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Boudreau shuffles lines in Tuesday practice

There were a few changes to the Capitals' line combinations at practice Tuesday morning. Chief among them was that Nicklas Backstrom was skating alongside Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin on the second line while Tomas Fleischmann centered Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble on the first.

As we know and have almost come to expect, Coach Bruce Boudreau likes to experiment and rotate his lines, particularly in the beginning of the season. That tendency led to the swap in practice, but Boudreau was unclear as to whether it might happen in a game. So don't rule it out just yet.

"Nicky and [Alex] are going to end up playing together for 10 years for the most part," Boudreau said. "Every now and again, you move them around. I don't know if I'll do it tomorrow, but it was looking okay today."

Here's what the forward lines looked like:
Ovechkin-Fleischmann-Knuble
Laich-Backstrom-Semin
Chimera-Hendricks-Fehr
King-Steckel-B.Gordon

--The Capitals spent a decent chunk of practice working on the power play, rotating combinations of Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Fleischmann, Knuble, Mike Green, John Carlson and Eric Fehr through the drills.

As discussed in the Morning Roundup, the Capitals' power play is 1-for-13 through three games this season, but it's not unusual for the unit to need time to find its footing early in the season.

"We have to get more shots. [Monday] some power plays, we didn't even get it in the zone and that's something we have to work on too; the breakouts," Backstrom said. "If we work a little bit harder and maybe get more focus on the passes, too, then it's going to work pretty good, I think."

Said Boudreau: "Everybody in October, with us, anyway, wants to be the trigger man. Nobody wants to do the dirty work. They want to be open, they want to get the pucks and there's a lot more individuality than there is cohesiveness, and we have to get back to the cohesiveness and five guys working as one."

--Boudreau said Michal Neuvirth will get his fourth consecutive start against the Islanders and added that Semyon Varlamov (groin) will not dress until he's 100 percent healthy.

--Goaltender Dany Sabourin was given the day off to rest and spend time with his daughter, who is sick and in the hospital, Boudreau said. Injured players Marcus Johansson (foot), Tom Poti (lower body) and Matt Bradley (lower body) were the only other players who did not take part in practice. If you missed it, check out Tuesday's injury update here.

--Better late than never, here are some photos from last night's overtime victory against the Senators.

By Katie Carrera  | October 12, 2010; 1:48 PM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Nicklas Backstrom, Tomas Fleischmann  
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Comments

From a previous thread:

I agree that Flash centering OV might not be ideal, defensively - of course, tough for the opponent to generate offense if they don't have the puck, as #4 [Robert Gordon Orr] used to say.

Speaking of Flash, he looks much quicker this year than he has in the past [and he was pretty quick to begin with], but he absolutely blew by defenders a couple times. I wonder what his offseason workouts were like; whatever he was doing it seemed to have worked.

Also, whoever said previously that Erskine's looked better, I have to agree - and in the past I've been skeptical of big John, not his attitude or work ethic of course, but I would get nervous when he's out against quick forwards. I think pairing him with Carlson makes sense, he knows Carlson's so damn quick he can usually cover for him if he overcommits. Or something like that - but he plays with a snarl that's pretty welcome on our back line, in my humble opinion.

Posted by: govtimbo | October 12, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't see much in their system and I think they need to rip it up and start over. Its time to cut ties with the Rolstons, Arnotts, and Langenbrunners. Lou was unable to fill the coffers from within (i.e. drafts) and is left with a bare cupboard.

Posted by: cstanton1


While GMGM's cupboard is fairly full, no?

Posted by: Steve_R | October 12, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Schultz played about as good as I've ever seen him play last night, regardless of
his stat line.

He was playing hard and fearless (certainly by his standards)... he backed up his words from the day before about taking away space and what not.

Like everything else, will it last is the question.

If nothing else, remember the little things they were doing last night and hold them accountable for it if they start going through a string of games where they aren't working as hard and smart.

They proved they can do it so the coaches and fans should now expect it.

Sure, we spent too much time in our zone last night but we met the push of a desperate Ottawa team that didn't want to start out 0-3.

Continue with those good habits and much more often than not, there will be good results.

