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Morning Reading List: Bears Update and Celebration Wrap-Up

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The Caps have two games in the next 10 days, so this morning seemed like a good time to catch up with the Bears. (Washington links can be found after the jump.)

After starting the weekend with a 2-1 loss to the Lowell Devils, Hershey responded with a dramatic 5-4 win against Portland. The Bears came back from a 4-1 deficit as Alex Giroux scored twice and Staffan Kronwall recorded the game-winner. Here's the game sheet.

Yesterday, the Bears earned their second win of the road trip with a 3-2 shootout victory over Manchester. Michal Neuvirth recorded a season-high 47 saves and seven more in the ensuing nine-round shootout. Giroux added to his successful year with his 50th goal of the season, becoming the first Bear to do so since 1986-87. Here's the game sheet.

Offense has been the name of the Bears' game so much this season, but as they come down the stretch, the spotlight has switched to the goaltenders -- especially Daren Machesney -- considering the call-ups and injuries that have made Michal Neuvirth and Simeon Varlamov unavailable for much of this season.

Here is the Bears' take on losing "fearless" Quintin Laing for the rest of the season.

Despite the two wins, Hershey dropped one point behind Bridgeport in the AHL's East Division standings.

Caps News & Notes

Over the weekend, colleague Corey Masisak devoted a chunk of his notebook to rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov.

Don't look now, but it's possible three Southeast Division teams could make the playoffs, considering Carolina's recent tear and how the Canadiens are fading fast to give Florida more hope. Check out the conference standings.

In their weekly faceoff, Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside weigh in on the race for the Hart Trophy and the other major awards.

Final Take on Ovechkin's Celebration
In case you managed to miss all the hubbub about Alex Ovechkin's celebration after his 50th goal of the season, here's a roundup:

By Katie Carrera  |  March 23, 2009; 5:30 AM ET
 
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Next: Bourque Stays; Brashear Out; Bradley and Semin Missing

Comments

Hopefully this is the last I hear of the "celebration". I can't remember a bigger overreaction to something so trivial in a while. I guess if it brings attention to the sport and the Caps, it's not entirely a bad thing.

Posted by: Moose33 | March 23, 2009 6:03 AM | Report abuse

The Real Don Cherry was on display this weekend and what he said was dead-on. He should have made these comments a few weeks ago before he went on his rant. What's sad and ironic about this whole story is that Cherry and the HNIC producers pulled a "showboat" stunt with his rant a few weekends ago. Most people who know Don realize that behind the circus act, he is a lover of hockey and wants to make sure "the kids" know how to play the right way. While I love watching Ovie and think that he should celebrate any way he wants, his play speaks for itself and should draw attention on its own merits.

Posted by: r4e11 | March 23, 2009 6:09 AM | Report abuse

congrats to giroux for adding his 50, funny two alex's having 50 goals and its not semin and ovie. too bad giroux can't score in the NHL, maybe next year! go bears, go caps!!!

Posted by: capsfan387 | March 23, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Giant Center looks really filled and happy. Congrats to Giroux for 50 goals and great game by Michal! Which is so fitting because today is Michal's birthday! Happy Birthday Neuvy! :) Yes, I am the only one who would know this.. ;)

Posted by: rachel216 | March 23, 2009 6:31 AM | Report abuse

They didn't do it last year Chase. They didn't give us 60 mins of effort in every game vs the Flyers did they? If they had they would have won the series. They let up after the first game, then turned it back on after being down in the series. This team can always crank up the effort but sometimes its just too late.

and everyone agrees that WHEN the Caps muster up their A effort they can beat anyone. The question simply is, WILL they? And to pretend that any trends they show in the reg season isn't an indicator of what they'll do in the playoffs is silly.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 22, 2009 10:53 PM

Last year was a different issue - the Caps wasted a lot of energy just to get into the playoffs. This year is different, they just need to win 3 more games to lock everything up, not 14. So, they should have a bit more energy to give us the results that we want. But, I do agree, the issue is lack of effort... hopefully they will get up for the playoffs like they should and not wait until they are down 3 games to 1 to turn it up. As I have noticed with this team - they are their best with their backs against the wall... they are going to have to learn to get out of that. Only time will tell...

