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.