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Caps 8, Thrashers 1

On Friday, Tom Poti told me the Caps wanted to bury the rest of the Southeast Division on this three game southern swing.

On Saturday, the defenseman helped his team get off to a pretty good start with an 8-1 rout in Atlanta, which pushed their lead over the second-place Thrashers to 16 points.

Check out my game story here and then come on back for a few additional notes/quotes/observations:

*When Semyon Varlamov returns from his groin/knee injuries, Coach Bruce Boudreau is going to have a heck of a problem on his hands - three capable goalies and two spots on the roster.

Michal Neuvirth has yielded two or fewer goals in six of his last seven games after a 38-save performance tonight that included 18 stops in the first period. With every start the 21-year-old rookie makes, he looks more and more confident. Tonight might have been his best NHL performance yet.

*When I asked Bruce Boudreau if Poti had been given the "green light" to jump up into the play more, the coach said. "He took it." Poti had a goal and and two assists, which extended his point streak to five games.

Boudreau's hypothesis? Getting the alternate captain's 'A' full-time after Chris Clark was dealt has give him a confidence boost.

"I think he's gotten a lot confidence out of that," Boudreau said. "I don't know but that's my feeling. He's played differently since he wasn't just an 'A' because someone was injured, that he was an 'A' full time. He took off. Whatever it's been, it's good."

*John Erskine took one shift in the third period and did not return. The team did not comment on the nature or extent of the injury.

*Quote of the night came from Johan Hedberg, who was chased from the Atlanta net after yielding four goals on nine shots: "The lesson learned tonight is that we need to play better."

*The Thrashers are a mess. I thought they played well in the first period, but it was rather clear that they checked out about midway through the second. They've now lost 10 of 11 and, according to TSN, GM Don Waddell is starting to look around for trade options - just in case he can't sign Ilya Kovalchuk.

*Speaking of Kovalchuk, the Thrashers captain didn't record a point for the third straight game and was a minus-3 tonight. He did, however, finish with a game-high seven shots - one more than Alex Ovechkin, who also had a quiet night points-wise, notching only an assist on Mike Knuble's second goal.

*After dominating in the faceoff circle in his first two games at center, Tomas Fleischmann came back down to Earth tonight. He won only six of 19 draws (32 percent).

*Alexander Semin's shorthanded goal was only the Capitals second this season. But it underscored an improving penalty kill, which has snuffed out 15 of the last 17 shorthanded situations the team has faced. Part of that is due to the fact that the Caps are doing a much better job in the discipline department (I'll have a story on their declining number of minor penalties in the next few days).

Sounds like the Caps are off tomorrow in Tampa. But if there's any update on Erskine, I'll post something.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  January 10, 2010; 12:01 AM ET
 | Tags: Atlanta Thrashers  
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Next: Morning roundup: Staying out of the box

Comments

Just got home from Atlanta ... where a group of us dressed in RED yelled constantly from the nosebleeds -- even chanting "Hedberg" at the end of the first.

Best line was after we did a "We want some more" chant after goal number seven, and a Thrashers fan in front of us responded with his own chant: "We want a save."

Posted by: Cerealman | January 10, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Regarding hits...

Only Ovechkin has over 100 and no other Capital is even in the Top 100 of the league.

The next highest is Morrisonn with 69 hits, good for 109th most in the league.

Jurcina only has 64 so he wasn't overly physical while with us, either.

I think the Caps could stand to add a little more grit, both up front and on the backend. I'd also like to see a bit more speed. Chimera brings some of both of those things, particularly speed, but we could still use more of both going into the playoffs, in my opinion.

I think the biggest reason we lost to the Penguins in the playoffs last season was not because Crosby, Malkin, Fleury etc... outplayed our top players.

Goaltending was a problem for us in Game 7 and I'm not saying the Penguins could have beaten us without their top guys. I just don't think they were the biggest difference over the course of the entire series. Our skill guys matched their skill guys for the most part.

I think the biggest different had to do with their role players. Many of those guys killed us on the forecheck with speed and grit and the entire team backchecked like crazy as the series went on, not allowing us to establish much in their end. That's how they got back into it after being nearly down 3-0.

If we end up facing the Penguins again, I think our role players being able to match the speed and grit of their role players will be the deciding factor again. Our top skill guys are right there with their top skill guys. It's the rest of team I think we need to be worried about being able to match up with.

We need to be able to keep those role players from forechecking us to death and beating us to pucks. We also need to be able to apply more of a forecheck at the other end.

Both of these things come down to speed and grit, in my opinion, and I think that is where the Penguins where able to turn the series around.

Defensively, if we had been able to better handle their forecheck by more often beating their forecheckers to pucks with speed then outmuscling them when there were board battles, we could've spent a lot less time in our zone.

At the other end, our role players weren't fast enough and physical enough to forecheck the way they were doing to us.

Had our role players matched the speed and girt of their role players, I don't even think the series makes it to 7 games. We very well may have been able to sweep the series if we didn't allow Pittsburgh to use their role players to get them back into it.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 10, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I hope this humiliating (awesome) defeat (victory) further decimates the miniscule fanbase of the doomed and illogical Thrashers franchise, and pushes it that much closer to selling out to Jim Balsillie, so he can FINALLY give the good people of southern Ontario the hockey team they've needed and deserved for so long.

Also... it was a lot of fun to watch. These are good days to be a Caps fan. I'm stoked I get to live it. Honk, honk, honk... Let's Go Caps! Here's to a Varly/Neuvy Neuvy/Varly tandem in the future. And I'm not sure who the #1 would be.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 12:48 AM | Report abuse

LATE LATE EDITION OF POST GAME THOUGHTS:
I missed the first period but after seeing this team have to endure another travel blip - what a way to respond tonight.

Another solid effort all around. Kudos to this team for showing balance as Ovie didn't do much to get on the scoresheet. A fantastic job. Neuvy standing tall again to Jason Chimera scoring his first goal as a Cap.

Congrats guys - a job well done. Time to keep this Southeast domination train rolling.

Off to Tampa where it isn't any warmer than up north right now haha - in other words - PERFECT HOCKEY WEATHER.

It's been a two point night.

ICE BREAKERS GOAL SHAKERS

Posted by: Jonathan6 | January 10, 2010 12:50 AM | Report abuse

@ tmac@yao
Agreed. I personally believe that Hal Gill's, Brooks Orpik's and Matt Cooke's play without the puck were just as important to beating us as the goal scoring was.

I'd like Stephane Robidas more that Sheldon Souray.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

How does Knuble gets first star? His two goals were fluke goals, while Semin's were just plain outstanding effort and his assist to Poti's goal was a pass of incredible stick and puck conrol. Newvirth had a sensational game and yet he is not even mentioned. Who makes the star selection? Ovie might have not scored, but he was all over the place, heck without him Knuble will never score. Don't get me wrong, I like Knuble but he does not deserve it as much as the other three I mentioned.

Posted by: hock1 | January 10, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse

@large

If you knew something about the history of the Caps, you wouldn't be so flip about sending a franchise packing. There was at least one "Save the Caps" campaign back in the early days.

That said, I see your point. I get frustrated with sports in Georgia: college football is a religion and they ignore the fact that one of the best hockey players in the world plays here. And this is their second shot at an NHL franchise - some deserving markets have never had even one. But the fans in Atlanta's "miniscule" fanbase are diehards - and would be devastated if the Thrashers leave town - just as I and other Caps fans would have been had the team folded back in the late '70s.

Posted by: CAP-lanta | January 10, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

I think Knuble got the first star because his goals came when the outcome was still up in the air. His first goal got the team going and his second goal took the fight out of the Thrashers and effectively put the game away (they switched goalies after that score). The goals weren't pretty but they were timely.

Speaking of stars, something happened tonight that I have not seen in the NHL in years. It used to be the game's three stars, regardless of which team, would take a spin on the ice after they were announced. I always liked that. Now it seems that only the home team players that get stars come out - never the visitors. But tonight both Knuble and Green came out for a spin. I thought that was awesome. All game stars should do that (except for cindy crosby, if he gets lucky and happens to earn a star at the VC, of course...)

Posted by: CAP-lanta | January 10, 2010 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Nice win, although I could go another year without seeing Ovie try to block a shot.

Posted by: spacecadetkid | January 10, 2010 1:20 AM | Report abuse

If I knew something about the history of the Caps, huh?

Thanks for your pompous, sanctimonious interlude before agreeing with me.

There should not be NHL franchises in places it doesn't snow.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 1:40 AM | Report abuse

The only thing I'd like to say about tonight's game is that while it looked like a cakewalk it wasn't. I hope everyone remembers how well Neuvy played in the first period when we got outshot 18-7 and yet were up 3-0!

