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Shapiro: Smokin' Al Known for Good Calls

Here's a great column by Len Shapiro on Comcast SportsNet's Al Koken, who correctly predicted that Sergei Fedorov's goal would lift the Caps to a Game 7 victory:

With less than 10 minutes remaining in the Washington Capitals' dramatic Game 7 victory over the New York Rangers last Tuesday, Comcast SportsNet hockey broadcaster Al Koken went on camera from his usual front-row position at Verizon Center and offered the following prediction.
"I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the 39-year-old Sergei Fedorov have something to say about this one before we're done," Koken said.
About four minutes later, his prescient hunch became rousing reality when Fedorov broke a 1-1 tie and scored the game-winning goal with 4 minutes 59 seconds remaining in the third period. The series-clinching shot vaulted the Capitals into the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1998 and further elevated Koken's well-deserved reputation as an astute analyst of Washington's hottest sports franchise.
Koken has been accepting slaps on the back and congratulatory e-mails and telephone calls from fans and friends ever since, and he admitted a few days later: "I've been amazed and really amused by it. I'm getting a lot of people asking me, 'How are you on picking lottery numbers?' I'm having some fun with it. Now, if I had predicted Matt Bradley would score two goals in Game 5, that really would have been a headline."

Click here to read the rest.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 4, 2009; 1:27 PM ET
 
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Next: Video: Defensive Reinforcements

Comments

Last night during the Bears game, everyone was wondering where Sloan and Alzner were.

Now we know.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I believe Alex Ovechkin will score a goal tonight. I also believe that Jurcina will not. Can I get Al's job now?

Posted by: oldtimehockey | May 4, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha @oldtimehockey

Posted by: TheOriginalEgon | May 4, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Koken owes all his success to the pre-game scotch...

Posted by: SA-Town | May 4, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Whenever I see Koken I think of him coming on tv with a band-aid on his forehead after being struck by a puck (many years ago)

Posted by: mikebrady1 | May 4, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I don't know, oldtimehockey. I'm thinking I'm going to see a defenseman score for us, possibly one of the call-ups.

Posted by: kittypawz | May 4, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

What's with all the Koken hate?

He is a true Caps homer and I love him for that.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I am really bitter about 980 not renewing his contract, he his the most intelligent person on the whole station.

Posted by: doncosmic | May 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

He's done a good job covering the Caps and hockey for a long time. I wish we could get another sports talk station in town. 980 is pretty bad.

Posted by: ridgely1 | May 4, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

good job Smokin' Al! he deserves a pat on the back for all his good work. I remember first watching him as the color guy for Mike "Shot and a goal!" Fornes. Al ALWAYS sticks up for the Caps. I remember when they used to take phone calls and some smart ass fans from the opposing team would make a crack about the Caps. Al would remain calm and fire back sarcastically and had a funny retort ripping the fan. Good job Al!

Posted by: blushfilms | May 4, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I understand Paul Giamatti has signed for the starring role in "The Smokin' Al Kokin Story."

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 4, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I understand Paul Giamatti has signed for the starring role in "The Smokin' Al Kokin Story."

Posted by: tominfl1 | May 4, 2009 1:42 PM |

Eh, I sort of see it.

In other news, I heard Robert Englund will be playing "The Micheal "Circles" Nylander Story."

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

For intelligent color commentary, I'd take Al Koken over Craig Laughlin any day.

Posted by: tess2201 | May 4, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

tess, gotta agree with you there. I hear some fans complain about Joe B on Versus and I just chuckle. They have nooooo idea how bad it can get.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 4, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

LarryDavid

He's still the best goalie in the playoffs.

Scratch off Valiquette and Halak who only played 60 mins combined, you have Varly and Hiller left on the top.

Jonas Hiller ANA 8 16 1.83 329 0.951 2 0 5 3
Simeon Varlamov WSH 7 9 1.29 181 0.95 2 0 5

Varly with one fewer game played has an incredible 1.29 GAA. Next best is Thomas at 1.51.

Varly has a .95 Save % vs .951 for Hiller. Excuse me for 1/10th percent.

Varly has 2 shut outs. Arguably against a weak offensive team, but IT'S 2 SHUT OUTS!

