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Bad Game, Bad Boards

For the second time in four games, the Verizon Center dasher boards were at the center of attention after last night's 5-2 loss to the Rangers.

Two times, an inch long gap in the boards behind the visitors' net sent pucks directly in front. And both times, a Capitals player banged in the game-tying goal as a result.

Although it didn't end up altering the outcome of the game, it could have. Which is why Rangers Coach Tom Renney and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist were so furious. There was also a seven-minute delay in the third period for a broken pane of plexiglas.

"It's a league with good players," Lundqvist said. "We should be able to have a good rink. I think it's a joke to have boards like that. It could be a change in the game just because of the bounces. Twice."

Then he added: "I think they knew it, too. Especially the last one. It was a set play, I think."

Renney called for an NHL investigation.

"Brutal," he said. "The National Hockey League should be all over that. There's a gap in the boards and it's about at least an inch. There's ice all over it. Two goals off terrible bounces. It's just unique that it's in the opponent end. It should be looked at by the NHL and corrected."

How much do you want to bet someone who works for the Caps/Verizon Center received a nasty email from the NHL's office in Toronto this morning? Trust me, the problems didn't go unnoticed, not with Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in attendance.

It wasn't even the first time this week the boards malfunctioned.

Last Sunday against the Islanders, there were five delays, totaling more than 20 minutes, for problems with the boards. Basically, they kept falling apart.

I know Verizon Center hosted a college basketball game before the Capitals took the ice. It's a difficult transition. But that's not really a valid excuse. Lots of multi-purpose arenas do the same thing.

I've never before seen what I witnessed this week at Verizon Center. And I can only hope I never see it again.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 11, 2007; 10:01 AM ET
 
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Comments

Tarik, I agree. I was at the game, and it was one of many embarrassing moments during the game. Minor league attention for a major league team. Pathetic. Caps are now done for any playoff hope. Time to be realistic. They looked intimidated by the Rangers for most of the game. Their schedule gets even more difficult. If they can win 10 of their final 25 games I think it would be progress. Time to focus on next year, as well as making Verizon Center a more respectable hockey venue. Even Hershey's arena doesn't have the problems Verizon does.

Posted by: kenhockey | February 11, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

It is getting more and more frustrating watching this team - the problems with the boards seem to be an odd parallel. How can a professional team, no matter where they are in the standing, have so much trouble clearing a puck? At one point last night, one of the Caps ended up with the puck in our zone around the top of the faceoff circle. He started to skate out of the zone while flanked by 2(!) other Caps players. And we did not get it out of the zone! What the hell is that? Next gripe - note to all shooters on the team...AIM FOR THE OPPOSING PLAYERS' LEGS! That way, maybe you'll get something through to the net. Because as I see it, you are trying to shoot on net and all you do is hit legs and sticks.

Posted by: alpca3877 | February 11, 2007 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Not to excuse the set up at the Verizon Center, but the Rangers should be the last team to complain about bad rinks. The Garden is always ranked amongst the worst in the league.

The bigger question is how does a team like the Caps lay an egg like that on a Saturday night, with at least some playoff implications, with the biggest crowd of the season? The trap was a joke and the new pp sytem? looks like the same dump and chase to me. BAD BAD BAD.

Posted by: OriginalCapFan | February 11, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

One of the most glaring inadequacies of the Caps is the lack of ability to pass the puck effectively from one forward to another. Last night the Caps rarely were able to complete even one pass, never mind two or more in a row - even on the PP which looked no better than it has in recent weeks (i.e., the two PP goals compliments of the misaligned boards were a gift and not a product of any PP effectiveness). While the focus is usually on the need for the Caps to improve their defense, the lack of passing ability in the Caps forward ranks is equally troubling. At this juncture, among the Caps forwards, they have all of two players - Ovechkin and Semin - who can regularly pass accurately and quickly. The passing ability of all the other Caps forwards are below average (for an NHL forward) to poor. Heck, Jeff Schultz probably completed more successful passes than at least half the Caps forwards. The difference in the passing ability of the Rangers (from top to bottom) compared to the Caps was staggering.

Posted by: Monty | February 11, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I totally agree Monty. I have long admired teams like Detroit, Colorado, and, begrudgingly, Pittsburgh in their ability to move the puck so well among their players. I saw flashes of that type of game in the Caps earlier in the season before the major injuries hit, but have rarely since. Sadly, not a new thing for this team. We've got primarily a combination of grinders made for the cycle game and others who hold onto the puck for far too long trying to make a play without involving their teammates (Zednik and Pettinger, in particular, come to mind). Zednik's old enough to know better, but perhaps with Backstrom and a couple of the younger "skill" guys coming in, we'll see an improved, with experience, passing game?

