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Boudreau wants better work ethic

I apologize for the late update today. I had a lot going on and I'm fighting off an upper body injury (okay, so it's just a minor cold). Anyway, here are some post practice tidbits:

*Judging from the pace of today's session at KCI - which was a bit unusual considering the busy schedule this week - it seemed to me that Coach Bruce Boudreau was sending a subtle message to his players after they were badly out-played early in yesterday's 3-2 victory over the Red Wings.

"We didn't work anywhere near the level of the Detroit Red Wings," Boudreau said. "Every now and again, you can rely on your goaltender to steal one for you. And he stole one for us yesterday. But you don't want to go into every game saying, 'I hope the goalie is great.' We know our work ethic has to be picked up."

*Despite the lack of shots (they've actually been limited to 22 and 23, respectively, the past two games) Boudreau did not tinker with his forward lines. The D-pairings were tough to decipher because Mike Green was absent. Boudreau said his No. 1 defenseman was nursing some bumps and bruises and was taking a "maintenance day". When pressed on whether he expects Green to play in Pittsburgh, Boudreau said, "No one has told me otherwise."

*Injured defensemen John Erskine and Brian Pothier practiced again today but Boudreau made it sound like neither will play Thursday. "They're both getting closer," Boudreau said. "If not tomorrow they'd be ready for the weekend at some point."

*Boudreau on the importance of tomorrow's showdown in Pittsburgh: "We beat them 3-0-1 last year and it didn't mean a hill of beans."

*Speaking of Pittsburgh, there are lots of good quotes in my preview story that's running in tomorrow's Post. Check them out here.

*Penguins goalie Marc Andre Fleury (broken finger) did not practice today. That could mean the Caps will face former teammate Brent Johnson tomorrow. Johnson, by the way, is 4-0-0 with a 1.16 goals against average and .952 save percentage all time against the Caps.

*Boudreau doesn't usually announce his starting goaltender until about game time. But considering how well Jose Theodore played against the Wings, coupled with the fact that Michal Neuvirth spent a lot of extra time after practice working with goalie coach Arturs Irbe seemed to indicate that it will be Theodore, who has won four straight games while posting a 1.76 goals against average and .951 save percentage in that span.

*Asked whether he was "worried" about Alex Ovechkin being held with a shot by the Wings, Boudreau said: "No. That was what, the third time in his life he's been held without a shot on goal? Ovie will be the first one to tell you that he didn't skate as well as he normally does. You can't keep up the pace. ...Usually when a player is Player of the Week, they're not Player of the Week twice, because it's hard to keep up."

That's it for now. I'll be joined in Pittsburgh by Dan Steinberg. So check back tomorrow for updates here and on The Bog.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 20, 2010; 6:42 PM ET
 | Tags: Pittsburgh Penguins  
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Next: Morning roundup: Caps, Penguins finally clash

Comments

Thankfully no foolishness at the top... Hopefully Theo can keep up the good work. Looking forward to tomorrow night. GO CAPS

Posted by: jbears1 | January 20, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Hmm! I don't know. We are in somewhat of a weird place. On the one hand, we are more resourceful about figuring out how to win, on the other hand we have slacked in energy and work ethic and I Ovie has yet to have a multiple goal game like Crosby unfortunately has had 2-3 times.

And here is my worry about Theo: he has had stellar games before. I recall at least once in the past when Tarik had a front page article about Theo saving the game with 40+ shots against. I am skeptical whether, almost two years into his contract, he can produce the consistency he has not produced so far. The same goes for other players who have shown flashes of brilliance but not consistency.

So, as Mike Wise noted, let's hope that GM does not get too prematurely over confident about our lack of needs only to be unpleasantly surprised at playoff time.

By the way, I really don't get why people get so defensive when Wise writes about hockey. One does not have to be a hockey player to offer a big picture analysis or commentary. What he says usually makes sense and gives an interesting and insightful perspective. He said, after all, what I hear on this blog all the time: we need a rugged defenseman.

He also made the point that while McPhee has been wise to build for the long-term and not to jump at remedying gaps with big names, he shouldn't under-estimate the difference that Huet, Cooke and Federov made to us goint to the playoffs two years ago, and he shouldn't be lulled into complacency because of an exceptional performance or win here and there. It sounds perfectly reasonable to me. I, for one, still have concerns over our D gaps and the uncertainty of the goalie situation in addition to some of the bad patterns/habots that are emerging.

Whew! I don't think I have any wisdom left in me for the rest of the day.

Posted by: caraveli | January 20, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I'm already a little keyed up in anticipation of tomorrow night's game.

May the Caps rock and/or roll.

