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Posted at 7:29 PM ET, 01/16/2011

Third-period rally gives Capitals much-needed win over Senators

By Katie Carrera

For 40 minutes, Sunday's matinee against the Ottawa Senators included all of the trends that have been going against the Capitals lately. They couldn't create many offensive chances, the best ones sailed wide of the net and by the end of the second period, they had just as many shots blocked (17) as made it to the net.

During the intermission, Coach Bruce Boudreau reminded the players of how much they needed a win to go into the next stretch of tough road games with some positive momentum and the message was well received. Washington scored three goals in 6 minutes 16 seconds en route to a 3-1 win against Ottawa.

"Bruce addressed it in the second intermission -- that this was a big period, a big game for our season," Brooks Laich said. "We have 10 of the next [15] on the road, and you have to have this one moving on. If we don't win it now, we're looking at losing four in a row and going on the road for three games in the next week. So a good response by our guys in the third period and I think a well-deserved win."

Laich broke through with an opportunistic goal -- his first since Dec. 15 -- to tie the contest at the 7:15 mark of the third. While it was a nice snap shot to the top-left corner over Brian Elliott's shoulder by Laich, the play started when Alex Ovechkin led the rush and finished his check. The Senators gained possession but a pass intended for Daniel Alfredsson skipped over the Ottawa captain's stick and went straight to a wide-open Laich.

The Capitals were able to feed off that tying goal as well as the crowd's energy, Boudreau said, and John Carlson made it 2-1 just 45 seconds later with a one-timer off a faceoff win -- one of many, as Washington went 49 and 19 on draws against the Senators -- on the power play. It was Washington's first goal on the man advantage after 11 consecutive failed attempts.

Karl Alzner, who drew the penalty when he was knocked into the boards head first with a cross-check by Milan Michalek, didn't see the goal scored by his defensive partner but heard it when he was back in the locker room briefly. The 22-year-old defenseman, who returned to the game, said afterward that he's not feeling any ill effects from the hit.

"That's got to be a hockey player's worst nightmare, just going head first into the boards like that. [It's] just strange," Alzner said. "To be honest.... I don't know what hit first but I just sat there for a second and waited until I could get my air back. I don't know who, it was someone was asking me: 'What's wrong? What's wrong?' and I couldn't answer. He's like: 'You need air?' and I just [nodded] yes."

Jason Chimera added the final cushion when he shot off Elliott's back from behind the goal line and the puck bounced in for a 3-1 lead.

"Sometimes you try to bank it in off them and that time I did, and fortunately it went in," Chimera said. "Nine times out of 10 it doesn't go in."

--After giving up an early goal, Michal Neuvirth buckled down quite well for the Capitals and made some strong saves that included plays around the net, much like the Mike Fisher goal that made it 1-0 less than two minutes in.

"He was great," Boudreau said. "I knew he'd be real good tonight. He's been waiting, he's beaten Ottawa three times now [and] feels good against them. It's a great little battle between the goalies -- they both want to be number one. When they get the chance to get in, they make the most of it."

--Third-period comebacks in which the Capitals are able to snowball momentum from one goal into another haven't been the norm this season like they were in 2009-10. Washington is 3-14-3 when trailing after two periods this season, but this particular comeback was precisely what they needed.

"We seem to score in bunches. Scoring is sometimes infectious, guys get excited and now you're a little more relaxed, now you're not behind and now you put the other team on their heels," Laich said. "We get one and Carly gets another one right away and now everything's going our way, and Chim throws one from behind the goal line that goes in. When you work, you get breaks and tonight we finally got some."

--Boudreau worked in many, many line combinations -- he jokingly said 27 --against the Senators. A little more on that tomorrow morning.

By Katie Carrera  | January 16, 2011; 7:29 PM ET
Categories:  Ottawa Senators  
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Next: Capitals use many line combinations against the Senators

Comments

Only tuned in for the third period, but it looked like the Caps were going to the net, keeping passing lanes open, and moving their feet. Was that true earlier in the game, b/c the third period they looked really strong.

