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Boudreau: 'It Was a Lot of Effort Issues'

Coach Bruce Boudreau praised Kari Lehtonen for his 49-save performance in the Thrashers' 5-1 win tonight. But Boudreau also bluntly pointed out -- in only the way he can -- that the Atlanta goaltender was only a part of the Caps' problem at Philips Arena.

"Kari Lehtonen was great all game," Boudreau said. "But we were still really bad in the first two periods. We did everything wrong that a team could do."

On to the notes:

Where's the Effort?
The Caps' biggest deficiency was an obvious lack of effort in the opening 40 minutes against a Thrashers team that started the night 30 points behind them in the standings and didn't have Ilya Kovalchuk, its leading scorer.

They were out-hustled. They were outworked. They were dominated on faceoffs (winning only 29 percent in the first two periods). They didn't throw many hits (the score sheet credits them with eight all game, and that might be generous). The penalty kill didn't pressure the puck. And Lehtonen saw almost every shot that was flung in his direction.

Those are telltale signs of a team that wasn't playing with enough effort or passion -- a recurring problem for the Caps, particularly against lesser opponents.

Boudreau said, "It was a lot of effort issues, I thought."

No Traffic
Lehtonen was good, not great. And that was the Caps' fault.

"Among the things we talked about between the second and third [periods] was that we're not going to score on this guy tonight unless someone goes to the front of the net," Boudreau said. "If you look at our past few games, we're getting all pretty goals and power-play goals. But nobody's willing to get dirty. Until we learn to get dirty and get in front of the net, the guys who are stuck on 'X' amount of goals are going to stay stuck on 'X' amount of goals."

Perfect 10
Alex Ovechkin took 10 shots on Lehtonen, a goalie he normally dominates. He came in with 16 goals in 16 games against the goalie, who had No. 8's number tonight. Ovechkin really came to life -- and started running Thrashers players over -- after a taking a slash to his hands Boris Valabik late in the second period. But by then it was already 4-0.

Theodore to Start Tomorrow
Boudreau pulled Jose Theodore after the Thrashers got their fourth goal on their 19th shot. But the coach didn't hold his goalie accountable for the lopsided score. In fact, Boudreau wanted to get Theodore out because he knows he's going to rely on him against the Panthers.

"I'm sick and tired of him bailing our team out and him not getting the support that he deserves," Boudreau said. "You look at his goals against or save percentage and you say it should be better. But when you have to stop goals like that first goal [where] four guys just waved their stick at the guy, what are you supposed to do?"

Pothier Returns
In his first action in 14 months, Brian Pothier was okay, I thought. He skated 16:51 and fired three shots on net. He was also in the penalty box for one goal and the reason John Erskine (his partner) was forced to take another penalty that lead to another goal.

"I thought he was really tentative in the first period and was doing way more watching than he was skating," Boudreau said. "But he got a little better as the game went on. But it's first game in 14 months, so I'm not going to hold him too accountable."

Pothier added, "I felt pretty good. I saw the ice decent. I made a couple of mistakes that led to penalties and we got in trouble so I was a little frustrated by that. But I had lots of energy. My legs felt fine."

PK Killing The Caps
The Caps' penalty kill, which came in ranked 20th, did them no favors tonight, yielding three goals on four shorthanded situations. Things got so bad, Boudreau started one kill with Ovechkin on the ice. Don't remember the last time I saw that.

"Quite frankly, the other guys weren't exactly getting the job done," he said.

Dominated in the Dot (Again)
The Thrashers won 65 percent of their faceoffs tonight. Had Sergei Fedorov played, that might have been different. But he didn't. And it wasn't pretty. Todd White won 8 of 9 and Peverely won 16 of 21. Meantime, Michael Nylander won 4 of 11 and Nicklas Backstrom won 2 of 10.

That's not going to get it done, folks.

Thrashers Set Record
The win was Atlanta's sixth in a row, a new franchise record.

Well, that's it from me tonight. I'll check in from the morning skate at BankAtlantic Center.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 16, 2009; 11:51 PM ET
 
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Comments

bad effort all around - not the kind of thing you want to see 3 games after a 4 game skid

Posted by: ralph4100 | March 17, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Another strange thing tonight was Semin took two separate draws on the faceoff while Backstrom lined up on wing (no, the ref did not chase Backstrom first. And I agree with the above: despite the 49 save,s a lot of the shots tonight were very routine.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | March 17, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

tonight was one of the annoying ones when people at the bar keep asking me what's going wrong, and why is Atlanta so far back if they're goalie is so good. Does Poti have the flu or his he menstrating? Finally I just said that the caps don't want to face lesser opponents, they just want to be handed those points. They've gotten snobby.
That answer drew blank looks.
Ovechkin just goes on being ovechkin. No one else got involved when he got slashed. WTF?