It's also pretty amazing that Ovechkin didn't score in a game in which we got 8 goals. Further proof that the fans of other teams that still think we're a one man team can't possibly be more wrong. In fact, we're the only team with 4 15+ goal scorers (no other team has more than 2) and 8 10+ goal scorers!

Regarding Kovalchuk and the criticism he's getting now for not resigning. It's not about the money. It's about playing his whole career with a crappy team in a market where no one gives a damn about hockey. I think that he's thinking about his legacy now and if he resigns with Atlanta for the rest of his career he'll most likely be forever remembered as a great player who never won anything and never got enough credit for just how good he was. In any decent hockey market Kovy would be a mega star on par with Ovie, Crosby and Malkin.

Tonight's game was a perfect example of why he shouldn't stay in Atlanta. Not because of the result, but because in a match-up of Ovie vs. Kovy the arena was still half empty and had the atmosphere of a Catholic gathering.

Posted by: ranndino | January 10, 2010 2:08 AM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

I don't think team speed is our problem. In fact, we're one of the fastest teams in the league top to bottom. I think inexperience in the playoffs was our #1 issue. Few teams win the Cup as soon as they get good. Hopefully, this year is our turn to go to the final. I still think it'd be tough to beat whoever comes out of the West. That conference is just loaded with very tough clubs.

The good news is that we have as good a chance as anyone, but people have to remember that the playoffs are largely a crapshoot. Fans and pundits tend to make way too much out of someone winning the Cup or getting knocked out early. Often times it's just a matter of a few bounces going one way or another. The playoffs are a sacred cow in North America so I'm sure people will disagree, but to me a team that wins the regular season title is truly the best in the league for that season. It's very hard to be better than anyone else for 82 games. The playoffs, on the other hand, involve a whole lot of luck and are often based on how hot or cold a certain team gets over a short period as well as how it matches up against a particular opponent. Last year's Sharks - Ducks series was a perfect example of that. SJ just didn't match up well vs. Anaheim. It's very possible that had they not had to face them they would've gone to the final or maybe even won the Cup last year.

Posted by: ranndino | January 10, 2010 2:23 AM | Report abuse

Awesome game! My neck was about sore from watching all the action on the defensive end of the rink most of the first period, but Neuvy was unconscious. If the Trashers weren't so pathetic, they might have made it competitive by the 2nd. They blew so many odd-man chances, including a 4-on-2. Kovy was clearly not focused, fumbling a one-time chance on such an occasion. Wish I could've stayed for the 3rd period, but the radio commentary was hilarious on the drive home when we piled on the score.

We had a fair share of Caps fans there, but it still irritates me a little that many are Ovi groupies more than Caps fans.

Posted by: paperboy76 | January 10, 2010 5:50 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe Neuvy wasn't even named a star! ;( Green was good but he didn't have as big of an impact as Neuvirth did.

Posted by: rachel216 | January 10, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

Large: it wasn't long ago that people were saying that the Caps should move. You don't wish for a franchise to move, ever. What you wish is that it can improve its fortunes where it is, just like the Caps did.

Posted by: dcsportsdude | January 10, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

How does Knuble gets first star? His two goals were fluke goals, while Semin's were just plain outstanding effort and his assist to Poti's goal was a pass of incredible stick and puck conrol. Newvirth had a sensational game and yet he is not even mentioned. Who makes the star selection? Ovie might have not scored, but he was all over the place, heck without him Knuble will never score. Don't get me wrong, I like Knuble but he does not deserve it as much as the other three I mentioned.


Posted by: hock1 | January 10, 2010 12:59 AM | Report abuse


I believe it is the Atlanta sports announcers/writers that make the selection. But I agree, Neuvy needed to be at least #2 star.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | January 10, 2010 8:55 AM | Report abuse

they won the game 8 to 1 but some of you are gonna complain about the three stars of the game now???

Atlanta is the worst sports city in north america, the only sport they seem to care about is college football... they can't even sell out NASCAR races there right in the heart of the South. The Flames moved from there to Calgary, wouldn't be surprised if they lost another NHL team.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Don't look now, but Jeff Shultz now has the 2nd best plus/minus mark in the NHL at +23. (Ovechkin is 1st at +24). WTG, Jeff.

Posted by: sessal | January 10, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Knuble deserves a "star" because he played the way he was supposed to play. Coaches and fans alike are always looking for players who are willing to muck it up in the crease and either deflect shots in or pick up the rebounds. It aint pretty, but it works. On top of that, the player is putting himself at risk of injury (as Chris Clark did a few years back with an Ovi slap shot off the side of the head). Definitely.... a star for Knuble. Problem is, when you have that many players wracking up points and a goalie playing a stellar game, there just aren't enough stars to go around, but they're big boys - I'm sure they can handle it.

Posted by: gonchpup | January 10, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I know it's silly to complain about the three stars but they need to give credit where credit is due.

Think about it this way: Isn't it great that we're complaining about the three stars? That means everything is doing so great and this is all we have to complain about. =)

Lighten up joek443! :)

Posted by: rachel216 | January 10, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Man, what's up with all these sanctimonious schmucks on this blog? Why don't you guys return to beating Jesus into your children and give me a rest. Would you really speak to another adult that way in person? Word to the wise: if it IS a habit of yours to make these kinds of presumptuous displays of moral professorship to other grown-ass people, eventually somebody is going to jack you in your face.

Of all the Articles in your Moral Codex that you've invented, you better add that one.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

if anyone is interested in what Mr. Clean does on the side, turn to ESPN now and look at one of the reporters, Howard Bryant

I think he used to work for the WP.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Let's not move the Thrashers. I live in Chattanooga and I enjoy seeing the Capitals a few times a year.

Nuevy definitely deserved a star but who cares?

Ovi groupies? Who cares if they're rockin' the red?

I noticed Shultz's plus/minus too and have to give him some props.

Posted by: Cerealman | January 10, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the latest trade rumors have the Caps getting Kolvachuck for a one year rental in exchange for a prospect like Karl Alzner and a few draft picks. Semin, Ovi, Kolvy, Backstrom, Semin, and Flash all on the top two lines. Hard to believe. Still don't like the idea of giving up possibly a first as well as a highly touted prospect for a rental. Especially from an organization that does such a great job of developing young talent.

Posted by: CapsXXVI | January 10, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

@ tmac2yao: Mike Green and Alex Semin, two of the Caps big stars didn't even show up for that series and it still went seven games. But I get your point. The Pittsburgh team outworked the Caps, and played more as a team than Washington did. I think team speed is a wash, but the Pens grit makes them tougher to deal with.
It will come down to Washington being able to handle Pittsburgh's forecheck.

Posted by: pga6 | January 10, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

@CapsXXVI

where did you hear that? Chicago is the only serious suitor I'm hearing about that's not atlanta.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm just gonna go out on a limb and say that Kovalchuk is NOT coming to DC.

NYR, Montreal and the Kings have a lot better shot at getting him than the Caps ever will.

He and Ovie may be good friends off the ice but these guys all have EGOS... he's not coming here to play second fiddle to Ovie even if it's an one year deal.

and why the heck would he even consider a deal like that anyway? makes NO sense.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

@ tmac2yao: Mike Green and Alex Semin, two of the Caps big stars didn't even show up for that series and it still went seven games. But I get your point. The Pittsburgh team outworked the Caps, and played more as a team than Washington did. I think team speed is a wash, but the Pens grit makes them tougher to deal with.
It will come down to Washington being able to handle Pittsburgh's forecheck.

Posted by: pga6 | January 10, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

1. Semin and Green were hurt, has nothing to do with them not "showing up"

2. you can call it what you want, outworking, more grit, etc... I would just call the Pens a better team.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Spending all our cap dollars to bring Kovalchuk to DC deal would be absurd offensive overkill and would be making our need for a responsible blueliner impossible to resolve.

I would be very surprised and very pessimistic about our chances at the Cup if that happened.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I know it's silly to complain about the three stars but they need to give credit where credit is due.

Think about it this way: Isn't it great that we're complaining about the three stars? That means everything is doing so great and this is all we have to complain about. =)

Lighten up joek443! :)

Posted by: rachel216 | January 10, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

I used to pay attention to every little things like that many years ago... just winning wasn't good enough. if they won the game 8 to 1, I would complain that they should've got a shutout and if that goal happened to be a PP goal, I would get even more upset, etc.

then the playoffs would come around and they would lose a game in 5 OTs and I would feel really silly about complaining about stuff like that... LOL

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I still think Boston would have the best chance of getting Kovalchuk, because of that extra first round pick (starting to look like a top five pick at that). Atlanta could rebuild quick with two top first round picks (speaking of which, anyone know if the upcoming draft class is any good?). Come to think of it, Toronto should have made a serious play for Kovalchuk before going after Kessel. That would have been a good fit (especially considering what they gave up).