Posted by: _828 | March 23, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

Hey, so, Giroux now has 50 goals in the AHL. Thats a pretty good number, no? So why can't this guy stick in the NHL? What is the issue? Flash wasn't putting up 50 goals and he's here. There are a lot of players that cant post that offense but are in the NHL. Is it that he doesn't get enough a shot on the 1st line? Katie? Tarik? Whats the issue here?

Posted by: oo7 | March 23, 2009 8:18 AM | Report abuse

828

first of all, glad you still post here. Despite some difference in opinions, we're all Caps fans :)

More than lack of effort in those games, I'd call it lack of focus/determination. Last game is a perfect example, it's not that we weren't trying, it's that a. we tend to lose focus when it's "so easy to score" (that's why lately it's hard to keep a lead). And that cost us. and b. need more determination to play a certain kind of game relentlessly.

Now, we can expect that in the playoffs all this will be addressed... it wouldn't hurt to see those weapons in action these last few games to see if they indeed can be switched on and how effective they are. The games against NSH and PHI showed good signals though.

Posted by: mauree | March 23, 2009 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Giroux's style is more like Fehr than Flash. He also has an even worse case of "unable to finish" than Fehr. Flash is supposed to be more of a playmaker.

Posted by: koalatek | March 23, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

koalatek, thanks, it seems that Fehr and Flash have gottena much larger opportunity to show that they can finish. Maybe its time Grioux did too. After all, Flash has gone what, 14, 15 games without a goal? Not much forechecking or defensive work. Why not give Giroux a chance? I'm just trying to figure out why he hasnt been in washington.

Posted by: oo7 | March 23, 2009 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Heck, even Ivan Ciernik got a better chance to show himself.

Posted by: oo7 | March 23, 2009 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Got back last night from a weekend in NC. The Caps could and should have won that game. I realize that they may be bored and are just waiting for the playoffs, but if they keep this up they are not going to be a in a groove come post-season and that would just be a pity. No, they don't need to win every one down the stretch like they did last season, but, come on, they should at least be above .500. Hopefully they'll start a streak tomorrow night!

RE: Lainger, poor fella. I was happy to see him back up - thought he might be the jolt of energy that the team needed (they always seem to elevate their play when he is on the ice). He FINALLY gets back here and now he's out with a major owie? What a bummer.

RE: Cherry, everyone knows that dude is nuts. Granted, Ovi's display was over the top, but it was his 50th (for the third season in a row no less - not many NHLers can claim that, and no other Cap can!). I don't think his celebrations are ever intended at the expense of others, I just think the boy likes to celebrate his and his team's successes. So let him do his thing. After all, I would rather see that than "stone-faced ignore the cameras and the fans cuz I'm a tough pro athlete dude" that we usually get from those guys *yawn*.

Time to turn it around, fellas - let's blow out the end of the season. If not for yourselves and not for the fans, then do it for UKDave - his other team forgot how to rock the red and is imploding!! ;-) LET'S GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: --Boo-- | March 23, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

"do it for UKDave - his other team forgot how to rock the red and is imploding!!"

Why yes, yes they are.

Posted by: Section117 | March 23, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

oo7, Giroux is also 27 (Fehr is 23, Flash 24) so maybe there's more of a "he is what he is" feel about him whereas in theory Flash and Fehr can still improve.

Posted by: koalatek | March 23, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

no wonder nhl has low ratings. they finally get an exciting young player and the older timers are advocating a cheap shot against said young player. would the ratings go up or down if a) alex was in the game b) alex showed some emotion?

maybe bruces talk will calm alex down and he will have a tremendous drop in points. then the ratings can surely head for the toilet and the nhl can go bankrupt. than the players can play non professionally and not celebrate after a goal. as far as alex he probably could play pro football if he had to. cindy could be in gay porn.

Posted by: rockbroker | March 23, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

@Boo

Ov's 50 was his third in four seasons, many of us keep saying it was three years in a row. The record he set was the first Caps to score 50 goals in three seasons , but not three in a row, Still a great accomplishment. Let's have a greta playoff run, and next year will be three consecutive 50 goal seasons!

