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Boudreau talks tough

Sorry for the delay everyone, but I had to report and write a story for tomorrow's paper before blogging.

Anyway, as you've no doubt read by now, Coach Bruce Boudreau still was stewing over the Caps' lopsided loss last night in San Jose - and today he sent a stern message to his players with a difficult practice, by rearranging his lines and with some tough talk afterward.

Throughout the hour long session, Boudreau could be heard yelling - both encouragement and criticism. He doesn't often drop the hammer. But when he does, it grabs everyone's attention.

"This was a necessity today to have a good hard practice," Boudreau said at Toyota Sports Center, the Kings' El Segundo practice rink. "We're not used to [losing], we don't like it and we want to get better."

"If we talk about wanting to be one of the better teams, we better act like we want to be one of the better teams," he continued. "When we go into a building like San Jose, you get your butt handed to you [when] you don't compete with them. Let alone the Carolina game."

Boudreau was most upset about his team's weak first period effort at HP Pavilion. They logged only three shots, of which only one was taken by a forward, and found themselves trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes.

The Caps' next chance to redeem themselves comes Saturday at Staples Center against the Kings, who had lost four in a row entering tonight's game in Minnesota. (They're currently up 4-1 on the Wild).

"Depending on what they do, they're either going to come in really mad or starting to feel good about themselves," Boudreau said of the Kings.

In an effort to get his league-leading offense going again, Boudreau shuffled his lines. He put Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin back together on the first line.

The other combos? Well, Boudreau wasn't ready assign a number to them.

"I don't know if that's the second line or the third line or whatever," Boudreau said when asked about putting grinder Matt Bradley with Brendan Morrison and Tomas Fleischmann. "Our best scoring line is Nicky, Alex and Alex. That goes without saying. But after that, I thought we would [go with] a little aggressiveness on the other lines. I didn't think we got it enough last night. We were playing way too much of a perimeter game. If we want to win against the big boys, it takes a lot of physicality and we didn't show up and do that last night."

Most of the hour long practice was dedicated to brushing up on systems play. Tomorrow's New Year's Day session, though, will focus on the power play, specifically the five-on-three set up.

"We've got a practice tomorrow and I'm sure it's going to be a little bit of power play," Boudreau said somewhat sarcastically.

"It's not back to the drawing board," Boudreau added when asked about his team's overall defensive performance the past two games (the Caps have yielded 11 goals and more than their fair share of prime scoring chances). "But it's time to tweak a few things."

Tomorrow's practice is scheduled for 3:15 PT at Toyota Sports Center.

Also, make sure to read my story in tomorrow's Post. A source told me today that the league's priority for next year's Winter Classic will be getting Ovechkin and the Caps into the annual outdoor classic. (It should be on the web soon).

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 31, 2009; 9:08 PM ET
 | Tags: Bruce Boudreau  
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Next: Boudreau: 'We don't want it to spin out of control'


Well hallelujah! I'll be on the lookout for your story.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | December 31, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Read the article on the winter classic (yep...sitting at home tonight...probably safer) and wondered what the possibility of having it at Fed-ex next year would should be cold enough, but would it sell out (and would that be the concern)?

Posted by: TimDz | December 31, 2009 9:55 PM | Report abuse

WJC game US vs. Canada - 4-4 going into overtime.

Posted by: zmega | December 31, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

Canada wins 5-4 in shootout. Great game.

Posted by: zmega | December 31, 2009 10:42 PM | Report abuse


Grr! Not happy that the US lost to Canada in the WJC game when the US had had the lead. Those are the types of games that make me mad. Where you have the lead for most of the way and then blow it.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 31, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

I see that Joisey had a bad game, lost 5-1 to Chicago. (I'm glad that Brodeur was hot against Pittsburgh.)

I'm no fan of the Devils but at least they're good for beating the Penguins.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 31, 2009 11:01 PM | Report abuse


Yes, the one piece of good news is that the Pens have also lost two games.

I love it when BB gets tough with the guys. They usually respond very well and have a great game afterwards.

Hope Neuvy's confidence was not affected. I don't think he was bad at all, considering he is a rookie, and he made some incredible saves.

Posted by: caraveli | December 31, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse


Well I guess I shouldn't bother with the "Storming the Crease"--that blogger can be pretty annoying. "End the Alex Semin" experiment" indeed!

I'm delighted that both the Pens and the Devils have had bad games. Makes our last two a little more bearable. Saw the last period of the Coyotes/Sharks game, which went into OT. Unfortunately the Sharks won the shootout but what was interesting was that they were not playing as well as they did against us. Not badly but much more uneven. Perfection is impossible no matter how great a team is.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully nobody celebrates so much tonight that they leave their wallet in El Segundo.

Posted by: writered21 | January 1, 2010 12:45 AM | Report abuse


I especially enjoy the fact that the Pens lost in two back to backs to the same two teams we were able to beat.

Neuvy had made some great saves in the game. He needs work on handling penalty shots. (Okay, penalty shots are rare, but still....)

I hope the boys do well on Saturday. They should respond to Bruce.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 1:18 AM | Report abuse

The winter classic is just hype and a lousy game to watch. There are no good seats, the elements are horrible, and I am sure the players rather play inside. They are selling you garbage, I hope the Caps are never there.