Okay I'm rambling now. Sorry. Bottom line I don't see Kovalchuk coming here. I think it'll either be LA or Boston. Chicago just doesn't to me because I think they need goaltending more than anything else.

Posted by: Capcrazy77 | January 10, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Not only that bringing in Kovalchuk to this team doesn't even make sense.

why would you need Lebron when you already have Kobe?

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Yea, I only think we need one more solid Dman. I kinda hope that they call up Carlson and give him a good look. He's just proved that he can perform in a high pressure situation. Who knows, maybe we don't even need to make a move.

I personally feel fine with the guys we got, and I know some of you guys would disagree, but that's ok. We still have a darn good team, and I'm gonna enjoy it while it lasts.

Posted by: Capcrazy77 | January 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@CapsXXVI

where did you hear that? Chicago is the only serious suitor I'm hearing about that's not atlanta.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

Just reported for the first time today on ESPN Insider.

"Guess what? Thrashers GM Don Waddell has begun to "feel out" other teams regarding an Ilya Kovalchuk, TSN reports. This is despite him saying that signs on an extension are positive.

One new team in the mix might be the Washington Capitals, but it'll likely just be a rental. A league source tells the Ottawa Sun, "They want to make it happen." The Caps will likely offer up prospect and draft picks -- Karl Alzner, perhaps?"

"Washington Capitals: This has been buzzing quietly for a while. Ovechkin + Kovalchuk = Stanley Cup?"

Posted by: CapsXXVI | January 10, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Wow...last I checked hockey was played with one puck. Not enough pucks around if Kovalchuk comes here.

I don't like that move, but they've cleared enough cap space (and more comes off with Theo at the end of this year) to make a signficant move at the deadline. Here's hoping its a physical D-man.

Posted by: rnscaps | January 10, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

might be, could be... NOT gonna happen

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Caps are not going to trade alzner for a one year rental. Just not going to happen. Maybe a draft pick or two and/or a lesser prospect or two. it's just not the caps M.O. to make such a deal. Alzner will be back up here when the move one of the other dmen.

Would be nice to get kovalchuk, but i'd prefer a focus on dmen. The caps are already the highest scoring team in the league. Not sure bringing kovi means the diff between the cup or not. A stud dmen and/ or defensive forward could. Hossa to the pens didn't mean the cup but guerin and gill did.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | January 10, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

@joek443

I hope you are correct ...

... the Caps remind me a little bit of the Avs before their last SC with Sakic and Forsberg and Heyduk and ... they had a lot of "firepower" ...
... and a guy named Roy, however ...

... they needed Borque and Blake (beside some luck) to get the SC ...

So I hope GMGM and BB will make the necessary addition(s) ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 10, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

"Not enough pucks." Nice. True that.

Of all I've seen and heard, I'm convinced Ted, GM and Gabby all have long-term plans for Alzner right here in DC. I would be just as shocked by an Alzner trade as a Varly trade. That was pure speculation by someone unassociated with the organization.

Gabby doesn't think Alzner is ripe for the top-six; and Alzner is Way closer to NHL ready than Carlson. High hopes are good, and they are justified,but those two kids are not the answer this year. We need a defenseman that plays his game without the puck.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

The Caps have scored 11 more goals than the next closest team so far this season. Teams that are within 15 goals of the Caps have all played at least one more game. Why, then, would the Caps need to give up good prospects and picks for a top scorer, especially since there's really no guarantee about fitting everyone on the current roster under the cap in the not-to-distant future? They might just need to keep those prospects for themselves.

That said, if they are going to give something up, especially for a rental, they should get someone who addresses an actual need, i.e., a stopgap defenseman.

Posted by: aybee27 | January 10, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

when you already have Ovie and Semin as your top 2 wingers, it's just foolish to even think about adding another top winger even if it's Kovalchuk on an one year rental.

this team already is the top scoring team in the NHL by a mile and they have OTHER needs they need to address before the playoffs.

if they're gonna make a major deal, it had better be for another d-man or a top-notch defensive forward.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

if they're gonna make a major deal, it had better be for another d-man or a top-notch defensive forward.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 11:52 AM

Yes, that's what I've been saying too.

Kovalchuk = NO! (The Lebron - Kobe comparison is good.)

Souray = HE!! NO!

Schultz +5 = YES!

Poti's Play = Yes!

And...@tmac2yao...the reason the Caps lost to the Pens is the Caps got only 19 PPs vs the Pens got 37 PPs. You can say that's cuz they had more of that toughness you mentioned, but I don't believe it. Some refs just have a certain bias, that's what I believe.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1: I'm sure you will get some crap about bringing up the offiating in that series last year, but I agree 100%. If the officiating had been unbiased the Caps win that thing in 5 or 6 games.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Just for grins

ovi backstrom knuble.
kovalchuk flash semin.

It would be hard to stop these two lines in the playoffs. Plus our goaltending will make the stops the need to and keep us in the game. If you keep the puck from the other team then you win. simple..

Posted by: samb99 | January 10, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The Caps / Pens series came down to bounces, folks. Close playoff series often do.

Saying that we need speed makes no sense - we're already one of the fastest teams in the league. Grit, maybe, but I think that that has been added as well in the persons of Mike Knuble and Jason Chimera. Given how these guys are playing, I'd be very, very reluctant to disrupt the chemistry of the forward lines right now; it looks like there's a good thing going. We don't need Kovalchuk, and it seems silly to upset the forward lines again and risk an ego clash, plus mess up the cap situation, for a rental we don't really need. As others have said, there wouldn't be enough puck to go around.

If you're going to make a change, make it on defense. Sheldon Souray isn't what we need, but what about Nashville's Dan Hamhuis? Nashville is in mad need of scoring if they are have a hope of the playoffs, and last I heard the Caps had a little of that floating around somewhere in a dark corner.

Though honestly, I'm not sure we need a change right now. Lte's see how things develop.

One more thing - anyone else ready to call the Flash-at-center experiment a success yet?

Posted by: kittypawz | January 10, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

1. If Jose is "Three-or-more," is Neuvirth "Two-or-fewer?"

2. I'd like to see the Atlanta franchise survive. But they are between a rock and a hard place, aren't they? If they pay Kovalchuk what it would take to keep him, they lack the resources to fill out a successful team around him. But if they trade him for prospects and draft picks (which I think they should, from a purely hockey perspective), their fan base probably deserts them through the rebuilding phase.

Posted by: zmega | January 10, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@samb99

However, the first period against Atlanta shows a litte bit of a different picture ... ;-) as did the comments ...

18 : 7 and 0 : 3

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 10, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The Caps are woefully short on defensemen going forward. You have Green and Schultz, two NHL players, under team control beyond 2010-2011 (Poti has one more year, like Ersk). Then you are hoping that Alzner and Carlson will crack the lineup. Trading Alzner for Kovalchuk forces the club to then buy a free agent for next season. Even if they bring back ShaMo or Potier, the likely cost is more than Alzner would make. So this potential Kovy deal has ramifications beyond this year, even if only a rental. Alzner will likely provide decent play at a reasonable price for at least 2-3 more seasons. We are already leading the league in scoring. We need mainly a forward who can do like Tikkanen and shadow the top enemy forward in the playoffs. Beyond that, extra grit on the blueline wouldn't be a bad thing. We DON'T need to create an ego contest where Ovi and Kovy are trying to see who can score more goals. That would not help team play, IMHO.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 12:53 PM | Report abuse

kittypawz: I would not yet call the Flash experiment an "unqualified, complete success." At this point, I'd call it a "preliminary success." Concluding success at this point is like doing likewise with a middle reliefer after three starts. The other teams will be scouting Flash now at center and looking for weaknesses. After 20 games or so, if this keeps up, we can maybe take "F" away from his position and make it "C."

That's my opinion, since you asked.

Time for Ravens!

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

With Neuvi's play of late, the question has to be asked. When Varly returns healthy (and hopefully staying that way) and w/ Holtby stellar play in Hershey why not put Theo up as trade bait? Does he have a no movement clause?

Posted by: mabbs | January 10, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Neuvy just got over .500 win percentage last night. Did his save percentage even get over .9 yet? Not sure, but probably.

I'm thrilled Neuvy had a great game last night and that he looks very solid. We still need Jose.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 10, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl - Last night there was evidence of the scouting effect, as Flash's effectiveness on face-offs declined dramatically. The really good ones adjust in those situations, so we will have to see if Flash can do that. He's got the best resource in Steckel to draw on (no pun intended).

