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Posted at 2:50 PM ET, 02/19/2011

Capitals back East, readying for a 'very pivotal' game against Sabres

By Katie Carrera

Before this road trip began, Mike Knuble described playing on the east coast as "You come out east, it's gritty, it's cold, it feels like hockey here." Nothing less was true Saturday, where after a week of mild if not warm temperatures playing on the road against Pacific Division opponents, a fresh snow storm greeted the Capitals in Buffalo.

Due to scheduling conflicts at HSBC Arena, the Capitals trekked to North Tonawanda, N.Y., for practice in an old rink home to the Wheatfield Blades minor hockey program where it wasn't a struggle to see your breath inside the frigid rink.

Yes, the Capitals are back on the east coast and of their remaining 23 regular season games, only five will come against Western Conference foes. As each contest passes, the more important the next set of points becomes to the playoff positioning race.

"The one good thing, great thing, is it puts us in control. If we want to do well, it's up to us to do well," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "They're all four point games instead of two point games so to speak, so it should be a highly emotional last two months of the season."

With two back-to-back games against Buffalo and Pittsburgh to close out this five-game trip, the emotion shouldn't be lacking Sunday and Monday. The Sabres enter their contest with the Capitals four points out of eighth and are 6-3-1 in their last 10. Anything can happen in a game between the Capitals and Penguins, who are six points ahead of Washington in the conference standings and are 5-4-0 in the month of February.

"You look at Buffalo, they've got two games in hand [on Washington] and they're 10 points back. It's a very pivotal game for us," Boudreau said. "Same for Pittsburgh. They're six ahead of us in the conference at this stage but at the same time our eyes are on catching everybody. We have to put a run together. This is the time you put the run together. We're looking forward to those games."

--According to The Toronto Sun, General Manager George McPhee has been shopping Alexander Semin during trade deadline negotiations.

--Also, the Capitals have contacted the Edmonton Oilers about forward Ales Hemsky, according to TSN's Ryan Rishaug, who didn't believe anything was close because the Oilers would likely want Karl Alzner or John Carlson in return.

By Katie Carrera  | February 19, 2011; 2:50 PM ET
 
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Comments

@ capper3
FIRST!:)

Posted by: Tondi | February 19, 2011 2:57 PM | Report abuse

General Manager George McPhee has been shopping Alexander Semin during trade deadline negotiations.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

yeah, right... I'll believe that when he actually gets traded.

Posted by: joek443 | February 19, 2011 2:59 PM | Report abuse

What's the chance of signing Sergei Fedorov from the KHL for one last playoff run?

I thought he was still dating some American chick near Miami? Would be great to have him back!

Posted by: vmidurk | February 19, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Feds would have to pass through re-entry waivers to get back to the NHL, like Nabokov did.

Plus, he's quite slow now.

Posted by: bmorecaps1 | February 19, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

The chance of Feds coming back ever to the NHL is 0%. He is a 2C but hes not good enough to get us to the next level. He wasnt 2 years ago when he was here, why would he be now?

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 3:22 PM | Report abuse

So how many "pivotal" games can BB say the Caps are playing, lose most of all them, and still remain an NHL head coach? Honestly, wasn't the west coast swing also pivotal and the Caps pulled out one, one whole win? I just will not watch this team with that fat blowhard in charge.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 19, 2011 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I hate that stupid 4 point game cliche. So stupid.

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

I hate every single one of you people. Discuss.

Posted by: hobojew | February 19, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I think Feds would be a great 1C in a men's beer league.

Posted by: zmega | February 19, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Gotta like the comments in the Cranbrook Townsman newspaper by Steele Boomer, the guy Cody Eakin took over from on the No. 1 line for the Ice:

"He runs that power play so well off the wall and he's so quick and so explosive. It seems like whenever we need a big goal, he's always the guy that puts the puck in the net," said Boomer, who marveled at Eakin's four shorthanded goals in six games this month.

Posted by: dull | February 19, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I think Feds would be a great 1C in a men's beer league.

Posted by: zmega | February 19, 2011 3:37 PM

LOL!

