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Bruce Boudreau on Semyon Varlamov: 'Every day it's getting better'


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)


Here's a quick update from Post reporter Gene Wang, who got Coach Bruce Boudreau on the phone for a bit today to chat about the goalie situation and tomorrow's game against the Leafs:

The Capitals are coming off consecutive road games in which their goaltending was spotty. In Tuesday night's 7-4 loss to Tampa Bay, Michal Neuvirth started in net and was pulled after a first period in which he surrendered four goals on 15 shots. José Theodore came in to start the second period and yielded three goals on 21 shots. Then last night in a 5-4 shootout victory over Florida, Neuvirth started but got pulled again after giving up four goals on 15 shots.

"He had a bump in the road," Boudreau said of Neuvirth, 21. "Young guys have bumps in the road. It's just more noticeable if you're a goalie."

Boudreau said he pulled Neuvirth against Tampa Bay not because he felt he had played especially poorly but rather "to give the team a lift."

"So am I worried about the goaltending? No," Boudreau added.

The Capitals, meantime, continue to await the return of top goalie Semyon Varlamov (12-1-2, 2.21 goals against average) who is "day to day," according to Boudreau, after spraining his right knee during a rehabilitation start in Hershey on Dec. 3.

"Every day it's getting better," Boudreau said.


(Wilfredo Lee/AP)


Chimera contributes

The Capitals got a key goal from Jason Chimera (plus an assist and a fight to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick) in Wednesday's comeback win against the Panthers. With the Panthers up 2-0, Chimera scored unassisted 18 seconds into the second period. It was his second goal since joining the Capitals in a Dec. 28 trade from Columbus.

Alex Ovechkin also scored a clutch goal, this time 27 seconds into the third period, to cut the Panthers' lead to 4-3. Ovechkin had missed all three previous games this season against Florida, twice because of injury and once because of suspension.

Scouting Toronto

The Maple Leafs have lost four straight games, including a 4-2 defeat against Carolina on Tuesday, but Boudreau said he was mystified as to the reasons.

"I don't know how they keep losing," he said. "They play very hard. They lead the league in shots on goal. They just haven't had success recently. I just hope they don't have success on Friday."

Update from Tarik: Caps senior VP Tim McDermott, who was at the helm of the team's marketing department as it became one of the hottest tickets in town, is leaving for the Eagles, where he'll be reunited with brother Sean, the team's defensive coordinator.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  January 14, 2010; 3:29 PM ET
 | Tags: Jose Theodore, Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov, Toronto Maple Leafs  
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Next: Morning roundup: Goalies, Leafs and a Capstronaut

Comments

We're going nowhere without a healthy Varlamov.

Posted by: zmega | January 14, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

From a previous Thread:

----------

Yeah, I was happy to see Schultz out there. I think he leads defensemen in +/- this season and if you look at adjusted numbers across the league for all defensemen at behindthenet.ca, Schultz is the fifth-ranked defenseman in the league (for players with more than 30 games).

Who did you want on the ice? Stay at home and speedy Morrisonn who was on the ice for 7 goals the previous night? Now it's Schultz's speed that's an issue even though he's been far and away our best dman this season?

Do you watch games?

Get of it. It's so boring.

Posted by: saintex | January 14, 2010 8:23 AM

---------

I'm not a Schultz basher, and it'd be nice if you kept the personal attacks out of it. I don't think a 55 & 52 pairing is a good idea in 4v4 overtime, that's all I was saying. I also said he was +11 in his last 5 games and he's actually 1st in the league in +/- at +26 (3 more than Ovie at #2), so there's really no need to qualify the stat.

Posted by: Raber | January 14, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

Every day it's getting better," Boudreau said.
---------

This is good news. I wouldn't say we are going nowhere without Varly, but I agree we're not getting to where we all want unless we have a healthy Varly.

