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Caps 5, Thrashers 4 (Updated)

The Caps snagged a pair of points on the road, but Coach Bruce Boudreau wasn't all that pleased with his team's discipline, execution or goaltending in Thursday's 5-4 win over Ilya Kovalchuk and the Thrashers.

Indeed, there was plenty to be concerned about, as I pointed out in my gamer. When you're done with that, come back for some notes and quotes that didn't make the print edition:

*Boudreau said the ice at Philips Arena was the worst he's ever seen. A number of players, including Mike Knuble, agreed. That could have contributed to the sloppiness.

"If you had skated on the ice, I'm surprised anyone made a flat pass," Boudreau said. "That was as bad as I've seen any ice."

*Same old problem for the Caps when it came to staying out of the box. Say what you want about the officiating, but Milan Jurcina, Knuble, Jeff Schultz and Alex Ovechkin all were whistled for minor infractions in the final 10:23. Not good, obviously.

"It all goes back to penalties," Eric Fehr said. "We keep finding ways to get into the penalty box late in games. And that's not a way to play winning hockey."

*In addition to calling out the Caps' power play -- Boudreau said the 0-for-7 performance was the worst he's seen in his three years -- the coach was also pretty upset about the play of his top line. Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Knuble combined for exactly zero points.

Which made the secondary scoring all the more important.

"It's good because I didn't think our No. 1 line was very productive," Boudreau said. "That was probably our power play's worst night in the three years i've been here. The [David] Steckel line was very good. [Alexandre] Giroux, [Fehr] and [Chris] Clark getting a goal, you need them sometimes, and tonight we got them. I never felt comfortable once that whole game. I was saying it was going to 6-5 in the middle of the second period. Energy-wise for both teams wasn't where it should be."

*Schultz had a night to remember -- even if he couldn't remember his last three point game. He said it came in juniors. Then he paused, and said actually wasn't sure when the last time was. Schultz, Fehr and Mike Knuble all agreed that Schultz's 150-goal goal hit Knuble's shot on the way in.

*Ilya Kovalchuk's two goals put him in a two-way tied with Alex Ovechkin for the league lead with nine. BTW, if you've never seen Kovalchuk play live, let me tell you, he has the hardest shot I've ever seen, or better yet, heard.

*The Caps are set to practice tomorrow afternoon at the Islanders' practice rink. I'll check in from there.

*Update: TSN's Darren Dreger tweeted: "Ovechkin slew footed Peverley. Not suspendable, but worthy of fine????"

I was up in the pressbox (near the roof) and all the way across the rink from Ovechkin's penalty, but we shall see if the league agrees with Dreger. And if you're not following Darren on twitter, you should be.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 22, 2009; 11:08 PM ET
 
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Next: Morning roundup: A sloppy win in Atlanta

Comments

I was at the game tonight. My thoughts:

Kubina was all over Ovie and effectively neutralized him.

Great 4th line scoring!

Schultz was the #1 star. Best game as a Cap.

Our PP was terrible. 0 for 7, or should I say -1 for 7.

That "tripping" call in the last minute on Ovie was ridiculous. It was a clean shoulder check. Talk about home cooking.

This team needs Semin.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | October 22, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

run them into the ground bruce, If they want to be lazy in the game, make them work in practice.

Tonight was unacceptable. Corey is right about putting that "elite" team talk given the way the team is performing so far this season. Their play so far is definitely concerning.

Posted by: O-V-P | October 22, 2009 11:51 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad (and relieved) they won. I would have not felt very confident in their chances to win if it had gone to overtime.

So, who will be the top line vs the Islanders?

Time to move Morrison back to the top line. (And, no, it's not just because Nicky had an off day today.)

They also need a new approach (and a rearrainged cast of characters) for the power play (or should I call it, the powerless play.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 22, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

@CAP-lanta

I hope Semin's back for the Isles. Hope he feels better.

Could Semin have described himself as "sore" when he's achy from the flu? (Ah, Semin, nothing like doing a hard practice after being sick, only to be out of commission after that.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 23, 2009 12:05 AM | Report abuse

@CAP-lanta,
On TSN, they were reporting that it was actually a slewfoot that Ovi committed and that he'll probably be fined.

Also, I didn't get to watch the game, but did Kubina just stick like glue next to Ovi?

CapsFan75, I was thinking the same thing, that Semin's whole body is just sore (achy) from the flu.

