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Boudreau Makes Changes on Blueline

Although the Capitals are 2-0 and playing well by most measurements, it appears Coach Bruce Boudreau has decided to shuffle his defensive pairings for tomorrow's game in Philly.

The top pairing of Mike Green and Shaone Morrisonn remained unchanged during this morning's practice at KCI. But the other pairings were different. Tom Poti and John Erskine were the second tandem, while Jeff Schultz and Milan Jurcina and Tyler Sloan and Brian Pothier rounded out the blueline. Boudreau didn't say which pair would sit out the Philly game, but it appears that Sloan and Pothier will be the odd defensemen out.

"One of them will play tomorrow and maybe one will play on Thursday," Boudreau said of Schultz and Sloan, both whom were healthy scratches the first two games. "It's not that we're experimenting, we've got two really good defensemen sitting out and I have no qualms about putting them in."

That said, if you're going to make a change, it makes sense to do it after Saturday's 6-4 win over Toronto, a game in which the Caps struggled in their own end in the third period as the Leafs struck three times to make the score respectable.

The downside of keeping eight defensemen, though, is that you're always going to have two unhappy players. But right now, the Caps don't have any other options. They can't risk sending down Sloan because he would have to clear waivers (which likely wouldn't happen.)

"You don't want to lose one," Boudreau said. "We think we've got eight real quality defensemen and we think we have two in Hershey who are quality defensemen [in Karl Alzner and Sean Collins]."

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 5, 2009; 12:53 PM ET
 
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Comments

Good move by BB. I rather see him rotate players and keep them fresh, than to sit anyone for a long period of time ... now about N...

Posted by: hock1 | October 5, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to tomorrow night, whatever the lines may be.

GO CAPS!

Posted by: Raber | October 5, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

I am with Raber on that thought.

Posted by: hock1 | October 5, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Schultz? nooooooooooooooooo

Posted by: Bagher | October 5, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm also for the rotation, though let me ask this:

Do you sit Green in that rotation as well or only take him out because of injury?


** On a 100% unrelated thought, I was thinking about this during the Toronto game, but which would be the funnier T-shirt
"Semin - Sneaking behind the goalie since 2003"
Or
"What would you do when Semin is in your face?" (with a picture of the bongo incident)

Posted by: superpaqman | October 5, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Ph Phillthy

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 5, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Bagher...Shultz is the weak link here! Sit him down and bring back Alzner! GO CAPS GO, beat up the Fly-boy's tomorrow nite!

Posted by: larmur57 | October 5, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I don't buy the idea that Sloan wouldn't clear waivers. What has he proven at the NHL level?

Until he spends a season at the NHL level playing at a high level, there's no no reason that he is any more of an NHL defenseman than Lawrence Nycholat, Nolan Baumgartner, or Joel Kwiatkowski.

Posted by: whmaurer | October 5, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Looking forward to the Caps taking it to Philly tomorrow night. I just hope I can find some place in the Stafford/Fredericksburg area that will show the game because of the nonsense going on between DirecTV & Comcast.

C-A-P-S....CAPS CAPS CAPS

Posted by: mlewis31 | October 5, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I have to think Schultz is a good defenseman. I know this board loves that statement. His numbers from last year if you look at the behindthenet were better than every full-time D man we had, except Green. Put him and let him grow some more as a player. I don't think anyone believes defensemen hit their prime until the late 20s, defensively speaking, and I'm pretty sure he's not there yet.

Posted by: saintex | October 5, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

heh heh. Joel Kwiatkowski. That brings back memories.

Posted by: Raber | October 5, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

that should have opened with "happen to think"

Posted by: saintex | October 5, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

What's up with Nyls?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 5, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Whether Sloan will clear waivers is something we may find out soon. When Fehr and Flash come back I'd expect Kane to go down for sure, but whether we keep 8 D or 14 forwards is the question, and I would not be surprised if Sloan went down as opposed to Laing.

Alzner has in no way shape or form outplayed Schultz; that's not happening. It's too much to ask of you all, I'm sure, but let's see Sarge in some reg season games before condemning him to Hershey. He's at least 2 places away from that on the depth chart.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 5, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

.....and we have two first rounders in the ECHL! (Oops!)

Posted by: C-way | October 5, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

did anyone else notice on the postgame from Sat. night that Nyls' locker was completely empty, and everyone else's was full?