Posted by: oo7 | March 17, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

Not sure if this had been posted yet. Funny Q&A with Greener, Backs, & Flash.
http://www.nhl.tv/team/console.jsp?id=35807

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | March 17, 2009 1:11 AM | Report abuse

One thing that I noticed more tonight was how OV was hitting people, and not in a good way. He has to stop leaving his feet to make hits. He's going to catch someone's head one of these days. I don't think it'll be intentional, but it's going to happen. Stay on the ice when you make your hits OV!!!

Posted by: isaacc7 | March 17, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

The flash and Ferh apologists can take a break for the rest of the f'in season. Last week Fehr was quoted saying that "we" need to go to the net. Well, where the hell have you been, Eric! I don't want to think what will happen to Flash in the playoffs, can you look worse than he has lately? If I was GMGM, I would tell Flash, Fehr, and Nyls to find their own way home! Someone in the minors can produce nothing in a better fashion.

Posted by: bestpilotonearth | March 17, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

My 7 year old son and I drove three hours from Augusta, Ga to watch the Caps get trounced tonight by the Thrashers. The sparsely filled Philips Arena had quite a contingent of Washington faithful, yet the Caps decided to play down to the competition (again).

These games are very discouraging, and I hope the team get its act together prior to the playoffs.

Posted by: TrappedinGA | March 17, 2009 1:28 AM | Report abuse

get(s)

Posted by: TrappedinGA | March 17, 2009 1:30 AM | Report abuse

world is doomed.

2012.

grit.

billy guerin.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 17, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

No mention on how terrible Poti was?

Posted by: VegasCapsFan | March 17, 2009 2:09 AM | Report abuse

funny thing is, if some caps fan came on here and mentioned the exact same issues that Bruce outlined, you'd get some idiots (_828) on here calling them out for being "gloom and doomers".

Exactly what Bruce just mentioned has been discussed here past and present. By the FANS. An embarassing lack of effort, no intensity or hitting, and not covering the front of the net. But god forbid this gets commented on by mere hockey fans..

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2009 2:42 AM | Report abuse

No mention on how terrible Poti was?

Posted by: VegasCapsFan | March 17, 2009 2:09 AM

Poti has grown on me but damn does he make some of the worst turnovers I've ever seen. If Juice or Erskine made those plays game after game they'd be crucified in the press. But Poti just keeps skating. He's been woefully bad after his return from the recent injury. The pass tonight was a play you'd expect to see in the junior leagues

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2009 2:44 AM | Report abuse

Really getting sick and tired of watching them lose due to a lack of effort. Grow up, guys! How many times does Boudreau have to tell people to get in front of the net? If they can't take the punishment, then they should switch to baseball. He needs to sit some people down. I know a few guys in Hershey who'd like the chance.

Posted by: FedsFan | March 17, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Dont worry. According to some your not supposed to express your disappointment because they are the home team, or as some idiot in 424 told me that because they had a winning record i wasn't allowed to say anything.

Well HA. I saw this lazy play coming a long time ago. wrote about it on one of these articles a while ago. Hope they get it together.

Posted by: CapsFan44 | March 17, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

After painfully watching the game last night, part of the team looked drained. I could be wrong but I've seen them play down to lower teams the past 2 months, but last night this entire team looked different.

It could be a lack of effort, or some of these guys are sick and are not saying anything about it, which I think is worse for the team. IMO.

It's getting close to the playoffs and this entire team needs to be healthy, alert and focused if they want to make it to the finals. We've all seen what this team can do when focused and playing as a team. I honestly believe they can beat any team if they want bad enough.

So here's to the final 11 games, we'll find out how bad this team really wants it.

Posted by: bajgirl | March 17, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

@ Cstanton, FedsFan,& CapsFan44,
It's refreshing to hear others with the balls to speak the truth. Being a Caps' fan should NEVER preclude objective criticism.
One thing that's become quite obvious ( To me ) is that BB suffers from an extreme case of "Favoritism" while critiquing his players. Flash, his "Ovechkin at Hershey" can do no wrong. Here's a guy who's been scoring about once a month since the 1st of the year. But, bb still throws him out there faithfully, game after game. This is the same Flash that bb RELUCTANTLY benched last April in the Flyers series because of his woeful ineffectiveness. Well, NEWSFLASH! He's going to be just as ineffective THIS time around, Bruce. He's a wimp along the boards. and, generally gets pushed around all over the ice.
I've been crying about Fehr's lack of "Heart" all season. Nothing has changed. You can't "Practice" having courage. And, he obviously has none. THAT'S his problem.
Kozlov is so pathetic he's hardly worth mentioning. Maybe in this, his 14th season in the league, he'll finally get HIS FIRST PLAYOFF GOAL. Nuf said. Geeezzz.
I said BEFORE LAST PLAYOFF SEASON'S Philly series, that it was a huge mistake not including Laing on the team. Here's a guy who's ALL heart, soul, and guts. The ultimate "Team" player. Yet, bb chose to ignore his obvious value, while stocking the roster with heartless "Skill" players like Flash, Kozlov, and Fehr --------- who contributed absolutely NOTHING! Zilch! Zero! What does a guy have to do to gain bb's favor? Laing did everything but literally KILL HIMSELF!
Chris Borque is another who has gotten the Royal Screws from Caps Management. HE EARNED a roster spot during training camp. HE WAS OUTSTANDING!! But, gmgm declared that the previous season's team had, "Earned the right" to be kept together." Well, Caps fans, THERE IS THE ROOT OF THE TEAM'S COMPLACENCY!! When your gm ignores who's producing on the ice, and sticks with the same guys because they snuck into the playoffs on the very last day, AND were immediately eliminated in the very 1st. round, then there's a problem. A REAL problem. Unconsciously, he's sending a message to his players that they don't have to perform. They're "Entitled" to roster spots and playing time.
I know guys like Borque, Laing, and Andrew Gordon ( Another one who'd be a marked improvement over Flash and Fehr ) can't wait until their current Caps contracts expire. gmgm's refusal to improve his team by March 4th reconfirmed his ineptitude.
Unfortunately, the majority of so - called "Caps fans" resent Puckguru telling it like it is. But, as long as this is The United States of America, I'll continue exercising my 1st. Amendment RIGHT, and continue my efforts ( Along with a select few ) to enlighten the masses. Peace out...

