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Caps 4, Bruins 1

That was about as good a team performance as you're going to see from the Caps. But one player garnered the majority of the praise in the visitors' dressing room after tonight's 4-1 win at TD Garden.

Goaltender Jose Theodore had waited five months for the chance to redeem himself. And when the opportunity presented itself tonight, he delivered.

The veteran goalie wasn't tested much late, but several players said he was the key to Washington withstanding an early push from the powerful Bruins. Theodore made 10 stops in the first period, including six in the opening 7:51, to allow his teammates enough time to steady themselves and earn their first victory in regulation in Boston since Dec. 2000, a span of 15 games.

"The power play was good, but Jose Theodore, I thought, was excellent tonight," Brooks Laich said. "We are so happy for him. He played so well. In the first 10 minutes, he held us in there and was a key to victory tonight."

Theodore's performance -- while it was only one game -- also let rookie Semyon Varlamov know that he's not going to concede the No. 1 job easily.

Now on to the notes and quotes:

*Theodore on his 19-save performance: "Let's just say I was anxious to get back on the ice. I was ready in the preseason, solid, really focused. They had a couple of shots early and I was seeing the puck well and making a lot of saves comfortably by being in good position. The first period was the key."

*Boudreau on the win: "If you could bottle that game up, we would take it every time. We weathered the first six minutes because we knew they were going to come out [strong]. After that, we played really, really well."

*Boudreau on Theodore: "I'm really happy for Jose because he's been a much-maligned goaltender. When our defense is playing as well as it did and forwards are coming back as well as they did, and he made the saves at the right time, boy it looks easy."

*Alex Ovechkin got off to a very MVP-like start. He had two goals and an assist, finished with five shots on goal, was credited with three hits and, of course, earned the No.1 star of the game.

*The high risk, high-reward line of Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Semin was mostly high-reward tonight, at even strength and on the power play. Backstrom finished with three assists and Semin had a pair. When they are on, there simply isn't a line in hockey that is more fun to watch.

"They feel comfortable together right now and it works right now, but it's not necessarily for them," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "It makes the rest of the lines work, so you're not mixing and matching lines in different situations [especially on the power play]. It makes it easier to just roll lines."

*Laich also had a night to remember, adding an assist to go with his two power-play goals. Mike Knuble received a lot of press this summer because his ability to crash the net gives the Caps exactly what they didn't get -- at least consistently -- last season. Well, Laich had something to say about that tonight. Both of his goals came within a few feet of the net.

*Speaking of Knuble, he didn't seem quite as noticeable/effective skating on the second line with Brendan Morrison and Laich.

*The penalty kill was also solid, eliminating all five shorthanded situations the Caps faced. Some of that, though, was the fact that the Bruins' Marc Savard and Marco Sturm-led power play struggled badly. In fact, it mustered only one shot.

*The Caps won 61 percent of their faceoffs, led by Boyd Gordon (five of seven) and Morrison (eight of 11). Morrison had an otherwise quiet night on the scoresheet in his Caps debut.

*Mike Green had a good game after a rocky opening first few minutes. He logged a team-high 24:12 of ice time and took four shots.

That's it for now. I'll check in from tomorrow's 11 a.m. practice at KCI.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 1, 2009; 11:21 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning Links: Not a Bad Start to the Season

Comments

Knuble played a good game. Morrison was probably the weakest of that line, but they all played well. We are going to have to get used to his penalties though I guess, he takes a lot of minors.

Theodore was solid all game.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 1, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

I actually thought Morrison played pretty well for the most part. They highlighted a defensive mistake he made early in the game but I didn't see him do much else wrong. In addition to winning a good share of faceoffs, he made some nice moves and clever passes. He looked pretty quick out there, too. I also saw him putting in good effort on the backcheck.

Steckel's misplay was the only thing that kept Theo from getting himself a shutout.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 1, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

yeah
i still dont know what to expect from morrison...i didnt feel like any of the penalties were egregious on our part...from anyone (maybe the erskine stick grab...maybe), just some home team calls in the sense there was nothing the caps were called for that the bruins werent also doing...

also, OV destroyed Chara...highlight of my life, bs that he was "sticking up for" recchi, he was pissed OV just toppled him earlier in the shift...

