Monday, May 31, 2010

Blackhawks 2, Flyers 1

These are the Hawks we've been looking for. Home ice helps, as the first goal was scored when Chicago got the Hossa line against the Flyers' 3rd pairing of Parent and Kraijcek. Game-winner was a great shot by Eager.
Blackhawks lead series 2-0.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Non-NHL Awards Part 2

The Todd Bertuzzi Award:

The Todd Bertuzzi Award is awarded to the player judged to have committed the most horrifying play on the ice this season by the amateur hockey bloggers named Red Army Line.

The winner: Patrice Cormier!

Cormier had this horrible elbow to Mikael Tam, putting the latter into convulsions on the ice and later in the hospital with brain trauma. Cormier was charged off the ice with assault and would later be traded to Atlanta as part of the Ilya Kovalchuk trade.

Viewer discretion advised.

Runners-up: (viewer discretion advised on all the videos save the second Savard one)

Alex Ovechkin--Ovechkin already won our inaugural Sidney Crosby award for his hit on Brian Campbell that broke Campbell's collarbone, a few ribs, and set the defenseman out for more than a month, among other things.

Marian Hossa--Hossa made a similar hit as Ovechkin, but on Dan Hamhuis in the Western Conference Quarterfinals (video).

Matt Cooke--Cooke, most of the hockey world thought, crippled the Bruins' playoff hopes with this hit on Marc Savard that gave Savard a mild concussion (of course, hockey players come back early from concussions to score overtime game winning goals in the playoffs)

Dan Boyle--although he's not as well reputed as a "dirty" or controversial player since going from Tampa Bay to San Jose (the "media bias" for the East working in his favor), he had a vicious slew foot on Alexander Semin in Canada's thrashing of Russia in the Olympic quarterfinals (no video readily available, though NBCOlympics might have something).

Mike Richards--he absolutely nailed David Booth, giving the latter a concussion that kept him out for almost the rest of the season. This hit wasn't so much "dirty" as vicious yet clean (under the then-rules with no supplementary discipline for "head shots).

Steve Downie--on the same day as Ovechkin's hit on Campbell, Downie had this vicious slew foot on Sidney Crosby. We're lucky he didn't end Crosby's season there.

James Wisniewski--Wisniewski just went right after Brent Seabrook for some sort of petty revenge. This is the definition of head-hunting.

Past winners: none

(If you feel I've forgotten anything, just add it in the comments and I will add it as a runner-up if it's good enough)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blackhawks 6, Flyers 5

Chicago leads series 1-0. Going to be goaltending "questions" on both sides though.

In McPhee We Trust

2011 Winter Classic: Capitals @ Penguins

via here
Per, Twitter, Facebook, the media,...the worst kept secret in recent memory.

Penguins. Capitals. Heinz Field (the home of the Steelers). The 2011 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic. January 1, 2011, on NBC.

For non-season ticket holders, you can get tickets via public lottery in the coming months. The Capitals and Penguins will offer chances for season ticket holders to purchase tickets soon.

Commissioner Gary Bettman also said that Washington will host a Winter Classic within two or three more years, meaning yours truly will be in America and be able to go.

I wonder if the Capitals will sport a third jersey for the game or simply wear a current jersey or go back to the black/white or blue/white eagle jerseys.

At any rate, naysayers will cite unfairness at the fact that Pittsburgh will have played in two of the first four Winter Classics. However, the point of the Classic isn't to be fair. It's to generate revenue and interest in hockey and for hockey. With the NHL's television contracts with Versus and NBC expiring after next season, it looks like the NHL is going for the "home run" (or "hail mary"?) in order to make their package as expensive as possible or as attractive as possible to Versus, NBC, and even ESPN, ABC, and FOX.

Just for fun, each of the last three years one Stanley Cup finalist has played in the Winter Classic.

I can't believe I took this long to get around to making a "Search Story."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Non-NHL Awards Part 1

The Sidney Crosby Award:

The Sidney Crosby is awarded annually to the league's most controversial and/or polarizing figure by the amateur hockey bloggers named Red Army Line.

The winner: Alex Ovechkin!

Ovechkin had another controversial season. Aside from his normal goal-scoring, prolific shooting, and Penguins fan hate, he was involved in three controversial hits. He got a boarding major and game misconduct on a hit on Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta, a play some people still think wasn't manufactured by Kaleta. He also had a kneeing incident with Carolina's Tim Gleason that earned Ovechkin a two-game suspension. Finally, he broke Brian Campbell's collarbone on this hit, earning himself a second two-game suspension.

Ovechkin also fell flat (along with the rest of Team Russia) at the Olympics (and pushed an amateur reporter away from an interview), then lost to Montreal in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals after notoriously calling out Jaroslav Halak's shaking hand. Ovechkin this season will not even receive the consolation of a guaranteed award, as Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby won the Richard, Henrik Sedin the Ross, and likely one of the latter two for each of the Hart and Lindsay (formerly Pearson).


Chris Pronger--Pronger reportedly caused locker room issues in Philadelphia, a pre-season Stanley Cup favorite.

Sidney Crosby--no explanation needed here, if you've followed hockey at any time over the last six years or so.