Posted by: Gould23 | January 14, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Well I rechecked hockeyfights--Chimera's one with Ott was just this past November and he has had about 24 or so since the late nineties, more before the lockout.

I kinda agree with Joe443 and tominfl1 on fighting (tho' they don't agree with each other)--fighting not the most important aspect of the game BUT sure is an attention grabber when it does happen. IMO it still is about the right moment and standing up for yourself or for a teammate.

As for Ovi fighting--for him it's about standing up for himself. But he nor any other skilled elite talent on any of the teams should be dropping the gloves with the other team's pugilist. He is simply too valuable to be getting a concussion or breaking his hand. But he is a physical guy, that's part of his game, and one of Brads's role is to intervene in a situation like that. IMO of course.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 14, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

IMO:

Although Brads' intervention on behalf of OV will naturally draw snide comments from the OV-Haters around the league, I still say it was very much the right thing for Brads to do. The message sent was abundantly crystal-clear:

DON'T.

F###.

WITH.

MY.

CAPTAIN.


'nuff said!

Posted by: Rhino40 | January 14, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Brads did the right thing! OV doesn't need to fight to prove himself. Plaers like Brads and Erskine are good at protecting our leader. OV can take care of himself...but we just don't wa him 2 :)

Posted by: capscoach | January 14, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

From last thread

zmega Brash got his suspension in game 6 against NY. By that time the series was 3-2 and the Rangers were playing game 6 without thier coach who was suspended for throwing a water bottle at a fan. The series at that point had already shifted momentum and Brash didn't have anything to do with that. Also don't forget he could have played in games 6 and 7 against Pittsburgh but didn't he was a healthy scratch so the Caps must not have thought he could swing momentum too much.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 14, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Also MReilly9 if the Caps had thought having Brash would stop Orpik from doing that he would have played in game 6 when he could.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 14, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Previous thread: have naked hockey players instead of fights to get people's attention? Ouch!

I'll tell you what gets my attention and gets me fired up as a fan: skilled hockey play. The fights, to me, are simply a distraction and potential for real injuries that change the teams' chances. I'd rather see better officiating than fights. These elite atheletes spend their lives getting in condition for this exciting sport, and in a minute, a stupid fight can take them out of the action -- this on TOP of the regular risks of this type of game. I vote no on the enforcer issue.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 14, 2010 6:10 PM | Report abuse

@icehammer - Thanks. I was just raising an argument. At this point, I would say that I am convinced that a pure goon is not the way to go. I would support getting two tough but skilled players - one physical d-man and one defensive center/PK ace.

Posted by: zmega | January 14, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

@dccitizen1

I'm with you. We may be in the minority, I don't know, or represent a different "generation" of hockey fan (I do not mean that by our own ages).

I got dragged into hockey by my 3 sons who play. I'm from TX where I did get to see the Howes with the Aeros way back when, but that's it.

I did not like hockey BECAUSE of the fighting. Besides watching my kids play for 9 years, what really drew me to enjoying it has been watching one player, who I realized is the most skilled on the team, a joy to watch (though many bellow how he's not perfect): Semin.

Once drawn in, now I enjoy all of the players for the different skills and strengths they bring to the game. It takes several types of players for a successful team.

I can appreciate the tougher guys who might stand up for a player the whole team would rather not see fight. But, I hope that occurrence would be infrequent and the need prevented by stronger officiating.

I still don't like the fighting. When Stecks was taking it the other night, I had to turn away. I did not think he should have been in it.

So, I think there's always going to be a divide. I disagree that the sport needs fighting to draw fans. This fan was turned off by the fighting, but drawn by the true skill required for sublime offense.

If people want to see a fight, there's always boxing, etc.

Posted by: Steakum | January 14, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

@steakum - Amen.

Posted by: zmega | January 14, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I was likewise drawn into the game because my son started playing and my family got me to a Caps game.