Posted by: radhghlndr1 | January 16, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Only tuned in for the third period

-----------------------------------

so did the Caps buddy, so did the Caps.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 16, 2011 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Only tuned in for the third period

-----------------------------------

so did the Caps buddy, so did the Caps.

Posted by: cstanton1

That is simply not true! We played solid D for almost the entire game (no team goes without a mistake or two)

We had lots of chances in the 2nd that just didn't go in. Offense is clearly a weakness right now, but we played hard that game. I didn't see the lazy half hearted effort of the past few games. I saw guys hustling, creating some chances,and playing very solid D.

You thrive off of negativity. It was by no means a bad game.

Posted by: capscoach | January 16, 2011 8:04 PM | Report abuse

No, I thrive off comparisons. And if I had to compare how a truly upper-echelon NHL team would have attacked Ottawa today, its not how the Caps went about their business.

And because they choose to handle their business in their own inimitable Caps style, it just doesn't bode well for their future because a team like Ottawa will hang around for the entire game for us to be able to take advantage of. Other teams, won't.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 16, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

@ Stanton...liked your view on mP85 and the team toughness, but you are off base on the comment regarding DJK and the first two periods tonight, I know the Sens aren't a good team,but the Caps played a god d game except for the goal. And the shift where Carlson fanned on a pass...I was at the game and had a good first hand look

Posted by: boomer44 | January 16, 2011 8:13 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton

are you like this all the time or just with the caps...b/c most boarders and scuba divers who travel to the jungle in central america are more easy going/happy types of people! :)

I think the caps are your guilty pleasure...the place you can channel all your anger and negativity.

It was a good game my friend. the caps are who they are...you and I can't change it...we can't always be a top team...and this year isn't looking good...sure BB, ovie, backstrom, semin, and GM might be to blame...but it is what it is...enjoy the wins, hope for improvements, and accept the team for what it is...b/c you can't change it!

Posted by: capscoach | January 16, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

is semin done with the caps... how do you replace a 40 goal scorer.

Posted by: samb99 | January 16, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

@samba

who said he was done?

Posted by: capscoach | January 16, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton

are you like this all the time or just with the caps...b/c most boarders and scuba divers who travel to the jungle in central america are more easy going/happy types of people! :)

Posted by: capscoach | January 16, 2011 8:21 PM | Report abuse

A school teacher stereotyping someone? Nah, they fight against that kind of stuff. If you ever make it up this way, cstanton, we can eat lots of granola

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 16, 2011 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Caps had a good second and third period. The goals just didn't come until the third. We pretty much controlled flow of the game after the first.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | January 16, 2011 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I was at the game and I'm surprised to hear folks suggest we played well in the first two periods. The second may have been somewhat better than the first, but I thought they were both pretty poor efforts, and that seemed the consensus at the arena as well. The third, of course, was great, but that game simply does not bode well for the playoffs, let alone Tuesday night in Phila.

Posted by: Justafan | January 16, 2011 8:34 PM | Report abuse

@vermont

no..teachers are just as judgemental as othe folks, we just don't bring it in the classroom :)

Posted by: capscoach | January 16, 2011 8:36 PM | Report abuse

capscoach

i guess most times a star player is out lots of discussion on timelines. seems like the caps are holding back as if they are waiting to hear back on soemone making a decission

Posted by: samb99 | January 16, 2011 8:36 PM | Report abuse

capscoach

i guess most times a star player is out lots of discussion on timelines. seems like the caps are holding back as if they are waiting to hear back on soemone making a decission

Posted by: samb99 | January 16, 2011 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree. IMO McPhee has plans. The Caps are in the position to be a seller and a buyer. Sell Semin, then Buy, Buy, Buy.

Posted by: underpants2 | January 16, 2011 8:58 PM | Report abuse

The second may have been somewhat better than the first, but I thought they were both pretty poor efforts, and that seemed the consensus at the arena as well. The third, of course, was great, but that game simply does not bode well for the playoffs, let alone Tuesday night in Phila.

