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Caps 4, Rangers 3

The Caps closed out the preseason by hanging on for a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers earlier today. But neither the win nor the near third-period collapse mean very much.

What matters now is this: The Caps have 28 players on the roster and until 3 p.m. on Wednesday to get down to 23.

"I'm sure me and George are going to meet when I get back [to the coaches office] and tomorrow with the coaches again," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We have an idea of where we are going with this. But it's not an exact science. We have to try to see what the best fit for our team is. It might not necessarily be the best players that stay, it might be [about] fit."

We've got a lot to cover today, so let's get right to it:

*In his return from a mild concussion, Chris Bourque likely helped his cause by scoring a goal in the second period and nearly setting up another with a no-look, heads-up pass to Matt Bradley a little while later.

Bourque also was in the box for boarding in the third period when the Rangers scored their first goal.

"I thought he plays with energy, that he plays with energy all the time," Boudreau said of Bourque. "He scored a goal, and other than one play up the middle, I thought he competed really hard."

*With Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr out with injuries and Micheal Nylander's status "up in the air" (more on that later), there could be two spots to be had up front. Bourque, Quintin Laing, Alexandre Giroux and Keith Aucoin are all in the mix, though neither Giroux nor Aucoin played today.

"I tried to do everything I could," Bourque said. "I thought I played pretty solid. The rest is up them to them to decide. I can't do much more other than sit and wait. It's the same situation as last year. It's a nerve racking time. I can't avoid what's going to happen, so I'm going to keep [his cell phone] right by my side."

Laing, meantime, said he has a good feeling. He had another solid game with some big hits and at least two blocked shots. He blocked the first shot with his ribs in the opening period.

"It's easy now," Laing said. "I know that I've done all that I can, that I've tried my hardest."

*The goalie situation also has not been resolved. But with Michal Neuvirth suffering from an undisclosed injury, it appears likely that the season will begin with Semyon Varlamov and Jose Theodore as the two goalies.

Varlamov had a shutout through two periods, but yielded three goals in the third, including one by Donald Brashear that Boudreau called "a little soft."

Boudreau didn't want to say which goalie will start on Thursday, but he did provide some insight into his philosophy in net this season.

"We have until Thursday to make up our minds," Boudreau said, referring to starter in Boston. "But it doesn't really matter who starts. It's not like we're going to run with one goalie for 80 games. Whoever it is, the first two [goalies], will play very even over the first 30 or 40 games. And then somebody is going to take over like two years when after the trade when [Cristobal] Huet and Olie [Kolzig] were here and Huet took over."

*Boudreau also addressed the awkward Michael Nylander situation. Just before camp opened, it sounded as though the veteran was close to agreeing to a transfer to Russia. But those talks fizzled and Nylander reported to camp. To his credit, he has practiced hard and has not complained. But he also did not play once during the preseason.

"We'll have a better answer for that by Tuesday, I would think," Boudreau said when asked about Nylander. "Then I would be able to tell you Tuesday or Wednesday what my thoughts are on that. Right now it's up in the air. He's still part of our team."

Asked if Nylander could be about to change teams, Boudreau added: "Or he could be playing Thursday. You guys watch him in practice and he's the hardest worker we have out there. It's not his conditioning. He's 30 something years old, I didn't think he need a lot of exhibition games to get ready."

*The battle on the blueline also remains muddled. The Caps have seven defensemen back from last year, but Tyler Sloan and Karl Alzner both made strong cases to earn a spot. Just one problem: there's no room, unless they unseat an incumbent, or the Caps decide to carry eight defensemen.

Sloan, who was praised by Boudreau for his performance today, must clear waivers to be sent down; Alzner, who did not play, does not.

*Brian Pothier registered four points this preseason, the most among Caps defensemen.

*Alexander Semin finished with six exhibition points, the most on the team.

*Although the penalty kill struggled last year, it's been solid this preseason, snuffing out 27 of 30 shorthanded situations.