The speed and skill is why I kept coming back. The excitement of a breakaway, the skillful puck handling, the quick clean passes, and the thrill of a goal--this is what I love about hockey.

Watching the particularly exciting talent of the Caps has turned me into a rabid fan--so much so that I no longer let my son give my seat to one of his buddies. And I read the blogs etc.!

Moments like the Ovi, Downie, Brads matchup have IMO more to do with the chemistry or bonding of a team and stepping up to protect a teammate -- a "Don't mess with my Captain. This team is united"--kind of message. For me it's not about the actual fighting itself. I hate injuries and that's what happens all too easily with fights.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 14, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

The following is a list of the Capitals forwards and where they rank among the rest of the NHL forwards as well as how much each forward costs per point:


Rank | Name | GP | Cap $ | Pts. | $$$/Pt. |


6 | Tomas Fleischmann | 33 | $725,000 | 28 | $25,893

18 | Eric Fehr | 33 | $772,000 | 21 | $36,762

38 | Nicklas Backstrom | 44 | $2,400,000 | 50 | $48,000

67 | Brendan Morrison | 44 | $1,500,000 | 26 | $57,692

80 | Matt Bradley | 42 | $1,000,000 | 16 | $62,500

94 | Brooks Laich | 44 | $2,067,000 | 31 | $66,677

152 | Keith Aucoin | 9 | $487,000 | 5 | $97,400

153 | Jason Chimera | 44 | $1,875,000 | 19 | $98,684

169| Mathieu Perreault | 18 | $717,000 | 7 | $102,429

172 | Dave Steckel | 44 | $725,000 | 7 | $103,571

231 | Alexander Semin | 35 | $4,600,000 | 37 | $124,324

243 | Mike Knuble | 32 | $2,800,000 | 22 | $127,273

306 | Alexandre Giroux | 9 | $500,000 | 3 | $166,667

325 | Alexander Ovechkin | 36 | $9,538,000 | 54 | $176,630

373 | Quintin Laing | 25 | $500,000 | 2 | $250,000

375 | Boyd Gordon | 11 | $761,000 | 3 | $253,667

417 | Jay Beagle | 6 | $875,000 | 2 | $437,500


Although this is not a complete listing of all Capitals players and their dollar to point production ratio, this is a pretty telling chart which highlights which players offer the best return to their employers.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 14, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

btw the above was from hockeybuzz

I got into hockey because of my dad and have been playing since I was 4. I think that there is a need for fighting at times. It is just like a goalie change, it is a way to try and change momentum but these days all of the fighting because someone hit you clean is just pathetic.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 14, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

@icehammer97

Agree.

And to stir up controversy to deflect attention on own instigator tactics (i.e. Downie's hooking stick across the midsection of Ovi) by claiming intentional knee-on-knee in Ovi's original hit is also pathetic.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 14, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

@Steakum, Capsyoungguns: I'm also a hockey fan because my son has played for 9 years. He was in a lot of other sports, but nothing held my interest like hockey, and I absolutely love the sport and the Caps. I used to like the Blackhawks when I lived near Chicago a lifetime ago, but was turned off by the blood and fighting (and this was when they didn't wear helmets!) Maybe I'm in the "new generation" (and you're right, Steakum, we're not talking about age here) of hockey fans. Maybe not, I don't know enough about other hockey fans in general.

And Steakum, the Caps have so much talent, and it's easy to find something to appreciate about each one of them. I agree that Semin is among the best. Watching him play blows me away, and when he scores, the delight on his face reminds me of the boys on my son's team when he was a mite. Same with Green.

I saw a headline in the "Bleacher Report" questioning if Ovie might go to the KHL for 20 million dollars next year. I hope this is just a silly, silly idle thought.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 14, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Icehammer: OMG we agree!!! Right back at you duder. Go Caps. I'll be rocking the red tomorrow night at the phone booth. I'll be the guy in the red caps jersey with black hair.

