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Big Stretch Begins Tonight

There's a turning point in almost every season.

Last year around this time, the Caps' season took a turn for the worse. Injuries decimated an already thin lineup, then a flu bug finished them off.

This season, they buried themselves with a horrendous start. Now, in order to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002-03, the 14th-place club has got to beat long odds over the next 40 games.

Indeed, that's a lot of games to make up six points. But it's also a daunting task considering the Caps are on a 102-point pace under Bruce Boudreau (11-6-4), yet have improved only one spot in the Eastern Conference standings since he took over behind the bench on Thanksgiving.

That's what makes the five-game homestand that begins tonight against Colorado so pivotal. Points are at a premium, and it can be argued that the banged-up Caps need all 10.

"Right now, we're in a situation where we can't lose," Alex Ovechkin said yesterday. "Every game is important for us because, if we want to be in the playoffs, we have to win."

Brooks Laich added: "If you look at the standings, there's not just one or two teams we have to gain on, we've got six or seven to climb over. But as long we keep playing the way we are and keep inching up, inching up, come the end of March we're going to be right in the hunt."

After the Caps host the Panthers in the regular season finale on April 5, I'm willing to bet someone in the Caps' dressing room is going to point to this two-week span as the stretch that either a) propelled them into the postseason, or b) sent them into a tailspin from which didn't recover.

Which one will it be?

Update:I'm told that defensemen Tom Poti (upper body) and Brian Pothier (concussion) did not skate this morning, so it looks like Steve Eminger will get another game. Winger Alexander Semin, meantime, is expected to play after missing two games with a tailbone injury.

Update:Just in case you're still not bored with the ridiculous rumors sending Ovechkin to Montreal, Nashville and/or Russia, then TSN.ca has plenty of fodder for you here.

"I didn't think over the possibility of moving to another club since now I wear Washington sweater", Ovechkin told Russian newspaper Sport Express this week.
"I am hopeful to play for the Capitals as long as possible, but anything could happen and I don't want to make predictions. I want to stay in Washington because I am satisfied with the state of things in the club."
Sport Express also added that an unknown Russian Superleague club has offered him a contract.

As we all know, the Caps like to play injuries and contract negotiations close to the vest. Sometimes it works, but other times it backfires when poorly-sourced information is taken for fact.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 9, 2008; 10:06 AM ET
 
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Next: Tonight's Lineup vs. Colorado

Comments

When was the last time a Caps team won five straight?

Posted by: Metro Desk | January 9, 2008 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Do you know if Semin is playing tonight?

Posted by: Michael | January 9, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Playoffs? Playoffs? What are ya kiddin' me? Playoffs?

Posted by: Jim Mora | January 9, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

There are ten points up for grabs and there is no reason they can't come up with at least 7

Posted by: Lee | January 9, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Lee, it's a shame they need all 10. There might be a few reasons they cant get all of them.

Posted by: Whiter Mage | January 9, 2008 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Each team is pretty close, so, if we jump one, we may jump 2 or 3 more.

I'm not worried about the playoffs - that will come with good hockey.

Need to get to .500
Then, they need to get 4 games over .500 before the All-Star break. If that happens, we should be looking alright.

We need at least 7 points out of this homestand. AT LEAST 7.

No points for 2nd place boys - not in the South East Division

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

How will Caps not make the playoffs with 102 points? Over the past years, over 90 got you into the playoffs... if we are on pace for 102, then keep doing what they are doing.

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Eight points wouldn't be the end of the world, but I guarantee that all 10 would vault them past three teams and set up an interesting February and March.

Posted by: Tarik | January 9, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Winning some points in this stand will help. But we also need some of these other teams to start dropping points.

A good flu epidemic in the state of New York would be helpful. Anybody got access to the water system up there.

NOTE TO HOMELAND SECURITY:
I'm only kidding, Don't taze me Bro!

Posted by: pmoravek | January 9, 2008 10:21 AM | Report abuse

92 points seems to be the magic number.

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

I agree, 7 of the 10 is a must, anything over 7 is a huge bonus! We need to get healthy and we need to keep playing well. If we do that, there is no reason why the Caps can't make the playoffs!

Posted by: Matt | January 9, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

We need to win and we have to play Eminger, not a good combination! Too bad we could not dump Clymer.

Posted by: Bob | January 9, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

This stretch will show what the boys are capable of. Can they handle pressure? Can they win these "must" games? I hope so.

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

@828

The Caps are on a 102-point pace under Boudreau, NOT for the season. Don't forget to factor in the bad start.

Posted by: Tarik | January 9, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Here is the final Standing in the east.

Ottawa
NJ
Caroline
really stupid Pittsburgh
Boston
Montreal
Flyers
Washington

and in the playoff it's Ottawa 2, Wash 4

I don't know if Semin is playing tonight what about you?

Posted by: Mister Prediction | January 9, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Bob, the sun shines on a monkey's a$$ some days.

Anything can happen. Colorado is having a hard time scoring, plus, they are tired from their game last night... so, if we can score 4 against them, I think we should be alright.

Against Philly on Sunday, we should get Clark back and hopefully Pothier.

PS, I am going tonight with 6 tix. Please score 6 goals so I can get my 6 lbs of free wings. Wings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!!!