Posted by: grackle5 | January 20, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

What everyone always forgets is that a "big-time defensemen" is NOT on the ice for 60 minutes!! Look at Philly with Pronger...they get scored on all the time. Pronger can't be on the ice ALL the time (and even when he is, they still get scored on from time to time). It's not getting a "big-time defensemen", it's playing "big-time" defense. Bruce's offensive system hinders the Capitals' defensive system.

Posted by: kmr2r | January 20, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

it's not about having a big time d-man on the ice for 60 minutes because the other team won't have their first or second lines out all the time either.

it's about having at least 4 capable d-men that you can trust in all situations, especially on the PK.

Posted by: joek443 | January 20, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

For a trade to happen McPhee needs a suitable dance partner, and the big fancy d-guy everyone wants may not be available. The choices are not too abundant this season.

Having said that McPhee could be in any number of conversations with other GMs about trades that we won't know about until after after the fact. The Chimera/Clark/Jurcina trade took everyone by surprise and later reporting noted that it had been explored off and on since the beginning of the season.

IF there is a reasonable trade to be made my money is on McPhee making it.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 20, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

@kmr2r

Not if BB's system is played correctly-something that was lacking in the last game.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 20, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

Regarding Wise--just lots of hot air but IMO more noise about the Caps can only be a good thing--gets more non-Caps people paying attention.

All these Redskins fans in my neighborhood keep asking us about the Caps and several are going to the games now--when they can get tickets. One fan at a time I say.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 20, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Improving work ethic is always a good thing but what Detroit did to us last night was the result of much more than just superior work ethic.

For the most part, they are smarter with the puck both individually and as a team.

They are more disciplined both individually and as a team.

They execute better both individually and as a team.

They are more experienced both inidvidually and as a team.

They do the little things better both individually and as a team, whether that is winning loose pucks and board battles or making good first passes in their own end or being in the right position on the ice.

We won that game but Detroit did a lot of little things that I have never seen the Caps do as consistently, if at all, during their rise to elite status. I understand that the Red Wings played just about as well as they could have under the circumstances but the fact is that they have that level within them. The Caps were trying and working hard, in my opinion. They just couldn't do anything about it.

We're good but we've got a ways to go as far as excecution and attention to details to be able to play at that level. Pittsburgh may have beaten them in the finals but I've never seen them execute anywhere close to that level, either.

Backstrom, Semin, Ovechkin and Green have about as much individual skill as anybody on the Red Wings or the league, for that matter. That's part of why we were able to squeak out a win in addition to Theodore's huge game. I disagree with Boudreau that Ovechkin didn't skate as hard as usual. I thought he played a very good game despite the 0 shots on goal.

The difference was that Detroit, at their best, executes on a different plane. It's not just a matter of having superior individual skills. When they're on top of their game, every single guy makes good decisions with the puck and puts themselves in the right position on the ice. When they're working hard on top of executing the way they are capable of, I still haven't seen a team in the league that is as good. Not San Jose, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington or anybody else.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 20, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Final thought (I'm thinking in random patterns at the moment), given that Theo has gotten more than his share of grief from fans, I couldn't be happier at his standing ovation at the end of that game. I was glad we could be part of that ovation. He earned it. An ongoing theme in the many blogs and message boards is how Theo doesn't make the big save and he can't pull a game out for the Caps. Well he did it--he made a big splash and I for one am delighted. Who knows how long his streak will last and BB will ride his hot goalie out till he's cool. But Theo's veteran experience showed. I read (but cannot validate the accuracy because I'm too lazy to look it up) that Theo hadn't faced so many shots since his days with Montreal (I think it was with that club).

I do hope they come out strong tomorrow and not tentative because of how that series ended. It's not as if the Pens have been playing consistently lately tho' they did break their losing streak in a big way. The game tomorrow will be IMHO more of a mental game for the Caps.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 20, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I think km2r's point (and he/she can correct me if I'm wrong) is that we should not expect a stud defenseman to come in and solve all the team's defensive problems. Similarly, we should not expect a PK specialist to come in and solve all the PK problems. These individuals could help, but the team won't make real strides unless there is a team commitment to improving in these areas - playing the system, being smart, playing with energy, and giving a real emphasis to defensive play. The whole team has to buy-in.

Posted by: zmega | January 20, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of good defense, the Devils are up 1-0 against the Panthers about mid way through Period 3. The Panthers have not had very many shots on goal, so far.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 20, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

You have expressed with clarity much of what I was feeling as I watched that game. I was fatigued from the tension. The Wings were that good. I will say though that they have many veterans who have been playing that system for a very long time now. In other words they have had a lot of practice. And they brought their best game to the Caps. It had a playoff quality to it. For the Wings at least.

