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Blue Jackets 3, Caps 0

Since there's a fair amount of postgame news in the previous post (and I've got a flight to Montreal in a few hours) I'm going to keep this one short and to the point.

Steve Mason is good. And the Caps, well, they've had better efforts. The result was a streak-busting shut out loss at home to a rookie goalie, who has made a habit of blanking opponents this season.

Some notes and quotes from tonight:

*First, if you haven't read the post below, do that first. It's got some injury news on Boyd Gordon and Sergei Fedorov, tomorrow's likely starter in net and a not-so-complicated mathematical formula regarding Bruce Boudreau's chances of being an all-star coach.

*The first star was none other than Mason, a 20-year-old who was recalled as injury replacement in November. I'm calling it right now: he's done riding buses. He stopped 45 shots tonight and all 71 shots he's faced from the Capitals this season.

*The shutout was Mason's league leading sixth.

*He's the first goalie to shut out the Caps in back-to-back games since the Islanders' Tommy Salo blanked them three times in 1996-97.

*Before the game, I kept hearing about how dreadful Columbus' power play was. How it was last in the league and clicking at just a 10.2 percent success rate. Looked okay to me after going 2 for 7.

*The Caps said goodbye to a few streaks tonight: their seven game winning streak (overall) and nine game run at home. Jose Theodore's six start winning streak came to an end. He was adequate tonight, though a stop on Columbus's second goal could have changed the complexion of the contest. The three goals were the most he's allowed since The Comeback at MSG on Nov. 23.

*The Caps attempted 75 shots (16 were blocked and 14 went wide). Ovechkin attempted 24 himself, of which six went wide and six were blocked.

*Donald Brashear took four minutes in penalties ...and got only 5:09 of ice time.

*Asked about the play of Karl Alzner and the rest of the Caps' 'D', Boudreau said: "I thought he struggled. I thought the defense struggled to move the puck. They were having a rough time and missing passes. He struggled as did a lot of players on defense."

Alzner's partner, Milan Jurcina, has had better nights, too. The first goal was the result of him bobbling and intercepted pass and sending it back to R.J. Umberger.

Like I said, I'm keeping it brief tonight. I'll check in from Montreal in the morning.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 9, 2009; 11:35 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gordon Out With Back Spasms (Updated)
Next: Morning Skate Update


Yuck. Really awful game. Mason for Calder. I don't think a goalie has won it in awhile, and he's the guy. The team wins without Nash, that's impressive. I came home and watched the Tivo version of the game and it wasn't any better the second time around.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | January 10, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

Well that was painful. Our D broke down, Jose looked rattled and we just could not find the net. 45 SOG?!? More importantly, 45 saves?!? Unbelievable. Buy that man a beer. The whole thing was just frustrating. On top of that, I can't remember all 3 stars going to the visiting team. Hrmpf. Oh well ... you can't win 'em all. Tomorrow is a new day - let's go light up the Habs!!!

Posted by: --Boo-- | January 10, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

If Mason continues to play like that, I agree - give him the Calder. And don't forget that beer - he earned it (man he looked tired at the end of the game).

Posted by: --Boo-- | January 10, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

I don't mind the loss, just the timing of it. Boudreau deserves to go and it is sickening that it might not work out for him and to add insult to injury goes to the coach of the team whose fans made this whole all star weekend a sham and a farce this year.

Posted by: O-V-P | January 10, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

can ANYBODY tell me what the last 21 games will be - i need a 'pick-me up'

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

Is Mason old enough to drink beer?

Posted by: uncatim | January 10, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

if he's not - i'll drink it for him

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

Checking in from Montreal tonight, had to forgo the Columbus tilt in order to get to Montreal (and take in the Leafs/Habs game on Thursday). Was able to catch the game in Champs in Montreal (highly recommend this place, best sports bar in Montreal if you're ever here). Mason is good, darn good. Caps threw pucks on net but again failed to get much traffic in front of the net and most of the shots Mason faced he saw without problem. Hopefully the boys will pull it together tomorrow night, though they probably wont get into the hotel here until 2am or so and the Habs are here at home waiting for them. Here's to a good game at Centre Bell tonight!

Posted by: JBrooke4 | January 10, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Good point - he's not. Buy that man a rootbeer.