Posted by: sargeantmofo | October 5, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Two quality defensemen in Hershey... Alzner and Collins. I'm not going to argue that Alzner and Collins are quality - but I will ask why the number wasn't 3 and Carlson's name wasn't thrown into the mix...

Posted by: OverTheBoards | October 5, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand Schultz over Pothier at all. He is a pylon.

Posted by: govtimbo | October 5, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Nyls is on LTIR with a serious case of cantplayitus. Though the disease is incurable, most Caps fans hope that constantly questioning the validity of the ailment will lead management to play him anyway. After all, Nylander has played through serious injuries in the past for the better of the team - why not now?

Unfortunately, the NHL refuses to accept the existence of cantplayitus, and as such Nylander's salary is counting against our cap number. We, as Caps fans, must rise up against the big wigs of the NHL - spread the word, cantplayitus is real!

Posted by: Raber | October 5, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@whmaurer - Tell that to Chris Bourque. I won't say EVER that someone "won't clear waivers".

@Sonyask and @saintex - Agreed on Schultz. He was playing well in the pre-season; give him a chance first before you decide he's got to go to Hershey. He WOULD be picked up on waivers, and believe me, we will live to regret it if he does.

@lylewimbledon - Your guess about Nylander ("No Movement Clause") is as good as mine. I haven't heard a damnthing since the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl rumor last week.

From last post: I agree that we need to be starting Theodore as much as we start Varlamov. I think Theodore would have had at least one of the four goals Varlamov let in, possibly more of them. I agree with Irbe about giving Varlamov some of Neuvirth's cool, because he does flop around a good deal, and the post saves him far too often for my comfort.

Posted by: irockthered | October 5, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

He says he is not going anywhere - he may just collect a phat paycheck all year making him the highest paid cheerleader ever!

Posted by: lylewimbledon | October 5, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@whmaurer: I completely buy Sloan not clearing waivers. While he is 29 and probably will not develop much more, he can skate, he can hit effectively, and he makes good clearing decisions with the puck more often than not. He can man a point and his shot is fairly accurate. He'll never be a Mike Green, but in an NHL where defenses are becoming increasingly mobile, a Dman who can skate and move the puck is nothing to be sneezed at. He also has playoff experience and was a solid performer in the games he played. All that for $640K? Heck yes that's worth grabbing on the waiver wire.

Anyone who wants to send Schultz back to Hershey slept through the pre-season. Period. For those of you who are just joining us, Schultz was a beast in the pre-season. Not much got around or past him and still had time left to shoot, if they hadn't been stapled to the boards and left to pick themselves up off the ice.

As far as adding Carlson to that list - Carlson isn't ready yet. Give him a season or two in Hershey and he will be, but for all the flashes of talent you see he's still green.

Posted by: kittypawz | October 5, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

My thoughts so far...

If we move Nyls (as we all hope) then Flash and Fehr coming back means that only Kane would be sent back down to Hershey.

You knew that BB was not going to play the same 6 D the whole time. He wants to see how Schultz has progressed and to see if Sloan can fight for a permanent job.

Schultz has played much better this year and I hope that continues.

@superpaqman - Definitely go with the "Semin in your face" shirt.

@OverTheBoards - Carlson wasn't included because he hasn't proven anything in the NHL yet. He will be on our blue line soon enough.

And for any of you who read/remember my "predictions" from last week I now have to take my foot out of my mouth. I made a crack that the "Move of the Game" always comes from sections 429, 430 or 431 and I was talking about it to the person sitting next to me on Saturday until the camera shot to 407 and the next thing you know I was moving down low. It was awesome and that was the 1st time I have ever sat in the 100 section (119 specifically) for a game.

Oh and somebody send Green a memo to stay away from Pronger tomorrow... please.

Posted by: pkendrick | October 5, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

@irockthered - I didn't think Bourque would make it through waivers, but I am fairly confident that Sloan would.

As far as I can tell, Sloan is just another journeyman AHLer, possibly a 6/7 NHL defenseman at best, and most teams have plenty of those types on their NHL and AHL rosters.

Bourque can at least be considered a decent prospect, and he had decent numbers for the Bears last season.

Posted by: whmaurer | October 5, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I agree Carlson hasn't proven anything yet - but I've been watching him in Hershey (Bears' season ticket holder). My argument is simply this - if you're going to refer to Collins (who I've been watching for a few years now) as quality - you'd better at least make the same statement about Carlson (if not more).

