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Boudreau: 'The minute I relax is the minute they relax'

Washington's Michal Neuvirth and Montreal's Carey Price each came off the ice first during their respective morning skates, so it looks like they'll be your starting netminders tonight at Bell Centre as the Caps look to tie the second-longest winning streak in NHL history.

The big news this morning was Jason Chimera's absence. The left wing has a history of groin-muscle strains, and it appears he suffered a new one during yesterday's practice. The team has not announced his status for tonight's game, but it certainly appears that the injury will force Coach Bruce Boudreau to do something he hasn't done much at all during the Caps' 14 game wining streak: shuffle the lines.

Based on the skate, the top two lines will remain unchanged. Chimera's absence, though, means Matt Bradley will move up from the fourth line to the third, and Quintin Laing will move from the press box to the fourth. It will be Laing's first appearance in 14 games.

Some other notes and quotes to get you ready for tonight:

*Semyon Varlamov is on the trip, but won't play tonight or tomorrow, Boudreau said.

"We'll see Saturday if it's worth putting him in," Boudreau said. "There are a lot of reasons why he should play or shouldn't play. [It's a matter] of rust and whether or not we practice Friday because that's a travel day and [the risk involved with] putting him in a [pressure-packed] position if things go well the next two games."

Boudreau was, of course, referring to the possibility that the Caps could be going for a league record-tying 17th straight win Saturday against the Blues. For a goalie who hasn't made an NHL start since Dec. 7, that would be a tough welcome back to the big leagues.

Boudreau also reiterated that he doesn't plan to stand in Varlamov's way when it comes to him representing Russia in the Olympics, despite his recent injury history.

"We're under the assumption that he's going," Boudreau said. "We haven't heard anything differently. Whatever they want. It's such an honor to wear your country's jersey. Who am I to say, 'No, for a selfish reason, I would like you not to do it.'"

*When asked how he planned to manage his goalie situation now that he's got three healthy ones, Boudreau cracked, "Call on George [McPhee]. I don't know how we're going to do. I haven't even thought about it. It's an awful lot better problem to have that the other way around."

*Mike Green won't be disciplined for being late to practice yesterday, Boudreau said. Tuesday's practice was moved up so that the team could fly out early and avoid the storm. Green said his cell phone was off and that he did not receive the mass text message that was sent out to inform players of the time change.

"It was an accident and he slept in," Boudreau said. "And there was another player that did the same thing, but he got there a little earlier that Mike. It was an honest mistake. We'll make him buy lunch somewhere."

Green said: "I just didn't get the message. I got lunch, for sure."

*With a win tonight, the Caps could tie the 1981-82 Islanders for the second-longest winning streak in league history. During the run, they've gone from trailing in the Eastern Conference standings to leading by 14 points.

*The Caps can also tie the franchise record for consecutive wins on the road (six) with a win tonight. That record has been around since 1983-84.

*Boudreau said he's looking forward to the break -- and not just because he's planning to take the family on a tropical holiday. He's also looking forward to coming back and getting in about a week of practice with all of the non-Olympians. Practice time has been scarce during the winning streak because of the compressed schedule (and snow).

"When you don't practice for a week or two weeks at a time, your game falls apart," he said. "We need more practice time. We're going to get through these three games and then we're going to get six practices before we come back to play again to sort of tie everything together. You can tell when you haven't practiced and the team is getting sloppy, and I think we're at that stage."

*In case you haven't noticed, Alex Ovechkin, despite missing eight games with injury and suspension, is arguably having his best season to date. He leads the league in goals (42), points (86), plus minus (41), shots (266) and points per game (1.69).

Asked about the recent media reports comparing the Caps to the the 1980's Oliers, Ovechkin said: It's good to be compared to great players, great teams. [But] we're not Oilers, we're Capitals."

*Boudreau on keeping his players motivated during the run: "In my job, I try to think of something everyday. I wouldn't use the word 'motivate' but to keep them focused and paying attention and why we have to play well and what we have to do to play well. I believe you have to push. The minute I relax, is the minute they relax. Any team we're playing right now is giving us their best [effort]."

