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As playoffs approach, Caps nearing full strength

Every Washington Capital aside from defenseman Milan Jurcina took the ice to cheers from a larger-than-usual crowd here at Kettler Capitals Iceplex this morning, yet another sign that the team is nearing full health with the playoffs just a week away.

Now attention turns to just what the lineup will look like when the postseason begins. Coach Bruce Boudreau is on the record as saying he's got a pretty good idea what his lines will be next week, but if this morning is any indication, it appears he's still tinkering with things as he attempts to find the right combinations. Here's what they look like today:

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin
Laich-Morrison-Fehr
Chimera-Belanger-Fleischmann
Bradley-Steckel-Knuble
Laing-Gordon-Walker

The team is currently doing some neutral-zone drills, so it's tough to decipher the defensive pairings. More to come when practice ends.

By Mark Giannotto  |  April 8, 2010; 11:23 AM ET
 
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Next: Knuble, Steckel and Bradley may get some rest

Comments

What? Fehr on the 2nd line, possibly meaning he gets more ice time!? IMPROBABLE

Probably just some tinkering for the last two games to regulate guys times and let them rest even if they play. Knuble wouldn't really drop to the 3rd line unless BB wants to give Grandpa some time off.

Posted by: breaklance | April 8, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

why the hell would knuble be on the 4th line?

Posted by: _stevo | April 8, 2010 11:30 AM | Report abuse

No way it will be anything other than OV-Backstrom-Knuble on the top line.

Posted by: rademaar | April 8, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

I think these should be the forward lines....

Ovechkin Backstrom Knuble
Laich Morrsion Semin
Flash Belanger Fehr
Chimera Steckel Bradly/Walker

Posted by: Mike4169 | April 8, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

@Mike4169

i agree. The steckel/chimera/brads line has been really great, but I can see walker maybe getting a taste in some games as well

Posted by: _stevo | April 8, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@Mike4169

I really like those lines you came up with!

When it comes to defensive pairings... I like
Green/Schultz
Carlson/Shao Mo
Poti/Corvo...

Then when Juice is better I would pair him with Carlson and and move Shoa Mo down with Poti and scratch Poti or Corvo. Juice is good at clearing the puck out of the D zone which is something we desperately need. He is also big and has a ridicuously powerful shot.

Posted by: capscoach | April 8, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

you're not gonna see Juice even if he's healthy by the second round... they had him before and he didn't exactly set the world on fire or they wouldn't have traded him in the first place

Posted by: joek443 | April 8, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

These combos probably mean the whole 4th line in this edition (Brads, Steck and Knuble) are getting a night off tomorrow

Posted by: igor_k17 | April 8, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

@ joek443

He was playing better than our bottom 3 D men before he was traded! He really stepped up his game this season...I used to hate him. He is WAY more useful than Sloan, Erskine, and if Poti and Corvo don't SERIOUSLY step it up...then them 2! Every time we have issues clearing the puck out of our zone I look to see who is on D...85% of the time it is ShoaMo and Corvo. Corvo is not producing points and is constantly caught flat footed or out of position...If things don't go well I would expect to see Juice back on the ice.

Posted by: capscoach | April 8, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Teams trade players all the time that are doing well...we needed Chimera more than 9 D men and we weren't going to get him with just Clark.

Posted by: capscoach | April 8, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

My guess from this is that Knuble will be resting on Friday night. So they wanted to get the top 3 lines practicing an put Knuble on the 4th to get some practice.

In addition, I guess it is possible that the Bradley/Steckel/Knuble line could be a line that BB throws out there with a 1 goal lead and less than a minute to play. Knuble is great along the boards and in the last minute of playoff games there are many scrums along the boards.

I personally would have Laich/Steckel(faceoff purposes)/Knuble on the ice if the Caps are up by 1 with less than a minute to go and a faceoff in the Caps zone. At that point you don't need to go with a set line.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 8, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Juice is better than Sloan and Erskine but he's not gonna replace any of the top 6 unless there's an injury... you will only see him back in there if there's something bad happening with the defense and who wants to see that??

