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'Canes 3, Caps 1

In the words of Coach Bruce Boudreau, tonight's 3-1 defeat in Carolina was "disheartening."

Yeah, Michael Leighton had a really good game in goal for the Hurricanes. And yeah, there might have been a different outcome at RBC Center had Alex Ovechkin scored on the penalty shot or had Sami Lepisto not fallen down on the 'Canes' second goal.

But the bottom line is the Caps blew a glorious opportunity to take control of the Southeast Division with a third of the season in the books. Instead of seizing an eight-point lead, the Hurricanes whittled the edge to just four.

"That's why I'm so frustrated," Boudreau said. "That would have been [a big lead] with 17 road games done and 11 home games done. With the injuries we had, it was time for guys to start coming back and getting healthy. I thought we would have been in good position. Now it's a dogfight again."

Indeed it is.

Some other notes, quotes and observations:


*Ovechkin (11 shots on goal) is now 0-for-5 in penalty shots, a bewildering stat for a player who has 177 career goals.

Asked what the problem is, Boudreau said: "I have no idea. But I'll be the last one to give him advice on how to score. All I know is if it doesn't work, don't do it again. Whatever his thought process is, it's not working."

*Backstrom notched his third goal in four games, rifling a beautiful one-timer from Ovechkin over Leighton to tie the game 1-1 at 8:28 of the third period.

*The Canes snapped a four-game losing streak to the Caps.

*Remember how everyone praised the Caps' call-ups especially the defensemen after last night's 2-1 win in Toronto? Well, there wasn't a whole lot of praise spread around tonight. Sami Lepisto and Bryan Helmer were on the ice for all three Carolina goals.

Lepisto, in particular, had a tough night. He got turned around and lost his balance behind the net on Eric Staal's game winner with 4:09 left to play.

Boudreau was pretty unforgiving in his assessment, saying: "In the NHL you can't make dumb plays against good players. That's what happened. Sami shouldn't have tripped over his feet."

Lepisto was hard on himself, too, adding: "I can't fall like that. I tried to battle with the puck behind the net. Then I didn't know where the puck was and all of a sudden it was in the goal."

Lepisto also mentioned something about a broken skate. I did notice him earlier in the game look down at his skate as if something might be wrong.

*Jose Theodore made 23 saves, but was definitely out-played by Leighton. Whether Theodore should have covered the post on Staal's goal is up for some debate. Theodore did, however, accept responsibility for the third goal (Ray Whitney's with 2:02 left), which is one he said he wants back.

"That was the one that kind of bothered me," Theodore said of Whitney's second tally of the night.

Asked about Staal's goal, Theodore said: "I saw it for a second, but then they made a quick pass [from behind the net]. By the time I picked it up, it was too late."

*Staal's goal was his first in eight games. He had also scored in only one of his previous 16 games.

*Speaking of the Canes, they had allowed the game's first goal in 12 consecutive contests, eight at home. Well, that streak is over.

*'Canes captain Rod Brind 'Amour won 80 percent of his draws (16 for 20).

*Alexandre Giroux skated 11:48 and took two shots on net in his first NHL game of the season. Sean Collins was just fine once again, earning 14:50 in ice time. He also had one heck of a play late in the third period, when he broke up a would-be centering pass.

That's all for tonight. There is no practice tomorrow, so the Caps won't return to the ice at KCI until Tuesday. By then, I have to imagine, a couple of the injured players ought to be skating all out with the expectation of coming back on Wednsday against Boston.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 7, 2008; 9:34 PM ET
 
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Comments

"That was the one that kind of bothered me," Theodore said of Whitney's second tally of the night.

Both of Whitney's goals should have bothered him, but that's neither here nor there. Oh well, take the day off, rest up and prep for a big home game Wednesday.

Posted by: Section117 | December 7, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

I subscribe to the RSS feed because frequent updates on gameday/morning skate are amazing - can't get this sort of insider info as it happens anywhere. But these scores in the titles of your updates make it nearly impossible to keep from knowing the results of a game that I DVR for later watching. When I just saw the losing score, it made me feel like it would be a waste of time to watch, at least with any excitement. Anyone who's had a movie ruined by the ending told to them knows how I feel. Please kindly reconsider not putting the final score as the title of your updates. I have to at least ask.

And all you other fans about to tell me to stay away from the computer - that ain't gonna happen - I do most of my work on it.

