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Boudreau defends Varlamov

Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau was visibly disappointed after his team lost to Tampa Bay, 3-2, but made sure to say it was not the fault of goalie Semyon Varlamov, who faced 27 shots.

Varlamov was the victim of some bad bounces, including a puck that deflected off center Vincent Lecavalier and into the goal. Boudreau said he didn't think Varlamov saw the puck after Matt Walker fired the shot that hit Lecavalier.

Officials reviewed the play and determined the score should stand, giving Lecavalier his 19th goal and 60th point of the season.

Varlamov fell to 13-3-3 and lost for the first time at Verizon Center in 10 starts.

Here's a sampling of what Boudreau had to say about the game:

By Gene Wang  |  March 12, 2010; 11:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

Yes, it's annoying that we lost. It seems that the team seemed to lose heart after giving up the third goal.

Meanwhile, down at Hershey. The good news is ... they won 5-4 in OT. Neuvirth was in goal. While observers have posted that the results weren't all his fault, was he really better than Varly today? Doesn't sound like it.

In any case, we'll probably see Varly get a couple of starts next week and one the following week.

I assume Theo will be our #1 in April.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 13, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse

being back in town I actually got to attend the game in person. (hurray) I thought varly had a tough game. I would base that more on the fact that he really seemed to be fighting the puck tonight, appeared to have some rebound trouble and generally never looked like he was comfortable. Good news is he has plenty of time and the caps have plenty of points to allow him to get back comfortable. lets just hope it doesn't come at the expense of taking theo out of his zone.

Also the defense did have an off night, no doubt about it.

Posted by: SFcapsfan | March 13, 2010 12:53 AM | Report abuse

For anybody who thinks of the Caps as a fast, puck possession team, wait until you see Chicago if you haven't already, assuming they play anywhere close to their norm. I've seen a lot of their games this season (parts or all of 10 or more) and simply put, they are really, really good. Really, really, really good.

If the Caps don't bring their A-game, it could end up looking like us in San Jose Part II or worse yet, Russia versus Canada.

We'll have to bring maximum energy and focus and most importantly, we need to make good decisions in every zone. I repeat... good decision-making in every zone.

If our defensemen get caught pinching or making lazy passes, Chicago will be pressuring and ready to pounce.

If our forwards try to do too much individually to generate offense, once again, Chicago will make us pay.

Make a little mistake at the point on the PP and you're in trouble. In general, the Caps had better be ready to react when on the PP if they want to prevent Chicago from going the other way.

If the Caps are fast, the Hawks are super fast.

If we're a puck possession team, they are a super puck possession team (for the lack of a better term).

They have 4 good to great forward lines with plenty of balance as well as tons of speed and skill all over the place, including on the backend.

They lead the league in shots for and against per game. Their +10 margin in that area is a scary statistic and accurately reflects how much they dominate most of the games they play.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 13, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

(cont.)

And, yes, their goaltending is absolutely their Achilles' heel. No team is perfect. We're certainly not.

Chicago, though, may be the most talented and balanced team in the league this season, despite the question mark in goal. You could make a good argument for SJ as well since they do have more experience and better goaltending, in theory.

Our Caps aren't too shabby, either. We just aren't nearly as tight, defensively. Chicago's offense is just about as dangerous as our's even if they haven't scored as much. And they've been scoring at a higher clip in the second half of the season, particularly since the team got adjusted to Hossa being in the lineup.

All I'm saying is that careless passes and missed defensive assignments are much more likely to burn us against this team.

Hard work and good decision-making all around will be absolutely key in this game.

We can hope for Chicago to have a rare off game or to give up some soft goals but I'd much rather see them at their best and us at our best.

If there is a measuring stick game down the stretch here, this is it. I hate the time of the game though and the fact that we only play them once. That can lead to faulty conclusions being draw in either direction.

Sorry for the long post... again. I'm just pretty hyped up for this game. I hope the Caps come ready to play.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 13, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

@tmac2, I read one of your posts on the other gamethread topic about wondering if Ovi looks at his mistakes--I remember Bruce saving that Ovi was really the only one who would come when the coaches were watching film after a game and he'd want to see all of the goals--the ones that he scored and the ones that he was out there for against the Caps.

I agree that if Ovi stepped it up on D, even just a little bit would help tremendously.

Posted by: dfe1 | March 13, 2010 1:08 AM | Report abuse

And I should add that I'm worried about the Chicago game big time. So do the Caps play a simplier "road" game to beat Chicago?

Posted by: dfe1 | March 13, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Good puck posession game but boys looked a little uninspired at times 2nite.Cant blame em..man Tampa is a boring team to watch (exception of that 20 year old stud). Ov line hasnt been generating alot this homestand ..all they need is one greasy Knuble goal against hawks on Sunday to get em rollin again. Flash was better on draws 2nite..not so much in the 3rd but overall was over 50%.Hope that line stays intact and Belange takes over for Bmo.Hawks on Sunday scare me..god they're good. Fired up to see the first truly meaningful game since Penguins contest. Get it done boys!!