Posted by: Justafan |

We had 1 less than half of our shots in the second. Just sayin...

Posted by: richmondphil2 | January 16, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Also, MaJo has continued his 4 or 5-game or so pace of excellent two-way play. He should have had at least one goal tonight, he just kept missing the net.

Posted by: richmondphil2 | January 16, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

@samb99 & capscoach

Hopefully, Semin is not done with the Caps. I'll admit I'm a biased Semin fan. But nearly 2/3 of our fan base feel he should be traded to address our greatest need, a 2nd Center.

Given that he hadn't scored a goal in December, the cries to get rid of him have increased. From what I hear, it sounds like the guy was playing through a series of ailments since late Nov and now got an injury that is keeping him out.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 16, 2011 9:22 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton
@joek

Hey, leave my boy Todd Krygier alone. He had a playoff goal against "Mr. Nasty" at a critical time in a critical game.

Hasak was the biggest beast to ever play between the pipes in the NHL. Chimera is never gonna' come through like that in the playoffs.

Joek, thanks for the love !

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 16, 2011 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Caps had a good second and third period. The goals just didn't come until the third. We pretty much controlled flow of the game after the first.
--------------------------------------------

Hey that's 20 more minutes than they usually show up in a game so we should be happy. Let's face it the Skins will win another SB before this team puts in 60 minutes of effort night after night.

To be honest I stopped watching once the Pats/Jets game started... now that was a great game!!!

Posted by: joek443 | January 16, 2011 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't like Semin at all, however, since the last trade with Flash, the Caps have been pretty terrible. I don't think another trade is the right thing to do at this point in time. Maybe if our stars/core were productive offensively, the team could sustain a Semin trade but right now, I think it would do more harm than good. They seem like they are on the verge of a collapse since the last trade and nobody, including the players, seems to know why.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | January 16, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

@ richmondphil2

Absolutely agree...... It's great to see MJ90 finally take off. The first line at the beginning with Nick and Ovi was great, and RMNB said he was on the ice for 11 of 19 scoring chances. As you mentioned, his shot could get some work, (as well as faceoffs), but his stickhandling, skating, and very often passing skills are insane. He may never produce points like Bäckström, but he is a significantly better defensive player and with other offensively gifted players like Kuznetsov and Orlov in the pipeline a solid, defensive SECOND LINE CENTER like him is just what we need. Looking forward to see more from my fellow Swede....... Heja Marcus! :)

Posted by: jacobware222 | January 16, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

@capsfan75 - perhaps now with Semin injured he can heal those other injuries as well. But what is ailing #19 and #8?

BB was juggling the lines. He even broke up the Ameritel triplets at one point...

Now, trade deadline stuff - is it too early for this? The Caps have to answer this all important question: are they the right trade "away"? The answer, imho, is no. They're unlikely to go very deep this year no matter what trade they make. They seem to have one superb player in the pipeline (Kuznetsov) and two pretty good ones (Eakin, Orlov) and I'd hold onto those assets. Under no circumstances should they trade Kuznetsov or Johannson, in any event...

Posted by: RedLitYogi | January 16, 2011 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to Tyler Sloan. Was he sent back to Hershey or is he hurt? It's been great not seeing him in the lineup. That guy was awful on D.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | January 16, 2011 9:40 PM | Report abuse

@RedLitYoga

I dont think McPhee is the kind of guy who would trade away guys like MJ90, EK92, DO9, or even CE(whatever)....... I think they are untouchables (by the way I have been really impressed by the play of Beagle. He works like a DOG every night.) I think there are few players available to trade away, but I do think we'll go far this way provided there is fresh blood at the deadline. GMGM needs to be more careful with his trades, none of those last year worked, especially the disastrous Corvo trade. Leonsis thinks the Caps are saving themselves for the playoffs. I'm inclined to agree; I just can't see these slumps continuing into April

Posted by: jacobware222 | January 16, 2011 9:48 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton
"No, I thrive off comparisons. And if I had to compare how a truly upper-echelon NHL team would have attacked Ottawa today, its not how the Caps went about their business."

