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Caps 4, Flyers 2

If you're not on the Jose Theodore bandwagon, it's not too late to hop on. Sure, Nicklas Backstrom and the Alexes scored all the goals tonight, but Theodore earned the No. 1 star.

And deservedly so. In fact, as Coach Bruce Boudreau said, it might have been his best performance as a Cap. Check out my game story here, then come on back for some notes and quotes that didn't make the paper:

*The Caps' five-game winning streak matches their third longest under Boudreau. They won seven in a row twice under Boudreau.

*Backstrom ended his drought in style. With just an assist in his previous six games, he notched four points, his best performance since notching five last Nov. 15. He also had a ridiculous assist on Ovechkin's first goal. He caught a puck with his stick blade, bounced it up and down a la Tiger Woods, then passed to Ovechkin.

"Nicky's a pretty good player," Boudreau said with a chuckle. "You know you're not going to keep a good player down."

*Keith Aucoin has points in three straight games.

"He's instant energy," Boudreau said. "I can identify with him so well. He's as smart as an NHL guy; he just doesn't have the physical attributes that a lot of them do."

*Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timomen did a pretty good job on Ovechkin in the playoffs a couple of years ago. Not so much tonight. Timonen finished minus-3 on the night and is now a minus-10 for the season.

*Ovechkin took back the lead in goals by scoring his 10th and 11th. He also had the hit of the night. He trucked Mike Richards early in the second period along the boards. The collision was so hard, Ovechkin's stick was sent flying.

*Mike Green extended his point streak to six games (two goals, five assists). It's the longest point streak by a Cap this season. Green also took a shot slap shot off the shin pad in the third period, but appears to be okay.

*The Caps are set to practice at 11 a.m. tomorrow. See you then.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 27, 2009; 11:52 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning roundup: Top line, Theo get it done

Comments

SOB line, Theodore, Schultz, Aucoin, Green...all were on point tonight. Green's miss did end up leading to the penalty shot but that's the kind of aggressiveness in the offensive end I can live with.

Big win especially going down 2-0 late in the 2nd period to get it tied before the 3rd was huge and you could feel the momentum tilt our way. When those top line guys are going it's fun to watch. Still think that 2nd line isn't getting rewarded for as much work as they're putting in winning battles on the boards.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 27, 2009 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Last year we ran into Niittymäki twice when was red hot. We just couldn't solve him. We threw all the rubber we could at him. But nothing. Tables were turned this time. Here's to payback.

Honk, honk, honk!

Posted by: large23220 | October 28, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

I hope his back, his focus, and spirit stay strong. I'm a believer.

Posted by: large23220 | October 28, 2009 12:02 AM | Report abuse

Great game, Jose! Plenty of saves to keep the Caps in the game.

The Peaches and Herb song, "Reunited" kept playing in my head every time I watched the Ovie/Backs/Semin line score and grin and hug each other. Really really happy guys---gotta love that attitude.

Tominfl1, whatever you're drinking, don't stop!

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 28, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Caps PP still dreadful. They score on talent alone. No movement, just standing still trying to pass through people. Flyers move bodies and the puck and were very effective with great possession and zone time.

Posted by: michaelcoh | October 28, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

In many ways, I consider tonight's game a character win for the Caps.

The fact they had gone down 2-0 and couldn't convert on a 5 on 3 situation that was over a minute long. Things were looking a little bleak at one point.

But they still came back and won anyhow. First, the first goal by Ovi to cut down the deficit to 1 goal. Then the game tier near the end of Period 2. (When they tied it up, I had the gut feeling they'd come out on top.)

Then, Semin got the go-ahead goal. Theodore stopped a penalty shot and the rest was history. (There still were plenty of heart stopping moments and nothing felt safe -- until the empty netter near the end.)

My husband says these guys make him feel better than the Redskins do.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 28, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

@ michaelcoh

a great observation, couldn't agree more... what's the point of having a man advantage if you're gonna just stand still in their zone? that's exactly what the other team wants you to do... everyone has to move around with or without the puck.