Posted by: rh71 | December 7, 2008 10:00 PM | Report abuse

@ rh71,

if you don't want to see the score, and you haven't watched the game yet, why are you checking tarik's blog for the recap?

Posted by: muskratinator | December 7, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: rh71 | December 7, 2008 10:11 PM | Report abuse

What "kind of bothers me" is that Theodore leaves those fat juicy rebounds, from which he gives up soooo many goals.

I've got my criticisms of Theo, but I think that's my biggest. His GAA is much lower if he controls his rebounds.

Posted by: TheSkyIsntFalling | December 7, 2008 10:18 PM | Report abuse

i REALLY dislike theo, but i have to agree with that. we've seen him play some remarkable games, and with better rebound control (and, it's gotta be said, a LOT more confidence), he'd probably be a star

Posted by: jess4caps | December 7, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

So Sami's been skating with broken skates since his call-up? The kid's on the ice more than Laing and Gordon combined.

Posted by: keeef | December 7, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Caps in the news. I guess tomorrow morning's postings?

Caps prospects:

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=258847&lid=sublink01&lpos=headlines_nhl

Posted by: Greg S. | December 7, 2008 10:44 PM | Report abuse

Ovie doesn't look the same as last year. Everything is harder this year for him. He actually looks like an average hockey player. Half of his shots aren't even getting through.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 7, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Three-or-more should feel bad about more than the last goal. If you did not listen to the post game show with Joe B and Locker, Joe B made a thinly veiled comment about the goaltending sucking tonight. I could not agree more. Josie has a real problem covering players behind the net, he seems to get totally confused and what was that position on the third goal? I know the butterfly position, but that looked more like some kind of road kill position or was he playing Twister (Oh No not yellow, I can't bend that way!).

Posted by: majiksea | December 7, 2008 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Bruce should focus on his top line as well. The same top line who is our weakest defensive line. They don't work hard inside our blueline and they make terrible passing decisions instead of chipping the puck out. Backis in particular but also Kozlov who just stands in one place and doesn't help out his D

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 7, 2008 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Still can't win when you only score 1 goal. Toss blame around all you guys want. I saw nothing in the 2nd goal that makes me angry at Jt60. The guys had just completed aa very long, hard shift in the other end and we lacked any intensity from the 42/43 d pair again. Puck goes towards left post then a quick pass back right with neither post cmgoalies in this league who make that stop with out a "lucky" guess.

The third was atrocious D by the Bears. How badly do we need just one of our injured back? If you told me by xmas I'd be begging for tyler sloan to return, I'd have said...Tyler Who?

Lets get our boys back so we can get back to whipping Juice here on the blog.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 7, 2008 11:12 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have to suck it up and play their best game of the year to prove they are real contenders against a very tough Boston squad. A win could really boost confidence.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS | December 7, 2008 11:14 PM | Report abuse

You people do realize that half this team is injured. Yesterday they played lights out against Toronto. Today, a tired team played against a Hurricane team that is desperate to make up points. They played bad. No question, but to make assessments of every player is simply poor.

About the only thing I agree with the posts thus far is everyone's thoughts on Theo. He's streaky but that's what McPhee knew when he got him.

Posted by: blanknerc | December 7, 2008 11:16 PM | Report abuse

rh71, you know what you could do????
Stop using the RSS feed. What a brilliant idea.

Posted by: amorris525 | December 7, 2008 11:19 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Green may finally be getting back on Wednesday vs Boston which will make it exactly 3 weeks since he's been out.

I agree Ovie has been having a lot of his shots blocked by opponents, he needs to get into a clearer spot before he fires. He will find his way and hit career highs in points (114) and possibly goals (65). I can't wait to see the Ovie Backstrom Semin line back together, hopefully within 2 weeks!

Boston vs Caps on Wednesday will be a huge game! If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best!

Posted by: onthebeach96 | December 7, 2008 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Boston is in a league above. Our forwards will have a hard time penetrating their defense and our young D will have a hard time controling their forwards

Posted by: cstanton1 | December 7, 2008 11:28 PM | Report abuse

the caps play differently in front of johnny, i think, and if gabby is the coach we all know him to be, i think #1 is gonna be in the net

Posted by: jess4caps | December 7, 2008 11:30 PM | Report abuse

@TheSkyIsntFalling:

I couldn't agree with you more.
I'm tired of seeing JT give up juicy rebounds and flop around on the ice.

@blanknerc:

Yes lots of the Caps are injured and yes they played a great game in Toronto last night, but the Canes also played a tiring overtime game in Philly last night. They're tired too. Being tired shouldn't be an excuse not to play hard.