They'll eventually be able to build on that kind of effort and take it to another level where not only will they meet the challenge of desperate teams but turn things the other way.

The D-zone play on the PK and at even-strength was great for the most. Defensemen and forwards were getting involved, taking away space and keeping things to the outside.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 12, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Uh oh...D.J King Kong is coming to the dance...

They got a guy Trevor Gilles who is a complete worthless goon.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 12, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

thats probably how isles fans view a King. George Parros could barely skate a couple of yrs ago. Now he's getting 10 shifts a game.

Is there really a difference between Gillies and Parros? To me, a worthless goon is unable to get in on a forecheck. That would be Brashear the past 2 yrs. I haven't seen too much of Gillies at the NHL level, but at the AHL level he is quite a heavy hitter and that requires some speed and timing.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

tmac
"I don't follow the Devils enough to speak on everything that has happened recently but I'd still hesitate to call a guy with his track record "crappy."

-- I think its fair to question him for the last 5 yrs on his management. GMs can be good for a while, great for a while, and crappy for a while. Lou has been great, he's been good, and he's been less than average lately.

"And again, no matter what things look like 3 games into the season, a lot can and will change.
It's premature to jump for joy."

True, except he doesn't have a lot of tools to deal away and get better in a hurry. It'll take the Devils a couple of yrs I think.

"On the Pens' forecheck, I actually remember Malkin's line dumping and chasing on occasion as well. Maybe it was to a lesser extent than their other lines but it was still probably as effective as any forecheck we were able to apply for the most part."

what i remember about Malkin in that series was he skated with power thru center ice, backed up our D, then set up the play. The rest of their lines dumped, chased, and hit. And our D looked paralyzed.

"Part of that is that our defensemen weren't good enough and gritty enough and part of is that Boudreau didn't adjust and demand that we get more of a total team effort to counter their increasingly aggressive forecheck."

imo, our forwards didn't forecheck with the exception of one line and Ovechkin. That's why the Penguins came at us full steam ahead. To slow down the other team's forecheck, your forwards need to do a better job of containing their rush. And you do it by breaking their flow from their own end. The one line that was able to maintain off zone possession was the Laich-Steck-Brads line. It was like watching Hunter centering Simon and Berube back v Detroit. The rest of our forward lines didn't show up in that series either.

"The Penguins didn't outskill us. They outworked us and played a more physical brand of hockey that our coaches and players couldn't respond to."

agree 100%. I've said that since day 1. There was a big disparity between the Pens' physicality and ours. Mostly with the forwards.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

While GMGM's cupboard is fairly full, no?

Posted by: Steve_R |

compared to the Devils, I'd agree.

But you can't compare the Caps to the Devils. The Devils haven't been in rebuilding/sell-off mode like have the Caps for the past decade. We've gained a lot more draft picks because of it.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton

kittypawz will tell you that it was purely bad officiating that cost us that series.

Maybe she had some other lame excuses as well... bad luck or something.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 12, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Not going to defend what Lou did with the cap this year, but how many here would let it go if we had 3 Cups in the Window? Also I would like to see MJ centering OV and Knuble, he would get some space with those 2 guys and then you have a great second line with Nicky there. Just a thought

Posted by: RichC3 | October 12, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

NJD is in a very tough situation with Brodeur, IMHO - sort of like the Caps with Kolzig at the very end, where the guy's done so much for the org but just doesn't have it anymore. I couldn't believe Canada went with him to start the Olympics, he looked very shaky against Team USA [and whatever other game he started].

Obviously NJ's problems go beyond their goalie, but in the past he's always covered up for whatever holes were present elsewhere. If he's no longer up to that standard [and guys like Langenbrunner are still getting significant minutes] those holes become glaringly obvious. I don't envy their coach right now.

The problem is in goal mistakes are obviously magnified times 10, a forward like Ovie can have just an ok game [from the shifts I saw anyway] but come out a hero because of a great goal to win the game at the end.

[This exemplifies why I always tried to resist whenever coaches wanting to put me back on D, ever since I was 8 - no thank you, that's a little too much responsibility for this kid].

