Knee-jerks and Notes: Buffalo, 11/27

Knee-Jerk ReactionsIt’s becoming plainly obvious that Verizon Center is home to the worst sheet of ice in the entire NHL. This was Mike Vogel’s question to Tom Poti in the Caps’ locker room after†Monday night’s†game: “In the second period it looked like you were playing ball hockey out there.” This was Poti’s reply:

“That’s how it is every night here . . . it’s pretty embarassing, to be blunt.”

  • “We beat ourselves tonight,” Tom Poti told media in the locker room after Monday’s†3-1 loss to Buffalo. Coach Boudreau amplified: “We played as hard as them, just not as smart as them.”†A team can rarely turn the puck over as the Caps did Monday night against a “great transition team” in Boudreau’s words and survive.††
  • Game 3†in the†Boudreau regime, and the 3rd game with a fire in the bellies of the boys. This night, however, there was a copious amount of turnovers accompanying the desire-fire.
  • The Erskine-Peters dance card:†pretty effective†job by Erskine . . .†narrow decision†to Erskine?
  • The most impressive aspect of Ovechkin’s goal was his refusal to give up on the play. What do you call this power surge move he makes from the wing, racing in, legs churning, defenders often perfectly positioned, which ends with his willing himself to score a goal? We the OFB team and our readers need to put our creative thinking caps on and try and name this seemingly unprecedented, fast-action†scoring swoop of†determined desire and pure prodigy.
  • Is it beginning to look to anyone else besides us that Mike Green is emerging (already emerged?) as this hockey’s team’s most dynamic presence on the power play point? And not by default, either.
  • Kolzig with a five-bell, four-alarm fabulous stop on Hecht in the third.
  • It pains us to say it, but Michael Nylander pulled an Esa†Tikkanen late in the third. (Admittedly with the stakes not quite so high.) It was that kind of night for Michael Nylander. he authored two deadly turnovers in the second period that facilitated Buffalo’s lasting 3-1 lead. Then, deep in the third, while in the crease behind Ryan Miller, he maneuvered the puck†everywhere but into the net, off a rebound of an Alexander Semin shot. You might not see such ill-timed infamy again the rest of the season.†After the game, Boudreau told the press that had the Caps gotten that second goal, he felt the momentum achieved from it would have willed them to a tying goal.†
  • Viktor Kozlov: an enigma wrapped in a mystery. So much skill, so much size, so much sizzle accompanied†by too much fizzle. His numbers this season aren’t bad at all, but you consider what’s in his toolbox, and you’re left puzzled by the frequency with which he authors impact-free shifts.

Now more than a quarter of the way through the season, the Caps have four players in double digits in scoring. The Montreal Canadiens, picked by no small number of forecasters to finish outside the Eastern conference’s top eight but currently fifth, have nine players in double digits in scoring. Such balance is difficult to defend. ††

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16 Responses to Knee-jerks and Notes: Buffalo, 11/27

  1. steph says:

    I haven’t been a hockey fan for as long as some of you, so a question – what makes “bad ice”? How do they fix it?

  2. Steph,
    You ask an excellent question, which unfortunately doesn’t have an easy answer. Certainly multi-use venues like Verizon Center are at a disadvantage in terms of general ice quality simply because the conditions therein change so regularly and quite often so dramatically. NHL arenas such as those found in Edmonton and Calgary and Vancouver, which do not share their environs with NBA and college basketball tenants, can ensure greater consistency of conditions, which indisputably helps with ice quality. It is also true that colder climates make for easier maintenance of quality ice. But ice’s real killer is humidity as opposed to simple air temperature. And we in D.C. know all too well about our humidity plague.
    Still, we haven’t seen anything approaching the anxiety and, frankly, outrage associated with the quality of the Caps’ ice in years past quite like we have with this season. Something novel and pernicious has taken hold. We’re eager to find out more about its genesis and what Caps’ management is able and willing to do to improve things.

  3. Victor says:

    Steph, bad ice is soft ice–ice that is, for all practical purposes, melting. The puck bounces a lot and skaters lose their edge and start falling all over the place. I don’t know if there’s really a way to fix it, what with a dual-use arena (for basketball games sheets of plywood are placed over the ice before the basketball court is laid down) and the relatively high ambient temps the DC area has been experiencing lately.
    And my nomination to name Alex’s power move is Ovied, as in, “Ovechkin skates in from the wing, splits the defense…he shoots! Save by Miller but a big rebound back to Ovechkin…shoots again and Ovies the puck past Miller!” Note this would also apply to The Goal, but be sure to mention he was on his back when he made the shot.
    (Uh…please note it’s a verb.)

