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Aucoin a Keeper?

Keith Aucoin has not guaranteed himself a spot on the Caps' roster for the playoffs yet. But if he keeps playing like he did today, it's only a matter of time before that happens.

Aucoin, all 5 feet 8, 165 pounds of him, was arguably the Caps' best player on an afternoon when the team needed a second-intermission scolding from its coach and a monster third period to pull out a 6-4 win over the 27th-place Atlanta Thrashers in the final home game of the regular season.

"I've done everything they've asked me to do," Aucoin said. "I go out every shift and work hard. I've been rewarded the last few games. I've just got to keep doing that while I'm here."

Aucoin had a goal, set up the winner by stripping all-star Ilya Kovalchuk and received some much-deserved acknowledgment from the capacity crowd during the postgame 'Jersey Off Our Back' ceremony. (Aucoin might have had two goals if he didn't miss an empty net from a tight angle early in the third.)

Anyway, he's making his case to stick around. And Coach Bruce Boudreau said as much after the game.

"He's definitely played well for us," Boudreau said. "We'll probably have to make a decision here, sooner or later. He's done really well."

On to the notes:

'Gabby' Gets Loud
Boudreau rarely rips into his team between periods. But he did just that during the second intermission. His team was down 3-2, the NHL's most potent power play had struck once on six opportunities en route to a 1-for-7 afternoon and the "sleepwalking" Caps were in need of a wakeup.

"Our guys were sleepwalking through the first two periods," said Boudreau, who also (surprise, surprise) scrambled his lines in search of a spark. "I hope [screaming at them] wasn't what it took. I hope it opened their eyes. I hope it doesn't take me coming in and screaming and yelling to get us going because we have too many good players for that."

Whatever Boudreau said definitely worked. The Caps were a different team in the third period, playing with energy, focus and cohesion. They scored four of the game's final five goals.

Secondary Sources
The Caps also got substantial production from players not named Alex. In addition to Aucoin's contribution, Tomas Fleischmann ended a 16-game drought with a first-period goal, Eric Fehr scored his second goal in 16 games and Michael Nylander netted his second goal in his past 19 games.

"We can't depend on four guys to score all of our goals every game," Boudreau said before adding about Fleischmann, "I hope it does wonders for his confidence. He was like, 'Oh man, I can play the game.' You start to doubt yourself after a while."

Down to the Wire
With a pair of assists, Alex Ovechkin pulled to within two points of Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin in the race for the scoring title. Malkin went scoreless again in a 4-2 loss to the Panthers. Both the Caps and Pens have three games left.

It was an up-and-down night for Ovechkin, who took 11 shots on Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg and had a pretty assist on Aucoin's goal. But the reigning MVP also had a horrible giveaway that led directly to Jim Slater's shorthanded goal early in the second period.

Speaking of Turnovers ...
Jose Theodore also had an uneven performance, including the most memorable moment of the game (for me, at least): In the final minute, it appeared he was attempting to shoot the puck the length of the ice for an empty net goal. He instead wound up whiffing and sending the puck directly to Slava Kozlov, who, of course, scored. But afterward, Theodore said he was only trying to clear the puck.

"I was just trying to get it out of the zone and kill some time," Theodore said. "I saw him. I just lifted my head and fanned."

Sole Possession
With the win, the Caps moved back into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference with three games remaining, leading the Devils 104-102. New Jersey also has three games remaining.

Odds and Ends
Brooks Laich has two goals and seven assists in his past nine games after a goal and two assists against the Thrashers. ... The 29 home wins are the second most in franchise history.

That's it from me tonight. The Caps will be back on the ice tomorrow morning at 10:30 before heading off on a three-game road trip.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 5, 2009; 8:34 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning Reading List: Secondary Scorers Emerge

Comments

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Posted by: RichC3 | April 5, 2009 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Just don't EVER do that again, Jose! Especially in the playoffs! What a poor clearing attempt! (I still think he was trying to score a goal, though)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 5, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

I love Aucoin! He's so scrappy, and really wants to be here. He plays so hard and has really been a great addition to the team. Hope he stays around next season.

Posted by: RtR52 | April 5, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

There is no way he was just trying to clear it. If he was just trying to clear it he goes off the glass, not up the middle of the ice.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | April 5, 2009 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I'd say -- definitely keep AuCoin for the playoff roster. He's earned it. He should take Brash's place.