Here's an FYI for anyone who cares - my new favorite D-pair in Hershey came out Saturday night. Carlson/Alzner. They were outstanding!

Posted by: OverTheBoards | October 5, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Schultz is a beast!

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 5, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

@pkendrick

so long as we are sending memos around, please let other Capitals fans know they should check the crease before raising the obnoxious "All Your Fault" chant.

no one seemed to notice that Gustavsson replaced Toskala during the first intermission. succumbing to obnoxia is one thing, but being stupid on top is unforgivable.

Posted by: P-Mac | October 5, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

can we let double nickel play a real game this season before we start bashing him? if he catches a toe pick again then go for it, but until then lets give the guy a chance.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 5, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone believes defensemen hit their prime until the late 20s, defensively speaking, and I'm pretty sure he's not there yet.

Posted by: saintex | October 5, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse


if thats the case then there's hundreds of defensemen in different systems who never get a fair shake. They gave up on Steve Eminger wayyy before he hit his "prime"

its not about hitting your peak, its about showing a lot of potential before you hit that peak. Teams simply can't wait for 10 yrs after drafting a defenseman just so he may or may not hit his prime in his late 20s.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 5, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

@P-Mac

I noticed that as well and laughed because people didn't notice the difference but what did you expect them to do? I mean 4-5-6 it's all your fault works but that requires more organization then we fans are capable of doing during a game.

Posted by: pkendrick | October 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The problem with putting Sloan on waivers is one of two things happen:

1) He's claimed and then gone.
2) He's not claimed and goes to Hershey.

If unclaimed and at Hershey, and we get the inevitable injuries, he can't be brought back unless he clears reverse waivers. These are the worst waivers of all. If claimed then, the new team only pays half his salary and the Caps pay the other half (including cap hit). Anyone questioning if Sloan is worth $640K, how bout is he worth $320K?

And, worst of all, the Caps, pennies within the cap, get hit with half his salary. Then you can't afford to bring up another player!

I believe Collins also requires reverse waivers. And Aucoin and Giroux. So, say bye-bye to these guys until after the deadline (teams won't claim then since they can't use in the playoffs). It's bad enough you are paying these guys full NHL salaries to toil in choco-town, but to top it off you can't risk bringing them up!

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 5, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I personally cannot wait to watch how Schultz plays on Tuesday night. Let's see how he handles Carter / Van Reimsdyk / Gagne / Giroux / Briere / Richards - ie the skill guys.

Then, let's see how he and the rest of the caps defense handle the physical element from the bangers like Carcillo / Lapierre / Asham and others.

Actions speak louder than words

Posted by: Jaymagz | October 5, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

@Overtheboards: Carlson/Alzner will be up in DC in two years, maybe one...and HUGE. Keep us posted on Hershey...

@cstanton1: gave up on Eminger, but got a draft pick that turned into...Carlson. ch-ching

On Schultz: If people are judging him on the Rangers gm1 goal, remember he was hurt and playing through it. Let's give him a break. Caps would take this problem (how do we play 8 guys) rather than last year's apparent how do we stretch 4 thru a game...It's like having 6 pitchers...you'll always need that extra 1 or 2.

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | October 5, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Sloan won't clear waivers, because his cap hit is very VERY low. And we won't waive him, because as @tominfl1 said, $320k to snag him on re-entry waivers??? He's definitely worth that.

I don't know if Collins requires reverse waivers - I don't think he's old enough.

But I know Giroux and Aucoin both do; they are, therefore, down until after the trade deadline is passed.

Posted by: irockthered | October 5, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

We should dress 7 D.

Let Erskine take some shifts up front for 3-4 minutes.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 5, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Everytime I read "Briere" I throw up in my mouth...then I remember that Philly is on the hook for about $52 mil over 8 years which cheers me right back up.

Very excited to hear the caps will be on vs tomorrow.

Posted by: Moose33 | October 5, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

And while we're on Semin: anyone think of comparing Semin to Matt McConnaughy? Losing his threads and playing the bongos?

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | October 5, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

We should dress 7 D.

Let Erskine take some shifts up front for 3-4 minutes.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 5, 2009 2:51 PM

Boudreau was clearly playing with this idea at one point. I think it'd be fun personally, but Kane hasn't been terrible. I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of having 7 D and rotating pairings around. Kind of tough to get into a rhythm if you're not playing with the same guy every shift.