Posted by: joek443 | April 8, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Knuble is most effective with Ovi and Backstrom. In one of the last couple of games he was on a line with Flash and Belanger. That line was almost invisible. By the 3rd period he was moved back to the top line and Semin dropped to the 2nd line. I'm not a fan of having both Semin and Ovi on the same line either. They get way too creative and never create a forecheck. During the wins against Atlanta and Boston, it was Steckel, Bradley, and Chimera who most effective in my opinion. Take them away and we had almost no forecheck and therefore no sustained offense. Hence low scoring tight games by our standards.

Posted by: christophermbishop | April 8, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Ovie-Backstrom-Semin does mean resting Knuble, but more importantly it means putting the offensive threats together to get Ovie more points and goals to win the scoring titles

Posted by: bgsxygoalie | April 8, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

BB will only put Ovi and Backs together durring a game if the Caps are having problems scoring and we are down by more than 1 goal...thats what he has been doing for the past few months and it is working...my guess is that Knuble is resting friday

Posted by: capscoach | April 8, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

From a couple of threads back:

aucapsfan: Well, through the season ticket holder pre-sale it appears games 1 and 2 are pretty much sold out now and it started at 10am. The actual schedule has not been released but the first round of some of NHL series begin Wednesday 14 April. The Wizards have a game at Verizon on Wednesday night so my guess is game 1 will be next week Thursday and game 2 will be Saturday. Check NHL.com on Sunday night after all the 1st round series are set and the schedule will be released.

The safest way to get playoff tickets without getting ripped off (as far as tickets being fake) is to buy from season ticket holder at the ticketexchange. You can access at this URL:

https://teamexchange.ticketmaster.com/html/eventlist.htmI?l=EN&team=washingtoncaps&intcmp=tm203800&wt.mc_id=NHL_TEAM_WAS_NAV

Those tickets will not go on sale at that link until Sunday night or Monday morning. You can get tickets through stub hub too, or craigslist. I just know that I have never had any problems with tickets I have purchased through the ticketexchange. You get to print the tickets with the barcodes right after you purchase them. Travel safely and good luck landing some tickets.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 8, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I like Mike's lines as well. It's unfortunate that Flash has not done better on the face-offs so that he could center Semin, since they seem to work well together and we need a better option at C2. As far as the D, we all love Carlson but I don't see BB putting a rookie in a position where he is relied upon for that number of minutes. I think ShaMo and Corvo have worked well together and will be the second pairing, and Carlson/Poti will be the third pair. It would not be surprising to see Carlson sit some, as BB relies on more battle-tested (though less skilled) alternatives.

Posted by: zmega | April 8, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

From previous thread:

I'll betcha Theo would rather have the Conn Smythe. I am amazed he has been able to focus. I don't know how I would be doing right now. He and his wife have suffered a parent's greatest fear.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 8, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

One thing I noticed in the Penguins game was Bylsma always trying to put the Crosby line on the ice against the Laich/Flash/Semin line. Flash did seem a little lost defensively at times which can be expected because he hasn't played center too much. Fortunately the Laich/Flash/Semin line created a lot of offense too.

I get nervous with Flash playing center and facing another top center because of this.

On a side note, it seems that BB doesn't try to shuffle his lines much to get good matchups. He seems to just cycle them and however they fall they fall. I would like if BB tried to get the Ovie line out there more in favorable matchup situations (such as against a 4th line or 3rd D pairing).

Posted by: sgm3 | April 8, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Knuble to me is one of the keys in the playoffs against tough defenses like the Bruins and Devils. He scores the goals that no one else does in front.

He muscled position on Zdeno Chara to score against Boston this past week in what is a textbook playoff sequence.

I really doubt he is going to be skating on the third or fourth lines.

More likely, Boudreau is trying to motivate others like Fehr and Fleischmann that have cooled off a bit by moving them up for the final 2 games.

Posted by: leopard09 | April 8, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

one hopes that these lines are just for practice kicks. Knuble on the top line.

Posted by: doughless | April 8, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

As someone pointed out earlier. It is very possible that Bradley/Steckel/Knuble are getting the rest on Friday.

Considering they are all among the most physical of the Caps and Knuble and Bradley are on the older side it makes perfect sense to rest all of them to heal their "ouchies".

Posted by: sgm3 | April 8, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

nhl.com article about goalies this season and which ones he expects to play well come playoff time.