I think it gave the Caps a taste of just how much they still need to elevate their own game. However, for the Caps to have stayed mentally in the game, change up their game plan in the third period, find ways to exploit and capitalize on the rare opportunities afforded them, and to believe that they could find a way to win gives me hope for this team. It would have been so easy to check out and to have felt beaten down by the Wing's dominance, but they stayed in the game. They didn't clear the puck out of their zone well enough or often enough, but they cleared a lot of the rebounds out of the crease and trusted Theo to see the puck the rest of the time.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 20, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Well I agree that the whole team has to commit fully to BB's system and played well defensively especially when pushed hard by a really great team with fabulous puck control skills. IMO the system can work if played responsibly by all of the players. They have done it in past games--played the system reliably and well.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 20, 2010 9:15 PM | Report abuse

The Wings also have the best quality veteran leadership in the NHL. There's not a team in the league who's smarter either. It's a culture that's been built since the early 90's and the seeds planted then are still bearing fruit today, even in this cap era.

Who knows, maybe GMGM started planting those seeds right before the lockout. Only time tell. What I do know is that the Caps aren't the Blackhawks, they HAVE to win now because it's going to be an awful offseason for that team.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 20, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

One thing I forgot, no team in the league gets a hometown discount quite like the Wings, and that's a testament to how well that franchise is run.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 20, 2010 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Don't let Steinz steal the front page this time!

Posted by: jhorstma | January 20, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

@Capsyoungguns

I agree with you on the Caps play.

Maybe they didn't play wonderfully well but the fact that they were still tied at the end of the first period gave them hope. And then in Period 2, when down, they had the character and confidence to come back from that deficit. They did not roll over and play dead. When they finally pulled ahead in the third period, I had confidence that they'd win or at the very worst, go to overtime.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 20, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

FIRST!

Posted by: large23220 | January 20, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

"Ovie has yet to have a multiple goal game like Crosby unfortunately has had 2-3 times."

Not sure the point in that. Ovie has 2 more points in 9 fewer games. Crosby has had 1 more multiple goal game than Ovie, albeit 2 of those were hat tricks. That means that Crosby has been a non-factor more often. Throw in the difference in +/- and Ovie looks even better.

Posted by: _Mark | January 20, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

What I do know is that the Caps aren't the Blackhawks, they HAVE to win now because it's going to be an awful offseason for that team.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 20, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse
----------------
amen!

Posted by: elicea | January 20, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

"Ovie has yet to have a multiple goal game like Crosby unfortunately has had 2-3 times."

Not sure the point in that. Ovie has 2 more points in 9 fewer games. Crosby has had 1 more multiple goal game than Ovie, albeit 2 of those were hat tricks. That means that Crosby has been a non-factor more often. Throw in the difference in +/- and Ovie looks even better.

Posted by: _Mark | January 20, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse
---------------
Adding to what _Mark said...

Ovie is turning into a very well rounded player. Ever since receiving the 'C' he is back checking more and making better decisions with the puck. Overall he's become a more responsible player.

Posted by: elicea | January 20, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

Blackhawks problems are going to come next year. They are operating a little above the cap this year, and will have to compensate for it next year, while also adding Keith's, Toew's, and Kane's extensions.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 20, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Got tickets to the Panthers game on the 28th.

Panthers...oh well.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 20, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

29th..next friday.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 20, 2010 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Pronger can't be on the ice ALL the time (and even when he is, they still get scored on from time to time).

Posted by: kmr2r | January 20, 2010 7:46 PM

To further your point, Pronger has had a +/- of -1, -2, -1, and 0 against us this season. He's great against TBL though (+2, +2, and +2 in 3 games).

He's overrated.

Posted by: Raber | January 21, 2010 3:33 AM | Report abuse

Ummmm- PuckDaddy, huh?

http://thepensblog.com/pensblog/january-2010/gmail-cleanupblog.html

After a long day at work, all we want to do is be surrounded by fellow Caps fans, not unemployed Pittsburgh fans who have been at the bar all day drinking their unemployment checks away.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 21, 2010 5:52 AM | Report abuse

Carey Price, what?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEQzxQDCE6I

10 seconds in.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 21, 2010 5:55 AM | Report abuse

There is a great interview with Ovi translated on the Alex Ovetjin blog site. Covers a wealth of topics, both personal and professional. It's clear that he is committed to the Capitals and to NHL play, to the Olympics and to the Stanley Cup.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 21, 2010 7:19 AM | Report abuse

Blackhawks problems are going to come next year. They are operating a little above the cap this year, and will have to compensate for it next year, while also adding Keith's, Toew's, and Kane's extensions.

Posted by: richmondphil

Good point!

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

What struck me most about the Redwings was the fact that they translate playing the full 60 minutes into playing the full 60 seconds of every minute. Those guys never stop, even if they turn over the puck, miss a shot or whatever - they just keep adjusting and follow through no matter what. And what is playing the full 60 minutes other than playing the full 60 seconds?