Posted by: joek443 | October 28, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

@michaelcoh

The PP looked improved. Yes, there's still work to be done. At least they gave up no shorties. And they were getting plenty of shots during the 5 on 3 even if nothing went in the net. Our third goal was a PP goal. (Welcome back, Sasha.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 28, 2009 12:14 AM | Report abuse

@ CapsFan75,

Brian Engblem made a great point about that... even though the Caps didn't score in those PPs, they tired out Richards, Pronger and Timonen and it eventually paid dividends later in the period.

I agree it was a character win.. after they washed out the goal by OV, it seems to fire'em up.. easily the best win of the year so far.

Posted by: joek443 | October 28, 2009 12:20 AM | Report abuse

- Lupul
- Knuble
+ Pronger

- Niittymäki
- Biron
+ Emery

I don't know what to make of the math, but they're still about as dangerous. I expect it is only a matter of time before Emery pulls it all down on top of his own head, so I look forward to the rest of the season series.

I'm just glad Niitty is gone. That fool had our number. And hopefully, consdering the comedy troupe in front of him in Tampa, he wont get the chance to repeat his performance against us.

Posted by: large23220 | October 28, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

Power play has two problems, inability to gain the zone and lack of player movement. Caps had 5 on 3 for almost 2 minutes and did not get a decent scoring opportunity. Need to do more than just make people tired.

Posted by: michaelcoh | October 28, 2009 12:29 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else think Ovechkin should be on the penalty kill? Tell me why this is a bad idea.

Posted by: butcherbaker | October 28, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Ovie on PK is bad because he already plays too many minutes. He needs to be fresh and healthy when the games count, ie May/June

Posted by: michaelcoh | October 28, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

Somehow, the PP is freezing cold, and we win 5 straight.

Last year, after the new year, and up the time Green passed the defenseman scoring mark (when he was in the zone and the PP was "on" every game) we won 10 games, and lost 7: our worst stretch of the season before it went off the rails in March.

Moral of the story: PP success does not directly correlate with Ws and Ls.

Worst-case scenario, our PP gets so bad that opponents will adopt the Hack-a-Shaq strategy. But I think that's terriblizing it a little too liberally.

I prefer to enjoy the Caps' great win rather than wringing my hands and gnashing my teeth over PP production.

Posted by: large23220 | October 28, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

At least they did get one power play goal today. Well, they got to start somewhere in that department.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 28, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

@butcherbaker
Ovie is one of the most defensively undisciplined players we have. He turns the puck over almost as much as Green.

We have better guys for that situation and it gives him two minutes to breathe.

His explosive speed could threaten shorties, but the guys like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter who intercept passes in the circles and break away are guys who have to be relied on to play defense when those situations do NOT arise. Ovie is the wrong guy.

Posted by: large23220 | October 28, 2009 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Yeah but if he commits to the job of penalty killing, don't you think he could do a great job? He has the tools. And the breakaway speed gives us a SH threat.

Regarding the minutes, I wouldn't put him on the first PK unit, but how about the second?

Posted by: butcherbaker | October 28, 2009 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Chris Clark played eight minutes.

During each of those minutes, he earned more than four-thousand dollars. Did anyone on these boards see Chris Clark do anything in any of those minutes that was worth four-thousand dollars?

And he's locked up for the same $2.6-million next season. He's got the second-worst contract on the team after Nylander.

Oneal

Posted by: thetick73 | October 28, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

His defensive contribution is to keep the opposition in their defensive zone. When he's in his own defensive zone he's headhunting and looking to make a transition play. Conservative positional defense is just not a part of his game. He's simply an aggressive offensive player. That's what he does.

So we can probably agree that Ovie can put up elite goal production, but will not break scoring records. The elite shorty scorers of the last decade have never scored more than 9 a year. Last year Ovie scored 20 or so on the PP. If Gabby did use him on the PK, and Ovie does manage to blow the lid off of SHG scoring for a year and gets to 13, that would just eat into his PP and even strength time. I think in terms of cost/benefit, this is the better situation.

Plus, every PK, he would break out of position to throw a check and he'd create an odd man situation near the goal. He'd get us scored on a lot if he was on the PK.

Posted by: large23220 | October 28, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Just throwing it out there, the empty net was a total stat pad move. Semin could have probably made it, but he hands off to Backis, backis was much closer but tossed to OV for the winner. Loved it.