Posted by: zmega | January 10, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

The officiating will always be biased whenever it's Cindy vs. the dirty Commie. I don't understand why the NHL has so much invested in Cindy when it's Ovie that will bring the casual fan into the building. He's much more exciting to watch both on and off the ice. In fact, I don't think I can name another athlete in any sport that brings such unbridled enthusiasm to both his game and his sport.

I think the other thing that the Caps will need in the playoffs, aside from unbiased officiating, is that the Caps will must grind more and figure out how to stradle the fine line between smashing the cherry pickers that have lived in our crease and not drawing the fouls.

Remember when the Flyers did us in in 7 two years ago? That little d-bag Danny Derierre LIVED in our crease and no one made him pay. Cindy did it last year too. No one was willing to rough people out of there. Like someone else said, the missing link, so to speak, is a solid D-man whose A game is played when not handling the puck.

Also, isn't it amazing that in this town, with a team playing on fire and with a realistic chance at a championship, and all most people care about is that idiotic, dysfunctional franchise up the road?

Posted by: VeloStrummer | January 10, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Which of the idiotic dysfunctional franchises are you talking about? There are choices, you know.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 10, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

@VeloStrummer -- your point about clearing the crease is well taken, but it's not merely a matter of personnel. The Caps have done a far better job of that more recenly with our existing guys.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 10, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

With Neuvi's play of late, the question has to be asked. When Varly returns healthy (and hopefully staying that way) and w/ Holtby stellar play in Hershey why not put Theo up as trade bait? Does he have a no movement clause?

Posted by: mabbs | January 10, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse

No Theo is ready to move to anyone who will take him. Right now I think the best win-win trade would be for a top defenseman around Theo's salary with one year left on his contract after this one. That way we could sign Backs and Flash this year, then get Semin under contract long term if we so desire. Still only place I see Semin wanting to play besides Washington is somewhere in the KHL. His english, at least the spoken part, isn't at a point where he would feel comfortable playing on a team without Russians. Of course maybe that changes in a year or two.

Posted by: CapsXXVI | January 10, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Theo is expendable w/ a healthy Varly and even if he gets injured again theres Holtby in Hershey w/ 7 consecutive wins and a stellar GAA. Theo would be the best goaltender on the market after Halak and moving his contract wouldn't hurt if the GM decides to make a big deal for a rental at the deadline...

Posted by: mabbs | January 10, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"It would be hard to stop these two lines in the playoffs. Plus our goaltending will make the stops the need to and keep us in the game. If you keep the puck from the other team then you win. simple."

If we were playing a 90's-style grind-trap-possession game, what you say is true. But we don't, so it's not. We play fast, and we take lots of shots, and thereby give our opponents lots of possessions. Gabby will never run a trap/left wing lock, so trying to out-possess our opponents is not possible.

We need responsible blueline help to choke passing, drive puck-carriers into the boards, force dumps, and force rushed point shots. That's the way we limit opponent scoring.

Adding Kovy will not get us the Stanley Cup.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

So I decided to give the NFL a chance again and watch my local team's first playoff game today (Patriots). I already remember why I don't watch American football. Need the Swedish bikini team to provide entertainment during all this non-action. I've already watched more ads during the first quarter than I have in the past month of not watching football.

BTW, someone should let the Pats know that the kickoff was at 1PM.

Posted by: ranndino | January 10, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Jesus I hate foobaw

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

@ranndino:

"... omeone should let the Pats know that the kickoff was at 1PM. "

... the Ravens maybe ;-)

However, here is a lot of talk about a much needed defenseman - but who should it be?

On the other hand, as mentioned by Sonyask, the Caps are getting better and better at clearing the crease ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 10, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Neuvy just got over .500 win percentage last night. Did his save percentage even get over .9 yet? Not sure, but probably.

I'm thrilled Neuvy had a great game last night and that he looks very solid. We still need Jose.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 10, 2010 1:06 PM

gaa: 2.68, sv%: .910

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 10, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Caps 3-0 since Ovi named captain. He hasn't been the main offensive force in these games. But, it looks to me like he is paying more attention to the defensive part of his game now. When your best player and new captain is suddenly your best two way player, maybe that changes overall how you play.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

@zmenga
"If Jose is "Three-or-more," is Neuvirth "Two-or-fewer?""

gaa: 2.68 ...

... way to go for Neuvi ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 10, 2010 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Not sure if Chimera has been given a nickname yet but i really like "chewey"....

what do you guys think? lets try to get it out there!!

Posted by: capz_hockey | January 10, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

NEUVY FOR PRES! GO CAPS AND GO RAVENS! cant wait till tues for the lightning game.I'll be there givin the caps love,any other fl. caps fans going? We gotta keep Rockin The Red in all buildings!

Posted by: gratefuldid | January 10, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

@ccCapsfan

... and other players contributing (e.g. scoring goals) is very good for the team chemistry and for the confidence of the other Caps (see BBs comment on Poti's play) ...

... and it demonstrates how Ovie is seeing and filling his role as the captain ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 10, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

The enemy announcer the other night, I was watching the Ottawa broadcast I think, but hbe said Chimera wants his name pronounced "Shimera," and has used the trade as an opportunity to get the mispronumciation fixed.

So, for nicknane, we'd be looking at "Shimmy."

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Well after basking in the pleasure of the win for a bit, I decided to catch up on this thread.

As for Kovalchuk I agree with the "unlikely" camp--it strikes me as an apples-for-apples trade if we lose a high scoring forward and pointless if we give up a defenseman, especially someone we've been grooming i.e. Alzner. I see a future pairing of Alzner and Carlson when they are both up here for good. They were so great together at Hershey.

Don't know if Flash as center is a 100% success yet but it's definitely the missing "piece of puzzle" as Ovi likes to say. The chemistry on that line is electric and I can see the Flash/Semin pairing as potentially longterm. And I expect Laich to get his chance any game now. Semin seems so much more relaxed and focused now that he has his contract out of the way. And he does think of himself as a Washingtonian BTW even if he does say so in Russian. Personally I don't think he wants to go anywhere.

I expect the BMo/Chimera/Fehr line to break out any game just as our 4th line has broken through. Loved that Chimera got his first Caps goal and the hug and head rub that Semin gave him at the bench. Don't need English to show camaraderie.

Knuble on the top Ovi/Backs line is doing just what he brought here to do--live in the crease--so I was delighted when it paid off last night, the first goal especially--the Ovi rebound play. Doesn't matter how pretty the goals are and neither of Knuble's would have happened if he hadn't been present and accounted for in the crease. As for Ovi and Backs--no words needed--just great.

Neuvi--WOW--so calm, so cool, and already has improved his clearing of the puck to the corner (that little part of his game that needed work in his last great game). Regarding the trade of one of our goalie prospects. IMO Varly and Neuvi are our tandem next season and let Holtby get some NHL experience before we think either Varly or Neuvi expendable. Until we KNOW which duo is the right duo--then NO trades! (IMO of course). This is why Theo is needed this season--how to handle the goalie bounty of riches is tricky but Holtby's own incredible breakout doesn't mean we should rush him either.

Finally--it seems to me that especially since getting the "C" Ovi has been particularly good with defense. I always thought of him as the heart of the team but he seems to be it's brain as well, helping direct the play and open it up so others can score. It can only help the team if the puck is dished to whomever has the best opportunity and not just give it to our goal scoring magician who so often can "pull a rabbit out of the hat" when needed.

The Caps have their mojo back and it's even stronger than before.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Theo is definitely expendable, as he's the third guy in our system. While it's never a bad thing to have an experienced goalie in the playoffs, Theo's frustration with his situation (I'm sure he knew about Varly and Neuvy prior to signing....so he knew WHY the caps didn't want to sign Huet to a 3 year deal) has made him a distraction. He was a distraction last year in the playoffs, and we don't need that this year.

That said, I don't think he has any trade value, unless it's a "throw-in" in a bigger deal (to get Fehr you HAVE to take Theo). The question is Theo enough of a cancer to waive him completely from the team. If that happens, I hope we'd consider signing a veteran emergency goalie (a Gerber-type).

Posted by: C-way | January 10, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I have been harping about Kovalchuk for a month now...trust me, that one is going to happen. And, it will NOT be a rental. Caps will sign him to a LT deal. ESPN Insider finally has the story this morning:
"
Caps want Kovalchuk

Guess what? Thrashers GM Don Waddell has begun to "feel out" other teams regarding an Ilya Kovalchuk, TSN reports. This is despite him saying that signs on an extension are positive.