Posted by: boomer44 | March 23, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

One more on this long road trip. I'd love to see a win in Toronto to get this roadtrip to 3-2: I think anyone would take a trip with that record. They've got some time off over the next two weeks (only four games, three at home) to sort out some issues, clinch the division, and get ready for the playoffs.

Based on comments over the last few days, I'd like to offer to buy everyone's second round playoff strips; apparently they'll be worthless.

Posted by: saintex | March 23, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

mauree,
I will always post here... as much as the players are learning - the fans are learning as well, ya know?

Posted by: _828 | March 23, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Good lord.. I can't believe we're still dedicating ink and real estate to the "celebration issue". I'm getting so tired of hearing about it that I'm now inclined to say F it... let OV do whatever the hell he wants and all the holier than thou jack@sses can wax philosophically about how much better things were when hockey was pure and nobody below the Canadian border gave a crap about it. Lighten the F up and enjoy the show.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 23, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Enough about Ovie's celebration. At least the NHL isn't on the front page in the sports section in the USA because of another Todd Bertuzzi/Steve Moore incident.

Not all publicity is good, but this kind of publicity is good...

Posted by: MikeL-Caps91 | March 23, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

good point _828 re: the Caps burning up a lot of their energy last season prior to the postseason. That could have factored into things.

I still firmly believe that this team has letdowns even within games that is very predictable. For example, most of the time when they go up a goal their next few shifts on the ice aren't as aggressive. They're content to cherrypick for another goal instead of working the boards and displaying the same work ethic that probably got them the lead. Then the other team comes back at some point and ties things up or goes ahead. Then the Caps amp up their effort to get back into the game. Its happened so many times this season its like you can your watch to it :)


Re: Giroux and his lack of being given a chance. I thought Giroux was pretty lazy in many of the games I watched him play, both at the A and the NHL level. However the last few callups I've been impressed with his willingness to work hard so I have no problems with him being given more of a chance to showcase themselves.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 23, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I think Alex Ovechkin should listen to Mike Milbury because Alex's celebration was disrespectful to the game. Not until Alex climbs into the stands and hits an opposing fan with their own shoe will he reach true superstar status. Of course I am being sarcastic. OV's an animated kid, yup, I said it, kid, as are most of today's superstars. Let them have fun out there. That balony of act like you have done it before is a joke. The little piece on Federov that was shown on Red Line last week and between periods Saturday should be enough proof that every goal is exciting goal 1 or goal 500 something. Federov stated, and his statement was not related to Alex's celebration because it was prior to the celebration, that scoring goals is exciting because it feels like you've done a good job. That is a veteran talking so let our kids be kids and have a blast. That includes Malkin, Crosby, Stamkos, Backstrom, Semin, and the rest of the young superstars around the league.

Now, the Caps are only 3 wins from clinching the division. A win by FLA will bring that number to 2 wins and 1 tie, and move another SE team into a playoff slot. Let's go Panthers.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 23, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

It's spelled correctly on the Stanly Cup thrice, Selke twice, Hart and Pearson once each: "Fedorov", with one 'e'.
Much easier than, say, Ovetchcan...

Posted by: redlineblue | March 23, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

redlineblue: Well my sarcastic friend, Stanley has an "e" that you missed. Take my extra "e" put it in Stanley and we'll be even.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 23, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I hadn't really spent a lot of time looking at the schedule, but with the "2 games in 10 days" thing, I took a look. My first thought was "great, they'll get some chance to get healthy before the playoffs." But, then I realized that after this layoff, its one game every other day for the last two weeks of the seaoson. Ugh.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | March 23, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Don't look now but the Canes and Pens - hottest teams in the East - are in a virtual tie for 5th and 6th places. If the Canes keep up the run we may well see the Pens in the first round. That would be epic.

Posted by: saintex | March 23, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Pens are a real tough team to play against now under their new coach. Heck even Gonchar looks like Pronger back there. He's much more poised with the puck and there's a real urgency to his game. He's hitting everything in sight which is something he never did before. And he's nasty in the crease. He about took someone's head off in yesterday's game because they messed with his goalie.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 23, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton, it would be a very tough first round matchup. It'll go seven. Imagine a game 7 vs. the Pens at Verizon.