Posted by: Puckguru | March 17, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

funny thing is, if some caps fan came on here and mentioned the exact same issues that Bruce outlined, you'd get some idiots (_828) on here calling them out for being "gloom and doomers".

Exactly what Bruce just mentioned has been discussed here past and present. By the FANS. An embarassing lack of effort, no intensity or hitting, and not covering the front of the net. But god forbid this gets commented on by mere hockey fans..

Posted by: cstanton1 | March 17, 2009 2:42 AM

Only difference is he called out the team and not specific names. There is a big difference.

I did not get to watch the game , but when I saw we had out shot them 49-19 or something like that, I figured it just must have been one of them night.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | March 17, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

WOW. A mud fight among the bloggers this morning? Before I throw my piece into the fight, let me say I think BB is a great coach, I am a Caps fan, and Tarik and Katie are the best reporters in the world (I hope that last one pleases my friend from the UK).

Having said that, Can anyone tell me what BB is saying?

"If you look at our past few games, we're getting all pretty goals and power-play goals. But nobody's willing to get dirty. Until we learn to get dirty and get in front of the net, the guys who are stuck on 'X' amount of goals are going to stay stuck on 'X' amount of goals."

He seems to be saying that pretty goals (pretty plays, precission play in my view)and power play goals are not as important as dirty goals (shoot and get lucky goals). He has been asking his players to shoot more rather than to look to pass for a better shot, he has benched players than doesn't comply with that order, well, they did just that last night and the team lost, so now he is passing the buck and saying is a lack of effort. I think the players might be getting conflicting messages from BB.

Posted by: opita1 | March 17, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

@ Opita 1,
There's absolutely nothing "Conflicting" nor confusing about BB's message. Really, it couldn't be any more straight - forward. His point is that "Winning" hockey isn't all about "Pretty" passes. It's also about being willing to get down & dirty. Being willing to get your nose bloodied. It's about having the courage to station yourself in front of the net, in order to screen the goalie's view. or possibly deflect a shot into the goal.
These are the types of things the Caps seem extremely reluctant to do --------- on anything remotely resembling a regular basis. How often do you see big, strong Victor Kozlov park himself in the crease? NEVER!! What about big, strong Eric Fehr? Same answer. What about, anyone on the so - called 4th Line? They cycle the puck fairly well at times, but nobody ever camps out in the crease. And, that includes Donald Brashear, who I can't ( For the life of me ) understand why Bruce doesn't have HIM station himself in the crease ------- particularly during the Power Play.
No,Opita 1, the message was clear. "Stop all the fancy, pretty, bull crap, and be willing to get your nose bloodied. Until they get a few players like that on the team, there'll be no Cup raised in D.C. ------------ EVER!

Posted by: Puckguru | March 17, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

It is absolutely true the Caps are not getting the ugly goals from their 3rd and 4th line. If OV, Semin, Backstrom, Green, Laich or Fedorov do not score, then they will always be in a situation of a near shutout. It is even worse if the effort on defense is lacking like last night to compensate for the lack of offense. I hope GMGM will back BB up with some call ups just to send a message that all are expendable if they are not performing.

Posted by: JohnWWW | March 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Puckguru,
But he did say: "If you look at our past few games, we're getting all pretty goals and power-play goals. " It seems to me like he is saying those goals don't count as much as if you do the dirty goal stuff. Who cares how the goal is score as long as it does? Much better to score with a pretty play, even if you don't like the pretty play, than to sit and get your nose blodied and hope that you will score. If BB manages to change the european players to play old style hockey, then in my opinion he wont be as succesful. We played many years without these type of players and I sure won't like to go back to that era, too many years of mediocricy.
Anyway, it is your an observation and an opinion on my part.

Posted by: opita1 | March 17, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

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