Posted by: --Boo-- | January 10, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

that little j*ck*ss punk mason (the calder/vezina leader) makes over 10x as me - he can buy me the beer that i'll drink for him

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

brash what a steal only 1million plus for a guy that plays 6 shifts and get dumb penalties that lead to a goal

Posted by: wendel2 | January 10, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Greg (from the previous):
So do you think Jose was sharp out there? Sure he was hung out to dry on at least one of those (if not more), but he also did not play his best game. I've seen him do better AND worse. He just looked rattled. He tends to fall apart if he lets in the first goal or one of the early SOG ... and it happened again tonight. Do you disagree?

Posted by: --Boo-- | January 10, 2009 12:31 AM | Report abuse

Don't blog angry ...

Posted by: --Boo-- | January 10, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Eh, so much for sleeping.
Boo-, it was just a mass of anger and despair here tonight. I had to hold it down with well-placed witty comments. :-P

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 10, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

sorry boo - i just get a little down when my favorite teams lose

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

that fine young man, mason, can procure his beer for me to drink for him
wow - i think my BP went down a little

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

He can drink it in Canada.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 10, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

i'd consider going to a coyotes game to watch that kid play

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

and try to get him to buy your beer? :-P

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | January 10, 2009 12:48 AM | Report abuse

I feel your pain ... sounds like we need a group hug (or group therapy or something). Night, all!

Posted by: --Boo-- | January 10, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

sure - or 4 or 5 - i know how to call a taxi to get me home

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

If I were suspicious (and I am) I would say there was something fishy about this game. Nylander and Fehr sit while others like the whole four line play; the best and most cohesive line in the previous game gets dismantled; practically, all lines were mixed; and lastly, if the Caps win the coach will have to work on the ASG rather than relax with family. MMMM....

Posted by: x1232 | January 10, 2009 1:39 AM | Report abuse

just a terrible effort. plenty of blame to go around. You can't win them all, but you don't want inconsistent play also. Now, it's on the road we go, where we need to play better. All I got to say is it's a good thing we are done with them for the year. Twice they cut us to pieces.Did anyone else notice the smirk on Hitchcocks face?

Posted by: ergoroc | January 10, 2009 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Ok, yikes! Do we not recall the 5-0 Hawks game last season dead smack in the middle of our run to the playoffs? We bounced back and were the better for it.
I'm sure the boys at all levels of the organization were not happy in the least, but now have forgotten about it.

Gratification and justification would be BB and crew making some All Star Selections look like they are better suited for web production duties as day jobs. Ha!

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | January 10, 2009 2:42 AM | Report abuse

If Mason continues to play like this he's not just gonna be a lock for the Calder. He might snake the Vezina as well.

It's really quite simple.

1. Their goalie was unbelievable.

2. Ours was barely adequate (just as I was afraid of happening after I praised him for the first time earlier in the day).

3. All 3 goals the scored were gifts:

The 1st one by Jurcina (had he not touched the puck at all or cleared it instead of fumbling it there would be no goal).

The 2nd one is squarely on Theo and with the way Mason was playing pretty much finished us off.

The 3rd one. A combination of Brashear's idiotic late penalty which assured us of losing the game even if they didn't score and Theo's crappy goaltending.

The interesting thing is that I'm usually full of faith that we can come back even from a 3-goal deficit (and even a 4-goal one, as we have against the Rangers), but even when it was just 1-0 in this game I just had a hopeless feeling. When a rookie goalie can make a fan of a high powered offensive team feel that way it's quite an achievement. Especially playing for a team like Columbus which was also missing 8 regulars including all of its top scorers and some key defensemen.

Posted by: ranndino | January 10, 2009 4:16 AM | Report abuse

Speaking of age limits to drink ... reminds me of a line from the movie "Goal! The Dream Begins" in which a foreigner, Santiago, asks a local soccer player, "How old do you have to be [in England] to get a drink?"

The guy looks at him, confused, and replies, "Eleven."


You think the CBJ fans are upset that Mason isn't in the All-Star Game? That's a bigger sham than the Capitals only sending Ovechkin. If Luongo is unable to make the ASG, Mason should replace him in goal immediately.

Posted by: Cerealman | January 10, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

This is completely OT, but does anyone think there is a market on ebay or elsewhere for a Peter Bondra game used stick???

Posted by: RiceandGravy | January 10, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Humble everyone have a piece. There are no "gimmies" in the NHL. Any team can beat any other team on any given night. It was not for a lack of effort. Would have been a nice B-day present for coach B, maybe the results will be better tonight.