Posted by: trunkenmath | October 28, 2009 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Last year I really was not a fan of Theo because of his inconsistency in the net. I still want Varly to play more because it would be nice to have a franchise goalie and I still think he can play at the level the Caps need. But boy, you really have to give it to Theo for putting together a fantastic season thus far. Especially if you consider all the pressure he is under: getting yanked in the playoffs, re-earning starter, his son's passing, and shotty defense. If he keeps playing like this he could win the Vezina or at least easily be a runner-up.

Posted by: breaklance | October 28, 2009 1:55 AM | Report abuse

Regarding the Cap's power play...I tend to agree with BB in that I would not worry too much about it yet....the cap's have too many talented goal scorers/ threats for it to run dry for too long...

Its just in a rut at the moment. I believe that since the Preds game (until yesterday's) though Semin was the only player to miss games due to it, Ovi and Backstrom both looked under the weather...and off their games. You could definitely see a huge difference in last night's game regarding both player's speed, movement and overall energy. And last night the pp was 25%. (1 for 4...yeah, we only got 4 chances against to "ever so disciplined" Flyers)

The first couple of chances, I felt the Caps may have been over thinking their play, which is natural when working one's way out of a rut...

I think that once this power play gets clicking, and I really believe it will get clicking, it will begin to resume its place amongst the league leaders...They just need to keep it simple, not over think it, and play to their natural abilities.

So happy that at least one of our home teams beat one philly team this week (I hate any sports team from PA!)

Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | October 28, 2009 6:14 AM | Report abuse

I agree -- as long as the Caps are winning we can live with some off nights on the power play. Caps will be back on top of the power play with work and adjustments.

@breaklance, great observations on Theo. It's incredible what he has been through over the last 6 months; to rise above it all has taken strength of character. Good on Theo.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 28, 2009 6:19 AM | Report abuse

How about Schultz? As far as taking control of the puck and clearing the zone, Sarge has been very responsible and effective. His passing has been accurate and crisp. He is disrupting offensive rushes and ejecting the puck from the zone. He's also throwing around his body more. And ever since his seeing eye 800 footer in Atlanta he's taking some fine shots. Sarge was credited with three shots last night and another 3 missed.

Posted by: Sonyask | October 28, 2009 6:27 AM | Report abuse

Link to the article isn't working . . .

Posted by: holliden | October 28, 2009 6:31 AM | Report abuse

I agree, Sonyask, Schultz looked good last night and even seemed more assertive to me. Maybe he was just missing some confidence.

Did anyone see Richards punch Backstrom in the face/head near the goal? I couldn't believe there was no mention of that from Joe and whoever else was commentating the game because it was even shown on the replay.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 28, 2009 7:41 AM | Report abuse

I think Richards also was hitting him with the hand that had his stick in it---maybe it just looked bad to me.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 28, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

@ATL, NYI, CLS, @NJ, @FLA, FLA is our next 6.

I see 10 points there.

Posted by: JSchon | October 28, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Best game for the games this season by far. Strong or solid performances by all.

Posted by: festus75 | October 28, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Jeff carter is a ghost on the ice with hands...

What a bum he was last night...Nothing close to a game changer...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 28, 2009 8:31 AM | Report abuse

Yes, like I said post game that was definitely Jose's best game as a Cap.

I also really hope that we can find a way for Aucoin to stick around. I've liked what I saw since the first time he got called up last year. Size isn't everything. This guy can really play the game. I'd take his speed, skill and smarts over a typical grinder who just skates in straight lines and dumps the puck in.

Posted by: ranndino | October 28, 2009 8:55 AM | Report abuse

As someone who has more than once critized the play of Jeff Schultz, I have to say his turnaround in play has been remarkable. I stand corrected....for the moment anyways.

Posted by: thd1 | October 28, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Browsed through some of the comments from last night and today briefly. OK, so I know Theodore had a great game last night and a few other relatively solid outings, but this talk of the Vezina trophy is crazy. Let's not get too excited. The only way he'll get anywhere near the Vezina is if he plays every game like he did last night.

