Thursday, February 26, 2009

Capitals PP: So hot right now!

The Capitals power play has been completely on fire, scoring in 14 out of 43 (32.1%) attempts over the past 12 games.

Washington leads tonight's game versus the Thrashers 2-0 at the moment, on the strength of two power play goals (Semin, Laich). Go figure.

Also, please stay tuned for our trade deadline feature where we will run down minute by minute updates in our morning and afternoon recaps of the Trade Deadline on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009.

Check in over the weekend for our thoughts on the movers and shakers come Wednesday!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Then versus Now; You decide.

Here are clips from Alexander Ovechkin's highlight reel goal against the Coyotes as well as last night's beauty at home versus the Canadiens.

Which do you prefer?

AT Phoenix 05-06

VS Montreal 08-09

Caps high on Carlson

After a season in which he only played 20 regular season games, 25 year old Steve Eminger was shipped to the Phialdelphia Flyers along with the 84th overall pick of the 2008 draft, for the 27th overall.

Eminger - a first rounder in his own right - never quite developed into the all around defenseman he was projected to be after winning a Memorial Cup with the OHL's Kitchner Rangers (until becoming a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning).

Since young blue liner was never able to find his grove as a Cap, he was moved so that GM George McPhee could select a new defensive project, in 18 year old John Carlson.

Carlson was pegged as a late first round pick with the potential to go as high as the late teens. After selecting Anton Gustafsson 23rd overall and seeing that Carlson was still available, McPhee did all within his power to get another pick to use on Carlson.

So far it appears that the draft day move is paying off in spades.

After being selected in last year's draft, Carlson committed to the London Knight's of the OHL who selected him 33rd overall in the 2007 OHL Draft.

This year he has been able to play with the likes of fellow Capitals prospect Justin Taylor, Michael Del Zotto, and future NHL draft pick John Tavares; just to name a few.

It is there that he has flourished into a versatile defenseman who can take care of himself in both ends of the rink.

Through 49 games, Carlson has registered a whopping 61 points (13G, 48), which ranks second in the league in both points by a defenseman and points by a rookie.

Not only that, but he is asked to play big minutes on the Knight's penalty kill as he is one of their most sound defenders, all while logging upwards of 30 minutes a night.

The Midwest Division leading Knight's are looking to make their way to winning their second Memorial Cup in 4 years, and will rely heavily on Carlson to get the job done in all facets of the game.

His success in all areas of his game has Assistant coach Pat Curcio gushing over his NHL Potential.
"That's why he's a No. 1 NHL pick," Curcio said. "The only thing you can say is elite, he's elite as well."
It isn't too much to fathom that Carlson could be NHL ready as soon as next year. He showed great promise in preseason camp this past fall with the Capitals, and one could believe that if he can continue to impress, he could go professional next season.

Time will ultimately tell, and Carlson still has time left to develop his game in London. But right now, George McPhee is sitting in his office...


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

FEAR THE WEAGLE temporarily down.

Just a quick note to the followers that FEAR THE WEAGLE has been down the past few days due to a bout of the flu. I'm hoping to get things back up and running at some point tomorrow, depending on my health.

We're working on some articles at the moment, with our main feature on the play of London Knights defenseman John Carlson.

Stay tuned for more!

note: For information on tonight's game, check out what The Peerless Prognosticator has to say.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Record setting night in Sunshine state.

It took Mike Green just under 35 minutes to re-write the record books. The Caps defenseman has been red hot lately, leading all NHL players in goals over the past few weeks. Last night, he put himself in a position no other rearguard has ever been.

Eight straight games with a goal. A new NHL record, which will likely stand for awhile. As previously noted by FEAR THE WEAGLE, Mike O'Connell set the record at seven games in the 83-84 season with the Boston Bruins. Other notable defensemen on the list were Ray Bourque (7) and Bobby Orr (6).

A throng of Capitals came off the bench to celebrate the monumental achievement set by the 23 year old blue liner, and his father David was also in attendance. Green had a chance for back-to-back multi-goal games, but rang one off the post in the third.

However, Green was not the only one setting records last night.

Michael Neuvirth - a Caps rookie - probably never thought he'd get a sniff of NHL action this season. An ECHL All-Star with the Capitals affiliate South Carolina Stingrays, Neuvirth was recalled by the Hershey Bears when both Darren Machesney and Simeon Varlamov were unable to suit up due to injury. While in Chocotown, Michael posted a modest 4-3-2 record with a 3.03 GAA and .890 SV%.

When it became clear that Brent Johnson was hampered by a season ending hip injury, Washington was forced to turn to their young net minders to play in spot duty down the stretch. Varlamov would have most likely gotten the call for last night as he already has two NHL games under his belt this year with a 2-0-0 record. Varlamov however, is still ailing from a knee ligament injury, which he hopes to return from this week. The Capitals took a chance with Neuvirth hoping for the best.