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I think it's safe to say we can catch Florida & Atlanta. We need Carolina to go on a rough stretch.

Posted by: pmoravek | January 9, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

828: That's 102 points over a full season. Factoring in the disaster that was the first 20ish games of the season, the Caps are on pace for around 90 points, which is not guaranteed spot.

Posted by: John | January 9, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@Tarik

Gotcha, I thought you meant they are on pace for 102 from where they are at now - not if they season started when Boudreau was hired.

Well, that changes some things!! :)

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I would think that if there's any span of games the Caps organization will look back on with regret, it will be the 6 weeks or so leading up to Thanksgiving when everyone but George and Ted understood that the team was going nowhere under Glen Hanlon. They waited way too long to fire him.

Posted by: jak | January 9, 2008 10:36 AM | Report abuse

pmoravek

Isn't Carolina going through a rough patch right now? They really aren't pulling away. If you look at the last 10 games of each team in the SE div, we have the best record and the best possible point combination.

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I think if they miss the playoffs, they'll look at the poor start they had with Hanlon, and why did it take so long to get a quality coach to get them to this point?
GMGM waited way too long to dump Hanlon.
If they miss the playoffs, that will be the main reason, IMO, not if they don't win all 5 of these games.

Posted by: kenhockey | January 9, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

828
I think they are having a tough time right now. But Atlanta has been strong recently.
It's going to be interesting how it unfolds.
Watching the standings is for the fans. The players just need to tend to their own game and WIN.
Then we will see where the chips fall.

Posted by: pmoravek | January 9, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I vote for a). Bring in Joe Gibbs as a consultant on do-or-die winning streaks. ;-)

I'll be at all 5 games in the homestand.

LET'S GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: Jill | January 9, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Yep, 7 points at least on the homestand. If we play any more folderty than that, we will be indoor sporting evented come April.

Posted by: Pothier's Thumb | January 9, 2008 10:47 AM | Report abuse

It was a close race last season since NYI made 8th with 92 pts and Toronto was 9th with 91. Yes, these games and all of the rest are "do or die" etc, but believe me the rest of the SE division are saying the same thing. If Carolina loses 7 straight like Buffalo just did, will anyone get fired?
Just win two of three from here on out and we have a shot.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@828 - You only get one pound of free wings for 6 goals - not 6.

Posted by: Jill | January 9, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Jill,

If I have 6 tickets, I get 6 lbs of wings!!!

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 10:51 AM | Report abuse

@Jill - You get one pound of free wings per ticket for 6 goals. If he has 6 tickets, and keeps the tickets of the other people, he can get 6 1bs of wings.

Posted by: Jordana | January 9, 2008 10:54 AM | Report abuse

It's like one of those test we used to study for.

If 828 has 36 tickets and half the people keep take their tickets home after the game and the rest give 828 their tickets. How many wings could 828 get free, if the 20% of the people that took their ticket home gave them to 828 the next day?

Posted by: 828 | January 9, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Ah, I missed that. So you expect to collect all those tickets back from your friends/guests at the end of the game, do you? Good thinking. Good luck with that!

Personally I haven't taken advantage of the free wings this year. By the time I drove to an Austin Grill I've spent enough on gas to buy wings.

Posted by: Jill | January 9, 2008 11:05 AM | Report abuse

What is the news with injure players?

I think Semin is back tonight? yes or no

Posted by: Dave | January 9, 2008 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Tarik posted an update that said he was expected to play tonight. Poti/Pothier out Emminger in.

Posted by: K | January 9, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

If the caps get 7 points for every 5 games they play, and they have 40 games left, then they get 56 points, which, added to their current total of 39 points, gives them 95 which gets them in to the playoffs. LAST YEAR.

They need to keep that pace up, and hope to catch Carolina.

828, wanna share the wings? Have a wing party?

Posted by: Lee | January 9, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I'll be at the game tonight, here's for a Capitals win, one that will hopefully start a lengthy point streak, I'm not gonna say the P word, but it is sure nice to dream again...yea GMGM really screwed the team by not dumping Hanlon soon enough but thats old news, now its time to focus on making amends for the terrible start...I can see the Caps picking up at least 7 points....GO CAPS BEAT THE AV'S!!!

Posted by: Unitedfan | January 9, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Tarik, I must say I am somewhat shocked you have not addressed the made-up trade rumor of Ovechkin to Nashville.
Is it because Eklund is also a member of the Professional Hockey Writers Assoc. and you don't want to slam a fellow worker?
If so, I smell something fishy!

Posted by: David | January 9, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

David,

Tarik made the right choice NOT to address the rumor. Why would he? It is a rumor! Made up by Eklund! Eklund is a dumba$$!!

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Why would he address something like that?

Posted by: K | January 9, 2008 11:18 AM | Report abuse

I guess Finn and I are on the same wavelength here...

Posted by: K | January 9, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Tarik,

You not only mentioned the P-word on here again, but you also translated AO's quote into real English. Who are you? It's like I don't even know you anymore. I need my AO broken English!

Posted by: Sabah | January 9, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

While I agree that this is a huge stretch for the Caps, the injury factor (and the Caps abilities to overcome it) is really the biggest component to how the rest of the season is going to play out. With the possibility of a major loss to the forward ranks for up to the duration of the season, will the team address positional needs due to injury via trade or will the team be able to overcome any major losses with the crew they have? This is going to be a key question that will likely raise its head as early as next week.