Posted by: hock1 | January 1, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse


Love the Pens recent results also, not to mention NJ. I feel a little better about our bad play.

Who does the "Storming the Crease" writer propose to put as RW on Ovi's line? Our other choices and the criticism leveled.

Knuble: he's been slow and hasn't been the same since his injury. (That's the opinion of many of our posters. He was a life saver at the beginning of the year when Flash and Fehr were out.)

Clark: too slow for the first line (plus he's been traded)

Giroux: people were calling him GirPoo and happy he was returned to Hershey.

Bradley: on the few times he was on a line with Ovi (during transitions), he was criticized for being too slow

Fehr: they have not tried that this year. Last year's two or three attempts did not work.

Our best alternative is Semin for that role. At least Ovi and Backstrom produce when he's there.

Kozlov, last year's regular in that role is in the KHL.

And, no, it's not exactly realistic from a salary perspective to acquire Ilya Kovalchuk.

The STC writer would have probably traded Alex Semin to Columbus for a bag of pucks. (And probably would have rather kept Nylander instead. No joke.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Hock, read tariks article about the winter classic. Seems like players and coaches would welcome the chance to play in it. It's an event. I for one would be first in line to buy tix if the caps were in it, particularly if it were in NYC.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 1, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I wish we were playing the the Winter Classic today. Wonder how they feel putting Philly in it instead of us now that Philly is so low in the standings! ;)

caraveli: I don't think his confidence is shot. I think it was a good learning experience for him. It doesn't get tougher than playing the Sharks at the Shark Tank. But I think Theo plays against LA. :/

Thank god PIT is struggling right now! And NJ lost last night! Thanks Huet!

Posted by: rachel216 | January 1, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Ps, I think rfk would be perfect. However, avg temp in dc on Jan 1 is like 40 I think. Might be too dicey to schedule a game down here.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 1, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

As the Storming the Crease blogger, I'm happy to respond.

If you've read the blog for a while, you'll see I was one of the biggest proponents of getting rid of Michael Nylander anyway possible.

As for Semin, I've often said he's extremely talented -- and if he ever would put forth 100 percent effort every game, he'd be a keeper. If the Caps did trade him, it would have to be for somebody like Ilya Kovalchuk or another first-class player. (There's nobody on the CBJ roster that fits the bill.)

Mike Knuble would be great playing with Ovechkin and Backstrom -- as shown earlier in the year.

The answer to who plays RW on that line might not be a current member of the Caps.

Thanks for reading and the comments!

Posted by: pizzagoal | January 1, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse


That's the question I always ask myself when I read "trade Semin" statements--who should be on that line with Ovi and Backs. Has to be someone fast and with elite space- and playmaking skills, just to keep up. Even when Semin is not scoring he is still creating space and attracting attention to allow his linemates to score. Even when not at their best that line is still a formidable power and when they are clicking OBS is an offensive juggernaut. Sometimes I think for many critics Semin's play is viewed as too much of a "European" and not enough of the "North American" style. Ovi's style with his blend of finesse and physicality is perfect for the NHL.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse


Fun to see crossovers. I admit I don't read your blog daily but when I am checking other blog stops I usually stop by for a quick read. I love Caps chatter and analysis.

I hear what you are saying about Semin tho' I don't neccesarily agree. For me the problem is that I don't remember ever reading anything positive about Semin on your blog. So when you make critical comments or critical witticisms, ie "Semin experiment", I shrug my shoulders and say to myself: "eh that blogger really doesn't care for Semin."

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

That was great that Canada won the WJH game last night. Americans outplayed them though. I would love to see Fehr get a real chance on the first line!

Posted by: Freez | January 1, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

@pizzagoal: thanks for coming on the blog and commenting. How do you assess the % that Semin is putting forth every game? Do you assess all players the same way? Seems to me that casual observers cannot possibly know what percentage any given player is putting forth. Semin is talented yet doesn't always succeed. His wrist injury might be a factor again this time. That has nothing to do with a % of effort.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 1, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse


I agree. Thanks for coming by. Generally, I'd say you have some very analytical posts and good observations even if we disagree greatly on Alexander Semin.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse


Are you a Canadian by some chance? (Since you're happy the Canadians won the WJC.)

On Fehr. I wondered if he would go to the first line when Ovi was suspended. My own suggestion is that he should go to the second line since he's had his greatest success there. While he's flexible enough to play any line, he should at least be on the second line. In my opinion, he'd be wasted on the fourth line.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse


I hear they're thinking seriously of having the Caps in the Winter Classic next year.

Philly had been doing poorly this year (for most of December) but seem like they have turned it around as of late.

Boston is down compared to last year but still in the playoff picture.

(Philly's worse play compared to the Caps is certainly making the Winter Classic folks feel foolish.)

I love how Brodeur seems to have had Pittsburgh's number this month. And that Buffalo also beat Pitt.

Who will be in goal? Will your boy be back there or will it be Theo again? I'd say the "New kid" had kept the Caps in the game for most of the way but has trouble with penalty shots.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

They should let the Flyers fight themselves in next years Winter Classic.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 1, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse


I think everyone in Caps land was ready to dump Nylander. He definitely was not a fit with our team.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse


If Corey is right, Semin probably did reinjure his wrist on Monday.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"But I think Theo plays against LA." No, please say it ain't so. I thought BB had come to his senses and sort of retired Theo. This is an opportunity to continue to develop Neuvy and let him show us what he can do. Personally, I am now sold on him. Theo is gone at the end of the year, so what is the point of giving him more chances? I bet it will be Neuvy in goal, but who knows?