Those lines for the last period were interesting to say the least. It was time to shake things up since today's original lines were just NOT working.

It was Ovi, Backstrom, and Fed for first line (yup, both of our first line centers).

It was Semin, Flash, and AuCoin for the second line.

Then we had Fehr, Nyls, and Laich for the third line. (That's a little more usual but not lately)

And, finally, there was Bradley, Steckel, and Koz for the fourth line. (Initially, I got a little concerned when I didn't see Viktor initially and wondered if they were starting to shorten the bench or Vik was injured, again.)

AuCoin has earned his way to a roster spot. A real sign of this is when he was on the PP unit for most of the last several PP's. (After that shortie goal and a whole host of unsuccessful PP's, it was time to shake things up. We even saw one PP where Green and Poti were both there -- the one after the shortie.) I'd say you're definitely on Boudreau's A team if you're on the main Power Play unit.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 5, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

I think Aucoin will do better for us during the playoffs than Brashear. The fans and fan appreciation were fun today.

Posted by: capsfan01 | April 5, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Flash-Nylander-Fehr. So much for "third line fail" "ugh" eh?

Posted by: BigMogilny | April 5, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse


I have 2 for this:

a) If Fehr's play was going to kickstart 92 and 14, then hooray. Which leads me to

b) Dude, it's Atlanta. I'll be more than happy to eat crow if they're still doing what they did today (against the 3rd worst team in the East) 2 weeks from now.

Posted by: Section117 | April 5, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow, speaking of Malkin, he's da*ned lucky he didn't get his neck broken this evening in a legal check by Keith Ballard.

Here's the video. - Crosby went after Ballard after the hit.

@CapsFan75 - The spelling is Aucoin. :-) Best learn it now, since I suspect he'll be around for a long time! That boy shows promise!

Posted by: irockthered | April 5, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

@rachel216 - Amen to that! Theodore owes the team dinner, in my book, since they took away his mistake and kept the game. I just sortof facepalmed when it happened; I wasn't mad, especially after the game - the only one he hurt was his own save percentage, which was 20/24 (.833) at the end of the game, and would have been 21/24 (.875) without that boneheaded maneuver.

In the long run, it's actually kindof amusing. But you're right: Theo, don't EVER do that again!!!

Posted by: irockthered | April 5, 2009 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Nyls went to goal a few times today, even when he had a pass option.

Schulz played another good game -- second in a row. He had one errant pass that I saw, but that was a lot fewer than did Fedorov, Kozlov, and Ovi (who had one giveaway lead to a goal against).

Ovi was hungry, but haven't seen him whiff like that since the beginning of the playoffs last year.

Aucoin -- that "boy" turns 31 this year

No way Jose was trying to clear. He was looking right at the empty net. Can't blame him, but he was drawn to it.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 5, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

The defense was poor for the first two periods. However, the good offense facilitated a good defense in the third period.

I like that the coaching staff reduced the ice time of players they felt were not matching the effort put out by the Thrashers.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | April 5, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Poor Ovi ... ever since he hurt his foot he seems to be fanning more. At first I thought the two were related (like he could not put all of his weight on that foot so it had him off-kilter when he shot), but it has been awhile so I don't know what to think. Anyone else notice it? If so, any theories out there?

Also, was it just me or were there a lot more broken sticks than usual today? My favorite was the early PP when two Atlanta sticks were broken blocking shots - oops! It looked like an arcade game ... I was waiting for the other two to go so that Greenie could when the stuffed animal of his choice.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 5, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

irockthered: Yeah, I don't blame Theo, he wanted that goal real bad. However, if the Thrashers somehow ended up scoring with the extra attacker on and tied it, we'd be calling for his head! He definitely owes Brooksie dinner!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 5, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Theo is a weak tender, and there is no solution to him in goal. At least this year.

Such a shame

Posted by: gtydings | April 5, 2009 9:54 PM | Report abuse

(That should have been WIN the stuffed animal of his choice ... not as amusing with a typo. :-|)

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 5, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

gtydings:
"Theo is a weak tender, and there is no solution to him in goal."

The solution may be Varly.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 5, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Varly would be great, but again, no stopper yet in the net. He's about as effective as theo, but give the kid minutes to build

Posted by: gtydings | April 5, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

gtydings:
I think the jury is still out on Varly. Most folks agree he will get there, the question is when. There is a chance he could "make it" in post-season. The reality is that it will probably be later, but with enough playing time it could be now. I will be curious to see what happens ...