Posted by: UnleashTheCaps | January 14, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Tell you what...we may not be going anywhere without Varly, but, to be sure, we will NOT be going far without some changes in our roster. If GMGM does not see that we absolutely need a strong, hard-nosed, willing to drop-the-gloves Defenseman, then he is only fooling himself. IMHO. the Caps are known around the league as a team that can park one, if not two, players in our crease and they will not be touched. We are so weak on defense that our current crop of defensemen only create an additional screen if and when they try to clear the crease simply because they cannot push anyone away.
We also absolutely need another tough "avery-type" forward to go along with all the talented "ballarinas" on the squad. If McPhee chooses not get these guys, he'll be responsible for the future concussions to be suffered by Bradley. Bradley...BRADLEY is our "tough" guy??what...are you kidding me? And what ever happened to this guy Chimera?? He comes to the Caps and all of a sudden HE becomes a ballerina too??!!

Posted by: scmonty1 | January 14, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

so i just caught the tampa feed of the downie ovie/brads fight. what a bunch of tools those guys are. is dennis potvin one of them? not sure.

first they claimed ovie didn't "answer the bell". then they claimed it was pretty "damming" evidence that brads came off the bench to fight. the best was watching the replay of the two guys coming out of the penalty box. the part where downey starts hooking ovie (which he was penalized for). these two chuckleheads go "oh it was ovie who went after downie. downie was just going to his end of the ice". um, yeah right. i'm sure downey was just hustling to play defense at that point. we are very lucky to have two pros doing our tv.

btw, scmonty, chill brother. first of all, GMGM knows a hell of alot more than you. second, way to state the obvious. third, how do you know what the rest of the league thinks about the caps. and if it was so easy to beat them, why do they have 62 points. the rangers have an "avery-type" forward, how'd they do against us in the playoffs. i guess you missed chimera's fight in the last game too. relax.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 14, 2010 9:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious, of the posters that are against fighting in hockey, how many play or have played the sport? I don't mean this to sound condescending, it just seems that most of the criticism is coming purely from a fan perspective rather than a player. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the opinions of someone who's never played do not matter. I do however believe that playing offers a much different perspective on the subject.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | January 14, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

scmonty1: Your post is foolish. That's the best I can give you. Say anything negative about the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, and you better be ready to drop your gloves and back it up.

Here's the deal with fighting in hockey. I'll compare it to something in society, something that stirs the emotions very deeply in Americans:

Guns.

Do we need guns? Well, we did, in the 1700s. And, in many parts of the country, in the 1800s. And even in remote areas of the country since then. But a very strong argument can be made that the only reason anyone needs a gun is because other people have guns (I mean hand guns, not shot guns or rifles for hunting).

So long as some people have guns, you can make a reasonable argument to have one for protection. Likewise, as long as some goonery exists in hockey, you might as well have a deterrent. Get rid of all fighting (like in Olympics) and you get rid of all goonery. Get rid of the goons and fighting drops off. Then punish all the dirty hits with penalties and individual retaliation becomes unnecessary. But the sport isn't there yet, just like the world isn't free of terrorists. So you need guns in the world and you need fighters in hockey.

In both cases...for now.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 14, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1- well said.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | January 14, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

To anyone interested... the Leafs just shutout the Flyers 4 - 0. Here's to the start of another losing streak for the boys in orange.

Posted by: gonchpup | January 14, 2010 9:41 PM | Report abuse

@FunkyGloveFacewash

I don't like fighting. Period. That does not make me less of a fan than someone who does or than someone who played or plays hockey. It's just a different opinion about one aspect of the sport.

No, I've never played. My sons play. But, your logic seems to be that the only true fans of any sport are those who have actually played it. That's pretty narrowing. It would not bode well for revenues.

We are fans, not players. Our fandom pays the bills. Growing hockey, and having it appeal to more people, has been an issue for a long time. I would not suggest it be narrowed just to include opponents of fighting, just as it should not be narrowed to exclude them.