Caps continue to own the B's, AWESOME

Posted by: cotelloer | October 1, 2009 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, i was referring to the crosscheck penalty they gave Chara at the end of the 2nd period that i still have not seen video of, in which chara was retaliating for a borderline late hit from OV on recchi

Posted by: cotelloer | October 1, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

The most shocking stat to me was the ZERO GIVEAWAYS.

That's hard for any team to do but particularly the Caps over the past several years.

I don't know how Steckel's misplay wasn't considered a giveaway though. Anybody know exactly how giveaways are determined?

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 1, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Great game. Theo was solid. Ovie was simply Ovie. Laich provided some great secondary scoring. If he's on the PP with Ovie and Baks all season he's going to score 30+.

Of course we know BB loves to juggle his lines so we won't be seeing these top 2 combos all season. I have to say they aren't my favorite. OV/Semin are better apart, and Knuble/Morrison don't have enough speed to be paired together long term. I thought at times they looked like they didn't quite know where the other wanted to go. Kinda couldn't stay out of each others way.

D played pretty well. Erskine answered the bell and held his own.

Great start against a tough opponent. Rest up for the improved Leafs on Sat.

Let's go Caps!

Posted by: RicketyCricket | October 1, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

That was a very encouraging performance. If the Caps can play at a level resembling this evening throughout the season then this will be a very good year.

Posted by: croftonpost | October 1, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

@cotelloer,

I thought a few of our penalties were pretty unnecessary. The Green trip when we were on the PP, the Knuble highstick and the Erskine stick hold when the Bruins had no pressure were all bad penalties. The Jurcina penatly was more excusable, in my opinion, because it was in the defensive zone and the Bruin would have beaten him and been in on the goalie without the hold. I thought the call at the end on Ovechkin was simply a bad call. The Bruin defender bumped him right into Thomas. He was off balance and couldn't do anything more to avoid making contact.

The Bruins had their share of dumb penalties, too, but it's early in the season so it's probably expected to some extent. A lot of players are rusty.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 1, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

I didn't mean to imply Morrison played bad, he just had the more glaring mistakes out of the 2nd liners. They still had a solid performance, minus the Knuble high stick.

Big ups to our Penalty Kill tonight.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 1, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

@RicketCricket

I saw a couple of plays where Knuble and Morrison weren't on the same page but given their history and experience, I expect that to be cleaned up if they play together more often.

I also didn't think Morrison looked slow at all, particularly early. He may faded later in the game. Knuble was never known for his speed. He is slow but speed isn't his game. He's a net presence who brings grit, strength, intelligence, experience, etc... and he seems to be strong along the boards.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 1, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Again, does anybody know the exact criteria used to determine a giveaway?

I ask because if that Steckel turnover wasn't a giveaway I don't know what is.

I've watched hockey for decades but as a kid, I never paid attention to those aspects of the game. I've also never played.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 1, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

@Fro_ - from several posts ago: I confirmed the pronunciation of Yaroslavl as YAH-roe-Slav-il.

@tmac2yao - I do not, but I will ask on the NHLOA BBoards and see what I can find out for an answer. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | October 2, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

I know it seems like a "duh" question but I often see plays that I think are clear cut giveaways that never end up in the box scores.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 2, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

In Bruce I trust!!!! Great start, keep it up boys! LETS GO CAPS!

Posted by: mrszilla | October 2, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao - I'm not sure what to call that Steckel turnover... other than a big hairy "Oooops!" - and the only major one of its kind all evening. The only thing in the play-by-play was that Boston won the faceoff and then the goal happened. That seems very strange, because that's not what I recall happening...

Boston was credited with 2 takeaways (KREJCI and RYDER) and 6 giveaways (WIDEMAN, LUCIC, WHEELER, KREJCI, HUNWICK, and SAVARD). We were credited with 0 giveaways and 7 takeaways (POTI, BACKSTROM, KNUBLE, SEMIN, STECKEL x2, GREEN).

Unfortunately, the play-by-play only lists who did the giveaway/takeaway and not who ended up with the puck when all was said and done, which I find a bit odd... The giveaways that Boston had do not match up with the takeaways we had, so it's definitely two different things...

The definitions I've found would equate a giveaway to a fumble or interception in football, where the player on the attacking team is at-fault for what happened.

A takeaway is likened to a steal, being stripped of the ball by a defender, etc. where the player on the defending team's actions cause the ball (puck) to change hands.