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 5, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

@rachel216 and @irockthered,

Yes, Theodore owes Laich dinner for tonight's game. Be more careful next time, Jose.

Meanwhile, about Aucoin. I keep thinking of French where "au" is a prefix meaning "to the" for mail gendered nouns. For you French fans out there, what does "Coin" mean in French. Anyway, I assume Keith's ancestry is French. And then with "Au" being the chemical symbol for Gold, I'm sure he's been called "Gold Coin". He was our gold coin for today. By the way, who earned the hard hat for today's game?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 5, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin should replace Gordon.
And Schultz did play better today. He was more aggressive, seems like once he found out he was part of the new rotation on D, he's stepped it up.


"We were sleepwalking, it seemed like, for two periods," Boudreau said. "I hope it doesn't take me coming in and screaming and yelling to get them going. They've got to learn to do it on their own. You yell at your kids too much, they'll tune you out."

How many times this year have we heard this already about the team not playing hard for an entire game? I'd venture to say this has happened at least 25 times this year if not more. Luckily they were playing Atl today. I'd like to see them score 4 in the 3rd in a playoff game.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 5, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Malkin would never have been flipped through the air like that if his head was up. What the hell? THat guy is gonna get his clock cleaned badly one day. Keep your head up, stupid!

And Crosby, you pansy, try fighting with your fists. Better yet, dont attack people after clean checks, and even better, dont pass to team mates in vulnerable positions. Malkin was sent to the slaughter house, he didn't skate there himself.

Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I think the Varlamov question should be put to rest. He's only 20. His rebound control is nowhere near where it has to be to be a full time netminder. His rebounds are uncontrolled. He needs seasoning and a few years to polish his game. No rush. He has amazing reflexes, but needs to work with Prior for some time before I'm comfortable with him as the #1. All the opposition would have to do is crash the net.

Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 10:41 PM | Report abuse

oo7:
But Jose is not much better overall, and his continued inconsistency is troubling. At this point I frankly don't know who I would rater see in goal for the playoffs, but I am hoping that one of them rise to the occasion.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 5, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I hear you, Boo, but I dont think Varlamov is the answer right now. Is Theo an elite goaltender? no, not like he once was, for a short while. Varly is a barely tested boy who just isnt ready for full time duty. He's made some great saves but I dont think he's going to bring DC a cup this year. Not with those rebounds. Theo's what we've got, and hopefully Johnny will be behind him. Johnson has improved immensely during his time in washington, and until the injury he was playing great.

I'd like to assert something: Johnson was the dominant force on home ice. When Johnson went under, so did the Caps home winning percentage.

Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen an elite player skate with his head down as much as Malkin does. Apparently, he doesn't realize that's like a giant "HIT ME AS HARD AS YOU CAN!" sign.

for whoever asked, "coin" is French for corner, so "AuCoin" would be, literally, "of the corner" or "from the corner" (in French, it wouldn't be "Oh-coin" like we say it. The "Au" would be more like "Auh" and the best I can describe the "coin" is something like "Kwan" but not exactly, a bit softer)

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 5, 2009 10:53 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen an elite player skate with his head down as much as Malkin does.


ever see Semin?

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 5, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

oo7:
So you are more comfortable with Jose in goal that Varly? I just have not seen enough of Varly to say that definitely (besides, his numbers are pretty darn good despite those rebounds and the fact that he sometimes looks like a cat on a hot tin roof).

I will be surprised if Johnny makes it back this season. If he does, depending on how rusty he is, he might be able to play. He has had some flashes of brilliance (especially when it looked like he could compete for #1). At this point I would say that it is still a crap shoot for all three of them.

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 5, 2009 10:58 PM | Report abuse

It shows good team chemistry when your top skill player sticks up for your other top skill player. Imagine Backstrom jumping in and fighting a player who takes out Ovechkin or Semin? Prolly never happen but if it did, that would fill us with pride and joy (regardless of if the hit was clean or dirty)

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 5, 2009 11:00 PM | Report abuse

http://www.hockeyfights.com/forums/f9/pittsburgh-florida-4-5-09-a-119532/

great hit by Ballard to take out Malkin with the hit and then Crosby off the ice with the penalty

And good job by Crosby to stick up for his linemate. Nothing wrong with that.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 5, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

oo7 - I agree with you per Theo and Varly. Varly still has a lot of learning to do, and I wouldn't want to see him put into the pressure of the playoffs because if he did poorly it could hurt his confidence. That assumes that Theo does just fine, of course.

