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All-Stars, Goalies, Ovechkin and My Next Move

January 30, 2008

Hello out there from the Great Hockey Void. The All-Star game, Young Stars game and Skills Competition was a lot of fun to watch. I spent a good bit of time reminding my American football loving friends that life wasn’t over just because there wasn’t any football on TV last weekend. “There’s always the NHL All-Star game,” I’d say when the complaining started. I’m proud to say I spread the word and at least 10 different TVs were tuned in to the All-Star game because of my mouth. I’ve heard and read some opinoins stating that the game was boring because Sidney Crosby wasn’t playing, but from my perspective, I thought it was great to see a lot of the guys who made it on the teams this year. Ovechkin, of course, Spezza, Tim Thomas and Legace were some of my favorites to watch. It was fun for me just watching the goalies try to shoot the puck during the obstacle course portion of the skills competition. If you haven’t been in full netminder regalia before, you might not understand how difficult that is to accomplish.

The Yound Stars game was too short. It was great to see the a Washington Capitals made it on the East team. Backstrom is really a fantastic rookie. Perhaps he gets overlooked because of Alex Ovechkin, or because he plays for the Washigton Capitals, a team that struggles for respect. Frankly, for a 20 year old player in his rookie season, I think Backstrom shows maturity and great hockey prowess. He’ll be a player to watch for a long time to come.

I have some thoughts on NHL netminders to share at this point. First I’ll get to the goaltending situation in Ottawa. Some may know that I have mixed feelings about Gerber, but now I get even more to think about because of Ray Emery. There’s a GM out there who may have to make some difficult decisions as the season moves forward for the Sens. I’m not sure that being 4 minutes late to a practice is a terrible offense. I’m not even sure that throwing a temper tantrum at a practice is that bad. Do you know how many goalies throw tantrums? More than just Emery for sure. But his motivation is highly questionable and the less he gets to play, the higher his frustration level. In goalie terms, he’s still a youngster, so he’s still learning. However, if Ottawa gets deep into the playoffs, Emery’s behavior and attitude will not be tolerated for any reason. Gerber is a mystery to me this season. In previous seasons, I’ve been hard on him in my blogs. I see too many holes in his general performance and I have wondered how he has managed to stay in the NHL at all at times. He did hit a hot streak, but a “streaky” netminder is not a “playoff” netminder. Good luck to the Sens with that one.

As a Washington Capitals fan, and more specifically an Olie Kolzig fan, I can’t help but be more than just curious about what is really being said behind the scenes in the organization. I’ve heard some speculation that Couch Boudreau, “Gabby”, handles goalies differently from former Caps head coaches and that Olie may not be very pleased with the Gabby. I’ve heard that Gabby wants to have Johnson play every third game. Kolzig’s numbers aren’t as strong as they were in previous seasons at this time, so his age and abilities have been called into question. I run into people at games and on the Metro who really think Olie is a “crappy” netminder and should be traded immediately. Recent Kolzig interviews regarding his contract seem less secure than interviews done at the beginning of the season. I know that speculation and rumors aren’t necessarily painting the correct picture, so I try to take them all with a grain of salt. But, there is still a big part of me that wishes I could be a “fly on the wall” when Kolzig’s future with the Capitals is being discussed. On one hand, he’s been the guy who has stayed and, for the most part, been solid between the pipes through many very poor Caps seasons. On the other hand, Johnson has been working hard for the Caps and Boudreau, as opposed to Hanlon, never played that position and is more interested in winning than anything else. From Kolzig’s perspective, I’m guessing, playing on a playoff bound team could lead to a Stanley Cup and the Capitals may not make the playoffs this season, but could make the playoffs next season. If only I could get just a little nugget of verified information as to which “Kolzig” scenario is the most likely at this point. Just for my own personal interest. Really though, I suppose all I can do is continue on cheering on my favorite netminder, give Johnsons props for his skills and hope that Washington’s 4-0 loss to Montreal isn’t repeated again. GO CAPS! GO OLIE!

Speaking of Montreal, I have to admit that I have a soft-spot for Christobal Huet. He really had a great game last night against the Capitals. As a Caps fan I wish he hadn’t, but as a goalie-phile it was nice to see Huet making such great saves. He’s made small steps throughout his career that have lead to a pretty good showing, as seen in last night’s game. I believe (I could be wrong thugh)he is the shortest NHL netminder, so some have dogged him and he’s had to earn his place.

Many people who have played or are rabid fans of sports that have goaltenders are aware that goalies are a bit of a different breed. I was a soccer goalie, both indoor and outdoor, and played on both all female and all male teams (except for me, which made it “co-ed”, but we only played all male teams). I played for many years. I have also been a water polo goalie, an ice hockey goalie (pick-up) and played half a season of field hockey when my school’s team lost their only goalie to a car accident. I’ve got goalie written all over me. I also know a few goaltenders and we sometimes talk about what it’s like when one gets by us and into the net.

