Category Archives: Banter from the Nosebleeds

Caps rants and ramblings from a true fan, as well as any other interesting, funny, or cool things dealing with the Washington Capitals.

Columnist: Andrew Hallman

Will Holtby live up to the expectations?

DSC_0250Photo: Tim Horsey

We all remember how great Holtby was last postseason, but is he the real deal? Honestly, I’m not sold.

Remember that time that a young Russian netminder by the name of Semyon Varlamov came up from Hershey to bail out the Caps in a best of seven series in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Rangers? If so, then remember how the Caps eventually lost game seven in round two of the playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins?

Or how about that time that a promising young goaltender by the name of Michal Neuvirth earned a full time roster spot with the Caps after coming off of winning back-to-back Calder Cup championships in the AHL, even winning playoff MVP one of those years? Yeah, the one that, like Varlamov, helped the Caps eliminate the Rangers in round one of the playoffs. Then, again similarly to Varlamov, Neuvy and the Caps were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs after they were swept, repeat SWEPT, by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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Ovechkin: “What I have in Washington I miss it”

A few weeks ago, Alex Ovechkin did an interview with Russia Today in which he touched on his life in the KHL and his feelings about the NHL lockout.

After some personal investigating, I’ve concluded that either this interview is old news and I look like an idiot because I’m just really behind on things due to my apathy caused by the lockout, or this is new-news to the masses and deserves to be talked about. Whatever the case might be, the interview is still interesting and shines light on Ovechkin’s true feelings about returning to the NHL, a topic that has taken a recent twist.

As for life in the KHL, Ovechkin says that gameplay in the KHL is different than gameplay in the NHL due to the rink size, which leads to a different speed of the game and less hits than in the NHL. He also comments on the fact that it is easier to score from the blueline in the NHL than it is in the KHL.

Next, Ovechkin gives a bit of a new perspective on the lockout. “The only problem is what I have in Washington I miss it,” Ovechkin said, much different words from the Capitals captain than what Caps fans have been hearing for the much duration of the lockout so far.

Ovi finishes the interview talking about growing up as a player and learning from mistakes…or something like that.

The bottom line: Ovechkin seems to be ready to return to DC and is ready for business.

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Problem Kuznetsolved? – Is Kuznetsov’s reasoning to stay in the KHL justified after all?

(Photo courtesy of Elena Rusko)

Photo by Elena Rusko

Somewhere, Capitals’ top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov is chuckling to himself.

Kuznetsov, the 20-year-old Russian drafted by the Caps in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, pissed off Caps fans when he made headlines this past spring for deciding to spend at least an additional two years in the KHL rather than making the jump to the NHL.

One main contributing factor to his decision has been said to be the Sochi Winter Olympic Games, which start in just two years. Basically, Kuznetsov was afraid that by leaving Russia to play in North America, he might have to spend some time playing in the AHL before getting a full-time roster spot in the NHL. Further, Kuznetsov believed that by playing in the AHL instead of the KHL or NHL, he would have less of a chance of making the Russian Olympic team…and there’s no way that he would want to miss out on a chance to represent his country in the Olympics, especially when they’re being held in his home country. As a result, he took what he thought was the safest option and stayed in the KHL.

Many have trashed Kuznetsov’s reasoning for staying in Russia…and mostly for good reason.

For example, fellow countryman Dmitry Orlov made the jump to North America and was able to find a permanent place in the Capitals dressing room about halfway through his first season that he was eligible to play in the NHL.

Sure Kuznetsov and Orlov are different players, but that doesn’t mean that a similar scenario couldn’t happen with Kuznetsov. Further, some would even argue that Kuznetsov would spend little to no time in the AHL anyways.

Regardless, today it seems like Kuznetsov might have made the right decision after all.

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Marcus Johansson the Winger?

Photo by Clyde Caplan, clydeorama.com

Yesterday morning, DC radio legend Elliot Segal, host of DC101’s Elliot in the Morning, brought Capitals General Manager George McPhee on the air to be interviewed on all things regarding the hiring of Adam Oates, the recent NHL Entry Draft, and his luck so far in the trade market. While discussing trades, the Mike Ribeiro trade specifically, another current Capitals player came up briefly – Marcus Johansson.

