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Caps 6, Leafs 4

Another game, another big night for the Caps.

They got six goals from five different scorers in a 6-4 win over Toronto that was not really as a close as the score indicated. The Caps scored three times in the opening 14 minutes and were up 6-1 after 40, but they predictably let down a bit in the third, allowing the Leafs to make the final score respectable.

Coach Bruce Boudreau called it a "cheap lesson."

"I was once told that any time you win shouldn't complain, because they are so many times you lose," he said. "I told the guys that was a great win, a great start, but we have to learn how to win 6-1 when we're in that position and not think we're going to win 9-1."

On to some notes and quotes from Verizon Center, which was as LOUD as I've heard it for a regular-season game:

*For the second straight game, the Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Alexander Semin line was something to behold. The trio was on the ice for three of the Caps' goals (two by Semin, the other by Ovechkin).

"We've been playing together for three years now, so the chemistry is obviously there," Semin said through an interpreter. "The main thing is not to be selfish. When you pass, you know you're going to get the pass back. It's a pleasure to play that way."

*Semyon Varlamov was outstanding for the first 40 minutes, stopping 24 of the first 25 shots he faced. But the rookie yielded three goals in the third as the Caps relaxed and the Leafs tried desperately not to get embarrassed. It would be tough to blame Varlamov for any of them, but allowing three goals on six shots doesn't look that great for a goalie who's fighting for playing time.

"For the first two periods, he was great," Boudreau said. "When he had to make the big save, he made the big save. But the guys in front of him let him down a little bit in the third period."

*Free agent acquisitions Mike Knuble and Brendan Morrison scored their first goals as members of the Caps. Knuble's came as you would expect -- in front, on a rebound. Morrison scored on a breakaway after a long flip pass from Mike Green.

*Brooks Laich is tied with Ovechkin for the team lead in goals with three. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that Ovechkin's Rocket Richard Trophy is safe.

"He's a tough guy to keep up with," Laich cracked. "They're going in now, and that's great. Hopefully they'll keep going in."

*The PK was once again perfect, eliminating all three shorthanded situations it has faced. The Tom Poti and David Steckel-led unit is now eight for eight this season.

*The win marked the Caps' eighth straight in their home opener. In fact, since the Verizon Center opened, they are 9-1-1 there.

Ovechkin, meantime, has at least one goal in all five openers he's played in. In those games, he's got a total of eight goals. Ovechkin's three points gives him 426, moving him into a tie with Kevin Hatcher for 10th on the Caps' all-time list.

*The Caps are off on Sunday and so am I. Katie is going to write a story and perhaps blog. I'll be back Monday.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  October 3, 2009; 11:48 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Caps Win Eighth Straight Home Opener
Next: Ovechkin's Mom, Leonsis Talk Olympics


I wish I could have been there!

Posted by: uncatim | October 4, 2009 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Enjoy your day off, Tarik. Thanks for continued hard work.

Posted by: Riddler1 | October 4, 2009 12:01 AM | Report abuse

Solid first 2 periods, the letdown in the 3rd was pretty predictable. If Ovie scores on that 3 on 1 maybe the game ends up 8-2. I couldn't tell if the puck wasn't flat on the ice or not, either way not going to complain about that line, they were getting it done all night. 2nd line also made an impact with Laich and BMo scoring pretty breakaway goals.

Knuble punched in at his office and did some work. The defensive letdown is troubling and I'm sure the naysayers will have plenty of ammo to point out the 3rd to support the usual...but it was more predictable than problematic. I'd almost rather have that happen going into Tuesday's test in Philly.

All in all a win's a win, getting the contributions from other people than the big guns and the big guns are all going as well. I'll take it. Give Theo the start on the road Tuesday.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

Offense - spectacular. It was like sharks smelling bllood in the water. Fantastic job and glad to see Knubs and Mo get their first goals in a Caps uniform.

Defense - has to be better in the third. They let Varly down on some of those goals. Tighten it up. Coach Woods has to keep on them.

Special teams - another stellar job. SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STAY AGGRESSIVE ON THE PK????? Success.

Another strong start as the young season starts to roll on. Time to keep this momentum going in city of the Brotherly Love. Should be a good one on Tuesday.

Onto Philly.............ICE BREAKERS GOAL SHAKERS.

Posted by: Jonathan6 | October 4, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

Tonight's home opener had a great atmosphere. It was really loud for a regular season game. Even the sold out games last year didn't seem as loud as tonight was. It'd be great if we could keep a playoff atmosphere throughout the entire year.

