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Capitals Insider: March 28, 2010 - April 3, 2010

With No. 51, Caps set franchise record for wins

It wasn't textbook by any means. But the Caps managed to eke out a 3-2 win over the the 24th place Blue Jackets tonight and, in the process, set two team records and close in on another milestone. The win was No. 51, which is one better than the mark...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 3, 2010; 11:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (150)
 
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Tonight's lineup: Caps at Blue Jackets

Jose Theodore will start tonight at Nationwide Arena, but it appears that Blue Jackets Coach Claude Noel will turn to Mathieu Garon instead of Steve Mason, who shutout the Caps twice last season but has a suspected shoulder injury. The rest of the visitors' lineup should look the way it...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 3, 2010; 6:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (218)
 
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Theodore set to start in Columbus

Jose Theodore will start in goal tonight, and based on Columbus' morning skate, it looks like Steve Mason will be in net for the Blue Jackets (though Claude Noel wouldn't commit one way or another). I can't get on the wireless network here at Nationwide Arena, so I have to...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 3, 2010; 1:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
 
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Chris Clark: 'It's been a different year'

(Getty Image) Since being traded to the Blue Jackets on Dec. 28, Chris Clark has been looking forward to Saturday's game. Unfortunately for him, the only contact he'll make with Alex Ovechkin and Co. is when they shake hands outside the dressing rooms at Nationwide Arena. That's because Clark...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 2, 2010; 6:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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Armstrong suspended two games for elbowing Perreault (updated)

Thrashers' winger Colby Armstrong has been suspended two games by the NHL, without pay, for his elbow to the head of Caps' prospect Mathieu Perreault last night, according to Atlanta Journal Constitution reporter Chris Vivlamore. It was not a "blindside hit," but a dangerous one nonetheless. Here it is again:...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 2, 2010; 3:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (39)
 
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Laich on importance of beating Atlanta

Here's Brooks Laich talking about the Caps' 2-1 win over the Thrashers and the importance of ending the slide before it became a slump: Something else the win accomplished: it edged the Caps closer to claiming the franchise's first President's Trophy. In fact, if San Jose loses in regulation at...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 2, 2010; 3:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Caps fans mob Semyon Varlamov

Asked about the Caps' increasingly murky goaltending situation, Coach Bruce Boudreau wouldn't name his starter for tomorrow. But I'm hearing he's going to go with Jose Theodore instead of sticking with Semyon Varlamov, who was occasionally outstanding in a 2-1 win over Atlanta last night. "It's tough to manage both...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 2, 2010; 2:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (20)
 
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Jason Chimera looking forward to Columbus return

The Caps had a very optional practice this morning at KCI before boarding a charter flight to Columbus for their second to last road game of the regular season. While the contest is important for a Caps team that's slowly trying to get into playoff mode, it's going to mean...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 2, 2010; 1:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Perreault sent down

Center Mathieu Perreault has been reassigned to Hershey, Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's better fitted for coming up when we need him instead of staying here and getting stale," Boudreau said. "Or losing the andrenaline kick of being here for lengthy time at this stage." Perreault had two goals in...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 2, 2010; 11:26 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (15)
 
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Caps end a three-game slide

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post) A very abbreviated collection of links to get the day started: *Matt Bradley cores his first goal in 26 games midway through the third period against Atlanta, sending Washington to its first win in four games. | Story » *Caps blog recaps: Mike Vogel, RMNB,...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  April 2, 2010; 5:46 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (36)
 
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Bradley, Caps end slump

The Caps' mini slump is over. So is Matt Bradley's. And Semyon Varlamov's, for that matter. The team ended a three-game losing streak thanks to Bradley scoring the winner (his first goal since Jan. 19th) and Varlamov, who made 19 saves to pick up his second win in eight appearances...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 1, 2010; 11:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Tonight's lineup: Thrashers at Caps

Semyon Varlamov will be in net tonight as the Caps look to end a three-game slide and the Thrashers seek to stay in the playoff hunt. The rest of the banged-up Caps' lineup should look like this: Forwards Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble Laich-Perreault-Semin Fleischmann-Belanger-Fehr Chimera-Steckel-Bradley Defense Schultz-Green Poti-Morrisonn Corvo-Erskine Goalies Varlamov Theodore Before...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 1, 2010; 6:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (257)
 
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Brooks Laich on returning to the lineup

After taking a puck to the face and watching the Caps from the press box for four games while he recovered, winger Brooks Laich said he came away with a few observations: Nicklas Backstrom is "tremendous," Mike Green is a good skater and Alex Ovechkin plays "right through people." Here's...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  April 1, 2010; 2:03 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
 
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Varlamov set to start against Thrashers

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal tonight as the Caps attempt to shake a three game slide against the visiting Thrashers, who have pulled to within two points of the eighth seed (who, of course, will start the playoffs in Washington). Varlamov is in desperate need of a big performance...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 1, 2010; 1:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Poll: first-round preference?