Discussing the positive effects of finally having a solid second-line center in Mike Ribeiro, Elliot suggested that Johansson now has more time to develop and isn’t just thrown into the role of the second-line center, or as was the case last season, the first-line center while Backstrom was sidelined due to a concussion. After Elliot said this, McPhee quickly shifted gears on his view on Johansson.

“Marcus plays really well on the wing with Nicky Backstrom,” McPhee said, “they’ve got some chemistry.”

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Capitals Need Right Connection with New Coach – Is Jon Cooper the Right Man for the Job?

(Photo: John Wright)

“If I have to teach them how to be tough, then I don’t know quite how to do that,” Bruce Boudreau told reporters following a 5 to 1 loss in Buffalo. Two days later, Boudreau was fired as the head coach of the Washington Capitals, a position that he held for four-plus seasons.

“The players were no longer responding to Bruce,” Caps General Manager George McPhee told reporters following the firing. “When the players aren’t responding you have to make a change.”

In the games leading up to the firing, it was obvious to everyone that the players were no longer connecting with their coach, a signal for failure. But just how bad had it gotten?

Earlier in the month, the Caps found themselves in a do-or-die situation against the Anaheim Ducks on home ice in DC. There was a minute left in the game and the Ducks led by a goal. The goalie was pulled and six attackers were on the ice…but none of them were named Ovechkin. Following Boudreau’s decision to bench Ovechkin in this must score situation, cameras caught Ovechkin muttering “fat f**k” under his breath after talking to his coach.

Boudreau’s decision to bench Ovechkin paid off this time and the Caps managed to win the game in overtime, but it proved to be costly in the long run. Ovechkin lost trust and faith in his coach and Boudreau lost control of his most important player and his team’s captain. The end result as stated above, was the firing of Boudreau.

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Goodbye, Knuble

Photo: CSNWashington.com

Everyone knew it was probably coming, but most tried to keep their hopes up that maybe it wouldn’t actually happen.

However, the news broke on Wednesday morning (via Katie Carrera of the Washington Post) that Mike Knuble, a huge favorite among the fans, would not be returning to the Capitals roster next season.

Though, it should be noted that Knuble’s departure is not by choice. Without a contract, the Capitals chose to part ways with the soon to be 40-year-old Knuble, probably mostly due to age.

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Thoughts Going Into Game 6 – Are the Capitals A Championship Worthy Team?

If Coors Light is worthy of the Stanley Cup, shouldn’t even the Columbus Blue Jackets be worthy of the Stanley Cup? So why not the Capitals? – Image: Molson Coors

Shortly after I angrily turned off my TV after the Capitals heartbreaking Game 5 loss, I came to a scary realization.

Championship teams don’t give up the lead with only a few seconds left in the game, even if they’re being outmanned 6 to 4. Further, championship teams will somehow find a way to tie up games, even when there’s only a matter of seconds left.

Game over. Series over. Season over. See ya next year.

But wait, don’t jump to conclusions just yet.

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5 Thoughts for Game 5

The video above shows my current emotions going into Game 5, as well as the series as a whole.

Scared, worried, and/or nervous for Game 5? You shouldn’t be. Here are 5 quick reasons why the Capitals will win Game 5 tonight in New York:

1. The Caps were still a bit asleep in Game 1 but would have won if they were more awake.

2. The Caps won Game 2 in New York.

3. Game 3 went to triple overtime…there’s not really a winner in this one, but unfortunately there has to be for the series tally. I don’t view Game 3 as a loss for the Caps.

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Game 1 Reactions and Game 2’s Recipe for Success

Now that Game 1 is over, the Playoffs have officially started and the jitters and butterflies are hopefully gone for good.

While Game 1 ended up being a loss for the Caps, I still feel like it was a win for the Caps mentally. After the shakey season they just finished, it would have been more than easy to go into enemy territory and get rocked by the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Instead, the Caps stood strongly, even when short handed on three different occasions, and battled this one out right through the end of regulation and into overtime.

I hate to make excuses, but with the circumstances of this particular Game 1, the chances of the home team losing a game like that are very low. What more can you ask of the Caps? All it really came down to was one shot.

Well then again, there actually might be a few thinks that you could ask for more of from the Caps.

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