Caps were solid especially during the first 40 mins. The new acquisitions seemed to fit in nicely. Knuble was much more noticeable tonight then he was Thurs. If we play as solid as we did in the first especially, this team will be scary, the Monster didn't really scare me but he did have some nice saves, one on OV at the post stood out.

Unleash the Red, Let's Go Caps!!!

Posted by: Osfan092589 | October 4, 2009 12:16 AM | Report abuse

@ Jonathan6

I think they're gonna need that song to pump themselves up on tuesday.. LOL hate to say it but philly has looked really good so far

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Btw...few other points I wanted to make.

It was after BMo scored to make it 5-1 that I realized how badly this team needs Circles back in the lineup...

Whoever keeps saying take Semin of the PK is out of their minds. Fantastic stick work and he always gets the clear out of the zone.

Loved his comments after the game, so far so good with that line. They pull off some ridiculous highlight reel goals when they are being fancy with the puck but I think they're even more effective making the simple plays on the boards and cycling. When they have it going their puck possession is unreal. They end up getting 2 or 3 solid scoring chances out of one trip into the offensive zone instead of one and done.

I thought ShaMo had a pretty strong game, great diving poke check on that one semi breakaway. Also Juice was really finishing his checks and seemed solid. The 3rd line needs some more time to gel, but Clark really seems to be healthy and going full speed. I foresee some great dirty goals from him and Steckel playing on a line together.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 12:27 AM | Report abuse

you always need an offensive threat even when you are on the PK and Semin is the best they have... if it were up to me, OV would kill penalties as well, esp. in the playoffs.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 12:32 AM | Report abuse

That was a great diving poke check by Morrisonn.

He had 5 blocked shots (team leader), 4 hits (tied for lead with a few others) and 2 takeaways.

Morrisonn was very good tonight.

And Laich looks much faster so far this season. I guess the training and the new lacing method are paying off.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 4, 2009 12:34 AM | Report abuse

Wow, did anybody just see that anticlimactic ending to the Flames-Oilers game?

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 4, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

that third line just needs to learn how to shoot the puck
i think they get overly concerned with cycling and getting the puck deep and trying to only shoot from 2 feet aways and get stuff attempts, like clark actually has a nice, little wrister he can fire off and bradley also can sniper it a little...after shooting then they can just crash, but some shots from odd-angles and from a little further out would do them wonders...

this team is absurd and i LOVE the energy i am getting from the crowd...RED OUT EVERY NIGHT

Posted by: cotelloer | October 4, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

I just caught it...epic fail from the "Stanely Cup champion". It happens to the best of them too.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse


I agree to a certain extent but that line's primary job is to keep the puck deep in the offensive zone as long as possible. In addition to that, they need to backcheck and play smart positionally. They shouldn't be taking too many risks. Firing sharp angle shots and bombs on net often results in the opposing team getting possession and transitioning with a skill line. We want to keep the puck out of the hands of their skill players as long as possible.

At the same time, our 3rd line could potentially look to take advantage of certain situations where they have numbers early.

For the most part, I like how our 3rd and 4th lines play. If we decide to put more skill players on our 3rd line eventually (for instance, when Fleischmann returns), maybe we could roll three scoring lines and have that 3rd line play a little more risky since they would have a greater chance of scoring goals.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 4, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

Adding to that, I think the return of Fleischmann means that 3rd line will have to be some kind of blend of skill and grit. Fleischmann is a skill player and will likely be paired with two defensive-minded grinders. If Fleischmann can somehow regain his early 2008-09 form, he is a player that could certainly add scoring punch to that line. It will be a tall task for him though with all the time off. Before the season started, I would've said Fleischmann had a shot at playing on the 2nd line but Laich's improved overall play makes that look highly unlikely at this point.

Fehr has the potential to bring a nice combination of scoring and grit to that 3rd line if he can stay healthy and put everything together for once.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 4, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

Having suffered for as long as all of us have suffered, isn't it awesome to be a Capitals fan these days?

I want a Cup as bad as any Caps fan, but even if the Capitals are eternally snake-bitten, and never do hoist Lord Stanley, there is something about this group that is 1000% more exciting than any previous incarnation of the team.

Could anyone imagine back in the days when Bondra or even Cicarelli, were eking out 35 or 40 goal seasons, that we would have the two time MVP scoring 50+ a year, a guy like Semin who casually scores ~40 despite missing 20 games, Backstrom, a setup man who seems destined to be the Stockton to Ovechkin's Malone, and for good measure, the highest scoring defenseman in the league.

Cup or not, this was a team worth waiting for.

