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Caps 4, Devils 1

A lot has been made of the Caps beating up on the lowly Southeast Division. And that's true. But over the past two games, they've also shown they're capable of posting dominant wins against the other Eastern Conference divisions, too.

On Wednesday, they handed Ryan Miller and the Northeast Division-leading Sabres a 5-2 loss. Tonight, they thumped Martin Brodeur and the Atlantic Division-best Devils 4-1 to reclaim the top spot in the NHL standings.

That's quite a statement.

Check out my Michal Neuvirth-focused gamer here and my sidebar on Alexander Semin's contract extension here. Then come on back for a few notes and quotes that didn't make the paper.

*How about that top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Semin? Watching that trio when they're on top of their game never gets old. They combined for three of the four goals and were led by Backstrom's three point night. He now has 11 goals and 11 assists in the last 13 games.

With his assist on Ovechkin's first period goal, Backstrom recorded point No. 200 for his career. Only 11 players have recorded 200 points since 2007-08.

"We have good chemistry out there and we scored on our chances," Backstrom said.

Ovechkin, meanwhile, moved one goal behind Marian Gaborik for the NHL lead, despite missing eight games because of injury and suspension. The two-time MVP is also just four points behind Joe Thornton in the points race.

Ovechkin already leads the league in plus minus at plus-21.

"We understand each other a lot and you can see how we control the puck in the offensive zone and we feel pretty good and nobody can stop us," Ovechkin said of the top line's performance tonight.

*During his three game winning streak, Neuvirth has a 1.67 goals against average and a .946 save percentage.

*Martin Brodeur on the loss: "These guys had 40 shos on net. They're explosive offensively. When you give that kind of a team that many good scoring chances, with that talent, they'll put the puck in the net."

*David Steckel earned the third star of the game for an all around effort. He won 15 of 21 faceoffs, notched an assist and just seemed to be around the puck all night. He also took five shots, which was tied for the team lead (with Ovechkin and Semin).

*I saw Tom Poti as he left the building tonight. He wouldn't tell me what was wrong with him, and he also wouldn't commit to practicing tomorrow. "We'll see," is all he would say.

That's it from me. Practice tomorrow is at 11.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 27, 2009; 12:08 AM ET
 
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Next: Backstrom named to Team Sweden

Comments

GREAT GAME!!!
GO NEUVY!!!
GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: wtf_e_fehr | December 27, 2009 12:36 AM | Report abuse

@wtf_e_fehr

The "New" kid on the block once again proved his "virth" at goal. Nice game, Neuvy! (I keep wanting to type "Neuby")

I hope Varly gets well soon. I miss him. But glad both of the kids are developing nicely at goal.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 27, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

TOM POTI'S BEEN TRADED..........you heard it here first. :)

Posted by: Beltwayman2 | December 27, 2009 2:26 AM | Report abuse

tom traded? please explain/elaborate

Posted by: welcome2theiceage | December 27, 2009 3:46 AM | Report abuse

Wishful thinking?

TOM POTI'S BEEN TRADED..........you heard it here first. :)

Posted by: Beltwayman2 | December 27, 2009 2:26 AM

Posted by: C-way | December 27, 2009 6:36 AM | Report abuse

I guess we know where Theo's head is now. Small quote that speaks volumes. What a shame!

Posted by: WCAPS1 | December 27, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like Poti has an injury.. strange.

WCAPS1: Yeah... was suprised to hear Theo's comments about BB's decision to start Neuvy. I know he's competitive and wants to play but I don't think he needs to announce that. He should understand that Neuvy is going to be sent down soon and BB wants to see him play against good teams as much as he can. It's not about him, it's about the team. I actually wish BB could change his mind and start Neuvy on Monday since the team is on a roll with him. But I guess not.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 27, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

Tom Poti being traded solves the issue of not being to sign all of our key FA's withing the salary cap. If his cap number is removed, then Semin, Flash, Fehr, Schultz, Steckel and maybe even B.Mo can fit under the cap of $56.8M.

Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

TOM POTI'S BEEN TRADED..........you heard it here first. :)

Posted by: Beltwayman2 | December 27, 2009 2:26 AM |

That's a very interesting theory, and it wouldn't shock me if you're right. You know GMGM has been mulling over all kinds of personnel moves he could make once the Nyls situation was resolved, and you know we aren't going to keep carrying 9 defensemen. I like Poti, and I'm sure there are other NHL teams that would like to have him. (I personally would rather see Gordon traded, but I don't know how marketable he is right now with his back problems.)

As far as personnel moves go, I'm thrilled that we have Semin for another year, and I hope a long-term deal is in the works. I'd like to see the OBS line together (or at least on the same team) for many years to come. $6 million well spent!

Terrific win last night, and I can't wait for Monday's game!

Posted by: wocoliz | December 27, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Salary Cap $56,800,000
Washington Capitals 2010/2011
Ovechkin $9.540M
Backstrom $6.0M projected
Semin $6.0M
Flash $3.5M projected
B.Mo $3.0M projected
Knuble $2.5M
Laich $2.067M
Perreault $717K
Fehr $2.0M projected
Laing $600K projected
Steckel $1.25M projected
Clark $2.633M
Bradley $1.0M
Beagle $800K projected

Green $5.25M
Schultz $1.75M projected
Alzner $1.675M
Erskine $1.25M
Carlson $875K
Sloan $600K

Varlamov $822K
Neuvirth $822K

22 players @ $54,948,463.00

Leftover = $1,851,537.00

Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Heres a hypothectical question. If for some reason the Salary Cap would become an issue again could management ask Ovie or Ovie request to have his salary restructed to help ease any problems?