AND - Auctin is really 31? Where's he been? Reminds me of Stan Jonathan (sp?) and Marten St. Louis.

Posted by: dezlboy1 | April 5, 2009 11:14 PM | Report abuse

@RedBirdie

Thanks for the French comments on Aucoin. It's been years since I took French even though I thought the "Au" was pronounced like a long O.

So, he's our Gold Coin from the Corner, so to speak.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 5, 2009 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Well at the end of the month, Varlamov will be old enough to drink legally in the US of A. His 21st birthday is near the end of April.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 5, 2009 11:16 PM | Report abuse

Boo, I've only seen 4 games with Varly in. THats not enough for me to slate him as a #1. Good numbers, yes, but the team played immensely in front of him. The jury may still be out, but there isn't too much of a case either way.

cstanton, I disagree. I dont think a player should have to fight after every great hit. It was clean and legal.

Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

You don't pick a fight for a legal hit, though. It was crap when Sloan got jumped in Calgary and it was crap tonight.

That should have been an instigator penalty, but whatever.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | April 5, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

My previous comment was in reference to cstanton, sorry :-).

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | April 5, 2009 11:19 PM | Report abuse

So when does Alzner come up? Or does he?

Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

dezlboy1:
"That assumes that Theo does just fine, of course."
But what if he doesn't?

oo7:
I agree - as I said, I have not seen him enough to say he should be #1, but that goes conversely as well (i.e. I have not seen him enough to say that he should not be #1).

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 5, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Boo. As the zen master said, "we'll see".

Man, the whole Bears lineup is in the + category with the exception of 2 players. Thats quite impressive. Alzner is a +25! wow.


Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 11:26 PM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75, it may be a long "O" sound. My last round of french was with natives of Brittany and my understanding is they do things a little differently there! its also, admittedly, been a while since I've had to speak the language. I've mostly be just reading the past 3 years.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 5, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

This was on TSN, where the panel votes for the awards winners. Here is what Keith Jones had to say regarding Mike Green winning the Norris:

Jones: The only defenceman for the Washington Capitals is Green and and he should win the Norris because he has no help on the blueline. Milan Jurcina is the second highest scoring defenceman on the Capitals with 14 points and the Bruins gave him away. Tom Poti is the third highest scoring defenceman with 13 points. Green is +24 on a team without a goaltender.


Wow. And Poti only has 13 points.

Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin should definitely stay up for playoffs. Although I enjoy watching donald brashear and boyd gordon, i think it would be better for the team if aucoin plays over them. The caps already have rough and tough guys, erskine and bradley. So donald brashear is not really needed. The caps also have a defensive offensive players like steckel and laich. So gordo is not really needed either. aucoin is gritty and fast. he's always crashing the net and creating opportunities. i say we keep him.

as far as defense goes, although schultz has been playing better the past 2 games, i still think he should be the one to sit, compared to the other d-men

Posted by: ILikeLaich | April 5, 2009 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Still see comments about the "27th place Atl".

You guys do realize these guys were 11-3 in their last 14 games before today's game and have generally been one of the better teams in the league in the past 2 months?

It was an uneven performance, and I hate relying on us to "push the button" but we definitely pulled out a monster 3rd period. Not sure how much I like Feds and Backstrom on a line with Ovie seemed like he didn't like Kozlov's play or maybe Kozzy was still dinged up a little bit.

Poti needs to step it up a bit, I thought Mo had a real strong game actually...Schultz looked pretty good too.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton1 - This is not your father's NHL. The place has changed in the last decade, and you should either change with it, or just go watch some other sport that's more suited to your blood lust.

Like bear-baiting.

"Sticking up for his linemate" is not what Crosby did.

He attacked another player for making a LEGAL HIT that ended worse than it could have because Malkin's head was down and he jumped.

IMO, and by the rulebook, Crosby should have gotten:

* Fighting (5 minutes)
* Instigator (2 minutes - he attacked in retaliation for what Ballard did)
* Unsportsmanlike Conduct (2 minutes - he was wearing his face shield)
* Misconduct (10 minutes - goes along with the instigator time penalty)

All he got was the fighting and unsportsmanlike conduct. He got off easy, if you ask me.