Do you guys even watch other teams play? At the moment Craig Anderson is the runaway Vezina candidate. Colorado were supposed to stink this year and instead they're leading the Western Conference, in large part due to his consistently incredible goaltending. If I were to fantasize it would be cool if Jose's contract ended last year and we would've signed Anderson as a FA. Anyone who knows hockey knew that he was the best kept secret in the NHL. Was amazing with a pretty bad Florida team last year constantly coming up with 40+ save efforts, many of them of the spectacular variety.

Posted by: ranndino | October 28, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I should update my own post above. After last night's shutout the Avs are now leading the whole league. Truly remarkable. Anderson stats right now are absolutely mind boggling. With goaltending like this a team like ours might easily go 20 games without a loss. I'm very curious to see if this continues. I had a chance to pick him in my fantasy draft and even though I knew just how good he was I got scared off by him being on Colorado. I figured he was a great goalie on a bad team. So far they've made me and everyone else eat crow at 9-1-2!

Posted by: ranndino | October 28, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Because of a prior commitment, was able to see only the last 12 minutes (right after Jose's penalty shot stop). Huge win! And what does anyone make of BB having OV, Backs, and Sasha on the ice in the final minutes? Maybe that should happen more often?

Jose is the real deal this year--let all other teams think he's still last year's version. But we allowed Philly way too many chances in 3rd last night. Seemed like they got all loose pucks, won all battles against Caps. We're big enough--why can't we play it?

Posted by: redrocker2 | October 28, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

@dccitizen1 - I was there, and it really was as bad as you think. He punched Backstrom in the head and then wrapped his arm around his face and hauled him down to the ice, ripping his helmet off in the process. I've rarely seen Backstrom so upset.

@Sonyask - I wasn't a big Schultz fan last year, but he has been really good so far this season. He did make one horrendous play deep in his own zone late in the game that almost led to a goal, but thankfully Theo and the rest of the team bailed him out; other than that, he played well the whole game, and I think he's been one of our most consistently solid defensemen.

Overall, last night was awesome. Almost playoff-level intensity at the Verizon Center, and aside from the first part of the second period, it was probably our best game of the season thus far.

Posted by: hillg | October 28, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

@thd1:

As I said in another thread somewhere... all it takes is a little confidence! I saw some great things out of Schultz; taking a big shot and using his big frame to his advantage on more than one occasion. If he keeps it up I think it will be safe to say he's out of the "development" phase that everyone keeps talking about.

Posted by: snakegriffin | October 28, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

On Vezina: Yea, Theo played incredible but not just Anderson but Ryan Miller (BUF), Ilya Bryzgalov (PHX), and even M-A Fleury (PIT) are all starting incredibly well in the early season. Still, Theo's sv% at .922 is 3rd in the NHL. I'll take it. Keep up the good work...

On STP: For all the talk about the power play, let's give credit to better SH play. Yea, they gave up 2 last night to Philly but are still 10th in the NHL (down from 6th before the game). Much better than last year's 19th.

Steckel has become a beast (Condor should be that guy's nickname, taking a page from Teixeira). His SH play and faceoff wins are HUGELY underrated skills for this team.

GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: SiberianTiger1 | October 28, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Green and Schultz both had 1 A, other d-men had zilch. I've started to hate Poti, he stands in front of the net, blocks Jose vision, bang, they scored. I still have nighmares of Poti standing in front of the net like a statue and Crosby scoring on him. Poti is a fake.

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 28, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

glad to see other share my sentiments about schultz. in addition to taking more shots, he played well in the defensive zone. he also absorbed a pretty good hit from one of the flyers small guys and the guy just bounced right off. he still has some stick handling problems and he needs to be able to use his leverage to move guys out from in front of the net. but to be fair, hartnell is a big rig and not so easy to move for anyone. lets hope this continues.

i was also impressed w/ sloan at forward. i've not been a big fan of his on d, but i thought he played well on the forward lines. is willing to hit and forecheck. giroux didnt impress me much. he needs to remember he's on a grinder line now and do the things that grinders do. nice to see aucoin get some big boy playing time on the pp, but they still refuse to get someone in the crease, which baffles me.

noticed that steckel took every defensive zone draw in the third period, regardless of line. shows the lack of confidence BB has in backstroms dot performance.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 28, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

@trunkenmath: Just throwing it out there, the empty net was a total stat pad move.