Posted by: irockthered | October 2, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

@irockthered

I came across similar definitions once when I looked it up but like you said, it's pretty apparent that a giveaway can happen independently from a takeaway and vice versa.

My guess is that Steckel was never considered to have possession of the puck even though he tried to make that crossing pass. Maybe you have to make a definitive move with the puck before turning it over in order for it to be considered a giveaway. I'm really not sure.

I also wonder what the exact criteria is for a takeaway for that matter.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 2, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

tmac: what IRTR said. I can make a giveaway without you scoring a takeaway. Further, 39 may not have been judged to have control of the puck, therefore no takeaway and/or giveaway. Finally, it varies from rink to rink what counts as what--shots, takeaways, goalie interference (ahem) all tallied by pesky humans.
Backstrom scores a lot of unmistakeable takeaways. At least, according to me....

Posted by: redlineblue | October 2, 2009 12:43 AM | Report abuse

I like seeing the Ovie/Back/Semin line click from time to time...because it's a nice weapon to be able to go to. Still like the balance more most nights putting Knuble on top line and moving Semin to 2nd line.

I liked the way Brendan Morrison played tonight, nothing flashy and a few miscues but he definitely had some jump in his skates and showed off some of the play-making skills I want to see out of a guy trying to lock down the 2nd line center spot. He also didn't circle once to my knowledge.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 2, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. Also, not sure how many Of Montreal fans read this blog, but has anyone noticed the striking similarity between BMo and Kevin Barnes? Judge for yourself:

http://youaintnopicasso.com/images/KB031501.jpg

http://media.canada.com/a4b09470-31fe-420a-9bdc-9348816409b7/prv0406scanucks18.jpg

Posted by: theponz | October 2, 2009 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, i was referring to the crosscheck penalty they gave Chara at the end of the 2nd period that i still have not seen video of, in which chara was retaliating for a borderline late hit from OV on recchi

Posted by: cotelloer | October 1, 2009 11:45 PM

Doesn't have the aftermath with Chara but http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzJUi2Ezrlg

Posted by: Raber | October 2, 2009 3:48 AM | Report abuse

great game! does anyone have a link of the OV/Chara hit (not the cross check but the first one)?

Posted by: CapsSkins | October 2, 2009 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Once the score hit 4-0, it was obvious that we were desperately missing Michael Nylander.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 2, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse

I forget who I was rapping with about the Lucic or Ovie comparison, but based on Ovie's 2nd goal (check out the vid if possble), I guess it's time ot move on to another discussion.

Do we need Sugden on Saturday to minimize Orr? I;m not sure if Orr's role is strictly enforcer or if he can play some hockey too- anyone?

Posted by: Fro_ | October 2, 2009 7:17 AM | Report abuse

That was the kind of play I feel this team is capable of. The first few minutes they were a bit off, but when they got it together it was nice. The passes between Ovie-Backstrom-Semin were amazing, it is like they just sense each other! I hope we can keep this up, I don't want our home opener to go the same as Boston's! Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: NatyBG | October 2, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Great game, team was solid defensively save for a couple bonehead plays by Erskine but overall solid. Theo was on his game which was good to see and Backstrom is on pace for 240 assists this year!! Just kidding, but that line sure is fun to watch when they are on.

Posted by: PhilR | October 2, 2009 7:57 AM | Report abuse

@NatyBG

I dont think they were off...The gameplan in a game like that is stand up the rush that you knew would come..the Bruins wanted to get on top to get the building going, and get the momentum..

We took away the home advantage early, and had the chance to get settled into the game..

I thought Theo was solid early, and helped smooth things out..

Posted by: SA-Town | October 2, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

The only word that comes to mind is WOW. I was hoping for a good showing, maybe pull a point, or an OT win, but to cruuuuise in the 3rd. Impressive. Please take note of the absence of Cheef, LarryDavid, StanleyCup1907, and all the other boneheads that launch zingers when the Caps have an off night. The first loss Cheef will be in here saying things like "there are the Caps we know." There absence in times like these is what leads me to believe that they aren't longtime fans that have become disgruntled, even disgruntled fans crack a smile when the boys play like they did last night. Verizon should be a blast tomorrow night.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 2, 2009 8:13 AM | Report abuse

@fanohock1

Cheef folds like a French Soldier after wins....