Posted by: benz9 | October 4, 2009 2:04 AM | Report abuse

I am glad people are now seeing what I have been seeing since last year, OV/Backs/Semin is a monster line, if not the best and most potent line on the league. I realize this is only temporary for some of you, as the first time this team loses most of you will revert and start shouting to break them apart, and when the goals don't go in, the excellent passing among those players will be label "cute". Of course, to some of you, giving credit to the opposition for a good play will be out of the question, it will always have to be a bad play from one of the Caps. Too bad, those people will never enjoy this team much less the game of hockey.

Posted by: hock1 | October 4, 2009 2:23 AM | Report abuse

any doubts about IF we will resign Backstrom and Semin? =)

the question is how much is the home-town discount =)))

Posted by: Rambutan_ru | October 4, 2009 5:04 AM | Report abuse

B.Witt nails Fedastanko last night with a 100% clean shot, and he has to fight...McKee gets 2 extra and a 10-minute misconduct..

Garbage like that has got to stop..A clean hit should not mean you have to fight...Pens Suck every way you stack it..

Posted by: SA-Town | October 4, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

The OBS line can stay together for as long as BB wants as long as we still have secondary scoring.

Posted by: caps512 | October 4, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Well played all around for 40 minutes. Although the letdown was somewhat predictable, the coaching staff has to work on that. Had they faced a more offensively potent team, they might have lost that game. Nevertheless, the whole team seemed pumped and guys played their roles. I liked the self-control and self-discipline our guys showed, particularly Erskine, when they did not respond to the Leafs' attempts to draw them into fights. The Leaf fans blogging on the TSN article (pre-game) were making a point of mentioning that the Caps did not have a fighter in their ranks. They expected Toronto to come in and intimidate Washington into a loss. Guess again! :) It was definitely a lot of fun to watch.

I did see the Witt hit - nice, hard and clean. I agree that the officials need to start calling instigator penalties for fights after clean hits. It's hockey! It's part of the game! I don't have a problem with guys squaring off after cheap hits, but after clean ones, it needs to be called. Having said that, however, remember that the Isles were playing the Pens. You'll never see anything drastic called against them. I'm convinced that officials have marching orders from Bettman to take it easy on them. That's what helped them win the Cup. The ridiculous number of penalties called against their opponents while they got away with the same actions, in the same games. Also, the fact that the NHL reversed itself on suspending Malkin for starting a fight within the last minute of a game. Essentially, if you're a Pen, you'd have to murder someone on the ice to get a stiff penalty. And even then, nothing would happen if your name is Cindy Criesby. Thus, when the rules don't apply, it's easy to win games and championships. It must be quite some compromising film or pictures that Lemieux has of himself, Bettman and Cindy. :)

Posted by: Puckdawg69 | October 4, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

"Somebody has to take care of Colton Orr

Posted by: CodePoetry | October 3, 2009 5:24 PM"


Posted by: megatroll1 | October 4, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Agreed SA and Puckdawg.... cindy, mario and bettman have a nice little menage a trois going on. League really should be embarrassed but if they aren't after last years playoffs I don't think anything will bother them now.... I'm just hoping that this is the year we get to shove it in their faces!

Posted by: mrszilla | October 4, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

The only major problem with the SOB line is that when they're paired too much, they start playing pond hockey and get too much into the cute plays, and that can lead to turnovers. It's something to watch, but when they're on and down to business they're easily one of the top three most dangerous lines in the league.

With Morrison, Knuble, and a healthy Clark, and Laich playing his little game of "anything you can do, I can do better" with Ovi, we have enough scoring to get away with that top line.

The whole team needs to tighten up in the third - if you'll note, in Boudreau's system it's about team defense, not just the defensemen. They're capable of the lockdown (see: Boston) - I wonder how much of that was trying to show off for the home crowd. When they stop showing off and get down to business, they can hang with anybody. Part of me thinks it's as well that they're away in Philadelphia - it lets them get down to business.

Corey called last night's first period a "Harlem Globetrotter act on skates". I think that's about right.

Posted by: kittypawz | October 4, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse


Or how about resigning for the "I love playing with Ovi" discount".

Posted by: CapsFan75 | October 4, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Is Ovie really playing at 233lbs as it says on the caps site? He started around 220lbs a few years ago - not sure what he played at last year.

Posted by: rh71 | October 4, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Great opener, especially at the beginning. Although it is to be expected that we would come strong I loved how they maintained that energy. The team chemistry is so strong. And I am thrilled that both Knuble and BMO got their first goals. I also saw a lot more players going to the net--this team learns fast.

The "at times too cute" I remember from last night was when the 1st line passed one too many times between them and they lost possession before getting off a shot. Still I really enjoyed the chemistry especially with the first and second lines. I saw great synergy and much crisper play.