Posted by: Jay | January 9, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

@David

It's not worth addressing. Trust me.

Posted by: Tarik | January 9, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Ovechkin to Nashville? Puhleeze. Where in the He// does this sh*t come from? I know someone out there will say that its from a "reputable" source, but how many times have we heard that?

This is getting ridiculous. I'm as anxious as anyone to see AO locked up for the long haul, but come on. What's next, Nashville is going to throw in a few banjos and mouth harps to sweeten the deal?

The dude isn't going anywhere. Its just a question of how much it will cost to keep him here.

Posted by: Pothier's Thumb | January 9, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

@Sabah,

that's exactly what Alex said. His English is getting better all the time.

Posted by: Tarik | January 9, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Lee: 7 pts every 5 games over the rest of the season is an incredibly tough pace to keep up! You have to go 3-1-1 every five games. That's 24-8-8 over the rest of the season to get to 95 pts (which may or may not be enough)! As much as I'd like to hope, I think we miss the playoffs this year. But we'll hopefully be in the hunt, playing some meaningful games in March and April.

Posted by: Burgh | January 9, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

@ Thumb - it was a stupid Eklund rumor (which should tell you all you need to know) posted yesterday, that he said came from "people involved with both teams" or some such garbage. It's hardly worth a mention except that it provided some amusement yesterday.

But I wouldn't think you'd have anything against banjos and mouth harps. ;-)

Posted by: Jill | January 9, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

The Caps should get no less than 5 points. But at best, I think they get 7.

Florida does well it seems at the Phone Booth, so that's a troubling game. We'll only get 1 vs. Edmonton, because every one of their games goes to shootout, and they kick butt at shootouts.

W vs. Colorado
W vs. Flyers (for as good as they seem, they aren't that far ahead of us).
? vs. Senators
SO L vs. Oilers
L vs. Panthers

5 points from those four, and I don't know what to think about the Senators game - can they really beat them four straight in a season?

7 points wouldn't be a disappointment out of this homestand.

Anything less than 5 would be a disaster, though.

Posted by: Eddie C | January 9, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

im terrified of our d situation right now

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2008 11:36 AM | Report abuse

@ Burgh (not short for the flightless bird city?)

They are currently on a pace at 1.25 points per game. 7 out of 10 is 1.40 points. Just an overtime loss more every 5 instead of losing in regulation...

Posted by: Lee | January 9, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

The Caps need to win against Colorado, Philly, Edmonton and Florida. If they could get a point out of the Sens game it would be good. Unfortunately if the Caps don't win tonight it would set a bad tone for the rest of the homestand. I hope they come out of the gate flying tonight.

Posted by: Jay | January 9, 2008 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Jill (or anyone who uses the Caps boards) how about posting the happy birthday plan:

1st tv time out after 10:00 in the second period...bring some signs...

I can't get a membership without a non-internet/ISP based email addy.

Posted by: The Capitalist | January 9, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

E8: Pens Trade Crosby, Staal and Malkin to the Caps for Kolzig, Semin and Eminger.

Its that easy to be Eklund. Just throw some names together that seem to fit, or just sound fun together and you can play Eklund on your own

Posted by: I Am Eklund | January 9, 2008 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Here's how the Caps can hit 92 points (53 more points over 40 games):

27-xx-xx
26-13-1
25-12-3
24-11-5
23-10-7
22-9-9
21-8-11
20-7-13
19-6-15
18-5-17
17-4-19
16-3-21
15-2-23
14-1-25
13-0-27


I think it's going to take 22 or 23 wins for the Caps to get there, and I just
can't see it happening. If everyone gets and stays healthy and Kolzig digs deep
and comes up with a Vezina-quality second half, maybe. But it's basically
playoff hockey from now until April and I think that's too much to ask of this
team.

Posted by: Playoff Math | January 9, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse

$1 dog night vs. Toronto!!!! If Ovechkin gets a hat trick...Buy 3 dogs and throw them on the ice!!!

Posted by: SA-Town | January 9, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse

@SA-Town Appreciate your enthusiasm, but let's not inflict that on the poor clean up people...

Posted by: TheCapitalist | January 9, 2008 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Looking at all the teams the Caps need to catch to qualify for the playoffs can give you a headache.

The simple version is to just watch the division. The Caps are currently 9pts behind the division lead with 3 games(6pts) in hand.

To get there they must pass Florida -2pts w/one game in hand and Atlanta -4pts w/two games in hand.

By winning the games in hand the Caps are 3pts behind Carolina, tied with Atlanta and Florida.

They have more than enough head to head matches with all three teams to take care of the rest on the ice.

Posted by: Rob | January 9, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Yeah really. Think what warm condiments will do the already hideous Verizon Center ice.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

I just read your update, and although Alex himself SAYS he wants to stay in Washington.....

My mother's sister's friend's cousin who works at Mcdonald's overheard a customer say that her father's brother's grandfather who read a newspaper once said that he heard that Alex has been offered a contract with the Kings, with a rider that says he gets to write TV shows while the writers strike is going on!

