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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 12/10/2010

Five Friday thoughts

By Kareem El-Alaily

Tomas Vokoun - Last night's 3-0 loss to the Florida Vokouns Panthers was the best regular season goaltending I've seen from a Caps opponent since Dec. 20, 2008, when Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki stopped 25 first period shots on his way to a 7-1 rout of the Caps. The irony that night was that it could have very easily been a 7-1 rout for the Caps if not for Niittymaki's heroics. Same goes for Vokoun last night - he was incredible, and he single-handedly turned what should have been a blowout loss to the Caps into an improbable shutout win. The guy is underrated and arguably one of the best goalies in the game.

Atlanta Thrashers - Since I've already thrown some love to one Southeast opponent I might as well also talk about the new-and-improved Atlanta Thrashers. The Caps are 2-3 against them this year and Thrashers head coach Craig Ramsay has implemented a very good system to counter the Caps attack. This is a team that Washington doesn't want to face in the playoffs. With all the 2009-10 Blackhawks the Thrash have acquired it's clear that they're more skilled and grittier than in years past. Their young skaters (Evander Kane, Zach Bogosian, Tobi Enstrom) are rounding out into very good players; Ondrej Pavelec appears to be a very solid goalie; Rich Peverley is, in my opinion, a very underrated center; and Dustin Byfuglien would win the Norris Trophy if the season ended today. What a difference a year makes.

Rabid Fanbases - Ryan Cooper wrote an interesting blog the other day about the similarities between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Redskins, two franchises who have giant, obsessive fanbases. These two teams  are victims of their own financial success and over-hyped fan expectations, and they keep repeating the same mistakes in their quest to buy ready-made championship teams. We've seen how it's worked out. That said, they're in a rarified position in pro sports. There are only a few North American professional franchises that, over the course of generations, have become so woven into the fabric of the local sports culture that they've developed cult-like fanbases that will forgive just about any misstep. Off the top of my head I can think of the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs in baseball; the aforementioned Maple Leafs and Canadiens in hockey; the Steelers, Packers, Bears, Redskins, Cowboys and Eagles in football; and the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics in basketball. It's why Dan Snyder has the second-most valuable sports team in the U.S. while consistently putting out such a poor product during his 12 years of stewardship.

Jeff Schultz - I feel bad for Jeff Schultz, going on the IR until at least Dec. 31 due to a broken thumb. I also broke my thumb once blocking a slapshot. You don't realize how the use of opposable digits truly separates humans and our primate cousins from other animals until you can't use your thumb for awhile. It isn't fun. Here's to a speedy recovery. And just maybe this will be what finally keeps Mr. Nasty from dropping the gloves as frequently as he does!

(That last sentence was sarcasm. Unless you think I was referring to this Schultz.)

You Stay Classy, Verizon Center! - This Saturday the Colorado Avalanche come to town with former Capital forward Tomas Fleischmann. I know Flash wasn't the most popular Capital during his time here and, sometimes, there is a tendency among hockey fans to let former under-achieving players hear it during their return. I hope Cap fans can stay away from such nonsense. Tomas Fleischmann is not a villain to Caps Nation. He's a talented forward who we couldn't find space for in the current lineup. The guy deserves applause for his time here and making himself valuable enough to allow us to trade for Scott Hannan. At worst, I hope he gets polite applause when he touches the ice Saturday night.

By Kareem El-Alaily  | December 10, 2010; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  | Tags:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  
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Next: Time to step up, Terrapin Nation


While I want to boo Flash I wont. It's not his fault he's not a natural center.

But I highly recommend everyone to watch that Schultz video. That opening fight is a thing of beauty. WOW.

Posted by: goskinsgo | December 10, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Flash was an unselfish team guy. Tried to play wherever he was asked to without carping. Glad he was valuable enough to get a Scott Hannan. I wish him the best......just not this Saturday.

Posted by: prestoj | December 10, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

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