Posted by: govtimbo | October 12, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

tmac: Pens had 37 PPs to the Caps having 19. There's some validity to the poor officiating excuse. There's also the fact that the Pens got Guerin and the Caps didn't, but from my eyes at the time the Caps got the short end of the zebra stick.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton

kittypawz will tell you that it was purely bad officiating that cost us that series.
------

she seems like a blustery dame for sure.

She must not have watched how often the ice was tilted in that series. We spent an inordinate amount of time fending off the Penguins in our own end.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

As someone who doesn't think Flash is completely useless, I don't like switching him with Backstrom this early in the season. If Nick is injured, he needs to sit. If not, give the top line some time to gel again. It's game 4 not the playoffs.

As for Flash- he has looked good offensively so far, but I'm not sold yet. Every year, he starts hot then disappears in January. I hope this year is different, but I will reserve judgment until March.

Posted by: ablake70 | October 12, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

mac: Pens had 37 PPs to the Caps having 19. There's some validity to the poor officiating excuse. There's also the fact that the Pens got Guerin and the Caps didn't, but from my eyes at the time the Caps got the short end of the zebra stick.

Posted by: tominsocal1

how is that proof of anything? is it possible that the Caps were being forced into committing more penalties because we were trying to keep the Penguins at bay? Just pointing out the disparity in PPs is not evidence that the officiating is bad.

i watched that series. The Pens were clearly the better hungrier team on the ice. PPs or not, I don't blame officiating for that loss. They deserved to advance, we did not.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

You garner more penalties when you absolutely dominate with your forecheck and pin the opposing team in their defensive end for extended stretches.

I remember countless times where we'd spend what seemed like forever to get the puck out of our zone, only to have the Penguins backcheck immediately and dump it back in. Penalty disparaties are almost always the result of that kind of imbalance in zone time.

I don't buy the ref excuse at all. Didn't at the time and still don't. If it was an issue, it was marginal compared to the checking/physical imablance.

The Penguins are apparently still underrated in terms of the gritty side of their game.

People look at Crosby and Malkin and think skill, skill, skill... but that had less to do with their success, in my opinion, than their work ethic, grit and commitment to 3-zone hockey.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 12, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

George Parros majored in Economics at Princeton so he's not a dumb goon....and probably not worthless. His diplomas alone cost near 150k

Posted by: jeets | October 12, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Parros is I think Canadian and hence as a hockey player would have gone to Princeton on the Canadian government's tab - at least this is how it has worked in the past at Holy Cross [since they went D1 and the other Ivies like Dartmouth].

As for the Pens series, yeah there were some bad calls - but we couldn't break the puck out of our damn zone when it counted, as a result guys were exhausted and ended up taking penalties. I certainly did not think we outplayed Pitt in that series, not by a long shot. We had no answer for Malkin, for one - and nobody usually laid a finger on Sid when he parked his caboose in the slot.

Posted by: govtimbo | October 12, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Oops, my bad on Parros - looks he's a good ol' American boy, born in PA.

Posted by: govtimbo | October 12, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

ok lets look at the pens caps series.

Lets not even count game 7. No way did officials play a part in game 7. The Pens clearly dominated that game in every aspect because we chose to mail it in.

So the other games the Pens won in that series were

Game 5 -- the PPs were even for both teams, 2 aside. No advantage there.

Game 4 -- Pens get 6 PPs, the Caps get 4. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

Game 3 -- Pens get 7 PPs, the Caps get 2.
Big disparity there. But if you look closer, we got 2 delay of game calls against us. Not much the refs can do about that unless someone remembers something odd about those particular calls. So you can argue that 2 of those calls had to be legitimate and out of the referee's hands.
The 3rd penalty was a slashing call on our own goalie. Again, was that a ticktacky call or was that legit?

And in that game the Pens didn't score any goals on their 7 PPs. Of which 3 consisted of the delay of games and a slash by Varly.


Obviously, killing off more PPs takes a toll that isn't visible on any statsheet and that plays into the overall nature of the game and the series. But did you guys who feel we got shafted, do you remember the refs letting everything go for the Pens and just calling a bunch of tickytack penalties on us?

I don't. My memory was, 5 on 5 they dominated time of possession in the off zone and clearly looked like the better team.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

and nobody usually laid a finger on Sid when he parked his caboose in the slot.