He only sings when we're losing...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 2, 2009 8:28 AM | Report abuse

The 2nd line looked a bit disorganized last night. Like they didn't have a feel for what the other guys were going to do and either got bunched up or just didn't know where each other were going to be. They haven't played together much so maybe they will start playing better together. But they put up very little offensive pressure. Thought Clark played better than I've seen him in a long time.

Posted by: Stu_c | October 2, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao - It may take a few days, but I have asked the NHL Officials' Association bulletin board to define what criteria they are looking for in crediting a giveaway vs. a takeaway. As soon as I have a response, I will post it.

The game summary has that as Boston winning the faceoff, rather than any sort of giveaway/takeaway, which, IMO is a bit ... odd ... but it's really just an academic question at this point, and I'm rules geeky enough to want to know myself. :-)

Posted by: irockthered | October 2, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

@Stu_c: I have to agree from an offensive standpoint. However, as far as working along the boards and getting the puck out of the defensive zone IMO they did a great job. If they stay together, and work together, the offensive side will work out soon. They did have some opportunities though. I remember at even strenght Knuble in the slot, creating a screen for a couple shots from the point on the same rush.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 2, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

The passing on OV's 2nd period goal was just sick. Interesting that Alex was the last guy into the zone. Perhaps this strategy should be tried more often. When you do this, the D is already tied up and Alex is somewhat invisible. In contrast, during the playoffs last year, there were so many times Alex was leading the rush, trying to get thru three guys (& yeah he can do it), but it would result in one shot and the opposing team gets the puck.

Posted by: KlayKey | October 2, 2009 8:51 AM | Report abuse

@PhilR - I only saw one really boneheaded play by Erskine - the holding the stick penalty - and he was without his own stick at the time. What else did you see?

Posted by: irockthered | October 2, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Also, I mentioned it between the 2nd and 3rd last night. Do any of you notice the Caps blocking more shots and passes? They are doing a great job getting in the shooting and passing lanes. I noticed that in the preseason games I saw too. I wonder if that is something Woods brought to the table?

Also, even though it was the 1st game of the season there were guys sacrificing their body to beat Bruins to the puck which lead to easy exits from the zone. I remember one distinctly where Jurcina reached out below our goal line to one hand poke the puck to another Cap who got it out of the zone without much more pressure. Jurcina was trashed, legally, and knew he would but was willing to take the big hit. I guess that's what having two healthy "D" scratches will do to players. Green and Pothier got better and better as the game went on. Although he played physical, I thought Erskine was the weakest "D" and if anyone sits tomorrow it'll probably be him.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 2, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

More good news. After a opening nite victory with a solid performance , we wont see the likes of Cheef , LarryDavid for a few days now. His Mom wont let him out of the basement after the Caps win.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | October 2, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

He got turned around once and it allowed a good scoring opportunity by Sturm I think...it was just a couple, the holding the stick and that particular play that I noticed he was caught flatfooted and left Theo with a very difficult save.....it was in the first ten minutes of the game, thank god Theo was on his game. Other than that strong defensive game all around save the breakaway in the third.

Posted by: PhilR | October 2, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

@Fro: Do we need Sugden on Saturday to minimize Orr? I'm not sure if Orr's role is strictly enforcer or if he can play some hockey too- anyone?
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I was thinking the same thing too, Fro. Orr's pretty much just an enforcer. Last year with the Rangers he potted 1 goal for the season and was a -15.

But besides Orr, there were 3 fights with three different guys in the Leaf's game last night with the Habs. Looks like it's their plan of action for the season (though unsuccessful for the first night). If Saturday's starts to become a Caps blowout, I'd be leary keeping my star players out there.


Posted by: bagace | October 2, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

The thing that has me stumped is how the Caps managed to put a game like that together without Chris Bourque.

Posted by: TheLeaver | October 2, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

where is my daily dose of crack aka MRL?

Posted by: Bagher | October 2, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Why is Brooks an after thought. Ovie has an MVP night w 2 goals and an assist, but Brooks night is just a night to remember w 2 goals and an assist. He started the team scoring for the season. Give Brooks more credit.

Posted by: Varly | October 2, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Great game and a nice win by the boys. Semin still trying get the highlight reel goal. The guy has one of the best wrist shots and tries to toe drag around people. I'm nitpicking but I'd like to see him shoot more when he has the chance.

I love Backs. He is quickly becoming one of the best passers in the league.

Posted by: Moose33 | October 2, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Semin's pass to Ovi was simply beautiful. What a play!

