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Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Capitals face Blues in search of first consecutive home wins since November

By Katie Carrera

The Capitals received a little help in the standings last night thanks to New Jersey's 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, which prohibited the Lightning from adding to its lead as the Southeast Division leader.

If Washington were to build off of its late rally against the Islanders and win three in a row -- beginning tonight against the Blues and then during back-to-back games in Florida that include an important final meeting of the year against Tampa Bay -- the Capitals would sit on top of the division by Tuesday. But to accomplish that goal, the Capitals must first win consecutive games at home for the first time since late November.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is a noted stats junkie, but the news that Washington hadn't won two straight at Verizon Center since Nov. 26 and Nov. 28 was a surprise to him this morning. He reiterated what he believes is a need for the Capitals to reassert themselves on home ice.

"The winning at home is important to us and it's important to me and the whole team. We'd like to get on a roll at home and be a dominant team again in this building," said Boudreau, who also discussed the potential move the Capitals could make in the standings over the next few days.

"It's an exciting time, but every year it seems to be getting sooner and sooner that we start doing [scoreboard watching]. I remember when it used to be the last eight games or the last 10 games. Now its been going on for the last 40 games. There's 20 percent of the season left there's a lot of time for a lot of teams to do a lot of different things."

Some news and notes from practice:
--Braden Holtby said after practice that he felt good and that he didn't feel any ill effects of the knee injury that has prohibited him from playing since Feb. 23. It's unclear if Holtby may get a start during this recall stint with the Capitals. It likely depends on how quickly Washington anticipates that Semyon Varlamov, who did not practice the past two days, will return, and how much the Capitals want Michal Neuvirth to carry the load.

"It all depends; we'll see," Boudreau said when asked if Holtby might get a game. "We're getting to the point, we have all the faith in Braden in the world, but we'll play it day to day."

--Tom Poti, who has been limited to only parts of 21 games this season largely because of a nagging groin injury, told reporters that he received a cortisone shot earlier this week and that he was waiting for it to kick in. The veteran defenseman added that he will travel with the team to Florida this weekend, marking his first road trip since the back-to-back games against Dallas and St. Louis in early December. It doesn't sound like he will appear in a game just yet, though.

--Marco Sturm took the option to not skate this morning, though he did ride the bike, I'm told.

--Todd Ford has been reassigned to Hershey.

--In case you missed it, Alex Ovechkin is tweeting again, and it's worth a follow.

By Katie Carrera  | March 3, 2011; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  Braden Holtby, Marco Sturm, Semyon Varlamov, Todd Ford, Tom Poti  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Capitals recall Braden Holtby
Next: Line change: Have the Capitals turned a corner?

Comments

ahh looks like katie took people's advice to give a reason why players aren't taking the morning skate

Posted by: _stevo | March 3, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Varly has alot of talent but, I don't think the Caps can count on him as a starter or backup. It's great that the Caps have three 21-22 year old goalies.

Posted by: chriscaps | March 3, 2011 11:59 AM | Report abuse

From previous thread:

_stevo: I'm not implying what Gilles did yesterday is even remotely close to how bad the McSorley incident was. Someone just asked about an incident where a player hit another player on the neck and I think they were talking about the McSorley/Brashear situation.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 3, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 3, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

@philr..I had a hard time getting in as well. And if Charlie Sheen was in charge of the Ice Girls...it would bring a whole new level of entertainment to VC. Sorry, could not resist, but talk about sellouts.

Posted by: RichC3 | March 3, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

STURM DIDNT SKATE TODAY????

What is going on? The lazyness has taken over everyone immediately. I cant take anymore of this, and McPhee and Boudreau must go and we must trade Ovie for draft picks and a box of porno for the players lounge.

I hear Semin is out 3-4 weeks as he has been diagnosed with stage 2 "locker room cancer."
We are certainly going to miss Todd Ford, and dont stand a chance without him in net...


My fellow bloggers, any other rediculus rants I missed, or did I get it out of everyone's system and we can blog real hockey?

Posted by: SA-Town | March 3, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@SA-Town

Good work.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 3, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The last two road trips (which I consider more then 1 road game in a row) are big for this team. We can split the Florida trip as long as we win against the right team. It would be better to win both but the TB is the big one. However I think the bigger one is the one at the end of the month. 6 games including 2 different sets of back to backs. All but 1 game against teams still fighting for the playoffs (NJ could be #2 not fighting for a playoff spot if they lose a few between now and then). That road trip will set the tone for us going into the playoffs and I feel will be a sign of how we will do in the playoffs. After that we only play one team currently in the playoffs and it is Carolina who may be passed by Buffalo who we also play. I think after that road trip will decide our final position in the standings but that last road trip will give us a big look into how far we are going when it matters.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 3, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

SA-Town,
You missed one more... Schultz is sent to Anger Management class and will be getting more ice time in return.

