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Caps 'Business as Usual' in Regular-Season Finale

Although it can't affect their playoff status, Coach Bruce Boudreau said the Caps are approaching tonight's regular-season finale against the Panthers with a "business as usual" attitude for four reasons:

  • They want to play well in front of Jose Theodore so he has a solid performance and has confidence entering next week's playoffs.
  • Injuries happen when players are unfocused or attempt to dial it back.
  • The franchise record for wins is on the line.
  • Boudreau also wants to keep the momentum going. The Caps are 5-0-2 in their last seven and, for the most part, pleased with their overall game. A weak performance could damage that confidence.

"It's a hockey game," Boudreau said. "Whether it means anything or not, we want to win. I want to win. I want to be the best team we can be every single night. Anytime you let up and you think it's a non-important game, what happens is you end up getting hurt because you're not ready, you're lackadaisical, you're not into the game. That was the gist of [this morning's meeting]."

Some other notes from this morning's skate at BankAtlantic Center:

Who's on Deck?
The Caps could find out later if they'll face the Rangers in the first round. If Montreal fails to gain a point against Pittsburgh, the Rangers will be Washington-bound. If that happens, it would give the coaching staff an extra day of preparation. And at this time of year, every minute matters.

Injury Update

  • Tom Poti (groin) could play tonight, but he'll miss a third straight game as he rests up for the playoffs. Poti skated this morning. ("He could play, but we don't see the point," Boudreau said. "Why take the chance of hurting him more?)
  • Donald Brashear (knee) is better, but not quite ready to return from a 13-game layoff. Boudreau hopes to have the veteran back for the playoffs.
  • Boyd Gordon (broken finger) is also close to being ready to come back, Boudreau said. The checking line forward could be available for Game 1.

What the imminent return of Brashear and Gordon means for Keith Aucoin is not clear.

"He's played pretty good, but we haven't made a decision about what happens to him yet," Boudreau said. "After tonight's game, there's no salary cap. So if we want to bring up three guys, we could bring up three guys. ... I'm really cognizant of what Hershey is doing, too. They need one more win to secure first place. So I told Keith that he better hope that Hershey wins tonight."

More Milestones

  • As I already mentioned, the club record for wins is on the line. The Caps are currently tied with the 1985-86 team with 50.
  • With a 25.2 percent success rate on the power play, the Caps (11 for 34 in the past six games) can clinch the best percentage in franchise history. The current record is 23.9 percent set in 1984-85.
  • They can also tie the club record for most road wins. The 1983-84 team owns that mark with 22.

One More Shot
And, of course, Alex Ovechkin gets one last crack at repeating as the NHL's scoring champ. He's four points behind Evgeni Malkin. Ovechkin has 35 points in 29 career games against the Panthers, including four goals and three assists in five games this season.

I'll check in again before the game with a lineup.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  April 11, 2009; 12:01 PM ET
 
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Next: Frozen Four: Miami Extras and Championship Saturday

Comments

I'm excited for tonight's game and I bet it is a good one! There is nothing major riding on it but a lot of little stuff that will probably make the guys play hard. It should be a "fun" stress-free game for them, which may make them play all the better. We'll see!!

Phil:
Seeing as Neuvy is older than Rachel, would your fiancee still think that is creepy?!? I would think not so much ...

Posted by: --Boo-- | April 11, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Phil: I love Neuvy a lot.

"If Montreal fails to gain a point against Pittsburgh, the Rangers will be Washington-bound."- Tarik

I'm making a prediction and I'm going to say Montreal will lose to Pittsburgh in regulation. The Rangers it will be. (Sadly.) Sean Avery... Henrik...

Posted by: rachel216 | April 11, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I'll get the debate on the Cap's 85-86 team against this team going just to stir the pot.

I watched all the games from both teams, and my vote goes to the 85-86 team.
The were the better overall team, and if it was not for Gustafsson's broken leg at the start of the playoffs would have been hard to stop.(Their leading scorer with 75 points and their most talented player on both ends of the ice)

It has been much more fun to watch this year's team though.(Most of the time, anyway)

Posted by: OldFan | April 11, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going by his age, i'm going off the fact that he looks like he is 12 years old. lol.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Could I be so bold as to assume Brooks Laich is more up your alley RichmondPhil (j/k :) )

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 11, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow....

http://tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=274629

Detroit works their front magic voodoo again. They must drug and hypnotize these players into signing contracts.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Could I be so bold as to assume Brooks Laich is more up your alley RichmondPhil (j/k :) )

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 11, 2009 12:26 PM |

LOL.