One new team in the mix might be the Washington Capitals, but it'll likely just be a rental. A league source tells the Ottawa Sun, "They want to make it happen." The Caps will likely offer up prospect and draft picks -- Karl Alzner, perhaps?
"

Posted by: Political_Stratgst | January 10, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I like Shimmy I think. And maybe the Ovi rebound goal was Knuble's second. Gosh there were so many goals last night it hard to keep them straight. Enjoyed "Shimmy's" joke in his interview that there was no need to tell people that his goal was the 8th of the night. I like his sense of humor. And the joy he shows he shows at being a Caps now.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

some of you need to be reminded that this is REAL hockey, NOT fantasy hockey...

you win NOTHING by just piling up your roster with goal scorers.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

@joek443

... and as in so many other sports: Defense wins Championships ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | January 10, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

I just can't believe the Caps would either give up a big chunk of their future for a Kovalchuk rental or spend the dollars to sign him long term. That said, he did seem to work out pretty well with Ovi and Semin at the worlds.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

IMO relying on a rookie duo Varly/Neuvi for the playoffs is risky. And personally I think Theo is anything but professional, especially in the locker room and with his support of the rookie goalies. But that's just my opinion.

Also if a trade happened IMO it would be on the defense front. Kovy is just such a great talent everyone gets excited, but he's a sniper too and many frustrated posters on some of the Thrasher boards do not like his defensive play and turnovers. Just pointing out what many local Thrasher fans say... ! Can't say if the opinions on Kovy defense are valid.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I mean to say Theo has been great--a consummate professional and very supportive of the team at a time when he is getting heavily pushed by the hungry youngsters and his coach is willing to sit him out if he doesn't play well.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

@Capsyoungguns: yeah, Kovy is not a two way player, so it is likely he is step in the wrong direction for this team. There is precedent for great offensive players to become more responsible when they get moved to a championship contender. Hossa is probably at least one example. But, it's a risk.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

How would you like to have the Sens goaltending? Did you see some of the softies Elliot gave up yesterday?

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@ Capsyoungguns

I think that train left the station last year when BB put Varly in after one playoff game... unless he's injured, it's gonna be Varly in the playoffs.

And you only need one goalie in the playoffs and they already know Theo can't do it for them in the playoffs.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@joe43

Yeah I agree with you that Varly is our playoff goalie. But what if he gets hurt? Is Neuvi the backup? It's academic I know since Theo doesn't have major trade value at the moment and everyone knows that Varly/Neuvi with Holtby pushing them is our goalie situation for the foreseeable future. I just took exception to one of the posters calling Theo a cancer and distraction for the team. Taking time with the goalie development is a nice luxury for the Caps and having Theo has helped IMO. It seems to me that Neuvi and Holtby playing so well was a developmental hope but not an absolute, but one that seems to be progressing beautifully.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

I think Neuvy will get the start in the playoffs if Varly is hurt based on what has happened in the last couple weeks.

we had all better pray that Neuvy would be as good and ready as Varly was last year because they would be in serious trouble if they would have to go back to Theo.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Kovy is an obvious upgrade for any team, including us. The problem is that the upgrade is in a place that we don't we need. We lead the league in goals per game, we don't need another offensive-sniper like Kovy. We have Semin, Ovi, Green, and to an extent Flash..all guys who score goals/cough the puck up already. I love Kovy, but he doesn't need to come to the Caps.
____________________________________
There should not be NHL franchises in places it doesn't snow.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 1:40 AM |
This makes me laugh.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 10, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

@ FCKoeln1

"Defense wins championships" is one of the sports cliches I hate the most because it's not true and yet is repeated all the time by blowhards who like to pretend that they have a deeper appreciation of the sport than casual fans. Look at teams who win championships in any sport. They all have consistent offense and win because even they're down they can come back. Teams that can defend, but not score rarely win anything.

Posted by: ranndino | January 10, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

There should not be NHL franchises in places it doesn't snow.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 1:40 AM |
This makes me laugh.

It snowed in Central Florida yesterday morning. OK, but it was just a few frozen pellets. Just sayin' though.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

ranndino: I think you're being a little rough there on FCKoeln1. I happen to agree with him, if you phrase it thusly:

If two teams are relatively equal on offense; the better defense will win. If two teams are both good and relatively equal on defense, have a slightly better offense won't make a significant difference. Also, it's easier for a great defense to stop a great offense than for a great offense to beat a great defense.

Baseball, basketball, football, hockey. Much easier to find an average offense/great D champ than a great offense/no D champ.

I hope that doesn't make me a know-nothing blowhard.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Well regardless of the trade rumors, I'm in love with these lines/ D pairings. Everyone has been on fire. the 21/14/28 line is gelling quickly, the 8/19/22 is starting to come together like people thought preseason. 3/55 and 26/52 are both looking balanced and offensively dangerous.

Posted by: BACKS | January 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"Defense wins championships" is one of the sports cliches I hate the most because it's not true and yet is repeated all the time by blowhards who like to pretend that they have a deeper appreciation of the sport than casual fans. Look at teams who win championships in any sport. They all have consistent offense and win because even they're down they can come back. Teams that can defend, but not score rarely win anything.

Posted by: ranndino | January 10, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

you can't come back unless you hold them where they are... you can go down 2-0, 3-1 and still win but your DEFENSE has to hold them where they are for you to even think about coming back

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

But on the flip-side, there are tons of great defensive teams that don't even make the playoffs because they can't score at all. I don't think it's much easier to find okay offense/great defense teams anyway. It seems most championship teams have some offensive superstar. And Baseball seems to be completely contradictory with the notion. You can get by with okay defense if you have great offense to back it up.


Either way, these generalizations are absurd. You need a combination of everything to win, with a bit of timing and luck.

Posted by: richmondphil | January 10, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Okay this may be so obvious that I betray some kind of fundamental ignorance but I don't understand the argument "offense vs defense." Can't win if the team doesn't score and can't win if the team lets the opposing team score more. Seems to me that it is more a matter of consistency and timing and balance of the two--obviously the Caps are stronger offensively than defensively. To me the point of discussion is the question: has their defense improved--more consistent, able to clamp down when in the lead, etc.


defense vs offense--I have to say I don't get it. Why this either/or. Winning teams need both for all of the reasons

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

@joe443

Agree that it's most likely Varly/Neuvi for playoffs but Theo has thus far IMO been the rabbit for Varly at the beginning of the season and since his injury the rabbit for Neuvi. Having Theo has allowed BB to choose whether to play Neuvi and to put him in situations to see how much pressure he can handle, and I think that's why Neuvi been in many of the big games. IMO it's been useful to BB to have Theo as a bird-in-hand so to speak.

It's a good question as to what happens to Theo when Varly returns, because I agree he's the odd goalie out. Neuvi just keeps getting better. But I think it's a developmental situation that grew over the course of the season. Making Theo the nominal no. 1 goalie has IMO been BB's motivator for the other two. Short term goal--get Theo's spot--that kind of thing.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Granted you do need a combo of everything to win. Maybe the "defense wins championships" thing is a cliche. However keep in mind the Caps went years and years with top flight defense (especially when Terry Murray was coach and also Brian). The offense side in some of those years obviously had some talent, but by no means was it stacked with goal scorers. Yet even with great defense the heartbreak we felt season after season in the playoffs still happened. Now the situation is basically reversed from the 1980's, so maybe with the addition of one solid d-man the run for the Cup will be productive. I hate to think we have to wait for the maturation of Alzner and Carlson before the Cup can be won.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 10, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

obviously you must have balance in order to win the championship in any team sport. The only teams that I can think of won in spite of their offense is the 85 Bears and the 2000 Ravens.

I don't think you can take the saying "defense wins championships" literally. I've always taken that to mean that offense sometimes comes and goes, even the very best but defense is more constant, less susceptible to slumps... something you can count on more day in and day out.

most teams aren't blessed with having superstars like Ovie, Gretzky, Lemieux, etc... you can get away with some holes on defense if you guys like them on your team but if not, you gotta start with building your defense if you wanna win anything.. it's like the foundation of your house.

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

So if GMGM rents Kovalchuk for Alzner and picks/prospects rather than bringing in a d-man, we're all going to boycott the team, right? Who's with me???

Posted by: zmega | January 10, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

There generally is a reason for a cliche, especially in sports. In most if not all sports, it is usually easier to stop a great offense with great defense than for a great offense to overwhelm a great offense. There are multiple examples of great defenses doing enough to win a championship and very few examples of offenses being so dynamic that a defense can not stop it. Look at the past several SC winners and you will not see an offensive powerhouse that did not have at least a respectable defense.

Posted by: realoldcapsfan | January 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Hockey is also different than other sports. Basketball and football have no player who compares to "goalie," who can take over just as a preventive player. Baseball though has the pitcher, and the old "cliche" is pitching and defense is 90% of the game. I remember for years and years the Orioles and Cardinals would always be near the top with pitching, defense and some hitting (and winning when the hitting was enough). Meanwhile teams like the Brew Crew and Boston would lose by 12-11 enough to take them out of it.