Posted by: Greg S. | May 4, 2009 1:54 PM

Posted by: Greg S. | May 4, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I always liked DC's commentators. Al and Joe B are pretty stellar, Joe B especially (the man calls a decent lacrosse game every now and then too...). Locker is obviously the weak link, but he is at least mildly entertaining on occasion.

Posted by: CheckingLine | May 4, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Video from Bears game last night:

http://cfc.whtm.com/videoondemand.cfm?category=spo

Posted by: tess2201 | May 4, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Kokens right once every ten years. Another master of the obvious. I've seen folk around here correct more often than Koken.

Posted by: oo7 | May 4, 2009 1:58 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: methinks you mean 1/1000th percent, but your argument is still valid ;)

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

That is actually 1/100th difference Greg, :).

VARLY'S BETTER.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

@Greg: methinks you mean 1/1000th percent, but your argument is still valid ;)

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 1:59 PM |

You have a quick trigger finger, my friend.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

oldtimehockey was on the money. And yes, you can.

Posted by: oo7 | May 4, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Quick, and deadly precise :-D

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

jdhoover:
from previous thread
a poster/sign for the game

Pens fans - do the math: 8+28 > 87+71

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 4, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Thirty-eight years ago, the Montreal Canadiens rode a rookie goaltender named Ken Dryden to an unexpected Stanley Cup. The Washington Capitals hope they'll have the same success with Simeon Varlamov.

Unlike Dryden, a college star at Cornell, the 21-year-old Russian rookie wasn't designated as the playoff starter before the postseason began -- it took one game, in which Jose Theodore gave up a couple of bad goals to the New York Rangers, for Caps coach Bruce Boudreau to turn to the rookie goalie.

It might have been the move that saved the Caps' season.

Varlamov allowed just 10 goals in six games as the Capitals rallied to beat the Rangers, then made 34 stops on Saturday in a 3-2 victory against Pittsburgh in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. One of those 34 saves -- his incredible stick stop on Sidney Crosby's apparent go-ahead goal late in the second period -- may be the best of the playoffs.

The Caps have hitched their playoff wagon to Varlamov. Could he pull a Dryden? It's not impossible.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Although if we're talking in "percentages" and not decimal, a tenth is correct...

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Kirk, Am I missing something obvious? Last time I checked 36 wasn't greater than 158. I mean, in the rational sense, yes, Ovi + Semin is greater than Sid + Malkin, but numerically speaking?

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 4, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Lots of talented sports journalists have come out of this area.
I like the entire Caps crew on CSN. Professional. Cutting edge stuff I'm sure helped by Ted's 21st century special ops team.

980 is owned by danny boy so what else is news?! Larry Michael is a tool vs. Frank Herzog. If they wanted new blood, they should've hire a creative college kid who actually cares about the fans & works for less.
Michaels is a 'lookatme' type.

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 4, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

JMU, your sarcasm meter must be broken.

:)

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Naw, he's just saying that Ovie and Semin defy the physical laws.

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Didn't Varly only give up 7 goals in 6 games?

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | May 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Where's Sucksburg's Lil bigjohn?
Pretty quite since last Friday.

Where's the swashbuckling bravado penz fans?!

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Frank Herzog, he makes an appearance in the new movie State of Play. I saw the movie this weekend.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | May 4, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Hey. I'm dyslexic and math wasn't a strong suit. But I seem to recall that a percent of 95% is also written .950. So a .951 would be 95.1% or 1/10th percent.

And what moron decided that Dyslexia is the perfect name for a person that's mind can't spell right, read right or mix up numbers? These look the same to me:

db
qp

Thank god for spell check!

Posted by: Greg S. | May 4, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

That is why I said 1/100th difference. I was just trying to hype up the Varly numbers more, haha.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I cant stand the Wizards...but on Flash's goal on Saturday I wouldnt of minded a

DAGGGGGGERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: SA-Town | May 4, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

richmondphil, Sadly, pretty much every amount of brain capacity I have is focused on stuff other than my sense of humor and sarcasm meter. It is finals week and all. Now, if you'd like to discuss the strategic process model, maybe how the human body reacts to stress, or telling a Zinfandel from a Cabernet Sauvignon... God, I can't wait for this week to be over.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 4, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Can't help ya with any of those, but if ever need help on the philosophical implications of the Liar's paradox, or some pointless background knowledge of some random religion, let me know!