Posted by: saintex | March 23, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

yeah i would love to see us play the pens in the first round. I think between Kunitz, Cooke, Crosby, Orpik and Malkin we're going to develop a real hatred for those guys (not that we didn't have one before :)

That was a solid trade to get Kunitz, he's the perfect scrappy forward that every team needs on a top line. We really have a huge organizational hole there.

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 23, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Fanohock: Stanley! (Now you tell me. ; ] )

Posted by: redlineblue | March 23, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I think this little break we have here is just want the doctor ordered. The team has been playing a lot recently and this will give everyone some time to heal and re-coup for the playoffs.

I honestly don't think it matters who we play in the playoffs. Once they start, anyone can win on any given day. The Sharks or Red Wings could lose in the first round. I do think that we'll take down the Canes or Pittsburgh, though I could see Pitt going to 7 games. And I wouldn't say Pitt is one of the hotest teams after they got dominated by Philly.

Posted by: ovys8 | March 23, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

About the comments on the Ov celebration, Tarik missed one. Mike Millbury was apoplectic about it yesterday between periods on the NBC game. What a putz. These “old school” guys feel like it’s their game and they played it the only way it’s supposed to be played, with 10 Canadian guys on the ice staying in their lanes and keeping the excitement to a minimum. The exuberance and passion that Ovechkin plays with is one of the best things that’s happened to this league in a long time, and it's an added bonus that he's pissing off all these has-been dinosaurs.

Posted by: dgitlitz | March 23, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

To everyone saying "it was his 50th goal, let Ovie do whatever he wants"...would you feel the same if it was Crosby (or anyone else for that matter) doing it at Verizon? Would it be OK to do whatever they want? Or is it just OK because he's YOUR star player?

For the record, I don't think it's a big deal and it's been blown way out of porportion. But some folks saying that he can do what he wants because he's good would not be so quick to excuse it if it was someone from a different team doing the cheesy pre-planned celebration.

Posted by: SandyG1 | March 23, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to the 2010 Olympics when I'm almost certain the debate about the Canadians and the Russians will bubble up again. Frankly, the way things have been going, I'm rooting for the Russians to win big, if not more than the Canadians. I get giddy thinking about the Russian team and the thought of Semin, Ovechkin, Federov, Kozlov and Malkin playing together. Gives me goose bumps!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 23, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

@SandyG1: Sadly, though, worse things have happened besides a 23 year old hockey player celebrating an accomplishment in his career but people seem to equate this to him running a guy from the other team over on the ice, flipping off fans, and urinating on the opposing goalie's net. There's no disrespect from Ovi but old time hockey folk want to read too much into it. Professional jealousy perhaps? Oversensitivity?

For the record, if Crosby reached 50, I'd be hatin' on him too but I'd hardly act like the reason for my dislike is my penchant to go back to when hockey was a gentleman's sport. That's a sack of sheet but that's how the media is portraying what Ovi did relative to the sport of hockey. I haven't been around hockey long enough to know when Crosby socked another player in the nads while that same guy was fighting another of Crosby's teammates, was there a call for decorum? Was there a call to go back to the simpler and innocent days when hockey was played with the utmost courtesy and respect? That when a player of the opposing team was skating so brilliantly well with the puck, that the other team would just stand at attention and raise their sticks off the ice and cheer on the skater so he could score, just as the goalie would skate out of the net and give the skater a thumbs up as the skater triumphantly taps the puck in? Hardly. You'd think that though from all the hoo-hah Cherry and some of the other old school people seem to be dishing out. Talk about taking some thing too personal. It's a joke! Okay, I'm done. =X

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 23, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Happy Birthday Neuvy! :) Yes, I am the only one who would know this.. ;)

Posted by: rachel216 | March 23, 2009 6:31 AM


I think mommy Neuvy knows it's his B-day....

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 23, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Is Neuvy finally 21? Legal drinking. Yay.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 23, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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