Don't you think that fans of football, basketball, and baseball disagree on some apsects of the game, whether they have ever played or not?

Posted by: Steakum | January 14, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

@FunkyGloveFacewash: Nice handle! No, I've never played ice hockey. I've played field hockey and baseball. I am a hockey fan, not a player. My perspective will be different from someone who has played it.

I think the point someone made was that fights attract fans and make the game more interesting. For some, yes. For others, not so much. Some shoving/shaking/light fighting might be necessary from a player's perspective. It's just not the main attraction for this fan. Please give me your perspective as a player---I'm really interested and not being sarcastic.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 14, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Steakum- Please re-read my post, I never said anything about the only true fans are those who've played.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | January 14, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

dcsportsfan1: I obviously watch the Tampa feed quite often. I just watched Tuesday's game as I was there and had recorded to watch this evening. The announcer is OK, but the color guy, Bobby "the Chief" Taylor, is probably the second biggest whiner in hockey behind Denis Potvin (of the Panthers TV crew).

Potvin is pathetic. Taylor is a homer and can be quite a whiner. Most of their call oin that game was pretty good. The part about Ovi not standing up and the damming evidence was they got caught up in the moment. Ovi was I guess as shocked as anyone when Bradley came charging across the ice. I was so happy in the stands that Ovi was going to give to it Downie and then here's this dart out the corner of my eye (with "10" on jersey) and I was like, "Oh, no! He took Ovi's fight away!"

Actually they gave the Caps props during the game, just got carried away at the end.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 14, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

@FunkyGloveFacewash

I understand that, I was just expanding on your take-off point because so many times other people start out with the "but you must never have played and if you did you would know more and have my opinion!" Then they proceed to discount opinions on that basis, not understanding that sport is entertainment and our individual enjoyment of it is just a valid as the next person's.

I know you did not say that. I am sure in every sport the players have some very different views than the fans about certain aspects of play. Sometimes when I do not understand something, I ask my sons to give me their player perspective, and why something is or is not a good play etc.

Your view is valid, too!

Posted by: Steakum | January 14, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

@Funky - How is that other sports manage to get by without legalized fighting? What is so unique about hockey players that they cannot control themselves and play within reasonable rules?

Posted by: zmega | January 14, 2010 9:59 PM | Report abuse

@Raber,

"Do you watch games?"

Is that the personal attack? Wow.

Posted by: saintex | January 14, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

OK guys, I guess I sorta have to reply. First of all, sure, GMGM is a pro and undoubtedly knows more about the sport than any one of us. My comments are based on a fan's perspective, sitting in front of my PC watching as much hockey as I can on ATDHE.net all the way down here in SC!
I didn't quite say that it was easy to beat our Caps, did I? I stated that many teams, again, based on watching many games other than just when the Caps play, plant one and many times two guys in our crease to screen our goalie. It seems to me that they do not often do this against other teams. I believe that they do it more often agaisnt the Caps because we (may I say "we" as a Caps fan?) do not clear the crease. Now, I wonder...is it because our guys are not strong enough to push them out of the way? Why is it that other teams seem to take liberties against our team in front of our crease?
Oh I saw Chimera's FIRST fight as a Cap. And I have yet to see him push & shove, or step in when someone is pushing our guys around.
And as for Bradley...I admire his guts. I admire his style of play. All I'm saying is that if the Caps have to rely on him to get "respect" from other teams' goons...well, we might as well fight fire with fire if you know what I mean.
And for "needing" fighters...as long as it is allowed in the sport, you'll see fights; and if they're going to have fights, then get a fighter and get it over with. Don't sacrifice a great guy. And I don't necessarily agree with the "we'll make them pay for it" with our power-play, because I don't see us leading the league in power play scoring, and I don't like to see our guys bloodied up.
So...we still sorta pals here?