Posted by: Raber | October 5, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I want Schultz to succeed just so we have a D-man with the nickname "Sarge"! ;-D

Posted by: sargeantmofo | October 5, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

@pkendrick

so long as we are sending memos around, please let other Capitals fans know they should check the crease before raising the obnoxious "All Your Fault" chant.

no one seemed to notice that Gustavsson replaced Toskala during the first intermission. succumbing to obnoxia is one thing, but being stupid on top is unforgivable.

Posted by: P-Mac | October 5, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Since I'm down that way, I apologize for my section-mates for that mistake. I never engage in that chant but frankly I was not aware that Gustavsson had come in all the way down on far end of the ice from us to start the 2d either.

In my opinion it's a totally lame chant, but it's much more family friendly than the goalie harangues that used to come out with greater frequency. Folks in 104-107 see it as their duty to heckle the opp goalie. Me, I'm more of a cheer the home team person.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 5, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The Monster has no idea what the hell any of them are yelling at him either way. Toskala probably can't understand it either.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

The dumbest part about the goalie chant is that even when they notice the goalie has changed, they still say every goal is his fault. I understand that would be a lot of thought but it is just dumb.

Posted by: mikesfan | October 5, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

There is no way in hell a team is going to grab Sloan. Well, definetely not because they need a body. If a GM wants to be a Richard or something like that, we may him get picked up. But no team is going to sacrifice a roster spot for no reason. And as far as I know, MON is the only team with injured D-men and I don't see them needing Sloan.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

While he is 29 and probably will not develop much more, he can skate, he can hit effectively, and he makes good clearing decisions with the puck more often than not. He can man a point and his shot is fairly accurate. He'll never be a Mike Green, but in an NHL where defenses are becoming increasingly mobile, a Dman who can skate and move the puck is nothing to be sneezed at. He also has playoff experience and was a solid performer in the games he played. All that for $640K? Heck yes that's worth grabbing on the waiver wire.

________________________

Sounds like tons of guys.

FYI, Skoula AND McKee both make less than Sloan. Kind of weird to think about. Granted, they are both one-ways.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

@mikesfan - That would depend on if "your" refers to the goalie, or to the other team. I mean, yeah, it's a goalie taunt, but it COULD be "all y'all's fault" ... if you understand the distinction between "y'all" and "all y'all"... ;-)

@richmondphil - I disagree with you on Sloan, and personally, I hope they don't chance it to prove you right.

Posted by: irockthered | October 5, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Now, if we waive him in a week or two and some team has a ton of blue line injuries, that many not apply. But if we waived him today, I don't see any teams getting him.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

CBo got picked up for one reason. Because Bissonette got claimed.

I am positive that if none of their guys were claimed, we would still have Bourque. That's why it was the 29th and final team to snag him.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

...no team is going to sacrifice a roster spot for no reason...

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:12 PM

-----------------------------------------

Not to nitpick, but C. Bourque still hasn't played a game for the Pens, and I don't think he will. Now I wouldn't call it no reason, but I'm guessing Shero took C. Bourque to hold a roster spot until we definitely can't afford to bring him back.

Posted by: Raber | October 5, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

When I think about "Sloan will clear waivers for sure," I then turn around and think about Chris Bourque, who everyone on this board described as an undersized forward who was riding on his famous daddy's coattails, and he's not all that, and yadda-yadda-yadda. NOW look who he's playing for.

THE PENGUINS.

Sure. Nobody will pick up Sloan. And they won't pick up Bourque, either.

B-U-L-L-S-H-T-I-C-K! BULLSHTICK!

Posted by: irockthered | October 5, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

P-Mac & pkendrick - I'm not a fan of that chant at all, especially when there were still fans pointing at OUR crease during the 2nd period, as if to imply it was Varly's fault. All in all a bad choice in chanting.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 5, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Not to nitpick, but C. Bourque still hasn't played a game for the Pens, and I don't think he will. Now I wouldn't call it no reason, but I'm guessing Shero took C. Bourque to hold a roster spot until we definitely can't afford to bring him back.

Posted by: Raber | October 5, 2009 3:19 PM |

Read my other comment.

He only got picked up, and thus took a roster spot, because Biz-nasty was claimed, and thus they lost a roster spot.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I will always leave the opening for anything to happen, to quote -Boo.