Refute that one!

Posted by: Lee | January 9, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Aww, no more Alex English?

At least he seems to want to stay here. It's not like we can force him to take a contract right now. Same for Greener and the other guys.

Posted by: EricS | January 9, 2008 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,
Are the lines looking like the ones you posted yesterday?

Posted by: K | January 9, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Tarik -

Any more word on how the players feel about the conditions of the ice at the Verizon Center? With all these games at home - I sure hope it's improved over the beginning of the year.

Posted by: Harry | January 9, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I'll check on lines when I get to the arena, since they can change. I plan to post a lineup around 6.

Posted by: Tarik | January 9, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

My prediction for the homestand


W vs. Colorado
SOL vs. Flyers (This one is coming down to goaltending, Flyers goalies are better. Nitty has been unreal the past 3 games he started.)
L vs. Senators
W vs. Oilers
L vs. Panthers

2-2-1 on Homestand..5pts

Posted by: I love Eklund | January 9, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Rob,

I agree. For the Caps to make the "p-word" (Sorry, I just can't use the actual word right now), their best chance is to win their division. Leap frogging over 6 teams, even with 40 games left is going to be very, very difficult. The Caps "only" have to climb over 3 teams to win the division. Granted Carolina is ahead by 9 points, but with the Caps having 3 games in hand, this would appear to be the "easiest" way to make the "p-word". That said, these next 5 games are crucial. I know some think 7 points would be a good result. I'm thinking they need at least 8 points. I know the team has injury issues, especially on defense, but they need to make their move NOW.

Posted by: capsfaninpa | January 9, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

10pts is best 7 would be nice but the above prediction I guess is more realistic.

Avs will be tired
Flyers games are always tough..probably a SO
Sens are angry at losing 3 straight against the Caps
Oilers are coming from out west, they will be a bit off
Florida always plays the Caps well at the Booth.

Posted by: BK | January 9, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Tarik.
Is it thought that Poti's upper-body injury is the same injury that kept him out of 5 or 6 games earlier this season? Or is this something new?
Thanks!

Posted by: Johnny | January 9, 2008 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm nervous about the Flyers game, I hope none of those guys hurts our players! I guess Brash will have his hands full...

Posted by: K | January 9, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Playoffs, P word, whatever, It would be nice if we had the goaltending to succeed with once we got there.

Fire gmgm, fire president Dick P., and once again: Fire Hanlon!

Posted by: Clarendon | January 9, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

@ K

The teams you should be more worried about are teams like Pitt and Buffalo who never get suspended for anything.

The spotlight is on Philly, now. You should be more worried about a team like the Sens who are looking for revenge. So Philly plays a tough game..who cares..take the intensity and match it. If the Caps cant, then they probably dont deserve to win.

Posted by: I love Eklund | January 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

OK..Dont throw any dogs on the ice....Dollar Dog night is still a very important part of this home stretch none the less.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 9, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Avs are hurt and tired - W
Flyers are partially hurt and stupid - W
Sens could be angry, but that goaltending doesn't help - W
Oilers are unknown quantity, but not great - W
Panthers lost last time, and the Caps are playing well, lately - W

More seriously,

The only games I worry about are the Flyers and the Sens. The Sens aren't # 1 in the east for nothing, and the Flyers always just seem to have good luck against the Caps, espcially with Danielle Briere.

I really don't like the Flyers.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | January 9, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

It is a done deal. Ovie is going to Nashville, that is according to a good friend of GMGM who happens to be my neighbor. However, Kolzig will be a caps for another 5 years.

Posted by: thetruth | January 9, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Actually I just heard from the guy who grooms my dogs that the Caps signed Kolzig to a contract that equals DiPietro's

Apparently Kolzig wanted to be the 'goalie of the future'

Posted by: BK | January 9, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes, and the Caps have signed Bonds' doctor to keep Kolzig "preserved"

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

This just in:

The Devils just traded Brodeur and Elias for Kolzig and AO

Posted by: I love Eklund | January 9, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

What the Caps need to have is a pretzel night...I'm sick of them running out of pretzels before the 2nd intermission every other game...

/that's right i like my beer with pretzels

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 1:29 PM | Report abuse

The whole arena runs out of pretzels?

Thats pretty pathetic

Posted by: caps suck | January 9, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The caps have offered OV up to any team that will give up a 4th round pick in the 2011 draft! And pretzels for Yosh.

Posted by: Lee | January 9, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Gary Bettman said that if the Caps trade OV to the Pens he will give them all the picks on the first round of the upcoming draft.

Posted by: I love Eklund | January 9, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Any chance that if Poti & Pothier are out another week to 10 days that the Caps call up Alzner on a emergency basis?

Posted by: red dragon | January 9, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

red dragon
Any chance that if Poti & Pothier are out another week to 10 days that the Caps call up Alzner on a emergency basis?

I could be wrong, but I don't think the Caps can call up Alzner at all this season because of his status.

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Caps suck-
Thes pretzels are making me thirsty.

Posted by: dave | January 9, 2008 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Actually dave...

I beleive it's "These pretzels ARE making me thirsty"

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 1:40 PM | Report abuse

@ yosh

Team Canada's goaltender Mason was called up on a emergency basis by Nashville (could be Columbus). I think it can be done for 10 days.