Posted by: dfe1 | October 23, 2009 12:09 AM | Report abuse

Keenan gets a bad rap sometimes. He did a lot of things well over his career. But I like Randy Carlyle too. I like the way the Pens coach runs things and its not just because they won the Cup. He knows how to get that team to play like they're down a goal when they're really up by 3

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 23, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

@ dfe1

You're right about the Ovie hit. I didn't have the benefit of a replay at the game and I just saw it on NHL On the Fly. I stand corrected.

As for Kubina, he shadowed Ovie very closely when Ovie was hanging at the blue line way ahead of the play (like BB has him do) but when the Caps charged the zone and Ovie could crossover and get some speed, he managed to get free and generate some O by crashing the net. That said, it was an off night for Ovie. Backstrom kind of disappeared too. The third and fourth lines saved us tonight (and the fluke goal from Schultz).

Posted by: CAP-lanta | October 23, 2009 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Cap-lanta. Although technically it was a slewfoot, it didn't seem quite as bad to me as some others I've seen since they were really both fighting hard for the puck. And let's face it, Ovi can knock people over with his shoulder--he just happened to have his leg behind him at the time.

I'm a big Backstrom fan, but he doesn't seem to be playing that well the past few games. I also have to wonder if the bad ice had anything to do with it.

But I'm sick of our PP failing. I don't care that Semin was gone. We should be able to convert on a 5 on 3.

Posted by: dfe1 | October 23, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game tonight too ... enjoying complimentary club seats seven rows from the ice.

The game was extremely sloppy by both teams. Only a couple of the goals could be credited to good offense. While he didn't show up in the score sheet, I thought Laich hustled and played well.

Three penalties in the last three minutes = unacceptable. Thought the Ovechkin penalty was legit ... but a fine?

Sucked not to see Semin play live tonight.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 23, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

hey cerealman! how was the game live? any interesting observations? was the arena as empty as it looked?

Posted by: --Boo-- | October 23, 2009 2:55 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Ovechkin meant to slew foot Peverley or that the incident was suspension-worthy because, as stated above, it wasn't blatant and they were both going for the puck.

Regardless, it was an altogether idiotic and selfish play by Ovechkin. I believe he was thinking more about scoring an empty-netter than playing intelligently and protecting what had become a fragile lead.

By the way, Ovechkin did something similar to Jamal Mayers in the Toronto game.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 23, 2009 3:14 AM | Report abuse

I dont know whats up with varly,but what other goalie in the NHL has a 4-0 record but also has almost a 4.00 goals against average.this if a fine example of when i say stats dont account for crap! you'd think a goalie thats 4-0 would have a great GAA but varly's stinks.He better shape his game up and do it fast cause that streak wont last for long.I still say bring on neuvirth! GO CAPS!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | October 23, 2009 4:21 AM | Report abuse

Don't know what Ovi was thinking there. He had that one knee on knee with Wiseman last year that got people talking but he seemed to learn from that so I'd bet that's the last time we see that move from him.

I remembering my public speaking class when listening to all those "uh"'s in Tarik's post-game video :)

Posted by: austinsteve | October 23, 2009 5:45 AM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, Philips was empty last night. Not even 10,000 people by my estimation.

Posted by: CBT2 | October 23, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Please, Tarik, update soon and tell us about Semin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We need to know how he is!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Caps28

Posted by: caps28 | October 23, 2009 7:29 AM | Report abuse

What a bad game...we were REALLY lucky to come out with 2 points. There were points of the game where I couldn't watch. Varly needs a conditioning stint in Herhsey, he needs some confidence and Neuvy needs a shot at the show. As far as the fine on Ovie goes, I am sure it wouldn't make a dent in his wallet. And as far as following Dreger on Twitter Tarik...no thanks...I have to here him enough on TSN.

Posted by: NatyBG | October 23, 2009 7:31 AM | Report abuse

hear, not here. Also, I could see how bad the ice was at Philips on the tv. To those folks in the stands...did it look like slush? I am originally from the Atlanta area and Philips is never packed for Thrashers games, which is a shame.

Posted by: NatyBG | October 23, 2009 7:35 AM | Report abuse

Re: Ovechkin's slew foot.

Penalty: Yes
Suspension: No
Fine: No

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | October 23, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

Ovie's slew foot... it's natural for his left leg to be in such a position if you hit someone shoulder to shoulder and he falls like that. He deserved the penalty though as it inhibited the player completely.

Schultz: nice step-up blocked shot on Kovy at the very end, to go with a great game.

Posted by: rh71 | October 23, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to complain when we are winning, but these games are starting to get ridiculous. Have the caps held a team to no goals in the third period yet, let alone 1 goal in the third period?? Last night was a horrible win and not deserved.

Hopefully Theo is in Saturday. He's been on top of his game, and hopefully this week off doesn't affect him.

