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Big game in Boston

Tomorrow's game at TD Banknorth Garden is the Caps' last/best chance of chasing down Boston--and that's exactly how the players are approaching it. Today's practice was very businesslike and the mood in the room after practice was more serious than most off days.

The Bruins, who are coming off a 6-1 win over Florida and a 6-0 romp over Anaheim, currently sit nine points ahead of the Caps. Both teams have 20 games remaining.

"We know that tomorrow they are going to play their best hockey game, the absolute best they've been all season," Brooks Laich said. "Because if they win tomorrow, they pretty much have No. 1 sewn up. They will be a very tough to team to catch."

Something else that's on the line tomorrow: a Caps' victory would give them a 3-0-1 record against Boston on the season -- and an edge from a psychological standpoint should the teams cross paths in the playoffs.

"Maybe they finish ahead of, maybe they don't," Laich added. "But now they're wondering, you know, 'We can't beat those guys.'"

Because the Bruins and Caps are closely matched at even strength, the teams' fourth meeting will likely come down to special teams (again). In the Capitals' 3-1 win on Dec. 10, the Bruins went 0 for 3 on the power play. In the 2-1 win on Jan. 17, they held the Bruins to 1 for 4 on the power play. Then in the Caps' 3-2 overtime loss on Jan. 27, Nicklas Backstrom was in the box when David Krecji scored in the extra session to give Boston the dramatic win.

"The last couple of games we've shot ourselves in the foot with all the penalties," defenseman Mike Green said. "The game against Philly is a prime example. We take nine minors and we're just tired and we can't come back in the third and we have breakdowns. Tomorrow, we have to stay out of the box because they have such a good power play."

Some other notes from KCI:

*Alex Ovechkin and Sergei Fedorov did not practice today, but Coach Bruce Boudreau did not indicate that either one is suffering an injury of any sort.

*Chris Clark got in his second on-ice workout since having wrist surgery before the team skate. He said if his recovery continues to go well, and the Caps advance beyond the first round, it's possible that he can return in the second round.

*Jose Theodore is expected to start in goal tomorrow. But Boudreau hasn't committed to a starter on Sunday against Florida. Beating the Panthers isn't as important as beating the Bruins, but another win over Florida will likely wrap up the Southeast (if the race isn't over already).

I'll have more on the Caps-Bruins matchup in tomorrow's paper.


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 27, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
 
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Next: Boston Globe: Lucic and Savard questionable

Comments

1st

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

from last thread...

@phil

I think the Eastern playoffs are going to be better - top to bottom - than the Western. Barring any first round upsets, the conference semi-finals are going to something to behold.

Posted by: saintex | February 27, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

also from last thread:

And another thing...let's say Semin plays out his contract June, 2010. He becomes a RFA. let's say some team offers him more than the Caps, say $6.5-7.0 or whatever, up where you have the maximum compensation (I think it's 4 firsts, but can't remember). Let's say the Caps let him walk and accept the compensation, THEN TAKE the money earmarked for Semin and sign someone who would be RFA in 2010. Say, a big bruising D-man.

Now they would have a replacement player with a salary reasonable to the club AND the draft choices to boot. Then you take some of the extra picks and your own first rounder and try to get in the top 5 of the draft. Is that so bad?

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 27, 2009 12:41 PM

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 27, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Business is business. Pro sports is cut-throat at the bottom of it all. This scenario has merit, discussion-wise.

I love Semin, but this typre of deal (with really anybody but OV) could happen to any player on the roster, if the team is better off after than before.

Emotions aside, this might be the trade that gets done.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I just had a question answered on NHL Live and Billy Jaffe mentioned the possibility that Alzner could be used as trade bait to get the physical D-men the Caps need.

Posted by: ThePat | February 27, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Just remember, folks -- it's almost never the blockbuster trade that takes a team to the Cup. It's usually the small ones. Pronger would be nice, if we can afford him without mortgaging the farm, and I'd sure like to keep him out of Philly or Boston's hands. I'd rather have him as a rental.

I'm glad to see the boys in red taking Boston seriously. If we bring our A game, we can take anybody - and that includes the Flyers, guys, we had them until we fell apart in the third on penalties. When we bring our A game, we can take anybody. It's just a matter of bringing our A game.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 27, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

richmondphil

NJ, Boston, and Philly. 3 hard teams to get around, and frankly I wouldn't want to meet up with any of them. Amd please lord don't wake up NY Rags

Posted by: Greg S. | February 27, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully after 2 high-scoring games, Boston will be goaled-out. Like I said...hopefully.

"The last couple of games we've shot ourselves in the foot with all the penalties" ... just a couple of games??? This is going to be HUGE. The Caps are consistently getting too many penalties, and I'm nervous that if they haven't fixed that by now, they may not know how to.

At least in the previous games with Boston, the Caps have managed to come out spot on...playing like they mean it. I want another game like that tomorrow.