Posted by: _828 | March 3, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Jeremy Rutherford
by VogsCaps
Conklin will start against Washington tonight.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 3, 2011 12:13 PM | Report abuse

@fanohock

i know, wasn't busting your chops or anything

Posted by: _stevo | March 3, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

SA-Town, Sturm didn't skate, but rode a bike. I'm not a physical therapist, but it sounds like he is trying not to overwork his surgically repaired knee and reduce the pounding on game day. If you wanna whine about not skating, whine about Semin missing a full practice yesterday. Not a guy who showed up both days. BTW - they mostly do video work on gamedays, not a heavy practice. It will mostly be a skate for the healthy scratches. Please, feel free to bash Sasha.

Posted by: jimc93 | March 3, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@jim

SA-Town was being sarcastic.

Posted by: ThePat | March 3, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

SA-Town,

If they hired Charlie Sheen and he brought in his version of the ice girls there would be no need for a "box of porn" in the players lounge.:)

Posted by: PhilR | March 3, 2011 12:21 PM | Report abuse

@ SA
@_828
I think you both covered it...make it two boxes and the phone will ringing.

Posted by: DBnMD | March 3, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

@ jimc93: SA-town was being sarcastic. Again, whatever reason Semin had for taking off from yesterday's morning skate, we don't know. I'm almost certain you don't. And, seeing as how no one thought it'd be important to determine if Semin did a workout of his own that was off the ice, similar to what Sturm did, you could lay off the calling for Semin's testicles just for kicks. Semin is a Capital whether you like it or not.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Here are tonight's Rooting Instructions:

TBL (81 points) @ BOS (81 points): Clash of the Titans...heh. Go Bruins.
MIN (72) @ NYR (70): I do not like the Rangers. I do not like them Sam-I-Am. Go Wild.
TOR (65) @ PHI (86): Leafs got it done last night against the Evil Penguins--can they do it again against Philthy? We hope so. Go Leafs Go.
STL (65) @ WAS (78): Do I really have to explain this? Let's Go CAPS!!!.
BUF (67) @ CAR (69): This one's tough in some ways. You want the Sabres to win in regulation because that ties them with the 'Canes for 8th seed. But the possibility of facing Ryan Miller in the playoffs....aw H311--"but" nothing! Go Sabres.
OTT (51) @ ATL (63): No Comment. Go Sens..
MTL (75) @ FLA (59): I'm sorry, but Rules 4 and 5 are in conflict on this one, so I gotta make a judgment call. Florida is in Fire-Sale mode and has little hope of making the playoffs. Caps may not catch PHI for top seed in the East, but anything that makes things harder for MTL is a good thing. No Habs NØ!!!
CBJ (69) @ EDM (50): Who Cares?.
NAS (73) @ VAN (89): Again, I want someone other than Philthy to win the Presidents Trophy. Go Canucks.
PHO (76) @ LAK (74): .
DET (85) @ SJS (80): Gotta go with the underdog on this one. Go Sharks.

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 3, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Neither Neuvirth or Varly are ready to carry the load by themselves in the playoffs. Both are injury-prone and don't play well in back to back situations. We may need to use Holtby on Sunday against FL so Neuvirth is rested for TB on Monday.

Not very surprised about Strum sitting out the practice. His knee is not 100% which is why L.A. unloaded him. I don't see how BB can justify him playing on the first line with Ovie and Backstrom when he's missed most of the season.

Posted by: wizfan89 | March 3, 2011 12:38 PM | Report abuse

@tw46

“Is there anyone more pretentious than vermontcaps around here?...... he knows exactly where it's at. And it's very, very important - to him - that he prove that to us ... over and over and over and….”

I told you yesterday, tw, that it was and is all about me. Did you not believe me? Well, after the ode to cstanton1 I was inspired to type up a song to myself (backwards). I printed it out and stood before the mirror. It was somewhat disappointing because I couldn’t gaze into my own eyes while reading my document. Oh well, I’ll think of something that will enable me to enjoy myself more than I already do.