Posted by: eric22 | February 19, 2011 3:44 PM | Report abuse

I think Feds would be a great 1C in a men's beer league.

Posted by: zmega | February 19, 2011 3:37 PM
-------------------------------------

Haha alright, good one!

Just saying he's been playing in the KHL, right? Couldn't have deteriorated too bad since then? And I'd take an old Fedorov as a 2C over most younger centers in the league.

Might be that unspoken drive this group of kids need.

Or maybe I'm just being nostalgic... when we picked him up at the trade deadline, I thought that was a great move ... somehow have doubts about that possibility this year.

Anyways, here's hoping ...

Posted by: vmidurk | February 19, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Trying to catch-up and all thats transpired since I've been gone and can't believe the Bruins degraded their team the way they did....Wheeler and Stuart would've been great additions and the Caps missed the boat getting-in on that trade (Valabik?? What are the B's thinking? We probably could've gotten rid of ****55)

As for the Caps, apparently I didn't miss anything. #4 and #17 did their jobs when called on, and too many more were awol as usual. Finally, it appears GMGM knows he's gotta do something big and his career in DC hangs in the balance. Looking forward to the game tomorrow night...GO CAPS

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 19, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I just will not watch this team with that fat blowhard in charge.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2

Fair enough, so I guess that means we will not see you on here until BB is gone as you will not be watching any games. Have a good one, later.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 3:56 PM | Report abuse

This is not a rebuilding year?

Posted by: JohnWWW | February 19, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I wish Tyler Myers gets his ass smashed into the boards.

Yes, Craps fans, I'm on your side for once.

Posted by: slurpeesarecool | February 19, 2011 3:59 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat - I'm calling shenanigans on this one. My position has never moved, everything I hear is Semin isn't even talked about other than the customary "We'll listen to anything". Rumors come out of Toronto by the minute.

That being said, I'm sure you're hearing the same thing I am in that GMGM is gonna be very active. I'm actually hearing some pretty big stuff on my end. Are you as well?

Posted by: pokerface1208 | February 19, 2011 4:17 PM | Report abuse

hey pokerface,

why don't you apply for a job at this newspaper??

you seem to have more sources than Katie but then again maybe she hasn't thought about paying GMGM's housekeeper.

Posted by: joek443 | February 19, 2011 4:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm actually hearing some pretty big stuff on my end. Are you as well?

Posted by: pokerface1208

Such as....

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

@pokerface

I believe the only reason they are looking at Hemsky would be to replace Semin if he is dealt in another deal.

But yeah very active is an understatement. I expect them to make 2 or 3 trades and some people probably wont be happy with a current roster player or two being moved.

My only bad feeling about it is that two of the trades are tied together and if they cant get the one done than the other wont happen and people will be disappointed.

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"some people probably wont be happy with a current roster player or two being moved.

Such as......

Can you at least name which posters would probably not be happy with the players leaving that may be dealt.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 4:36 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat - I don't see him going. I really don't. It would be against anything I've ever heard. Not that I hear everything but with a player of this magnitude if he was trule being dangled I woulda heard some whisper or something about it. Plus with Kuzzy comin over & Orlov, I just can't see it happenin.

I've always felt that Semin would never be traded because his value to us is more than anybody would give up. Maybe that's changed? I don't know but I would expect a pretty huge return if in fact it ever did happen. Still calling shenanigans tho.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | February 19, 2011 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I wish Tyler Myers gets his ass smashed into the boards.

Yes, Craps fans, I'm on your side for once.

Posted by: slurpeesarecool | February 19, 2011 3:59 PM

Did Crosby whine that the league needs to start taking a hard line on guys who fall down on top of other guys' knees? Did Lemieux threaten to leave the NHL for the non-suspension on Mr. Myers?

Posted by: Hatfield223 | February 19, 2011 4:51 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

I was talking more the general fan base. Obviously if Semin is dealt you'd know who on here wouldnt be happy. The other is the fan base that still insists Matty P can play at this level.