But I just don't see why he would get claimed, given the circumstances around the league, if he was waived today.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

P-Mac & pkendrick - I'm not a fan of that chant at all, especially when there were still fans pointing at OUR crease during the 2nd period, as if to imply it was Varly's fault. All in all a bad choice in chanting.

Posted by: superpaqman

I am not a fan of that chant either and you still have to give some fans time to catch the changes in a hockey game like the fact that they switch ends and that goalies can be pulled from games. Hell I took an old friend of mine to a game last year and it took him until almost the end of the 2nd period to realize that we were in Red. We are becoming a hockey town but need patience when it comes to "new" fans.

Posted by: pkendrick | October 5, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I guess I am paraphrasing -Boo there, not quoting.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

...NOW look who [Chris Bourque]'s sitting on the bench for...

THE PENGUINS.

Posted by: irockthered | October 5, 2009 3:21 PM
----------------------------------------

Fixed that for you.

========================================

CBo got picked up for one reason. Because Bissonette got claimed.

I am positive that if none of their guys were claimed, we would still have Bourque. That's why it was the 29th and final team to snag him.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:19 PM

----------------------------------------

Very true.

Posted by: Raber | October 5, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

pkendrick - trust me I totally understand about new fans, I'm one myself, but when you have 3 and 4 people on either side of you pointing one way, and you're pointing the opposite direction, that's on you, new fan or not...

Posted by: superpaqman | October 5, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

By the way, I don't think it's any secret that I was a fan of Sloan last year during his time with us. Remember folks, it was Sloan who played instead of Alzner when they were both called up. And contrary to what some thought, Alzner was not injured on the call-up, but got injured when he was sent back down.

I would really hate to lose Sloan to stupid waivers, but I don't think he would be claimed. Unless some team had a retarded number of defensive injuries soon. MON already has 2 (Markov and O'Bryne), a few more and they may be trading for Sloan!

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil - My point exactly.

We still lost him. He's still no longer available to us. On the bench or on the ice, he belongs to another team now, and we can't use him.

There are teams that will pick up Sloan, too. You just watch. If they waive him, he will be gone, and whether he sits the bench or plays, he STILL won't be available to US.

And that is what matters to me.

Posted by: irockthered | October 5, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, former Cap Glen Metropolit is also injured for the Habs. He may have had a small role for us, but he's been a key 3/4 liner for them.

Let the year after Centennial meltdown begin!

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Put Nylander on waivers - the Penguins will claim him...

Posted by: Z-Money | October 5, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I haven't made the distinction on whether he would play or not, I'm just saying I don't see why he would get claimed.

Maybe it's a "I don't want him claimed, therefore I beleive him to not be claimed." thing going on.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 5, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I like Sloan. If he were sent down he could be claimed, but even if he made it to Hershey, he would be unavailable to us until late in the season. That would mean we would be looking at Alzner or Carlson for our emergency call-ups. That would still be ok in my book.

Posted by: _Mark | October 5, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Yea.., sorry for the dude who created/leads that chant but I've never liked it. From the stands or on tv can't even really understand what their saying ad so many goalies probably don't know either. But every goalie and fan knows what's up when you slowly chant their last name... I personally always prefer the most understood and most annoying chant.

GOOOLLLLLDDDDDDDBBBBEEEERRRRGHH

Posted by: mrszilla | October 5, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Just to be accurate, the Penguins weren't the last team to have a shot to claim Bourque. The picking order is the reverse of regular season standings.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 5, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

@ irockthered

That is my point about Theo and Varly exactly. Varly needs a little more seasoning before he is a grade A starting goalie.

Posted by: rovingbandit | October 5, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

@rovingbandit - I agree with you on that count, very much so.

Posted by: irockthered | October 5, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

He had 33 points last year, same as Fedorov. He was an even +/- and had only 32 PIMs. He had 4 PP goals and 2 game winners. His goals/shot percentage was 10.3 while Ovies was 10.6. His TOI per goal was only 14:02 compared to Flash's 15:04 or Ovie's whopping 23:00.

Posted by: Greg S. | October 5, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

That is my point about Theo and Varly exactly. Varly needs a little more seasoning before he is a grade A starting goalie.

Posted by: rovingbandit | October 5, 2009 3:49 PM

Shouldn't the readiness of Varlamov be based on the alternative?

Do you consider Theodore a Grade A starting goalie?

I would think Theodore is more like a Grade C at this point in his career.

Therefore, Varlamov needs to be at least a Grade C before you consider making your #1 given our current alternative.

