NHL Report: December 6, 2007



There’s no way the Washington Capitals should be this lousy.


There’s no way they should have the fewest wins in the NHL.


There’s no way they should be entering Friday night as the only team in the NHL whose victory total isn’t at double figures.


There’s no way any of this should be happening simply because the Caps have one of the most talented – if not the most talented – player in the NHL. I refer, of course, to Alex Ovechkin.

But, hey, the Caps do indeed own the worst record in the NHL and only have nine wins and have indeed been abysmal -- and you may not believe what NHLers tell us may be most responsible for their failures.

Their ice surface.

I kid you not.

The word is that the ice in Washington is so bad and slows players down so much that Ovechkin and some of his mates can't be as creative as they would otherwise be. And they've complained about it, at least privately.

They don’t even like practicing at their home rink, which may or may not explain why they practiced somewhere outdoors in Washington on Tuesday.

The Caps’ owner, to his credit, is not ignoring his players’ complaints.

"As to the conditions of the ice at the arena, we are working with all parties to improve the quality and consistency,” Washington owner Ted Leonsis said in a Thursday blog. “We deserve great ice. We have a great facility. We will do our best to work with building management to make it right.”

Might just be that the Caps need to spend a bit of money to improve the conditions. That’s what the Toronto Maple Leafs had to do in the off-season and, hey, look at them now. Why, they’re a juggernaut. Aren’t they?

•I’m hearing, by the way, that Michael Nylander, who probably ranks as the Caps’ second-best player, has been keeping an injury to himself and has been playing in spite of it.

There’s word now, however, that this injury – whatever it may be – may keep him out of the lineup for at least a few games.

•Speaking of the Leafs, their long-time play-by-play announcer, Joe Bowen, had an interesting scoop (the first one I can remember coming from him in all these years, frankly) when he interrupted his descriptions of a Toronto-Nashville game the other night to reveal that the NHL would no longer be subsidizing an annual road trip in which the fathers of players joined their sons.

Bowen’s sidekick, Greg Millen, was flabbergasted.

“If this is true,” Millen said, “they (NHL decision-makers) need their heads examined.”

Bowen revealed that the source of his information was the father of Leafs forward Kyle Wellwood. And he said the senior Wellwood was quite disappointed with the information.

Bowen said he was disappointed, too. He said he enjoyed traveling with the Leafs’ fathers and would spend time with them on these road trips well after the sons called it a night.

Bowen said the NHL decided to count the fathers’ trips against the clubs’ salary caps, which ultimately meant they could not happen any more.

•So tell me something:

If Todd Bertuzzi’s former coach told his ex-players in a vauge way that it might be a good idea if one of them jumped off a cliff, would Bertuzzi have jumped off a cliff?

•There are clubs out there -- the Colorado Avalanche, for instance -- who are desperate for goaltending.

Not so desperate, though, that they need Marc Denis. At least, not yet.

I'm told Colorado execs, like operators of other NHL clubs, have told the Tampa Bay Lightning thanks, but no thanks, when they’ve been offered Denis.

•As I reported in my Friday

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