@pokerface

I dont doubt your source and yourself has never heard anything about Semin being moved. From what I have heard as soon as they switched to the more defensive oriented system they were willing to move him if the price is right. Will it happen who knows. I have heard such much in the last day about the Caps and from stuff happening around the league that I am at the point where nothing will shock me

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

Where's Richards? I clearly remember you promising he would be a Capital last night.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 19, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't care if you pull names out of a hat, because that's all the credibility available before any trade is actually made ... but can you please list specific names included in these ideas that you've heard?

I won't hold you to anything, but just "I've heard many ideas" doesn't help the group that's apparently out of the loop.

Posted by: vmidurk | February 19, 2011 4:58 PM | Report abuse

@underpants2

haha, if you think I promised that you are crazy. I just passed a long a rumor from someone else that I said I didnt think was true. Just wanted to give you and idea of how active GMGM is and the type of thing that I think is possible at the end of the day.

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone from outside the DC area know what's going on with the broadcast tomorrow? Looks like NBC has claim to broadcast 4 different games at the same time, and I'm guessing that the Caps-Sabres game won't be shown locally here in LA.

Is this game going to be blacked out on Center Ice? Do I have to search out a feed on the Internet?

Posted by: Hatfield223 | February 19, 2011 5:15 PM | Report abuse

"I was talking more the general fan base. Obviously if Semin is dealt you'd know who on here wouldnt be happy. The other is the fan base that still insists Matty P can play at this level."

@ThePat

Understood. For a second I thought maybe you talking about Laich (the fan base), Alzner (me), or even Erskine (vermontcaps).

I didn't include cstanton because I don't think he likes anybody on the team (maybe Hendricks) and would be happy to see any of the others traded.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

@hatfield

people were asking that same question the other day. Looking at the Directv guide it appears they arent showing the regional broadcasts so you might have to look for internet feed. Maybe that'll change over night though.

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Is this game going to be blacked out on Center Ice? Do I have to search out a feed on the Internet?

Posted by: Hatfield223

The Flyers/Rangers game is the national one of the 3 being broadcast at that time.

The games are not offered on the center ice package either because it would get local people away from watching their local NBC and there are contract provisions with the networks not allowing this. It sucks.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 5:20 PM | Report abuse

hey pokerface,

why don't you apply for a job at this newspaper??

you seem to have more sources than Katie but then again maybe she hasn't thought about paying GMGM's housekeeper.

Posted by: joek443 | February 19, 2011 4:27 PM

It's his scarfmaker who has all the sordid details.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 19, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

I could see them trading Laich and Alzner but havent heard anything specific about them other than the Oilers wanting Alzner for Hemsky.

And I could see something happening there if the Oilers include Smid and we include someone else.

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 5:25 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

I'd be very surprised if the Caps traded either Alzner or Carlson. They are both very talented and young. They have already demonstrated to be capable of being a 1st D pairing, and are only going to improve more with experience.

In addition, the play very together and that chemistry is an important factor as they both seem to be better players when they are playing with each other opposed to playing with other D partners.

Lastly, but also very important, they both are cheap right now. To have talented players who are cheap is very important in the salary cap age.

I find it very unlikely(not impossible) either will be dealt.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

I suppose that one scenario for moving Semin would be that Kuznetsov would fill his role on the second line. I see Kuznetsov as potentially having a game nearly at Semin's level with similar style of play, but with a bit of Ovi's personality. (Not saying he is a hitter like Ovi.) The problem with this scenario is that Kuznetsov presumably won't be ready to fill that role until 2012-13.

Posted by: zmega | February 19, 2011 5:33 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

I know they arent trading Carlson and I agree it is highly unlikely they move Alzner. Smid is also cheap and a former 1st rounder and is apparently available. So that is why I said he'd have to be added.

Posted by: ThePat | February 19, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't want Hemsky, he's soft. Alzner is possibly are best defensive defensemen, you'd have to blow me away with a trade offer to trade him. I'd trade the Sarge and throw in a draft pick before I ever traded Alzner

Posted by: jake81 | February 19, 2011 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Smid is also cheap and a former 1st rounder and is apparently available. So that is why I said he'd have to be added.