*Brooks Laich's take on the streak: "We approach everything as just trying to win another hockey game. The media talks about it quite a bit. But we've taken on the mood that it's us against everybody. Because every team wants to be the team to knock us off. So we have to be prepared for every game and remain desperate during every hockey game."

Speaking of Laich, a noted snow lover from Canada's unofficial snowiest province, Saskatchewan, he said he's a actually a bit bummed that the Caps aren't at home.

"I was watching the news this morning and saw how they have eight inches and they're expecting eight more," he said with a big grin. "It's great. When I see snow on the ground, that means it's time to play hockey. I love the snow, man. I don't know. It's weird."

We'll see how much Laich will be loving the snow if it prevents the Caps from returning after Saturday's game in St. Louis. Laich, like many of his teammates, has plans to get away during the break.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 10, 2010; 1:35 PM ET
 | Tags: Alex Ovechkin, Bruce Boudreau, Jason Chimera, Jose Theodore, Michal Neuvirth, Mike Green, Montreal Canadiens, Quintin Laing, Semyon Varlamov  
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Next: In-game chat: Caps at Canadiens

Comments

15 or Bust!

Posted by: glb8p | February 10, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

From earlier thread;


Atlanta GM Waddell was just on NHL Live and he said they're making a playoff push and will be buyers, not sellers. He said the reason for trading Lehtonen was because of his recent return from injury while Pavelec and Hedberg were doing well -Pavelec is the goalie of the future and Hedgerg was mentoring him.

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | February 10, 2010 1:23 PM |

Kari is not the reason I said this.

The rumors that Colby Armstrong was headed out was the reason...

Posted by: richmondphil | February 10, 2010 1:54 PM


Also, did no one see my shot at Milbury last thread? About Yashin? Nobody? I thought it was golden.. :''(

Posted by: richmondphil | February 10, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

It sounds weird to say, but if you're going to get hurt, now is the time. That being said, hopefully it's nothing with Chimera, as he's been awesome, evn if he did pass up a WIDE OPEN net on a two on one against the Pens to try a deke.

Posted by: Aldred15 | February 10, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Also, with ATL acquiring a blue-chip prospect like Vishnevsky, they should trade us KUBINA!

Posted by: richmondphil | February 10, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

tonight should be a win. the habs don't have the defense to contain our offense or the offense to really test our defense. good decision to put neuvy in net. save theo for tomorrow. that is the big test.

Posted by: colonelbagpuss | February 10, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I love Ovi's quotes--another great statement for "Ovi's Book of Sayings."

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | February 10, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

one of the most common misconceptions about Gretzky is that he was an assist man, probably because that's what he was later in his career.

but there's been only a handful of players who have scored over 50 goals in the first 50 games of a season and he did it 3 times in his first 6 years in the NHL.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_goals_in_50_games

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Mike Green didn't get my text, either. He owes me lunch, too. I'll buy the beer.

Posted by: uncatim | February 10, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Tarik:

We appreciate the effort you put into giving us all these little snippets of semi-useless info. But it satisfies our appetite and makes us feel like we're there with the team. Great job!

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | February 10, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Neuvy in net is not all that surprising when you consider we're playing back to back. Theo plays tomorrow and plays saturday unless Varly's back to form.

Posted by: Sonyask | February 10, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Gretzky was an assist man. He was also a goal man. He was everything man.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 10, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Wiley_One1: Chimera probably doesn't consider his groin semi-useless!

Posted by: uncatim | February 10, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Aldred15 - Agreed. Aside the fact that there is a winning streak to play with, this Olympic break will be welcomed by those bruised and battered. Chimera's been a good acquisition. On that goal you spoke of, I think he received the puck on his backhand and was more trying to get it on his forehand than trying to get cute with the puck.