Question for others--it seemed like the 3rd and 4th lines saw more ice time in the 3rd period. True?

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | October 4, 2009 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Is Ovie really playing at 233lbs as it says on the caps site? He started around 220lbs a few years ago - not sure what he played at last year.

Posted by: rh71 | October 4, 2009 10:09 AM |

Yep, he gained about 10 pounds. He's a monster.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 4, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Fact: Ray Emery had a shutout streak of 5 periods in his return to the NHL.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 4, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: puckman | October 4, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Fact: Emery also played a listless Carolina team that looks like they might be pulling one of their famous magic disappearing acts after a deep playoff run and a Devils team that I think is going to struggle a lot more offensively.

When we light him up for 4 or 5 on Tuesday the pundits will stop thinking he's the next coming of Roy...

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

E. Staal got 25 stitches last night during the B's/Canes game, and came BACK to play in a 6-1 game. And he scored. Talk about heart.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 4, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

When we light him up for 4 or 5 on Tuesday the pundits will stop thinking he's the next coming of Roy...

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 10:44 AM |

Show me where the pundits are saying this?

Most pundits, including most posters on here, are saying Emery is god-awful and a huge question mark.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 4, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Yeesh, I just watched the Flames/Oilers finish.

I feel bad for Bulin...

Posted by: richmondphil | October 4, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

maybe im in the minority but i still want to see knuble with ov and backstrom. knuble will score 30 on that line as he bangs in every other rebound. Semin on line 2 with laich will still do well. no need to stack one line when you can have two great ones.

either way - it sure looks good right now.

Posted by: capsfansince74 | October 4, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

A lot of pundits are picking Philly to win the East, somehow thinking the additions of Emery and Pronger alone will get them over the hump. I agree Emery is a huge question mark. Not from a talent standpoint but a mental one. So far so good.

Staal has a lot of heart, but they lack the consistent scoring depth behind him when he doesn't have it going. Just look at the ECF last year to see that. Going 0 for 8 on the PP against Philly was just horrendous.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Briere is healthy, they have two of the top prospects in the world about to start their 2nd and 1st NHL seasons, they added two great PK'rs in Betts and Lappy.

I don't have them picked for the East either, but they did a lot more than just add Emery and Pronger.

Posted by: richmondphil | October 4, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Agreed Phil, but they've also lost guys over the past year or so in Umberger, Lupul, and Knuble. I think Giroux is going to have a big year and help replace some of that lost scoring for sure, that guy is a monster. Really just listening to people make their predictions, they mention Pronger and in the same breath include Timonen, Coburn, and Parent as if they were on the same level.

On the whole I'd say Emery will be an upgrade over Biron, as long as he can keep it together...especially in the playoffs. No matter what Philly will have to show they can compete with Pittsburgh having been knocked out of the playoffs by them the last 2 seasons.

I agree they may be a bigger threat than Boston this year in the East, but I also don't have them winning it.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Fact: Emery also played a listless Carolina team that looks like they might be pulling one of their famous magic disappearing acts after a deep playoff run and a Devils team that I think is going to struggle a lot more offensively.

When we light him up for 4 or 5 on Tuesday the pundits will stop thinking he's the next coming of Roy...

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 10:44 AM | Report abuse

I watched that game and I don't think the canes were listless. They had a lot of chances - including hitting two posts - they just couldn't finish.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

B.Witt nails Fedastanko last night with a 100% clean shot, and he has to fight...McKee gets 2 extra and a 10-minute misconduct..

Posted by: SA-Town | October 4, 2009 6:55 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't mind seeing Witt in the Caps uniform again if they can resolve the Nylander situation.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

The Caps are starting to remind me of the old Edmonton teams - run-and-gun, Globetrotter stuff, often leaving the goalie hanging out to dry. Great to watch. Even some player style comparisons (Ovie-Messier, Green-Coffey, Varlamov-Fuhr, Backstrom's great but no one compares to Gretzky). The Edmonton teams won lots of 6-4 games, but they could tighten things down for big games (e.g., playoffs) and win 2-1 or even 1-0. That will be the test for the Caps, bringing the very solid D when needed.

Posted by: zmega | October 4, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

If you're 0 for 8 on the PP...I'm going to call you listless :) Find a way to Knuble in a goal or something hahaha

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

the caps will need their kevin lowes, craig munis and charlie huddys to tighten up the D when needed. they're getting better in their own end but it's still work in progress.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

if a team is listless, they won't get 8 pp chances.. that's how I look at it.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

They played the Flyers, 8 PP chances is the average most games.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | October 4, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

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