Posted by: ThePat

Gotcha

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

They've always shown the four Sunday, 3 pm games on Center Ice in the past. But, they aren't listed in the Guide as of this moment. I see the Classic game on Versus, but that's it.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 19, 2011 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone hear that the alum game in Laurel Maryland that was to take place at the Garden Ice House has been cancelled due to fires in the area.

Link to story:
http://www.tbd.com/blogs/tbd-latest/2011/02/fire-cancels-caps-alumni-charity-game-8751.html

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2011 5:47 PM | Report abuse

sgm: I have Rangers-Flyers at 9:30 am PST on Ch 4 (NBC) tomorrow. Versus has the Classic game at 3 pm PST. I don't see anything else. But, last year, the non "prime" games on Sunday (those not selected for the 12:30 pm ET broadcast) have been on Center Ice.

I don't know if the rules have been changed this year, but we'll find out tomorrow.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 19, 2011 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Assessing our situation.

We have 4 good young defensemen: Carlson, Alzner, Green, and Schultz. We also have Hannan and injury prone Poti. After that, our depth is less than optimal. Trading Schultz would essentially put us back defensively where we were before making the Hannan trade -- i.e. very thin there. I would probably rate Schultz ahead of Hannan due to the former's younger age in spite of this year not being a good year for Schultz. For the record, I praised the Hannan trade and thought it was what we needed.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I think the only players that should be off limits are OV, Backstrom, Johansson, Carlson, and Alzner. That's MY list. Carlson and Alzner remind me of Keith and Seabrook in terms of developing together. Other than that, if you get return then adios. I would also include Eakin, Holtby, and Kuznetsov as the prospects I would be hesitant to trade. I would rather trade one Varly or Neuvy than Holtby, but I certainly wouldn't be able to quantify why I feel that.

I think GMGM does well identifying talent and build a solid program, but I am not sure he is risky enough to try that sell some of the future move to win it all, like he is content being good, which we all know is the enemy of great.

I find this to be strange because I think he can be more free with the talent we have already because he does a good job replenishing in the draft.

Also I am not saying we should rebuild the team, just that those are the only guys who probably shouldn't be traded.

Posted by: SFcapsfan | February 19, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone hear that the alum game in Laurel Maryland that was to take place at the Garden Ice House has been cancelled due to fires in the area.
--------------------------------------

So that's why Rt. 29 is jam-packed with bumper to bumper traffic just now, I was just wondering why it looked like evening rush hour on a saturday afternoon... I see that 95 is closed in both directions.

Posted by: joek443 | February 19, 2011 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if the rules have been changed this year, but we'll find out tomorrow.

Posted by: tominsocal1

Hey, I hope you are right.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 19, 2011 6:00 PM | Report abuse

I find this to be strange because I think he can be more free with the talent we have already because he does a good job replenishing in the draft.
----------------------------------------------------

It's simple, he's afraid to make a mistake and lose his job in the process.

He figures as long as the team keeps making the playoffs, his job is safe.

Posted by: joek443 | February 19, 2011 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I hate every single one of you people. Discuss.

@ hobojew

WOW dude,......ease up! Tell us a little bit about your snipers nest.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 19, 2011 6:13 PM | Report abuse

How upset would you all be if Gonchar ended up in a Caps uniform next week. It could happen.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 19, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Here are your blockbuster moves!!

Semin + 1st + 4th + B.Gordon -> Staal + Callahan + Boyle

Holtby + Schultz + 2nd + Steckel -> Zajac + Hedberg + Urbom

Knuble + Neuvirth + Perreault + Chimera + 3rd -> Sharp + Brouwer + Leddy

Erskine for a 5th
Poti for a 4th

Then this could be us next year!

Ovi-Backs-Sharp (9,538-6,7-3,9)
Callahan-Zajac-Fehr (3,0*-3,887-2,2)
Brouwer-Johansson-Laich (2,4*-0,9-2,6*)
Bradley-Boyle-Hendricks (1,0*-0,6*-0,65*)
Beagle (0,512)

Staal-Green (3,975-5,25)
Alzner-Carlson (1,6*-0,845)
Hannan-Orlov/Leddy (3,5*-0,9*/1,116)
Cheap 7th D-man (0,500)

Varlamov-Hedberg (1,8*-1,4*)

We don't really need our picks for one year. We would have Eakin, Kuznetsov, Urbom (big s@h D-man) and one of Orlov/Leddy as prospects.

