Archive for NHL

The Race for Last

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on February 23, 2010 by mwalle1

As the NHL regular season nears an end and teams fight for playoff positions, there is a completely different race going on, the race for last place.

Every year there seems to be a highly coveted prospect that teams who finish near the bottom of the standings have a chance of drafting.  The NHL uses a lottery system to determine who will get the first selection during the draft.  Only team who finish 26th or lower in the standings have a chance at the top pick. 

A season full of misery could lead to many seasons full of promise and playoff births.  Take the Capitals for instance.  After another long season near the bottom of the standings in 2003-04, the Capitals finished 27th overall and had a 14.2 percent of drafting first overall in the upcoming draft, a pick sure to be used on a prospect named Alexander Ovechkin.  The Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins both beat the Capitals in the race for last place, but the Caps jumped two spots and drafted Ovechkin while the Penguins settled for Evgeni Malkin and the ‘Hawks got Cam Barker. 

A year of terrible hockey resulted in the best player in the world coming to the District and some of the most exciting hockey Washington has ever seen.  The Caps are now Cup favorites and have a talented young core that promises to produce for years to come and all because of one bad year of hockey.  That’s not to say team throw the rest of the season if they’re close to the bottom of the standings, but teams and even their fans know a talented, young prospect is better than a few meaninless wins in the standings at the end of the year.

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Varly Victimized, Caps Lose Again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 13, 2010 by mwalle1

The Caps dropped their second straight game Thursday night after winning 14 in a row, losing 6-5 to the Ottawa Senators in a game that featured an Alex Semin hat trick and the return of goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

Varly played two games for the Capitals minor league team, the Hershey Bears, but hadn’t played an NHL game since he was sidelined on December 7th with various injuries.  In his return Thursday night Varlamov appeared slow, out of position, and was a big reason the Caps lost.

After watching the rookie goalie get victimized I called a Hershey season ticket holder I know, Darren Johnson, the get the scoop on Varly’s two reconditioning stints.  I had read the reports, but I wanted a fresh perspective.

“Varly came up here and looked great after a 4-1 Bears win, but injured himself again in the process,” said Johnson.  “The second game he played in, a 5-4 Bears win, he was just good enough to get them the win, nothing special.  At times he was out of position and didn’t really look like the Varlamov we’re all used to.  The Bears and the Caps have so much offensive firepower that goalies just need to not lose the game, they don’t have to steal wins and Varly looked Thursday night like he looked in his second rehab start and that’s not a good thing.  I think he came back from his injury the first time a little early.”

Varlamov is still an impressive 12-2-2 with a 2.44 GAA and a .916 SV%, but what looked like a Calder Trophy year for Varly has turned into one filled with injuries and doubt and a now has Caps fans wondering if he will be ready for another lengthy playoff run come Spring.