And so did Malkin. Maybe this time he'll learn not to put his head down and not to jump into checks.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

@oo7 - Do you have any idea why the Bears keep sitting Grant McNeill? I'd thought they signed him on to be an enforcer-type, and yet we have folks like Graham Mink doing his own enforcement (and breaking his hand, putting himself out for a couple of weeks with the playoffs coming up). Yes, we have Kip Brennan, and he seems a pretty good enforcer, but before McNeill broke his hand, I never saw him play, and after... same thing. He's NEVER been on the ice for a game that I've attended. And the Bears have had fights. What gives? Any clue?

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

In Crosby's defense, the hit looked pretty low at full speed. Still does in the replay too..

I see no problem in Crosby going after him in this incident. It was borderline.

But the arbitrary instigator strikes again.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 6, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Overall I think the hit on Malkin was a legal one, but it did look a little low at full speed. Hell I'd probably get a little lower if I was trying to flip over someone as big as Malkin.

Crosby will get extra attention from us because we've seen him take exception to himself ever getting cleanly checked in the past. In this case I think the hit was close enough to borderline that he definitely thought he had to stand up for his teammate.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Also @oo7, et. al. - Re: Varlamov: That boy has been living a charmed life.

* In Montreal, there were about half a dozen shots that rang off the post. Had they been a couple of inches over, he never would have gotten them. Goals.

* His most-recent start, half the time the Sabres missed the net entirely, or missed their pass. If they didn't, he'd overcommitted to the left (for example), and the right half of the goal was wide open. He wouldn't have been able to get back to stop the puck.

I'm not recalling exactly what happened on the other two games; I could look it up, but it's late.

In short: Varlamov is not ready to be an NHL goaltender.

Theodore, apart from his Epic Fail Moment(tm) tonight, has been generally decent since the mid-season break. He's above .500 career now, and will hopefully stay that way. He can make the big stops when he has to (witness: the breakaway that got past three of our guys. He stopped it). Varlamov doesn't get that save. We saw that the other night.

Besides - I like Theo, and I believe he won't let us down.

Another year in Hershey, and Varlamov will be ready. He isn't now. Theodore is our goaltender, for better or for worse, for the playoffs.

Posted by: irockthered | April 6, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

This was on TSN, where the panel votes for the awards winners. Here is what Keith Jones had to say regarding Mike Green winning the Norris:

Jones: The only defenceman for the Washington Capitals is Green and and he should win the Norris because he has no help on the blueline. Milan Jurcina is the second highest scoring defenceman on the Capitals with 14 points and the Bruins gave him away. Tom Poti is the third highest scoring defenceman with 13 points. Green is +24 on a team without a goaltender.

Wow. And Poti only has 13 points.

Posted by: oo7 | April 5, 2009 11:38 PM | Report abuse

ugh, more overwrought drama antics from the Canadian media regarding the "disaster" that is Washington's goaltending and defense.

Has the D and goaltending combo been fantastic this year? Nope, no way, but there sure as heck are a lot of teams a lot worse off than Washington. And don't give me this "team without a goaltender" crap. You don't win 30 games in a season by being one of the worst goalies in the NHL, sorry. Also, have any of these so-called hockey experts notice how many times the Caps leave their goalies in absolutely horrible lurches? They play high-risk high-reward hockey, and sometimes that means Theo gives up 4 goals. And on 9 out of 10 of those nights, the Caps still win.

And then, remind my what the Caps record is against the Eastern conference playoff teams? Oh, right, A WHOLE LOT OF BIG BEAUTIFUL WINS!

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 6, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

If Malkin would just learn to skate with his head up--you know, like you're supposed to--he wouldn't be getting absolutely slammed game in and game out. But if he wants to skate with his head down and a big fat target on his back because of it, go for it. Just quit crying about getting hit. There's a fundamental flaw to his skating and until he addresses it, its going to continue to get leveled by every guy in the league.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 6, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

IROCKTHERED--> @cstanton1 - This is not your father's NHL. The place has changed in the last decade, and you should either change with it, or just go watch some other sport that's more suited to your blood lust.


Don't be such a drama queen. What, you been sleepin under a rock the last few years? Its the NEW NHL where players get jumped for legal hits, not the old one. Do yourself a favor and go look at clips from fights around the league. You'll find that a lot of them start with a big (usually clean) hit that someone takes offence to.