Do you consider Varlamov a Grade C yet?

My opinion is that I'm not sure what he is given his limited exposure to the NHL. That's why I like what Bruce is doing with this whole splitting time thing. I am not convinced that Theodore is better than Varlamov or vice versa yet. As exciting as most of Varlamov's rookie season was, he still hasn't done enough to establish what kind of goalie he is. Time will tell.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 5, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Varly's rookie season consisted of four games before the post season, which doesn't count. I am pretty sure if I am wrong on his readiness he is elgible for the Calder this year.

Theo is a Grade A starter. Flame me all you want, he was saddled with a wishy washy defense last year, and was wrongfully blamed. You don't win 32 games by being a slouch, that would be akin to calling a player who wins the scoring title lucky and without a goal-scorer's sense.

Posted by: rovingbandit | October 5, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Does the Caps game being on VS tomorrow night meant that those of us with Direct TV will not be able to watch it again?

Posted by: srobert1117 | October 5, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

pkendrick - trust me I totally understand about new fans, I'm one myself, but when you have 3 and 4 people on either side of you pointing one way, and you're pointing the opposite direction, that's on you, new fan or not...

Posted by: superpaqman

Some people just aren't that quick

Posted by: pkendrick | October 5, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

On goalies: Varly will always look more spectacular than Theo or Neuvy b/c he makes up in athleticism what he lacks in "classic" positioning. But...did you see the first goal Toronto scored? Where WAS Varly exactly?

On the chant: "It's all your fault" is a college hockey chant imported to the phone booth. I'm waiting for "SIEVE! SIEVE! SIEVE!" to make it's way to the pros.

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | October 5, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

@rovingbandit

Just want to make sure that you read all of my previous post. I agree that Varlamov hasn't done enough to prove himself yet. I like what Bruce is doing right now. He gave Theo the #1 spot to start the season (at least verbally) and he's planning on using both of them regularly until one of them prove he deserves to be the #1 down the stretch. They both have the same team in front of them so after 30 or 40 games, we will have a pretty good idea who should be getting more games.

I agree that Theodore had a subpar defense in front of him last season. I don't think anybody will debate that. He was also new to the team and the system so he deserves some slack for that, too.

As far as using wins as a measuring stick, I don't completely accept that argument. That is similar to using wins in baseball to determine the Cy Young. It's not an identical situation but the point is that a good offense can compensate for deficiencies in other areas. You win a game by scoring more goals than your opponent. That can mean winning 2-1 or 5-4. The Caps had an elite offense and that masked a lot of our weaknesses.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 5, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

@pkendrick

I'm normally quiet but I started using, "and some are your fault!" before dishing, "and they're half your fault!" after Gustavsson did his best Toskala impression.

I agree, the chant is tame compared to what I've heard in other buildings and for other sports, but let's keep an eye on the crease from now on, especially when Calgary hits town.

Posted by: P-Mac | October 5, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

@ tmac2yao

Theo also had a .900 save percentage last year. My whole point has been Varly makes a great back-up this year. Let him soak up everything Irbe has to teach him this year, and try again for the starter spot next year.

Posted by: rovingbandit | October 5, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

@rovingbandit

I assume you aren't referencing his save percentage as a good statistic. He was well below average in both GAA and SV% last season.

Anyhow, I don't care who the #1 is when it's all said and done. I just want the better goalie to be that guy. I think it's too early to make an absolute decision about it. I like what Bruce is doing. Let them compete for that role.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 5, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1: gave up on Eminger, but got a draft pick that turned into...Carlson. ch-ching

On Schultz: If people are judging him on the Rangers gm1 goal, remember he was hurt and playing through it. Let's give him a break. Caps would take this problem (how do we play 8 guys) rather than last year's apparent how do we stretch 4 thru a game...It's like having 6 pitchers...you'll always need that extra 1 or 2.

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | October 5, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I'm well aware about the Eminger for Carlson switcharoo, still doesn't change the fact that we essentially gave up on Eminger. Not that I care either way, but its in response to Saintex implying that teams shouldn't give up on their defensemen until they hit their prime (late 20s). Personally, I think thats crazy.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 5, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

@srobert1117

Yes, with the game exclusively on Versus tomorrow night, we with DirecTV, miss yet another game.

Sadly, I don't see a solution to this mess. I think VS will be gone forever from the DirecTV lineup.