Posted by: red dragon | January 9, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Come on guys, everyone knows Ovie wants to start a NHL barnstorming team. Also wants to win the NHL goal scoring title as a goalie.

Posted by: tallbear | January 9, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I thought Ovie was the goalie.

Posted by: jon | January 9, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

red dragon

Mason is from Columbus...and that raises a good question. Tarik do you know the rules behind this? If Columbus had other goalies in the AHL to call up, how were they able to pull someone up from juniors?

Can someone define emergency basis and the rules?

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Slightly off topic:

Does anybody know what the cap hit is next year for Clark and Semin. When a contract is extended are the extended years averaged with the original contract or are the extended years considered separate? In other words Clark's cap hit is based on his average salary of the original contract which is $1.002 in 06/07 and $1.1 in 07/08 for a cap number of $1.051. He signed the extension for the next three years at $2.75, $2.65, and $2.50. So is the cap hit 5 years/5 or the extended years/3? Just curious.

Posted by: Just make a save | January 9, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Tarik, I don't think people are taking me serious, why is that? I think I am going to Montana and become a dental floss.

Posted by: thetruth | January 9, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

@ Clarendon,

Hey, I'm already gone! And the scouting job hasn't started yet! Quit kicking a guy while he's already down! :-D

Uh oh, ***PUN ALERT***.

Not.

Posted by: Fire Hanlon | January 9, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

According to the Blue Jackets website, Mason made the team out of preseason, so I assume he has an NHL contract and was sent down to the OHL. Alzner's not under contract.

As for emergency goaltenders, you can recall a goaltender from the minors for 48 hours on an emergency basis without it counting against your roster. You can do this twice a year. It's Article 16.13 of the CBA if you want to read more.

Posted by: tallbear | January 9, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Raisin' it Up; waxin' it down!

Posted by: Clarendon | January 9, 2008 2:01 PM | Report abuse

tallbear

Thanks...I was curious about how he was called up from the OHL...a NHL contract would answer that question. Typically though, the OHL isn't considered the minors as I think it's still a junior league...

i could be wrong though

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Thought so too, but there are wacky exception rules about the Juniors. Might be similar to how Varmalov is assigned to his Russian team even though he's under contract to the Caps.

BTW the NHLPA's website has a short article on Ovie.

Posted by: tallbear | January 9, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

That's a really good article....thanks for telling us about it.


http://www.nhlpa.com/

Posted by: K | January 9, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

These PRETZELS are making me THIRSTY!
*does an Elaine dance* lol

Posted by: kevbpgc | January 9, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Re: Making the playoffs

It won't happen. The reason? Simple, the pace we have to play in order to get into the hunt requires really good goaltending, just like going deep into the playoffs. Olie is not capable of carrying this team anymore.

Posted by: Sapper | January 9, 2008 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Sapper

I don't think anyone is asking Kolzig to carry this team anymore. I think if he can maintain a GAA between 2.5 and 2.75 for the 2nd half that the Caps will certainly be in contention if not pull out the 3/8 seed.

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 2:39 PM | Report abuse

@Yosh

Problem is that Slowloaf Moldzig hasn't had that kind of GAA since 2002-03 (the last time we were in the playoffs).

Bryzgalov would have been really nice right about now.

Posted by: Sapper | January 9, 2008 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin scoring 6 goals each game is our only hope!

Kolzig is done

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow six goals a game! Not only would that be impressive but that would be a lot of wings for the home games!!!

Posted by: K | January 9, 2008 2:49 PM | Report abuse

No one's denying that Kolzig has lost a step or three. But hovering around 2.5 shouldn't be too much to ask...that's essentially shaving 1 goal off every 3 games.

That one goal every 3 games translates into around 18 points by my math (some games going to OT and holding off to win others)

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I think Kolzig is "capable" of stepping up and playing better. Maybe not to the level of 1998 but better.
Can he be good enough?
I hope so.

Posted by: pmoravek | January 9, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Kolzig has a 3.02 GAA. He played in 34 games. Let's take his last 15 starts. His record is 7-5-3 (BTW, Kolzig thinks that OT and SO losses are NOT losses. yeah right!). In those 15 starts he conceaded 2 goals or less in only 4 games! Shaving off one goal off his GAA may be a huge problems for the overpaid geezer.

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 3:12 PM | Report abuse

This just in from Gary Bettman's office!

Anyone body-checking or coming into physical contact with Sidney Crosby will be assessed a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct. the new penalty is called "Hitting Bettman's boy!"

Posted by: Matt | January 9, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Watch Olie moving from post to post. How many goals does he let in because he can't get across fast enough? I think he has slowed down significantly.

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:16 PM | Report abuse

kenwood,

Not only that! How many goals has he given up because he's on his knees all the time? 90%, I'd say. He's slow to get up, but drops to his knees on almost every shot.

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

not a bad article considering most of the quotes are 2 years old

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Can we please ban "Bryzgalov" from here. That ship set sail almost two months ago.

Posted by: keef | January 9, 2008 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@keef,
I hear ya. Let it go...

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

According to other posters, the Caps needed 92 points to qualify for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference last season.