Posted by: tw46 | January 21, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

theo still sucks

Posted by: bityburke19 | January 21, 2010 7:48 AM | Report abuse

@bityburke19

Respectfully and fervently disagree!

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 21, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Fro_ said;

"After a long day at work, all we want to do is be surrounded by fellow Caps fans, not unemployed Pittsburgh fans who have been at the bar all day drinking their unemployment checks away.

Posted by: Fro_ | January 21, 2010 5:52 AM

~~~

Solution.
1) Stay home and watch it on TV.
2) Go to the game.
3) Go have a good time and talk hockey and forget about the drunk Pen fans who are unemployed.
But yanno what, maybe there is a silver lining.
Since all Cap fans are employed this means more booze for us.


:)


Let's Go Pens.

Posted by: akus2 | January 21, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

" On the one hand, we are more resourceful about figuring out how to win, on the other hand we have slacked in energy and work ethic and I Ovie has yet to have a multiple goal game like Crosby unfortunately has had 2-3 times."

I don't want to waste time reviewing scoresheets from every game this season but Ovi has had a few multi-goal games, just not hat tricks. I believe the Caps lead the league in having more individual players with multi-goal games this season without a hat trick being registered. The Caps have had over 30 multi-goal game guys so far this season without a hat trick. That stat is impressive in the fact that we have so many that can put the puck in the net.

Having so many players that can score has made our boys very dangerous. Their confidence grew by leaps and bounds after they proved to themselves that they can win without Ovi in the line-up.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 21, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

@fanhock

You are correct. Ovi has had two goal games but not a hat trick because he has passed much more often. Our scoring across the roster makes us much more lethal. Should be a lively game tonight.

@akus2

How about going to a Pens blog. What do you expect when you come onto a Caps board. Pathetic trolling--really.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 21, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

I honestly don't really care about the "who's better" debate between the two players, just who's team wins. But because I'm bored and have nothing to do here at work, I'll go ahead and waste some time throwing up numbers for this season:

Games Played:
SC: 50
AO: 41

Goals Per Game:
SC: .64
AO: .73

Multi-Goal Games:
SC: 9
AO: 8

Games W/O a Goal Scored:
SC: 29
AO: 19

Points Per Game:
SC: 1.26
AO: 1.59

Games W/O a Point Registered:
SC: 18
AO: 8

Percentage of Total Team Goals:
SC: 19.6%
AO: 16.2%

Games With a Negative +/-:
SC: 17
AO: 10

+/- Per Game:
SC: +.24
AO: +.65

Posted by: jsnyd1 | January 21, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Fun stats. And I agree with you about the pointlessness of the "who's better" debate. I just want a great game and to win of course. Winning decidedly would be even better.

So tominfl1 what is on your rockin' the red menu tonight?

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 21, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse

...and some of you can't see that and think this team can win anything playing this way in the playoffs, you just don't know much about hockey...

Posted by: joek443 | January 20, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Anyone that thinks the Caps would play like that in a playoff game doesn't know much about the Caps or hockey. There is regular season intensity and there is playoff intensity. Although the outcome of the last two playoff years wasn't what I (or the Caps) desired it did show me that the Caps know the difference.


... you think any hockey people outside washington think Ovie is a better player than Lemieux was??

LMAO...

Posted by: joek443

I think that any hockey people that don't consider AO to arguably be a more complete hockey player than Lemieux at similar stages in their careers aren't really hockey people at all regardless of their location.

There's a difference between being a cherry picker and being a complete player. Early in his career Lemieux was often criticized for his work ethic. Ever hear of anyone criticizing Ovechkin's work ethic?


You keep posting 'em and I'll keep disputing 'em. :)

LMAO

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | January 21, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

A leader on defense that was sound in the zone and played the devil on the PK WOULD make quite a difference here.

The forwards need to backcheck better than they have been doing so acquiring one player won't change everything.

But one player that knows how to play the game the right way and is a two-way performer is an example to the younger players.

Perhaps he impresses on Mike Green the need to do a better job boxing out guys in front of the net.

Perhaps he mentors Shaone Morrisonn on doing a better job of getting the puck out of the defensive zone when pressure is being applied by the opposition.

Perhaps he is another guy that can stick up for his teammates and intimidate the opposition.

These are all things one player can do.

Posted by: leopard09 | January 21, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao - excellent points. Detroit has a culture of excellence, it's something GMGM and co. want to build here.

I remember the finals ('98?) when they beat us: they played a cool, deliberate style, never over-emotional. But they were clinical and perfect. If a Wing and a Cap were fighting for the puck, the Wing would efficiently sort of lever the Cap off the puck, put his body between the Caps player and the puck and then take off up the ice.

Posted by: RedLitYogi | January 21, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

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