Posted by: gonchpup | February 10, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

my understanding is that Neuvy needs to be sent back to hershey after tonight's game in order to be eligible to play for them during the olympic break.

I think BB will probably put in Varly on saturday no matter what... Varly probably won't get much playing time in vancouver if at all and it's important for him to get some real playing time before the break

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

"Wiley_One1: Chimera probably doesn't consider his groin semi-useless!"
Posted by: uncatim | February 10, 2010 2:12 PM

Nothing I can do about the man's groin problems. And, I'm not in Vegas, so I can't bet on the game. Therefore, information concerning Chimera's groin is definitely useless to me. However, as I said, we all love hearing about this stuff anyway and Tarik provides a great service. Maybe you missed the point?

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | February 10, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Wiley, I think your e-sarcasm meter might be broken.. :)

Posted by: richmondphil | February 10, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

If the Caps can win tonight and tomorrow, I don't see them starting Varly in St.Louis. I wouldnt put him a game untill the the record is either broken or the lost. They have ridden Theo and Neuvy thru this run......and i expect it to stay that way. As much as everyone wanted to see Holtby get a game in, this is the main reason he didnt get one IMHO.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | February 10, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, richmondphil. I'm just a little snow-crazy here atop Braddock Mountain.

Posted by: uncatim | February 10, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

If the Caps can win tonight and tomorrow, I don't see them starting Varly in St.Louis. I wouldnt put him a game untill the the record is either broken or the lost. They have ridden Theo and Neuvy thru this run......and i expect it to stay that way. As much as everyone wanted to see Holtby get a game in, this is the main reason he didnt get one IMHO.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | February 10, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse


I think there's a huge difference between Holtby and Varly... Varly was their number one goalie before he got hurt, Holtby has yet to play a game in the NHL

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Hahaha, Brooksy. Don't you worry your head, there's more coming Monday. You'll still get to see it when you get back.

Posted by: kittypawz | February 10, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

winning steaks are great but they will all come to an end at some point. I can understand not willing to put in a rookie who's never played in the NHL during the streak but that's not the case with Varly.

if it ends with Varly then so be it. he has to start playing at some point and if he's ready to do, he should be playing.

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

It is crazy. I am sitting in Nova Scotia, Canada in +3 weather today when it's usually -20 with 3 feet of snow. You guys in DC are getting rocked with snow. Definitely a very weird winter (not that I am complaining about the change).

Posted by: Aldred15 | February 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I just realized that I was doing my temperatures in Celsius. Either way, the gist of my message is that it's warm her with little snow, when it's usually freezing and snowy, yet you guys are getting dummied with snow. Enough of my rambling, let's go Caps!

Posted by: Aldred15 | February 10, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

@joek443 is right. Yes we like this streak and all, but that's not the raison d'etre of the season. Varly's our #1 goalie and if this is the right game for him to come back, this is the right game.

Posted by: Sonyask | February 10, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Young Guns, Fab Five, and Hard Hats come out with guns blazing, instruments tuned, and their Craftsman tools honed for tonight's game.

You may recall that our last meeting was the night Ovi was named captain and Flash had his first game as center.

Sasha had 2 of 4 goals (Price was in net) and was the most aggressive I have ever seen him play without getting a penalty. He was on fire.

Flash had 3 points with more from Fehrsie, Brooksie, Greenie, & Poti.

I hope they can recapture that moment, the fire, and burn the Habs' house to the ground. (And I am hoping for our power to remain on!)

Posted by: Steakum | February 10, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

speaking of Varly being our #1 goalie, they just re-played his game 7 from our series against the Pens last year. ;) They picked every spot on him.

Posted by: rh71 | February 10, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

as Al Koken keeps pointing out, the series never should have gone to Game 7... Varly gave them every opportunity to win Game 3 in Pittsburgh to go up 3 games to none in the series but the team failed.

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I've never had a working e-sarcasm meter and I'm sure there are plenty of others with the same affliction. That's why it is generally a bad idea to attempt e-sarcasm. It almost always fails.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | February 10, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Varlamov should be the #1 goalie...in Hershey.