Oh, and Knuble should get credit for the Schultz goal. I'm also bias because I have Knuble on my fantasy team...

Posted by: JD09 | October 23, 2009 8:07 AM | Report abuse

Just saw a good replay from the side of the Schultz goal. It took a radical bounce upwards just a few feet out from goal.

Posted by: Bartolo1 | October 23, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I was sitting about 5 rows off the glass and the ice looked very sloppy. You could tell by the way the puck was acting that it was bad.
The arena was empty, last night. I would presume there were only aroung 7500 people in attendance.
The Caps defense and goal tending looked pretty poor. Varly let in a few softies and was getting no help from the D clearing the crease.

Posted by: TrappedinGA | October 23, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

OMG Shultz? Player of the Game? Three points? A goal from in front of his own net?

Of the 23 players on the team Shultz would be last I would have thought to get Player of ANY game, much less have the game he had.

I don't think he is a horrible player, and definitely can provide blue line presence, but Shultz?

On a more serious note: congratulations to him. He was a pearl in a pie gone bad.

Posted by: jgprentice | October 23, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

Phillips Arena was half-full.

Couldn't tell that the ice was bad.

The Capitals went to the net and fought for rebounds several times last night ... was encouraging to see that.

Good to see Knuble battling around and in front of the net.

As a poor master's student, I'm still in awe over the incredible seat I had.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 23, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

Bad ice? come on, these guys are professionals. That shouldn't be an excuse for their poor play. I'll make sure to blame the ice at Kettler when my adult team loses.

No excuses. It was just a bad game.

Posted by: JD09 | October 23, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Wow, ATL Caps fans representing on the blog today!

I had tix to the game but couldn't make it. Probably won't be able to make next Thurs game either.

We should get together, any of you guys in Gwinnett?

Posted by: paperboy76 | October 23, 2009 8:48 AM | Report abuse

OK, that was sloppy as all get-out.

The good: We got 2, Atlanta got 0.

Secondary scoring all OVER the place, including crazy places like Schultz from 150' out. Wow! That was as amusing as the Backstrom goal from the red line was.

If the Knuble goal in the 1st frame had not been disallowed because he kicked it in (and that was a right call), the game might have blown open and stayed blown open.

Glad to see Clark get a goal finally, and Fehr. Good on both of them!

Three goals in quick succession was fantastic to see.

The bad: stay out of the damn BOX! ESPECIALLY late in the game.

Also, the power play needs help. Semin seems to be the glue for that unit, for some reason, and his absence was keenly felt. They gave up a TON of short-handed chances, and one of them got past Varlamov despite defense being there. I'm pinning that goal on Varly, unfortunately. Sometimes, the goalie just has to make the save, and he didn't, on a routine shot.

Varlamov needs to work on making the soft saves.

Ovechkin was held to a mere four shots on goal - which has to be a career low for him! :-p Neither he nor Backstrom looked good, which leads me to wonder if they are playing through whatever it is Semin has, especially since the three are good friends off the ice.

The ugly: I was surprised that the "tripping" call on Ovechkin was NOT called as slew-footing, because that was classic slew-footing by definition - trip from behind, push from in front. Intent has nothing to do with it.

If he's fined, so be it. It wasn't a suspension-worthy hit if the Slava Kozlov checking from behind wasn't, and if the NHL does do something stupid like suspend him for it, I hope that McPhee complains to high hell! They have 48 hours to decide, but since no injury resulted, and the "victim" got straight back up again, I doubt either a suspension or a fine will take place.

Posted by: irockthered | October 23, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

@JD09 - The problem with the ice is that if it is sloppy, the puck does unpredictable things. Like bounce over the goalie's pad at the last second when someone's clearing it from the other end of the rink. Also, with the Caps' style of play (fast, lots of passing), the ice being sloppy A) slows them down, and B) affects the movement of the puck - and that is just straight up physics.

Remember: every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and force = mass * acceleration.

Say what you want, but the ice can be - has been - a factor - one factor - in the past. They aren't saying the ice is the whole problem, but that it could have been - and probably was - part of it.

Does this excuse sloppy play? No, and the Caps said it was a sloppy game. But it doesn't help, either.

Posted by: irockthered | October 23, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Just because its been 30 posts and the Shultz bashers seem to be quiet for a change and I think the Universe needs to balanced:


I THINK SARGE WAS GREAT!!!!!!

Go, Man, GO!

Posted by: jdhoover | October 23, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

@irockthered

Thank you, but I'm not an idiot.

That's just a horrible excuse.

The "bad ice" is what won them that game.

Overall, they didn't play well. Simple.