Every time I look at this blog, I keep expecting to read headlines such as: "Theo traded to Arizona or something," or "Theo to Hershey for 'conditioning.' "

Posted by: caraveli | January 1, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, the Caps have several forwards whose results have been inconsistent but Semin seems to get singled out. This includes Fleischmann, Fehr, and Laich. But I wouldn't want any of those guys to get traded, either.

Anyway, the Caps will soon right the ship. Yes, their recent play has been poor but they'll improve. Last year in November they had the "Roadtrip from Hell" where they lost four out of five games and most of their defensemen, including a disaster in the Shark Tank.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse


I doubt if Theo will be sent to Hershey for conditioning. That's only for injuries or if a guy hasn't played in a while.

I think BB will think twice about using Theo against LA.

For better or worse, Neuvy is our #1 goalie at the moment, at least until Varly is able to return.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse


Thanks for the great feedback. I try to express some positive about Semin, although I realize I'm mostly negative about him.

It's hard to assess what percentage he's giving -- although there are some games that it's clear he's either churning at 100 percent or nowhere close.

Overall, he's definitely improving in terms of passing and thinking of others. The thing that continues to worry me is that he sometimes is either skating around away from the play or not rushing back to make up for a mistake the way Ovechkin and Backstrom does.

There's no doubt he has world-class skill that would, more than likely, put him as a scoring leader on at least 2/3 of the teams in the league.

But with Ovechkin and Backstrom on the team, and earning lots of money on long-term deals (at least that's what I expect to happen with Backie), Semin is No. 3 on offense -- and that doesn't even take into account what players such as Brooks Laich do on a regular basis.

The thing that continues to confound me and others is that Semin's best seems to be ahead of him, but I don't get the sense that he's where he should be as an overall player at this point in his career.

I also know that Semin is perhaps the one player on the Caps that has strong supporters and detractors -- as evidenced by this discussion and others.

By the way, even if the Caps lose tomorrow in L.A., which I'm not saying they will, they've got nine home games this month -- and that should get them back on track!

Keep up the great chatting!

Posted by: pizzagoal | January 1, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

This is definitely off topic, but did you see this news about the Wizards? Ted is certainly going to have his work cut out for him when he owns all of Pollin's empire...

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | January 1, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse


The Caps chatting is great fun. As for our OBS line, I don't think anyone would disagree that Backs has to get the long-term money deal--the pairing of Ovi and Backs is a crucial one, and they are so talented that BB can put them with other players to jumpstart other lines. IMO signing Semin for one year was a brilliant move-Semin is taking a calculated risk that he can perform and do better next year and GMGM hasn't mortgaged the future for getting a deal done with Backs and others such as Flash. IMO the Caps need Semin this season and for the playoffs. I personally would like to keep Semin long-term but am satisfied to wait and see what kind of future deal they can arrange. I love the idea of the Caps having such a juggernaut line and I don't think it's that easy to fill Semin's skates.

More generally:

Very excited about the upcoming game--I hope that Tarik's source is accurate about next year's Winter Classic staying in the East because it is really time for the Caps to be involved.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse


Good grief. What were they thinking. Oh right--they probably weren't thinking. What a stupid thing to do.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The Wizards gun drawing incident makes me appreciate the NHL and their players all the more, especially our boys! Long live the Capitals in their newly appointed hockey town of Washington DC!!!!

Posted by: AADCDERM | January 1, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Caps play poorly = BB yells...Caps play bad = BB practices them hard. Usually this results in positives (good wins) for a few games. The big question however, is how long this strategy will work? The youngers guys yes, but will the veterans eventually tune it out? Hopefully it won't stop working until after the Caps claim the Cup!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 1, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it great if we could watch the Winter Classic having it called By Thorne, Clement and Panger??

Posted by: jono57 | January 1, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Pizzagoal, keep coming back here! Liked your comments.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | January 1, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

re: Winter Classic in DC. An outdoor exhibition game was held in Las Vegas, between Kings and Rangers, late Sept, 1991. It was 90s that day and 85 at game time. What made it viable was they had enough equipment under the ice to keep it frozen. The rink was also covered with ahuge tent until game time (after sunset). The problem in warmer areas isn't just the temperature but the sun can make the ice soft. So, you could hold a game in LA, or Florida, or wherever, but it would have to be played at night.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 1, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

caraveli: I don't think his confidence is shot. I think it was a good learning experience for him. It doesn't get tougher than playing the Sharks at the Shark Tank. But I think Theo plays against LA. :/

Posted by: rachel216

I think that Nuevy should definitely be in there again on Saturday. Even though Caps lost by such a margin, I think he had a fairly good game, kept them in there, did not really let any weak goals go in the way a certain other goalie has done recently.

The difference between the bad game against Carolina and the bad game against the Sharks was that even though the D played poorly in both games, I felt that Theo's horrible rebound control, and knack for being caught out of position made it even tougher on the D. Though the D played poorly infront of Nuevy, I do not recall any instances where he really contirbuted to those "follies". Then again, maybe I do not have a really keen eye for that sort of thing.