Posted by: markfromparkville | February 10, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Varlamov should be the #1 goalie...in Hershey.

Posted by: markfromparkville | February 10, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

the Blues had the 23rd sellout of the season last night and they won just their 10th home game of the season. St. Louis is a great sports town, they love the Blues and the Cards no matter where they are in the standing.

they have real knowledgeable fans, something this guy clearly is NOT

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

OT, but FCPS just cancelled school for the rest of the week. What took so long? I told my sons on Sat. it would happen, as it did in 2003.

Posted by: Steakum | February 10, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I know I'm a few days behind with this...but did anybody else think it was a little weird that NBC let Milbury bring up his old Samuelsson rant during intermission Sunday? It just seemed out of place on a snow day when the NHL obviously was trying to attract a big audience to hockey. Just curious what you thought?

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 10, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@joke443- Just because my opinion differs from yours doesn't mean I'm not knowledgeable. Dude I've forgotten more about hockey than you will ever know.

Posted by: markfromparkville | February 10, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

guys like Milbury will never accept anyone especially from europe who plays tough, wears a visor and never drops the gloves as real hockey players...

not unlike the ole nascar fans never being able to accept drivers like Kyle Busch no matter how many races he wins.

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse

@ markfromparkville

you're just a typical fair weather "what have you done for me lately" fan who can't remember what happened 2 months ago let alone 2 years if you really think Varly should be playing in Hershey.

the last time I checked he's the one who's done anything for them in the playoffs and when he's healthy, he's BETTER than Theo or Neuvy.

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I love the snow, too, Brooks. It's not weird at all. Snow makes me happy.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | February 10, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

@joke443- You're right man. I've been a "typical fair weather fan " since about 1984.

Posted by: markfromparkville | February 10, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

"We'll see Saturday if it's worth putting him in," Boudreau said. "There are a lot of reasons why he should play or shouldn't play. [It's a matter] of rust and whether or not we practice Friday because that's a travel day and [the risk involved with] putting him in a [pressure-packed] position if things go well the next two games."

I just read this as Bruce saying he will not put him in against St. L if things "go well" the next two games.

I would trust Varly with the streak on the line. I can tell you that Bruce wants to beat the winning streak.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | February 10, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

and after the Jim Carey fiasco, I never get sold on any young goalie till he shows that he can play just as well in the playoffs as he does during the regular season.

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Joe: Are you suggesting markfromparkville belongs in the Doofus Brigade? If so, we can put him in Victor Company for Varly bashers. That company is pretty empty for obvious reasons.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 10, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Yes! Laing is back on the ice! The Bog article on him did its magic. I am happy that he'll be able to play and give his usual 200% effort and I hope he scores a goal or two; it would be awesome to watch. Is it 7:30 yet?

Posted by: Irreverent_inDC | February 10, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Re Chimera's missed shot, if I saw the replay correctly, the puck was wobbling a bit, and rather than get the shot off quickly, Chimera waited too long in the hope of it settling (he certainly didn't have time to settle it)...must have felt he was in too close by then, and tried the other move...that's what it looked like to me...

Posted by: NorthFork1 | February 10, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I'd kinda like to hear Mark's argument. #1 in Hershey for the long- or short-term? Because we're on a streak and you don't mess with good ju-ju? (How the H do you spell "ju-ju?") You think the other two have played themselves into #1 and #2 with the Big Club? Curious, not necessarily skeptical.

My e-sarcasm meter seems to be working just fine, by the by.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | February 10, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Uh, oh. Now markfromparkville is gonna tell me he knows more than I do because he's been watching hockey since 1984! Uh, oh! Does it count I've been watching since 1965? Uh, oh!

Some people, maybe they don't go to the Doofus Brigade, but maybe they get put into the Arrogant Armada.

Set sail, sailor!