You can win with an average but opportunistic offense easier than with that type of defense in hockey and baseball, due to goalie and pitcher positions.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

@kcbrichmond and @joe443

Okay I get where both of you are coming from. The discussion just seemed a little circular to me during my reading of the thread. Thanks.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

@joek443: Good analysis of the "defense wins" trope. Even the 1985 Bears had the best offense Chicago had seen since the Sid Luckman days. That team had Sweetness and the best year of Jim McMahon's career.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil

I'd encourage us all to compile a list of teams that had awesome D, no scoring and couldn't win. 2 years ago the Wild were one point out of the playoffs despite NHL-low goals (an over .500 team). I guess it depends on what your measure of success is, but I think awesome D and no O gets teams farther than the other way around.

@kcbrichmond
We did not suck in the Murray years. We were 2nd or 3rd in the Patrick every year for a decade in that time. We only WON the Patrick once, but that was a haevyweight feat. And let's remember that it was our blueliners alone that pulled the cart, our goalies sucked.

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

@large23220: Agree that you can typically be decent with a great defense and no offense. I think we are WAY beyond wanting to be decent with this team.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

@large23220
I think you misunderstood me. I never implied we "sucked" during the Murray years. I loved those teams. My point was that the Caps were very good with a defensive minded team. Winning the Patrick was not an easy task. Now it seems 180 degrees different, Caps have great offense and okay defense. We will have to see the playoff results with this "reversal".

I agree however, goaltending is probably the true key to playoff success. Most Cup winning teams have a hot goaltender.

As far as Kovalchuk, I would not give up Alzner and picks for a rental.

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 10, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I remember many years when the Caps had great defense and each of those years in the Playoffs we made the opposing goalie look like a Hall of Famer. At the time, the excuse was often made that the Caps just ran into a hot goalie. But it happened every year. More than likely, it was a lack of offense, that showed up most acutely during the playoffs when all the teams tighten up their defensive play.

Posted by: zmega | January 10, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

I think it's a myth that the Caps are even above average in terms of team speed.

I think that is an inaccurate, media-driven characteristic due to our open style of play and a handful of players that probably aren't quite as fast as they're made out to be.

Remember, we are considered one of the BIGGER teams in the league. It's unlikely that we are both bigger AND faster. Size generally has an inverse relationship with speed and I distinctly recall us being listed as one of the bigger teams in the league in terms of height.

Back to the series with the Penguins, I strongly believe that it was more than lucky bounces that got them back into it. Sure, they got some good bounces like all teams do but more importantly, they outworked us and outskated us, particularly as the series got to its middle stages. We also got our share of lucky bounces. I seem to recall us getting noticeably outplayed in one of the first two games despite ending up with a win (Game 2?).

Again, it wasn't their top players outperforming our top players up until Game 7.

It wasn't the referees or any other conspiracy theory, either. I bet any impartial observer watching that entire series would see Pittsburgh looking like the faster team and the tougher team and thus, drawing more penalties.

I still sustain that if our role players were collectively even close to as gritty and as fast as their role players, that series would not have even gone anywhere near a Game 7. We probably would have won in 4 or 5, eliminating any homer-like discussions about bad luck and poor officiating.

Now, I'm not saying we need to go small but I do think we need to balance out our size with more speed. We also need more grit, regardless of size.

The most under-discussed aspect of that Pens-Caps series was the impact their role playes had on turning things around for them. The spotlight was on Ovechkin and Crosby and a few others but those guys roughly balanced each other out, particularly through Game 6 (Malkin was just about as quiet as Semin for those pointing a finger at Semin). Sure, Green didn't play well because of health or whatever other reason but I still don't think his poor play was as responsible for the loss as the Penguins role players forechecking us to death with their speed and grit while using those same attributes in their own end to nullify our forecheck.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 10, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

zmega

I agree with your thoughts. Alzner is not a Scott Stevens. The one I would like to keep is Carlson. Very few times do you get a chance to win a championship. How many on this board would trade a stanley cup win this year for us being just playoff contenders for the next few years. If we can get kovalchuck for alzner plus picks and prospects. go for it

Posted by: samb99 | January 10, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

Adding to my previous post...

The Caps don't need to make any blockbuster deals. In my opinion, they just need to add a small dose of both grit and speed up front and on the blueline. That can be accomplshed through a couple of minor deals that won't have much wow factor but will quite possibly make us a more complete playoff team.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 10, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao: Size and speed aren't always in separate packages. We have some guys with great size and speed (e.g., Ovi, Green, Semin, Laich). But, in pro sports you can never have too much speed and I have to agree with you that there are some places in our line-up where our speed is lacking. This is the main reason for the Chimera trade - the dude is big AND fast. One of the things that we all seemed to love about Matty Perreault is his speed (and hustle). I'm not sure why Bruce doesn't seem to be a big fan, but I'm guessing he still makes a lot of mistakes in the system. Steckel is an example of a guy who is big and painfully slow. Other than his faceoff skills, I see him as really hurting us. But Bruce and GMGM just extended him, so I must be missing something.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

tmac2yao

do you think by making the small cosmetic changes you propose will make the caps a better team than chicago, san jose, pitt.

Posted by: samb99 | January 10, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

is Arizona beating GB 31 to 10 becuase they have great D or a powerful O....

Posted by: samb99 | January 10, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

@samb99: yes, they are more offense than defense. But, let's see if they can win a Super Bowl. Their defense betrayed at the end last year. We aren't interested in winning just the first round this year, we want the Cup.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

@ccCapsfan

Not always but much more often than not, size and speed have an inverse relationship.

Ovechkin is an awesome player but he's not as fast as some people portray him. Green is more of a smooth skater than a Rafalski or Campbell type. Even a guy known to have weight issues in Doughty is noticeably faster.

Laich is not that fast, either. He may have improved his speed through training and the new way he laces his skates, but he is probably average compared to the rest of the forwards, league wide.

Semin, Fleischmann, Chimera have legit speed. Bradley is probably fast for a grinder. Pothier is probably our fastest defenseman but he plays 3rd line minutes because he is weak along the boards.

I really did like what I saw out of Perreault and think he is the type of player that could really help a Caps team that is a lot slower than people realize. I'm not sure if he can sustain that feistiness he was displaying but he was winning puck battles quite a bit when he first came up in addition to showing off his speed and playmaking skills.

Steckel is a guy I just have never understood the fascination with. Yes, he is the best in the league at winning faceoffs and that is a valuable skill but he doesn't do a single other thing at an NHL-caliber level. Yea, he kills penalties and he is touted for his size, length and reach. The problem is his slow reaction time and his inability to change direction quickly outweighs those positive attributes, in my opinion. He also struggles TREMENDOUSLY at times clearing pucks. And for a big guy, it's scary how he easy he is to knock off the puck, whether in open ice or along the boards. He just doesn't play with enough grit for a big body or for a player that has next to no open ice skill or puckhandling ability.

Schultz is another big that absolutely needs to play more physically. I see his great plus/minus, his shotblocking and his solid stick checks but I also see a guy that suffers from some of the same issues as Steckel. He is slow, can't change directions well and is dead in the water if an opposing forward gets behind him.

The Caps have had a bad penalty kill for a while and Schultz and Stekcel are two key pieces to that penalty kill so maybe there is at least some connection. Maybe it's other players or coaching but I wouldn't be surprised if they are partially responsible.

On a side note, we've struggled to win in OT this season. That is usually an area where fast teams can take advantage of the open ice of 4-on-4 situations. I'm not saying that is the result of being outskated but I'm not saying it isn't, either. I haven't done any research on our 4-on-4 numbers over the last few years.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 10, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@samb99

Yes, I think making the right minor changes up front and on the blueline would make us better than Pittsburgh and put us right there with San Jose. I'm not sure about Chicago. They are pretty loaded.

Regardless, I believe that the kind of changes I'm thinking of would improve our chances against any team in the playoffs even if it doesn't clearly make us better than them.

Remember, we nearly lost to the Rangers in the 1st round, a team that was considered fast and gritty. I know they were a strong defensive team with a great goalie but they were also faster and more gritty. We squeaked our way out of another first round disappointment by relying too much on skill and not enough grit, speed and aggressive forechecking.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 10, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

tmac -

I can understand your point regarding ovechkins speed, but its tough to argue against the fact that he accelerates probably better than anyone on the team. How many times have you seen him just zip form the red line on a breakaway?

Stecks is valuable because of the steady play he brings on a fourth line. His size, defensive responsibility, and faceoff percentage is really what makes him so valuable. I understand that he struggles with clearing the puck/offensive skill set, but his play on the boards and backchecking/forechecking abilities are more than adequate for a fourth line center.