Hey....good news, I heard somewhere that the last 21 games were very favorable....something to look forward too! >

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | January 10, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

It's some great opposition goaltending and bad luck over the last two games: 1 goal over six periods on 79 SOG - that is an amazing GAA for Philly and Columbus. It was not pretty last night but the fact of the matter is that even if some want to boo during the scoring dry spell...the Caps fired 45 shots on target last night. I wish the six or seven really good chances got by Mason but they didn't. It was sloppy, two of the three allowed were soft, but it's not the end of the World. If the Caps get 40 shots on goal every game, we'll be fine. Great game by Mason.

P.S. I have him in my fantasy league but benched him because I can't stomach to watch a goalie against my team. Those were serious points gone to seed.

Posted by: saintex | January 10, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Although not the greatest effort on the part of our boys, I will face the contributing to the delequincy charge and buy Mason that beer. The Caps had 5 opportunities I saw to score, and the boy made them look easy. Against a human goalie, they score to keep the game close. We all knew joe Say counld not keep his streak going, and that the Caps could not win them all. they will come back tonight.

Posted by: Leeguru | January 10, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

TEB - "The Comeback" game versus NYR at MSG was Dec 23, not Nov 23.

Posted by: sessal | January 10, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Did Ted and Bruce take everyone out because their B-days were the past two days? Was that the reason for the sluggishness? (jokes)

Anyway, without a doubt Mason is good, actually very good. IMO, I have seen a lack of effort the caps have placed in the lesser contest going into back to backs. Especially if the next game is the bigger game. Next one is Isls/Sens (sens being the bigger opponent then Det/Sens (Det being bigger opponent. So tonight against Montreal should be a better showing.

Last night Pepco should have hooked up some cables up the caps bench to provide a wake up jolt. That was bad, it wasn't the same as the 7-1 Philly loss, we had no one in front and on that 5-on-3 PP, everyone was standing around. Outside of the circle shots = no goals when facing very good goalies.

Posted by: caps28fan | January 10, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

If you read the Tsn recap of the game it says that Mason was having muscle spasms 45 mins before the game. If he wouldn't have been able to play, they would have started their third stringer. Big props to him for sucking up the pain and playing.

Posted by: ludeman95 | January 10, 2009 9:57 AM | Report abuse

failed to mentino the oils/pens....bigger game being the pens obviously

Posted by: caps28fan | January 10, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

How come Wilbon doesn't write about the Caps?

Posted by: hessone | January 10, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

It's time that BB stops his disdain of Nyls and use him the way he should and give us a good offensive second line. Trade Semin's sorry butt while he is worth something and get a good physical winger that can score some goals. Leave that second line together for 6-8 games so they can get chemistry and now we will have a second line that can come real handy in games like last night and perhaps be real cup contenders.
I know it's just one loss but in that whole string of wins lately, we have many games that were way too close for somfort, where it took an individual effort from Ovie, Theo or Kozlov to procure the win.

Posted by: atybat | January 10, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Nyls sucks!

Posted by: hessone | January 10, 2009 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure what Semin's deal if of late. Since coming back he's very tentative on shots - or shooting. It seemed during his great start he was at least moving north-south toward the net before shooting and now he's doing nothing but dragging across the middle and getting zero shots off. Any ideas?

Posted by: saintex | January 10, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse


Explain this to me....We are playing great with call ups from hershey and the lines weve had for the last 2 weeks. We have won 7 in a row!

AND you change all the CHEMISTRY? you bring back federov who hasn't played since GAS PRICES were $4.00 and FLASH IS COMING OFF think these GUYS ARE GAME READY....THEY ARE GOING TO BE RUSTY...we looked so out of sync last night..

IF you disagree with me - let me know

Posted by: DCSPORTS | January 10, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I agree with DCSports with a caveat: BB isn't trying to fix it, he's trying to get his best players back in a place and a good bit of what happened last night was that rust. I don't think anyone doubts that having Feds and Flash back in the line-up is best. The late Gordon scratch jumbled everything also. I don't have huge issues with getting 45 SOGs and simply not scoring. The ice looked for crap last night - falling players, skipping pucks. Any ideas?

Posted by: saintex | January 10, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The Ice at VC is usually average at best.

OK maybe I shouldn't of said "dont fix it". I meant to say don't mess with it until you know these guys are ready to come back.

I guess they have to come back rusty at some point and now better than later.

I don't have a problem with losing...It is going to happen but I thought we looked BAD...on the power play and overall on offense...

Posted by: DCSPORTS | January 10, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse


Do you think the outcome of last nights game would have been different if Fehr and Nylander were in the lin-up rather than Feds and Flash?

At some point you need the players to get back into games, because they have been out of the line-up.

