Sunday, February 10, 2013

What a Game!

After a disappointing start to the shortened season, the Capitals played their best game of the year. The Washington Capitals crushed the Florida Panthers 5-0, in an almost perfect game. Emotions didn't start when the puck dropped, but when the Caps lost their previous game to Pittsburgh 5-2. Both Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby let five goals through in the 2nd period alone. Players were already frustrated because they have only won two games, but losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins twice in five days doesn't help. The players had finally had enough of losing and they knew that it couldn't get worse than it was. And for the first time all season, the Caps were actually playing with some emotion against Florida.

The one thing that the Capitals had been missing is heart. You can't play hockey without it. Because if your down by a goal with less than a minute left, completely gassed, you're going to need some heart to give you the energy you need to last that last minute. Not only did the Caps play with heart, but also they played as a team. There have been moments when the Caps played like a team, but it was never a full game. Last night, they played like the Washington Capitals. The power play started to look promising, going 1 for 2; the penalty kill was perfect killing off both PP chances for Florida; and the players only took two penalties all game. All of these stats are progress to being a better hockey team.

Don't get me wrong, Florida is nothing like Chicago (The top team in the NHL), but this is a step toward progress. Last night's game against Florida was a confidence builder for the entire team. For Holtby, it shows him that he is a great goaltender and can lead the team. For the PK team, it shows them that they can make a difference in the game, and that their team can count on them. It is still early in the 48- game season, all the Caps need to do is go on a winning streak and they can be back in it. They have the talent to win, they just need to give it 110% every game to do so. The Washington Capitals have been one of the best teams in the NHL for the past five years, so why can't they be that team this year?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Midseason Classic

Over the last few weeks, MLB fans over the country were voting for their favorite players to start in the All-star game. Even though none of the Nats' players are starting the game, 3 of them made the team. La Russa, manager for the NL all-star team, chose pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez and short stop Ian Desmond to be on the all-star team (Desmond has since been replaced due to injury). Then the final vote came out and Bryce Harper was on the ballot. After trending worldwide on the last day of voting, somehow Bryce Harper didn't win the vote. But as of Saturday Bryce Harper is the replacement for Giancarlo Stanton. This makes Harper the youngest position player in MLB all-star history.

Even though Harper only made the team as a replacement player, I think that he deserves to be on the team. Since he got called up in April, you can see a difference in the dugout. This isn't just because of Bryce, but because the team is winning. But Harper does have a roll in that. Every hit Harper has he tries and extends it into a double or a triple. Harper pushes everything and actually makes players think when he's running the bases. He makes the players stop him from running; it's usually never his choice. He's motivating the veterans in the dugout and isn't playing like a teenager or a rookie. Baseball needed Bryce Harper in the all-star game; he's the one that is going to bring fans to that stadium Tuesday night.

Now Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg were obvious choices for the NL all-star team, especially since the Nationals' pitching staff has one of the best ERAs in the whole league. Half way through the season, Gio is 12-3 with 118 strikeouts and a 2.92 ERA, while Strasburg has a 9-4 record with 128 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA. These two young pitchers have owned opponents in the batter's box this season. In their starts Strasburg has held batters to a .225 batting average, while Gonzalez has held batters to an average of .192.

Tomorrow's all-star game will show the other 29 teams and their fans that the Nationals are a team to be reckoned with. They will represent the talent that this team has and show people that this isn't a fluke. This game will show that there is a new challenge to overcome. And that challenge is the Nationals, not just their pitchers, but the whole team.
Now as F.P. Santangelo would say, "Are you drinking the Nats Kool-aid?'

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Beast Mode is BACK!!

Tonight the Nationals will play the Atlanta Braves (weather permitting of course) and the Nats lineup consists of...

That's right; Mr. Beast mode himself is back tonight batting cleanup. If the Nats play tonight this will be Morse's first game of the season since injuring his lateral muscle in spring training earlier this year. His arrival has long been awaited. Without Morse in the lineup this season the Nats average around 3.84 runs/game. Adding a bat, like Morse, in the lineup will definitely help the Nats more than hurt them; especially with Werth still out with a broken wrist.

Now Nats' fans can't expect Morse to come back and be 100% his first game back (thought I could be wrong...). Even though he played a few game with the Potomac Nationals, the Nats single A affiliates, he hasn't taken many swings since the injury. But Morse coming back to the lineup does give hope to Nats' fans. As you can see on the lineup card, Jesus Flores is back in the lineup since suffering tightness in his hamstring 4 games ago. This means that the Nats are a little bit closer to getting closers Brad Lidge and Drew Storen back into the lineup, which will help the bullpen immensely. It seems like the Nationals are getting healthier as other teams start to be plagued with injuries (Knock on wood...). Not only are they getting healthier, but it seems like they have finally found their lead-off hitter in Steve Lombardozzi. He seems to hit anything that is thrown at him and can take pitcher to a long count.

The good thing is that the Nats are still in first place in the division, the pitching is amazing, and the bats look like they are starting to heat up. This couldn't come at a better time considering the Nationals just got swept by the Miami Marlins Wednesday. Hopefully having Michael Morse back is just the start to the Nats getting healthy.

P.S.- And while I'm at it, vote for the Nationals players to be in the All-Star game July 10th 

And also help vote Ryan Zimmerman into the Home Run derby contest

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Time to Reflect

It has now been almost a week since the Caps have lost game 7 and I think I've had enough time to grieve about the loss, so now I can talk. I'll admit game 7 against the New York Rangers wasn't the best game the Caps played during the playoffs. It seemed like they weren't into it and that energy had to of transferred to the fans. And it sure didn't leave them with a good feeling going into the offseason. Even though a lot of good came out of the playoffs this season, a lot of bad came after losing that game 7. With me being a positive person, I'll start with the good that came out of the playoffs.