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 10, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

@ markfromparkville

dude, if you've been paying attention since 1984, you should know that the Caps have NEVER had a young goalie like Varly in their history.

and you'd rather have him playing in the minors???

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who is questioning Varly's usefulness to the team needs only to look at his numbers. He's 12-1-2 with a .924 SV% and a 2.21 GAA. He belongs on the big club and between the posts at worst in a backup capacity on this team.

That being said, BB would be crazy to start him before we win number 18 or lose at least 1. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Posted by: Raber | February 10, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl- I'm not saying I know more or less about hockey than anyone. But when some jackoff calls me not knowledgable because my OPINION is different from his I'm going to swing back. Just wanted to let him know I've been a fair weather fan for 20 some years.

Posted by: markfromparkville | February 10, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

@ tominfl1

LOL no, don't think that will be necessary

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

What is the basis of your opinion? Seriously.

I don't like the shade of red the Caps use in their sweaters. Doesn't make it a useful or interesting opinion . . .

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | February 10, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

mark: You made a declaratory statement, one that almost every Caps fan would disagree with, and you offered nothing in the way of substantiating back-up.

OK, people can do that here, but others can also fire back.

If you said, for instance, "I think Varly should have several more starts before returing..." people might agree. But you declared he should be the #1 goalie in Hershey, which implies he should be there longer-term rather than shorter-term. I believe most knowledgeable people, BB and GMGM included, feel strongly that Varly has "proven himself" to where the AHL is no longer in his career path.

Look, why don't you guys each spend two mins in the box for unblogsmanlike conduct and then all is fine.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 10, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Guys settle down. I'm assuming that the thought is because Theo and Neuvy have played so well, that it is difficult to just hand the reins back to Varly....

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 10, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

@joke443-We've never had a young goalie like Varly...2 words OLAF KOLZIG. And you call me a fair weather fan.Learn your history.

Posted by: markfromparkville | February 10, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

LOL do you even know how many years it took for Kolzig to their regular goalie??

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

kc, not that I'm in the middle, but quite chill on my end. I think it's actually a pretty defendable (sp?) statement, I'd just like to hear it out. I think he may actually be kinda right.

But since he doesn't appear to want to support it, I'll drop it.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | February 10, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl- I'm just saying "don't mess with sucess"- "dance with who brung you"- "if it isn't broke don't fix it". I just took exception with joke443 jumping down my throat.

Posted by: markfromparkville | February 10, 2010 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Defensible. Duh. I'm a maroon.

Posted by: stevie_in_gp | February 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Poile drafted Kolzig and Byron Dafoe in the same draft in 87, Kolzig didn't become their number one goalie till 94 or 95 I believe.. he was like 25 or 26

He was never an instant success such as Varly

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

To possibly change the subject. I watched the Blues/Wings game last night. I was pretty impressed with the play of Blues d-man Colaiocovo. I don't know much about him, but watched him closer because I heard the Blues were shopping him. Any opinions?

Posted by: kcbrichmond | February 10, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

You all need to go down to Dupont Circle and settle this with a snowball fight.

Posted by: AleksanderOMunchkin | February 10, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Could this team be anymore likable? I love these guys and Bruce.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | February 10, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

check that till the 1997/98 season because Bill Ranford was their number one goalie after they traded Carey away so Kolzig was 27

Posted by: joek443 | February 10, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Joe: It was opening night in either 96 or 97 that Ranford got hurt vs the Leafs and Kolzig went in goal and never came out. I think 97.

Mark: What you say here makes sense - dance with them who brought ya.

However, that doesn't mean Varly should be sent to Hershey. Varly is the one who "brung us" in the Playoffs and earlier this year. Then he got hurt. Now he's back. It's better once they come back from the Olympics to decide which two to keep up, but I'd lay heavy odds Neuvy goes down.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 10, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

about 3 goalies for the road games: they just have to let Varly play last one vs Blues because of russian national team to let them know Varly is ok to be 3rd goalie at OG

I give you 99%

Posted by: Rambutan_ru | February 10, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

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