Posted by: scmonty1 | January 14, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

I'll tell you all this, I'd much rather have fighting in hockey than:

1) the dancing they have in football.
2) the trash talk b/s they have in football.
3) and in basketball.
4) or the 3 1/2 hrs it takes to play a game in baseball.
5) or the 2 hrs of commercials you get during every football game.

I'll watch the Orioles 5-10 games a year when they are on vs Tampa or on WGN vs Chisox. Just watching one game can be torture. Just watching one inning of a Ken Harrelson broadcast (White Sox) is worse than being forced to eat a box of Borax. We are very lucky as hockey fans. All the other sports stink in comparison. Fight or no fight we are disagreeing on details. In our sport, Ovi gets heat from an announcer for not fighting his own fight. Imagine you are a PGA fan. The story is well-known here in Orlando. Tiger Woods got taken out by his wife with a nine-iron and had to go to Phoenix for plastic surgery on his face and the broken chicklets. She didn't even get two minutes for cross-checking.

Maybe Tiger should hire Sean Avery.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 14, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

When you're playing hockey there's an enormous amount of cheap and dangerous stuff that goes on in every game, the majority of which is never called by the refs simply because they can't see everything. Slashing, crosschecks, elbows, ect. The fact that refs only see and therefore call penalties on a small fraction of these is the main reason fighting exists in hockey. Is it barbaric? Yes, but until they figure out another way to prevent these punk plays it will remain necessary. And as dangerous as fighting may seem to some it actually makes the game less dangerous overall.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | January 14, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse


Fighting is oulawed in many European leagues, international hockey, and in the US college system. However, it still occurs, and not as "staged" fights. Why? Because hockey is a violent sport and intimidation and retribution will always be used as tactics by coaches and players. In those leagues, fights mainly occur to right wrongs committed by the opposition, i.e. severe stick infractions, hitting from behind, running the goalie, etc. As well, most fights in the NHL happen for the same reasons. Unless and until all those elements are removed from the game (much to the detriment of the sport), fighting will continue to have a necessary role. As such, it is irresponsible to ignore that fact by intentionally leaving that spot on the roster unfilled. Sure, come playoff time, scratch the Big Bomber after the 1st round when things tighten up. But, until then, provide the necessary security to your star players.

Yeah, I'm not a fan of staged fights either, but those are a small percentage of the total amount of bouts in any given season anyway. Most fights are about intimidation and retribution. So, get a tough guy who can play a regular shift. The Caps have a scouting staff and it's time for them to earn their keep and identify the proper player(s) who can fill the role, just as they do when prospecting for every other need on the team. Otherwise, be prepared for the illegal hits and stickwork to continue. Is it gonna take a season ending injury to Ovie, Green, Semin, Backstrom, etc to get people to stop sticking their heads in the sand? It's time for the front office to protect their significant investments as the Caps continue their march to the Cup.

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | January 14, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Bradley and Erskine are more than enough to fill that role when needed.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 14, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I seriously don't understand how that spot is unfilled. Is Bradley jumping in to protect Ovi not enough proof right there that he is willing to throw down and protect the stars?

The "enforcer" role is filled. We should go after a pest type, like Ott. He can play center and kill penalties too.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 14, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

the offensive linemen of the SF 49ers of the 1980's and the Denver Broncos of the 1990's were well known for their dangerous low cut-blocks which was legal but only those two teams used that technique... every other team felt it was too dangerous and not even necessary.

every defensive lineman playing against them wanted to kill those offensive linemen plus their coaches. Howie Long talked openly about how much he wanted to kill Bob McKittrick who was the offensiveline coach of the 49ers during those years.

But somehow those big defensiveline men, some of them I'm sure were on steroids thus prone to losing their temper, managed not to lose it and stayed in the game for the most part. I don't see why hockey players wouldn't be able to do it.