My friend Leif was a Lacrosse goalie and we were having a conversation about NHL netminders last week. At some point in our conversation we discussed how it feels when a goal is scored on you, as a goalie. Most netminders will agree that no matter how bad your defense has been, or no matter how good the opposition, when a goal is scored on you, it usually comes down to the ultimate thought that it’s your fault. You can give your defense a bunch of shit and you can look at the play of the other team as very good, but at the end of the day, your the last line of defense, so you end up taking anything scored on you onto your shoulders. The trick is to move beyond that successfully and not let goals scored on you affect what happens next. Good goalies know how to do that. But Leif came up with a metaphor for situations when someone scores a goal on you. He said “it’s like someone just walked into your house and stuck his thumb up your ass.” Well, as metaphors go, that one nearly made me fall out of my seat laughing. I don’t think I’d walk around saying it, but in some senses, it’s pretty accurate. He then said, “sometimes you can see it coming and sometimes the other guy may use some lube, but you still end up with a thumb up your ass.” I guess after that conversation, I have to give the goalies of the world a warning – keep those thumbs out of your house!

Alex Ovechkin has recently signed a 13 year contract with the Washington Capitals and that news is very, very good for we Caps fans. It’s good to know that such a great player likes the team and the area enough to make such a commitment. Sometime last week, I was asked by someone who read my blog entries thus far why I do not focus more on Alexander Ovechkin, since he “is the only reason Washington gets any press.” My answer to that begins with the fact that Ovechkin is not the only reason the Capitals get press. Yes, it is a constant battle for DC to get recognition as a “hockey town”, but Ovechkin surely is not the ONLY reason for media attention. He’s such a fantastic player and he is so much fun to watch, so he does get a lot of media coverage, as he should. Plus, he likes attention so he is more than willing to put himself “out there” and be available to the various media contingents. Technically, I could spend my entire day, every day, all week writing blog entries about Alex Ovechkin.

In my perfect world, I could write, talk about and watch hockey all day, all the time. If I did not restrain myself, this blog would be a never ending entry that just kept on going until my last day on Earth. Since I do not get paid to put entries up here and I do not make money for putting entries up here, I can’t let myself get caught-up in my sheer love and enthusiasm for hockey when I blog. Trust me, if I were in a room full of hockey lovers, someone would probably have to tape my mouth shut to get me to keep quiet. As for Ovechkin, he does get enough attention elsewhere and I am goalie-centric, so I try to stick to goalies and some of the other Washington Capitals stand-outs. Alexander Semin is a great player and as I mentioned before, Backstrom is doing a good job as a rookie for the Caps. Mike Green is a top defender in terms of goals scored and when the entire team works together, they are almost unstoppable. Of course I’m a fan of Alex Ovechkin. He is so amazing to watch and when he grins it up with that one-tooth-missing-hockey smile, I can’t help but smile along with him. He’s crazy and happy to play hockey and his enthusiasm is second to none. I’m so very lucky to be a Washington Capitals fan these days and even luckier to be a season ticket holder. Ovechkin ROCKS, but he’s not the only one.

I mentioned in my last entry that I had found a new place to live and that I would be moving at the beginning of February. Well, as per the usual in my life, that changed very quickly. I signed a lease for a really good deal on a really nice apartment in Arlington, VA. I got a few guys to help me on a certain day so that I could move my bed, my sofa and loveseat and the more heavy items from my old place to my new place. Everything was set. Then, I got a phone call from the apartment manager in Arlington. The manager not only dropped some very bad news on me, but proceeded to tell me all sorts of confidential information about a very wealthy person whose name has been spoken in households all over the world.

It seems that the apartment I was supposed to move into this Saturday was given over to a “famous” person to house a “girlfriend” (mistress to be more exact) for the next year. The apartment manager decided to spout out all this “famous” person’s dirty laundry in an attempt to make me understand why I had no place to live anymore. I could probably make a quick bit of money selling this to tabloids if I were that kind of person. I’m not that kind of person, so I just put all of that news aside and focused on the fact that someone with more money and pull was able to take my new place to live right out from underneath me with absolutely no difficulty whatsoever. The fact that I had a signed leased (otherwise known as a contract) doesn’t seem to matter at all. Yup, I got screwed pretty good on this one.

Oh I know, some people are just dying to tell me that I should get a lawyer and that it’s not fair and all of that good stuff. I agree that it isn’t fair and I should get a lawyer. However, I’m at such a disadvantage at this point, my best move is to let it go and concentrate on making sure I have money and a place to live very soon. Lawyers cost money and I have none of that. Being all pissed off because the whole thing is not fair to me isn’t going to put a roof over my head. I do have a new, new address and instead of living inside the DC beltway, I’ll be living inside the Baltimore beltway. My new apartment is a yucky little thing, but it’s safely mine and will be ready for me when I can actually move. It has also come to pass that my “elite” realtor didn’t quite do her job properly.

I specifially sought out a seasoned professional to help me sell my home, given the market. She’s on the “elite” team of a certain well-known agency and comes with a ton of great references. I even paid her an “elite” sum of money, despite the relatively small amount for which I’m selling my home. I expected to settle and be paid my money on January 28th. Suddenly, my realtor tells me that there are difficulties and the process is completely different from the way in which was first explained to me. Now, I don’t know when I’ll see my money. It could be next Monday, but it could also be as late as the 15th of February. I think from now on I’ll follow Alex Ovechkin’s lead and just negotiate things myself. Elite my ass! Regardless, I do have a place to live and I did negotiate my way to some money to tied me over until I get the rest of the money for my home, so at least that much is okay at this point.

I hope to see some of you at the Capitals-Habs game tomorrow night in DC!!!! Hockey Rocks!

 Put the music in the schools and the hockey on the ponds – peace – mia


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