*Cuts could come as soon as tomorrow, or as late Wednesday. Make sure to check back. I'll post the news as soon as it breaks.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  September 27, 2009; 4:34 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning Links: Bourque, Laing Make Final Statements

Comments

So the plot thickens with Nylander. It is true though, the guy is a Vet. Does not need much to be ready to go.

Posted by: trunkenmath | September 27, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Free Nylander!

Posted by: griz0615 | September 27, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

"Sloan, who was praised by Boudreau for his performance today, must clear waivers to be sent down; Alzner, who did not play, does not." Hope you enjoy hershey

Posted by: caps512 | September 27, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE THE CAPS I LOVE THE CAPS I LOVE THE CAPS! Sorry, I had to say that, especially after that Redskins debacle. I really love the Caps. Thank god for them.

If only Vinny Cerrato and Dan Synder could be as intelligent as GMGM and Ted...

Posted by: rachel216 | September 27, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

give nylander a chance! he's gotta be better than morrison.

Posted by: gratefuldid | September 27, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

gratefuldid, you can't be serious. Morrison is looking like a very good fit on the 2nd line.

Posted by: eggseronius | September 27, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

It's no secret, especially on this blog, that we all have our favorite Capitals; however, I think you really have to hand it to these Hershey guys who have worked hard and played well in an effort to make the team and stay. IMO, some of them show more spunk than a few of them, who don't feel their spots are on the line. I say keep Sloan AND Alzer, maybe Green can get his old crib back in Hershey.

Posted by: Caps16Fan | September 27, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Good to have something besides silence on Nyls. I guess just about everyone prefers a transfer. If he plays, Aucoin's chances to stay with dive down considerably.

I don't really buy the idea that he didn't need to play in the pre-season. Obviously if he were to take the second line center BMo would need to gel with the third liners, and if he's playing the third line there's work to do.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 27, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Actually, regardless of what they're saying, I think the story is the same. They've told Nyls he's not playing, so if he wants to play hockey again this year he'd better suck it up and accept playing in another league.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 27, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

@gratefuldid

BAHAHAHAHA your joking right!?

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | September 27, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

@Sonyask

Agreed...there is no WAY he suits up Nyls Thursday. I agree with BB that he knows what he has in him and to his credit, gave credit where credit is due on Nyls' busting his hump in practices as we have all noticed who have been down to Kettler. But one would certainly think that chemistry with your linemates (that BB has espoused all preseason) is important.

If he is moved, we will be lucky to get a bag of pucks (since everyone this side of and including the KHL knows the predicament).

Posted by: ralCapsFan | September 27, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Here's to hoping the Forsberg rumors are true!!!

Posted by: thomas20 | September 27, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

If he is moved, we will be lucky to get a bag of pucks (since everyone this side of and including the KHL knows the predicament).

Posted by: ralCapsFan | September 27, 2009 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Money's beside the point now. They will have to eat his salary. Others in the know have suggested that if Nyls plays in Europe there will be no count against the cap. That's acceptable to me if Ted can live with it.

Invest in Semin and Backstrom with the cap space. Nyls is the second highest paid player on the team for godssakes.

Posted by: Sonyask | September 27, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

@thomas... um, what rumors? my guess, not going to happen. Fearless prediction is it will be a trade coupled with one of the dman to keep ALzner and Sloan here.

Posted by: ThatGuy2 | September 27, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The Forsberg thing is not really a rumor as much as a report by both a Baltimore and Chicago paper that have stated that he wants to come back to the NHL and would like to play for the Flyers, Caps, or Blackhawks. Apparently, Philly says they are not interested. The "rumor"would begin if Caps fans read too much into this and presume there is more to it.

Posted by: gonchpup | September 27, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

What a back-handed compliment about Nylander "Its not his conditioning" Translation: Its his skill or his style or the mood of my tie.....

Tarik, I know you're busy, but it would be interesting to also hear some salary cap discussions in the article.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | September 27, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

@Sonyask

That is why I said a bag of pucks...we will be lucky if we can find anyone to take him. Period. Forget compensation.

Posted by: ralCapsFan | September 27, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

bag of pucks or not...who cares...get his salary off ther books..that's all that matters.

Posted by: capfanforsure | September 27, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

@capfanforsure

Think we are all in agreement.