Posted by: joek443 | January 14, 2010 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Every sport has the occasional flare-up of violence, whether fighting or bean-balls in baseball. What separates NHL hockey is that the fighting is tolerated or even encouraged. The Olympic hockey we will soon be watching is pure hockey IMO, and fighting is rare. Lacrosse is hockey w/o the ice - fights are rare. The poor officiating in the NHL is part of the problem, but that too is tolerated.

Fighting is part of the NHL game because of the Canadian roots of the game, where the fighting was seen as part of the "fun" of the sport. But let's not pretend that the sport has to be played that way. I expect that the gratuitous violence of NHL hockey will gradually be phased out, maybe starting with the head shots. It will be a long battle to overcome the more conservative elements of the sport, but the change is inevitable IMO.

Posted by: zmega | January 14, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

OMFG!! we're losing Mcdermott & all you hockmos are talking about is fighting?!!

j/k

Posted by: Rocc00 | January 14, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

@Rocc00 - Nice.

Posted by: zmega | January 14, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Point taken regarding Erskine and Bradley. They do answer the bell when needed. However, as everyone is aware, Erskine has a history of concussions, and Brads regularly needs significant repairs after his battles. They also have other important roles to play and, in my opinion, losing them to the penalty box for significant lengths of time hurts the team. Better to have a guy whose primary role is protector/intimidator and let the Lumberjack and Brads be the calvary when things get really wacky.

Posted by: MetalCapsFan | January 14, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

zmega and joek- I wish I knew why so many hockey players resort to cheap plays. I always chalked it up to some do it because they lack the skill to compete cleanly and others who have the skill but react to getting hit or beat on a play. You have to remember that hockey is played way faster than any other sport so you end up with more spontaneous reactions to things that happen on the ice.

Posted by: FunkyGloveFacewash | January 14, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Rich..Brads and Erskine. Well, one is willing but, really now, not very able. And the other, the big E, is not very willing (from what I've seen so far) but probably very able...who knows.
Yeah, Bradley did jump in. He is no "enforcer" though. I would say he's a "rescuer", who will get beaten up and bloodied more often than not. Not his fault, mind you, 'cause he goes up against goons much, much better suited to fighting (Ugh...there goes that word again). Hate to see it, 'cause he's a nice guy.
Look, you jumping in to help your lil' brother out in a fight does not make you an "enforcer". "Gutsy guy" maybe, foolish maybe. Bradley, good Lord bless him, is no enforcer.

Posted by: scmonty1 | January 14, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I just don't necessarily see the need. You look at the top 8 across the league in both conferences, and most do not employ a one-dimensional enforcer. Almost all dress someone like Brads and Erskine. Erskine does have a history of concussions, but he is more than willing when needed. As far as Brads, yeah he loses a lot, but I don't think that really matters. He is willing to go and that's what matters.

Erskine should step up to fill that role more, I think. However, I don't feel the need to bring in someone else midway this season. If(when) we we go for someone else, it should be a defensive defense man (Volchenkov) and/or a PK/shadow center (Ott).

Posted by: richmondphil | January 14, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear, I think the discussion here involves two separate issues (or maybe I just went off on a tangent). In the longer term, I think the NHL should clean up its act. But for this year, with the rules in place and our skilled players getting run, the Caps have to deal with the situation. I don't think the pure goon helps, because under the Code, such a player can only fight another goon, which does nothing to address the problem. Some additional toughness on the team, hopefully with a d-man and PK specialist, who can get into it with other teams' skilled players if necessary to protect our own, makes sense.

Posted by: zmega | January 14, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

@richmondPhil

Erskine's been out with injury as of late so he couldn't have stepped in the last two games even if he wanted to. I'm sure Erskine will step up as needed in the "enforcer" department, if needed. The only problem with using a defenseman as an enforcer is the fact that only 6 D-men play per game and 12 forwards. The loss of a defenseman due to a 5 minute penalty would make it that much harder for the rest of the D.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 14, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

Have been absent recently, so quickly to tie up loose ends and a little story on how many hoops I had to jump through to watch the last game.