This season there is much more parity in the Eastern Conference and it does not appear that 92 points is necessary. In fact, based on the number of teams in the Eastern Conference bunched together in the low 40s at this point, it is nearly as unlikely that those teams can get 92 points or more because they of the low number of points they have and because there are so many other teams bunched together.

How many points did the eighth place team have at the halfway point this season - 41 to 43? So, assuming the parity continues, a team will need only approximately 86 points or more to qualify for the playoffs. It is likely that 92 points will put the Caps in first place in their division and third place in the standings.

Posted by: Monty | January 9, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

How tight does Mon-ray-al have Carey Price? Does anyone know his contract? Since he was sent down a few days ago, maybe starting a rumour he hates french fries or something could generate a goalie discussion that actually has possibilites. Just a thought, not a sermon.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree that only 86-88 points will get you in this season.

Finn - He has let in some soft goals this year. But every goalie goes through that. You are right about his reaction time. Remember the shootout the other night? All three shooters forced him left to right. They all three scored.

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Price isn't going anywhere. They love him. According to the media, he is the savior up there. Besides, he is a youngin, so they have him tied up regardless of his contract status (just like AO). The Habs didn't send him down that I know of. Where did you hear that?

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Most goals on Kolzik are scored when shooters go "upstairs".

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

The Habs sent him down last night. It was on TSN.COM

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Finn - either that or make him move laterally. Our forwards used to do the same thing. I remember going against FLA when Luongo was there and all the shots went high on the glove side. Everybody knows RL's glove is the best in hockey. It seems that until BB we were the only team in the NHL that did not seek out the weaknesses of the opposing goaltender.

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I'm surprised. I though he was doing ok. To me their problem was the on D. Maybe they just wanted to spare him the trauma.

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:44 PM | Report abuse

@kenwood,
Price was sent down to Hamilton and Ha-la-lak-la?? was brought up. Check their roster.
If he is so well regarded, why the demotion? Seriously, his #s were good.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 3:45 PM | Report abuse

My understanding is that Price got sent down for playing time...Huet is supposedly going to eat up most of the minutes during the second half and the Habs want Price to get consistent playing time as he is their future.

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 3:47 PM | Report abuse

He was the junior goaltender for the Canadian world team last year. He is only something like 20. The NHL grind could be catching up to him. Didn't Melrose (BM for short) just name him a top three rookie for the first half of the season? He said something about what he has done with little D help has been fantastic for such a young kid.

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Good point Yosh. I have to give a shout out to you guys that find this type of information. I have neither the time or ability to find this stuff. I listened to XM NHL in the car and get to watch the occasional odd game on Direct TV. With two young kids and the same number of jobs (to pay for my caps tix), I don't have much time for any research.

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Welp, I have to do something to help cope with being stuck in jail...I mean the office all day every day right?

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, thanks for using the company dime to educate me. :)

Posted by: kenwood | January 9, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

@kenwood,
No sweat dude. Just thought a discussion about getting a 20 year old goalie in the minors with potential had more legs than a discussion about getting that "B" guy in Phoenix. It's just that the Carey Prices are out there while that "B" guy isn't folks.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

What's worse than Ovechkin rumours is when you have Buccigross on ESPN trying to sell how good it would be for the Caps to trade Oveckin. And defending it again this week.

"For the Capitals to break through and win their first Cup, they will need to be bold. Perhaps a big trade is what they need. But, I understand that being able to watch a player who brings one joy game in and game out, it's a feeling that is close to winning"

Do analysts just think that DC is not deserving of OV and they want to see him with their envy-filled eyes? It's the same type of stuff north of the border, too. I like Bucci, but this about made me throw up. Or as the girl who asked him said, have a heartattack at age 23.

Posted by: Charles | January 9, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

@Charles

We had a short discussion about this a few days back. If the Caps traded Ovie and were smart about it, it could be one of the best moves for this team.

Where the discussion starts to break down is that it wouldn't be a good move for hockey in DC.

Posted by: keef | January 9, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Any chance we go after Rob Blake for a rent-a-mule type deal?

If we can continue to streak, any reason why he wouldnt want to play on a Power Play with Semin, Green, Ovie, Nylander?

Posted by: SA-Town | January 9, 2008 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Charles that's why I don't visit espn.com anymore....that combined with the stupid Nsider or whatever it's called this week.

Posted by: Yosh | January 9, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

@Charles,
I travel to Canada abit on business regularly and it seems they are going through a minor national identity crisis. Seriously, the captains for Vancouver, Ottawa, and Toronto are Swedes and the captain for Montreal is Finnish. Huh?? The "best" player in the league is in Pittsburgh and the previous Cups has been won by Anaheim, Carolina, and Tampa.
My Canadian colleagues admit if the sport does not "right" itself, what next, the Expos win the series?
Let Buccigross vent. It just means his ratings are low and his bosses are telling him to do something about it.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 4:31 PM | Report abuse

i don't see how moving OV would "make us a playoff team to win the cup" if anything keeping him would do that.......He's only 22 imagine how he's gonna play in a few years....also wih Backstrom,Semin,Green,Fehr,Bourque, Alzner,Godfrey..the caps are going to be a good team in the east for years to come

Posted by: capshockey98 | January 9, 2008 4:53 PM | Report abuse

@caps,
You forgot Emminger.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 4:58 PM | Report abuse

DrinkingPartner:
And muaree said that "I" was optimistic?!? LOL!! :-) I hope your predictions are right!!