Posted by: Geauxcaps | February 11, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Someone tell Zednik its easier to score when you shoot from in front of the net

Posted by: Ben | February 11, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, were you referring to the deplorable condition of the boards or the awful play of the Caps Tuesday and Saturday of this week?

I thought it was ironic this game was played after the blog discussion of fighting earlier this week. The stickwork in this game was really remarkable. The refs didn't do much to police it. Sean Avery provided a one man demonstration of exactly why the NHL should eliminate the instigator rule. I really couldn't blame Olie for popping him; Avery had spent the previous ten to twenty seconds working Olie over just inside the crease in addition to his antics throughout the rest of the game. Oh, and yes, the Caps couldn't pass, or shoot, played into the hands of a more experienced team, looked totally disorganized on the power play, and that passive diamond penalty kill is killing me!

The Rangers whine a lot, but they sure aren't above extremely chippy play themselves. Frankly, I now think that Shanny's moaning a couple of weeks ago is nothing more than justification for the Ranger's tactical use of cheap shots to incite retaliation. The refs aren't going to police this stuff, or at least last night they sure didn't; and the NHL won't let the players do it. I think we're in for a lot more games with a lot of cheap little hits like last night as a result, and I can't believe this is good for hockey. The game was frustrating to watch on a many levels.

Posted by: Fred | February 11, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I'd like Tom Renney a lot more if he'd stop all that whining he does after his team wins a game. He whined after the last game that the Rangers beat the Caps, too. Remember how he complained that Hanlon kept sending Brashear out against Jagr? Problem was that Renney's team had the last line change in that game, but that didn't stop him from complaining.

Win with a little class, Renney.

Posted by: norske | February 11, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Renny isn't whining, he's merely stating that this is the NHL, THE SHOW, and it should be run on the highest level.

Watching things about the glass and the boards on SportsCenter is Eastern League caliber at best.

Ted can pay for a better BULL-GANG to turn the building over, he's not spending it on talent.

Hmmmm, isn't it ironic that this happens at Verizon and the Nats have that retarded grounds crew who last year couldn't get the tarp on the field with a map. LOL!

Posted by: caphcky | February 11, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I just wonder how many more season tickets this current team is going to sell, as they continue to say stick with us, we're young, but we're going to be contenders in the next year or two? How many times have we heard similar things in order to sell tickets? Seemed like half the people there last night were Rangers fans. And, it's not like the Caps are going to get better, and other teams are just hanging around stagnating.

Posted by: kenhockey | February 11, 2007 5:43 PM | Report abuse

If the NHL is so concerned about having a first class operation maybe they should start with the caliber of refs they allow into the game. They call a charge on Sutherby but no instigator on the Ranger who starts the fight. They call a rough on Olie and ignore the shot that Avery gave him to cause the reaction. And the linesman weren't any better. They miss two blatant off-sides and then don't call an obvious icing in the last minute of play that directly led to an empty netter. Pathetic.

Posted by: boor4 | February 11, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooo yea, the Caps lose and the refs were horrible. Don't hear that everyday eh?

The calls are part of the game, and the officials were not what decided that game last night.

I find it VERY entertaining when fans get all over Avery. I think we had an Avery on this team....his name was Dale Hunter. The only difference was that Avery fights his own fights. If GMGM traded for Avery he'd be the "heart and soul of the Caps".

Posted by: caphcky | February 11, 2007 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Avery fights his own fights? He used to but not anymore. He's got over 120 penalty minutes this season and exactly two fighting majors. Jarkko Ruutu has fought more than Avery. BTW, Dale Hunter had over 60 career fights.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 11, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

thats cuz of the "NEW NHL" and its not the point. I was saying that Dale never fought his own fights....he'd face wash, get it going, and then his teammates would protect him.

He was a punk and punks become heart and souls, as long as they are on YOUR team.

Posted by: caphcky | February 11, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

My Lord! Can you please send some cheese to NYC to go with the whine! The only thing they are missing is Crosby, who is a world class whiner! But as a team the Rangers are without whiner peer.

Posted by: bob | February 11, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Gotta agree with caphcky on this one. But I think Dale showed some real leadership on the team and while he was indeed an agitator, he was also a pretty well rounded player. Not sure Avery is anything more than a pest, but he is VERY good at that. I would give Avery LOTS of credit for the rags win over us, the way he got under Kolzigs skin was simply text book. It does suck that it came at our expense but as a hockey fan I simply love the way he plays. I wish our #16 played a little more like that, he could be very effective that way.