With two weeks remaining in the regular season, there are five teams fighting for the final three spots in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Philly, Boston, Montreal are tied with 82 points, while Atlanta (tonight's opponent) sits two back and New York is four back. Depending on how things shake...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 1, 2010; 11:22 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (30)
 
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Capitals Q&A today with Tracee Hamilton, 9:30 a.m.

Every morning, Post columnist Tracee Hamilton discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports. Today's topic: your Capitals. Tracee's opening thought: Time to panic? Hardly. But the Caps are starting games slow -- giving up nine first-period goals and scoring just on in those three losses....

By Sports editors  |  April 1, 2010; 9:18 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (48)
 
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Caps pose for team photo

Here are a few shots from the making of yesterday's team photo at Verizon Center, where the Caps squirmed and joked around like a bunch of fourth-graders: (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  April 1, 2010; 9:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Caps say they're not just coasting

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post) Some morning links to get the day started: *Coach Bruce Boudreau and the Capitals say they haven't lost any motivation despite their commanding lead in the playoff race, even as they are mired in a three-game losing streak. *Post columnist Tracee Hamilton offers this take:...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  April 1, 2010; 5:53 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (23)
 
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Boudreau mum on goalie situation

Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau this afternoon was willing to talk about his team's recent losing streak, the slow starts and what needs to done to get back on track over the final six regular-season games. The one taboo subject, however, was who would be his top goalie for the postseason....

By Gene Wang  |  March 31, 2010; 6:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (26)
 
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Laich expected back tomorrow

Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich is on course to be in the lineup for tomorrow night's home game against the Atlanta Thrashers, according to both the player and Coach Bruce Boudreau. The second-line left wing has missed the past four games after getting struck in the face with a puck...

By Gene Wang  |  March 31, 2010; 12:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (83)
 
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Alex Ovechkin: 'We just want to be in good shape for the playoffs'

Alex Ovechkin isn't practicing today at Verizon Center, swapping out his red Caps sweater for some very ripped jeans and a sweatshirt after the Caps took their team photo. John Carlson, Eric Belanger, Alexander Semin, Tom Poti and Coach Bruce Boudreau took the day off as well. So yes, you...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  March 31, 2010; 11:47 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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Poti on the penalties

The Washington Capitals allowed a one-goal lead in the third period to slip away largely because of a pair of penalties that led to goals for Ottawa in its 5-4 victory at Verizon Center. The first penalty was interference against recent callup Mathieu Perreault, who earlier had scored to give...

By Gene Wang  |  March 31, 2010; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (46)
 
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Caps rally, but fall to Sens in overtime

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post) Some morning links to get the day started: *Sens 5, Caps 4 (OT): "Iffy" goaltending and other unsettling woes in a third straight loss. *Postgame: Tarik's wrap-up | David Steckel | Nicklas Backstrom...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  March 31, 2010; 6:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
 
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Time for Caps to be concerned?

Anyone else sick overtime every other night? For those keeping score at home, tonight's 5-4 loss to the Senators marked the 10th time in the past 18 games in which the Caps went to extra time. While annoying - particularly for writers on tight deadlines - going to OT isn't...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 30, 2010; 11:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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Steckel talks about another poor start

Capitals center David Steckel was among the few players who spoke to the media following tonight's 5-4 overtime loss to Ottawa. He talked about another uninspired start to a game and how it has become a trend lately. Washington has given up the first goal in three straight games, and...

By Gene Wang  |  March 30, 2010; 10:24 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Backstrom on tripping penalty

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was called for a tripping penalty in the closing seconds of overtime, and that led to Ottawa's power play goal with 19 seconds to play in the Senators' 5-4 victory at Verizon Center. The Capitals lost their third straight game and second in a row in...