Posted by: govtimbo |

didn't help that green got hurt v the Rangers AND he wasn't that interested in playing D anyway at the time.

And Erskine was hurt as well. The guy who really rose up was Jurcina. He had to shoulder the big end of the physical load along with Mo. Poti was horrible the entire series.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

penz s*ck - caps could win 5 SC's in a row and i won't be truly happy until a crosby lead team goes 0-82-0

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 12, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

George Parros majored in Economics at Princeton so he's not a dumb goon....and probably not worthless. His diplomas alone cost near 150k

Posted by: jeets

neil sheehy went to harvard and boxed there. Ken 'the bomber' Baumgartner had like a genius level IQ. On the ice he was quite the loose cannon with his long hair flowing and looking to rip someone's head off.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

neil sheehy went to harvard and boxed there. Ken 'the bomber' Baumgartner had like a genius level IQ. On the ice he was quite the loose cannon with his long hair flowing and looking to rip someone's head off.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 3:35 PM

just goes to show that being intelligent doesn't make you a stable person

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 12, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

neil sheehy went to harvard and boxed there. Ken 'the bomber' Baumgartner had like a genius level IQ. On the ice he was quite the loose cannon with his long hair flowing and looking to rip someone's head off.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 3:35 PM

And Starr Jones was a lawyer..."allegedly".

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | October 12, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I actually liked the PP last night. There was a lot more movement than we saw last year when it was stand at the edges on bomb away. There were several times in the game when just a slight improvement in timing they would have scored. Timing comes with a little more playing time. Holding the puck waiting for the defenders to get out of your way rarely happens.

Posted by: tim-n-VA | October 12, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't so much the calls against the Caps only but non-calls on Pens. Wasn't there an uncalled crosscheck to Varly's head? And didn't the Pens have six guys on the ice for like 30 seconds uncalled? Oh, that was against Detroit.

Bottom line is whatever games that McCreary did (in all series) went clearly in favor of Crosby. The one game I think refs made a difference was game 3, and that was enough to get Pitt going. I agree they outplayed us more than 50% of the time, but not to the tune of 37-19 in PPs.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

penz s*ck - caps could win 5 SC's in a row and i won't be truly happy until a crosby lead team goes 0-82-0

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 12, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

If the Caps and Ovechkin had 5 SC's to Crosby's 1 and the Pens total of 3 I will be quite happy. Right now all Crosby has over Ovechkin is the team awards if Ovechkin takes that as well Crosby will be behind Ovechkin in everything which would make me happy.

Posted by: icehammer97 | October 12, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"It wasn't so much the calls against the Caps only but non-calls on Pens."

Exactly. And the statistics back it up. The Caps were called for approximately the same amount of penalties they averaged during the season. The penalties called on the Pens was about half of what was called on them during the regular season.

History also shows that teams usually get about the same amount of penalties per 60 minutes during the postseason as they do during the regular season. So while the Pesn in that series could have been a statistical aberration, after watching it you could see a number of things they did that did not get called.

But oh well, can't do anything about it now. Neuvy has been looking very good, the PK looks much improved, and the team seems to be committed to playing defense. I think it has been a very good start for the Caps and I'm looking forward to watching them thoughout the season and the playoffs. Barring severe injury, I think it will be very successful.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

until you can say the better team lost that series, lets not scapegoat the refs as the reason we lost.

"Exactly. And the statistics back it up."

somehow they always do don't they.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Not to keep beating that dead horse, sgm, but Orpik got away with a few non-calls including a nasty slash on Semin. A poster who rarely comes around anymore, IROCKTHERED, posted all kinds of statistical data like you just mentioned including she called league headquarters. It wasn't just Pens vs Caps - McCreary favored Crosby all through the Playoffs. That said, Caps were up 2-0 and let it slip away. Again.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"The one game I think refs made a difference was game 3, and that was enough to get Pitt going."
--Tom--

respectfully disagree. The Pens outhit us 44-31 in that game. NINE Capital players didn't even register a single hit in that game. It was all Juice and Ovechkin. They racked up half the team's hits. Which means, 16 other Capitals combined for 16 hits. Not quite the type of commitment and killer instinct you look for from a team going in with a 2-0 lead.