Posted by: ILikeLaich | December 7, 2008 11:34 PM | Report abuse

@ amorris525,

What's amazing is that you seem to think I haven't thought of that. RSS on Tarik's blog is great 95% of the time. I mean updates you read right when posted is why they make great updates. One adjustment, which isn't even all that impossible of a request is all I'm suggesting. It's his blog, he can do what he wants (doesn't need to be said) - perhaps he simply never considered this is why I'm bringing it up.

Posted by: rh71 | December 7, 2008 11:41 PM | Report abuse

And btw, I'm pretty tired of watching half an AHL team. I'm even longing for a defenseman in Greener to come back. Sad.

Posted by: rh71 | December 7, 2008 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Enough breaks. Put em' on the ice.

Posted by: redskinsux | December 7, 2008 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I hope Mike Green, when he comes back, will think twice before he goes dancing down the right wing and into the corner with his head down, especially against the likes of Chris Pronger.

Posted by: dml1077 | December 8, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

... or Milan Lucic (right, Mr. Pothier?)

Posted by: dml1077 | December 8, 2008 12:10 AM | Report abuse

rh71: why don't you just unsubscribe from the blog, bookmark it, and then just access it when you need to? Asking someone to change their procedure, instead of you just doing something so simple, is your problem not everyone else's.

Back to hockey. I like lepisto and hope he doesn't get demoted b/c of this game. He moves the puck well, especially to create a play on the rush up ice and he is crucial on the PP. He fell a few times in the game so if he had a broken skate, shouldn't he have gone to the equipment room to fix it instead of trying to play and costing us the game? Also, why the hell was staal by himself in front of the goal - where were the FW's? Can't put it all on 42.

Posted by: 202-206 | December 8, 2008 1:48 AM | Report abuse

Just read your posts from night to night....

this team is banged up. We are not going to see the consistancy that true NHL players bring from night to night from a group that is half AHL players. They will have their good and bad games, but the face that after all this we are still up 4 points or so is huge. Let's just try to get healthy and see where that takes us. We can't expect to keep winning with and AHL team.

Everyone needs to calm down and see that so far we have survived the rash of injuries and hopefully we can get healthy soon

Posted by: UMWHockey | December 8, 2008 2:53 AM | Report abuse

Let's see, a cold week in Raleigh...a game the night before so no quick change over...it was reasonable to assume that the ice would be playable. It was not. The puck bounced like a road hockey tennis ball. Maybe Curly Neal could have handled that thing, certainly the best players in the world were handcuffed by it.

The NHL needs to get tough on this issue. You want to grow the sport? HD TV is going to be a huge help but if you want to showcase skill you need to provide a consistent surface.
As long as I'm dreaming, can the discussion of widening the rinks to the international standard be brought up? The Trap aside, there is just no room to operate out there. I occasionally watch a few minutes of classic games on the NHL Network and am always amazed by how much bigger the rink seemed. Guys are bigger now, faster skaters, longer reaches...so now you have a guy like Nylander skating figure eights in a phone booth (to no great effect) or any fourth line plugger firing in to the mass of sticks and shin pads, hoping for a lucky bounce. I know, ugly goals have always been part of the game. I just want more room for creativity, for beautiful play.

On a different note, the third goal against Three-or-more was interesting in that I've never seen a goalie make himself so small in the face of a scoring threat. He kind of collapsed into himself, perhaps in an attempt to confuse Whitney, "what's a possum doing in the crease?"
I know Jose is a flopper but Good Lord.

Posted by: Bengt-Ake | December 8, 2008 3:26 AM | Report abuse

rh71:
Dave and I were talking about that. I won't come in here if I have DVR'd a game - I don't want to know the score before I've watched it. Dave said he has mastered a way to go into nhl.com and see the highlights without first seeing the score - you might want to ask him for some pointers! :-)

Posted by: HeyBooBoo | December 8, 2008 3:55 AM | Report abuse

Is Johnny hurt? Or, is Bruce's idea of "going with the hot goalie" not using the guy who won the last game? I thought Johnny was solid in TO and should have played last night. Of course, he may have reinjured his groin, which means we'll see more of Theo. By the second and third goal, I didn't care anymore. The one that bothered me was the first goal. Why was he already splayed out on the ice, leaving that huge gaping hole on the side? That was just being completely out of position. Bruce needs to decide which guy he's going to ride and keep him in net for a solid number of games. This switching around of netminders will kill the team in the post-season.