Anyway, I just think that unless BB was upset/dissappointed in Nuevy's play, I doubt he will put Theo in there instead of Nuevy on Saturday...especially given that they had a few days off and a couple of tough practices in between...

Now to watch the outdoor game.

Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | January 1, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

how was varly in hershey? he went for the conditioning stint, but has he gotten better?

Posted by: mrszilla | January 1, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Okay this is pretty cool--the Winter Classic. I really really hope that the Caps can be part of it next year.

I'm thinking though that it really needs to be held in a colder region. The cold DC weather can be a bit fickle (or non-existant).The cold adds to the proper hockey ambience I think.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure everyone saw the Green commercial.

It was amusing.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 1, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

It's good to see Bruce holding people accountable and calling them out when they aren't doing their jobs. Now, if the Redskins could only get a coach like that...

Posted by: stwasm | January 1, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Saw the Green commercial and better yet the Caps/Ovi one. The advertisers sure seem to like the Caps. Guess there was more of a market than NBC understood.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

how was varly in hershey? he went for the conditioning stint, but has he gotten better?

Posted by: mrszilla | January 1, 2010 1:37 PM
Varly has not played for Hershey yet. He's expected to get a start Saturday or Sunday. Bears play at WilkesBarre tonight, but Holtby will be in goal.

Posted by: tess2201 | January 1, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

The dryer commercial with whatshisface has me in fear for our dryer!

Posted by: Steakum | January 1, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

The dryer commercial with whatshisface has me in fear for our dryer!

Posted by: Steakum

I was just wondering if that is what Mario's basement really looks like...??!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | January 1, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Green's commericial was the best so far. It looks like they are using new commericials like the super bowl, but I am sure the price tag for time is not in the same league.

It also seems that the NHL wished that Ovie and the Caps were in this Classic. There has been more commercials with Caps players than Boston and Philly. It looks like they may be tipping their hat showing that the Caps will be in the classic next year.

Posted by: Caps4Life1 | January 1, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

great tess, thanks! i didnt think he had played but realized i wasnt sure when their last game was so i wanted to make sure i didnt miss anything!

i do however miss varly... hopefully he'll be back soon

Posted by: mrszilla | January 1, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

random comment... Semin's been my fav for about the last two years with his quiet demeanor, flashes of humor, and intensity. I've not really been a Mike Green fan due to the flashy MTV cribs type coverage. However this week, I think I flipped my opinions this week. Semin came out of Kettler (snuck out the side door) ignored ALL the kids standing there for autographs.. in fact reversed his car and accelerated away from us while we stood there holding his jersey out about ten feet from the back of his car (thanks for the exhaust in my face Semin- did you really need to reve the engine?)(I'm not a scarey fan girl, but rather a moderately attractive 30 something woman so there was no need for that). Green (Erskine, Poti, and others), however, came out patiently stood there took pictures and signed whatever people asked them to. Greeb even took a gift from a scarey fan girl (faux Russian hat, platinum blonde hair and lattice tights=trying too hard). Anyway, thanks for your time guys and not making those kids cry like Semin did (sorry, Semin, but it was a jerky move). Keeping in mind they had a game to play and packing to do for Cali later that night, I thought it was a great gesture from the other guys.. so thanks if any of you (Or your agents, Semin's cough cough, read this..

Posted by: kmr2r | January 1, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse


Sorry your experience with Semin wasn't good. Luckily, my own experience was better. I managed to catch him after a morning skate in October this year and he signed for me (and many other folks) and posed for pictures with people before leaving.

Overall, the most accessible of the guys for autographs is Mike Green. Laich's another very accessible.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow the Bruins just scored at the end of a PP with just 2 minutes plus left to the third period. Exciting game and the I can enjoy it without angst because I don't really care who wins. And now a penalty and OT.

And now the full Ovi and Caps on the tarmac ad--great ad. Lots of love for the Caps suddenly.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Great game--the third was so much better for both teams. Wow what furious desperate activity. I still think the Caps should be one of the teams but this was fun to watch.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse


Leave it to Philthy. Live by the penalty. Die by the penalty.

That's what they get for playing as a philthy play. Burned on a power play goal.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Maybe GMGM is clearing cap space to get Chara. One can only dream.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 1, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse


It's a shame you had a bad experience. But IMO I'd try to keep it in perspective. We fans sometimes forget that these guys have good and bad days, especially following a practice or a game. And some players are more comfortable with public interaction than others.

In an interview I heard, Ovi said he appreciated DC fans, because while people recognize him and may say "hi" or "good game," they let him eat his dinner in peace. Whereas in Canada his fans follow him everywhere. It must be hard to be a sport celebrity trying to balance the public and private, maintaining at the same time their appreciation for fan support. And of course the sports teams would be meaningless without fan support.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse


Who could GMGM be getting rid of to clear cap space for acquiring Chara?