Luckily, I only have 1 final at 4 PM today and then I am done. Will be done right in time to see the Caps beat up on the Pens.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

If there's a strategy for beating rookie netminder Simeon Varlamov in the Washington net, Bylsma said it's about putting the young goalie in different situations, giving him looks with which he may not be familiar.
"That's how you [attack] younger players in this league, whether it's defense or forwards: You put them in tough situations. You put a lot of pressure on them and try to get them in situations where you can get pucks by [them]."

For all of you who don't think Brash is important, watch them run Varly tonight.
With no Erskine, you don't want to lose Bradley to a fighting/roughing major.

We HAVE to win the time of possession TONIGHT!

Posted by: Rocc00 | May 4, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Just got offered tickets to go to the game tonight by a Pens fan. Unfortunately, I'd have to sit with them and I'm not sure I could take it. On top of having an awful cold and having to study for a final. Had to give them up to some bandwagon fans, but at least they're not more Pens fans.

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I love Locker purely for his saying, "put the biscuit in the basket" and "kabonged".

Can't stand Koken. Really, really can't stand him.

Posted by: TheOriginalEgon | May 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Haha, I'll let you know if I ever need help with that stuff. Yeah, I've got one at 6:30 tonight, then two on Wednesdays, including one at 7. Worst finals schedule ever.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

You don't even have to look that far back to see a story unfold the same way. The Carolina Hurricanes turned to rookie Cam Ward after starter Artus Irbe got off to a bad start. The Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, and the Conn Smythe winner was none other than Cam Ward.

This is a trend that has started in the NHL. Superstars are popping up and leading their teams as teenagers and in the low 20's. Just look at Mason, Hiller, and now Varly as goaltenders. Even though we hate the Pens they are lead by young superstars like Crosby, Malkin, Fleury. We of course know our team is extremely young and led by lead by OV, Backs, Semin, Green, and now Varly.

The task at hand is huge. But the same for the Pens. They expect to win, just like our boys expect to win, that's how champions think. These two teams will be facing each other regulary over the next few years, much like the Avalanche/Red Wings playoff rivalry. Some the Caps will win, some the Pens, it will come down to who wins the little battles, and who stays out of the box. This run is what we saw coming as fans, but IMHO we are much further along than I thought we'd be. I expected to win when I saw the matchup.
against the Rangers.

However, from 14th in the Conference two consecutive years, to the playoffs, and the following year already set a team record for points and secure the 2nd seed, WOW! Now we are able to watch two of the best teams in the league battle it out, this is awesome. I can't wait to get to Verizon. See you there!!!

Posted by: fanohock1 | May 4, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Ugh. My final is Wed 7-10. At least I can watch the game tonight and pretend to study.

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

hey FANOCK1, still waiting for an email from you buddy. I owe you something....:)

cstanton1@hotmail.com

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 4, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I really hope two things occur tonight besides the obvious

1) erskine plays

2) caps come out hard and not lazy and passive

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 4, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I know all about Ward fanohock1, I was just copying/pasting that from an article. We've all discussed the stories both ways; from the Wards, Roys, and apparently Drydens, to the Jim Careys and Bryzgalovs.

I just didn't know particularly about Ken Dryden's story, so I wanted to post that.

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

1) erskine plays
2) erskine plays
3) erskine plays
4) erskine plays
5) erskine plays
6) erskine plays
7) erskine plays
8) erskine plays
9) erskine plays
10) erskine plays
11) erskine plays
12) caps come out hard and not lazy and passive

Posted by: richmondphil | May 4, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I think one of the strengths we have is that people do not understand, or willing to admit, that Varly HAS experienced this kind of pressure before in top leagues and championship series.

It is not like he wasn't run in the Rangers series either. If the Pens plan to do that then they are getting off their strength. Should mean more odd rushes for us I would think.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | May 4, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

BTW, when I say people, I mean the opposition and media.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | May 4, 2009 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Just got offered tickets to go to the game tonight by a Pens fan. Unfortunately, I'd have to sit with them and I'm not sure I could take it. On top of having an awful cold and having to study for a final. Had to give them up to some bandwagon fans, but at least they're not more Pens fans.

Posted by: snakegriffin | May 4, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse


Of course, you could tell them it's the swine flu and give it to them!