Last night, Neuvirth looked calm, cool and collected, stopping 23 shots en route to a 5-1 Washington victory. The win marks Neuvirth's first of his NHL career, and hopefully one of many in his young career.

It seems as though the Capitals future in goal looks bright with both Varlamov and Neuvirth showing the ability to play at the NHL level at a young age. The test will be if they can carry a heavier load in the years to come, with successful results.

GM George McPhee has been unclear about any plans in goal past this season, saying only he plans to spell now starter Jose Theodore with Neuvirth and Varlamov. It is unclear whether or not they will re-sign Brent Johnson through next season, or give his job to one (or both) of these young net minders.

But the main story of last night's action was the play of Mike Green. We at FEAR THE WEAGLE would like to extend our congratulations to Mike on a milestone that may never be eclipsed again. He is definitely now looking as a legitimate Norris Winner, and we wish him the best.

Green will try to extend his record to nine games as the Caps take on the Panthers tonight.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Neuvirth and Kronwall to make Capitals debuts.

Just a quick note on tonight's game in Tampa Bay:

Michael Neuvirth will start in goal against the Lightning, making his NHL debut. Neuvirth will look to follow in the steps of fellow rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov, attempting to win his first game of his young NHL career.

Also making his first start as a Capital will be Staffan Kronwall. Kronwall was claimed 8 days ago by the Capitals and finally has a grip on the system as well as his immigration status cleared.

Both Karl Alzner and Milan Jurcina will not play in tonight's game on the Capitals blue line.

Other additions to the line-up are Alexander Semin returing from injury as well as John Erskine getting back on the ice and out of the press box, as he has been a healthy scratch the past two games.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mike Green ties NHL record in shootout loss to Rangers.

Mike Green led the charge for the Capitals while vaulting himself into the NHL record books.

The offensively gifted defenseman tallied twice in the second period, tying the record for consecutive games with a goal by a blue liner, set by Mike O'Connell in 1983-84.

However, it was not enough, as the Capitals came up on the short end of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Rangers.

Green, along with Fehr and Fleischmann all notched two point performances for the Capitals, while Ryan Callahan and Lauri Korpikoski each scored once for the Rangers, who were in need of a win.

Alexander Ovechkin managed only an assist in the loss, but also registered a whopping 13 hits - his highest single game total this season.

Viktor Kozlov and Alexander Semin both did not dress tonight as they are nursing minor injures. Defensemen John Erskine and Staffan Kronwall were healthy scratches for the Caps. It has been hinted that Kronwall could play in this weekends Florida road swing, as the Capitals coaching staff is confident that he is learning the teams system to their liking.

Jay Beagle was called up for tonight's game, making his NHL debut for Washington. He logged 7:41 in minutes and was an even plus minus on the game.

For the Rangers, they are now 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, trying to secure a playoff spot down the stretch. They were 0-5 on their power play, (the second straight game in which the Caps have managed to ice a spotless PK) and most notably were 0-4 in the third period, including a brief 5 on 3 as well as a four minute double minor to defenseman Shaone Morrisonn.

Washington on the other hand were awarded only one power play throughout the game, and also did not capitalize on their man advantage.

The Capitals will now head to Florida for a weekend back-to-back with the Lightning and Panthers, trying to distance themselves from their Southeast opponents.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Race for "The Rocket" heats up.

Last year, the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk, Jarome Iginla, Evgeny Malkin and Henrik Zetterberg all challenged for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy, which is awarded to the player who finishes the regular season with the most goals. However, in spite of gallant efforts by all those forenamed, it was all for not, as the stupefying campaign of Alexander Ovechkin left all his opponents in the dust.

By the end of the season "Ovie" had opened a 13 goal lead on fellow countryman Ilya Kovalchuk, while setting an NHL record for most goals by a left wing (65) previously set by Luc Robitaille in the 1992-93 season.

Notwithstanding, this years race is shaping up much differently, and features some fresh new faces - and of course that of Alexander Ovechkin's still sits as the front runner.

So far, Alex has his work cut out for him, slugging it out with other members of the NHL's youth movement in his bid to take The Rocket in back-to-back seasons. While registering 6 goals in his past 4 games, Ovechkin has moved atop the scoring leaders with 37 on the year.

But not so fast. With plenty of games to go, Ovechkin is anything but a slam dunk to take top prize. Here three reasons why.

Jeff Carter notched his 100th career goal Sunday in Atlanta, and added his 101st for good measure. Carter is on pace to break 100 points for the first time in his career as he has carried the load in goal scoring for the Philadelphia Flyers. He currently sits behind Ovechkin with 34 goals through 52 games.