An upper-echelon team like Tampa Bay who was outshot by Ottawa 32-27 last week and required about 46 minutes to get the lead against them?

Or maybe you mean an upper-echelon team like Pittsburgh who was beaten handily by Ottawa 3-1 the day after Christmas?

Comparisons are meaningless because anything can happen any day. One day the Caps can beat TB 6-0 and then get shut out by them 1-0 and 3-0. Instead of making your judgements based on comparisons, you should make your judgements based on results.

Here are some results:
We outshot Ottawa 26-23.
We won 70% of the faceoffs (and 100% of them on both PP and PK).
We went 50% on the PP and 100% on the PK.
We held them to 0 shots on their two PPs.
Most importantly, we outscored them 3-1.

That's not too shabby.

I know everyone wants the Caps to return to scoring 6 or 7 goals per game. I guess people are addicting to wings and haven't had their fix in a while. But winning by a score of 6-5 isn't a good thing.

Last year, everyone kept saying "It doesn't matter that we can score at will. Defense wins games." Now that the Caps have tightened up on defense (GA/G last year put us in the bottom half of the league; right now our GA/G has us in 8th place in the league only .5 more goals per game than 1st place), people want them to go back to scoring. It can't be both ways. Either the team runs and guns and leaves the defensive zone open, or the team plays more defensively and takes fewer chances.

Posted by: sabredc | January 16, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

@capscoach

just trying to keep you on your toes ;)

@hunterforcoach

Really? Krygier? No no no no no no no, say it ain't so. I'll pretend that I didn't read what I think I did...gulp

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 16, 2011 10:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking forward to seeing Kuznetsov coming over. Marcus was great on the first line, but hes not a winger. I think that just shows even clearer that what we really need is a first line right winger. I know second line center has been a problem, but theres no sense making a trade to get one when you have MJ90, MP85, and maybe Cody Eakin, as well as Knuble out of contract. I think Zhenya might be the guy to fill that spot. If he really is as good as what Ive read and seen says, we're in for a treat. If all else fails, Sloan for Havlat trade anyone ???

Posted by: jacobware222 | January 16, 2011 10:53 PM | Report abuse

@RedLitYogi

Maybe you're right in that with Sasha sitting out for his latest injury, his other ailments can heal up.

On the other guys: reports are that Ovi had hurt his wrist way back in October during the Nashville game, taking a slash from Shea Weber. I've also heard some rumors (but no news has been published) that Backstrom is playing through a sprained ankle.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 16, 2011 11:14 PM | Report abuse

@jacobware222

Well, they didn't stick with Johansson as first line RW for the whole game. By the end of the game, MJ ended up as 1C and Laich also moved up. That line seemed to actually work.

Meanwhile, NB was moved down to the 2Line, rejoining Knuble.

As for a right wingers, we need Misters Fehr and Semin to get healthy again, or am I asking for too much.

Looking forward to our Geno (or Zhenya) coming over. So I can say, once again, that Mr. Smith has come to Washington. (No, I really want him for his talent)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 16, 2011 11:20 PM | Report abuse

@LloydChristmas

Sloan was sent back to Hershey for a conditioning stint. He was injured earlier; I think during the mid-December time frame.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 16, 2011 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Do they move Alexander Semin, he of the heavenly skill and hellish consistency, for a decent, second-line center to stay with the get-tougher-for-the-playoffs theme currently being espoused by General Manager George McPhee and Boudreau?

----------------------

this was the comment by Mike Wise.

Can someone pls explain what he's referring to? Is he talking about the "get-tougher-for-the-playoffs" theme that a few fans on this blog have been whining for?

Or is he referring to the scratchErskineforPoti/benchDJK theme currently espoused by our beloved coach and GM?

who knows less? Tracy Hamilton or Mike Wise?
i'd say it's a photo finish.

apparently, the slow starts just started being a problem THIS year.

and apparently the Caps coach and GM both espouse toughness.

wow.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 16, 2011 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey, leave my boy Todd Krygier alone. He had a playoff goal against "Mr. Nasty" at a critical time in a critical game.