Don't think the Bruins have him for sale. They're still in playoff contention.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse


TOO TRUE--burned by a penalty. I was torn--mildly--Bruins were higher in rankings but really hate the Flyers (not as much as I hate the Pens of course). The end really was exciting though.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@CapFan75: The talk has been that part of the reason for the Clark, Jurcina move was to create cap space to get a big time defensive defenseman. I agree that the Bruins aren't looking to move Chara. It was sort of a joke but certainly a dream to see him in a Caps uniform.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 1, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse


It is a calculated risk for Semin to just do a one year deal. Hope he does better the second half of this year and the playoffs.

Also, hope we keep him long term. I would not be surprised if he looks around but signs back with us after next year.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Good game! Ending was tailor made for NHL. Caps commercials were great. For what its worth, I just noticed Nylander is tied for 2nd on Grand Rapids in assists. Can this be correct, he's played less than half their games?

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 1, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Neuvy's lack of success stopping either penalty shot might indicate a need for some work. I think the league average for a shooter's success is about 28%. Granted, we may not see another penalty shot this season against the Caps, but I think he'd need the same skill set for a shoot out, and for break aways. Perhaps more so for break aways, because they develop out of a rush up ice, not from someone skating in from a dead stop at center.

Posted by: miseaujeu | January 1, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse


I agree that I hope the calculated risk works for both Semin and GMGM. I should have also said that McPhee is also taking a calculated risk that he won't lose Semin. What few words he did utter about Semin in the past year were as I recall positive, that he was a key part of this team.

I have now become a convert to the Winter Classic. Boo on NY for not having that venue free. I do NOT want it to be a Caps/Pens game--they have had their moment in the sun-or should I say snow.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse


On Neuvy, the first goal scored on us was when we failed to convert a chance and then they broke away.

Agree Neuvy needs work in stopping penalty shots (for shootouts) and stopping break aways.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse


I figured the talk on getting Chara was a joke.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse


For the Winter Classic for next year, my vote is for a matchup between the Caps and the Rangers to take place in ........ Nationals Park.

(Of course, we need a way to keep the ice nice and cold regardless of how warm it would be here. But that would be true to a slightly lesser degree in NY than here, anyhow.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

After the Bruins scored their first goal today to tie the game an NBC camera showed a fan in a Caps jersey cheering the goal at Fenway.

Posted by: MReilly9 | January 1, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I don't think there's much of a chance of having the winter classic in DC unless the Caps win the Cup this year... don't think many people outside the area regard it as a "hockey town".

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

@kmr2r & @Capsyoungguns,

On players having good days and bad days for fan interactions, I recall reading two stories on Ovi on the net the same day last year.

One story was about an Islanders fan who was trying to get Ovi to sign a picture of himself and Ovi that had been taken of him at a show and Ovi didn't sign for anyone, except one woman and not for that particular fan. That fan was not too happy with Ovi, needless to say.

The second story was about a Buffalo Sabres fan who I think had a serious disease (and was also a former hockey player, like HS or college) and wanted to get Ovi to send him an autographed picture and sent a letter in care of the Caps. Time passes. He heard from the Caps and Ovi didn't have any pictures but signed an All Game game game used jersey for this fan and wanted to make sure the fan received it.

Ironic that I read both those stories the same day.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse


Maybe DC isn't a hockey town but I'm sure they would sell out Nationals Park if the Caps were in the Winter Classic here.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

As my screen name indicates, I have been around "from the beginning". I am a sports fan of serval sports first and of individual teams second. I won't regal you of some of my experiences at old Griffith Stadium watching the original Washington Senators, though there were some great and funny experiences. The Senators were terrible, but I enjoyed and watched anyway. The old Redskins teams that played at Griffith Stadium were also terrible and it was easy to walk up and buy a ticket at the gate and walk in.

I never played Ice Hockey, though I believe it to be the greatest team sport.
I don't have the indepth knowledge of hockey that some seem to either have or
at least claim to have. I can catagorically state that Caps hockey is extremely entertaining and that is one of the major reasons I watch it. While the Caps are not a perfect team, they are an excellent team and are fun, though frustrating at times, to watch. Keep in mind that the Caps under Hanlon were not only not very good but they were boring to watch. As others have said, enjoy the ride. It should be a long one and a fun one.

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse


But people have heard of Ovi. To paraphrase Field of Dreams: if they build the rink they will come.

Seriously IMO we are not far from hardcore hockey towns. I never head South--I think Northeast corridor when I travel. And I think attendance would be strong from this area.

However, I would worry more about the weather. I love the fact that we've had a white Christmas this year, but we just as likely could have warm sunny Christmas, gosh just like where tominfl1 lives.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75- That would be so cool if they could do it at Nats Park or RFK stadium. Too bad the weather could be like 50 degrees in January. It would be awesome to see Nats Park full for once. (Actually it was full on the night the park opened.)

Watching the game today, the people sitting in the green monster seats probably couldn't see a single thing.

Posted by: rachel216 | January 1, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse


I find them exciting too. Unlike you I am a fan of a few years. I honestly never watched hockey before my son got involved playing and they got me to my first Caps game. I was hooked. It is as you say the best team sport--I love it when the Caps are completely in sync and the plays unfold crisply and cleanly, especially when they lead to a goal. Though Ovi is a leader on the ice who can create a play out of so little time and space, I love the fact that he cannot win it alone, that it is first and foremost a team effort.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse


I am sorry you had that experience with Semin. It's very disapointing to kids. My boys have not approached them that I know of, so have not had the chance to see how it goes.