Since entering the NHL, all Thomas Vanek has done is score goals. Now in his fourth NHL season, Vanek has never finished with less than 20 goals in a year. He was on pace to challenge for a 50 goal season before breaking his jaw against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. The Austrian born winger will be out of the Sabres line-up for 3 to 4 weeks, which will most likely take him out of the running. With 32 goals, Vanek sits third overall in scoring.

Former Washington Capital Bobby Carpenter became the first American-born player to reach 50 goals when he scored 53 for the Capitals in 1984-85. This season, Zach Parise hopes to duplicate that feat for the New Jersey Devils. The son of former Minnesota North Star J.P. Parise, Zach is starting to make his name as a legitimate scoring threat in the NHL. Parise netted two more goals tonight in a 3-0 shutout win over the New York Rangers and is now tied with Vanek for third in scoring (32). Parise is coming off two 30+ goal campaigns and hopes to add his name to the 50+ club come April.

What's astounding about this group of players is that none of them are over the age of 25. Suffice to say that these names could appear atop the leader boards for few years to come, something which is great news for NHL fans and GM's alike.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Thinks finally coming up "Fehr"

It took Eric Fehr only 33 seconds to wrist his 6th goal of the season past an unsuspecting Tomas Vokoun in last nights 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers. His latest tally has doubled his past two seasons in combined scoring, as he only put in 3 goals between the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons.

Fehr began his professional career with Washington's AHL affiliate in Hershey, where he scored 53 points in 73 games, as well as potting 11 points in 19 playoff games en route to Herhsey's 2005-06 Calder Cup Championship.

The following season, the 6'4" 212 lbs forward battled through injuries while putting up a point per game average for the Bears (41pts in 40 games and a ridiculous +20 rating).

However, last year put a halt to Eric's professional hockey career as he suffered from a hip problem which doctors could not treat as they were unable to find the source of the problem.

Fehr was shelved for the majority of the season when he finally met a specialist who concluded he suffered from a lower back injury which was causing the symptoms in his hip.

He was able to suit up for 34 games last year, splitting time between Hershey and Washington, with mild success. It was evident that he was still not in peak condition to be an every day NHL player.

This past off season, the Capitals resigned Fehr to a one year $735,000 deal, hoping that he could prove he was worth the 18th overall selection in the 2003 draft.

The signing seems to be paying off in spades, as Fehr is on pace for 25 point season, which is one shy of the 26 which fellow Capital Tomas Fleischmann registered in 2007-08.

The Winkler, Manitoba native has really turned on his game as of late, contributing 5 points in his past 5 games, while making good on his opportunity to return to the line-up after Chris Clark has been placed on IR for the remainder of the season.

Evidently, Eric's campaign won't match the point production he saw with Brandon of the WHL or his rookie season in Hershey, it is certainly a step in the right direction for the 23 year old winger.

He still projects as a top six forward in this organization, and with this being a contract year for Viktor Kozlov and Sergei Fedorov, it will be interesting to see if Fehr is given the opportunity to step into the role in which he was drafted.

As for now, at least Fehr can take solace in the fact that for the first time in three seasons, things finally seem to be coming up "Fehr".

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Capitals shouldn't take Panthers lightly.

On Thursday night, Washington Capitals followers saw what can happen when you don't fully prepare for an opponent.

Multiple defensive breakdowns, a handful of breakaways and a 5-4 loss to the .500 Western Conference L.A. Kings.

And while tonight's opponent - the Florida Panthers - are a full 12 points behind the Capitals in the Southeast Division, it would behoove the Caps not to look past them as an easy victory.

In their last ten games, the Panthers are temped 6-2-2 and now sit alone in 8th position in the East.

The last time these southern felines made the playoffs? Get out the archives and look up the 1999-00 season when they lost in the first round to the New Jersey Devils (who wound up winning the Cup).

But this year, the Panthers seem poised to erase the demons of seasons past and have all the right tools to win the division still.

Sound familiar? Well it should. Last year at this point, the Capitals were 26-24-5 before going on their unconscionable streak that saw them win the division in their final regulation game. This year, the Panthers are well ahead of that mark with a 25-18-8 record and plenty of games against their division left to go.

To this point, Florida is 8-3-2 against teams in the Southeast and have only played the Caps in one of their six meetings this season (which they won 5-3).

Their youth movement is leading the charge offensively with Stephen Weiss, Jay Bouwmeester, Nathan Horton, David Booth and Michael Frolik leading the charge for the Cats.

As a plus, their young legs could prove quite the advantage once the grind of the final weeks of the season set in.

Washington's task tonight will be to silence the critics who say they aren't nearly successful enough against the NHL's second tier teams, and take the Panthers to task on home ice.

These divisional games could prove to be the difference come April, and if the Capitals don't wish to go the way of the Carolina Hurricanes of last year, it's best they take care of business starting tonight.

Kronwall vs Dorsett

Just a quick fight between the Capitals newest acquisition and Columbus tough guy Derek Dorsett.