And for the sake of argument, where does it say that you should only stick up for a teammate for an illegal hit? Whether you stick up for someone on a legal or illegal hit, the only thing that matters is that the referee calls the correct penalties. In Crosby's case he should have rec'd an instigator and a misconduct. But it doesn't change the fact that its good for team chemistry to see a star player respond on behalf of another star player. If Backstrom or Semin had done the same thing would you be sitting here whining about it being a clean hit? Or would you be happy that this team showed some togetherness on the ice..

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 6, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

In this case I think the hit was close enough to borderline that he definitely thought he had to stand up for his teammate.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:17 AM | Report abuse

of course it was. The only reason some fans here get all riled up is they like to hate Crosby. That's fine, but it colors their judgment to where their opinions have little credibility. What these fans are really judging is the player, not the actual action. Again, look around the league, like it or not most of the fights out there result from a perceived transgression like a big hit. This isn't some old school NHL coming into play like IRocktheRed claims. This is the new NHL. And thats why there's been recent talk of trying to find ways to stop players from responding to clean hits.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 6, 2009 1:40 AM | Report abuse

Poti needs to step it up a bit, I thought Mo had a real strong game actually...Schultz looked pretty good too.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 6, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Schultz has always played below his potential. Now that he senses he's on the fringe, he's got a fire lit under him and he's responding. For my money, the player who gets the most grief undeservedly is Morrisonn. He's been playing very solidly for most of the season. He started slow this year but he's picked it up.

Poti who was supposed to be the savior when he came back into the lineup is now one of our bigger liabilities.

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 6, 2009 1:43 AM | Report abuse

As for the comments from up north about Washington's weak D, I believe the goals against average and softness is due, in part, to their overall, fast-paced game. Years ago, the Caps were known for play similar to New Jersey. Low-scoring on both ends. Bruce spoke last year about with the offenses fire power that he would rather see 6-5 wins than 1-0 losses. It's difficult to mix a tight-checking defensive game with a wide-open offensive.

Posted by: gonchpup | April 6, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

What a bonehead move by Theodore yesterday but I agree with irockthered. Varly is going to be a great goaltender but Jose is our #1 guy right now. Jose's had some terrible games this year and some great games this year. I always think of Huet last year and how Jose COULD do that. Remember, we traded for Huet and he played the best (by far) I had ever seen in his NHL Career. The caps got hot and Huet played incredibly hot to get us into the playoffs. Once we got into the playoffs everyone pretty much cooled down, Huet did very much. Although, watching that series the Defense really left Huet out to dry more than a few occasions he didn't play at the level we saw him play on our late regular season run. I'm not saying he will, but I am saying that Jose MAY get hot at the right time. Imagine how good our offense is, and if our defense plays solid, then Jose gets hot. All it takes is your goaltender to hit a hot streak in the playoffs and it makes an already dangerous CAPS team even more dangerous. Let's face it, our offense is going to be there, we need our defense to play solid. If they do and Jose gets hot we will beat anyone in the playoffs. I'm not saying it will happen but I'm saying it is a very realistic possibility. Playoffs here we come!

Posted by: DCSportsFan28 | April 6, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Aucoin too small to play regularly. Which is why he's been in the minors for 10 years. He may help in the 2nd round on, when enforcers take a backseat.

Posted by: bhound69 | April 6, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Keeping Aucoin in the lineup right now is such an easy decision, don't overthink this situation! Keep him in there, let Gordo heal properly and then do a 4th line rotation of Brash/Stecks/or Brads out. Or obviously someone ahead of them will need a game off or (knock on wood) suffer a minor lower/upper/middle-body injury.

Posted by: dsphvywght | April 6, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Aucoin too small to play regularly. Which is why he's been in the minors for 10 years. He may help in the 2nd round on, when enforcers take a backseat.

Posted by: bhound69 | April 6, 2009 10:07 AM
I guess that means you wouldn't play martin St louis either then correct??

Posted by: CapCenterholdover | April 6, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

@CapCenter - don't get me wrong, I love Aucoin and height in hockey is overrated [and US college hockey very underrated] but you can't compare him to St. Louis, IMHO - MSL is much thicker than Aucoin, my buddy worked out with him at UVM one summer and his legs are enormous; he can squat a ton. St. Loius may be short but he is built like a fullback and is a very powerful athlete. Again, not to take anything away from Aucoin but he has a more slight build than St. Loius, it would seem.

Posted by: govtimbo | April 6, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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