About the closest for the 18-year-old was at the recent Buffalo game where he was next to the tunnel during warm-ups and wanted to high-5 the players as they came through. Ironically, the only one who did was Chris Clark. My son said BB looked him right in the eye, then stuffed his hands in his pockets. Of course, this son is older and just shrugged it off.

You never know what a player (or celebrity) has on his or her mind or what might have just happened. I have seen a picture of Semin with a young child taken outside Kettler as he obviously was signing autographs. I have no idea what his usual MO is, though.

I have seen a couple of our more recently-acquired players at youth hockey activities, but only spoke to them briefly and did not ask for an autograph since it was family/personal time.

I hope you get another chance sometime and that you are not disappointed.

Posted by: Steakum | January 1, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse


I'm with CapsFan75 and Capsyoungguns: I think a Winter Classic could be sold out here. We know a number of people who watch hockey casually and would jump at the chance to attend such a spectacle. There's always that group of people who attend things just for the novelty or historical aspect.

I do think the bigger problem is the weather, though. And I would not want it at FedEX field (no more money for the Daniel).

We saw someone with a Laich jersey in the stands in Boston.

Posted by: Steakum | January 1, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

@ Capsyoungguns

this area has come a long way as a hockey town but it still has ways to go - the fans booing the team after one bad period against the Canes last week was a disgrace.

the atmosphere at Fenway today couldn't have been better with the fans of both teams getting into it... sure they would be able to sell the game out in DC but I'm not sure if they would be able to create that kinda atmosphere here.

Posted by: joek443 | January 1, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse


Yeah I hated the booing too. I gave quelling looks to anyone booing that sat near me but I'm sure my laser stare has more power with my son. It was tacky. As for the evolution of DC as a hockey town--well we will jsut have to keep on evolving.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse


You've been a fan (of the Caps and of baseball here) even longer than me.

I started out as a baseball fan (of the St. Louis Cardinals originally) but follow the local teams (Orioles, Nats).

I started following the Caps in 1975 (hence my screen name). The first Caps game I ever went to back in Nov 1975 when the Caps lost 2-0 and Bernie Wolfe was in goal. I followed them through most of their bad years and then all their frustrating playoff experiences. I wasn't a Season Ticket holder but went to multiple games each year.

My game going fell off after the kids were born (first one in 1985). I got busy in their activities so following professional sports took a back seat. I got more interested again after the lockout when the Caps acquired the current group who are about the age of my first born (with one Cap greatly reminding me of her.) I recall the drafting of Ovi and the return of Semin. And the firing of Hanlon (and hiring of Boudreau). And now I'm a full STH with the last kid off to college.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

@ Capsyoungguns

I started playing sports at a very young age. I was never good enough to play beyond HS level. It just always amazes me the talent required to skate at that level. My daughter, now in her 30's, was a competitive figure skater and even toured for a while but even a poor skater like Erskine is far better than 99.9% of the people out there and these are the ones critisizing him. The talen level of pro hockey players is just astounding. All I can say is just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

My kids and I waited outside Kettler one day last season. It was our first time doing this. I was somewhat apprehensive, because I didn't want my kids to be dissapointed in their Caps "heroes" by being ignored or brushed aside. I know how professional athletes can be. However we were pleasantly surprised at the good attitudes of Boyd Gordon, Mike Green, and Michael Neuvirth. As far as the Semin incident the lady had, maybe he had just gotten chewed out by BB at practice or something. You never know... I guess its all relative, but if somebody was willing to pay me $6 million, I'd sign anything!

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 1, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

@ CapsFan75

My youngest is, I have to count on my fingers and toes and the few hairs left, in her mid 20's. The oldest is almost 40. I haven't lived in the DC area for almost 20 years now. I am in the land of tominfl, FLDave, and a few others. I have watched a couple of Stanley Cup celebrations up close but long for the day my Caps can hoist The Cup. Before I found CI and online game watching I was limited to what was on Versus and FL fox sports for a hockey fix. I am not much of a poster, but I do enjoy reading them. I just thought it was both funny and sad the amount of vitriol and doomsday forecasting over the Caps because they lost a couple of games. Are they the best team in the NHL? I don't know but I do know that last year the dirty fowls were not at this point. However, it was they that the lifted The Cup in June. Let GMGM do his job as Ted has directed him and hopefully if not this year, next year the Caps will also be lifting The Cup.

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

I have mixed emotions about the booing vs. Carolina. Normally I would agree that it is inappropriate, but I think it may show how closely the Verizon crowd identifies with this team. When they play badly Bruce chews them out and the crowd wants to do the same. I guess I'm ok with that as long as the crazy positiveness the rest of the time continues. At the Phone Booth we have made it a tough place for opponents to play.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 1, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse


So true about the talent. I'm just happy that I can skate period.

Then then when I hear players talk such as Chimera about how being on the same line in practice with Semin and Backstrom was unbelievable in the way they took skating and puck handling to a completely different level. Or one of the Sharks players (don't remember who) who said of Ovi that he is so difficult to defend because he has no set patterns to his play. He makes up new ones as the play unfolds.