Capitals claim Kronwall

Today the Capitals claimed defenseman Saffan Kronwall off of entry waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Jarfalla, Sweden product (and younger brother to Detroit's Nicklas) has posted solid numbers this season with the Leafs AHL affiliate, leading all defenseman in scoring (25 points in 42 games).

Kronwall will not be in the line up for tomorrow night's game against the Panthers as he has immigration issues to clear up. He will also have to play a minimum of 10 games, or spend the next 30 days on the Capitals roster before he becomes waiver exempt, giving Washington the opportunity to send him to Hershey without risk.

"He played real well in his first year pro in North America, but then he's had some setbacks with injuries the past few years. He's a puck moving defenseman who might have some upside. So we'll take a look." - GM George McPhee
The Capitals have also recalled Karl Alzner and Alexandre Giroux for tomorrow night's game.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Mike Green Debate be damned. That's as good a way as any to start this blog, voicing my displeasure for having a story ripped away from me.

This afternoon, I was sitting at my cubicle contemplating a new blog entry focusing around the rising star of defenseman Mike Green, and thought to make the point that he could be a potential Norris Candidate (and dare I say winner) at season's end.

So imagine the shock when I finally thought that I would finally deliver some unique food for thought; only to be beaten to the punch by Mike G. Morreale and the fat cats at

Well doesn't that just beat all.

But at least in the grand scheme of it, this is a topic that can be delved into further, and FEAR THE WEAGLE has never had a problem being second best. So here's what we think of Green for Norris in 09.

Green has been on a torrent pace as of late, posting an incredible 20 points in his last fifteen games for the Southeast leading Capitals.

He ranks first amongst defensemen in goals scored (16) as well as in points (42), while averaging roughly 25 minutes a night on a young Washington blue line.

Oh, and did I mention that he's done all of this while missing 13 games?

The 23 year old Calgary, Alberta native is well on pace to eclipse last years point totals of 56, on his way to potentially being a 70 point scorer by seasons end.

The only defenseman to accomplish such a feat in the past decade is the Detroit Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom who has scored 70 points or better on four separate occasions during his illustrious career.

And here's the kicker: Each of those years he was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL's most outstanding defenseman.

While the award goes to a defenseman who shows outstanding excellence in both the offensive and defensive parts of his game, it is hard to refute the facts in Green's case.

At the moment, he's on pace not only to lead the league in scoring for all defensemen but he is also ranked 5th in plus minus (19), a stat which holds it's weight in gold when considering the winner of this award.

Granted, last season Lidstrom was an outrageous plus 40, Green will be able to keep his name in the mix by staying amongst the leaders in this category.

And though he may not win the award - as Zdeno Chara seems like the popular front runner at the moment - it would be asinine to not at least give Green a nomination should he continue his current output the remainder of the year.

I'm sure if you asked Green the only trophy he wants to hoist come spring time is the Stanley Cup. And you could probably through the Conn Smythe in there as well.

But hey - the NHL's most outstanding defenseman has a nice right to it too. Only time will tell if Green cashes in on what has been a spectacular season to date.

How do you like them apples, Michael Morreale?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Clark to go under knife, done for season.

Washington Capitals captain Chris Clark has not been able to shake the injury bug since his 30 goal campaign two seasons ago.

Last season the South Windsor, CT native played in only 18 games during the regular season, before a groin injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

Clark, who has only made 32 appearances this season will now require forearm surgery and will miss the remainder of Washington's regular season.
"He went to see a doctor today and the wrist has been bothering him all here. He'll probably have to have something done on his wrist -- have some surgery."
"It just got to the point where he wasn't the player we know he is," he added. "He was hurting himself and hurting his team. So we're probably going to go [the surgery] route instead of playing through it without getting any results." - GM George McPhee
Because Clark opted for the surgery, there is a good chance that he could return in time for the post-season, but that it's not set in stone.

What is certain, however, is that Clark will now go on LTIR which will open up a little wiggle room financially for the Capitals to recall personnel from Hershey, or even make a trade.

Luckily for the Capitals, elder statesman Sergei Fedorov will take over the reigns as interim captain, though he will retain his assistant captaincy patch.

Fedorov was signed this past off-season on a one year 4 million dollar contract to provide veteran leadership for a youthful club. Coach Boudreau has assured that when Clark regains his health, he will maintain his role as team captain.
"Clark is our captain, there's no controversy there. When he gets healthy, he'll come back and be our captain."
Washington will face the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Simeon Varlamov - Most Exciting Prospect

FEAR THE WEAGLE followers have voted Simeon Varlamov as the most exciting prospect in the Capitals orginization.

Varlamov took 40% of the vote, while defenseman John Carlson and pesky forward Stefan Della Rovere tied for second with 25% a piece. Hershey Bear wingers Oskar Osala and Francois Bouchard both received one vote.