So we can talk PPs in that game. But the Pens outhit us by a wide margin, their hitting was sprinkled more evenly thru the lineup (a variable that can't be overstated), they scored 1 PP goal off a Semin penalty where iirc he clearly hooked down Malkin in our own end. And we had 2 delay of game calls against us.

the Pens outworked us in that game. The PPs didn't just occur out of thin air.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Stats can be interpreted in diff ways. The number of calls against the Pens dropped in half of their regular season average because:

a) the zebra's swallowed their whistles because of a secret mandate by the NHL to get Sid the Cup

b) the Pens played a lot more disciplined than they did during the regular season

c) the zebra's just missed the calls

Posted by: Steve_R | October 12, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

cstanton,

For all of the chop busting you give sgm about stats, you just defended your position with Tom using stats.....?

Pot - Kettle, no?

Yes, I'm a muck raker.

Posted by: Steve_R | October 12, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

Yep, I agree completely.

The 30 seconds of 7 men on the ice(including goalie) against the Wings was the most egregious. I am still baffled at how that was never called.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

The penalties called on the Pens was about half of what was called on them during the regular season.

------------------

sgm, does your stat machine take in the variable of changing coaches? How many of those penalties were taken while Michel Therrien was coach, and how did their penalty trend CHANGE under Dan Bylsma?

remember, Bylsma only coached them for the last 25 reg season games.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

cstanton,

For all of the chop busting you give sgm about stats, you just defended your position with Tom using stats.....?

--------------

well how else do you prove one team was more physical and that (moreso than just how many PPs one team got) was a variable to winning a game? If I had video of the game I could clip out the 40+ individual hits that the Pens delivered and show examples of passivity by the CAps. In the absence of such video , I have to use my memory and boxscore statistics.

the difference is, I don't build an entire argument around statistics without relating it to the actual experience of watching and evaluating a game. Comprende?

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Stats can be interpreted in diff ways. The number of calls against the Pens dropped in half of their regular season average because:

a) the zebra's swallowed their whistles because of a secret mandate by the NHL to get Sid the Cup

b) the Pens played a lot more disciplined than they did during the regular season

c) the zebra's just missed the calls

Posted by: Steve_R

d) they changed their coach. Related to b) perhaps.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 5:04 PM | Report abuse

here you go--

2010 - Pens, #1 in hits (Caps currently 6th)
very small sampling obviously

2009 - Pens, #3 in hits (Caps were 19th)

2008 - Pens #6 in hits (Caps were 18th)

i'm using statistics here to illustrate a point that cannot be illustrated any other way. That there is MORE than just talent, or hot goalies, or PPs, or some massive referee conspiracy that differentiates the Capitals from the Penguins. And if I can dig up the article from last yr where the Penguins' hitting agenda was dissected by their own players, coach, and GM, I'll post that as well.


now when was the last time you got the impression that the Caps brass made finishing checks a priority of any kind? Its never verbalized. And it doesn't show up in any other meaningful way on the ice either.


so unless someone can prove that the penguins get credit for hits when other teams do not, i think using statistics in this example is by no means the same thing as using stats to tie together a flimsy argument the way I've seen it used from time to time.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

That change was incorpated into the analysis and the difference in penalties/game of the Pens from Therrien to Bylsma was negligible.

This analysis wasn't only focused on the Caps, but to the Pens throughout the entire playoffs. It also compared previous teams throughout the history of the NHL. Teams consistently had about the same amount of penalties/game that they had during the regular season. The Pens were the great aberration. Could it be because they did not commit any penalties? Possibly. But from watching the games(not just the Caps series), the Pens seemed to commit numerous penalties uncalled. The 7-men on the ice and the Kunitz cross-check to Varly's throat being two ergregious ones.

Everyone can take these statistics any way they want, but the fact is that those statistics are there. Do with them as you plese. Don't get upset at me, or others, for just pointing out facts. It is up to each person to make their own judgments on them.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Chicago was 25th in hits last season. Maybe that is the new trend.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

cstanton: I'm not disagreeing with one thing you say, I'm just saying in addition all you put, two things:

1) McPhee got out-GM'd
2) McCreary favored Crosby throughout the Playoffs

I will always believe the Pens outplayed the Caps but the Caps should have won anyway except that McCreary gave the Pens a little edge. Same with the Wings series.