Schultz does need to play more physically, but I think this, along with every single other aspect of his game, is improving. +/- is overated at times, but he hasnt been on the ice for many goals against, and hes done it with many different partners on the blue line.

Our pk is slowly improving, but if things need tinkering, I highly doubt Stecks and Schultz are the ones that need to be adjusted.

Our team doesnt have much speed, I agree, but they do have some tremendous skaters. Green, ovi, bmo, Flash, backstrom might not be lightning quick, but its hard to argue with the value of their skating ability. Green at times can go from one end to the other just on out skating the opponent.

Posted by: BACKS | January 10, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao: You and I are in agreement on most of this stuff. We're definitely in the minority on Steckel. I do think you are selling both Ovi and Green short on speed. The other big guy on the team who has pretty good speed is Fehr. I think you are confusing quickness (the first step or two and abilty to change directions) with speed. Fehr is not incredibly quick but I suspect that if you had him skate end to end he is top 5 on the Caps and compares well with other teams. it would be interesting to do a ranking of player speed for the Caps and other teams and see how we think they really match up. I know people are impressed with how San Jose looked against us but it was one lousy road game. We kicked their butts in DC. Their best player is probably Joe Thornton (other than Nabokov) and he isn't particularly fast. And they suck in the post-season.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao: Re: the 4 on 4. I think you have to be wary of very small data samples. We send our very fastest guys out on the 4 on 4. If we haven't done well it isn't because they are slow.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

What do you guys think about Frolov and/or Radulov?

Posted by: Rambutan_ru | January 10, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

is Arizona beating GB 31 to 10 becuase they have great D or a powerful O....

Posted by: samb99 | January 10, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Not anymore

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 10, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

@samb99: The godawful Cardinals defense may cost them another big game.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 10, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't believe we are bad in OT. We're 5-6 in our overtime games, but we haven't played one in some time and we won our last two. I believe our OT woes were mostly confined to the early start of the season. We;ve been putting bad patterns behind us (e.g., lack of killer instinct; playing down to opponents; failure to clear the puck in front of the net; late game penalties, etc.)

TB finished off the Devils, 4-2, on the postponed game.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 10, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

I dont think how we play in the 4-4 OT matters at all in the long run. In the playoffs its 5-5 and statistically speaking, dont we have the best 5-5 goal differential?

Posted by: BACKS | January 10, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin is exceptionally fast for the first few seconds after he turns on the jets. He has true power.

Any other ref besides McCreary and no way Pens get a 37-19 advantage on the power play. Pens were also given the gift of God vs Canes and again vs Detroit (I seem to recall Pens/w extra player for 20 seconds that went uncalled and whistle only blew so they could call Detroit for a minor). NHL also looked the other way to not give Malkin mandated suspension.

Caps have good speed on offense, bad speed on defense. On offense, not only good speed but they know how to come across the blue line and then alter direction to take advantage of speed. A good example in the past was Gretzky crossed b-line and then circled toward the boards and cross-passed to Coffey entering zone. One-timer - a goal! Ovi comes across b-line like a dart then zips sideways toward center and either blisters a wrister or passes down low to a trailing winger.

Steckel might be a little overpaid at $1.1M, I grant you. BUT...you are buying three years of free agency. You are paying for a player likely to improve somewhat in the average aspects of his game. And, let's face it, if you overpay at $1.1M, how much can you really lose? This isn't a Nylander type deal that will hamper the team.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

You can win with both great scoring or great D but to d that you need to clearly have the best in the game. The Oilers with Gretzky didn't have much D at all but could score at any time in the game and on the flip side the Ducks and NJ both won cups without much scoring at all.

Same in the NFL with teams like Baltimore and Chi-town on D and teams like St. Louis on the O.

I don't think there is any way at all we sign Kovy and Backstrom long term so IF the Caps get him it will be as a rental and I think that we have a team that could compete not just this year but for several years so I don't think that trading someone like Alzner and picks for Kovy is a good idea.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 10, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Steckel's still got upside. Unless he was playing over his head in the past, he's going to break out of his rut. Poor guy can't find the back of the net these days.

Posted by: Sonyask | January 10, 2010 7:34 PM | Report abuse

Obviously we could use a "quarterback" on defense, but I would hate to see top talent given up OR anything that would disrupt team chemistry again. Thank goodness the boys appear to have gotten over the Clark/Jurcina trade. I think that had alot to do with their play out west. Granted you can't get something for nothing, but I hope GMGM thinks long and hard about his next move...

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 10, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

I will go out on a limb and say that neither the packers nor the cardinals will win the SB this year... LOL I thought 45 - 45 only happened in college football

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that the only spot that could be upgraded with no risk or negative effects is ShaMo.

I believe that Olympics will have huge emotional impact on our leaders so GMGM might pick the more conservative strategy for trade deadline not expecting the cup this time.

Still we don't know outcome from Fleischmann/Fehr/Schultz/Poti/Alzner/Varly in playoffs. This means that we better not trade some of them now for a rental, right?

Posted by: Rambutan_ru | January 10, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

It is amazing how bad the Refs were in that GB/AZ game. On the last AZ TD they call roughiong the passer on GB when they guy is tackled (should have been holding) into the QB and the AZ WR clearly commits pass interference and AZ gets away with both. And on the last driver AZ clearly goes after the head of Rodgers and no roughing the passer there and it ends up with AZ winning. Such an amazing game ruined by poor refing.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 10, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion.

Steckel did find the back of the net against the Thrashers didn't he?

Also doesn't Steckel play big in the big games. He was a major factor in the Pens series as I recall.

Agree with the observation that it's not only speed but acceleration and ability to change directions quickly--thus I think of Ovi as one of the best skaters in this regard. He creates new openings in the play with his ability to change instinctually his directionality as he is carrying the puck--he has no pattern to how he advances the puck other than he will try to outmaneuver his opponent. It's more than just head on speed IMO.

Finally, IMO I think the Caps are generally pretty fast, but It's also knowing when to slow down and show patience with the puck. Right? That's how I have interpreted some of the successful plays--when the Caps blast and outrun vs. when they have patience and pass unexpectedly but effectively. But the Caps style seems to be to keep the puck moving forward-or try to anyway.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

If you look at the way Hershey's played over the last five years, the only thing stopping the Caps from a Championship is fully buying into the Boudreau system. Hershey had the talent and won under Bouds; won under Woods; and is doing very well under the new coach. The Caps meanwhile rebounded from a moribund existence to enjoy two straight playoff seasons. As long as the players play the system, they do great. Obviously the system is really good as it works so well at the lower level. Now at the NHL level you are competing against guys like Lemaire who also have great systems with appropriate players. Detroit has lost the bubble as any Bowman hangover is gone. The Devils got their groove back quickly. Pitt last year was more Gonchar than the coach. The Sharks might be more about the players and might go further with McClelland. LA has tons of youg talent and Terry Murray has always been a good coach. The bottom line is let the Caps keep playing and fine-tuning the system. I say - just add an Esa Tikkanen to bug the living crap out of Crosby who they'll play sometime in the Playoffs. Then if the Caps reach the Finals it becomes "God only Knows" which players step it up to a higher level (like Olie did vs Sabres and Hasak). I believe Ovi will step it up to an even higher notch. On thinking, having a Bob Rouse would be nice.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

just add an Esa Tikkanen to bug the living crap out of Crosby who they'll play sometime in the Playoffs. Then if the Caps reach the Finals it becomes "God only Knows" which players step it up to a higher level (like Olie did vs Sabres and Hasak). I believe Ovi will step it up to an even higher notch. On thinking, having a Bob Rouse would be nice.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Esa had his own language "Tikkanese" that nobody else understood.

Wayne Gretzky once commented, "He brings something special. I don't know what it is, but if you ask him, you couldn't understand his answer." Former Edmonton Oiler coach and teammate Craig MacTavish said, "Esa talks twice as much as anybody else. That's because you can understand just half what he says."

gotta find someone who only speaks broken english and likes to talk to confuse Crosby...

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

Ovi has shown notable speed in recent games at times, but it seems to me that he has lost maybe a half step. I wonder about the effect of the extra weight. All the recent joking about eating nachos and having higher body fat than Laich (I think it was) has me wondering. Sometimes it does seem like Ovi is carrying a bit extra baggage. Maybe the Caps need a nutritionist, if they don't already have one.

Posted by: zmega | January 10, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: joek443 | January 10, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

zmega_ I understand your concerns, but With ovi at his highest PPG of his career, I dont think theres too much to be worried about.

Posted by: BACKS | January 10, 2010 8:42 PM | Report abuse

Well that piece about the outtakes of the Verizon shoot was done at the beginning of December about the time Ovi got suspended and there were lots of jokes during at least one of the games he sat out about how he was watching the team with nachos and soda during that period. I just saw the video--it's pretty funny.