Not sure I agree. I think the intent was to get it over the red line so it wouldn't be icing if Ovi missed.

@ranndino: I agree with what you said about Anderson - he's been spectacular - but the way you put it is plain snotty. "Anyone who knows hockey knows?" Really? Come on man, you're not God's gift to hockey, please stop looking down your nose at the rest of the blog.

You're right, though, Anderson's a beast but I think it's too early to talk Vezina for ANYBODY. Remember this time last season, the Rangers were leading the league? They ended up in 7th seed and only made the playoffs at all because Buffalo lost Ryan Miller for all that time and Montreal plain stunk up the joint.

Posted by: kittypawz | October 28, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

nice to see aucoin get some big boy playing time on the pp, but they still refuse to get someone in the crease, which baffles me.

Or maybe they tried and the Flyers just kept bouncing them out? :) That's one thing the Flyers are damn good at - clearing the crease.

Posted by: kittypawz | October 28, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Some observations from last night game:

1- Backstrom HAS to improve on faceoffs. In the first half of the game, BB was having Backstrom take defensive zone faceoffs, and I believe the Flyers scored their first goal after another faceoff he lost. You'll notice in the second half of the game, BB started taking the faceoffs more seriously and had Steckel out there quite a bit with other lines to take the draws.

2- As others have said, Jose had a fantastic game, probably his best as a Cap.

3- Someone earlier posted that Chris Clark is the second most overpaid player on the team. While he hasn't played very well, the guy I had a problem with last night was Poti. Is it just me, or did he have a terrible time clearing the puck last night? It seems to me that he is completely unwilling to get in it or take a hit to get the puck out of the zone.

4- As others have said, I thought Sarge had a helluva game. He even mixed in a few hits along with being strong positionally all night.

Posted by: cainoo7x | October 28, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Has anyone read the boneheaded article by Paul Farhi on DC having sporting title of Loserville in today's style section? After talking about the disasterious seasons for the Skins, Nats, and Wizards for 8 paragraphs, he gives a brief nod to the Caps without using Ovie's name and then slams them for failing in the last two playoffs and the said that the last time they were Cup contenders was over a decade ago. I don't think the guy has even seen the Caps play, perhaps not even hockey--or understands what contender means. Does he understand that the Caps have been winning their games and getting in the playoffs. Really it's just about football to him. I think I'm in the mod to write a letter slamming him.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | October 28, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Hey everyone, I was wondering if anyone else noticed but sometime during the 2nd period when VS was doing its promo for the bruins game one of the highlights they used (I think) was when Lucic gave Pothier the concussion that put him on the shelf for so long. It was along the bottom of the screen while the caps game was still going. Just one of those weird things that stuck out to me.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 28, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Capsyoungguns - As a general rule, I tend not to worry about what people in the style section have to say about sports.

Posted by: superpaqman | October 28, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

cainoo7x has a point -- Tom Poti's contract might be the second-worst on the team after Nylander. He's at $3.5-million this year and he's locked up for the same next season. And I think he's been pretty bad this season.

I still think Clark's contract is worse.. he's literally just skating around out there doing nothing for eight minutes a night. Fortunately for him the team is winning so nobody seems to be complaining right now..

Oneal

Posted by: thetick73 | October 28, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

@superpaqman--you have a point. But I was surprised by the gross generalities and lack of knowledge of the Caps on Fahri's part. Indeed, the article overall was mangled pretty badly with his analysis. I'm sure Nats and Wizards' fans would disagree with him as well.

Coming off of such a great Caps/Flyers game last night, the article seemed particularly dumb!

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | October 28, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

@hillg: thanks for the verification. I know this is hockey, so there is a definite physical aspect that is necessary for the game, but I thought Richards was continuing to earn his well deserved reputation for being a dirty player. Of course he would pick on Backstrom when he got a chance---Nicky is one of our best players. Richards is ugly.

Posted by: dccitizen1 | October 28, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else think Ovechkin should be on the penalty kill? Tell me why this is a bad idea.

Posted by: butcherbaker | October 28, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

I've been advocating that idea for months. I believe he needs to be out there on the PK ON OCCASION - not as one of their top PKers - because there are times when you have to think offense even if you're on PK.

Posted by: joek443 | October 28, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

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