Posted by: Leeguru | May 4, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I see Koken out at Caddies all the time...the dude is a drunk/joke and will hit on girls more than half his age.

That being said, I always think it is cool seeing him out because I watched him while growing up. I also think that if I was 50 and could pull 25 year olds, then why not?

Go Caps.

Posted by: Buttertown | May 4, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

PENGUINS SUCK!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | May 4, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

. . . I also believe that Jurcina will not. . . .
Posted by: oldtimehockey | May 4, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I think Juice will get a goal tonight. He's due, and he's got a hell of a shot.

Go Caps!

Posted by: Sonyask | May 4, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

CTCapsPhan

not to mention more PP - which I hope we get back on track! We're at 20% (screw the fractions!). Fortunately, PITs is at 11% (I rounded to avoid fractions). :)

Posted by: Greg S. | May 4, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | May 4, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Sonyask sez:

"I think Juice will get a goal tonight. He's due, and he's got a hell of a shot."

Greg replies:

I like your thinking and yes, he has a hell of a shot. Broke the plexi one day, then hit the stanchion between and broke both panes the next. I think it was Olie who said that he's got the hardest shot he's ever faced.

Posted by: Greg S. | May 4, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I actually have nothing against all as a broadcaster. He's fine as the "3rd guy". I don't think PlayXPlay is his forte, though.

My first point was just that saying "I think so and so will score" doesn't make you any sort seer any more than picking the Kentucky Derby winner does. For instance: "I predict that Sean Avery will have no more goals this season." If you would like my lotto picks (I predict they will be between 1 and whatever they go up to), please send $5 to...

Posted by: oldtimehockey | May 4, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking at Alzner vs. Erskine in a slightly different light.

Alzner: 2 PIMs in 30 games played at the NHL level, and the penalty was for putting the puck over the glass... (742nd in the League). Low TOI for the regular season was 13:32, and high was 24:45.

Erskine: 63 PIMs in 52 games played this season... (161st in the League). He's 28th in the League in the playoffs, with 12 PIMs in 8 games played. Low TOI for the regular season was 12:14, and high was
21:21.

Hmm. Now, if we put in the average TOI statistic... and this is a very loose average... Alzner's average is somewhere around 19.125 minutes, and Erskine's is around 16.65 minutes or so. VERY loosely calculated. (Low + High / 2).

Alzner's percentage of time spent in the box vs. time on ice is 0.3%. ish.

Erskine's percentage of time spent in the box vs. time on ice is 7.2%. ish.

We NEED to keep players out of the box in this series. Badly. If we are in the box, we aren't on the offense. And while short-handed goals can happen, I wouldn't count on them.

Now, my math is BS if it ends up being Sloan who comes in instead of Alzner, for Erskine. But it's a thought.

Posted by: irockthered | May 4, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Put another way, Erskine averaged 1.2 PIMs per game. Alzner averaged 0.06 PIMs per game.

IF - and this is a HUGE IF - the goal is to keep the d-men out of the box, then Alzner is a perfect choice.

Posted by: irockthered | May 4, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Put another way, Erskine averaged 1.2 PIMs per game. Alzner averaged 0.06 PIMs per game.

IF - and this is a HUGE IF - the goal is to keep the d-men out of the box, then Alzner is a perfect choice.

Posted by: irockthered | May 4, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

god almighty, can you oversimplify things any more? that stat is completely irrelevant to the benefit of playing one over another.

do you have any stats for how strongly Erskine plays the boards and in front of the net? or how he lately has been stepping up in the neutral zone and disrupting the flow of the other team's offense?

you can use any stat to prove or disprove any point. In most cases they're utterly useless. While Erskine may take an extra penalty over young Alzner here and there, that is such a miniscule piece of the entire puzzle

Posted by: maven1918 | May 4, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

JMU,
what snake said.

if you prefer:
40 > 29

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 4, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

irockthered/maven1918:
are those pim's in 1/10ths, 1/100ths or 1/1000ths - i'll hold my judgement on who should play until i have all the facts

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | May 4, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in Fairfax and have been going to Caps game since the late 70's. Koken has always seemed to play a role in the team and I have liked him for the most part. It saddens me that he cant get more air time for the Caps on the JT show. Al be the Caps champion and stop talking like you know football, basketball, etc.

Posted by: daddy_axe | May 4, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

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