Posted by: LIVINIT | February 11, 2007 8:54 PM | Report abuse

GMGM would never acquire Avery. He might have to pay him a going wage for an NHL forward.

The charge that the Caps deliberately used the gap in the boards to set up goals is more stupid than absurd. If they could pass that well, they wouldn't need the gap in the boards.

If the Rangers don't make the playoffs, Renney will get fired. He will be the first person in the history of the league who gets canned while complaining about the ones he won. He is as bush league as the Caps front office

Posted by: oldbob | February 11, 2007 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Everyone,

We really need to just understand that this team is going to go through ups and downs, and lately more downs. However, look at some of the positives that are developing over the last year or so or how they have improved. Alex Ovechkin is the real deal, we know that, but now he isn't the only one who can score. Alexander Semin is going to score 35 goals this year, maybe 40, they are a nasty combination. Look at the other young guys, especially Eric Fehr. Nicholas Backstrom should be with us next season. This team, i predict, will have the breakout we are waiting for NEXT SEASON, just like the PENGUINS are doing this year.

I have had season tickets, and I have to tell you, if there is a time to get season tickets for the Caps it wouuld be this year and next year. The Caps are developing, we have to be patient. We will finish with more points this year, than we did last year, and next year we will make the playoffs. GMGM said it was a 5 year plan, we are way ahead of that pace. YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE!

Posted by: capswillwin | February 11, 2007 9:21 PM | Report abuse

The Caps were certainly the weaker team Saturday, and the situation with the boards is an absolute embarassment to the team and the arena. The Rangers had every right to be irritated at the state of the boards at Verizon Center.

At the same time, however, the fact that Ranger players and coach would come out and suggest that the bad boards were at all intentionally manipulated in order to give the Caps an advantage, as was implied by Larry Brooks in the NY Post, is totally classless - particularly in light of the fact that the Rangers won the game handily.

Posted by: south shaw | February 11, 2007 11:26 PM | Report abuse

"I've never before seen what I witnessed this week at Verizon Center. And I can only hope I never see it again."

You mean the absolute pitiful, horrendous, shameful, humiliating, classless, infuriatingly awful game from the Caps or the boards around the rink??? I think we all have an answer to that one.

Posted by: wanggo | February 12, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

I agree that Huntsie was a leader on the team when he played for the Caps. I think he's those guys the other team LOVES TO HATE until he puts on your jersey....then he's "the heart and soul" of your club.

Posted by: caphcky | February 12, 2007 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Why does he suck now? Lately this season he has been playing absolutely horrible and making just huge blunders on the ice. He isnt even scoring or putting up points anymore.

Why does he suck now? Is he injured??

He needs to step it up cuz lately he sucks and thats why this team is LOSING.

Posted by: Problems with Ovechkin lately | February 12, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

Man, it's not often you get to see a Caps game in Tokyo - but there's a bar in Shibuya owned by a Canadian, so twice a week they features an NHL game on tape delay from a Japanese sports cable feed. Lucky me - I went there and saw this game vs. the Rangers. It's infuriating to watch this team - if they can't win these games at home, they don't deserve the playoffs. Still, Ovie is clearly the best player on the ice and it was fun to hear the Verizon crowd consistently ride Jagr. Now I'm looking for an "NBA" bar so I can see the Wizards in the post-season...

Posted by: tokyo fan | February 12, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

First, it's Abe's arena so blame Dishonest Abe once again for the boards problem.

Second, you can't control when the glass is going to break. Please people, do you really think they set up the glass to break in the third period like that?

Third, is it me or does it seem that ever since Dishonest Abe began crying to the city that HE needs THE CITY to pay for a new scoreboard, that things have been going wrong? One of the video boards Saturday night had a weird line on the bottom half, the message boards in the corners (which are not LED) have even more lights out and there are a lot of lights burned out on the scoreboards in the end zones and over center ice.

Fourth, give some credit to the ice staff for doing a good job at getting the glass replaced. Having had to do that myself on one occasion, seven minutes is a pretty darn good time. A lot better than the 30 minutes it could take with less experience. With the old seamless glass that would shatter upon impact at just the right spot, it used to take 10-15 minutes to clean up.

Fifth, off the subject but give credit to the Caps for those post-game fundraisers they do with the group tickets. A group of hockey players dubbed Team USA played a game after the Caps game and had a good crowd. The people in the penalty box were playing music and announcing the game even had the clean-up crew dancing.

Posted by: A List | February 12, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

It's completely embarrassing to have these kinds of maintenance problems on a regular basis. The "glass" over the corner boards in front of section 107/108 have been a trouble spot at different times all season, especially early on. Since the installation of the new glass, it seems as though the problem is contagious.

