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Caps 5, Devils 2

Tonight's 5-2 win in New Jersey was big. But, as I wrote in tomorrow's Post, the possible resurgence of Michael Nylander could prove to be even bigger.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he's noticed an improvement in Nylander's play in recent games -- and the veteran center's stats back him up. With a pair of goals at Prudential Center, Nylander has recorded four goals and four assists in the past nine games, easily his most productive stretch of the season.

"The last few games he's picked it up," Boudreau said. "And that's good. If we can get Michael playing the way he's used to playing, it makes us a dangerous team offensively."

Just in case you were wondering, it has been that long since Nylander recorded a multi-goal game. Dec. 29, 2007 to be exact (yes, he missed almost all of last year with a shoulder injury, but that's still a really, really long time for a player of Nylander's skill level).

"It's never too late to do it again," Nylander said with a smile when I reminded him of the last time he had more than one goal in a game. "It's important how you feel inside. And I feel comfortable. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, try to shoot more, go to the net more and things can happen."

Some other notes and quotes from tonight:

*Viktor Kozlov told me as he walked (without a limp) to the team bus that his injury is not serious. Coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed that a few minutes later when he said Kozlov was withheld from the final 40 minutes for precautionary reasons. The official diagnosis is a mild groin tweak.

*Mike Green is officially on fire. He's scored a goal in four straight games and leads all defensemen with 16 goals and 42 points.

You would think that after scoring so often on the same backdoor play,that opposing teams would wise up to it. Green said teams have, but it doesn't matter as long as he keeps getting passes like the one Alexander Semin threw his way.

"I have great teammates who can pass the puck better than most in the league," Green said. "You look at the pass Semin gave me. He sauced it right onto my tape. I just had to go upstairs with it."

*The power play struck three times (3-for-4) for the first time since Dec. 12. But Boudreau was not overly thrilled with its execution - and for good reason.

"Our power play was great and stinky at the same time," he said. "We never had any possession of [the puck] but we scored three times. But we'll take it because the numbers look good."

*Alex Ovechkin's single shot on goal was a season low for the NHL leader in that category. He did, however, notch a pair of assists, including a nice set up on Brooks Laich's goal.

*Bruce Boudreau said before the game that he wanted Eric Fehr to seize the opportunity that will be afforded to him with Chris Clark sidelined long term. Well, Fehr is on his way to accomplishing that.

He hit a post at the end of the second period, then scored an empty netter to provide the final margin to extend his recent stretch of strong play.

*From the who cares department: The Devils made a really minor trade tonight, sending defenseman Sheldon Brookbank to Anaheim for the rights to center David McIntyre. Brookbank had been scratched the past 20 games.

*Brooks Laich recorded a game-high six shots on goal and got his first goal in 14 games.

*The Caps' penalty kill yielded one goal (on a five on three) on a total of four Devils' power plays. It marked the 12th straight game the penalty kill has allowed at least one.

That's it from 'The Rock'. I'll check in from practice at KCI tomorrow morning.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  February 3, 2009; 11:11 PM ET
 
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Comments

1st! haha

Posted by: yrb1 | February 3, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I literally laughed out loud when I read "From the who cares department."

Posted by: _jordan | February 3, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

damn new thread!

Once again , Caps beat the 'Leet...

--Way to grind Fehr & Laich--work hard and you WILL be rewarded
--Brashear was working really hard tonight=good on the forecheck
--Based on Greg's chart, the only East teams against which we don't (yet) have at least .500 record are PHI and FLA...Bring it On!!
--Way to go Nyls!...Trade? not in a million years!
--Caps win = delight
--Penguins loss = bonus Schädenfreude
--Green to win Norris Trophy?...I said it first!!!!

FEAR THE WEAGLE! CAPS ALL THE WAY!

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 3, 2009 11:59 PM | Report abuse

Who knows what this team is capable of if Nylander gets going.

Side note: are the people who post "First!" the same idiots that scream 'O' during the anthem. Go away, please.

Posted by: TCJR2000 | February 4, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

what's up with OV, he did not look like himself today, even though he had assists. he did not look as enthusiastic as usual, I thought he kind of had almost a sad look on the bench

Posted by: yrb1 | February 4, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

For all the Clutterbuck fans out there, check ESPN"S power rankings (#18, Wild of course...)

I had a manager once with that last name, but we always called him "Buttercup" instead. Love it though.

Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | February 4, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/powerranking (link to power rankings).

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | February 4, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

>
_________________________________

Maybe he had troubles readjusting to a 7pm start? :)

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | February 4, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Brash had a great game!

Posted by: redskinsux | February 4, 2009 12:13 AM | Report abuse

C'mon Chicago! Take another look at this guy! Nyls is hot like lava!

And he's exactly the piece you are missing...