Past winners: none

Saturday, May 15, 2010

An Open Letter to Mike Green

Dear Mr. Green,

First of all, I'd like to thank you for helping make the Capitals good again. Your skating is worth the price of admission in itself and your great wrist shot and playmaking abilities are a nice bonus. I love your play enough that I decided to leave the Ovechkin and Backstrom jerseys until later and picked up a 52 off the rack of the Caps store at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

I understand that the past year and a half have been rough on you. First, those crummy Habs fans and their automated voting programs robbed you of an all-star game spot. Then, Chris Pronger dislocated your shoulder for the rest of the season. I'm sure it was painful, and that certainly wasn't nice of him. After that historic goal-scoring streak you ran out of your favorite Easton stick and had to switch just in time to face Pittsburgh in the playoffs, also after having girlfriend troubles, and while you weren't bad per say, you weren't Mike motherf'in Green, he of 31 goals in 68 games, he who inspired articles on NHL Fanhouse pondering whether he could hit 50 goals or 100 points, anymore. To be fair, Sidney Crosby is one tough SOB to stop. I think you'll be happy to know that he's decided to move into his own place, finally.

Then things started to look better. You got healthy. Steve Yzerman seemed to run drills perfectly suited for you at Olympic camp. But then, you started getting away from your game. You tried to be Nicklas Lidstrom, to be Duncan Keith, to be a traditional quarterback from the point. The result? No Team Canada (which I think even then is a mistake, as Dan Boyle isn't three-fourths the player you are).

Just know that I can relate. I've had girl troubles of my own, and I know it was tough. Sometimes that calls for a change in mentality, letting yourself be caught up in what you're doing and not letting your mind wander. I'm sure, as a professional hockey player and a possible future hall-of-famer, you stay focused a lot. I think though that the media has thrown both you and your buddy Alex Ovechkin off your games. I've been thrown off my game before, though in soccer and basketball and not ice hockey. I've had to switch cleats and shinguards right before tournaments. Through this I learned to just focus on the game and block out everything else. I let the adrenaline of the ball coming to me and having to make a play make me react, as opposed to my head. I took pride in being, while not the most skilled and in fact the least skilled, the smartest or one of the smartest players on the field or court. The result? I was a complete shutdown force. Same thing in basketball--I couldn't play offense for my life, as I panicked with the ball, but I was able to keep the other team to the outside as much as a single player could. While in practice playing defense was pretty boring, in-game it was really fun, and I never forgot that. It's fun. I had fun. I let that love of the game carry it to new levels.

That's Caps hockey: fun, run-and-gun, exciting, and high-octane and very talented. It will not be Red Wings no-turnovers keep-away hockey, nor New Jersey trap-you-to-death hockey, but high-risk, high-reward. You seemed to get away from that too much. While after the Olympic break you looked great and certainly made the Norris race a whole lot more exciting, that game didn't translate to the postseason. Play your game. Don't over-think things, like physicality, like pinching, like moving on the power play. Just channel your 2007-2009 Mike Green, the one who was a threat all the time. And please pass the message along to Alex Ovechkin too. He worried all of us by stopping his usual exuberant goal celebrations. Several writers around the internet have speculated that he was focused too much on the end result and not enough "in the moment," and I agree. Nicklas Backstrom was certainly having fun, and his game will have earned him the third-richest contract in Caps history, if not the second, if the rumors are correct.

I've been a staunch supporter of yours since 2008. And quite frankly, haters gonna hate. You can't please everyone. But you can play to your strengths--skating, speed, agility, vision, and shooting. That will make your game most effective and prevent future playoff underwhelmings. That's how James Mirtle ranked you as one of the best defensive defensemen in the league for 2008-2009. That's how your Behind The Net advanced plus-minus stats are so terrific. That's how you own every other defenseman at even strength. Play like Scott Niedermayer, like Bobby Orr. You compare favorably to both (considering no one will ever touch Orr's greatness). Play like 'em and you'll get results like 'em. I know you're a playoff warrior. Now play like the guy that got that reputation in Hershey and in 2008 in Washington. Play like a Norris trophy winner, not two-time runner-up (Duncan Keith almost certainly wins this season). Who cares that the media thinks you're bad in your own end? They don't know Caps hockey as well as us Caps fans. And we know that Mike Green 2009 > Mike Green 2010.

Go out there and make us proud. Have fun. And win that Stanley Cup. We'll be supporting you, no matter what happens.


P.S. Can you take a hometown discount on your next contract?

Name Change

I've switched blog names from "Capitals Coming" to "Red Line Station," so make sure to update your bookmarks. I decided that the former, while inspired by the limitations on username length on CBS Sports, was too suggestive, although strangely appropriate. I like to keep things PG. Thanks for your cooperation.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Things to look forward to before more Caps Hockey

In no particular order...

  • Cheering for/against the Penguins/Bruins/Flyers/Canadiens/Red Wings/Sharks/Canucks/Blackhawks
  • Japers' Rink Rink Wraps and other excellent material to keep the calendar moving
  • Owning AP exams like Jaroslav Halak owned Alexander Semin about 40 times
  • Draft day in the NHL
  • The Stanley Cup Finals
  • The Calder Cup Playoffs
  • Some Caps at least getting some sort of medal at the World Championships
  • July 1, free agency
  • Tomas Fleischmann's (as of now) impending free (albeit restricted) agency
  • Bruce Boudreau re-thinking his system
  • Montreal getting killed by Pittsburgh
  • Dan Boyle going out early again (I hope)
  • George McPhee making another great signing or signings or trade(s) again (Note: I think Matt Cullen, Scott Niedermayer, Nicklas Lidstrom, Anton Volchenkov, Dan Hamhuis, and Dennis Seidenberg look good in red. All but Hamhuis have already donned red too)
  • Development camp in July
  • School coming to an end
  • Nicklas Backstrom's shiny new contract
  • A lesser emphasis on regular season wins
  • A better perspective on what the Caps need to do in the regular season and the playoffs, with regards to play, system, and personnel management
  • Smarter Caps fans
  • Gaining the sympathy of every hockey fan in California
  • The NHL Awards. At the moment seems like Jose Theodore will be the only Caps winner though.
  • More readers on