Posted by: Todgak | March 13, 2010 1:16 AM | Report abuse

I don't about anyone else, but I'm over the line juggling and resting players. Erskine and Sloan should not be playing unless someone is injured.

I thought Varly played OK. 2 of the 3 goals were nearly unstoppable and the other he should have had, but Green hung him out to dry a bit by being out of position.

I didn't like the D pairings at all tonight. I did think S.Morrison played another solid game.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 13, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

@dfe1

I honestly remembered that while I was writing that post.

It was something about him being the only one to go back to where the coaches sit to watch film.

The reason I didn't mention it is that I seem to recall that it was mostly about him seeing what he's doing, offensively.

I do wonder how much he analyzes his defensive mistakes as well as how much the coaches get on him about it.

The first goal tonight was a classic example of what Ovechkin needs to do to take his game to another level.

Green made what appeared to me to be a bad decision to pressure the guy along the boards. It was bad because he had to cover so much ground and the TB player already had the puck under control with his head up. Green wasn't going to be able to win the puck or put much pressure on the guy.

Meanwhile, another TB player shot up the ice right behind Green. Ovechkin just watched him.

Green tried to recover but it was too late and the 2-on-1 was in process. If Ovechkin backchecks hard and picks that guy up, Morrisonn can put more pressure on the puck carrier and very likely prevents the goal.

Sure, Varlamov could have and should have stopped the shot but you also have to look at how the play started in the firt place. I'm not sure that my anaylsis is accurate but that's how I saw it. Green and Ovechkin were at fault.

Even if I was wrong, there are plenty of examples of Ovechkin not paying attention to the defensive side of the game. He is fully capable of it. He just doesn't appear committed to it and that makes me wonder if the coaches are doing enough to encourage him to take that next step.

A backchecking Ovechkin is an even more scary Ovechkin. I hope he makes that next step... soon. It is a weakness in his game.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 13, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

"Also the defense did have an off night, no doubt about it.

Posted by: SFcapsfan"

Wouldn't have anything to do with Sloan and Erskine playing, would it?

Posted by: butcherbaker | March 13, 2010 1:22 AM | Report abuse

BB may defend Varly, but I can't. The kid is awful! He gave up goals. GOALS! Good goalies don't give up goals ever. And what's worse, he had 0 goals, 0 assists! I hope GMGM brings Neuvi up. Sure, he gave up 4 goals in the AHL, but he's so positionally sound. Also, Neuvi has the ability to see through screens, stop all deflections, and get a hatty to boot. I hope GMGM sends Varly back to Russia and gets our pick back! (end of sarcasm)

Posted by: ablake70 | March 13, 2010 1:23 AM | Report abuse

We know he CAN do it 'cause we have seen him backcheck.

About whose fault it is, I read on another board that they felt it was Semin's fault because he stayed out there too long and then went for a line change at the wrong time (I'll be honest--I wasn't able to watch most of the game, so I'm just reiterating what someone else said and I personally have no comment on the situation).

Posted by: dfe1 | March 13, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

@ablake70

You had me till the end.

Posted by: CAPSHOCKEY2 | March 13, 2010 1:26 AM | Report abuse

Video is for the lazy who don't want to transcribe. I watch CSN or NHL Network for the video, not Washingtonpost.com. Just sayin'.

Posted by: StikSav | March 13, 2010 1:31 AM | Report abuse

@ dfe1

If it's the board I think you're talking about, it's ALWAYS Semin's fault.

Posted by: ablake70 | March 13, 2010 1:38 AM | Report abuse

I loved our PP last night. We could've easily gone 4-for-4. TB seemed to be hemmed into their own end the entire 8 minutes and we had tons of great scoring chances.

Speaking of scoring chances, how about Morrison failing to lift that backhand into the wide open net? Man...

We were also great on our one and only PK. I don't think TB even got a shot on goal. That's a far cry from what we've done against them throughout most of this season.

And how about that forecheck by Semin's line on I believe their first shift of the game. It looked like a PP, and a good PP.

There were plenty of positives to take from this game. In my opinion, we largely outplayed TB and would win 8 out of 10 games against them if we played the exact same way.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 13, 2010 1:45 AM | Report abuse

At Ed Frankovic's blog, he felt that Ovi didn't seem to have much energy in this game, as well as last game? Any thoughts?

Posted by: dfe1 | March 13, 2010 1:53 AM | Report abuse

So, yea, I disagree with the consensus, including Boudreau's take, that we didn't play well.

I also disagree with Boudreau about luck not being a factor in this game or this sport, in general.

In hockey and baseball, luck plays a much bigger factor into the outcome of games compared to football, soccer and basketball.