Brooks is going to have a good year knubling in goals.

I think Erskine sits tomorrow in favor of Sarge. With 8 D a little healthy competition will be nice.

Speaking of which, Varly knows he's gotta be great.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 2, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Erskine sits?

Have you seen the Leafs lineup? It's a goonfest.

Erskine will be out there...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 2, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

they probably need to keep erskine in saturday to add toughness cause you know orr will be running around. either that or call up sugden.

from what i saw (thanks vs and directv) erskine played well. looks like on the holding the stick call, he may have thought he was grabbing his own stick cause he had dropped it just before the play.

i agree that he will need to be rotated w/ schultz.

how did clarke look?

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 2, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Great game last night! What a way to start the season. Now I'm even more excited for Saturday, and I was pretty darn excited already. Let's go Caps!!

Posted by: hillg | October 2, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Because of the physical nature of the Leafs, I think Erskine plays tomorrow night. If there is a switch out, I think the one that comes out is Jurcina for Schultz.

Posted by: _Mark | October 2, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Did anybody else notice that Jurcina was everywhere and played really solid last night?

Posted by: GetOffMyBackstrom | October 2, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

i thought the D played very well, the only thing i would switch against the leafs would be sloan in for pothier. I think is a bit more physical.

I didn't even really notice boyd kane on the ice so i can see switch sugden with kane against a team like the leafs

Posted by: _stevo | October 2, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

The OV/Backs/Semin line is a monster line and in my opinion should stay together. Someone else said it, and I agree, it is like they sense each other. Semin's quick and accurate passes demands partners like OV and Baks, players that can take advantage of his play. This guy has more talent that anyone else in this team barring none.

@moose
I do agree you are nitpicking, the toe and drag is just one of the weapons that Semin has in his arsenal and sometimes it doesn't work or is defended well, but heck we can nitpick every player starting with OV.

Posted by: hock1 | October 2, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

oh, yeah, I forgot:
GO CAPS!!!

They will have their up and downs and at times I will be one to opine and disagree with what they are doing but they are still my favorite team. It is so nice to root for a good team.

Posted by: hock1 | October 2, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

_stevo,
That is a good call on Sloan for Pots as well. A little bit if flexibility on D is good.

Posted by: _Mark | October 2, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I thought Pothier was one of our best defensemen last night. It doesn't matter that he isn't the biggest guy. He is the puck-carrying "D" in his pairing and the Caps had a lot of simple breakouts because he carried the puck, with his head up. Pothier won't sit, the Bruins are considered just as tough, if not more tough, of a team as the Leafs. Pothier had a friggin' BEA utiful hipcheck last night too.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 2, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I was delighted with last night's outcome. D was more solid than ever, and OMG that power play! Good work by Theo. Needs to work a little on the rebound control, but still a good game.

I don't think TEB meant to disrespect Brooksie.

It's just that if you asked most people at the beginning of the game:

"Who do you think is most likely to a) score the first Caps goal of the new season or b) score two goals on opening night?"

...the most likely answers given for both of those questions would be: a player named Alex, Nick or Mike.

If this is indicative of OV's pace for the season and he stays healthy, I could see him potting 70 this year.

You heard it here first, folks: Ovechkin. 70 Goals in 2009-2010. Seventy.

...How 'bout them Flames (my second-favorite team after the Caps)? They opened quite a can of whup-@$$ against Vancouver--the dark-horse pick to win the Western Conference...

...Who would have guessed that Colorado--of all teams--would thump the mighty Sharks?

...and what Leafs/Habs contest would be complete without multiple fights? You think the Caps/Pens feud is ancient; we've got nothing on these guys. It's almost an unwritten NHL rule that whenever Toronto and Montreal meet, fisticuffs are de riguer!

All in all it bodes for an interesting season.

CAPS ALL THE WAY!

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 2, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Pothier had a friggin' BEA utiful hipcheck last night too.

Posted by: fanohock1 | October 2, 2009 10:42 AM


@fanohock1: did anybody happen to see just who it was Pothier leveled with that hipcheck? I saw the check, but no the number. I SOOOOO hope it was Lucic ( = payback).

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 2, 2009 11:11 AM | Report abuse

the pothier hipcheck was i believe on byron bitz

Posted by: _stevo | October 2, 2009 11:13 AM | Report abuse

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