This was a classic "trap" game...I was worried about it before the drop of the puck. You have a outstanding home record, and 7 game winning streak,going against a team that is beat up and down in the standings, and the CAPS had a look ahead game with the HABS. Add in a goalie that has been un-consience the last 10 games or so.
Like I said before there is alot of parity in the league, any team can win agaisnt any other team on any given night.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | January 10, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Caps got outplayed, plain and simple. I don't think they were even playing that badly, other than frequent missed passes. Got stoned by Mason, missed a few open nets, but the real story is that the Jackets just outplayed them. Tough to believe this team is barely on the edge in the West - they could cause some serious damage in the playoffs with their style and goalie if they make it.

Still, I am calling that this time next year Mason is in the minors. Goalies who start out like this (recall Carey or Hedberg...or Leclaire for that matter) can rarely keep it up. Once teams figure out his weakness, he'll be toast.

Posted by: katzistan | January 10, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I agree that last night was a "trap" game but really, didn't the team know that? Isn't that why it's called a trap game? I would much rather see the Caps' record vs. the lower echelon teams get much better than worry about the big games. If we lost a 2-1 or 3-0 game to Montreal, great...but losing to Atlanta, Florida (early), and Columbus is hurting.

I don't think Mason will be down in the minors. That argument is simply deduction based on a few players.

Posted by: saintex | January 10, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

@wtf_e_fehr - From two posts ago. I'm talking with kittypawz, and she says she's offline until the MTL game tonight; her house is, and I quote, a mess. ;-)

Did anybody else notice that traffic and the problems on the Metro last night had a seriously negative effect on crowd energy? I came in p!ssy and very late, because I-95 was a clusterdoodle, and Metro was no better, because of some problem on the red line - unusual line for me, but I do occasionally come in from Takoma. But I came in already cranked up about that and with my mind on how rotten traffic had been... and I found it hard to focus on the game in that kind of a bad mood.

The crowd was QUIET last night. Too. Quiet.

Even Horn Guy and Goat had trouble getting us going, and that's unusual.

We all know how important it is for the guys on the ice... They've called the crowd the "7th man." But the booth played that stupid "hockey song" (with "Bobby scores" in it) and didn't do any of the things that really get the crowd going and turn it into a wall of sound (like "Unleash the FURY!")... and even the few times they brought the "let's make some noise" thing up, we barely made any.

Overall, the crowd was sluggish, the ice was crappier than usual, looked like - that puck was bouncing all over the place. The first goal was off a bad bounce from an interception.

Brash tried to get things going, but by then it was probably too late, and we're DAMN lucky all that happened to him was a four-minute pair of penalties. He *could* have drawn instigator, and game misconduct, because that chickenbreath Jared Boll wouldn't drop with him.

Way to defend your "most fighting majors in hockey," Boll-weevil!*

*I may be incorrect on that stat, but I know he's got a LOT of them...

Overall? Shtick happens, and if we win 7, lose 1 for the rest of the season, we're still riding well into the playoffs.

On the bright side: We are STILL only 4 points behind the Red Wings. We are STILL 3 ahead of the Habs. And we remain 4th in the League.

LET'S GO, CAPS!!! Take the Habs and WIN!

Posted by: irockthered | January 10, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Caps only had a handful of decent scoring chances. I'd say that 35 of the 45 shots on net were taken from the blue line. They didn't seem to organized. I think they thought that game would be a gimmie after the teams they've been beating recently. Oh well that humble pie wasn't as good as I remembered. GO CAPS!

Posted by: ejohnsto | January 10, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Oh - and we had a lot of our fast skaters making directional changes and losing their edge. More than usual. People were falling down all over the place out there. It was BAD. That's really why I'm judging the ice to be "worse than usual," when we know it's horrible anyway.

Sometimes, bad ice can be an advantage, but to a team that is fast, hard-playing, and changes direction frequently, sloppy ice is a killer.

Re: Ovechkin's charging penalty... It wasn't charging because he "left his feet" - it was charging because he was actively skating - not just gliding - and skated hard into the guy. I was reading "frustration" on that hit. He was just trying for a hard hit, and he didn't do his usual glide for the last few feet and then slam into him; he was moving faster than he should have been, moving his feet, and KA-WHAM. It was a valid call, and I don't have issue with it.

Posted by: irockthered | January 10, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

I do think that if FED and FLASH didn't play the CAPS WOULDA WON...