As for the East?

"Rask, if the Bruins get in. Halak. And Ryan Miller. I like them all because they are cool, and never panic."

Any others?

"Jose Theodore. He's a fighter."

Posted by: capscoach | April 8, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

You all realize this is a practice and there's 5 lines, right? These are not going to be the playoff lines.

Also, 100% Juice (haha) is better than Sloan, Erskine, Poti, or Corvo. But given the long layoff, I don't think I'd play him over Poti/Corvo in the playoffs. He's here for insurance.

Posted by: butcherbaker | April 8, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of sitting Knuble for a game. He is older and could use a break before the playoffs start.

Ovi & Semin could be put in there so that the 2 of them load up on points against a Thrashers team that has no reason to play now.

@Mike4169 - I was thinking the same thing as far as the playoff lines. Laing, Walker and Gordo can all be subbed in depending on what the team needs.

I think Juice was part of the trade to Columbus because he was the most appealing option of Dmen we were willing to move. He was playing well for us. Personally, I hated to see him go and I hope that he is re-signed for next year. With the D we have signed for next year he makes sense to come back. Green-Sarge is our top pair. Carlson-Poti would be our 2nd. I am guessing they want Alzner up full time next year and Juice and he played well together. Then we have Erskine as the 7th and Sloan as a swingman.

Posted by: pkendrick | April 8, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Noticed that Carolina will be hosting the All Star game next year. When last did Washington host the game.

Posted by: instinct227 | April 8, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

@instinct227 - I think it was 97 or 98 right after we moved to the Verizon Center but I could be wrong.

Posted by: pkendrick | April 8, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

some tweets to chew on!
how many folks realize he's younger than Ovechkin and Green.


Via @capsmedia, "Ovechkin, Schultz and Green, who the Caps all selected in the first round of the 2004 NHL Draft, are a combined +124." Wow.

Posted by: LettsDropThePuck | April 8, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Ok I just looked it up and I am wrong. I don't know when we last had one.

Posted by: pkendrick | April 8, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

shultz is younger than ovi and green.

Posted by: LettsDropThePuck | April 8, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

It was in 1982

Posted by: pkendrick | April 8, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

@pkendricks

I think you confused that one with the Wizards, who hosted back around that time. Maybe like 2001, 02?

Posted by: richmondphil | April 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

OV being on the same line with Semin is a mistake.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | April 8, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

For the Juice Fans (I iz one) - remember he will have had 6ish weeks off. Getting in game shape will take time. And playoff games ta boot. I would be real surprised to see him at all unless there are several D man issues. And if the current unit plays well, I think its even less likely we'll see him.

Posted by: jdhoover | April 8, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Maybe that should be, if the current unit pulls its collective panties up and plays tighter playoff type d...

Posted by: jdhoover | April 8, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Does tom poti sharpen his stick in a way that allows him to break opponent's sticks easier?

"Yea, but… Poti uses a stick with sharp edges down the shaft so he can “chop in half” other players sticks more effectively."

http://www.japersrink.com/2010/4/7/1408206/should-we-be-grilling-tom-potis

Posted by: bagasome | April 8, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

@pkendrick

You are correct. 1982 was the only time the Caps host the All Star game. I hope we get another one soon.

Posted by: instinct227 | April 8, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

One thing I noticed in the Penguins game was Bylsma always trying to put the Crosby line on the ice against the Laich/Flash/Semin line. Flash did seem a little lost defensively at times which can be expected because he hasn't played center too much. Fortunately the Laich/Flash/Semin line created a lot of offense too.

I get nervous with Flash playing center and facing another top center because of this.


Posted by: sgm3 | April 8, 2010 12:13 PM |'

Yeah, I noticed this too. It might play out a bit differently if Malkin was there, but yeah...a team's top center playing against Flash makes me a bit nervous sometimes too.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 8, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

@igor_k17

I attended the practice today & that 4th line was in light blue jerseys, which led me to believe that maybe they will be the scratches tomorrow night. So, you may be right. There also could be a little gamesmanship here to get Ovi a few more goals in a couple more "meaningless" games. Would be nice for Sasha to get one more, too (for 40), which might be more probable with Backs. I don't think these are the lines we will see for the play-offs.