Bettman must walk on egg shells here, but it is clear NHL is siding with Comcast here (see nhl.com, urging fans to aim anger only at DirecTV).

Posted by: AnnandaleAnnie | October 5, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Agreed about wanting our best man to stand between the pipes, and I hope Varly proves my early season analysis wrong. However, right now Varly needs more work.

Posted by: rovingbandit | October 5, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

At some point sanity will prevail and McPhee is going to trade a blueliner either for draft picks or prospects.

The club drafted Alzner #6 overall and to keep the guy in the AHL because of a glut of NHL contracts for players who are borderline starters like Jurcina and Schultz is beyond me.

Posted by: leopard09 | October 5, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

well said, leopard09. There is a boatload of talent languishing in Hershey while some borderline talent minds the blueline up here.

@lylewimbledon: I agree with your assessment of Nyls' plan for the year, but I wouldn't assume he's a cheerleader. I'm guessing he's not a big Caps fan right now.

Posted by: jerseygirl15 | October 5, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

On goalies: Varly will always look more spectacular than Theo or Neuvy b/c he makes up in athleticism what he lacks in "classic" positioning. But...did you see the first goal Toronto scored? Where WAS Varly exactly?

On the chant: "It's all your fault" is a college hockey chant imported to the phone booth. I'm waiting for "SIEVE! SIEVE! SIEVE!" to make it's way to the pros.

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | October 5, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

in case you don't know, the players on the other teams get paid to play as well... it's NOT always you. Having said that that was the only weak goal Varly gave up. That is his weakness as with the case with most young goalies.. sometimes they get over-anxious and also over-react.

Posted by: joek443 | October 5, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm also for the rotation, though let me ask this:

Do you sit Green in that rotation as well or only take him out because of injury?

Posted by: superpaqman | October 5, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

the rotation is usually for 5th - 8th defensemen... the top 3 or 4 aren't usually part of it. your best D-man (Green) is NEVER part of such a rotation.

Posted by: joek443 | October 5, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Alzner is "languishing" in Hershey because of his salary and the fact thAt he can be sent down w/ out clearing waivers. Trust me, but for their cap issues he'd be here instead of Sloan. That's why it was funny. To read that bourque was waived cause of nylander. If they dump Nyls, the first thing they do is call up alzner. Then they keep the rest of his cap hit to pay back's bonus.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 5, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Here's the deal on Sloan. He's 28 or 29. Signed for one year, then UFA. A decent value for $640K. A number 6/7 d-man on most teams. And he's free. Many teams have full rosters but have young guys up as the 6th or 7th D. Let's say Caps waive Sloan tomorrow. Some lower echelon team snaps him and then they send down their young guy to get more seasoning and maybe save a year on free agency. Meanwhile, they throw Sloan into the game and give him decent minutes. They hope he plays well enough that they can move him at the deadline for a #3 pick. He's cheap; they can let their young guy mature; and maybe they can get something for him later.

In the case of Bourque, I don't think he can contribute this year at the NHL level as much as Sloan. Bourque though has more upside due to youth.

The worst thing if they waive Sloan is he played decently and then he'd be unavailable due to recall waivers. What was the sense in signing him if you're just going to banish him to Hershey?

My opinion of Sloan last year is he played almost as well as any d-man on the team save Green. He was kind of a grown-up Jeff Schultz.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 5, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't really see two blueliners being "unhappy" per say for long. We've only got two games under our belt and injuries are bound to happen. Hopefully it will be later than sooner but legitimate scratches on D will happen, and better to have defensemen fresh and ready then being short.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | October 6, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Rotating the dmen also showcases them to generate interest if the Caps decide to make a trade at some point.

Posted by: ds_kelly | October 6, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Re: Varlamov v. Theodore. IMO - Varly has the ability to make the amazing saves, but ocassionally has weaker fundamentals than Theo. Theo is fairly solid, but will make the awesome save only now and then.

Let them split the time, until either Varly firms up in some areas, or Theo truly shows he can support the team through the playoffs (I believe he can).

Does Theo go UFA end of this year or end of next?

Posted by: hockeygood1 | October 6, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

hey All - Don't mean to sound salty.

Is there anyway we can trade Mike Green for a big (6'6) 'stay at home' defenseman?

We have more than enough offense and solid goalies (whom would benefit with better defenseman). ...I'm just sick of Green's shotty defense.

C-A-P-S ...caps...caps...caps!!!

Posted by: Nats1924 | October 6, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

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