Posted by: Boo! | January 9, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

If the Caps traded Ovie, I am CERTAIN that I am not alone in saying I would personally boycott the Caps for at least a season, after following them since their meager inception.
Sure, you say, Gretzky was traded, blah blah blah. You do not trade a generational talent when he is just out of the blocks. What, do you think Ted and GMGM are stupid? Er, put another way...

Posted by: Shaggy | January 9, 2008 5:03 PM | Report abuse

@shaggy,
Ted can trade Ovie after 5 Cups like Gretzky. Deal?

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I know that trading AO would really sting. But try to look at this without blinders. Step back from your Capital pride for a minute and try to see how that might benefit the team..maybe not now but down the road.

Think of it. For the last few years the team has been 'rebuilding' with Ovie as the center piece. Honestly, its gotten the team close to nowhere. Yeah they are playing well under a new coach and have wonderful young talent.

What they need is a goalie, big time goalie. They need players to complement a guy like AO. Unfortunately he costs too much money to put other big name talent next to him. (Nylander and Kozlov are past their prime)

Ponder this. What if the team, through free agency went and got a big goalie next season, then they were able to re sign some of their young talent to decent contracts. They then sign AO for say 2 yrs. A contract like that makes him lucrative trade bait. What if you trade him away for 3-4 top players (maybe a D man or 2) of another team? Now, you've replaced 1 100 point guy with 3 60-80 point guys.

With this, the young talent that SHOULD be developing in the minors can do that, you have a good squad that can consistently win and you have a goalie that can get you there.

The alternative? Sign AO to a huge contract and then the rest of the team can be role playing guys. Yeah, watching a guy like AO is awesome, but really, what makes people fans of teams? Championships.

Im not advocating trading him or not. Im just saying, if some of our die hard fans can step back and see that maybe, just maybe the team can be very successful without him, more successful than they are with him

Posted by: BK | January 9, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I love how people say that paying Ovie what he deserves will relegate the rest of the team to being paid crumbs. Funny how we didn't hear that when it came to Crosby's deal.

Posted by: Jim | January 9, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Why does everything have to be compared to Crosby?

If you want the Caps and Ovechkin to move from his shadow, stop feeding into it. Its like apples and oranges and the teams are in two completely different situations. Pitt made the playoffs last year..didnt go far but they made it there and they have been winning.

Posted by: BK | January 9, 2008 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Have stayed away for a while.. good job, Tarik, awesome coverage!

24-11-5 to get to 92 points? Damn, even with all the recent optimism, that's a monumental task.

Caps need 7 points from these 5 games to stay on course.. then again, a sweep would put them on the playoffs' doorstep..

Hmm, looking at the current standings, the 8th place team is 3 games over .500. That means 6 games over .500 might get you into playoffs by the end of the season - that's 88 points, not 92. 22-12-6 would do it for the Caps.. "piece of cake", two 5-game win streaks and .500 hockey rest of the way.

Injuries suck..

Posted by: Vlad | January 9, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

@BK,
On previous threads, I said the same thing. There are 28 other teamd that don't have guys named Corby or Ovechkin, and some of those teams are pretty good.
A Bruins fan buddy of mine said they felt they made this mistake with Ray Bourque.

Anyway, I would rather win 2 or 3 Cups with Ovie than 5 without him. Hey, I've got high standards ok?

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 5:38 PM | Report abuse

But you first have to put a team on the ice capable of winning 2 or 3 cups.

If they continue on this path here is what I see happening..he gets signed to a big contract and the team doesnt live up to expectations and then 5 yrs down the line he still has a few yrs left on his deal and he is publicly disgruntled. He wants the chance to win a cup before his career is over, he doesnt agree with coach or management, and he wants to be moved.

Now, everyone begins to hate him because of the way he is acting and he is traded to a contender. The rebuild continues.

Posted by: BK | January 9, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Who said that trading Ovechkin will not turn out to be a bust? What's GMGM's trade record? Do you trust him to make the trade? Do you think the people he brings in are going to make the Caps the champions? Novotny? Beech? Fata? Kozlov? Friesen?

I wouldn't even trust GMGM with 4 1st round draft picks! He'll turn them into four bags of pucks!

Ovechkin fits here. He plays awesome for the Caps! He must remain a Cap.

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I guess thats the chance the team takes. Who said anything about GMGM being GMGM anymore? Hopefully he goes soon.

Posted by: Jamie | January 9, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

@BK,
Like in Pitt and with, can I say it, Corbie? ha ha. Guess we can only hope. The 'Guins have to sign Staal, Malkin, and Fluery in a few years.

Let's just hope he lives up to his potential and does it in DC.

Also, that scenario could apply to Semin more than Ovie at this point don't you think?

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Jamie,

By the time GMGM goes, Ovechkin would have to be traded. GMGM's contract expires at the end of the year.

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

I personally feel that Semin is going to be gone before AO. The only thing that is decreasing his value is the constant injuries.

I surely wouldn't give up a sure thing for a guy who sits out each time he takes a bump. Semin needs to play and play a lot.