Posted by: CapsKH | February 27, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@Greg S

honestly Boston doesn't scare me that much. I think we match up better with them and NJ, the style of play that Philly throws at you is what the caps have a hard time dealing with.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | February 27, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

habs grabbed metropolit off waivers

Posted by: _stevo | February 27, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

As I recall that last game in Boston was really physical. I'll be glued watching this game. If the Caps could take this weekend it would be monsterous.

Posted by: ridgely1 | February 27, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Could not see my Caps last night here in NJ. Have been relying on P2P (Justin.tv, atdhe.net). Seems a squad of lawyers is making noise. Anybody got any tips or suggestions (& I don't mean NHL center ice).

Posted by: KlayKey | February 27, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

No mention of Neuvie's new mask. I was way up top last night. Was it a half bear and half Capital?

Posted by: ovisgod | February 27, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@oviisgod: Yup, it's half Hershey, half Washington, and I think that's clever. I like his mask, myself.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 27, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

I love it!

Posted by: ovisgod | February 27, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

It's like standing over a 3 foot putt. If you feel good about it chances are you'll make it. That's the feeling the Flyers have with the Caps. Until Washington can change Phillys mind set and start beating them with regularity they won't get to the next level

Posted by: pstotts15 | February 27, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

*Chris Clark got in his second on-ice workout since having wrist surgery before the team skate. He said if his recovery continues to go well, and the Caps advance beyond the first round, it's possible that he can return in the second round.

NOOOOOO!!! Based on his performance this year, this is a BAD idea.

Posted by: kcfatts | February 27, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

What a difference a year makes....

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

"Maybe they finish ahead of, maybe they don't," Laich added. "But now they're wondering, you know, 'We can't beat those guys.'

^^ I know he didn't mean any harm but I don't like this quote from Brooksie...it's not like we've been tattooing the B's, they've all been close games. Regardless of tomorrow's outcome, there's no way Boston is thinking they can't beat us

Posted by: donknutts | February 27, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

@KlayKey,

I dumped (thought still paying for...does that count?) the NHL online games a few months ago and picked up hockeystreams.com to watch online since I don't have cable. I think it's $9.99 per month (and less if you just want a week or a game) and there are no blackouts whatsoever. Even though I was paying NHL I couldn't watch Caps games unless I was travelling. Anyway, they have an HD feed that's a little more expensive (I just use the basic premium account) but I've been very pleased with the service.

Posted by: saintex | February 27, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@kittypawz
Actually the caps could afford pronger if they waited til March 4th. I was reading at thefourthperiod.com that the caps would have somewhere around 1.5 million left in cap space and if they wait until the 4th they could get someone with a salary of 7 million per a year. They could do this bc they wouldn't have to pay half of that 7 million they would only have to pay about 1.45 from the 7 million.

Posted by: Thomas32 | February 27, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@KlayKey,

Also, there's no requirement for a continuing membership. If someone were travelling for a week and stuck in a hotel you could watch any and every NHL game for $5.99 for the week.

Posted by: saintex | February 27, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

@ovisgod
If you go to Caps365 on the website and look for Capitals Features, they have a pretty good view of Michal's mask.

Posted by: tess2201 | February 27, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Brooks meant IF they win THIS game then that is what BOS would say/think. We don't own them, but imagine if we DO win this one, then they start 2nd guessing.

That was how I read his quote.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 1:43 PM | Report abuse

@donknutts

Completely agree with you! I don't think the Bs would think that about any team.

Posted by: CapsKH | February 27, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

We are Bostons Philly.

Beans and Brats.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

@kcfatts
Clarks performance this year was likely because his wrist have been bothering him for awhile. Clark is a good asset to the capitals and when he is healthy, he is a good fit for that 3rd line wing or 4th line wing.

Posted by: Thomas32 | February 27, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

@ WhyGo

Ahhh, good call. I misread the flow of that segment. :)

Posted by: CapsKH | February 27, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Dizzy, I would disagree with you about NJ, once they get that trap going it seems to throw the Caps off their game too much.

Posted by: superpaqman | February 27, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

The other thing the Caps now have to worry about concerning NJ: Marty Brodeur. If you thought he may be rusty after so much time off...he pitched a shutout his first game back last night.

Posted by: kenjabi | February 27, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, it was what he said just before that, about 'what if we win the series?'.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Trade Green for Tim Thomas.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Colorado's trap handcuffed us. NJ invented the trap. They really can make the most exciting game on earth as boring as watching paint dry. The Caps are going to have to believe Coach B when he gives the game plan that day and execute the plan. We sure didn't last week.

Posted by: Greg S. | February 27, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Capital idea...

Posted by: superpaqman | February 27, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

WhyGo:
or OV for lidstrom

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 27, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I was half serious, now you've gone too far.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Tarik---

In last night's game against Anaheim, both Savard and Lucic were injured. Any word on whether they are playing against the Caps tomorrow?

Posted by: sj9096 | February 27, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Green for Thomas. I have an insider telling me this.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

WhyGo:
BB for barry melrose - does espn own his rights now?