  4. TG says:

    You were too kind to Erskine. The first goal was completely his fault (went the wrong way around the goal towards the guy with the puck), and he just looked awful. The past two games, I’ve always noticed when he’s been on the ice, and the only way I “notice” the defensemen is when they make a mistake.

  5. pgreene says:

    i don’t understand why they can’t just dehumidify the everloving crap out of the building. that, and crank the thermostat down a few notches, ought to firm things up a little bit.

  6. hockeygrl76 says:

    I think Green is looking awesome! I wasn’t too sure about him at first but he has definately proved himself this year! Ovie is brilliant as always but I was hugely disappointed with the turnovers. That sucked. The energy made the game fun again though so I guess we can’t complain too much. It’ll be interesting to see what BB does with the team when he actually gets a chance to practice them!

  7. Novaron says:

    Ceryainly they can do better with the ice. Is the ice in Dallas or Atlanta or Raleigh (other somewhat southern dual use facilities) as bad.

  8. B.ORR4 says:

    Fixing the ice certainly is not impossibe. Tampa is a lot warmer than DC and they have some of the best ice in the league. Admittedly, they don’t have a pro basketball team, but as you can see in this article they’ve done a lot of work to make the conditions right for maintaining quality ice. Link:
    http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/nov/26/sp-its-all-about-ice/?sports-lightning

  9. steph says:

    Thanks folks! I knew it was the cause of the guys slip sliding away, but didn’t know why – I really appreciate the info. . .

  10. Jordan says:

    At least Kozlov was hitting last night. That blew me away.

  11. pepper says:

    With my glass half-full, I could say that if they continue to win 2 of every 3 games, they would earn about 93 points, which might be just enough.
    Yeah, 2 of every 3. Tall order indeed.

  12. The Deuce says:

    A huge part of the problem is that the Verizon Center is really not a “dual-use” arena at all, but a “quadruple-use” arena. The Wizards, Hoyas, Terps, Mystics, and Caps all share the place.” That means less time for ice maintenance and more time spent hurrying everything together just to make sure the rink is up in time for the game. There was a Post article about this last year, I think. Edmonton has the best ice in the NHL because a) They are the whole show — no sharing; b) It’s brutally cold during hockey season, and there is little humidity; and c) they worship hockey and have nothing else to do. I can just imagine their “ice-master” making out with a freshly made sheet of ice first thing in the morning. Now how do you compete with that?!

  13. Grooven says:

    While you’re talking basketball floors, don’t forget concerts like Bruce Springsteen at VC. Where do you think the floor seats are?
    Ice quality is a hazard of living in a cosmopolitan city. Not to be blunt but… what else is there to do in Edmonton? Here there are all kinds of demands for a pretty good space.
    As for hockey, I agree that Erskine is not much useful at all. His bout was pretty much all misses but both combatants. And his hockey skill… well, let’s just say I think he, like Simon and Witt, has fallen victim to Sampson Syndrome. He played pretty well last season, but has not looked good at all this year.
    I ask “How is it Erskine can make the line-up, and Clymer cannot?” People have replied “But Clymer is a forward not a defenseman.” My response is “He’s been a defenseman before, not a bad one, and even on his off days is better than Erskine.”
    But I guess GMGM has completely written off this player with a ring altogether? Did Boudreax see nothing he liked out of Clymer when they were together in Hershey for the past couple months?

  14. MulletMan says:

    BB could only request to have Clymer brought up to the team. It’s GMGM’s job to move personnel around and it’s the coaches job to utilize the personnel given to him to make the daily roster.

  15. pepper says:

    I saw Clymer play in Bridgeport a month ago and he was an angry wasp waiting to bust out, aside from being a guy with an above-AHL skill set.
    Of course, in that game, Boudreau stalked the bench, so I guess he’d be the guy to say whether he’s called to play.

  16. DL says:

    The Ovechkin power move should be called “Overdrive” or “OVdrive.” It’s self explanatory, I think.

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