I think that if Semin starts playing well he could be trade bait himself. Really, do we want him in DC? He barely plays. Maybe if he finds a place in another city he will be less injury prone. At the deadline, if these standings are the way they are, dont be suprised if a guy like that is gone...for decent talent elsewhere. Provided his value is high

Compare that to what Philly did last year with Upshall in the Forsberg deal he was a relative nobody but proved he can play good hockey.

Posted by: BK | January 9, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Matt
That's funny right there...I don't care who y'are.

Vlad
Welcome back

Finn
Kolzig is indeed older and slower. The problem is...what do you do about it?

Bernie Wolf
+1 on the Bryswhatsisname talk.

Posted by: pmoravek | January 9, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

BK

I politely disagree with you about Semin. While none of us can predict the future, I think Semin will be a great player and we need to hang on to him. Sure, he's been injured alot this season but I think last season is a better gauge of who he can be.

He is still very young. I would like to see him take his off season conditioning really seriously and bulk up by about 25 pounds. Then NOBODY will knock him off the puck.

Posted by: pmoravek | January 9, 2008 5:59 PM | Report abuse

@pmoravek,
Your second paragraph was written after every year here about Semin. I know, I know, someone's gonna start yellin' Crosby Kisser at me but it's been a few years for Sasha in the bigs. Theses injuries are directly related to getting shoved around so there are elevated expectations now with his new contract. I too really hope he lives up to all that sooner than later, and here not elsewhere.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Good grief ... Ovechkin, Ovechkin, Ovechkin ... I am going to have Ovechkin for dinner, then I am going Ovechkining and then I plan to Ovechkin first thing in the morning, followed by a trip to VC for the STH party to get Ovechkin's autograph before he is traded to the to the CANATORUCKEAFINGS!!!! (First prize to whomever can ID all of those teams ;-).)

Don't believe everything that you read/hear!! This is one that says he was traded in 2006:

http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200607/1153027060.html

Also, if you google "Ovechkin traded", you'll get 47,400 hits!!

PUH-LEEAASSEE!!!!

He's here
Don't fear
GET OVER IT!!

(aahhh ... there ... I feel better now)

I'm sorry, was that a little strong?!? ;-)

Posted by: Boo! | January 9, 2008 6:07 PM | Report abuse

@boo!,
lol.
Gonna grab a beer and watch some pregame.

Lets Go Cap-I-Tals, Lets Go Cap-I-tals!

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 6:10 PM | Report abuse

BernieWolfeFan:
Thanks for reminding me - I forgot to say ...

LET'S GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

:-D

Posted by: Boo! | January 9, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

the rebuilding is not over. most of our young draft picks haven't made it to the bigs yet.

Posted by: mac | January 9, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The problem with gauging Semin, though, even now, is that what if Semin hadn't hurt his ankle in preseason? Wasn't he on a minor tear in the preseason? if he'd gone into the season playing that well, No.1 Hanlon'd probably still be here (so be thankful), and No.2 we would have won a good many more games simply due to the goal or two every other game.

Seriously. Semin is probably my favorite player simply because he is the most unique. He is a world beater some days, and a complete wimp the next. It's so strange that it's fun to watch which one of him will come out. But seriously, when he's not hurt and playing well, he's nearly unstoppable.

I think we need to keep him.

I also think the Caps should make a serious push to bring Hossa in if he doesn't get signed, or maybe even at the deadline. Hossa is versatile enough to play wing and center, and he's a lot like Ovechkin, but is more dedicated to playmaking.

Can any of the rest of you imagine an Ovechkin - Backstrom - Hossa line?

I drool just thinking about it.

Problem is we've got nothing (that I'm willing) to let go that would bring him in.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | January 9, 2008 6:39 PM | Report abuse

mauree:
are you out there? you're not missing the game, are you?!? only 15 minutes until the puck drops!!!

Posted by: Boo! | January 9, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

GO CAPS!!

Posted by: mauree | January 9, 2008 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Hossa's a UFA next year. At 7 million this year and only 28 your looking at an Ovechkin sized number.

Posted by: Just make a save | January 9, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

What are the lines for tonight's game?

Posted by: Finn | January 9, 2008 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Low shots on goal for both teams ... what's the deal?!?

Posted by: Boo! | January 9, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

OH MY GOSH!!!!!!! I can't believe we missed that!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Boo! | January 9, 2008 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe they called that Nyl penalty and not that trip on Gordon

Posted by: mauree | January 9, 2008 7:43 PM | Report abuse

mauree:
i know - Gordo should have had that goal to begin with, but when he didn't get it, they should have called tripping. it looked just like when shanny fell (same divit in the ice?!? thank you bad ice!). i thought that puck was on its way to the twine. hrmpf. still surprised by the low shots on goal - hopefully that will change in the 2nd!

Posted by: Boo! | January 9, 2008 7:48 PM | Report abuse

You would think from the DC news that Joe Gibbs died or something? And that is coming from a Skins fan!

p.s. I would trade all three Lombardi Trophies for one Lord Stanleys Cup ANYDAY!

p.p.s. Tarik posted a new thread

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 9, 2008 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey Guys,
There is a fresh thread.
Come join us.

Posted by: pmoravek | January 9, 2008 7:54 PM | Report abuse

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