And fyi, tw46, I used to only post short, brief, occasional posts here. The koolaiders dominated the board and they tried to harass and bully me away, demanding that I back up and explain my posts. I always did, and subsequently I got sucked into this bubble world. I’ll feel much better about CapsNation when the fanbase sees the game the way hunterforcoach, cstanton, and tmac do. I’m here to give those guys some support. -----------------------------------

@DBnMD

Glad you liked the “Looks Like Rain” parody from last night, I knew any Deadhead would. Have fun next week (Patriot Center?), I got shut out of the Orpheum in Boston this weekend, and online tix just too rich for my blood. I’ll catch ‘em this summer…

Here’s to hoping the Caps win tonight and that the coach is singing the Blues tomorrow…BB MUST GO! (one)

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 3, 2011 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Rhino40: If we ever did a Caps bloggers version of something like SNL, you could do the sports segment.

cstanton1 and sgm would do point-counterpoint ala Dan Akyroyd and Jane Curtain.

I would do a nostrathomas segment like Johnny Carson did Great Carnac.

"May the fleas of a 1000 camels infest Sidney Crosby's armpits."

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 3, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@rhino....are you becoming this years version of Windjammer?

Posted by: RichC3 | March 3, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 3, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Tom: I'm willing to bet that most bloggers had to google Dan Akyroyd, Jane Curtain (you ignorant sl..), and Johnny Carson. We're dinosaurs. To most on here David Letterman is the old fart not the young up and coming late night guy he was when we were watching those shows.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 3, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@fan...to those on here most think land sharks are from San Jose

Posted by: RichC3 | March 3, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

In 2006, Hunter was arrested and charged with DUI... last thing I want is a drunk coaching up the team. Not to mention his playoff record is not any better than Gabbys.

Posted by: _828 | March 3, 2011 1:00 PM | Report abuse

@fan.....most here think land sharks are from San Jose......and new thread

Posted by: RichC3 | March 3, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

fanohock,

I will join you then as a dinosaur as I remember Dan Akyroyd, Chevy Chase, John Belushi and Bill Murray days on S&L, IMO the only time it was really roll on the floor type of humor. Remember the Mr Bill skits? Loved those!

Posted by: PhilR | March 3, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse

@vermontcaps:

Yeah, yeah, whatever. a

And Carthago delenda est to you, too.

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 3, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@Rhino -If these are going to be daily, I'm excited because they are very funny. I agree with a majority of what you said in today's guidlines.

Thanks for the amusement and the originality!!

Go Caps!!!!

Posted by: jwash4472 | March 3, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Somebody had to mention windjammer...

"Coming up to 21 games left. Will Caps get a puck-moving defenseman?"

I think that was '09.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 3, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Not very surprised about Strum sitting out the practice. His knee is not 100% which is why L.A. unloaded him. I don't see how BB can justify him playing on the first line with Ovie and Backstrom when he's missed most of the season.

Posted by: wizfan89

1) It seemed to me that he fit in okay with the top line. Where do you think Sturm looked out of place or hindered that line? I still have the game on DVR.

2) So that means if Ovie is injured and is out for an extended time that he shouldn't play with Backstrom on the top line when he comes back?

It was reported that BB did not want the two new guys (Arnott and Sturm) on the same line. That makes sense to me. Sturm is widely regarded as a top 6 forward. So where are you going to put him?

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 3, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

@ Rhino
That was funny especially "if you are part of my family, I will love you violently"...WOW (WTF).

@Fan and Phil
We are old school...not old

I am hoping to see more than a couple PP chances tonight to give the team a chance to work the new guys in a little more.

Posted by: DBnMD | March 3, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Semin had a "maintenance day" yesterday. This was so Arnott could get acclimated to his "maintenance shifts."

Posted by: cplcespod | March 3, 2011 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Winning the division is probably not the best thing for the Capitals right now, especially if they end up in 2nd or 3rd place in the standings and play either Montreal or the Rangers. Both appear to be bad match ups for the Capitals based on recent head to head. The most realistic position for the Capitals would be to overtake the Penguins into 4th place and play them in the first round of the playoffs. Beating the Penguins, even without Malkin or with an injured Crosby in the playoffs would definitely propel this team mentally into the next round. But, if they should lose to the depleted Pens in the first round then it is just hopeless for this team. I just pray that they just be competitive tonight instead of being shut out again!

Posted by: JohnWWW | March 3, 2011 5:26 PM | Report abuse

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