Tampa game was overall a stinker for us, but got interesting in the 3rd with the whole Ovie vs. Downie thing. I was actually all excited to see Ovie fight when he dropped then and slightly disappointed that Brads jumped in, but with my head I understand that it was the right thing to do. If Ovie's gonna fight he should start with someone who is a little closer to him when it comes to pugilistic experience, not go straight for one of the opposition's tough guys. Having said that no one can say now that Ovie is not willing to drop the gloves. He was all ready to go and even took his helmet off during both altercations. Class act.

The last game against Florida Neuvy obviously didn't do too well unlike the one vs Tampa when I thought he could not be faulted and Theodore finally earned his paycheck (see I'm giving credit to Theo). Great comeback too... which I almost didn't see.

I was away so had to watch the game a day later. When I was setting the recording I noticed that this game was on NHL CI HD channel, but since for some reason that channel is unbelievably flaky and only works about 50% of the time I figured I'd take out a little insurance policy and set a backup recording off a regular NHL CI SD channel. I get home and settle in to watch the game. HD recording total garbage as I feared. Just a black screen and doesn't even play. So I'm like this sucks, but whatever. Good thing I set a backup recording so I can still watch it in standard def. I watch the first period and bam, the recording gets cut off! Somehow it shows that 3 hours are recorded, yet ends after 1 hour! Unbelievable! So even though I recorded the game twice I'm screwed thanks to the crappy Comcast / Motorola DVR. Is that what they call Comcastic?

Fortunately, I'm Mr. Resourceful and there are our beautiful illegal torrent sites. Managed to find the game and watch the remaining 2 periods, OT and shootout. It was well worth the trouble, but seriously a major FAIL on Comcast's part. Here I was having to resort to illegal downloading of a torrent and watching the game off ESPN America channel with Russian commentary when I'm paying a fortune for cable and recorded it twice on their damn DVR!

Posted by: ranndino | January 15, 2010 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to mention. Major props to Stecks for dropping the mits with a guy who leads the league in PIMs and fighting majors. That took some balls! I was really concerned that he really ate a lot of punches, but judging from his face during the post game interview nothing really landed so it looked worse that it was. His pretty face was still intact. Live it looked like Konopka may have rearranged it.

Posted by: ranndino | January 15, 2010 2:38 AM | Report abuse

Just getting to read this thread -- Props to you all for a civil debate about fighting.

I agree that fighting is trending downward. As the league clamps down increasingly on dangerous play, headshots, etc., the sport will phase it out.

The traditional enforcer is dying. Do not expect the Caps to invest in one.

Me, I can do without the fights. There's plenty of other ways to inject drama in the game. Think about the intensity the Caps bring to the ice most nights, for one.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 15, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

Really great discussion with various perspectives on fighting last night. Thanks to all.
Ranndino: you epitomize the hockey fan---willing to do just about anything to watch our team play! Bravo!

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 15, 2010 5:55 AM | Report abuse

Much more interesting thread to read with my coffee than yesterday's. Lots of points of view regarding fighting--and no fighting in posts. Wow!

I would make a distinction between the edgy aggressive plays--slashing, hooking, roughing variety--from actual fighting. I'm paraphrasing here but I recall Clark once saying that a player needs to cheat a little bit in order to win the puck battles. Where a player rides that line and how some refs let more of that stuff go than others varies game to game. And some players are more skillful at that kind of aggressive play than others. IMO Crosby is one of the best at the sneaky slashing or spearing of other player that gets unnoticed by refs--not because of favoritism but because he is fast moving and really quick with the stick.

Personally, I am happy with limited actual fighting and prefer the games with displays of breathtaking skill. But sometimes a slash that goes uncalled is going to lead to a fight.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 15, 2010 6:52 AM | Report abuse

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