In hockey, it's due to the fact that they play on ice while the puck is small and oddly-shaped, making flukey bounces and deflections more likely on any given play. There are a lot of other factors that I'm surely overlooking as well.

In baseball, it's almost impossible for a player to control nearly 100 mph pitches with any real accuracy, other than on bunts. A perfectly struck ball can end up lined right into the glove of a fielder while a ball off the end of the bat can bloop over the infield.

Again, these are just a couple of examples of how luck plays more of a role in these two sports compared to sports where the critical object in play is much bigger and easier to control, e.g., a basketball or soccer ball.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 13, 2010 1:55 AM | Report abuse

3 goals in 11 shots -- the defense was there. Varly was playing in the net, not coming out to challenge. His rebound and puck control were iffy, not terrible. He was a tenative, not a confident goalie tonight. A bad old habit has crept back in too -- his glove hand was down in the butterfly, where the 2nd goal came from. Irbe got Varly out of that habit before his injury, but it's back.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | March 13, 2010 6:32 AM | Report abuse

The Caps are in an enviable position. Their closest rival (Pitt) is 14 games back with 14 games to go. On the other hand, such a scenario means they don't have to fight for each and every game, a situation that prepares you for the playoffs. Boudreau will have a tough time making sure they play their hardest. No one wants to back into the playoffs.

Posted by: rjma1 | March 13, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Nothing against Gene Wang, but why are the Post editors following BB's lead making Tarik a healthy scratch to rest him up for the play-offs? I Tarik's next piece will be front-page amazing and he can tell his editors:

"It's a little message,"
"Don't sit me out again."

Posted by: squidly666 | March 13, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

The Caps are in an enviable position. Their closest rival (Pitt) is 14 games back with 14 games to go. On the other hand, such a scenario means they don't have to fight for each and every game, a situation that prepares you for the playoffs. Boudreau will have a tough time making sure they play their hardest. No one wants to back into the playoffs.

Posted by: rjma1

It's just one game but I hope they play with more passion and urgency next game. You can't just "turn it on" when you start the playoffs.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 13, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

@ablake70 & @dfe

People here weren't too hard on Semin. But there's one particular poster on Japers' who's generally negative on him in general and would recommend him for a healthy scratch Sunday.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 13, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

As for the Caps' boards, the new boards that started this year have gotten so lame that it's not even funny. I don't even read them too often any more. Many of the regular posters on the old Caps' boards migrated to a new unofficial board which I occasionally read but not often.

Most of the good discussions are either here or on Japers, even if I might occasionally complain about an individual post.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 13, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

erskine and sloan don't deserve to be the scapegoats for this game...erskine in particular was solid (hits, blocks, takeaways, clearing crease) and his -1 occured because corvo didn't have position on vinny l...we've got too many vanilla players when it comes to the physical part of the game; down 3-1, someone should've fired up the team/fans with a fight; being the least-fighting team in the nhl, us caps fans are being denied the one aspect of the sport that makes hockey unique...there were ample opportunities last night to get things going, yet no one stepped up...we should let teams know that if they're gonna beat us, they'll pay a price for the 2 pts

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 13, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

In watching Green I wonder if he might lack speed of thought with his play. I'm not talking intelligence, I'm talikng about an ability to make quick, accurate hockey decisions. Coaches at all ages and levels often look for this trait when evaluating talent.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 13, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

No chance for Varlmaov on the last two goals. Walkers went through a screen, deflected off Laich's skate, and went straight to the top corner instead of towards the middle low part of the net, where it was originally headed. On Lecavalier's Varlamov went to glove the high shot and it deflected of Vinny straight down and between his legs. Varlamov was making the right play on both but got crazy bounces. On the first goal he was out of position, but the last two was zero chance.

Posted by: Stu_c | March 13, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

@rjma1 - just a slight correction: the caps are 14 POINTS up on Pitt with 14 games, including 2 against the Pens. Nothing is in the bag yet, though they are in pretty much control of their own destiny. Those 2 games against Pittsburgh will probably determine if they cruise to the #1 seed in the east or not.

One game at a time, and they are still playing for position and a possible Pres. Trophy. I have no doubt they can hang with and beat the Blackhawks. My concern is the timing. They are taveling west, losing an hour due to that, and losing another hour for daylight savings time. It's like starting a game at 10:30 EST.

Posted by: Rainier1 | March 13, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

From the perspective of my seats, it seemed we outplayed them significantly in the 1st and could have scored far more. We came out strong in the second too, outshooting them significantly. In the third TB did a great job tangling us up and outworking us. We were demoralized by the goals and did not deliver the hard work needed.

It's too bad, but it's not a bad time to lose. It'll happen.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 13, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

good god Poti and Corvo paired up together in a tied game. Boudreau, you just tryin to give this game away? It looks like the Hawks are on a PP

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 14, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

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