Posted by: JD09 | October 23, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

@JD09 - as a player you know the ice can affect the game, and you are lucky to play at Kettler because they have a couple of nice sheets of ice.

Posted by: ds_kelly | October 23, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

I try to be positive.. and we had some solid positives like the great play from our 3rd and 4th lines.

However, from what I saw, Green was as bad as the ice.

It kills me, because he's so talented, but I think he's the worst on the team for work ethic. We get the lead, and he's the first one taking his time, not hustling, sitting on the puck for too long, and making horrible turnovers and getting beat out of position. The shorty was atrocious. Yet again because we pass it back to Green, and he sits on it like he's hatching an egg. The lazy play with a lead has to stop, or it's going to be a very disappointing season for a very talented team and exciting fan-base.

Posted by: fricknoutstandin | October 23, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

If anyone cares to watch NYLS:
http://ahl.neulion.com/team/freenight.htm

friday night the ahl streaming site is free

Should we give Aucoin the nickname of ping-pong or pinball. His 5'6" 130lb. frame was bouncing off the bodies like a ping-pong ball

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | October 23, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

It's good to be 5-2-2 when you have played like garbage in the first 9 vs. top opponents. Blown leads in all 4 losses too.

Only Boston and San Jose were complete solid games so far.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 23, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

All y'all are glass half empty types.

@JD09 - Don't put words in my mouth. I never said you were an idiot.

@ds_kelly is right. Kettler has great ice. I've skated there, and haven't had an issue until it's been about an hour between Zamboni runs. And I'm a lousy skater.

And you will notice that I *DID* mention that the bad ice was what put Schultz's shot into the net, didn't I? If I didn't, or I wasn't clear, consider it mentioned.

YES the Caps played sloppy. I *SAID* the Caps played sloppy.

I said the ice was ONE FACTOR, and I stand by that statement.

Posted by: irockthered | October 23, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

@cadlecreek1 - The NHL lists him at 5'9" and 162 pounds... say what you want about Aucoin, but he's definitely Giroux's playmaker. :-) He was all year last year in Hershey, and now they've proven they can do the same in the big club.

I've got no issue with Aucoin's size.

Posted by: irockthered | October 23, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

i am the first one to pile on schultz, but damn. he actually looked like a first round pick last night. I saw him actually hit somebody hard and he was using his reach very well last night. great game schultzy

drink it in because this will probably be my first and last "schultz played great" post

Posted by: _stevo | October 23, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

That's 3 very good games in a row for Sarge. Overall not a very good game for the Caps but they still managed to capture 2 points.

Posted by: ouvan59 | October 23, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

I just want to say GOOD JOB SARGE!!

Posted by: CapsKH | October 23, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

As a staunch Schultz supporter, it's nice to see him be visible for once.

Posted by: snakegriffin | October 23, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Sloppy win, but we will take it!

I just got NHL Center Ice free for the season by complaining to DirecTV. First about the Versus situation, plus the Flyers/Bruins game was blacked out last night even though it was on NHL Network. Apparently Comcast won't let them air Flyers games if Philly CSN is airing it.

Thought i would share.....

Posted by: OviFan08 | October 23, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

I may yell at Cox Communication that DirectTv is giving away Center Ice for free...and I want it free, or I switch...

Decent chance I get it free...

Posted by: SA-Town | October 23, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

@paperboy

I'm from Chattanooga ... drove two hours for the game.

I may skip class next Thursday to go to the ATL-Caps game; last night was fall break.

Posted by: Cerealman | October 23, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I have NHL Ceter Ice and I watched the Flyer-Bruins on the NHL Network. I will have to try and complain, maybe I could get my money back!

Posted by: NatyBG | October 23, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Hi, My name is Capsfannmiss
I'd like to say three things I liked about the games last nite (staying positive)

1. Secondary scoring
2. Winning when not playing well. And a four point game (division foe)
3. No injuries

Thank you for listening

I need a drink now.

Posted by: Capsfannmiss | October 23, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Remember when McPhee said the team didn't need a enforcer because of the potent power play? No one would want to take a penalty because that would guarantee a Caps goal - yeah right. Not saying we need the enforcer but pointing out the power-play isn't going to frighten anyone in the NHL at the moment

Posted by: dfort2004 | October 23, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

hear, not here. Also, I could see how bad the ice was at Philips on the tv. To those folks in the stands...did it look like slush? I am originally from the Atlanta area and Philips is never packed for Thrashers games, which is a shame.

_____________

well, a few years back when I was living in ATL I went to a Wings/Thrashers game and the place was packed.... with Wings fans...

Posted by: callingallcars | October 23, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

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