Posted by: ralCapsFan | September 27, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Backs told Expressen today (equivalent of USA Today basically) that he thinks Forsberg is a perfect fit with the Caps. The writer goes on to list the top 5 options for Foppa and Caps are Nr. 1. Not a whole lot to it - Swedes get really excited about Foppa coming back and speculate without much substance. So far, he looks like his old self and there were a ton of NHL team reps in the stands. Here's the article: http://www.aftonbladet.se/sportbladet/hockeybladet/sverige/elitserien/article5863322.ab

Posted by: jakopz | September 27, 2009 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Due to the salary cap and the fact that Nyls makes so much money and is a poor fit with the current cast of characters on the team, his departure is considered to be "addition by subtraction".

Meanwhile, we all hope and pray that we won't ever be the Nylander at our jobs.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 27, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm looking at pictures from the convention, how come Neuvy was not there sitting with Jose, the goalie coach, and Varly?? That's strange..

Posted by: rachel216 | September 27, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

I know this is off-topic, but I started a Yahoo fantasy H2H league, drafting Tues. night:

http://hockey.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/dcice
password: greenlife
Tues 9/29, 7:45pm draft

Would love to see some Caps Insider folks there!

Posted by: snakegriffin | September 27, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

@rachel216

That is because Theo, Irbe and Varly were part of the 'goalies are quircky' session and Neuvy was part of a separate 'Bears' session.

Posted by: ralCapsFan | September 27, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

After taking some sodium pentothal, here is what has been said my McPhee.

We've tried trading Michael for the past 10 months and we have found a few deals that worked. Unfortunately, Nyls does not want to play on a rebuilding team.

We've explored working out a deal in Europe but Michael has stated he wants to play this year in the NHL.

Yes, he has come to camp and worked hard but he has used his NMC to his advantage. I think he needs to be more flexible with us.

I don't like the power he has to veto a few of the trades we've had in place. I'll show him the power I have to ensure he doesn't get any playing time. I will find his breaking point.

I know the Caps and Nyls signed his contract that includes the NMC but I thought he would have given the benefit to the Caps when we had a deal in place. I'm sure he remembers that we got him out of Edmonton several years ago. He owes us.

I have no problem of him playing center of the 4th line if we decide he plays. I will break him. Everyone will see.

I love to give the silent treatment to players in this position. Ask Olie, I showed him the power I command.

Remember when I stormed the Rangers locker room after a game numerous years ago to kick some ass. Everyone needs to know I'm the boss and don't take sh!t from anyone!

Posted by: puckman | September 27, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Neuvirth's injury has probably settled the question as to what two goalies will start off this season with the Caps. Bummer for him. But he will definitely be back with the Caps next season (and probably sooner).

I assume that the Caps do not resign Theodore for next year.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 27, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

don't the caps own one of these losing streak records in the NHL? I forget what the number was but I'm pretty sure I heard Ron Weber mention it on radio a few times whenever a team got close to the record... hope another team broke it by now

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

darn the sharks only tied the record in 92/93 season (17 games) so they're not off the hook yet...

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

ralCapsFan- okay, that makes sense now. thanks! =)

Posted by: rachel216 | September 27, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Caps16fan: Did you even see the game today? Green did just fine. He blocked a shot in the last minute to preserve a PRESEASON win. I think we have the only group of people in the NHL that thinks Green stinks. It's freakin' rediculous.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 27, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

joek-

Pretty sure it was something like 21 games from the Caps' first season, and I'm almost certain that it still stands. The 1992-93 Senators were pretty awful, but not bad enough.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | September 27, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Follow-up:

It was 17 games, 2/18/75-3/26/75.

I had it confused w/ their POINT TOTAL from that season -- 21. Ouch.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | September 27, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

I LOVE THE CAPS I LOVE THE CAPS I LOVE THE CAPS! Sorry, I had to say that, especially after that Redskins debacle. I really love the Caps. Thank god for them.

If only Vinny Cerrato and Dan Synder could be as intelligent as GMGM and Ted...