That said, I've maintained since the series happened, had Caps gotten Guerin instead of Pitt we win and they lose.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

But from watching the games(not just the Caps series), the Pens seemed to commit numerous penalties uncalled. The 7-men on the ice and the Kunitz cross-check to Varly's throat being two ergregious ones.
---sgm

now see, THAT to me is a more credible argument.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

sgm: The most telling statistic from what I recall is the PP advantage Pens had whenever McCreary was ref. We had stats on that at the time which I can't remember.

It doesn't take much to swing the balance. Witness the Steelers winning the Super Bowl a few years back with two calls (one was holding on Seattle) making a significant difference.

Officiating doesn't make bad teams win, but it can swing balance when teams are relatively even.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Chicago was 25th in hits last season. Maybe that is the new trend.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 5:23 PM

not likely.

And unfortunately for the Caps, the Hawks seem to know how to ramp up to playoff-level intensity.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I remember the Kunitz crosscheck. And yes that wasn't called. Neither were the times the Flyers ran over Huet the previous year.

Seems like aggressive teams get away with more aggressive-type penalties.

You should've seen the kinds of penalties the Ducks got away with in the playoffs on their run to the Cup. When they had a hard time putting the puck in v Detroit, their 4th line would go crashing thru the crease picking fights along the way. Doing whatever they could to disrupt things. Eventually the refs just get conditioned to accepting a rougher style of play from certain players and teams.

The Caps should take the same approach. Otherwise, we'll end up on the receiving end of tickytack hooking and holding calls just because the refs want to even things up.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

sgm: The most telling statistic from what I recall is the PP advantage Pens had whenever McCreary was ref. We had stats on that at the time which I can't remember.

It doesn't take much to swing the balance. Witness the Steelers winning the Super Bowl a few years back with two calls (one was holding on Seattle) making a significant difference.

Officiating doesn't make bad teams win, but it can swing balance when teams are relatively even.

Posted by: tominsocal1 |

I agree

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

penz s*ck - caps could win 5 SC's in a row and i won't be truly happy until a crosby lead team goes 0-82-0

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 12, 2010 3:33 PM


@Capt_Kirk_in_AZ:

I feel you, bro, but be realistic: Just as no team in NHL history has ever gone undefeated, the same is true for the team that fared the worst: The 1974-1975 Caps at 8-67-5.

I'll take PIT missing the playoffs, but I'll settle for them getting knocked out early. Bwahahahahahahaa!

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 12, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

That said, I've maintained since the series happened, had Caps gotten Guerin instead of Pitt we win and they lose.

Posted by: tominsocal1

I think it would've taken more than Guerin.

I think us losing Matt Cooke the yr before and them adding him made a big difference. As was the trade for Kunitz.

But overall, our defense wasn't upto par either.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

But from watching the games(not just the Caps series), the Pens seemed to commit numerous penalties uncalled. The 7-men on the ice and the Kunitz cross-check to Varly's throat being two ergregious ones.
---sgm

now see, THAT to me is a more credible argument.

Posted by: cstanton1

But that was the same argument me and tominsocal1 were making the entire time, and we were showing how the statistics backed it up.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

cstanton said: "I remember the Kunitz crosscheck. And yes that wasn't called. Neither were the times the Flyers ran over Huet the previous year.

Seems like aggressive teams get away with more aggressive-type penalties."

This is true about 90% of the time. Every once in awhile though the opposite happens like with Micheal Jordan where the refs called every touch by the defense. And it doesn't work with pass interference. In hockey though this statement above is almost always true, especially IF the players committing the increased aggression are Canadian.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

cstanton: You are right on Cooke. But, if Caps had Guerin, who MADE the difference in Game 3, and now give us that advantage, plus added grit through the series, we take game 3, go up 3-0, and even McCreary couldn't fix it and even Caps weaker D couldn't lose it.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 12, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

so that settles it then...the answer is, more aggressive play from more north american types :)

actually i'll settle for Datsyuk-level grit. Besides his hitting, watch how he comes thru in scrums. Huge difference between him and a Semin. Semin looks like he wants to go find a place to hide whereas Datsyuk goes looking for someone to grab onto. In the Ducks game, he grabbed hold of Sheldon Brookbank and twisted him off Zetterberg. He also fought Corey Perry (that battle has been festering a long time) after an open ice by Zetterberg.