Broken glass, gaps in the boards, panes falling out at the first hint of contact, and ice that ranges from passable to atrocious on a randomly rotating basis are problems that, while they may not directly reflect the way the team is heading, certainly don't put a good face on it.

Posted by: Goat | February 12, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

NY whining about the "mystery gap" in the boards and then implying that the Caps offense has pinpoint accuracy to hit that one sweet spot - (and then miracuously twice in the same outing) is simply rediculous. From my vantage point, I'd like to ask about the missed calls - Ovechkin getting an elbow to the head? not called. Then the refs went after Clark for a harmless shoulder check, and Southerby and on and on. The new qualification to ref the game seems to have one glass eye and be blind in the other. That one ref took a puck in the chest seemed oddly fitting for the lack of consistancy. While it is not my intent to wish harm to either team or the refs, this nonsense by the rangers bench and goalie seem more like a group of poor losers - who won the game on power plays resulting from poor calls, and then have the nerve to suggest that the Caps offense are a well organized group of sharp shooters who can find "an almost 1 inch gap" in the dasher boards. Give me a break! If you want to talk about professional hockey, start acting like a professional instead of a limelight cry babies.

Posted by: Jon | February 12, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

A List;
I realize its "Abe's building" but you know that makes Teddy Lame-onsis a tenant and he's not getting it done either. Washington is famous for "its his problem" and not taking care of an embarrassing situation before it becomes ridiculous.

Things like the glass and kick plates on the boards are errors by the bull-gang to turn over the building (for hockey) properly.

The scoreboard is a joke and has sucked for a few years now. Its just not an NHL environment in a building thats fairly new, its sad.

Posted by: Caphcky | February 12, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Jon;
The officials are part of the game. The condition of the playing surface and surrounding areas are not. NY wasn't whining. Just pointing out that the conditions in that building on Saturday night are not NHL caliber. Heck, as a Caps fan, I'd quit whining about the officials and worry about an offense that needs glitches in the boards to score goals.

But....each time the Caps lose, the officials are why. YOU give me a break. I heard somebody at the Bruins game last week say, "the NHL hates the Caps"! I couldn't even turn and respond to the idiot - i was laughing too hard.

Posted by: caphcky | February 12, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, any update on Semin's English abilities?

Posted by: Finn | February 12, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

I heard Semin was using Gilbert Arenas as a tutor!

Posted by: caphcky | February 12, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

cphcky;

better officiating can only make the game better and I am not blaming the outcome of the game on the refs. I have not blamed the outcome of any other game on the refs either. I feel that the officiating in this game was poorer than most - at least from where I sat.

It is rediculous to listen to the quotes coming from Lindqvst and Renny that seem to imply using a gap in the boards is some kind of winning strategy the Caps are using to outsmart their visiting opponents. I did not make these remarks, they clearly came from NY. I thought the Caps played pretty well through the first two periods. The defense seems to be improving this year but the offense needs to pass more and set up plays in front. Something they are obvously not do doing alot of and certainly have room for improvement. Superstar puck hogs don't win games alone, team work does.

Posted by: jon | February 12, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Thats fine but officiating IS and will always be part of the game. Teams AND fans rise above it. You aren't going to get every call everynight.My mention of the fool who said "the NHL hates the Caps", well that is blaming the refs/league on our ineptitude....LOL (childish).

I agree with you about its ridiculous to listen to quotes.....don't listen. I heard totally something different. They were complaining about the conditions and if I was a coach, I'd complain too. Its an embarassment for your BULL GANG to get more ice time than half your team over the last several games, and the kick plate of the boards is just ridiculous. Its a safety issue as well.

Posted by: caphcky | February 12, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

OOops, almost forgot.

"Superstar puck hogs don't win games alone, team work does."

That isn't quite as funny as "The NHL hates the Caps", but close. I assume you refer to the super-star puck hog we used to have? ROFLMAO. No he didn't win the game on Saturday night, but he was better than any Capital....but no matter, we're still PAYING HIM. I don't think the league can be blamed for that either.

Posted by: caphcky | February 12, 2007 3:26 PM | Report abuse

In the past 10 days or so, Verizon Center has been having a few issues.
-There was the game with 5 delays to fix glass panels.
-There was the game when one of the goal buzzer light devices had to be repaired during intermission.
-And now another problem with the dasher boards?

Is this all just a giant ploy by Abe Pollin and company to get that $50 million he wants to "renovate" Verizon center by showing it's falling apart?

Posted by: Silver Spring | February 12, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

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