As for his half-a-step slower, I think he is just double-teamed far more than when he first blew into the NHL. So IMO I'm not sure he's actually slower, just better covered.

Goodness I hope they do have a nutritionist but I bet it's spotty with nutritional concerns when they are traveling. I imagine it's the" on-the-road" time when the players get into bad dietary habits.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

f you look at the way Hershey's played over the last five years, the only thing stopping the Caps from a Championship is fully buying into the Boudreau system. Hershey had the talent and won under Bouds; won under Woods; and is doing very well under the new coach. The Caps meanwhile rebounded from a moribund existence to enjoy two straight playoff seasons. As long as the players play the system, they do great. Obviously the system is really good as it works so well at the lower level. Now at the NHL level you are competing against guys like Lemaire who also have great systems with appropriate players. Detroit has lost the bubble as any Bowman hangover is gone. The Devils got their groove back quickly. Pitt last year was more Gonchar than the coach. The Sharks might be more about the players and might go further with McClelland. LA has tons of youg talent and Terry Murray has always been a good coach. The bottom line is let the Caps keep playing and fine-tuning the system. I say - just add an Esa Tikkanen to bug the living crap out of Crosby who they'll play sometime in the Playoffs. Then if the Caps reach the Finals it becomes "God only Knows" which players step it up to a higher level (like Olie did vs Sabres and Hasak). I believe Ovi will step it up to an even higher notch. On thinking, having a Bob Rouse would be nice.

Posted by: tominfl1

Agree! And listening to Chimera talking about BB's system, it clearly is different and takes time for players to integrate themselves fully in it. I'm still a little vague about exactly how BB's neutral zone varies from other system's use of the neutral zone but listening to the players talk about it, it clearly just is different.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | January 10, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I think perhaps GMGM thought he might be getting a "wild card" type player in Chimera. That remains to be seen.

I wouldn't sell the farm, so to speak, for rentals. Once again, a strong defenseman would help, but don't destroy the team chemistry that this team seems to have.

The playoffs become a crapshoot. Who would have ever thought John Druce would have become the "answer" for the Caps years ago in the playoffs?

Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 10, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Well, I was just hoping to spark a little discussion about speed and grit and that's just what I got. I appreciate all the responses.

It'll be interesting to see what we do before the deadline. I don't think we'll be standing pat this time around.

Blockbuster deals are always exciting but I'd be just as happy with a couple of small moves if they successfully address our needs.

Posted by: tmac2yao | January 10, 2010 9:13 PM | Report abuse

tmac2yao: The Caps will defintely not "stand pat." McPhee will do something. Twice before he has made significant upgrades - his first year he got Bellows, Tikkanen and Jeff Brown I think it was. Jeff Brown got injured midway in the Detroit series, something often overlooked. Then two years ago it was Feds, Cooke and Huet. McPhee is an old-style Canadian and he knows how to fine-tune. Whatever he does, we can bet our bottom dollar that "character" gets added to the roster.

Meanwhile, speaking of fine-tuning, I just swiped 15 grapefruits again from the widow's tree. Yes, they were hanging over the fence to the common area. But, what do you call a drink with equal parts gin, oranges from my yard and pinched grapefruits? I call it, "damned good." I doubt though you could put it in the bartender's guide under that name.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Detroit has lost the bubble as any Bowman hangover is gone.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Umm you realize they are the two time Western Conference Champs and were one win away from winning back-to-back cups. The reason why they are out of the playoffs right now is because of their injuries. Look at how many guys they have had out and for how long. Franzen almost the whole season, Zetterberg for a few weeks, Kronwall for many months, Ericson for at least a month, Holmstrom starting last week, the list goes on. No team has had to deal with all of that and they still only one point out in the west and if they were in the East they would be the 5th seed. They are a team that will be scary in the playoffs if they are healthy.

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 10, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

If you guys were to move prospects, who would you move? For instance, if we were to land a real quality player allstar +, if we expected to keep them beyond this season, I would move a goalie, and any forward in hershey other than MP85. I love our D prospects Carlson, Alzner, and Orlov will be wearing a red sweater 2 years from now, and I dont want to give any of them up yet.

Posted by: BACKS | January 10, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

icehammer97: An argument can be made, a really fine argument, that Babcock has simply been playing with Bowman's team.

Even w/o the injuries, eventually they would be playing the "Babcock system."

Now, I give credit to Babcock, he is using the Bowman system both with the Wings and the Canadian Olympic team. But, at a certain point, the Bowman influence will wane, and he will either make it on his own or float aimlessly like a wayward clay pigeon about to be powdered by a well-placed 12 gauge.

Only time will tell.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 10:02 PM | Report abuse

【 live score】 and 【odds advise 】
http://www.nowgoal.com/22.shtml

Posted by: bgfgf402 | January 10, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

BACKS:

You are asking which prospects should be offered for late-season acquisitions.

In 2008, the Caps traded what...Ted Ruth, a #2 and a non-descript player for Feds, Huet and Cooke?

Well, there you go, let history be your guide.

I believe...BUT WAIT...first, a word from our sponsor.......

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Back to my beliefs:

Let's see what GMGM has up his sleeves. We KNOW he plays it so close to the vest that he keeps it inside his lungs.

My guess...I'd be shocked as can be if he gave up a true prospect unless we were getting back a long term contributor.

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Posted by: tominfl1 | January 10, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

I know its unrealistic, but I dream of Kovy taking the "hang out with ovie" discount, semin signing long term, then years of bathing in the SC.

Posted by: trunkenmath | January 10, 2010 10:41 PM | Report abuse

Scott Niedermayer....

http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Eklund/Selanne-to-Pens-Sabres-or-Wings-Nieds-Kings-leading-for-Kovalchuk/1/25442

Not sure if Eklund is saying Niedermayer would like to be here, or if we are trying to tempt him here. Either way, he fits Gabby's style. But I would rather have Stephane Robidas.

But isn't there some static between him and Greenie?

Posted by: large23220 | January 10, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1 Babcock played a similar puck control system when he was with the Ducks. Also the Wings have not had Bowman with them since 2002 when they won the Cup. That is going on 8 years ago. How long does the Bowman hangover last exactally? What about when Dave Lewis was the coach and they were great in the regular season and folded in the playoffs what system were they playing then? There are only a few players still on the team from when Bowman was there (Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Draper, Holstrom, Maltby, and Jason Williams who just rejoined the team for the first time since 07). Wouldn't that mean that even with different players the Pens would have had the same hangover when Bowman left instead on not winning another cup until last year?

Posted by: icehammer97 | January 11, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

icehammer: You are right, I forgot about Dave Lewis. Bowman has been gone since 02? Am I that old?

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 11, 2010 5:36 AM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao, large, etc: Regarding hits:

Within the last month I posted about hits in response to a posting similar to yours that pointed out that Pittsbugh lead the league in hits. So, I checked it out and found that of the top 10 teams with the most hits only 2 or 3 would make the playoffs if the season ended then. Of the 10 teams with the fewest hits 7 would make the playoffs. Hits does not equate to winning success.

Right now of the top 10 teams in hits 5 would make the playoffs if the season ended today. Of the 10 teams with the fewest hits 7 would make the playoffs. Here is the link to the stats:
http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?fetchKey=20102ALLAAAAll&sort=hits&viewName=realTimeStats


So, if you want to see more hitting that's cool, but it isn't key for success.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | January 11, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

@ Betterov

Ok. It's clear that intimidation is not a panacea. And it seems that the only team high on that list that's doing particularly well is PIT. But for that team, intimidation is a big part of what the success they've made.

One part of the truth is this: intimidation makes momentum. Another part of the truth is this: the means employed in order to intimidate create penalties. And even worse than penalties, when you choose to throw a check in your defensive zone, you take yourself out of the play AS WELL as your man. I was watching Scott Stevens top 10 hits video on YouTube, and it's undeniable: while Stevens was taking out the guy who used to have the puck, the guy that CURRENTLY had the puck was always pushing to the net, while Stevens was back at the blueline admiring his work.

I've seen it happen (to our advantage) this season: a huge hit FOR our opponent distracted their own goalie and we scored on them.

In our biggest blowout this season, philthadelphia was ferociously aggressive. But we beat them senseless on the scoreboard.

I guess these observations lead me to think that I'd rather have a disciplined blueliner than a violent one.

Posted by: large23220 | January 11, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I guess these observations lead me to think that I'd rather have a disciplined blueliner than a violent one.

Posted by: large23220 | January 11, 2010 9:55 AM

Hmmm. Jeff Schultz was +5 the other night. Can't recall if he had any hits.

Posted by: tominfl1 | January 11, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

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