Sometimes you can get a reputation like Sean Avery where it backfires on you. But usually, the aggressive players do get away with more stuff, between whistles and during the play.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

But that was the same argument me and tominsocal1 were making the entire time, and we were showing how the statistics backed it up.

Posted by: sgm3

get out

the argument that was initially made was that just based on the extra PPs it proved the Caps got hosed out of the series. Frankly, I'd like to eliminate the ref excuse. The Pens were still the better team on the ice and that to me is eventually all that matters. You obviously don't want to have a referee influence a series unfairly, I get that. But maybe it was for the better so this team doesn't get lulled into a false sense of security about how good they really are. Blaming the refs 2 yrs ago, blaming a hot goalie last yr...all that does is mask the weak areas and prolong success.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Chicago finished 25th in hits last year. Lets not overreact to hit totals after three games.
-------------sgm-

just pointing out that the usual suspects in the hitting game (i.e. Flash, Semin) are once again showing an early trend this season. There's no overreaction. We can check in after 15 more games and I'm guessing we'll see the trend continue.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

"the argument that was initially made was that just based on the extra PPs it proved the Caps got hosed out of the series."

Not true. Review the posts on this thread. At what point did either me or tominsocal1 say the Caps got hosed? Both of our comments were focused on the Pens and how they got called for a significantly less amount of penalties throughout the playoffs. Pretty much all the penalties called on the Caps were deserved.

You do not need to try to start an argument just to argue.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

At what point did either me or tominsocal1 say the Caps got hosed? Both of our comments were focused on the Pens and how they got called for a significantly less amount of penalties throughout the playoffs

------------------sgm--

semantics. When you make a big deal out of the difference in penalties being called during a debate over why the Caps lost that series, you are in essence implying the Caps lost because of this PP differential.

Tom has at least qualified his stance by mentioning other reasons (i.e. guerin) and has readily admitted the Caps were outplayed regardless of the penalty differential.

What's your stance? Or do you ever adopt one?

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

"When you make a big deal out of the difference in penalties being called during a debate over why the Caps lost that series, you are in essence implying the Caps lost because of this PP differential."

Not at all. The topic of conversation was the penalties called during the series and the amount of penalties called on the Pens during the 2009 playoffs. I was addressing that. Not making a big deal, just discussing. I was, at no point, discussing the implications of that topic on the outcome of the Caps/Pens series, and there was nothing in what I said that ever implied I was.

My stance is that there were many factors that contributed to the Caps loss. They have already been discussed at length.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Physical play goes far beyond hitting. If you watched games from last season, the Hawks worked like beasts along the boards in all 3 zones. All of their lines were great at cycling the puck and winning board battles.

It was borderline amazing to watch how often it looked like they were on a PP while at even-strength.

And they had speed, skill and just enough grit on defense to win battles. Just about all their defensemen were great with their sticks and at making good decisions with the puck. They also have several good two-way forwards and their whole team worked as a unit like no other in the league last season.

I remember making similar observations around when we played them. I said they were the best team in the league and that they were the most likely to win it all even while they were in a little slump. Some tried to say our offense was just SOOOOO good that it trumped the fact that they were very good in all areas. A Chicago native Caps fan claimed they'd fall apart in the playoffs based on looking backward not at the current version of the team. Others pointed at their goalie and the mini-slump they were in at that point.

They were the epitome of a puck-possession team, not the Caps like some people try to claim so often.

I've never thought of us a puck-possession team. We spend too much time in our own end and don't often dominate with our forecheck and passing.

What I think the Caps are is a quick-strike team with good scorers and the tendncy to overcommit at times, leading to more scoring chances but also scoring chances for the other teams going the other way.

Early this season, things look different. I hope they keep it up. I thought they did a lot of little promising things yesterday both on and individual and team level.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 12, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

"I was, at no point, discussing the implications of that topic on the outcome of the Caps/Pens series, and there was nothing in what I said that ever implied I was"

ok, i'll accept that at face value.