Posted by: rachel216 | September 27, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Amen. I am not only also a Redskins and Caps fan but a United fan as well. After watching the Skins lose to the Lions, I turned on United and watched them lose to a team (San Jose) that hasn't won on the road since June 2008. This day sucked! Thank god for the Caps! I can't wait until Thursday.

Posted by: croftonpost | September 27, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Caps16fan: Did you even see the game today? Green did just fine. He blocked a shot in the last minute to preserve a PRESEASON win. I think we have the only group of people in the NHL that thinks Green stinks. It's freakin' rediculous.

Posted by: fanohock1 | September 27, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

yes, it's the same group of people who thought Larry Murphy stunk and still "whoop whoop" at Gonchar... at least he plays for the Pens now

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

It was 17 games, 2/18/75-3/26/75.

I had it confused w/ their POINT TOTAL from that season -- 21. Ouch.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | September 27, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

well all I can say is I'm glad I was only 4 at that time and wasn't following the team... LOL

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

croftonpost- The Redskins debacle made me appreciate the Caps so much. It made me appreciate Ted and especially George McPhee. Hey Vinny and Dan, why don't you get a clue and learn to build your team the correct way? How about drafting well and adding minor free agents to fix small problems.. what the heck, they will never understand.

Posted by: rachel216 | September 27, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

if I was Snyder I would see if I could lure Bill Parcells from miami... he's about the only one who can save the skins

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

if I was Snyder I would see if I could lure Bill Parcells from miami... he's about the only one who can save the skins

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I think Cowher could as well. However, Parcells would be awesome.

rachel216- I honestly think Danny boy is about to get it. He has to or his money making machine will rust completely due to fan indifference.

Posted by: croftonpost | September 27, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

I wouldn't hire Parcells to be the head coach, just as the GM, president or whatever... because that's what the skins lack, a competent football man to run the whole operation

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

... Nyls makes so much money and is a poor fit with the current cast of characters on the team, ...

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 27, 2009 7:09 PM |

By "the current cast of characters on the team" you mean BB, right? I don't think I have heard any player say a bad word about Nyls.

Posted by: hock1 | September 27, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Who thinks Zorn will be fired tomorrow? Who thinks he should? Yes, the Caps win was the brightest spot of this day as far as DC teams go.

Posted by: caraveli | September 27, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

@hock1

Certainly Nyls is a poor fit for Boudreau's system. And his style of play really doesn't mesh too well with our top forwards' styles.

No, the other players don't hate him personally, as far as I know. He did mentor Backstrom early in Backstrom's tenure here.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | September 27, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

if they don't want Nylander because he doesn't fit in BB's "system", then BB just went down a notch in my book.

I've never been a fan of the "my way or the highway" type of a coach. A coach's job is to best utilize the talent that he has on the team, not just play the ones who fit in his system.

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

My friend left the Caps game to go watch the Skins game at the Turtle. He admitted afterwards that was a bad idea. Thank God for the Caps and salvaging something from this day.

And I don't know about firing him yet but Zorn is definitely on the hot seat.

Posted by: pkendrick | September 27, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

agreed joke443.

I think it's BS people saying this Nyls situation is GMGM and no bruce's issue. it's both their issues, bruce tells GMGM nyls doesn't fit in, GMGM agrees that if the coach won't play him he's gotta go because of his high salary. so GMGM encourages BB to continue to not play Nyls. you have to feel for the guy, itd be one thing if he had a bad attitude, or complained, or didn;t practice seriosuly, but he has really swalloed his ego and showed up every day. nyls could benefit if given some games.

again what's worse then spending 4mil in cap space that you wish you didn;t have to? spending 4mil on cap space on a bench warmer. it's one year for crying out loud. russia has lost interest because their offer was only good for the summer, before the season started, other NHL teams can;t afford his salary, we made the contract, and we should deal with it. he still shows up everyday and practices and works hard, i guarentee he can fit into the system if he is just given some playing time.