Since this is through the opinion of my fiance, she HATES Laich. Calls him the "prettyboy" of the team.
She likes the Russians and Euros, minus Ovechkin and Neuvy.

Theo is a sharp looking dude though.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

You can say 17 years old, not 12. Cause he has facial hair. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 11, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

BB: "I'm really cognizant of what Hershey is doing, too. They need one more win to secure first place. So I told Keith that he better hope that Hershey wins tonight."

Actually, the Bears need MORE than just a win tonight to clinch first place. They need some help from other teams.The magic number is 3 points...

per AHL.com:
Hershey clinches the East Division title on Saturday with:
(a) a win vs. Philadelphia AND a W-B/Scranton loss (reg/OT/SO) vs. Norfolk, OR
(b) an OTL/SOL vs. Philadelphia AND a W-B/Scranton regulation loss vs. Norfolk AND a Bridgeport loss (reg/OT/SO) vs. Lowell

Posted by: tess2201 | April 11, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

per AHL.com:
Hershey clinches the East Division title on Saturday with:
(a) a win vs. Philadelphia AND a W-B/Scranton loss (reg/OT/SO) vs. Norfolk, OR
(b) an OTL/SOL vs. Philadelphia AND a W-B/Scranton regulation loss vs. Norfolk AND a Bridgeport loss (reg/OT/SO) vs. Lowell

Posted by: tess2201 | April 11, 2009 12:33 PM | Report

Keep us updated tess!

Actually, I think I am going out for the game tonight, so I won't be here to annoy you guys.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Phil, your fiance is so picky! lol! Your fiance said Theo is cute or you said that? haha. I agree, Theo is a good looking guy. Although he is double my age. :/

Posted by: rachel216 | April 11, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Phil,
I'll be AT the Bears game tonight. Thank goodness for the out-of-town scoreboard so I can keep up with other AHL scores as well as what's happening with the Caps and the Pitt/Montreal game. Plus the Frozen Four.

Posted by: tess2201 | April 11, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

After reading some comments on the previous post I find too much attention on meaningless awards.

I mean why care about:

Fan Awards, like The goal of the year. This only shows who has more fan followers or fans willing to waste time voting.

The following selections are only the opinion of a few reporters, most of them have never played the game: The Hart, The Lady Bing, Calder, Norris, Conn Smythe, Masterton, Selke, Clancy, Adams. The only things that makes them prestigious is the fact that they are the most talked about because the people writing about those awards are the people who are voting for them - Kind of "listen to me, I know more than you".
The Flyers fans have the Gene Hart Award, the Caps fans should have something like that and stop worrying about the Hockey writers.

More valuable awards:
Vezina. Voted by GMs
Lester B Pearson. Voted by players.

Undisputed statistical awards:
Art Ross - score leader
Jennings (previously Vezina) - least goals against.
Plus/Minus. best with a min. of 60 games.
Maurice Richards (rocket) - Goal scorer.
Crozier - Best save percentage.

Posted by: opita1 | April 11, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I said that about Theo. ;)
I actually think her picks as "top" on the team is weird. Fedorov, Semin, and Varlamov. I look absolutely nothing like a Russian.

@opita

I see no problem in putting stock in some of those awards, especially the Selke, Lady Byng, and Conn Smythe. They are subjective by nature. Even if you aren't really the best defensive player or the playoff MVP, you won the award for a reason to put up a damn good case.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

less than 6 hours to the beggining of the end (of the season)

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 11, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Watching the Devils Canes game -- pretty entertaining, 2-1 Devils. I'm rooting for the Devils in this one, hoping for Pit-Phi/NJD-Car

Posted by: Sonyask | April 11, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Richmondphil,
The key is what you said: "They are subjective by nature". Some people get bend out of shape because their favorite player didn't win, and what I am saying is simply: Don't, it is only an opinion different than yours.

Posted by: opita1 | April 11, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Oh, i see your point. I thought you meant the players who won those awards don't really deserve what the award entails. I feel they do, but there is always that other player who deserves it to.