Posted by: washingtoncapitals | December 27, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

@washcap

I believe that under the current collective bargaining agreement that salary restructuring is not allowed. So, no, he wouldn't be able too...

Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

JSchon: Only change I'd make on your cap prognosis is Backie will likely be a higher figure if it's a multi-year deal.

If Poti being traded keeps BMo in the mix for two more years, until Johansson is ready, it could be a big deal.

I see you have Flash up to $3.5. Everytime we watch him play, we raise the number. That plus every comparable makes threes and fours.

No, to answer the question, the CBA forbids the restructuring of contracts, once signed. And you can't even do an extension until the contract has less than one year to go.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 27, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Oh, Knuble is 2.8.

Posted by: tominfl1 | December 27, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Ooops, but the numbers are the same... just one typo...

Salary Cap $56,800,000
Washington Capitals 2010/2011
Ovechkin $9.540M
Backstrom $6.0M projected
Semin $6.0M
Flash $3.5M projected
B.Mo $3.0M projected
Knuble $2.8M
Laich $2.067M
Perreault $717K
Fehr $2.0M projected
Laing $600K projected
Steckel $1.25M projected
Clark $2.633M
Bradley $1.0M
Beagle $800K projected

Green $5.25M
Schultz $1.75M projected
Alzner $1.675M
Erskine $1.25M
Carlson $875K
Sloan $600K projected

Varlamov $822K
Neuvirth $822K

22 players @ $54,948,463.00

Leftover = $1,851,537.00

BTW, Laich was less than impressive at C last night. He needs to be a winger.

Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

BTW, Laich was less than impressive at C last night. He needs to be a winger.


Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

True, his game last night was off, but I thought he played a terrific game at C against the Sabres and pretty darned good the game before.

Three games, three impressive wins. I'm not all that eager to move him back.

Posted by: Sonyask | December 27, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Laich as a third line center his first reponsibility is defense first.

his offensive production will go down but if he can fill that role, I'd keep him there.

Jordon Staal could be a second line center for just about every team in the NHL expept the Pens, could be a number one center for some but he does his job for the Pens.

Posted by: joek443 | December 27, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

@sonyask

Laich has 1 assist in 3 games, it was on the PP. I appreciate Laich for all that he does, but I've seen this book before (Laich @ C), its not very interesting, very little imagination...

Now the other book, Brooks @ LW, very interesting, lots of action...

Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

As far as personnel moves go, I'm thrilled that we have Semin for another year, and I hope a long-term deal is in the works. I'd like to see the OBS line together (or at least on the same team) for many years to come. $6 million well spent!

Terrific win last night, and I can't wait for Monday's game!

Posted by: wocoliz | December 27, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

***************************************
Recommend that the top line be known as the SOB line, rather than OBS line. I am quite sure that our opponents will appreciate the connotations.

Posted by: crooks_c | December 27, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

The Penguins do not have the wingers we do. They are loaded down the middle and we are loaded on the wings...

The 3rd line for us this year has been producing, that can not be denied.

It isn't now. Talented wingers need talented centers.

Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I hear you @JSchon. From the seats against the Sabres, though, Brooks' game looked inspired. I would expect his numbers mught go down, but he's just one piece of the puzzle.

I'm curious how Gordo's going to look in this rejuvunated team. Spare part or supercharged?

Posted by: Sonyask | December 27, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

that's why the Pens will always beat the Caps unless something changes... center icemen are ALWAYS more important than wingers.

Gretzky, Lemieux, Yzerman, Messier, Sakic... what do these guys all have in common besides they're Canadian? they're all centers who won multiple Cups.

Posted by: joek443 | December 27, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Thats is why I advocate bringing in a rental 3rd line center at the deadline and not a break the budget Neidermeyer.

Saku Koivu is my choice.

Posted by: JSchon | December 27, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

JSchon:
I could only see bringing in another forward if he is gritty and/or relatively defensive. The Caps are so strong offensively that there is just not much of a need there. If they need help anywhere it is on D, but even that has gotten better. Although I still think the Caps' young defensive corps could benefit from the influence of a veteran blueliner (i.e. even more for the mentoring that he could bring than his actual on-ice presence, but that wouldn't hurt either!).

Posted by: --Boo-- | December 27, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

joek443, I respectfully disagree with you, to a point. All those guys had some darn good wingers around them. Gretzky and Messier had Kurri and Tikannen (sorry about the spelling). Lemieux had Stevens and Jagr. Yzerman had Kozlov and Shanahan. Sakic had Tanguay and Hejduk. So while I do agree that Center is important, they also do have to have some help. You could point to Malkin and Crosby both being centers, but they throw Malkin on the wing at times to bump up their offense.

The key is more to just be a deep team. Considering how much offense we put up, I don't know that we really need to tinker with who we have at forward.

Although I do have to say, and this plays into your point, when Backstrom is scoring goals like he has been, our offense gets to another level of scary.

Posted by: Capcrazy77 | December 27, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

TOM POTI'S BEEN TRADED..........you heard it here first. :)Posted by: Beltwayman2

From your lips to God's ears.

Posted by: zmega | December 27, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I'm so sick of the "Southleast" division knock. There are plenty of bad teams in every division. This chatter comes from sore losers when their favorite teams don't win. Caps can obviously win against any team now. Bunch of crybabies need to get over it.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | December 27, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"I'm so sick of the "Southleast" division knock."

What's funny is you hear that a lot about the Caps but New Jersey has played 5 games more against the Southeast than the Caps have. The Pens have played only 1 fewer.

Posted by: ouvan59 | December 27, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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