By Gene Wang  |  March 30, 2010; 10:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
 
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In-game chat: Caps vs. Senators

Join Post reporter Gene Wang here on the Insider as the Capitals play Ottawa at Verizon Center in the second of a three-game homestand. The chat will begin around 7 p.m. Join the conversation below: Caps vs. Senators...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  March 30, 2010; 1:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (121)
 
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Boudreau: 'We have to get back to playing 60-minute hockey'

Bruce Boudreau wasn't in a bad mood this morning, but he was a little grumpy. Two straight uninspired losses, apparently, can do that to a coach, even the coach of the NHL's top team. "We have to get back to playing high-energy hockey," said Boudreau, whose club has been outscored...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 30, 2010; 1:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
 
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In the final stretch, Caps have no time for rest

Some morning links to get the day started: *Tracee Hamilton on whether the Caps should take it easy with seven games to go: The injuries, and the rest question, are a real concern in one area: establishing playoff lines. With just seven games to go, Boudreau is running out...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  March 30, 2010; 8:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (85)
 
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Alex Ovechkin: Potential Caps/Pens Winter Classic would 'be pretty fun'

There's been no announcement from the NHL to support yesterday's report about the Caps and Pens squaring off in the Winter Classic at Heinz Field, but that didn't stop reporters from asking about it. Alex Ovechkin, for one, said he's all for it. "It's going to be pretty fun," he...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 29, 2010; 3:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (55)
 
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Bruce Boudreau doesn't expect Brooks Laich to play before the weekend

Although Brooks Laich said he plans to take the morning skate tomorrow before deciding whether to play against the Senators, Coach Bruce Boudreau sounded less optimistic. "There's a good chance he'll play by the weekend," Boudreau said. "He's a quick healer and very determined young man." Here's more from Boudreau...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 29, 2010; 1:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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Brooks Laich: 'My face just went numb'

Brooks Laich, who has missed the past three games with injuries to the left side of his face, said he plans to skate with his teammates at the morning skate tomorrow before deciding whether he's able to suit up against the Senators. "When I got hit, my whole side of...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 29, 2010; 12:45 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Mike Knuble ready to 'move on'

Capitals right wing Mike Knuble almost always has something insightful to say after a game, win or lose, and Sunday night was no exception. He said the best way to handle the defeat would be to understand it just wasn't Washington's day and to move on. (And later Sunday night,...

By Gene Wang  |  March 29, 2010; 8:58 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (81)
 
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A banner regular season

(Illustration by Jon Wile/The Washington Post) [Yes, they're the Eastern Conference regular season champs, so the middle banner isn't entirely accurate, but the banners aren't real in the first place, so, you know.] The Caps made history last night, clinching the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for...

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  March 29, 2010; 5:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Caps clinch first Eastern Conference regular season title

Well, it didn't happen exactly how the Caps had hoped. But Alex Ovechkin and Co. clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in the franchise's 35-year history when the Devils lost in Philadephia 5-1 a few minutes ago. Does that make you feel better...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 28, 2010; 9:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
 
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Unmotivated Caps lose to Flames, 5-3

It's tough for me to get too worked up after this afternoon's 5-3 loss to Calgary. Yes, the first period effort was weak. Yes, the goaltending was porous. But the Caps haven't had much to get excited about in weeks, and that lack of motivation against an unfamiliar opponent bit...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 28, 2010; 8:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Boudreau on booing: 'Let's give the guys a break'

Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau heard the boos at Verizon Center after a first period in which his team trailed 4-0. It certainly was a forgettable opening 20 minutes -- perhaps the worst this season -- for Washington, but Boudreau was quick to point out the Capitals had dropped just four...

By Gene Wang  |  March 28, 2010; 7:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (99)
 
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Boudreau: 'We didn't have any energy'

Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau pointed to several reasons for the team's slow start on Sunday, including Calgary players being "called out" by Flames GM Darryl Sutter. The Flames lost to Boston on Saturday, 5-0, and are desperately trying to move into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western...

By Gene Wang  |  March 28, 2010; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Mathieu Perreault scores in 5-3 loss

Mathieu Perreault was a late call-up from Hershey to replace Brendan Morrison, who did not play in the Capitals' 5-3 loss to Calgary because of a lower body injury. Perreault made his first appearance with the NHL club since an 18-game stint in November and December, and he scored the...

By Gene Wang  |  March 28, 2010; 6:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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In-game chat: Caps vs. Flames

Join Post reporter Gene Wang here on Caps Insider as the Capitals play Calgary at Verizon Center in the first game of a three-game home stand. The chat will begin at 3 p.m., so join in below. Caps vs. Flames...

By Gene Wang  |  March 28, 2010; 2:09 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Today's lineup: Flames at Caps

Jose Theodore will start in goal this afternoon, while Mathieu Perreault has been recalled from Hershey and will skate for the Caps for the first time since an 18-game stint in November and December. Perreault was called up to replace Brendan Morrison (lower body tweak). Boyd Gordon (back), Brooks Laich...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 28, 2010; 1:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
 
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Report: Caps-Pens to play at Heinz Field

The Capitals and Penguins are "likely" to be opponents in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Heinz Field, according to a report in today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette. A few details still have to be addressed, but things are falling into place for the Penguins and Washington to play the...

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 28, 2010; 12:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
 
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