The player picked 10/10 times fits the award, but there is always a few other players who could have deserved it just as easily; hence the subjective nature of them.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 11, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

We could see a Boston-Montreal, Caps-NYR, Pitt-Phil and Carolina-NJ first round. That's a lot of quality hockey right there, with some good story lines. Boston and Montreal hate each other and have had a great rivalry for some time. Pittsburgh and Philly would be the battle of Penn. trash. The Caps and Rangers don't have much love for each other, especially with that amazing come back game that Ovi sparked. Also the two most powerful cities on the east coast makes for good entertainment. Carolina and NJ don't create as much drama, but they have had some great series in the past.

Regardless, Go Caps tonight in Florida, let's get that 51st win!

Posted by: TheVampireCorndog | April 11, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Those are the matchups I'd like to see, and if NJ & Pitt win, the latter in regulation, that's what we've got. We also see it with a Pit OTL and a Rangers win tomorrow.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 11, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Aucoin > Gordon

nuff said

Posted by: cstanton1 | April 11, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

cstanton: I agree. Whether for Brash or Gordo, Aucoin should play. Even if Gordo's getting close, Aucoin's expanding the energy and goal scoring capability of the checking line.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 11, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Devils are controlling the 2nd. Still up 2-1 on the Canes.

Posted by: Sonyask | April 11, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I unfortuanately have to watch the Filthadelphia NYI game. I don't know why but here in Carolina I can't get any Caines games on Center Ice. That means when the Caps get to the Caines I will be blacked out and that bites!

Posted by: fatboy08 | April 11, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm changing my vote frmo yesterday and here are the matchups that I'd like to see in the first round

Boston v Montreal - Would just be hot

Caps v Rangers - Not worried about these guys at all, would be a good series and I'd say Caps in 6.

Devils v Carolina - should be pretty good too, both are tight hardworking teams and if the 'Canes can solve MB, it should go to 7.

Penns v Flyers - 'nuff said!

Center Ice is on at my house!

Posted by: TheCapitalist1 | April 11, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

isles up 1 zip on philly

Posted by: fatboy08 | April 11, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

'Canes just tied it up with a power play goal - 2-2.

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | April 11, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I take back what I said about Anton Babchuk being a useless Jared Leto wannabe in a hockey sweater. He's obviously trying to prove to me wrong about the useless part.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 11, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

To Rachel

Agree that Theodore is a nice looking guy. (Something about those Virgo guys.) Okay, I'm too old for any of them but ....

I personally think that Fleischmann is nice looking. And Semin, too. There's something about Ovi that appeals to me, appearance wise, even if not classically handsome. He does have great eyes. (Fehr has the best eyes on the team.)

Nothing like looking at the guys with my "inner 20 something year old" eyes, even though they're young enough to be my kids.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 11, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

@DevilsCapsGal,

Not happy to hear that Carolina tied up the score with the Devils. I don't normally root for the Devils but today I am. Go Devils.

Oh, are you both a Devils and a Caps fan by some chance? Which one takes priority?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 11, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I believe that Aucoin is an improvement over our absentee players. While we could certainly use an enforcer type vs the NY Rangers, like Brash, we certainly survived without him lately. These days, Brash seems to get injured every time he's in a fight. Tampa Bay is certainly a chippy team.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 11, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

To CapsFan75

The Devils just scored :-)

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | April 11, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Hockey wise, I'm a little torn. The final of the Frozen Four is on ESPN tonight. Boston U. versus Miami of Ohio. My elder daughter is a BU alum so, of course, I'm rooting for them.

And then the Caps play tonight. For the Caps, would like to see Ovi catch Malkin in points (nearly impossible) and for Semin to score enough goals to pass up both Crosby and Malkin in that department. And Flash to get goal #20.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 11, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I see that NJ is back on top of Carolina. Go NJ!! Let's dump Carolina into 6th place. Cool them down for the playoffs. And increase the chances of Pitt meeting Philthy in Round 1.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 11, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I checked out some of the stats on NJ and Carolina and there certainly are quite a few penalties today.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 11, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Devils did beat Carolina. Congratulations.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 11, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

@CapsFan75:

Yes, I am both a Devils and Caps fan but I live in DC and have been a Caps STH for many years. For most of those years, the Caps were no threat to the Devils, so it was easy to root for both and at least to have a team in the playoffs every year with a reasonable chance to win a Cup.

This year is very different - if/when the Caps and Devils meet in a round of the playoffs I'll probably hide under a rock until the series ends!!! Seriously, the way the Devils have been playing since Marty got #552 makes me think the Caps have a better chance of getting out of the first round, even with Jose in goal.

This will be a very interesting next few weeks.

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | April 11, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

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