This is an exciting team to watch. I am fond of Erskine--he is a true lunchpail guy. Felt bad for him personally getting nailed on that stick throwing penalty call and then having to talk to the reporters about it.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse


Your youngest is about the same age as my first born. She turns 25 on Feb 20 (was born exactly 10 years after Brendan Witt). So when was your last one born?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse


I just feel a bit sorry for the "fans" that can't just enjoy this great and wonderful team. Disecting the minutia and revelling in the errors is just sad. I would only say that if these people are so knowledgeable then why aren't they running a successful NHL Hockey franchise.

BTW, I used "" intentionally, not to state they aren't fans but for emphasis

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:13 PM | Report abuse


August 18, I think it was either 85 or 86, but I am no longer sure which.

My older grandson was born on August 19. Unfortunately he is in upstate NY so he will either be a Sabre or Bruins fan for hockey. Baseball and football he is definitely a Sox/Patriots fan as his dad is from MA.

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse


Actually I am a great skater as long as I don't have to turn or stop. And if falling ever becomes an Olympic sport I should be a shoein for a gold medal.

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse


Hear Hear! It's virtually impossible for any team to win all of the time and for that matter for 60 minutes in every game. The Caps just need to work on doing it more consistently. They have already proven that they belong with the elite. Just have to get the SC finals now and win that darn thing.


So true--I normally get sensory overload (as when there are 6 boys in my house playing a Wii game) but at the Phone Booth I am completely caught up in the energy and excitement. I'm proud of the fact that we are such a tough arena to play for opposing teams.

@ kcbrichmond

I have been told by friends of mine that on any given day after practice a few players will come over and even have photos taken. It just depends on the day and the player and his mood I guess. IMO I find this team to be positive and appreciative of fans. I guess I personally have sympathy for Semin because I'm more of an introvert myself, which is probably why I've never tried to get an autograph outside of an official line. I'm also terrible at languages (barely read German though I spent four years there) and tend to hang back in a crowd. Different personalities is how I see it.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse


When you said you played for HS then I assumed you were a great skater. Just a matter of levels. I'm happy I don't fall.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

And by not falling I mean staying upright!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse


I only "learned" to skate when my oldest daughter took up figure skating. In HS I played football. There is very liitle need in college for 135 lb defensive tackles.

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I also think I came close to setting a state record for most personal foul penalties in a game and in a year.

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse


Is she 24 or 23? Maybe to narrow it down, how were the Caps or Orioles doing when she was born? Or other events. I remember the year my daughter was born, the KC Royals won the World Series. (Grr, since I was rooting for the Cardinals.)

If she was born in 1985, she's about a month older than Ovi.

I actually knew a kid born the same day as Ovi. He was taking piano lessons from the same teacher as my daughter was.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse


Verrry funny. Must have misread your post. I was a runner in HS but I took mediocre to new levels.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse


You excel at "6 degrees of separation" and I like how your associations are made within fixed moments in sports. I have a rather maternal attitude towards the Caps myself but you are much better at the dates.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse


I also used to swim. I was told I was a major member of the swim team as I made all the other swimmers look better

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse


Overall, the team's been pretty good to the fans. Every guy is not always going to be in a good mood all the time.

Who have I succeeded in getting autographs outside of "official" paid events?

Last season I got:

This year I got:
Boudreau (and he even personalized the autograph when autographing his book)

Oddly enough, I had gotten a fair number of autographs the very week after Caps Con.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse

I swam 50 yards the same way a disance swimmer would.

long and slow

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:41 PM | Report abuse


It's easy to feel maternal towards the Caps since my first born is the same age as several of them; 5 guys within 1 year of her (and another one who's a year plus a few days younger.)

Varly and Neuvy are right between my kids in age.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse


I really don't remember how either team was doing. I suffer from both CRS and oldtimersdisease

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse


I'm a former swimmer myself and did one year of summer league just before HS. I wasn't bad but our team wasn't that serious. Swim team is much more serious these days.

Both my kids swam swim team. The younger one ended up being better as she had the benefit of starting at a younger age. My first one had started at 9. Three years later, when my younger was eligible, we signed her up too.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

The Bears are playing tonight and Perreault is centering Bouchard and Bourque. I thought of you right's an all-French line like you were talking about one night.

And by the way, the Bears are down 1-0 at the end of the first. Holtby in goal.

Posted by: tess2201 | January 1, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse


My older grandson is also a swimmer and my daughter tells me he is doing very well. He is 7(?) I think.

CRS does terrible things to the memory

Posted by: fromthebeginning | January 1, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

@Capsyoungguns & Steakum

I actually met some football players through swim team. Joe Jacoby's daughter had swum against my younger daughter in a few races (for club swimming) and I did introduce myself to him & his wife.

I also met another former Redskin named Reggie Evans through swimming. He was with the Skins for a year and his kids are in our summer league.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Hey Bears fans,go to to watch bears/pens game...bears down 1-0 after 1

Posted by: caps1 | January 1, 2010 7:49 PM | Report abuse


It looks as though Semin is doing penance for something! From Tarik's twitter:

Boudreau also made Semin do push ups after the sniper nearly decapitated Neuvirth with a head high slapper.

Posted by: Steakum | January 1, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse


Thanks for thinking of me with the French Bears. I hope they can come back but they generally have a good record for coming back.

