Looking back at the 'Almost Season' for the Washington Capitals

mikeknublerobbed.jpgAs you know, only one team can win a championship (with the occasional exception in college football, maybe?). Some absolutists will say that anything less is a failure, but really, there are only a few teams in each sport every year that should really kick themselves and wonder “what if?” as they look back. Some franchises get oh-so-close but never quite make it, like the Chris Drury/Danny Briere-fueled Buffalo Sabres teams during the first couple post-lockout seasons.

The window hasn’t closed on the Washington Capitals by any means, but losing in the first round after an incredible Presidents Trophy run left many of them shaking their heads in disbelief. Sirius XM Radio and NHL.com will premiere a new show called “Hockey Diaries: The Almost Season” that chronicles the disappointment felt by the Caps. The show will begin tonight between 7 and 9 pm ET.

Here is more from NHL.com.

Having chronicled their personal journeys through the eventful 2009-10 NHL season by recording their thoughts and observations, Washington Capitals Mike Knuble and Tyler Sloan will give fans a first-hand account of life in the NHL tonight with the premiere of “Hockey Diaries: The Almost Season,” presented by NHL Radio and broadcast on Sirius XM Radio and streamed on NHL.com .

Knuble will appear in person and in front of a live audience at Sirius XM’s Performance 1 Studio radio theater in Washington, D.C. Sloan will join via telephone as both players take questions from those in attendance and those calling in. Sirius XM will air the event live from 7-9 p.m. ET – the documentary for the first hour followed by the studio Q & A that will be hosted by Sirius XM’S Glenn Younes – on NHL Home Ice XM 204 and SIRIUS 208.

The show encourages NHL fans to call in with questions during the live special. The number to submit questions is 1-877-645-6696.

Sounds like it should be an interesting listen, whether you’re a Caps fan who may or may not need to heal those wounds or a fan of hockey in general.

I haven’t come across anything that indicates that this would be a continuing series, but if it’s successful, I’d love it if the series extended to other disappointed teams (maybe the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks?) as well as clubs from other eras of hockey. Either way it’s a great idea and hopefully the execution matches the concept.

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    Canucks spoil Ducks’ home opener via shootout

    Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller
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    ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks have already found a groove just three games into the regular season. The Anaheim Ducks are still looking for a way to get their offense going.

    Radim Vrbata and Alex Burrows scored in the shootout, and the Canucks spoiled Anaheim’s home opener with a 2-1 victory Monday night.

    Miller made 28 saves and Adam Cracknell scored in regulation for Vancouver, which beat the Ducks for just the third time in their last 12 meetings.

    Vancouver improved to 2-0 on the road in the young season, with Miller yielding just one goal in each game. That’s encouraging to the veteran, who played in only four games after Feb. 22 last season while dealing with a knee injury.

    “I’m just trying to go out there and battle and compete,” said Miller, who stopped a third-period redirection by Carl Hagelin with his mask. “That was my mindset coming off an injury. That’s what it really comes down to, getting back the focus early on. I didn’t play hockey for a while. The technical stuff I worked on this summer and I pay attention to in practice.”

    Even with twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin combining for just one shot, the Canucks won the new season’s first meeting between the Pacific Division’s top two teams last year. Anaheim won its third straight division title, while Vancouver finished a surprising second before losing in the opening round of the playoffs.

    Sami Vatanen scored and Frederik Andersen stopped 24 shots for the Ducks, who have scored just one goal while going winless in the first two games of a season that begins with Stanley Cup aspirations.

    Anaheim was shut out in San Jose on Saturday in its opener before returning to Honda Center for its first real game on home ice since Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, when Chicago advanced to win the Stanley Cup.

    Kevin Bieksa played nearly 24 1/2 minutes in his second game with the Ducks. Anaheim acquired the veteran defenseman from Vancouver last summer after he played 10 years with the Canucks, who drafted him in 2001. Bieksa was reunited with Ryan Kesler, the longtime Vancouver forward who moved to Anaheim before last season.

    “We fought back a lot better than we did in San Jose,” Bieksa said. “So we need to keep building on this in the rest of this homestand here. If we do that, we’re going to be all right.”

    After the Ducks failed to score on a power play during their first official taste of 3-on-3 overtime hockey, Vrbata and Burrows got stuttering, halting shots past Andersen, who stopped Burrows’ shot before watching it trickle under him.

    “I’ve done that move a few times against a few goalies, but I don’t think I’ve ever done it against Freddie,” Burrows said. “So I tried it, and I’m lucky it went in tonight. It hit his stick and trickled in.”

    Jakob Silfverberg scored in the shootout for the Ducks, who lost their home opener for just the second time in six seasons. Anaheim’s talented offensive players aren’t clicking so far, but nobody is panicking yet.

    “I think we’re doing things the right way now,” Vatanen said. “We battled hard. We got some good chances. The season is long, so we’re going the right way.”

    Both teams opened at a furious pace, with end-to-end chances throughout. After a scoreless first period, Vatanen got the Ducks’ first goal of the season when his long, low shot went through Mike Santorelli‘s screen.

    Cracknell evened it later in the period with a sharp-angled shot that somehow deflected off Andersen’s shoulder or stick and landed behind the goalie. The journeyman got his first regular-season NHL goal since April 4, 2013, and just the seventh of his 85-game NHL career.

    “Pretty fortunate goal on their part,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    NOTES: A small group of vocal protesters gathered outside Honda Center to call for the suspension of Ducks D Clayton Stoner, who faces charges in Canada related to a 2013 grizzly bear hunt. … Cracknell hadn’t scored a goal in his last 49 regular-season games, although he got a postseason goal in 2014 for St. Louis.

    Coming Tuesday: Dan Boyle, $4.5M healthy scratch

    Brad Marchand, Dan Boyle

    Few things say “Oops, bad signing” quite like putting a really expensive player in street clothes (without an injury being involved).

    The Philadelphia Flyers set quite the high bar in that regard, but the New York Rangers can’t laugh too much. Not with Dan Boyle expected to be a healthy scratch against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

    The word from the Bergen Record is that Dylan McIlrath will draw into the Rangers lineup in Boyle’s space, although Kevin Klein will take over Boyle’s role on the power play.

    Let’s face the facts. At 39, Boyle may still boast some zip on offense, but maybe not enough to justify an everyday role.

    It’s not the first time the Rangers have decided to make the difficult, awkward season to phase a big name out as he approaches age 40.

    Even if it’s just a momentary situation, one cannot help but wonder if Boyle’s career is screeching to halt much like Martin St. Louis’ did in 2014-15 (though the latter’s decline was more sudden).

    On the bright side, it sounds like Boyle has a side job lined up with Faith No More.