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | December 8, 2008 6:15 AM | Report abuse

jose theodore is incapable of carrying this team at all. He came off the bench and stunk. This should prove that he is unreliable. I am convinced that he is incapable of winning a game 2-1 or 1-0. His wins are all 5-3 or of that 6-5 variety. Gee, we play Montreal this week, maybe Three-o-more will show up to play that night. He let his team down with that lame effort. Lepisto was all alone behind to net, but you still should not be able to put something in by the post. Guarding the Post is GOALTENDING 101. Who is the goaltending coach on this team? And why can't he focus? Thee-o-more was a Vezina trophy winner because of the equipment he weas allowed to wear. People forget that when they look at Three-o-more. When the NHL changed the goalie equipment Three-o-more became just that. Bring up the Russian kid. We got Feds,Ovie,Semin,Koslov to keep him straight. My prediction is he will get a start eventually. The problem is what do you do with the other goalies? you can't carry 3 right now because of the injuries. When people get healthy look for the kid from Hershey to get a start.

Posted by: ergoroc | December 8, 2008 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Why is everyone blaming Theodore?

We scored one goal, and we played 2.5 periods of one goal hockey on D.

I dont place the blame on him. It was not our night to win. Move on.

Posted by: SA-Town | December 8, 2008 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Dear Washington Post,

I am a happy subscriber to your fine publication. The depth of analysis and quality journalism is a fine supplement as I am a longtime news junky. That said, I prefer to get my news live on cable television. I had all of yesterday's coverage Tivo'd and I had planned on watching it this morning. Imagine my disappointment when I walked out onto my porch after waking up to find that you had all of the major news printed right on the front page of the paper that was sitting in my driveway! When I just saw the news about Gen. Shinseki's appointment and the automobile industry aid package, it made me feel like it would be a waste of time to watch, at least with any excitement. Please kindly reconsider not putting the major headline news as the front page of your paper. I have to at least ask.

Posted by: ModestProposal | December 8, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

JT sucks doesn't get any clearer than that. Can't wuite figure your ignornace out yet/ But go ahead and throw your pom poms around rooting for the washed up goalie. One day your bashing and the other day your glorifing.

must be an emotional rollar coaster in your head.

Posted by: windjammersouth | December 8, 2008 8:22 AM | Report abuse

It's no coincidence that all three goals were scored with 42/43 on the ice. It's even less of a mystery that 2 of the 3 were scored with 8/19/25 on the ice, a line that has been atrocious in their back-checking over the past 2-3 weeks. 8/19/25 were invisible on that play.

Let's look back at the first goal. And if you don't trust my analysis go watch it yourself.

1. Nicky B loses control of the puck in the corner rather than pass/clear it out of the zone.
2. 42/43 cover two of the guys in the corner.
3. Canes get puck to the point, but 42/43 let both their guys go with 43 and 19 screening JT on the initial shot.
4. This is an important one. THE SHOT IS TO JT60's LEFT. To which he has to make a kick-out save. To come here and complain about his rebound control is borderline moronic and removes the other 1/2 of the equation regarding rebound control: The initial shot. I tried to explain this last year. NO goalie in this league (or any league) will take a shot to his, in this case, LEFT, and put the rebound to the RIGHT corner where so many of you want to see it. Maybe that's how Johnny hurt his hip, trying to please some of you people and getting his leg in a very unnatural position.
5. Having 2 unmolested Canes closer to JT60 than any single cap made finishing that play simple for the boys in black/red.

As SA mentioned, place blame where it's due. I already talked about the 2nd goal earlier, but after watching it again (and I invite anyone else to do the same) that goal is on 25 and 42 more than JT60. No team will make the playoffs scoring 1 goal a game. As I mentioned on Thurs, I'd be elated if we could escape this weekend with 1 point. We got 2. Sure our SE lead shrunk, but we've got some more shrinking to do until we start getting healthier.

Posted by: FFSEnough | December 8, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Tough game. I don't lay the blame on JT. We scored ONE goal. Its' always easy to point fingers to the guy in goal. We played hard, had a early game after a game the nite before 600 miles away. Sure the canes played the nite before, but they were at home sleeping in their own beds. We are still playing with half of hershey's line-up. The Canes are getting paid to show up as well. Its a game that we could have won,but didnt. Does the game change if OV scores on the penatly shot?