--hunts--

and his assault on Lemieux was pretty nice to watch too :)

he also got benched for a few games and then got the msg he needed to finish his checks so the very first game back in the lineup he goes careening into a Pens dman behind the net at the Cap center and got ejected. First and last time I ever saw Krygier hammer anyone into the boards.

But heck, even Jan Bulis was physical in a coupla games. That kid teased us with some big hits as a young Cap. And then he never did that again either.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 16, 2011 11:44 PM | Report abuse

@sabredc

Why is that all of the other Stanley hoisters (except the Devils) seem to have a nice blend of D, scoring, and goal tending. It is not a "run and gun" or "left wing lock" decision. Just play team defense. The Pens, Wings, and Hawks all had a balanced game going the past 3 years.

Now, the whole playoff GRIT issue is another story. But, I'll be nice today, and sign off.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 16, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

@sabredc

Why is that all of the other Stanley hoisters (except the Devils) seem to have a nice blend of D, scoring, and goal tending. It is not a "run and gun" or "left wing lock" decision. Just play team defense. The Pens, Wings, and Hawks all had a balanced game going the past 3 years.

Now, the whole playoff GRIT issue is another story. But, I'll be nice today, and sign off.

Posted by: Hunterforcoach | January 16, 2011 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Comparisons are meaningless because anything can happen any day. One day the Caps can beat TB 6-0 and then get shut out by them 1-0 and 3-0. Instead of making your judgements based on comparisons, you should make your judgements based on results.

--sabredc-

i first define my argument. In this particular situation, I'm talking about their commitment to a certain work ethic. And I'm making my "judgment" based on that, NOT the end result.

I have faith that over a larger sampling of games or particularly the playoffs, the results will reflect their work ethic.

If i did as you asked and based my judgment solely on the end result, then i'd be guilty of what you explicitly argued yourself -- that you can't judge anything based on an individual game's outcome since on any night in the NHL anything can happen.


my point being, I don't like the way this team handles their business. They should have been all over the Sens to start this game. To crush any faint hope the Sens may have had that they even had a remote chance in hell of winning this game.

I know we can't necessarily control our goal output. But we can certain control other facets of the game and overwhelmed them with a fierce punishing forecheck. You put in the work, and good things will happen. We seem to put in the work when we feel like it.

And I think other teams who i respect more, handle their bizness a bit differently. And it sets them up to be more successful down the road when it ocunts even more. That's all.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 16, 2011 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Man, cstant back, Hunterf, add in a dose of vermon: CI is as much a treat to read as ever.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | January 17, 2011 12:17 AM | Report abuse

During one of the video montages played during the break, Maximus says, "On my signal, unless hell!"

Could somebody shoot off the flaming arrow in the first period please?

Posted by: bill_in_damascus | January 17, 2011 12:45 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: patljr7 | January 17, 2011 2:53 AM | Report abuse

The Caps' TV guys, especially Craig Loughlin ( who I like a lot) keep saying Ovie is getting a lot of bad breaks this year, ie,rolling pucks or pucks that slowed down to prevent a post penalty breakaway.

That might be true but there is something more going on. At least 3 times yesterday, twice early in the first period and once in the third, Ovechkin lost battles for pucks along the side boards when, positionally, he was at worst even with his opponent. He hardly reached for the puck. Either he has a wrist/hand injury or, worse, didn't put in the effort. I think it is the former.

In previous years, he was burying a lot of the same kinds of chances he now either shoots into the goalie or simply misses the net. It is if there is some subtle lack of control with his shooting. I think the rumor of a wrist injury is more than just a rumor.

This is too bad because, obviously, the other "young guns" aren't scoring as much and Laich and Fehr have dropped off too.

Amazing how one's perception of the team has changed in one year. Last year, being down 1-0 to Ottowa in the second period, I knew we would eventually score at least a couple. Even tho we did win in the third period yesterday, didn't you have the feeling that if Ottowa had gone up 2-0, the game was over?