Posted by: Steakum | April 8, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Tom Poti deserves every last bit of criticism needed for him to play at least okay defense.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 8, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

There also could be a little gamesmanship here to get Ovi a few more goals in a couple more "meaningless" games. Would be nice for Sasha to get one more, too (for 40), which might be more probable with Backs. I don't think these are the lines we will see for the play-offs.

Posted by: Steakum | April 8, 2010 1:31 PM |

Yes, but Knuble is so close to 30.

I'm sure BB asked him, and Knuble wanted the day off instead of 1-2 more goals.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 8, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Here is a hypothetical that could easily happen.

1) If the Rangers beat the Flyers on Friday that will have the Rangers and Flyers equal at 86 points.

2) If the Bruins go 1-2-0 over their last three games and end up with 87 points.

Because the Bruins/Caps game was moved to noon for NBC and the Rangers/Flyers game is at 3 the Rangers and Flyers will know the Bruins results before they play.

If 1 and 2 happen, if the Rangers and Flyers go to OT then both would make the playoffs regardless of who won. If the game ends in regulation the losing team misses.

Would it be possible for the Flyers and Rangers to agree to tie the game so both teams make the playoffs? That would not be good for the NHL, but it would make sense for both the Rangers and Flyers to agree to this because it would guarantee each a postseason berth.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 8, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

That would be nuts...the puck drops and the guys just sit down on the ice for 60 minutes and go to OT...

Posted by: SA-Town | April 8, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

@SA-Town

That would be hilarious to see though and would be very newsworthy for the NHL, although negatively.

I've never seen that before because in almost every sport there is almost never a case when each team benefits by not winning in regulation.

I want the situation to occur because I am now curious to see how the teams will act.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 8, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Knuble has been so great on the PK lately, I wonder if Bruce wants to keep his ice time down so he can do it more. Or perhaps Bruce is just playing mind games.

Posted by: amberlynne | April 8, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Can we start the playoffs please?!!!!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | April 8, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I never liked the idea of rewarding both teams a point when tied at the end of regulation. I would change that rule and only reward half a point.

the winning team in OT would get another point and end up with 1.5... the winning team in a SO would get an additional .5 and end up with a full point. The loser in OT or SO would only get a half point.

Posted by: joek443 | April 8, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

The Ovie-Backstrom-Semin line for the last two games is designed to help Ovie lock up the scoring title, duh :)

Won't be the same for the playoffs.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | April 8, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Re playoff tickets -

They are also available through OptionIt (http://www.optionit.com/). Of course, that involves paying a premium - for example, it's currently $64 to buy an option for a pair of Mezz End (422-429) seats for game 1 or 2. The option, when exercised, gives you guaranteed access to the seats at face value ($150 for the pair) on Ticketmaster. No telling which specific section or row in advance though...

Posted by: yosemite_sam | April 8, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I kinda like what they did in the Olympics with 3 points for the win. 2 points for OT win and 1 point for a tie.

Posted by: natresgroup | April 8, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@natresgroup

I agree. Logically, it makes the most sense. But that's why the NHL will never use it.

Posted by: sgm3 | April 8, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

LOL... yes, that makes perfects sense. maybe they don't want to admit that someone else has figured out a better way.

Posted by: natresgroup | April 8, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

The Semin, Backs, OV line would be awesome for the next couple of games. They’ll put a heck of a puck handling clinic, it’ll benefit OV regarding goals and it’ll be fun as hell to watch fur us at a point when games are meaningless.

Posted by: guer_j | April 8, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The Semin, Backs, OV line would be awesome for the next couple of games. They’ll put a heck of a puck handling clinic, it’ll benefit OV regarding goals and it’ll be fun as hell for us to watch at a point when games are meaningless.

Posted by: guer_j | April 8, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

oops, sorry for the dbl post...

Posted by: guer_j | April 8, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I think it would be even better to ban all these over-sized goalie equipments and increase scoring that way... then there would be fewer tied games.

Posted by: joek443 | April 8, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

"There also could be a little gamesmanship here to get Ovi a few more goals in a couple more "meaningless" games."

Like the way the Ducks kept feeding pucks to Selanne as he was approaching the 600 mark?

Posted by: OvechkinFan92801 | April 8, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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