On sale for only $4.87!! (million per year)

Posted by: large23220 | February 4, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

@large23220:

No. not unless they gave us Khabibulin straight up

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 4, 2009 12:24 AM | Report abuse

(Ain't gonna happen)

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 4, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

What's the deal with Neuvirth being recalled? Where is Varlamov? He hasn't played for Hershey since mid-January.

Posted by: herrmag1 | February 4, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Tell you what...I'll trade Nyls for...wait for it....


The whole CHI roster.


Again: ain't gonna happen...

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 4, 2009 12:28 AM | Report abuse

On second thought, No again. The whole CHI roster means we also get Huet (gesundheit). After he walked out on the love we showed him, I don't want him back. Ever. Period.

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 4, 2009 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Oh we should care at least a tad about David McIntyre. The Colgate junior was originally a 5th round pick by Dallas, who traded him (plus a conditional 6th round pick) to Anaheim for ... drum roll ... Brian Sutherby - the Caps one-time 1st round pick.

Posted by: Little_John | February 4, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

More from the Who Cares Department: The Blues' Patrik Berglund is closing in on Jeff Schultz for the #38 +/- spot in the league. Nota bene.

Posted by: Tex21 | February 4, 2009 12:50 AM | Report abuse

Nylander is still at a remarkably horrid 0.50 points-per-game. That said, good work on the night team. It's great to prove we are clearly a top 2 team in the East. 30 games to go though...

Posted by: DrAdamson | February 4, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

@Rhino40

Are you kidding me? Right now, we trade Nylander for a low pick, or a bag of pucks (future considerations).

What this team needs is some cap room, and a solid, puck-moving D-man on the back end. With that, we have a Stanley Cup favorite.

Posted by: DrAdamson | February 4, 2009 1:24 AM | Report abuse

With Michael Nylander producing tonight, this team beat the Devils handily while without Kozlov for 40 mins and with only one SOG by Ovechking. That's the difference he can make.

Posted by: dml1077 | February 4, 2009 1:45 AM | Report abuse

FEAR FEHR...remember he was a first rounder. It might not mean much to a lot of folks but he has the potential.

Posted by: godpere | February 4, 2009 1:50 AM | Report abuse

If there's one word I can't stand as a Caps fan it "Potential". Yes I'm still wounded by David Poile beating that word to death! At least we've moved from "Potential" to "Producing" now. I'm sure Poile is selling all those Predator fans (ok all 3 of them) on how much "Potential" they have.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | February 4, 2009 2:30 AM | Report abuse

WOW! Tonight we will be rooting for the hated Flyers! This is gonna be hard, but we need Boston to lose.

Posted by: rachel216 | February 4, 2009 6:09 AM | Report abuse

I’ve not yet seen all the highlights and I only watched the first period live last night before my bed called me. However, what I saw was very pleasing as we really came out hard, took our chances and it could easily have been worse for NJ after 1.

Someone has mentioned how the 4th goal was the ugliest PP to result in a goal but if that’s the case, then Green’s goal was the 2nd ugliest. NJ had as much of the puck as we did during that PP but we would not be denied.

Best thing about last night? Winning in regulation.

After taking care of NJ’s 8 game winning streak it’s interesting to note this morning which team currently have the longest winning streak in the East. Any guesses?

The answer is the New York Islanders with 4 wins. Currently only Dallas has a longer streak (5 wins) in the entire league. What does this tell us? That any team is capable of beating any other on any given night. Never mind this playing up or playing down to opposition. This is the NHL, ever single team are capable of producing on the night. It also tells us, if we can strings a whole host of wins together we can shake NJ, NYR, MTL, PHI of our tails and catch BOS.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | February 4, 2009 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Hmmm, a few thoughts.

The PP got 3/4 but I agree it wasn't that good. I don't think that our PP was so much good as their PK was horrific. That wasn't their skaters' fault, either - we were held to 25 SOG the whole game. The fact is that Scott Clemmensen had an absolutely horrid night, and the Devils are dependent on solid goaltending to make things happen.

Laich-Backstrom-Semin = FAIL I hated that line. Go back to Flash-Backstrom-Fehr please.

Nylander had an amazing night. Good for him. Fehr did very well too, and Gordon + Steckel is a (penalty) killer combination.

Ovi didn't have a real great night - was something up with him?

Posted by: kittypawz | February 4, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse

Now I’ve addressed the hockey side of things, time to take care of other business:

Boo,
Firstly, there is no need to give my age away. Two can play at that game lady! Second, don’t you know that it’s rude to misuse gifts from friends? We gave you a perfectly useable language, full of little eccentricities that add colour and flavour but look what you've done with it!

Next you’ll be telling me “winningest” is actually a word.

USDave,
Not a Van Halen hater, I have that track on my Ipod. My comment was aimed more at NJ and their lack of contemporary music from modern beat combo artists such as the Ting Tings. Although “Jump” was pretty appropriate as it described exactly what we started with last night.