Yet when we look who we had on the ice, why should there be a feeling that we can score when needed. Besides slumping Ovechkin,Backstrom, Knuble, and Laich the other 8 forwards don't have a consistent scorer among them. MP and MJ90 are not yet "there" and the others are grinders. This team desperately needs a healthy Semin and Fehr and wouldn't Fleischmann's scoring be nice as well.

Posted by: pdanziger | January 17, 2011 7:54 AM | Report abuse

The Caps' TV guys, especially Craig Loughlin ( who I like a lot) keep saying Ovie is getting a lot of bad breaks this year, ie,rolling pucks or pucks that slowed down to prevent a post penalty breakaway.

Posted by: pdanziger | January 17, 2011 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I like Locker and Joe B. In fact, I think they're the best broadcasting tandem in all of hockey. Your comment about Laughlin got me thinking about something I wrote last night. Here's part of it:

"What bothered me about the game was thus: before the game, Locker spoke of injuries (Semin, Poti, Bradley, B.Gordon, ****55) and the # of games lost to injury, then proceeded to say POTI WAS THE KEY GUY, as far as injuries impacting the team. HUH?? No mention of DJK or his injury, as if he doesn't even exist.

Before the puck dropped, Joe B. plugged the game by promoting Caps "tough guy" Hendricks shedding some blood for the team. I like Hendricks, obviously, but I'm greatly embarrassed if that's who the team is selling as our resident tough guy.

Five minutes into the game, Ivan Carter informed the audience that BB was happy to have A.Gordon in the lineup because AG was happy to be up and "he wants guys in the lineup who are hungry and excited to play." I thought of DJK....is he not hungry or excited to play? He sure does practice a lot...

The code of silence concerning DJK MUST BE BROKEN! We know the nature of everyone's injury except for his, and it's not like divulging his injury would compromise the team's chances of winning a game. Tootoo and Rypien are in long-term counseling, is that where DJK should be??"

To Joe B's credit, later in the game he at least acknowledged DJK being injured. Unlike the other players, however, there was no mention of what ails him. The situation surrounding DJK is starting to take on the feel of a "Twilight Zone" episode, and it's a stain on the organization.

I'm convinced that DJK could manufacture some intensity that would enliven the bench and excite the stands, the very same tonic that could cure some of the Caps slow-start woes. As coach of the team, BB should be doing everything in his power to get this team firing on all cylinders...EITHER FREE DJK OR MAN-UP AND COME CLEAN WITH HIS SITUATION!!


Posted by: vermontcaps | January 17, 2011 8:38 AM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75 - Why not take the hit and sit #19 for a week. Sit #8 after. I'm guessing Ovie's injury is one that won't benefit from a week off but I worry he'll do more permanent damage. Plus he does have to lose about 20 pounds...(as though I should talk, btw...)

Posted by: RedLitYogi | January 17, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Yes we won, but that can't hide the fact that we played terrible again barely able to generate any shots or scoring chances. I've said it before & I'll say it again. Stop playing Hanlon style hockey that the critics convinced Boudreau to switch to & get back to how we used to play. We used to dominate teams, outshoot them by a 2 to 1 margin & score tons of goals. I can't watch this crap we're playing now. The players are afraid to make a mistake & we're not going after teams like we used to. Our defensive numbers improving are also misleading. The only reason they're better is because Theo is finally off the team & the 2 kids have been tremendous. We're allowing a lot more scoring chances than before because we're not hemmed in our own zone for most of the game instead of playing most of the time in the attacking zone like we used to. If not for Varly & Nuevy standing on their head on most nights we'd be letting in boatloads of goals with this so called improved defensive play. This team was build around offense. Screw the clueless critics & go back to playing that way!

Posted by: ranndino | January 17, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

If your proposed solution to the Caps' slump is to trade all the players and fire the coach, in precisely what metaphysical sense of the term are you a Caps fan? The Post hockey comments seem to be the antonym of "Home on the Range"--seldom is heard an encouraging word.

Posted by: IrishBear | January 17, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

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