just one of those nights where we simply didn’t have enough last stars to go around. So, because we’re cool like that, we decided we’d flip everything around tonight and give out three anti-stars for being terrible and one gold star to theone performer who was on top of his game tonight.

Only Star (3 pts):
The Jenkins. On a night where Gormley did what he does best (and then some) and a new guy was all around uninspiring and sucked Jenkins managed to slip into a scoring spot. Yes he did have some issues during his intermission highlights but those seemed to be more on the technical staff at CSN. Hell, at least Jenkins showed some NHL highlights unlike his partner. He also wore red, unlike his partner. Sure he messed up, but he was able to laugh at himself and that helped to make it less awkward. He ended this intermission break with a “Come on Caps” so that was awesome and the first time I have heard him do something like that. He had a really, really nice post game spot that made me do a double take to see who was speaking. It was downright good. Jenkins did enough tonight to be better than the hopelessly lost Gormely and the newbie. He also didn’t jinx us like some other people. For that Jenkins, we salute you. Keep up the excellent work.

Last Star (-1 pt):
Greg Toland. He was a new guy. He wore a blue tie (Jet’s color) instead of red. He talked about boxing. He talked about Tiger Woods. He talked about the Wizards. He talked about the winter classic being in Michigan. No highlights. No Capitals to speak of. All of that was bad enough but what really ensured he would land here and the last spot...he messed up saying the word “part”. Its four letters. Four letters and he couldn’t manage it. Lucky for him there were some other, much worse performances from the CSN crew tonight so his night will probably be largely overlooked.

Worse Star (-2 -1 pts):
Chuck Gormley. So Chuck came on for his usual spot tonight and said he talked to Mike Knuble and got his reaction to potentially being traded. Our editor was skeptical, so in the interest of journalistic integrity (yes, apparently we do have that here at AotI. Who knew?), I decided I’d take a look at Gormley’s blog and see (and yes, I apologizing for giving it hits). Well, turns out Gormley did apparently talk to Knuble, but there’s no evidence in the article that he actually discussed the possibility of being traded with Knuble. Instead, he discussed Backstrom’s Super Bowl party, his concussion, and how Knuble thought it was wise of the team to protect its investment by being cautious with Backstrom. At the very end, there’s a passing mention of what effect Backstrom and Green’s absence may have on McPhee’s deadline moves, but nothing of real substance and nothing about Knuble personally being traded. That, Mr. Gormley, is false advertising, and that is just not cool.

EDIT: So, apparently I wasn't thorough enough in my digging last night; the article I mentioned does not, in fact, appear to be the article to which Gormley was referring. I've since been linked to the correct article, which is mostly about Knuble's healthy scratch and struggles this season. However, at the end of the article, there is a single sentence, which contains the quote Gormley mentioned in his TV spot .So, in the spirit of that whole journalistic integrity thing (because apparently it has to work both ways), I'll be giving Gormley a point back. Because while he was just as boring and robotic as always, at least he didn't lie to us.

Worstest Stars (-3 pts):
This one is a package deal tonight. Joe B and Craig Laughlin both finish dead last for doing their damnedest to jinx the Caps, and eventually succeeding. Joe B started the snowball in the second intermission, saying that Vokoun was “doing it again, for 100+ minutes now.” I could perhaps have overlooked that one, but they really ramped it up during the third period. Joe pointed out that the Jets powerplay was 0-17 lately, and Locker took it a step further by saying that the Jets basically couldn’t score a PPG on the road. Later in the period, Joe B pointed out that WPG was having offensive struggles, only scoring 7 goals in their last 7 games. So guess what happened? The Jets scored two goals. In twelve seconds. One of which was on the power play. And then won the game in a shootout. Way to be, Joe and Craig... Everything you mentioned them being bad at, they managed to do. Good game. NOPOINTSFORYOU!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Caps v. Habs (Feb 4)

So the Caps managed to shut out the Canadiens 3-0 in a game that was much more boring than the score indicated. That, coupled with the fact that CSN half-assed the broadcast (no pre-/post-game show or CSN intermission reports), means I'm going to half-ass this review.

Our only two participants tonight were Joe B. and Craig Laughlin, both of whom will get a point. They managed to not jinx us, though it wasn't for lack of trying as Gomez's scoring drought was mentioned multiple times, and Locker thought it would be a good idea to poke fun at the Habs' powerplay (people in glass houses and all). Still though, neither Gomez nor the powerplay actually scored, so no harm no foul.

Locker did an admirable job with the intermission interviews this afternoon. His interview with Wideman was longer than usual (perhaps because he knew he had to kill extra time), consisting of 5 relevant questions. The highlight was Wideman's sheepish grin and "...it was kind of embarrassing, but they all count," after Locker asked him if he was patenting that slapshot, which Locker described as a 'knucklepuck.' His interview-ee for the second intermission was Keith Aucoin, who bore a slight resemblance to a deer in headlights. Oh, and he managed to slip in one of his famous food-related puns based on somebody's name, referring to Cammalleri as "Calamari."

As for Joe B, well, he was there. That's about all I can say.

Tomorrow's a rematch with the Bruins, which will hopefully be less of a snoozefest. We won't have a post tomorrow because Dru and I are taking the night off and going to a concert.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Caps v Panthers (Feb 1)

Tonight was the first "CSN" Caps game since the All Star Break.  I gotta say, it was good to hear Joe B and Locker calling a game.  Unfortunetly it was on CSN+ which meant bad picture quality.  It also meant that Joe B and Locker were on their own tonight.  Read on to see what I thought of their first game back!

Second Star (1 pt):

Tonight the one point spot goes to Locker.  He did a typically strong performance that was highlighted by his outrage at the way the league handles goalie contact calls.  He also had a lot to say about a contested Florida goal in the 3rd that had to be decided in the Toronto War Room.  Locker didn't get to telestrate or interview anyone but that was more of the fault of the CSN network for putting the Caps on CSN+ and not caring about road games.  Still, Locker wasn't allowed to do enough tonight to score above 1.  Welcome back Locker!

First Star (2 pts):

Joe B takes the top spot tonight.  Nights like tonight put a lot of pressure on Joe B.  He basically has to carry the broadcast and during games that aren't very exciting he has to really work hard to maintain viewer interest.  I thought he did a good job of this in the first, dropped off a little in the second, and finished strong at the end of the third.  Huh, that is kinda like how the Caps performance on the ice went tonight.  Welcome back Joe B!  Here are some of my favorite Joe B-isms of the night: "Hammered-Hard!" "Laser-Locker!" "Minute-muncher." and the obligatory "Mike Green is hurt/ Tom Poti is hurt".

Well on a really slow night CSN wise that is all I got for you.  It is nice to have hockey back and can't wait for the next game.  Thanks for reading!

(Think I suck/ you could do better? There are bound to be nights that I won't be able to cover the games so if you want to take a shot at this for a game message me on twitter @ Dru90 or email me at amontoya1990@gmail.com!)