JMU,
I’m disappointed with you my dear. I thought there was some unwritten Commonwealth togetherness rule whereby you would automatically defend the correct use of English. It seems you have been south of the 49th parallel for too long have thus been affected by a process of “Americanizationality” i.e. the “completedness” “adoptionalization” of “imaginationary” “volcabulization” resulting in a "differentsalistical” approach to English.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | February 4, 2009 6:47 AM | Report abuse

kitty,
Its great isn't it when Ovie has a slow night and we still get the business done against a team on such a roll. Plus teams key on Ovie so much sometimes that it allows others time and space to do damage.

Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | February 4, 2009 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Rachel,
Nope, not rooting for the Flyers. Can't do it. The mere thought makes my skin crawl. The only team in the whole of Pennnsylvania that I can root for is our beloved Hershey Bears.

Posted by: _Mark | February 4, 2009 6:58 AM | Report abuse

As much as I thought that Nyls had a great game, I still don't think that he will stick around. If anything I think it improved his marketability. We simply have too many forwards and defensive needs; he is the most likely to go. I'd be willing to bet that he will waive his NTC. I'm not a hater, I'm just thinking about this in business terms.

The_Stanley_Caps:
Yay, Clutterbuck! :-) I'd say the mania is sweeping more than MN!!

Dave:
First of all, I did not give away your age. I just said that you were around in the 80s (you could have been born in 89 or 29) ... I know better than to get much more specific than that! (Although you have posted your exact age here before, my dear). Second, glad to see that you used proper Zs in your Daveisms to JMU (who ever said that you can't teach an old English sheepdog new tricks?). Lastly, Jump on your iPod? Really? I knew that you had a special place in your heart for the 80s but Jump?!? And here I thought you were so much cooler than that. Silly Dave.

Posted by: --Boo-- | February 4, 2009 7:32 AM | Report abuse

not convinced Nylander has turned the corner. PK is still bad. Theodore is still so-so

Posted by: phrdlick | February 4, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Is this the same Wilbon that defended Michael Vick? Michael Phelps might had smoked dope but he didn't kill dogs for pleasure.

Posted by: hessone | February 4, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

Theodore is still so-so

Posted by: phrdlick | February 4, 2009 7:33 AM

If the last 6 weeks have been so-so...

Posted by: Section117 | February 4, 2009 7:44 AM | Report abuse

@DrAdamson

Your nuts man... You dont trade a solid center for a D man esp when you have so much NHL ready talent in the minor league system. Nyles will benefit this team down the stretch.

I dont get the people who have been calling for his trade all year. The guy is a very solid center who happens to have been coming back from an injury which knocked him out all year last year (that takes time to get your eyes, touch, timing etc. back) and he has been constantly shifted all year. As a fellow pivot I can honestly say, that sucks and makes it very hard to get things going when you constantly have different guys on your line every night. Now that he has some idea of who is on his line he is showing signs of improvement.

Posted by: Dizzy1205 | February 4, 2009 7:46 AM | Report abuse

I am glad to see Nyls pull it together. He is still a key to our success. He will be even more valuable next year as our 2nd line center, post-Feds. We are lucky now to have great center depth, but we lose Feds and Nyls and we don't look so good at the #2 spot. Of course, with GMGM, he can pull some rabbits out of the hat, so who knows.

Posted by: _Mark | February 4, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Boo,
It is the ONLY Van Halen track I have plus I have very varied tastes from classical to straight up gangsta from rock to bleepy bleepy electronica. I'm a very broad church and all are welcome!

Forgot to mention. I saw some of the Pens/Leafs game at weekend on HNIC and Don Cherry really laid into Clutterbuck for fighting with a visor. They showed two different fights where he had done it, one against PHX where Gretzky was going mad about it. Cherry called Clutterbuck a coward for doing it and said he only removes his helmet after a fight because he's embarassed to skate to the box with it on. He said by all means wear a visor for protection if you like but only a coward fights with one.

*Stands back and awaits Boo explosion"


Posted by: DaveUKCapsFan | February 4, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

DaveUKCapsFan:
That's old news, dude (you and Cherry are just catching up!). I don't condone it; quite to the contrary. I just don't know why he's not getting 19 minute penalties (or whatever that was) for it. If the refs would smack him a couple of times (no pun intended) he would knock it off. Besides, he's a rookie; he's probably still figuring out the NHL (I would guess that you're not thinking straight when you are about to fight). He'll learn. And I'd still rock a Clutterbuck Caps sweater! ;-)

Posted by: --Boo-- | February 4, 2009 8:16 AM | Report abuse

Brashear running over Clemenson was mostly off my screen. What happened there?

Posted by: Bartolo1 | February 4, 2009 8:20 AM | Report abuse

Credit due where credit is due - Good job, Nylander! Great to have you on board. As for getting a new person in, other than keeping Nylander or promoting someone from the Bears, I'll pass.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | February 4, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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