Last Stop, New York

Last night’s win in Toronto was a tonic for a Caps team that had lost six of seven and three straight on the road. I don’t think the Caps have played all that badly since the Oct. 13 loss in Buffalo, but the NHL hasn’t gotten around to awarding style points yet. Check that. We still have the shootout.

But seriously, anytime you can win a game when you’re missing a pair of 30-goal scorers from the previous season (including one who happens to be your captain) and you’re missing your top defenseman in terms of ice time, you’ll take it. And the Caps did, earning their most lopsided road win in nearly a decade.

We had a night in Toronto afterwards to enjoy it, and we hopped the team plane for New York this morning. After landing at LaGuardia, we headed directly to Chelsea Piers where the Caps skated hard and practiced hard for about an hour. That 7-1 win over the Leafs is in the rear-view, and this team needs to use it as a springboard to grander things, in my opinion. We’ve seen the fits and starts, the “win a couple, lose three” stretches over the past two seasons. It would be nice to see this team get on a roll, but a healthy team may be needed to take that step.

By the way, Chelsea Piers also houses the studio/set for the TV show “Law and Order.” And shortly after we arrived at the practice rink today, a group of men playing pickup hockey came off the ice. Among them: actor and Rangers season ticket holder Tim Robbins. He stopped to chat briefly with the Caps’ Donald Brashear before going into the locker room to change and shower.

Tom Poti and Alexander Semin both skated today. Poti skated Saturday and Monday as well, and to me he did not look significantly closer to a return to the lineup when I saw him today. Semin skated for the first time since re-injuring his ankle in Saturday’s loss at St. Louis, but didn’t participate in all of the drills. Chris Clark is reportedly en route from D.C., so we could see him tomorrow when the team practices again in preparation for Thursday’s contest with the Rangers. We’ll see how those players look tomorrow, and try to get an assessment of their possible availability for Thursday.

Peter Bondra’s retirement didn’t take anyone associated with the team by surprise. Bondra was holding out hope of a comeback, but once he realized that a contract offer was not forthcoming, he made the decision to get involved with the management of the national team in his native Slovakia. It’s great to see him still involved with the game, because he so obviously derived so much joy from it over the years, and he gave so much joy back to the fans in the D.C. area as well. He was a great player here for so many years, and he left many great memories for all of you fans and his teammates as well. Cherish them.

I’m working on a little piece on No. 12 for caps.com and should have it ready by Wednesday. With all the buses, planes and travel from here to there plus last night’s game, we haven’t had much time to catch our breath here in the last 24 hours. We’ll get a bit of that starting tonight. The team is going out together for its annual rookie dinner, and the Caps will have another practice and a morning skate to get ready for the Rangers. Several players are making appearances in the area tomorrow afternoon, and because I will be helping out along those lines we’re going to combine tomorrow’s scheduled Capitals Report with Thursday’s Pre-Cap and come to you live from New York on Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m.

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11 Comments on “Last Stop, New York”

  1. pucksandbooks Says:

    Mike,

    I just assumed that after last night in Toronto the team would jet back for two full days of home cooking before the MSG gig Thursday. But this file informs that you guys will be Big Appling it all the way through Thursday evening. Two questions for you: in all your years with the Caps, have you ever made three nights’ stay in NYC for just a lone game up there? Second, could such a travel decision be related to the fact that St. Louis was the furthest West the team will travel this year, and so the coaching staff wanted to use these three road games as a sort of team bonding experience away from home, relatively early in the season, when the schedule otherwise doesn’t much allow for it?

  2. Anthony Says:

    You need to do something to bond the team. Playing togethor doesn’t seem to be working. If this doesn’t work, I’m sure we can get each season ticket holder to pitch in a bottle of super glue for bonding purposes.

  3. Gustafsson Says:

    I love how they picked a stop in NYC for the Rookie Dinner. Like the bill won’t be big enough as it is, the NYC prices will kick that up several notches. Do you get to enjoy a free dinner, too?

  4. pepper Says:

    Vogs,

    Where did the team go for the rookie dinner – Peter Luger? Not far from where I live. I hope they stay south of midtown Manhattan at least.

    Hope to see some revenge Thursday night.

    Pepper

  5. sonia Says:

    what “appearances” are some of the guys going to be making? do you know if the practice at chelsea piers will be open to the public? either way, i hope the guys can take the energy from monday’s win and put it to good use on thursday- it would be nice to walk out of MSG with a caps win!

  6. Oneal Says:

    Hey!

    Is Backstrom’s home-sickness the reason he hasn’t scored?

    If so you should tell him to head over to the Swedish Church. Nylander played in NY so he probably told him already.. but It’s on 48th just east of 5th. (my wife’s swedish)

    It’s more like a community center.. lots of Swedes hang out there and there’s all kinds of Swedish foods, newspapers and books available.

    Oneal

  7. lbear Says:

    Mike – Any idea where the caps are going for dinner tonight? Also, is the practice at MSG or Chelsea Piers on Thursday? Thanks.

  8. Jacob Says:

    Maybe if the guys werent worried about public appearences, rookie dinners, swedish church, etc. they could find a way to string together some wins so that come february were not just playing hockey to see how many people we can keep out of the playoffs, but still have a chance to make them ourselves. Sorry to be cynical guys, but none of you seem to care about hockey. My apologies to whomever i may offend.

  9. Muddapucker Says:

    Just want to put my two cents in on Peter Bondra. He was among the best Capitals ever. Although, I never knew him personally, he projected class and quality. No doubt he was a natural scorer and no doubt he enjoyed scoring. His speed was second to very few… Mike Gartner and Peter Bondra fastest Caps ever? I don’t know. He seemed to score in streaks and when he was hot he was as good as anyone in the NHL and when he was not, he was still better than most.

    I wish him the best and sincerely hope the Caps will recognize him as an all-time great Capital. He deserves it!!!

  10. Jim Says:

    I agree with the sentiments above about Peter Bondra. He made the team for me and, while I am still a Caps fan, it hasn’t been the same since he left.

  11. CapitalSpirit Says:

    Bonzai–Godspeed, fair winds, and following seas.

    Blowing away the Leafs was a refreshing change of pace, but therein lies the rub–it was a change of pace. That type of game needs to become more the rule, not the exception. Results like that should be expected, not celebrated, if the Caps are as serious about contending as I believe them to be.


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