Sorry I just think they woulda been more in sync....defensively and offensively

Posted by: DCSPORTS | January 10, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

O.K....well half of that tandum will not play tonight......Feds is out tonight. So much for trying to get some "new" chemistry.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | January 10, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

I do think that if FED and FLASH didn't play the CAPS WOULDA WON...

Sorry I just think they woulda been more in sync....defensively and offensively

Posted by: DCSPORTS | January 10, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

glad Boudreau addressed Alzner's play. It was awful. He definitely didn't do anything to help his partner out. Terrible awareness on the ice for much of the night, let players skate right past him, tried to make a low-percentage intercept of a pass which led to the 1st goal when he should've been skating back towards his own end. He must be taking defensive lessons from Mr Green.

Posted by: cstanton1 | January 10, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse


Typically I agree with you on things, but in response to the Ovie charging penalty I can not. He took strides into the hit, but was definitely gliding before the actual hit occured, and he glided for a good while too. I think it was a weak call, and simply made because of all the hub bub lately around Ovie's checks.

Posted by: TheVampireCorndog | January 10, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Working on a crossword puzzle and had a good laugh. 48 Down, 5 letters starting with B, clue: a small hand drum

Posted by: Steve_R | January 10, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Okay enough of this senseless talk. The Caps lost a game. Let's stop whining a bit.

Nylander has been a HUGE disappointment and deserved to be sent down. He made key mistakes in many games and has not been sharp passing or shooting. The guy was the reason Philly was able to tie the Caps the other night. Bruce saw this as any hockey fan would and said he has to be sent down to get straight. He will be lucky to be given another shot.

Trade Semin???? Are you nuts? He may be one of the most skilled hockey players in the NHL. He has amazing sight lines, sick stick handling, sniper shot, and excellent skating ability. I do not know if the guy that made the comment has ever had a back injury, but you better believe when you do, you will learn why they guy might not be himself yet. It happens, and he is trying to work through it without taking an unnecessary hit or over doing it. I respect him for being out there.

As for Feds, glad to see him back. Hope he gets one night off and then is back again. He is solid defensively and can make a lot happen. I think many have already forgotten the Ovie, Semin, Feds, line that was nearly unstoppable before the rash of injuries.

Give these guys a few games to get gelled and we will be a thing of beauty to watch, if the injury bug stays away.

And shame on the fans, if they were quiet for not doing everything they could to pump up the Caps after the way they have played at home.

Posted by: JWBessling | January 10, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

"brash what a steal only 1million plus for a guy that plays 6 shifts and get dumb penalties that lead to a goal

Posted by: wendel2"

Good point Wendel. You have any thoughts on a replacement for him for next year?

Posted by: Steve_R | January 10, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse


1 loss in the last 41 games in unacceptable

Posted by: DCSPORTS | January 10, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

ASG assistant coach - how it's decided? - on the teams winning percentage

a caps win vs mon
was 43 28 12 3 .686
mon 42 24 11 6 .642

a caps ot win
was 43 28 12 3 .686
mon 42 24 10 7 .654

a caps OTL
was 43 27 12 4 .674
mon 42 25 10 6 .666

a caps loss
was 43 27 13 3 .662
mon 42 25 10 6 .666

only in the NHL ....
does a loss in OT/SO count as a 1/2 of a win and a win in OT/SO counts as a win

a regulation loss is the only thing that will keep BB at home for the ASG

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

i'm with you - anything less than 82-0-0 should be unacceptable. maybe GMGM should think about rebuilding - he clearly didn't get it right after the lock out.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2009 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I watched the game broadcast from the Columbus affiliate. Talk about partisan. Calling Ovi "reckless" for his hits, pointing out penalties and off-sides on the Caps which the refs missed, saying that the "younger men" (i.e. the Blue Jackets) had "knocked the swagger off" the Caps. They also argued that Brashear should have gotten a 5 minute major for the one-sided fight because he hadn't given Boll enough time to get his gloves off.

Granted Ovi's feet did sort of kind of leave the ice before that first period hit - or that's what it looked like to me - and I have no idea why Brash wanted to go with Boll at 12:36 of the 3rd period, I had no idea the guys were going around "swaggering".

Were we getting overly confident? I don't see it, myself. Not after that very close game with Philly.

Posted by: RedRocker1 | January 10, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse


I think you might have something askew in your crossword puzzle. Should it start with S? I'd figure the answer was Staal.

Posted by: saintex | January 10, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

@ atybat

By suggesting that we trade Semin you have just put yourself on most people's "posts by idiots to be skipped" list.

Posted by: ranndino | January 10, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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