The numbers with a * are estimations of what their new contract would be at. I'm no expert, but i don't think they're totally unreasonable.

@Tominsocal - I would call you the expert on numbers and estimations, are the trades/salarys realistic?

Posted by: Walle | February 19, 2011 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Folks. Lets be honest this team is slightly above average. Keep your expectations low and then we can be pleasantly surprised if we say win a playoff series. I would not count on it. the team needs to mature and grow. they will be good someday just not today. No reason Mcphee should trade all of our prospects and young talent for one year. Maybe you trade a draft pick and someone like Semin. Other than that leave the team alone. Great young prospects coming aboard soon.

Posted by: pkme | February 19, 2011 6:19 PM | Report abuse

And another thing MJ is going to be a great centerman. There is no doubt in my mind. He is 19 years old and seems to have more hockey sense than most that have been playing the game much longer. His skating ability, positional game, shot, stick handling and defensive skills are off the charts. Upside on him is immense. All those being critical of him really and I hate to say this need to watch more hockey and learn the game.

Posted by: pkme | February 19, 2011 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Look at the bright side gang. It won't be long before you'll be cheering for Caps like Cody Eakin, Dmitri Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Don't be surprised if we see Eakin as early as next season. That still won't solve our immediate need for a top second line center unless MaJo makes a big step up. That's not completely nuts. He's made huge strides this season.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 19, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

@ pkme

Good hockey sense here. You have the right idea. This is overall a very young team with bright prospects on the horizon. It's only going to get better. This is a terrific time to be a Caps fan. There have been some rough times in the not too distant past.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 19, 2011 6:41 PM | Report abuse

What's everyone think of Phil Kessel? Apparently he's available.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 19, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Got to be honest. I would be sad if the Caps traded Semin. I still to the disdain of others think he is a rare talent who is a mystery at times. I like him very much as a player and I think people pile on him a little too much. 40 goal scores do not grow on trees. He also is a very good special teams player in both directions. I would rather us sell some draft picks next year to get what we need. A 1st and a third pick. We have some great young propects coming up and I keep hearing the hockey pundits say next year is not a banner year. Although you never know.

Posted by: pkme | February 19, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

2011 draft not like a 2003 year. Of course 2003 is probably one of the great drafts in hockey history.

Posted by: pkme | February 19, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

pkme +2

Now, BB on the other hand .....

Posted by: tslats | February 19, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Then of course there are the Cap issues. The Caps would not move Green Backstrom or OVI. Odd man out would be Semin Unfortunately. Frankly in the first 7 weeks Semin was the best Capital until he got hurt.

Posted by: pkme | February 19, 2011 7:06 PM | Report abuse

I would rather see us move POTI and Fehr. Unlikely we could get any takers on POTI. Others on here stated what a bad contract the POTI deal was and now I agree. Not as bad a Nylander or Jagr but nevertheless still a major mistake on GMGM. Because you now have to get rid of a higher producing player and you gave an injury prone defenseman almost 4 million.

Posted by: pkme | February 19, 2011 7:10 PM | Report abuse

@Cayugalaker

Amazed nobody's proposed trading Semin for him yet as seems to happen every time any good player's on the market, which was the case when Pronger, Kovalchuk, Heatley, and countless other players went on the market.

I'm being snarky here, of course.

Seriously, I don't think he's what the Caps need at the moment, given that he has a 5.4 Million cap hit until 2013-2014 which would make it problematic to move him if he didn't work out. He was a center earlier in life but is now a winger. He's relatively young, which is in his favor.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Fabulous News!! I just printed Coupons for free. You can print coupons before you shop at "Printapons" search online.

Posted by: lorijwilson | February 20, 2011 2:58 AM | Report abuse

Who is the only trade deadline center who ever got us to the 2nd round of the playoffs?

Posted by: Tikkanen08 | February 20, 2011 4:54 AM | Report abuse

ok wait there are two.

Posted by: Tikkanen08 | February 20, 2011 5:17 AM | Report abuse

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