(And ignore my sneaking suspicion that you have once again implied a stance via statistics without committing to it, and then backed off.)


I'm assuming you think the PP differential played a role of some sort though.
Do you agree or disagree that physicality/forecheck played a role in it? Do you agree/disagree that the Pens' aggressive mentality plays a part in their successes or do you think its fairly meaningless?

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Physical play goes far beyond hitting. If you watched games from last season, the Hawks worked like beasts along the boards in all 3 zones. All of their lines were great at cycling the puck and winning board battles.
-------------

when i think of Chicago besides their big 2 of Kane and Toews, I think of their stellar grinding forwards-- Troy Brouwer, Bolland, Ladd, Versteeg. They used an agitating aggressive 4th line as well. And you can't discount what Seabrook means to them both in terms of leadership and his rugged defensive play.

The Caps simply didn't have the quality role players that Chicago has employed over the past 2 or 3 seasons. We never used the type of 4th lines that the Hawks/Pens have used. And our 3rd line hasn't matched up either. You can't compare players like Gordo, Belanger, Chimera (last yr's version) to the types of players occupying the bottom 6 forward slots for the Hawks and Pens. Bradley comes close and Fehr started to develop into that. But the makeup of our bottom 2 lines in the past has been very weak.

And on D, we never had a Seabrook or Orpik type.

Vancouver's another team whose grit cannot be proven using hit totals. Some teams are like that. But they're still a nasty scrappy team to play against. The Caps don't fit that mold either of a hardnosed team who doesn't rack up a lot of hits.

The Pens talent is maximized because of their role players and their commitment to finishing checks.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 12, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

I think numerous factors played a role.

The one factor that I think was the most significant was the inability of the Caps defense to effectively clear the zone with accurate passes. When the Pens dumped the puck in the Caps D was not fast enough, skilled enough, or had the game awareness to get to the puck and make a quick outlet pass to clear the zone. This led to numerous turnovers, which led to a great amount of offesnive zone time for the Pens which led to many scoring chances.

I do not want to argue or discuss the Pens series. I will say this again, I think MANY factors contributed to the loss. The one I stated above, is the factor that, IN MY OPINION, was the most significant.

If you disagree, that is fine. No need to argue about it.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The one factor that I think was the most significant was the inability of the Caps defense to effectively clear the zone with accurate passes. When the Pens dumped the puck in the Caps D was not fast enough, skilled enough, or had the game awareness to get to the puck and make a quick outlet pass to clear the zone. This led to numerous turnovers, which led to a great amount of offesnive zone time for the Pens which led to many scoring chances.

Posted by: sgm3 | October 12, 2010 7:03 PM

I very much agree that this was one of the major problems but it went beyond that.

It was also a matter of consistently losing physical battles along the boards and not working hard enough to prevent them from entering our zone in the first palce.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 12, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

It was also a matter of our inability to pin them in their own end like they were doing to us. Part of that was because we were constantly on our heels trying to get out of our own end and part of it is because we independently haven't been a good enough forechecking team, overall.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 12, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

It was also a matter of our inability to pin them in their own end like they were doing to us.
---------

That Pitt team excelled at breaking the puck out of their zone, to be fair. And I've heard Pens fans discounting the loss of Gonchar - they are delusional if they think Goligoski can do the same thing Gonchar did, and not just on the PP. He is one of the best guys I've ever seen at that crisp breakout pass, which just makes everything go so much smoother when forwards aren't fishing for the puck in their skates or getting hammered when a D steps up on a buddy pass.


Posted by: govtimbo | October 12, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

It was also a matter of our inability to pin them in their own end like they were doing to us.
---------

That Pitt team excelled at breaking the puck out of their zone, to be fair. And I've heard Pens fans discounting the loss of Gonchar - they are delusional if they think Goligoski can do the same thing Gonchar did, and not just on the PP. He is one of the best guys I've ever seen at that crisp breakout pass, which just makes everything go so much smoother when forwards aren't fishing for the puck in their skates or getting hammered when a D steps up on a buddy pass.


Posted by: govtimbo | October 12, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

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