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | December 8, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

@ 202-206:

You miss the point of RSS, want me to link it again? In short, it is fed to you as soon as something like this blog is updated. I love it that way. I just don't like the final scores being told to me while I'm browsing other sites - not hockey related because I am trying to stay away from the score.

Do you honestly like refreshing the page every 5 minutes to see if the morning reading list has been posted? Do you like knowing right when a player is called up? That's why RSS was created.

And I don't think you qualify to speak as everyone. Again, I am merely making a suggestion. Is it going to hurt anyone that the final score is NOT posted in the _title_ of an entry?

Posted by: rh71 | December 8, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

@umwhockey- do you go to mary washington?! me too!
and hey- no one is laying ALL the blame on jt60. but the fact remains that just as the rest of the team needs improvement, so does our goaltending, and we've definitely got a very sticky goaltending situation on our hands

Posted by: jess4caps | December 8, 2008 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else as afraid as I am that this is the week the bottom falls out on the Caps? They are 4-6 in their last 10 games, and this week they have another 3 games in 4 nights against Boston, Ottawa and Montreal. They haven't given a consistent effort from game-to-game, and while some of that can be attributed to the large number of callups playing, I think it also speaks to a lack of leadership. Hopefully they can at least handle Ottawa at home.

Posted by: cainoo7x | December 8, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I think everyone has to realize that if the Caps can play around .600 hockey during this period of injuries, let's say through mid January, then they are doing about all they can reasonably be expected to do.

Basically, that means winning against the middle to lower tier teams and winning every third game against a top tier team.

The idea is not to win every game in the season, its to make the playoffs and be healthy.

The Caps aren't in a bad situation, but they need to be careful. If they make it through the next three weeks at between .500 and .600 and get their guys back, they will be ready for the playoff push.

Don't panic. Don't rush people back. There is time to make the playoffs and win. The Caps just need to be careful and I am sure management knows what its doing. Its done a great job so far.

Posted by: muddapucker | December 8, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

JT's rebound control is CRAP FFSEnough. He isn't expected to kick a shot that he saves on his left pad over to the right as you implied we expect. No, he needs to guide it to the boards to the left not right back into the high slot. The fact is the man is paid 4.5 million dollars to do a job, not average, but top-notch for that salary. Being in a 1-1 game on the road with 5 minutes left is a well played road game. The Caps controlled the game for the most part and had Carolina hoping for overtime.

All of you getting on OV, give me a darn break. The guy is doing all he can on a team that has lost talented forwards as well as defensemen. I know that most of you appreciate OV as much as I do but the rest of you need to jump off of this bandwagon please. The real Caps fans have realized what everyone else around the league has...that's that OV brings his game every night, and he wants to win. His missed penalty shot in the 2nd was because he was dog tired. Not sure why BB didn't call the TO to let OV catch his breath. That penalty shot was just as important as resting guys for a critical PP opportunity.

Posted by: fanohock1 | December 8, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I've said this since before the season even started, but I'll take Varlamov (not Varlomov or Varmalov as some keep spelling it) over Theo any day. I saw Varlamov quite a lot in the RSL last year and he was amazing. lead Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to one of the top places in the regular season and to the cup final in the RSL playoffs. Yes, he's probably still adjusting to the North American game, but I'd say that at this point he can't possibly do any worse than Jose. I'm sure they're worried about killing his confidence if things go awry, but I don't see it happening. In most games we hem the opposing team in their zone for 80% of the time. Look at Mason in Columbus. He's done great since he was given a chance. In my evaluation Varlamov is every bit as talented as Mason.

Posted by: ranndino | December 8, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

rh71,

Are you serious? I also DVR games sometimes to watch later, but then I avoid all hockey news like the plague and most obviously do not look at thing blog. To ask Tarik to adjust his headlines because it's an inconvenience to you because for some reason you insist on subscribing to the RSS feed is completely obnoxious. It's also stupid because you can just do what I do. Check the blog up to game time for pre-game notes and updates and then stay the heck away from it until after you've watched the game. It's not rocket science.

Posted by: ranndino | December 8, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

It was bush of the coach to say something in public like "Sami shouldn't have tripped". That is not how to ready a young player for the NHL.

Posted by: Bartolo | December 8, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

rh71 get a life and quit being so selfish. Go home and watch the game on dvd and when the game is over log on and read what Tarik has written and what all us other updated cap have already seen.
Put on the music and listen to "Your so Vain"

Posted by: jgreif | December 8, 2008 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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