French guys on the Bears: aside from Bouchard, Perreault, and Bourque, they have Aucoin and Giroux. I assume Joudrey is a French name -- at least it sounds French to me.

The last name "Holtby" sounds similar to "Kolzig" in my humble opinion, especially if you pronounce Kolzig in the German manner as Colts-ig. Some day, I'll write a story and name a character Braden Kolzig.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Bears tie it up. Goal Bourque, from Aucoin and Giroux.

Posted by: tess2201 | January 1, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

1-1 chris borque pp goal

Posted by: caps1 | January 1, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse


I also heard what Chimera said about playing with Backs & Semin and them being on a whole other level. I think some people in this town lose sight of that when they start nitpicking at players and think they really could get someone better to slide into that first line. Whether it is a factor or not, I look at the team just since the trade, and feel must be upsetting to them on several levels, professinals or not. I wonder how the chemistry would be affected if they up and traded, say, Semin, for example.

I am much like you and prefer the back of tour groups -- always bringing up the rear and generally not seeking the attention. So, I understand someone who just wants to go about their business without having to discuss or justify what you are doing every living, breathing minute.

When my husband and I were dating and he mentioned maybe wanting to run for political office, I said no, I would divorce you! I would be the worst at that and probably would tell people where to go if they wanted too much information and bothered me too much. We are all different (thank goodness!).

Posted by: Steakum | January 1, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

It appears that Joudrey is a French name. I found a genealogical chart where there was a Joudrey listed as coming from France. Sounds like Montbeliard, France was a place they've come from -- Huguenots.

It seems like the Joudreys settled in Nova Scotia. I even saw a marriage between a Joudrey and (get this) a Weagle. (Now that's a perfect marriage for a Caps fan).

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse


Nice job, Bears. Note: all people involved in the game tying goal are of French extraction somewhere along the line.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 8:13 PM | Report abuse

I agree - " Anyway, I just think that unless BB was upset/dissappointed in Nuevy's play, I doubt he will put Theo in there instead of Nuevy on Saturday..."

True Neuvy showed his weakness in penalty shots but he is still so new to the NHL, and the rest of his performance was so strong. I don't think there is any question that he is a superior goalie to Theo, at least to the Theo of today.

It will be interesting to see what choices BB makes and how the boys respomd.

Posted by: caraveli | January 1, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse


Fun read today. Nice mellow thread after the emotional turmoil of this past week in Capsland. That's what a little time, a fresh New Year's Day, and a Winter Classic will bring. Happy New Year everyone!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

May the Bears do well tonight. Since they have so many French guys, here's the translation of Hershey Bears:

Les ours de Hershey

And now to root them on to Victory:

Allez Vous, Les Ours.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Bears go ahead 2-1. Andrew Joudrey shorthanded. Assist Pat MacNeill. End of the 2nd.

Posted by: tess2201 | January 1, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

2-1 bears after 2

Posted by: caps1 | January 1, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

@ Steakum

OMG--to be a political wife--how many degrees of hell would that be for me. Good call!

I got a good feeling about Chimera from that interview. He seemed like he was still a little stunned but in a "how great can this be" kind of way. Said all the right things and couldn't keep from smiling through the interview. How far have the Caps come, that we are now a team that other players fervently want to join. You are so right that we have elite players who are not that easy to replace.

And of course it did make me wonder how Clark felt going to a team that was struggling and looking to him to help rebuild. I'd say stunned but not in a good way. I wasn't in the least bit surprised that they wanted him. He is such a great character guy. He'll always be our Clarkie to me. He made his mark on this team and will always be remembered for that.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

my updates are not as detailed as Tess lol

Posted by: caps1 | January 1, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse


Yay, Bears.

Patrick McNeil was born on St. Patrick's Day. I'm sure that helped inspired his parents to name him that.

BTW, I had a high school classmate (female) who was born on St. Patrick's Day. She was named Patricia as a result.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

@Steakum & @Capsyoungguns

I don't think I would have made a very good political wife either. I could not have handled all the media scrutiny.

While I test out as a extrovert for Myers Briggs purposes, I sometimes do act like an introvert and don't do well in large crowds.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse


I guess we find out tomorrow on whether our "new kid" starts tomorrow at goal and gets another chance to prove his "virth".

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse


You sound like my husband-he's got that yin-yang introvert-extrovert sides to his personality too. And my son is completely an extrovert. I just try to keep up and be tolerant. You are very good at getting autographs--your extrovert nature serves you well there.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Early in the third, 3-1 Bears.
Bourque again, this time from Bouchard and Perreault.

Posted by: tess2201 | January 1, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse


Another strike by Les Ours de Francais at Hershey, I see.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse


My mom considered me to be an introvert with bad social skills. (Of course, my sister's the uber extrovert with wonderful social skills.

In many ways, I identify with Alex Semin. I was often criticized.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 1, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

Great for the Bears. Hope they finish the game strongly!


My mom also thought I was an introvert who just needed to develop social skills--shyness was no excuse. I have adapted. My sister is the charming one.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 1, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Let's all enjoy the winter classic while we can. Global Warming's going to put an end to that foolishness within the next few years, sorry to say.

Posted by: ExPatYankee | January 2, 2010 4:28 AM | Report abuse

live tv and live score for free

Posted by: d1g00f | January 5, 2010 2:02 AM | Report abuse

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