I'm pretty sure all Caps' fans know what was the best thing to come out of the playoffs were. Two Words. Braden Holtby. Going into to the final game of the season I know some fans who were already counting the Caps out of the first round because they knew nothing about Holtby. After his play in game 1 against the Boston Bruins everyone in DC was ready for the Caps to make a run. Who would've thought that the Caps had another goalie stashed away in the minor leagues for a time like this? Just think if Neuvy didn't get hurt? Maybe the Caps wouldn't have rallied around the goalie to steal the series from Boston. But that is something we will never know. Going into the offseason, the Caps GMGM has to feel good about the goalie position for the first time in a long time, even though they are both young tenders. 

Another thing that I was the most shocked about was how the Caps actually stuck to their plans and became a defensive team. I've never seen this team block so many shots in one game yet alone the whole series. They committed to Dale Hunter hockey and it showed by beating Boston. If the Caps can 100% commit to shot blocking defensive hockey, they might be able to go further in the playoffs next year.

Now with the good comes the bad...

Alexander Semin. I don't even have to explain what he did because we already know what he did. And that was nothing. I'll give him credit he did come out of his shell during the Boston series and started playing like the Alex Semin that we wanted to see every night. But once that series ended, he disappeared. Now his agent has announced that, 
"Alex is not ready to be a role player. He wants to be a full-time player. It's important to him."
Before the Boston series, Alexander Semin had gone 25 playoff games without scoring a goal. Yeah, he's really trying to become a full-time player isn't he? But with the questionable departure of Semin could bring in a few tough guys like Mike Knuble or Troy Brouwer who could give the team the edge they need and still enough talent to score. 

 The worst thing that could have happened to this team after that loss was Dale Hunter saying that he wasn't coming back to Washington next season. It's hard to think of someone replacing him. He did something that Glen Hanlon and Bruce Boudreau could never do and that was getting this team to play defense. They tried with Boudreau, but they never committed to it. Hunter made this team into a playoff team. Now the hardest question of all is left with George McPhee, in who is going to replace Hunter? Do you promote from within? Or do you go out and look for someone with experience? Whatever the Caps plan on doing, I hope they know that they have to get a coach just like Hunter or all the progress they made this season will be a waste of time. 

Going into the offseason leaves the fans with a lot of questions. Who's going to be the goalie? Who's going to be the coach? Who's going to replace Semin? How is Alex Ovechkin going to improve? ect. This offseason could end in so many different ways. GMGM could keep the team almost exactly the same and fill in the spots that are open. Or he could completely blow the team up and give them a whole new look next year. No matter what happens this offseason, the fans are going to expect more than this year. That means finally getting past game 7 in the second round of the playoffs.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

One Time too Many

Owly Images 

It looks like the New York Times is a little bit ahead of themselves. They must not know that the Rangers are playing a game 7 tonight at MSG against the Caps. They better hope that none of the Caps' players see this because it will just add fuel to the fire. On Thursday the day after the Caps won game 6, the New York Post ran that the Caps lost game 6 and were packed up for the summer. Not only have they counted the Caps out twice, but they have already started selling tickets for the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. This is where I draw the line. 

It is ridiculous that New York has no respect for the Caps, especially since they already beat them in 2 series before. Even the players on the Rangers think that they have beaten the Caps. This team isn't going to back down without a fight and we all saw that in the Boston series. Just think the Caps would have beaten the Rangers in six games if it wasn't for the late goal by the Rangers. Then what would New York have to say? 

Both of these teams still have at least 60 minutes to play and I would put my money on this Caps team to win every single time. This isn't Bruce Boudreau's team or Alex Ovechkin's team; this is Dale Hunter's team. And the difference is that this team will do whatever is needed to win. The Rangers still need to figure out how to score on Braden Holtby. And if Holtby plays like he did last game, there is no reason that the Caps shouldn't win. So in 7 hours and 40 minutes a game 7 will be played at MSG and I hope both the New York Time and the New York Post will be there.     

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's Starting to Feel like a Hockey Town

This sign was at Dulles Airport last night when the Washington Capitals landed after beating the New York Rangers 3-2. This city is obviously showing that they are a Hockey Town and are in it with the Caps. With the support of the whole town, the Caps can go all the way. All they have to do is believe in themselves to beat these teams and win and the rest will come.

Here is some of the support the Caps have been getting throughout the playoffs from fellow DC athletes:
"Congrats to the on the win!!"- John Wall
"Lots of peeps walking around Chinatown. Big game for the Caps tonight. Best of luck to them"- Chris Pontius
"Great caps bruins game!!! Wow. Ovechkin with a clutch goal."- Abby Wambach
"Catching Cap playoff action here at the Verizon Center. Packed house and a loud crowd. Pretty awesome. "- Drew Storen
"Gonna have to wear my jersey to the draft party at FedEx field. Game better be on somewhere at the stadium."- Reed Doughty
"Growing a playoff beard in support of the Caps...anyone else growing one? GO CAPS "- Graham Gano

"Holtby player of the game. It could of got ugly. Big time win!"
"Just ran around BW3s giving high gives. Let's go Caps!"
"Ridiculous Pass! Let's go Caps!"
"Can't wait for the game! Let's go CAPS."
" you have been balling out bro. Im glad I got your jersey!"
"Everyone down on OV chill out. He set the tone in the games with his physicality. And his teammates stepped up as well and executed."- Lorenzo Alexander

The last 6 tweets alone are from Lorenzo Alexander, which shows that everyone wants the Caps to succeed and will support them no matter what. So what I'm trying to say to the Caps is, Give it 150% because even if you fail this city is still going to back you no matter what happens!