Posted by: capsfan387 | September 27, 2009 10:25 PM | Report abuse

I mean what's the one thing that every coach preaches more than anything else? it's "don't give up!!!" don't give up on a play, don't give up on your team, don't give up on your teammates, etc... Again if it's true that Nylander isn't playing because he's a poor fit in BB's system, to me it's coach giving up.

it's one thing if Nyls has been acting like a total idiot such as TO or Ochocinco but I don't think anyone has accused him of not acting like a pro. Also if he can't play anymore then so be it. players lose it at some point, it happens. But if it's because he can't play in BB's system then the blame lies with the coach.

Posted by: joek443 | September 27, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

trade nylander for zorn

Posted by: wendel2 | September 28, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

. . .and your winner by unanimous decision and THE NEW BEST FRANCHISE IN THE CITY . . .THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS . . .yeah dont waste nothing on the sorry excuse for a team 2009 Redskins, I swear if you lose to the Lions you should get thrown out of the league. so lets ROCK THE RED, GO CAPS!!!

Posted by: jpt1002 | September 28, 2009 1:13 AM | Report abuse

actually the Caps have been the best thing going in town for the last 2 years, i just think they deserve the recognition and 'championship belt' . . .the only team in the city that can sell on ppv

Posted by: jpt1002 | September 28, 2009 1:15 AM | Report abuse

To the nimrods who are bashing BB about Nyls.

1. He's the head coach.
2. If Nylander is getting paid that much he should be producing. If he doesn't fit in, maybe he needs to learn how to adapt. He's getting paid enough for it.
3. Nyls didn't play in the playoffs because he was eff'ing up passes(by not passing or passing badly; causing turnovers), screwing up breakouts (aka circles), and not syncing up with the team.

If he's benched, it's because he's not producing on his own stats right? I saw him at camp and he didn't stick out. He may be skating hard but he did nothing special during camp, especially to justify his salary.

If a guy isn't producing, or trying to adapt i wouldn't want to play him either. if you guys can't remember his play from last season and his inability to adapt to the system along with his salary...don't know what to tell you. sure. blame it on someone else.

Posted by: MNMNT | September 28, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

I may be terribly uninformed here, but everything I've seen so far points to GMGM saying "don't play Nylander - he's been a jerk and I'm not willing to put up with it." BB seems to be the type of coach that rewards hard work in practice, and I'm sure he wants to put the best players on the ice - Nylander's practice mentality thus far has been apparent to BB given the comments he's made. I don't particularly agree with the decision, but I do think that it's GMGM's only play to basically say to Nylander "waive your clause or ride the pine."

I'd feel bad for Nylander, but he really has put us in a tough position:

1. He didn't really earn his keep late in the season and in the playoffs last year - he should be able to adapt to a system as well as BB should be able to sculpt the system around him.
2. We signed him for a lot of money and we're hurting for cap space right now to fit the young guys into the mix (or try to get them past waivers)
3. We have a lot of young guys coming up who look poised to make less mistakes and work harder than he has in the past.
4. He spoke out about his situation (his right) and somewhat tainted the relationship between him and the front office by doing so.

Really, he needs to either come to terms with management about his NMC or accept that he will be benched for the season - I don't see him rocking the red again regardless of what BB said.

Posted by: Raber | September 28, 2009 2:46 AM | Report abuse

My condolences to Mr. Nylander. I don't think anyone in their right mind would want to earn millions of dollars to sit in a nice suit and not play a game. I don't think anyone should be treated that way. If I could, I'd have him help me here at work and maybe even buy him some lunch to help him experience at least one productive day at work instead of this mistreatment he's getting from the Capitals' organizations. Shame on them for giving him a boatload of money to sit in a nice suit! Shame on them.

*rolls eyes*

Let the Capitals and Nylander work this out among themselves. Save your breath people for things you actually have some control over, this NOT being one of them.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | September 28, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

f a guy isn't producing, or trying to adapt i wouldn't want to play him either. if you guys can't remember his play from last season and his inability to adapt to the system along with his salary...don't know what to tell you. sure. blame it on someone else.

Posted by: MNMNT | September 28, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

1. you can't produce unless you are in the lineup

2. how the hell would you know he's not trying to adapt to BB's system, you know something we don't, idiot???

Posted by: joek443 | September 28, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

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