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 27, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

NOOOOOO!!! Based on his performance this year, this is a BAD idea.

Posted by: kcfatts | February 27, 2009 1:30 PM


Which performance, the one where he'd been dealing with injuries to his wrist, or the earlier one with his forearm? If he can come back even to pre-lockout levels some vetern poise might be a nice shot in the arm.

Posted by: Section117 | February 27, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Lucic, i love that kid. Great pick up by Boston.
I loev the way Fehr hounds the puck carrier, just relentless. I really wanted him on the top line instead of Nyls. I know they need to jump start Nylander to trade him, but Fehr is what I want from a RW: Size, strength (getting there), reach, prowess and intensity. Like what Clark brought.

Posted by: oo7 | February 27, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Thomas32: I don't think it works that way to get Pronger in under the cap. The caps technically have almost no cap space. The cap is used up. What they have is replacement cap space for Clark and Brent Johnson, since they are both on LTIR. That space amounts to $3.5M. Of that, they are using $875K or thereabouts for Neuvirth and I think $500K for Kronwall. This leaves the club about $2.1M in "LTIR replacement space." I'm not positive, but I believe the replacement space is dollar-for-dollar. You have $3.5M on LTIR; you temporarily replace with up to $3.5M. Pronger could use the other $2.1M as the rest of the replacement space but the balance of his $6.5 ($4.4M) could only be accomodated by moving like salary off the active team. I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

Separately, a team that has been, say, $2M under the cap all year, can acquire an $8M player for the last quarter of the season, and then just squeeze in.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 27, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

WhyGo, please tell me that's a joke. I'm no longer a fan if GMGM trades Green, that is basically trading away a piece of the heart and soul of our franchise.

Posted by: greener1 | February 27, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

WhyGo:
you need to get crysby to ball-slap your insider

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 27, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1, a player's cap cost is based on the # of days on the roster. So by now, a huge chunk of Pronger's cap hit for this year is already paid. The issue with Pronger is not really this season, it's next year when you have to fit Pronger's full 6.25 million under the cap.

Posted by: koalatek | February 27, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Pronger=Dream induced by pipe.
If he does land here I would love to borrow that pipe.

Posted by: oo7 | February 27, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

@section117 - Which performance, the one where he'd been dealing with injuries to his wrist, or the earlier one with his forearm? If he can come back even to pre-lockout levels some vetern poise might be a nice shot in the arm.

Let me rephrase: I like Clark's play as much as anybody, but he has not shown his true style of play (gritty, hard nosed with talent to boot) since his season ending injuries last year. True, he was banged up all of this year as well, so he could not perform at his best.

Would the Caps benefit from his leadership and style of play - of course! I know he is motivated and the team captain. He is probably itching to get out on the ice for the postseason as well, but is it the best for the team right now if he is not 100%? I guess the better question would be 'which Clarkie shows up to play'

Posted by: kcfatts | February 27, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

koalatek: Yes, and LTIR replacement is also prorated. Technically, you have prorated $3.445M available to replace Clark and Johnson. Neuvirth and Kronwall are using, prorated, $1.1M in space. This leaves you $2.35M in prorated, rreplacement space. Pronger is $6.25M. The Caps could use the prorated $2.35M for him or anyone else. You need acyual cap space for the balance of his salary (1/5th of $3.9M, or $780K). Had the Caps been $800K under all year, they could afford him between the LTIR prorate and the cap space prorate. But the Caps have only been like $100K under all year. You are using fuzzy math there in DC.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 27, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

My point (intentionally instigatory) is that only one person on this team is truly above trading, if the price is right.

Posted by: WhyGo | February 27, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Would the Caps benefit from his leadership and style of play - of course! I know he is motivated and the team captain. He is probably itching to get out on the ice for the postseason as well, but is it the best for the team right now if he is not 100%? I guess the better question would be 'which Clarkie shows up to play'

Posted by: kcfatts | February 27, 2009 2:43 PM


Noted. If he's got a completely clean bill then yeah, he should be part of the top 12.

Posted by: Section117 | February 27, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

First, this team is fantastic, entertaining (look at the response, amazing) but like each team in every sport in the world, short-lived. So enjoy it now. With OV tied, Green, Back, and Semin in through next year, we have two good playoff runs with this bunch.
Don't let Semin go before then. He'll still be RFA. But it will be his choice: take more money than Caps can offer (5.5, I'd say) and lose and get pounded, and be without his drinking pal, or stay and win. I'd actually trade Backstrom for a bigger center (Mikko Koivu is one I'd prefer) if they could, but not pay him Zetterberg money unless they think he'll get better. He's not Zetterberg or Datsyuk, imho. He centers OV, he'll get boatloads of assists.
I agree with kittypawz: trades that take you over the top are not always blockbuster trades. Still, Caps made their first e.c. finals by trading Garts for Dino. They need a shutdown D and a superb defensive forward (these don't seem to exist anymore)...And Theodore, I don't think can win cup for them. They'll be better next year with Varlamov...

Posted by: WritingLight | February 27, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

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